Why hello there *sips on coffee*. It has been a while hasn’t it? How have you been?
Our apologies for leaving this update for so long. We've had our heads in the sand, trying to work on the Q4XP. We think that not only is the future of this aircraft going to look incredibly vibrant, but also future development in X-Plane. Perhaps we will elaborate further down the line...
So the agenda for today will be to
- Keep you informed about our classic line
- Do another visual deep dive into the Q4XP, touching upon one or two systems (we're still holding onto that content for future developer updates)
- Clarify what has happened for the off-scheduled deviation on the livery competition
- Address some questions that you guys have been asking in our Discord and Instagram
Before we begin, we recognize that some websites destroy image quality of what we post. So, we're providing the images on google for users to view in higher quality. You can find them here : https://tinyurl.com/2rapttt3
Let’s do a bit of a catch-up!
We are currently in the process of testing out a new patch for the classic aircraft. A large chunk of this work will be to address upcoming changes required for multi-crew flying. We apologize for not having this out sooner, but we are very task saturated so please bare with us.
It has been a long endeavor crafting this aircraft ranging all the way back to 2018. We’re not quite there yet today, but we can see the finish line.
We’re pleased to report that modelling is complete, and texturing is about 99.9% complete. The largest chunk of this work that we haven’t really shown publicly to date is the cabin work. Needless to say, Jack and Valdudes poured their heart and soul into this one.
The following images were taken directly from X-Plane with ShadeX
The Q4XP will be our most interactive and complete cabin we have ever made, expanding on the standards we set in the 737-200. Seats are highly detailed to look like those classic, wafer thin sheets of plastic of this compact economy class cabin. We're using a -78 seat configuration with our Q4XP. This includes the front luggage compartment and active emergency exit.
We even have a toilet, but you aren’t quite ready to see that yet. It smells odd in there anyway…
One of the coolest components is the cabin crew “Master Display Panel” (MDP), which allows flight attendants to control the environment within the cabin. So you can have full control over lighting on the overhead, sidewalls, doors and entrance areas. The MDP is also tied into our pneumatic system. Pilots have the option to allow FAs to take control of the cabin temperature, which is reflected in the Q4XP.
And as always, you can expect exceptional night lighting in the cockpit and the cabin! This includes working sidewall lights (which flicker with a characteristic filament bulb), overhead lights, entry/galley, toilet and stair lights.
We’ll be saving some components of our systems for future developer updates. There will be alot to cover, which makes the Q400 a unique learning experience.
One of the few systems we can talk about today is power management, and some of the changes we’ve made from the Q400 legacy based upon feedback and a desire to simulate the appropriate conditions. This also ties into a UI that we have developed to assist pilots. To help, we've provided a small diagram down below.
The Q400 does not have an autothrottle however, for those of you worried about that, don't. We have properly simulated the FADEC flight ratings so all you need is set your throttle into the rating detent, and your good to go. Sounds simple, but let's go into more detail.
The FADEC is responsible for the management of engine parameters and talking to other components that govern the engine. How you “talk” to the FADEC is split into two sub-controls, the “Power” and “Prop” levers.
The "Prop Levers" controls you would normally use, set a condition that the FADEC uses to determine the power while the Power Levers are in the Rating Detent. You have four settings, start/feather, 850, 900, and 1020. This is how you set the FADEC to give you Normal Takeoff Power(NTOP), Max Climb(MCL), or Max Cruise(MCR). You can also override these via the engine control power to get derated takeoff power or max takeoff power.
The "Power Levers" are set-up as a 1:1 ratio with gates to limit your ability to move the power levers into the wrong zones. There are only two gates, one to go into Reverse from DISC and one to go into flight mode from DISC. Going past the gates means using one of a number of commands you may already have setup and only requires you to hold it for a short time. These are any of the power up or down commands, which are defaulted to F1, F2 on your keyboard, or you can use the beta toggle, thrust reverse toggle, or thrust reverse hold.
The Power lever angles diagram above shows how this 1:1 ratio works with respect to the Q400s FADEC and what power you may get overall.
Because this is such a critical component of operation, we had a few problems to solve.
How do we teach users about power rating?
How do we provide positive feedback to users about where their throttle is all the time?
How do we avoid the issue of the Q400 legacy, where the power lever was mapped 1:1, and consequently users had a difficult time distinguishing the beta range from normal power mode?
How do we avoid users selecting the wrong setting at all times?
That last one in particular is something we would like to avoid...
To solve this, we’ve implemented a few things
Created an on-screen overlay that will actively display when an axial input is detected. The UI will tell you where your aircraft axis is, where your hardware axis is for synchronization, and what mode is active,
Separated out beta range/fuel cut-off portions of each axis with a gate. Requiring users to bind a button to pass into each region. This prevents pilots from accidentally cutting off fuel or going below the idle range (which is forbidden in flight).
Implemented a subtle notch/notation for the prop lever
Designed a system that is seamlessly accessible to multiple types of inputs. You can interact with these controls via mouse input, keyboard command, or bindables...and switch between these at will.
Our intent is for something unobtrusive and functional, and we hope pilots appreciate this handy feature whilst they focus on the flying.
Our current list of default liveries is locked-down. However that doesn’t mean you won’t see more at launch. We’ve teamed up with some of the most talented livery painters in flightsim, who have been given a copy of the Q4XP to start their work. We’ve already had a few amazing creations so far.
I know many entrants are looking for an update on this. We have NOT abandoned the competition. Our main delay has been experimenting with ideas and concepts to ensure we have a really nice house livery. For now, we will say we are close, and are looking to finish this as soon as possible. We will keep you updated.
We're going to run through a few questions that you guys have submitted to us on Facebook, Discord, and Instagram
A. No. We're focused on the X-Plane platform for the foreseeable future. But we highly recommend supporting Majestic as they convert their simulation into that platform.
Q. Any future aircraft in X-Plane 11?
A. Unlikely. Q4XP will *probably* be our last X-Plane 11 product.
Q. I have a ticket that hasn't been answered
A. Submit it again. We're still reviewing our support system and want to make sure everyone is addressed.
Q. Where can I find more updates on the aircraft?
A. Join our Discord! https://discord.gg/Ds7hBP2
Q. What system(s) have been the biggest headache to program so far?
A. Definitely the UNS. Glad to say that is shaping up quite nicely. We've gone as far as developing an external trainer to submit for review to our Q400 pilots.
Q. How much work is left?
A. Enough that it would be difficult to explain in a single post. There are a few intricacies that pilots don't normally have to deal with. Good news is, that a lot of components are done, and the remaining are being tied together as we speak.
Q. Are there any door animations on the Q4XP?
A. Yes, almost every door is operable. Including the lavatories...
Q. Will you have ACARS in the aircraft?
A. No. ACARS was a company option in the real aircraft. It will not be in v1.
Q. Can I be a beta tester?
A. We will have a signup when available and will let you know. Please do not poke the developers for access.
Q. Will there be any future big updates? Cabin in the 727? Gravel Kit? Glass cockpit? And... and..
A. WOAH, slow down there! Our team size is very small, and we can safely say that the Q4XP is the only active project right now. However... we are aware that those things exist, and you would be surprised at how many fans those items have within our team. Big updates normally come about as a generational leap, where we can offer and significant amount of advancement and satisfaction for your aircraft.
The tldr, the classics are not being abandoned at all. But please don't poke our developers with a stick. They need to concentrate so we can complete the Q4XP.
Q. Any future patches for version 3?
A. Yes, we've been sitting on one for quite a while. Apologies it hasn't been released yet, and when we see a release window, we will let you know.
Q. Why won't you allow the GTN mod?
A. Because it's a mod, and breaches our user agreement. We actually have no issue with the GTN itself, but there are a few issues which come down to :
- To get GTN's in the cockpit unofficially would require someone to distribute our assets on the internet. This is not acceptable.
- It is not the best customer experience having to modify the aircraft every time there was a release. Modification of the aircraft also compromises some of our ability to provide support.
- There are some conflicts that would have to be investigated in regards to our current methods of navigation
- We also feel that GTN's are part of a larger systemic problem with the aircraft... usability. People want a more modern avionics set that reduces workload and is compatible with modern online networks (and the transition from radio to GPS based flying). This is something we have discussed internally and we feel that we should improve upon this in future.
Q. Librain for Vulkan?
A. Not available right now (neither are the current submits). The feature will return in future for both opengl and Vulkan on all platforms, but for now please use OpenGL.
Are you still with us? There was quite a bit of material to digest. We would like to thank you for your patience with these updates. Next time, we will do a deeper dive into some more of the systems, and what you can expect from the Q4XP.
Don't forget to follow us on Discord if you want to have a friendly chat, or see how progress is coming along!
Until next time, stay safe and fly right.