Version 8.60

"Fine tuning", my foot! 8.60 is a major feature release of X-Plane. There have been subtle but significant changes to how the autopilot works. If you try to handle the autopilot as you did in previous X-Plane versions it will appear to be broken. Read the 8.60 Autopilot FAQ to see what's changed.

Austin's words on 8.60 follow...

This particular X-Plane update is all about fine-tuning to get everything just perfect, with a handful of new features as well.


New Features:

New keyboard selection interface! Go to the "Joystick and Equipment" screen, "Keys" tab to see this new interface. See the 'Special' menu in Plane-Maker to customize the Plane-Maker keys, and World-Maker has a tab to customize the keys as well!

In Plane-Maker, go to the Special Controls window. We now have an option to turn on gear-extension protection. With this option on, the plane will NOT lower the gear above max gear extension speed. This is a feature of the Swedish Viggen fighter. As well, you now have the option to add flap-extension protection. This feature keeps you from extending the flaps above the max flap extension speed. Lower the flap and gear handles at any speed you want, but they will NOT go down if you are going too fast. (However, if you lower them BELOW their maximum allowable speed and then speed up the plane, they will NOT retract, so you still COULD overspeed those systems!) So, this brings us to the next feature: Flap retraction-protection. With this option, the plane will actually RETRACT the flaps as you go over the max allowable flap speed. In all of these cases, the flap or gear handle will NOT move... only the actual control will. Most of these options are used on the real Viggen, and all of these options are available in the "Special Controls" window in Plane-Maker.

In the "Viewpoint" window in Plane-Maker, you can now check a box to move the HUD elements with flight path. Here is how this works: In the (real) Viggen, the plane flies it's approach to land at such a high angle of attack (because it has low-aspect ratio delta wings and lands on very short fields) that the nose is way up and the velocity vector is way down in the HUD. The pilot is sitting up high in his seat during landing just to see over the nose. The HUD, at this point, lowers the airspeed, altitude, etc of the HUD down to match the flight path of the plane so the numbers are always in the pilot's field of view!

Two new annunciators: Transonic Alert (with aural warning) and Afterburner-Engage. These are annunciators for the panel like all the other annunciators and are used on the real Viggen as well. The aural alert for transonic flight is turned on or off in the "Viewpoints" window in Plane-Maker. What does the transonic alert do? It goes off with a beeping sound as you approach Mach-1. This is to let you know you are about to start making a sonic boom and will get a handling-change as the laws of gas-flow invert at Mach-1.

NINE fuel tanks are now possible. Set them in Plane-Maker. As well, in X-Plane, the weight and balance screen is kind of nice: You can drag the "left tank" or "right tank" sliders to set fuel levels in ALL tanks on the left, or ALL tanks on the right.

The control FORCES are now available! See the "Control Geometry" screen in Plane-Maker to set reference forces, and then the "Data Output" screen for the in-flight control forces. (line 75 in the Data Output screen).

More refinement on the (real) G-1000 support, now FAA-certified for use with PFC hardware.

We now have pilot and copilot standard-6 instrument failures... see the "Equipment Failures" page in X-Plane to find those failures.


New Autopilot and FMS:

The autopilot tuning continues: I am now familiar with King, STEC, G1000, Boeing, and Airbus autopilots, and I belive I have a decent system that does NOT handle all the myriad of vertical-nav and Airbus protection modes, but DOES handle the autothrottle, heading, altitude, vertical speed, flight-level change, localizer, glideslope, VOR nav, GPS nav, and approach modes pretty darn decently! Remember, if you hit ALT, then that will hold your CURRENT altitude. If you want to climb to a NEW altitude, then dial in the new altitude and hit FLCH or VVI to tell the plane how to GET to the new altitude! As well, the VOR and ILS and LOC modes are all ARMED when selected... use heading or roll modes to to actually intercept those radials.

As well, the FMS autopilot navigation is now more accurate, with the FMS being smart enough to do turn-ins to new plan-legs in ADVANCE of the waypoints to follow flight plans correctly.

Tapping the brakes will DIS-engage the autobraking system if it is running, as in reality.

The SPD autopilot mode pitches the nose to maintain a speed WITHOUT arming the altitude capture, and WITHOUT touching the throttle. [Not so, far as I can tell. See the 8.60 Autopilot FAQ page. - Andy]

The FLCH autopilot mode (flight level change) pitches the nose to maintain a speed, but with automatic altitude-capture armed, and an automatic throttle adjustment made! Flight-level change goes to full or idle power depending on whether it is being used for a climb or a descent. (This presumes that the auto-throttle is on. If you do not have an auto-throttle, or the auto-throttle is off, then you will control power manually!)

The filled in autopilot console in the autopilots folder now has some new anunciators: LOC vs GPS nav source selection.

Autopilot has built-in overspeed protection: It will raise the nose if a vertical speed or level-change is asked for that will overspeed!


Flight-Model Refinements:

Rotor wash in low-altitude hover in helos and VTOLs kicks back into the rotor, as in reality, to bounce and kick the helo or VTOL around a bit as it hovers in it's own ground-resonance pressure-waves.

Bi-plane interference is now a bit more liberal on when it is applied.

Tailwheel-equipped planes will follow your commanded tailwheel deflection tightly, rather than wandering around based on their ground-track, simulating the pilot holding the pedals tensely under his feet with no slop at all, making the tail-wheel planes a lot more stable.

Ground-friction is much higher when you go off the runway.


Improved Systems-Modelling:

New option in Plane-Maker engine screen: Generator voltage. This can be HIGHER than the battery voltage to get a higher voltage when charging the battery, as in reality.

AHRS, electric gyros, and vacuum gyros all have different attitude indications, with each instrument displaying an AHRS, electric gyro, or vaccuum gyro, for either pilot or copilot, depending on the type of instrument and instrument settings as set in the panel-editor of Plane-Maker... this really lets you get your instruments to have proper failure modes at the proper times. (So, in Plane-Maker, now you choose whether the autopilot tracks the AHRS, electric gyro, or vaccuum gyro system!)

Full-scale VOR deflection occurrs at 10 degrees off of target radial, not 5 as used previously.

Auto-brake rejected take-off automatically disengages any possible brake application when airborne.

Auto-brakes snap OFF when you get airborne if they were in RTO (rejected take-off) mode.

New electrical system switch: cross-tie. This switch will connect the 2 electrical buses in your plane. Why is this good? Well, advanced planes have multiple buses, with each bus powering half the stuff in the plane. Each bus is typically powered by a generator and a battery (determined by the number of generator and battery switches on the panel). Now, if a generator or battery breaks, you can turn off that system (and lose the voltage to that bus and all the systems on that bus) and then turn on the bus-tie, so the good bus powers the bad one as well. As well, we now have auto cross-tie: If there is no cross-tie switch in the cockpit, then the cross-tie is automatic.

Further refined EGT, TIT, and CHT (engine temperature) models.


Joystick Functionality:
Small Graphics Refinements:
General Refinements:


Version 8 Overview

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