Change list vs. FS9 version

Producing the PMDG 747-400X has been a long process. It was anticipated that we would simply port the existing FS9 747-400 Queen of the Skies product into FSX and be finished within three months.

This process has taken eighteen months and represents a complete rebuild of the product from the inside out. The following is an incomplete list of things that have been changed, updated for FSX, added or tweaked:

  • Replaced the core of the simulation to use an event-driven, non polling FS connectivity mechanism (sim-connect) that removes the need for dependency upon external software such as FSUIPC. (Note to user: this was a 15 month enterprise...)
  • Replaced sound handling process to eliminate distortions on certain sound cards and improve performance
  • Changed all menus / options / dialogs to match FSX UI style
  • Improved AIRAC database loading code - performance increase / load time decreased to almost instant
  • Allowed user selectable optimization to show/hide VC F/O display gauges depending upon user preference.
  • Added user configurable selection for external Antennas on the visual models. (controlled by aircraft.cfg entry)
  • Implemented custom engine contrails and associated behaviors.
  • Implemented code to control wingtip and flap vapor vortexes in specific atmospheric conditions and wing configurations.
  • Increased flap animation control to provide a smoothness of 3000 key frames - no visible frame steps shown anymore
  • Improved takeoff trim display gauge clarity
  • Change in Lower EICAS ENG page automatic display logic (only when fuel set to CUTOFF in flight)
  • Correction in Spoiler handle position detection logic to improve response and correct control.
  • Optional use of FSUIPC for online flying when FSUIPC detected
  • GPWS code to allow disabling of specific altitudes depending on configuration
  • "Approaching Minimums" callout added
  • Fuel add/remove logic improved to allow user to directly type entry of fuel quantity in PMDG Options menu.
  • EICAS Target N1 / Ref N1 indications removed when in REV mode
  • Reversers logic altered to prevent REV lockout when NAI active.
  • Load Manager now handles payload / fuel directly when FSX / 747-400X loaded and running
  • Load Manager has option to remove VC model and panel (requires restart of FSX)
  • Modified Cost Index Equation: The equation is a differential equation solved by successive iterations. This is a very CPU intensive operation. The element of the numerical procedure has been optimized, yielding a factor of 5 speed up with minimal effect on result accuracy, thus reducing the required load on the CPU for the mathematics involved.
  • CDU Legs page - predicted Alt Improvements: Above / Below type (e.g. 6000A8000B) soft constraint both vertical flight path prediction and VNAV mode bug corrections and predictive improvements. Also UNABLE NEXT ALT message will appear in all cases referring to soft altitude constraints.
  • CDU N1 page - flight phase improvements: Regular thrust limit page (instead of TO limit page) will appear now below flap retraction altitude.
  • CDU Fix page - changes to RAD/DIS to be BRG/DIS
  • CDU Cruise page - change in step alt code: At 2R the last step altitude target would not appear when step climb was not possible. It does now above the NONE header.
  • FMC: Various small and large behavior corrections.
  • GA thrust limit will automatically be set now only if ToD is sequenced and flaps are out (or GS is captured as before)
  • Retuned the entire pitch channel of the autopilot to accommodate flight modeling changes within FSX. The This includes all related pitch modes (VS, FLCH etc). The main target was to improve mode stability even at high sim rates and in connection to idiosyncratic FSX "real" weather handling. The pitch channel in some places was enhanced with a secondary control routine to improve effectiveness in pitch sensitive roles such as glideslope tracking.
  • Modified air file related to new aerodynamic center definition for FSX
  • Various cosmetic changes to CDU display and text handling.
  • Adaptive refresh rate control for CRTs / LCDs based on target and actual frame rate (order is PFD, ND, EICAS, sby instruments)
  • Added Bump Map Textures to all 400/400F models.
  • Added additional fuselage detail to all 400/400F models.
  • Updated PMDG House Livery for FSX version.
  • External models rebuilt to take full advantage of new FSX features such as self shadowing, specular bloom, normal maps, vertex animation and more.
  • External and VC models rebuilt to take full advantage of FSX materials: allows for more realistic reflections, specular highlights and normal maps (bump maps)
  • Conversion of bitmaps to DDS: allows for faster loading times, and cleaner bitmaps with less compression artifacts.
  • Smoother animations: Used new FSX animation techniques to smooth out the model animations. This is especially noticeable with the landing gear extension/retraction sequence, and the deployment of the flaps.
  • Vertex animation: Wing flex and control surfaces now driven by a complex skeletal system, which allows for smooth bending and deformation without visible segments. Wings now flex smoothly and seamlessly, and the variable camber leading edge flaps are now a single piece which smoothly deforms as it extends. The wing structure including flaps and leading edge devices now bends fluidly reflecting the flex tendency of the materials from which the wing and devices are constructed.
  • Updated external lighting: You will notice higher quality lighting effects for the tail illumination of the logo lights. Navigation, position and strobe lights are brought up to FSX standards.
  • Updated all models to include the ability to display various external dorsal antenna configurations.
  • Virtual Cockpit fully compatible with FSX
  • Great care has been taken to bring the cockpit up to FSX standards and improve realism. Now present are self Illuminating (emissive bitmaps) during daylight hours. Indicator lights now illuminate properly in both day and night environments. Daytime backlighting is fully functional. Glass displays are bright and easy to read even if the aircraft is in shadow, or during dusk/dawn operations. (Use your display dimmers when transitioning between bright and dim lighting.) Together with normal maps (bump maps) and the cleaner compression of DDS bitmaps, these effects bring a higher level of clarity and realism to the cockpit.
  • Controls and animations updated to conform to FSX specifications.
  • Modified control and animations techniques used in the FSX VC's in order to reduce processor load on FSX.
  • Numerous performance optimizations of display and computational code to reduce processor load on FSX.
  • Various other assorted minor fixes along the way.
  • Improved wing flex and wing flight path distortion model.
  • Significant re-tuning of landing gear animation to accommodate changes in the way FSX handles ground contact.
  • Flap and wingtip vapor vortexes that appear in rain/snow conditions when appropriate.
  • Added engine and APU fire effect.
  • Added Fuel Dump effect.

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