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turbofandude

I’m finally breaking our silence on updates. We were planning to wait until our current list of changes was complete, but we’re finding that some of these changes are going to be larger undertakings. One of the main things I’ve been working on recently is the electrical system. The electrical system and its associated controls and data is really the foundation of the rest of the aircraft’s systems, so it was something I was excited to get working.

As of now, it works as it should with the exception of a few edge (non-standard operation) conditions. The way we did it, it’s much more than just a “if(power) do_stuff();” sort of system. I spent some time working with one of our colleagues, who is a 717 crew member, to nail down the 717’s automatic No-Break-Power-Transfer (NBPT) system. I’ll use a picture to illustrate how this works. Note – the area around the display unit is graphically botched in this picture as we are re-texturing it (it had to be redone so we could correct the aspect ratio of the displays). Similarly, we remodelled the overhead switches and are in the process of re-doing the artwork for them, hence their oddness. Without further ado, here’s the electrical synoptic display page with the APU running, the engines off, and all electrical control switches in their standard (automatic) position.

Screenshot 2015-05-12 16.00.44

Each small T-shaped line represents a relay in the electrical system. The hardest part was getting those to open and close properly to allow power to flow through the system – this lets us both determine what buses have power and how. Here’s what I’m talking about. In the next picture, I turned off the left AC bus tie, which means it will open the relay and prevent power from flowing.

Screenshot 2015-05-12 15.59.54

You can see that the left AC bus is no longer powered because there isn’t a way to get power to it anymore (the APU power input is fairly central, it has to flow through the bus tie relays). On the other hand, the left DC bus tie relay and auxiliary DC bus tie relay have closed to supply the left DC bus with power. It is this transfer of power and manipulation of these relays that gives us the simulation of the NBPT system – a loss of regular power to one system, in our 717, will not interrupt service as long as an alternative is available, like the real 717.

 

We will be doing something to simulate the electrical load values and generator input and frequency, they’re just not present in these pictures. Similarly, the warning message system is on its way – step one was getting power to the rest of the systems.

turbofandude

The time has come for us to put our feet down. Over the last few months, we have battled with support for Windows XP in our software, and in some cases, we’ve been forced to lessen the overall quality and consistency of the product. It is this, in combination with Microsoft’s imminent end of support for it, that have resulted in our decision to end Windows XP support.

We know this is a decision that will not be easily accepted by everyone, but it is a decision we have to make. Targeting an operating system that is a decade old creates unneeded challenges. Among these challenges are:

  • Inconsistent library and framework availability. For example, the MediaPlayer class that smartCARS uses to play radio content is unavailable on Windows XP, but no comparable library is readily available. When we developed this feature, we had two options: make a Windows Vista or later only version or develop our own, in-house radio streaming system. Although we are fully capable of the latter, it would turn a two week development effort into a two month effort. This, in turn, creates additional costs and increases our development time considerably. The MediaPlayer class, of course, is not the only feature lost by supporting XP.
  • Testing. Windows XP accounts for only 17% of the global market and finding a substantial test-user base is difficult. Most of the people who volunteered to help us test XP compatibility with smartCARS did not have Flight Simulator installed (which reduces testing to merely “does it open?”). Mostly, we, have only been able to test in a virtual machine or remote-desktop environment.
  • Security. Let’s face it – as software is updated, it becomes more secure. The hundreds of “Security Updates for Windows” that you see in Windows Update throughout the year help to keep you safe from new threats. Similarly, operating without these updates renders your system less secure. Windows XP was created before many of those threats were even imagined. Although there may be an update now, there will come a point when there are flaws that cannot be fixed practically. As a side note, about two years ago, I worked at a local computer repair shop part-time, and approximately 80% of the computers that needed virus removals were running Windows XP. That’s not really a fair arguing point, but especially when you consider that XP users hold a minority of the market share, it’s something to consider.

When we initially released smartCARS, it was only compatible with Vista or later, but due to user feedback, we expanded our support to include XP. As development continued, we began to realize we needed to make a change again. We may be one of the first developers in this community to make this decision publicly, but we are confident that we will not be the last. We are not alone in our end of support for XP outside of the FS market, either. Microsoft has officially announced that they will no longer support XP after April, 2014. This means that they will not issue security updates, they will not fix problems, and they will offer assisted support.

What does this mean for TFDi projects?

Starting with the official smartCARS 1.3.3 release, Windows XP users will no longer be offered support. We will not prevent our installers from installing on to a system running XP, however, we will utilize whichever Vista or later-only libraries we deem necessary and we will not test on Windows XP. It is still too early to tell how the 717 will operate on Windows XP, however, its performance on XP-based systems will not be a concern to our developers.

We offer our apologies to any Windows XP users who feel abandoned, as this is not our intent. We seek only to be able to develop our software to its full potential. By supporting such an archaic system, we limit that potential. As Microsoft has said, we encourage our followers and the followers of our partners to upgrade to a modern operating system.

To read more about Microsoft’s official end of support, click here.

Edit (6/8/2014): New versions of smartCARS do indeed prevent installation on Windows XP as we have started using libraries not available on it.

turbofandude

We are often asked by virtual airlines, “why doesn’t smartCARS have an AFK check or check-in feature?” For those not familiar with the term, AFK means “away from keyboard.” Below, I’ll explain why we have not yet implemented (and will not be adding) such a feature.

Some virtual airlines want an AFK check to ensure that their pilots do not walk away in the middle of a flight. This concept works when everything goes as planned, but let’s face – we all have lives outside of flight simulation. Sometimes, these lives get in the way of the flights we planned on doing and we have to leave our computers unattended. Allowing a program to nag its users to ensure they’re providing 100% focus at all times is unfair.

Our goal with smartCARS has always been to provide a friendly and easy experience for all users. There are some very dedicated simmers who DO stay in sim, at the computer, for the entire flight – power to them. Others can’t do this and we don’t feel that they should be punished for it. As well, adding such a feature may deter pilots who have other commitments or who are unable to guarantee their availability from joining (or staying with) your virtual airline.

Ultimately, we all sim for the fun and for the love of aviation – we feel that putting these sorts of requirements on how we (virtually) fly detracts from the experience.

turbofandude

We have launched our web hosting service for virtual airlines and flight simulation organizations! We feel that as a virtual airline software provider, offering web hosting solutions will allow us to help consolidate virtual airline infrastructure. There are several key features about our hosting platform that should prove appealing to virtual airlines and I have outlined them below.

Our web hosting system is run and managed by flight simulation professionals. We know what virtual airlines and flight simulation communities need to succeed and we’re doing our best to provide it. This includes the way we’ve chosen to integrate and manage our billing system and control panel. It also includes what software we’ve installed on our server (such as the Softaculous one-click installation system, which allows for easy installation of software like MyBB or phpBB).

Free off-site backups that users can restore. This means that every day, our server takes a complete backup of all user files and database information. Then, you as a user can choose to restore some or all of this data at will via cPanel. For example, if you accidentally delete an important file, or you delete the wrong database table, you can fix it immediately. It also means that even a complete TFDi Design server failure cannot lose your data.

Account migration services. Switching web hosts can be a nightmare, we know. We’ll move your website and databases to our servers (and configure them) when you order the $5 account migration service.

Two virtual airline-tailored plans. We offer a Standard and a Plus plan. The Standard plan offers 5GB of disk space, one addon domain, and unlimited resources – this allows a VA to start and grow without restriction. We also offer a Plus plan with 10GB of disk space and unlimited addon domains. Airlines that require large amounts of space or have more than two domains on their account can utilize this option to meet their needs.

Free phpVMS installation and configuration services. Looking to get started with a new airline or you don’t quite know where to start? We’ll do it for you and guide you through the process.

Get started with Standard Hosting for $6/month at https://tfdidesign.com/accounts/cart.php?a=add&pid=5

Get started with Plus Hosting for $9/month at https://tfdidesign.com/accounts/cart.php?a=add&pid=6

The product page for our web hosting is available at https://tfdidesign.com/index.php?p=hosting.

turbofandude

This is TrueGlass

Today at the FlightSimShow in Cosford, we announced the new technology called TrueGlass. TrueGlass is quite a few different things at once, primarily it is a windscreen precipitation effect and wiper system. Secondly, it will also support icing and condensation down the road. We are happy to announce this new product and invite you to watch the video below:

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is this the same thing as the default rain effects in Prepar3D V4.1?

A. No, this is a completely custom solution to add rain effects to the windscreen of the aircraft. It has support for speed transitions, wipers, and other weather variables other than rain. This system does work in version 4.0 of Prepar3D and does not rely on the default rain effects.

Q. Is it performance heavy?

A. Based on user testing and reporting, the rain effects have little to no effect on simulator performance.

Q. Is this technology easily implemented in other aircraft?

A. This technology is available to developers to license on a per aircraft basis. For developers reading, it is an easily configurable file and minor model modification.

Q. What does it cost to consumers?

A. With the TFDi Design 717, this will be a free update. It will be available via the Community Opt-In Beta for testing and verification, then we will be rolling it out in a future update to the rest of the license holders of the 717.

turbofandude

We’ve been quiet for a while (like always – our progress tends to come in waves), but I want to break the silence to give everyone some information regarding the 717’s progress. Today’s update won’t have pictures, but there is some information I want to share.

As it is, the virtual cockpit, external model, systems, and flight dynamics model are being developed by different team members at the same time. We will continue this throughout the development, which will let us move faster without loosing quality. As promised from the start, we’re pushing development speed as hard as we can without sacrificing quality. In addition to the amount of people working on the project, we have thousands of pages of reference material and countless pictures taken by 717 crew members specifically for us that have been our guidelines while making this airplane.

On that note, I want to talk about our “lite” simulation plans. Originally, that idea was intended as a way to deliver the 717 to our followers faster, as well as involve the community (which we will still be doing). As progress has become more reliable, we’ve been able to reconsider our plans. As of now, the initial release is no longer planned to be lite. This decision was made as a result of the speedup in development (which we alluded to when we announced our contract with Milviz), a growing library of resources (which were not available when we planned the lite release), and our utilization of new technology.

This “new technology” will remain secret until release, however, it has allowed us to do a few things that users will appreciate. Our systems will be very detailed and accurate (for instance, our primary flight display is currently accurate within a pixel of the real one – less than 0.2% difference), and we will continue to go the extra mile to match small details. Something that this new technology delivers is the ability to have such details with next to no impact on the framerate. Now, we can develop a higher quality visual model and still end up with better performance than the old technology would have delivered. Similarly, we will be able to introduce new features which were previously considered impossible due to their performance overhead.

So, although we’ve been quiet, it is for good reason. We are making progress very quickly and look forward to sharing pictures in one of our next progress updates.

turbofandude

It has been about four months since we announced the 717 project, and it’s time for us to let you know what’s been happening. While we were working on smartCARS, progress was being made on the 717. As of now, we have an animated 717 external model ready for exporting to Flight Simulator. This means that texturing will begin shortly, and you will start to see in-sim screenshots. Below are our second, and likely last set of 3DS renders of the 717 before you start in-sim previews.

 

post-1-0-00296500-1354418016 post-1-0-80659400-1354424943 post-1-0-16604600-1354418025 post-1-0-14310200-1354418029

 

 

Now, we have some things to tell everyone.

  • We are expecting a completed external model, including animations and textures in early 2013. We will, at that point, begin showing in-sim videos and more screenshots than before.
  • We have begun collecting the resources for the sound package, and but we have no estimate on completion.
  • We have purchased manuals and resources needed for the systems. This means that we will begin the instrument programming soon.
  • We are going to follow through on our concept of an initial ‘lite’ release, followed by the full release later on.

I’m leaving this unlocked for now, so feel free respond. Thank you for reading, and we hope you’re enjoying your weekend!

turbofandude

Introduction

To us, one of the most notable things missing in commercial aviation simulation was the feeling of teamwork and the feeling of having an aircraft full of people counting on you to get them to where they need to be. There is a responsibility to make it to your destination on time smoothly and without issue, or if that’s not possible, properly communicate it to your passengers and crew. Every flight brings a whole new group of people and potentially new situations to handle. Our goal was to bring this experience to flight simulation; and so we present Passenger and Crew Experience – PACX.

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Dynamic Announcements

The first area that needed addressing was flight attendant announcements. With PACX, the announcements you hear are tailored specifically to your flight. For example, if you’re flying a morning flight number 4553 to Los Angeles, you will hear “Good morning ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard flight 4553 with service to Los Angeles”. If you’re flying an evening flight number 2236 to Atlanta, you will hear “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard flight 2236 with service to Atlanta”.

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In additional to flight specific data, announcements will vary between flights. You could complete several consecutive flights and hear different announcements, in a slightly different order, on each flight. This provides the feeling of having an actual crew on the aircraft.

Passenger AI Simulation

PACX simulates every passenger on the aircraft individually. They all have their own personality. Some may be flying for business and be very particular about their schedules. Others flying for leisure may be more lax. Some may be aviation enthusiasts and won’t be as bothered by turbulence, whereas others who are more nervous fliers will be more on edge about it. These nuances, and many more, will factor in to overall flight satisfaction and the odds and nature of in-flight events.

It is important to note that the extent of the passenger and crew AI is purely through text/menus. You will not physically see passengers in your cabin.

Interaction

For the first time, you will be able to interact directly with the crew and passengers.

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If you’re behind schedule, you can notify the passengers ahead of time and they will be more forgiving. If you fail to notify them, it will more severely affect their flight satisfaction. In the event of an aircraft problem, being communicative with your passengers and crew can aid in calming them during the emergency procedures.

In some cases, a passenger related disturbance may occur. You will be able to instruct the crew how to deal with the problem, when applicable, and the subsequent events will happen accordingly.

Vocal Control

In addition to the traditional interaction menu, you will be able to interact with your passengers and crew verbally. For example, if you cue up the microphone and say “Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize, but we’re going to be a bit behind schedule today. We’ve having a few minor technical issues but should have them worked out shortly”, the interaction system will intelligently figure out what you said and notify the passengers and crew accordingly. You’ll then see that they are all a little frustrated, the nervous fliers may be a bit more anxious, and the expected time of arrival will be extended.

listening-UI.png

Design Decisions

We wanted to ensure that the information presented to the pilot was done so in an immersive and reasonable way. You will not see a percentage indicating the passengers’ overall satisfaction. It will be much more generalized and realistic. If you want to dig deeper into each passenger’s information, a menu will be provided to allow you to do so, to simulate speaking to the passenger directly.

in-flight-UI.png

The interface itself is designed to be minimal and not intrusive. PACX is built to fit in to your existing work flow and doesn’t directly replace other software. As it aims solely to provide a thorough and immersive in-flight experience, other airline management, tycoon-style, or economy software should be compatible.

Expansion and Integration

We intend to offer the ability for PACX flight reports to be included as part of a pilot report for virtual airlines to assist in virtual flight quality assurance. We also intend to integrate directly with select third party aircraft to allow immersive interaction, like in-cockpit controls for queuing up your microphone or bringing up the interaction menu.

That said, we would like to expand PACX heavily depending on community feedback. We want to hear ideas for what would bring an extra level of immersion to your in-flight experience.

Questions and Answers

Q. Is PACX only compatible with the TFDi Design 717?

A. No, PACX will be compatible with any aircraft. The direct in-cockpit integration will only be with select aircraft, but PACX itself will work fully with any.

Q. Will I be able to have a safety video instead of a spoken safety announcement?

A. Yes, an option will be provided to play a custom safety video in place of the spoken safety announcement.

Q. Will PACX only support commercial flight?

A. Although it was designed around commercial flight, we intend to add support for general aviation, corporate aviation, and military flight as well, but they may not necessarily be in the initial release.

Q. What will the price be?

A. As PACX is a utility, it will be priced competitively to comparable utilities on the market currently.

Q. Will PACX support X-Plane?

A. Yes, along with support for Microsoft Flight Simulator X and Prepar3D, our intent is to make PACX fully compatible with X-Plane.

Q. When will PACX be available?

A. As we continue to progress, we will provide a more specific timeline.

turbofandude

A modern and inviting brand is important in the era of social media and technology. As all of us here at TFDi Design continue to push the limits of flight simulation with both smartCARS and the 717, we figured it would be a good time to finally give our public appearance a new beginning.

 

The Colors

The first step at creating a fresh look for TFDi Design was to create a color combination that was inviting while still sticking to a red. After careful tweaking of RGB values, we decided on a deep red and dark gray (and white if/when needed).

TFDi Design Color Scheme

The Logo

Next, we had to come up with a logo that the entire staff was happy with and that we thought the community would like. From the beginning of the design process, we knew that we wanted to maintain some form of a ‘swirl’ as a sort of tribute to the original icon that has been with the company since its inception.

After some rough concept work in Photoshop, we came up with the design below.

TFDi Design New Icon Attempt

This was nice, but it didn’t quite cut it for us. After some more trial and error, we found that creating a circle and cutting the above shape out of the circle left us with a rather interesting design.

TFDi Design New Icon Attempt 2

The staff was sold. The basic shape of this icon was very much liked by all members of the team. With the design decided, we created a vector version of the icon that is more symmetrical than the concept/mock-up.

Now that we had a clean/vector version of the final icon, we added text and began trying different color combinations before we finally decided on the final version of the logo shown below.

TFDi Design New Logo

The Website

With the new color scheme and logo ready, we set to work designing and coding a brand new website. Our previous website, although it did its job, was definitely beginning to show its age. From the outside, it was clunky, more difficult to navigate than we’d like, and not laid out in a way that fit where we want to take the company. We started the process by upgrading our content management/billing system to the latest version and repairing the current outstanding issues.

Then we began the front end work. The design started by us scrapping the previous design we tried and building on similar ideas (much like we did for smartCARS 2 – which also ended up being for the better). Once we knew what we wanted to do, we started coding it.

 

Mobile Centricity

Today’s society is becoming more mobile powered than ever before and it was about time we responded. We reached into the mobile software world with smartCARS Mobile and it was only fitting that our web technology joined it. We designed every page to maintain the adaptive/responsive experience it needed to be not only viewable, but enticing and productive, on a mobile device. We modified templates of the content management system itself, as well as adapted its responsive elements into third party modules we’ve implemented.

We ensured that breadcrumbs are accurate and present where applicable, menus react to device size to showcase content, and that graphics are effective and immersive across all viewing experiences. Careful consideration was given to color choice, content location, interactive effects, and responsive adaptations.

 

Revisited Logic

We re-evaluated our core principles relating to how our content is laid out to create a more user-friendly experience. Menus aren’t as deep, links are more logical, and navigation is far more intuitive. We’ll be working on improving our knowledgebase content over the coming weeks, as well, to offer a more robust and helpful library.

 

Upward and Onward

This is not just a new website for us. It’s us taking the next step toward sculpting TFDi and demonstrating our growth as developers, business managers, and community members. Our logo’s colors represent our ideals – the red is the passion, the fun, and the creativity that fuels our work. The black represents the business, logic, traditions, and guidelines that we follow and set that keep us traveling in the best possible direction. The shape of our logo, the swirl, which was originally loosely based on the appearance of the center of a jet engine (with the cone painted white), is still present, representing our commitment to our roots and morals.

We’re confident that we’ll be able to continue to not only meet, but exceed both our expectations and our customers’ expectations as we continue to progress. We all look forward to the year of the 717 and beyond.

turbofandude

(The following part was written by Collin Biedenkapp)

Since the launch of the 1.0.6.0 to the community beta, we’ve been doing a lot behind the scenes and we’ve had a bit of a shift in position. A lot has changed since the last update already and there is more to come. We’ve been much quieter than we had previously been (which, despite how it may feel, is actually a good thing) and I will explain that.

A Little Background

Since release, we’ve all (the TFDi team) come to realize that we were looking at the state of the aircraft the wrong way. In the professional software world, releasing an initial iteration of a program and adding features over time is not only acceptable but standard. This is exactly what we did. That said, that method of approaching it is unreasonable for something like an aircraft. You wouldn’t make a car without air conditioning and windshield wipers but promise them later – that is more how our release happened (but not what we intended). That leads to our shift in position – along with the community beta, which gave us a place to test things before we throw them into the official release, we’re working on not band-aiding bullet holes.

First, what’s new (so far).

The REF System

In the spirit of more meaningful updates and permanent solutions, we started by revising the MCDU, page by page, and correcting/finishing it. So far, we’ve added the entire REF system (minus one page, which is pending a change in another system). Here are some images of it.

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The REF system, although it may not be the seemingly highest priority, was the foundation for another feature that plays a big role during particular approaches – place/bearing/distance (PBD) waypoints. Here’s an image of that working.

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We also revisited the system that handles pilot waypoint entry, which allowed us to support latitude/longitude waypoint entry and brings both PBDs and latlon waypoint support to the FIX, REF, DIR INTC, and FPLN pages all at once.

 

The MCDU Annunciators

Along with the improvements to the MCDU, we’ve also added the annunciator lights for various scenarios.

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The 2D Popups

For those of you not participating in the Community Opt-in Beta (COB), we’ve added the ability to hide the yokes and 2D popups for the 6 display units, the standby display, and both MCDUs. We’ve also improved their default size and position since 1.0.6.0, as seen by their new default position below.

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Here is the 2D MCDU.

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VMIN/Approach Performance

Further improvements have been made to the autothrottle system and FADEC/engine response since 1.0.6.0. We’ve also redone the VMIN calculation which will allow the aircraft to properly fly its approach speeds (and the autothrottle can actually be trusted to fly that close to VMIN now).

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Stability/Bug Fixes

In addition to a slew of fixes between 1.0.6.0 (for those not in the COB) and 1.0.6.1, we’ve fixed one of the major issues not covered by other systems – the sound spool down during takeoff. The sounds work as they should during takeoff and climb now. We’ve also launched our advanced crash debugging system to help us isolate and solve the remaining CTDs. Performance remains an issue for a handful of users and we’re still looking at it, but just as we focused on performance/stability initially, now we’re focusing on the airplane as a whole before polishing it again. It’s a process but we’re on the right side of it now.

What’s Pending Code/Systems-Wise

We’ve got a lot of big items on our to-do list and some that are in progress. Here are a few major items that I can’t show off quite yet but will make it into the next release.

  • Significantly improved NAV magenta line tracking (including through turns)
  • ETE (and possibly EFOB)
  • Automatic turn coordination
  • Mouse wheel acceleration for AFS knobs

In addition to those, we’ll be continuing through the MCDU and finishing it, both in terms of stability and functionality. Once the MCDU is at a place we’re happy with it, we will begin the same process on the autoflight system to squash the rest of its bugs. Once both of those are complete, along with the rest of the bugs we’ll fix and requests we’ll honor, the aircraft will be borderline unrecognizable from its initial release in December.

(The following part was written by Brandon Filer)

Visual Updates

While improvements have been made to the systems, I’ve been working on a ton of enhancements to the exterior.

To give some background, the original artists who did the modeling/texture work on both the exterior and interior left a lot to be desired. Over the last two years of development, I’ve done a ton of work on the cockpit to bring it up to our standards and to represent the real aircraft as closely as possible. As we approached the end of development, we ran out of time to revisit the exterior.

Since release, I’ve been working to bring the quality of the exterior up to that of the cockpit. It was for this reason that we have continued to hold the release of the paintkit to the public. Since many of the changes made have been to the textures (and there have even been a few mapping changes), we didn’t want to release the paintkit, only to end up releasing an update that would break all repaints.

 

What’s New/Improved

  • Improved/optimized materials
  • New environment map for better-looking reflections
  • Fixed loss of reflections when turning on logo light
  • Redid cargo bay textures

A few screenshots showing the new environment map:

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As well, here’s a before and after of the cargo bay textures.

 

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Before
717_cargo_bay_after-300x166.png
After

What’s Still Being Worked on

  • Redo of all seams/rivets on the fuselage and wings (very inaccurate/generic before, and lots of missing details)
  • Redo of all normal maps (rivets were way too big/pronounced before)
  • Paintkit being made in 4K to enable painters to optionally offer 4096×4096 versions of their liveries (not ideal in a 32-bit environment for VAS reasons, but good for future-proofing or for those with few addons)
  • Various improvements to textures in general (more dirt and details, along with better coloring of certain parts)
  • New alpha channels (some parts are reflective, but shouldn’t be, etc)
  • Cabin illumination at night
  • Exterior lights will illuminate the surrounding parts (ex. beacon will illuminate the top of the fuselage)

For the sake of comparison, here is a before and after of the nose.

717_rivets_before-300x224.png
Before (2k texture resolution)
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After, WIP (4k texture resolution)

(The following part was written by Collin Biedenkapp)

Timelines

We’ve been quiet while we were working this time. We’ve been focusing primarily on getting the improvements done and plowing through the prerequisites to pave the way to permanent answers. Rest assured, although you haven’t heard as much from us, we haven’t retreated away. We will release 1.0.6.1 to the COB when it’s in a good place, but we’re reworking some areas at the moment. We highly encourage anyone interested in helping us polish the aircraft to participate in the COB. Our goal is to have the aircraft essentially complete before the next major non-beta release.

Closing

I encourage you to check out our changelog here and the development tracker here to stay up to date with our changes and have your feedback heard.

turbofandude

The initial release of the TFDi Design 717 on December 23, 2016 that we initially thought was the end of the journey ended up being the start of an entirely new one. We learned a great deal about aircraft development, product life-cycle, and community management. It is with great pleasure that we now announce the release of version 1.1 of the TFDi Design 717. This version is what we originally envisioned when we started the project.

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Major Changes from Version 1.0.8.0

The Community Opt-in Beta has helped us research, develop, test, and refine the product over the last year and a half. The customers who aren’t part of the COB will notice a massive number of additions, fixes, and changes, but we’ve selected some to highlight below.

  • A totally revamped exterior model including wing flex and cabin lights
  • Paint kit
  • Official Prepar3D v4 support
  • Major AFS and MCDU improvements, such as
    • Better NAV logic
    • Better PROF logic
    • Proper ATS CLAMP functionality
    • Improved altitude, speed, fuel, and time predictions
    • Various new MCDU functions
    • Improved MCDU interaction and display
    • Improved leg sequencing and insertion
    • HOLD support
    • AFS-guided VOR tracking support
  • ADF simulation
  • Scroll and drag support for documents on the tablet
  • RemoteCDU integration
  • Improved VOR simulation
  • Improved ND PLAN mode
  • Pause at top of descent option
  • Improved engine performance throughout various stages of flight
  • Settings page within the tablet for applicable on-demand settings
  • Revamped terrain display
  • Improved air  manifold pressure and demand system
  • Improved FADEC and throttle behavior
  • Improved ground taxi behavior
  • Various minor improvements to cockpit and night lighting textures
  • New performance options via the Addon Manager
  • Yoke light
  • Improved hardware and MCDU keyboard interaction
  • Improved internal logic to improve system resource utilization

And MANY more. For a full list, please visit the changelog here.

Where to Buy/How to Update

If you already own the 717, the TFDi Design Addon Manager will handle downloading and installing the update automatically. Liveries will need to be reinstalled, as they and external model have changed.

To learn more about the 717 and purchase it, visit the product page on our website here.

What to Expect Now

With the active development of the TFDi Design 717 winding down, we will begin to put more focus on upcoming projects. We’ve announced Passenger and Crew Experience (PACX), and that will be our focus for the immediate future. We will, of course, over the coming weeks, months, and years periodically update the TFDi Design 717 with new features or fixes as appropriate, but the rate of development and updates will be significantly slower. Users experiencing issues will still receive the quality and timely support they’ve come to expect from us during development.

Although we’ve announced PACX already, we have more projects lined up, but they’ll get their time to shine in the future. More frequent progress updates on PACX and subsequent projects, as we reveal them, should be expected.

Conclusion

I’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank every single one of our community testers, customers, and fans for their immense support and patience. Although the road to get here was a little windier than we expected, I know I speak for all of us when I say thank you. We’re looking forward to seeing the TFDi Design 717 in screenshots, videos, and events. We’re proud to be where we are, and we can’t wait to demonstrate what we’re capable of with our future products.

turbofandude

It’s been amazing seeing the number of people enjoying our latest update (v1.1) to the TFDi Design 717. If you haven’t yet had a chance to check it out, be sure to open the TFDi Design Addon Manager to download the update. Version 1.1 comes with official P3Dv4 support, a revamped external model and textures, and a slew of new features/fixes/improvements.  We are not going to go into detail about v1.1 in this post (since we have already done that), however, you can read more about it here. That said, we have some exciting events that we will highlight below.

#FreshPaintFriday

So what is #FreshPaintFriday? #FreshPaintFriday (FPF) will be an ongoing event where we release new official liveries for the 717 created by our in-house team of artists. We will go over the history of each aircraft and where it is today. FPF will happen on Fridays over the course of the next couple of months. It may skip a week if needed, as some of the liveries will take longer than others to get right. We won’t be taking requests, however, we do have a list of liveries that have already been heavily requested. Each Friday, we will announce the new livery and provide it for download on our forums. We may also show off a user-created livery on FPF as an honorable mention.

So what’s our first FPF repaint? We’re excited to show off the very cool livery for OH-BLG of Blue1. This one has taken quite a while to get right due to its complexity, but it definitely shows when you look at it in the sim.

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Blue1 was a former carrier for the 717 before it sold its fleet to Delta and Volotea. This particular bird served with Blue1 for nearly 5 years, but it started its life as part of AeBal fleet under the EC-HNY registration.

blue1.png

The different paint schemes of this airframe.

It was delivered on June 15th, 2000 out of Boeing’s Long Beach factory. For the first 5 years of its life, EC-HNY flew for AeBal, followed by 1 year with Germanwings. It was then returned to AeBal where it served for 3 more years and later wore Quantum Air colors when AeBal was replaced by Quantum. After all this time of identity crisis, it finally found a home with Blue1. This is the point in time that we have restored this bird to. It flew with Blue1 before SAS sold this aircraft to Volotea. After it was sold, the bird lost its Blue1 registration and was re-registered as EC-MEZ.

You can download the Blue1 livery for the 717 here: http://tfdi.design/blue1

Summer Fun

We will be doing several other fun things over the course of the remaining summer months. We will be hosting a screenshot contest, which will be worth participating in, as we have some exciting prizes for winning. More details on this to come soon. We will also continue to share some of the cool new features in v1.1 of the 717 on our social media pages, featuring different functions of the aircraft that you may have skimmed over.

As part of our ongoing efforts to stay connected with the community, we will be sponsoring VATSIM events during this time and providing some giveaway prizes for these as well. One of the events worth participating in is the Boston Tea Party event put on by BVA! Read more about that here.

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Join us at the Boston Tea Party VATSIM Event!

If you have a screenshot you want to share with the team or the world, be sure to tag us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and we might share it! If you haven’t already followed our social media accounts, you can find them here: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Summary

We are looking to have fun with the community over the next few months! We will be participating in events and releasing some cool new liveries for the 717 during this time. Our social media feed will be a great place to keep track of what’s going on and what’s coming up.

turbofandude

Folks,

First, let me start off by saying this has been an incredible journey. We made a commitment that 2016 would be the year of the 717, and so it shall be. Before I announce the all important date and time, there’s something I’d like to share.

The release for us isn’t the end of the journey. It is a start, in a way. We believe the product we’re going to release will be thorough and enjoyable. That said, like any other product, especially the first release, it will not be perfect. We have developed technology to deliver updates that are smaller, quicker, and easier than they are for any comparable product. There are many things we intend to expand and improve in time. These updates will be provided frequently and free of charge to all customers, naturally, potentially excluding something like support for a new simulator platform or an entirely new expansion to the product.

We are ready to begin the second half of this journey, and at 6:00PM Eastern (2300z) on December 22nd, you will be too.

I’ll leave off with a few pictures of the aircraft at night, as we haven’t shown that off much yet.

 

717_release_night_2 717_release_night_3 717_release_night_1

turbofandude

Public Update Released (1.0.8.0)

To say it’s been a long road for everyone would be an understatement. We’ve been busy for the last 6 months getting this aircraft to where the community had expected it to be back in December. There were a great number of areas that we realized were lacking, so we spent the first half of this year working on enhancing the aircraft with those of you who opted into the Community Beta. As of update 1.0.8.0, these improvements are now available to the public. With your help, we’ve been able to bring the aircraft to a point that we’re happy to put our name on it. A full list of the changes that have been made can be found here.

The team would like to thank all who participated and gave feedback during the Community Opt-in Beta.

If you are having issues with the new version, please submit bugs and suggestions here.

If you are having issues with activation, please open a ticket with us here.

Immediate Future

We can hear the question already, “Where’s the paint kit?” Well, we’re working on finishing up the changes to the exterior of the aircraft as fast as possible. Once these are completed, we can release the paint kit to you. We believe this to be a short-term goal to get finished, not something that is on the back burner.

We are also working on getting the aircraft ready for Prepar3D v4. This is something we are also hoping to have available to you soon. We are dealing with a couple CTDs and adding support for new technologies that are available to us in this sim. This is also a short-term goal for us.

Going forward, there will still be ongoing updates, but once these two final short term goals have been completed, some of our focus will be moved to future projects that we are excited to tell you about in due time.

If you are going to be attending FlightSimCon in Connecticut (June 10-11), we would like to see you! Please stop by and say hello at booths 207 and 208. Most of our team will be there and happy to answer questions.

turbofandude

Our first post under our new brand will be a fun one. Today, we’ll go into more detail about where we’re at on the FMS and navigational equipment.

 

MCDU and Flight Management System

717_irs_and_mcdus_1

Yes, the keyboard has been disabled while we’re still working on the FMS. There are three main pieces – navigation, performance, and miscellaneous (everything not covered by the first two). We’ve made solid progress in fractions of the time it traditionally takes, which is music to all of our ears. As of now, the flight planning and navigation portion of the flight computer is mostly complete. Basic planning such as departure airport and arrival airport are already complete, and terminal procedures (SIDs fully, STARs partially), airways, and direct legs are functional. We’ll be cleaning up a few areas of concern and implementing the last of the features on that front.

I’m sure you’re wondering how we’ve made such progress without an in-sim keyboard. We build all of our technology in a notoriously modular fashion – this means we are able to plug and play components in a matter of minutes. For those of you with coding background, our modularity extends to the point that installing the electrical system, for example, consisted of adding a call to “execute_electrical_system();” to our main system function. Once installed, it reads from the rest of the aircraft’s systems and populates them with information about the electrical system. What this means for the 717 is that, when more complete, we’ll install our extensible and configurable “FlightManagementSystem” module to the aircraft and hook it up to the screen. Until then, we’re developing it in a sandbox project where testing and changes are infinitely easier (this is part of how we optimized the process).

 

Navigation Data

We had intended to use Aerosoft’s NavDataPro for our navigation data source. Since that decision was originally made, we were finally able to get in touch with Navigraph (the fault was ours – we had reached out to them via the wrong venue and our message got lost). Since then, they’ve been equally as supportive and friendly as Aerosoft. Additionally, Navigraph has provided us with a navigation data format that has worked very well with our FMS platform and that has made development more efficient. Our plan is to work with Aerosoft to unify the formats, but we can’t officially confirm whether or not we’ll be able to support NavDataPro.

 

IRS and GNSS

Recently, we have been researching inertial navigation systems (IRSs) and the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). These two concepts play major roles in providing the 717 its navigation and gyroscopic (pitch, bank, heading, etc.) information. We’re working on creating an IRS that will drift, over time, if not updated by other systems and a GNSS unit that reports realistically accurate positions. As well, we’re working on isolating both on and off-side air data and inertial reference units to bring function to the gusset panel. We have mapped out and begun coding modular IRS and GNSS systems to install into the 717 – that, and its implications, will fit nicely into our next article. The displays are prepared to accept IRS input, however, and our air data computer sensor simulation will integrate nicely.

717_irs_and_mcdus_2

 

The Immediate Future

We’ll be posting more soon, as there are other developments happening that we haven’t covered in this article (hint, there isn’t an INOP sticker on DU2 and DU4 anymore), but we wanted to leave off on this. We’ve confirmed that this is the year of the 717 – it will be released in 2016. When, exactly, we can’t confirm, of course, but it’s safe to say that the majority of the hurdles that were mystifying our date estimates, such as the autopilot, FMS, and some of our unnamed but exciting features, have all progressed better than expected. We’re at a very good place.

turbofandude

Background

Since release, we’ve received quite a bit of criticism on our night lighting in the cockpit. Although not unjustified, it’s been frustrating for us, because it would take completely remapping the entire cockpit (an involved process) to even make a dent. Then, we’d still have to find a way to get around the old 16 bit format and poor blending methods available to us in older simulator platforms.

With that in mind, we started evaluating ways to improve the lighting. We arrived at RealLight.

 

Technology

This new technology uses new systems available in Prepar3D v4 to offer near instant, crystal clear, efficient lighting. This eliminates the blotchy look (banding) that we saw previously. Unfortunately, to use the technology properly, we had to utilize functionality only available in Prepar3D v4. The lack of memory constraints also helped.

The foundation of the technology inspired by the Milviz Lighting System that we had used prior (special credit to Jon Bleeker at Milviz). Our developers had worked along side him to refine and expand that system, and it served as a springboard into RealLight, although the conversion ultimately caused a rewrite of nearly all code. Credit to him for the blending method is due.

Unlike other third party solutions, RealLight must be implemented by the developers at a lower level of the project – the result, of course, being an integrated experience.

 

Media

Here is a comparison between the old method and RealLight.

Prepar3D v3 and below:

 2017-8-11_5-25-2-776.bmp

RealLight in Prepar3D v4:

2017-8-11_5-22-52-601.jpg

 

Why RealLight

We decided to brand RealLight as a technology standard so that other products using it will be able to establish to their users an expectation of quality. We intend to use this technology in other products and are looking in to licensing or sharing the technology with other developers.

 

Additional Media

717_introducing_reallight_preview_1.png 717_introducing_reallight_preview_2.png

turbofandude

It’s been a little while since our last update, but we return bearing news. Since our last update, we’ve made progress in four major areas.

 

Navigation Display (ND)

In our last pictures, the second and fifth displays were still off. This is no longer the case. Although it’s not complete yet, we now have the navigation display present and functional with wind indication and even a radar of some sort (hint hint). Here’s the ND without air data input:

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Here it is with everything set up:

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We will focus almost exclusively on the ND when the time is right, so don’t worry if it looks a little barren now.

 

Engines And Engine and Alert Display (EAD)

We’ve got the pneumatic system started now (visible by the non-zero manifold pressure and temperatures on the system displays), which was the last component required to implement the engine starters. This, of course, urged us to progress the EAD enough to display what the engines are doing. Here it is with the engines started:

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Note: the “AC/PRESS INOP” warning is there as a reminder to the internal team that the pneumatic system isn’t complete yet. We’ve been working closely with our flight dynamics expert to get engine timing and numbers right. We’ll create a video showing the engine starter system once we’ve got all of the indications and modes working properly and the sounds are fully in place.

 

Flight Management System

One of the reasons we’ve been very quiet is our recent devotion to the FMS. It has progressed in leaps and bounds since we lasted posted about it. It now properly supports SIDs, STARs, airways, and is in the process of getting the remainder of its flight planning capabilities implemented. A little more cleanup and it’ll be time to move on to performance. As discussed, the FMS won’t be seen functioning in the VC until it’s nearly complete, so do not be alarmed by its absence.

 

The (Near) Future

We’ve very close to several large internal milestones. Once these are hit, the next phase of development (no, not beta just yet) and subsequently, how we’ll be presenting information about the aircraft’s progress, will begin. That said, some of the things to look forward to in our next progress update include the rest of the pneumatic system, the annunciators, some major visual improvements to various cockpit components, and the first pass at the autopilot (meaning heading, altitude, speed, N1, and vertical speed modes).

turbofandude

TFDi Design is happy to announce we will be doing a live stream of the 717’s first public flight on June 9th, 2016 at 10 PM GMT (3 PM PDT/6 PM EDT). You will be able to tune into our stream at twitch.tv/tfdidesign to watch and chat with us! We will be flying the aircraft from startup to shutdown.

This will be the first time that the community will get to see the full scale of the 717 project, not just screenshots or highlight videos. The stream will provide you the opportunity to directly inform the team of your feedback and input to help improve the plane. It will also allow us to answer community questions about the plane and the development process.

The 717 is a unique plane in real life and we feel that we have captured its personality quite well in the simulator. We look forward to sharing how far we have come and we’re excited to hear what you, the community, have to say about it.

turbofandude

We appreciate the feedback everyone has provided to us over the last several months! We have been listening and making major changes to the aircraft and have compiled many of these changes to this update. Below is a list of changes made to the aircraft.

The MCDU and community feedback update

  • [ADDED] Additional functionality to FMS SPD button
  • [ADDED] Additional functionality to INIT page
  • [ADDED] EBOF functionality
  • [ADDED] Fire FAULT TEST functionality
  • [ADDED] PRED TO functionality
  • [ADDED] Several missing alerts
  • [ADDED] Several missing annunciations on the ND
  • [ADDED] T/C to the ND and MCDU
  • [ADDED] T/D to the ND and MCDU
  • [ADDED] Deviation indicator circles to ND APPR mode
  • [ADDED] “VERT ALERT” annunciation and associated logic
  • [ADDED] MCDU annunciators
  • [ADDED] REF system
  • [ADDED] CO ROUTE support
  • [ADDED] “CHECK BALLAST FUEL” message when applicable
  • [ADDED] Localizer DME distance indication
  • [ADDED] Additional PROF functionality
  • [ADDED] Yaw damper turn coordination functionality
  • [ADDED] “CDU MSG” annunciation to ND
  • [ADDED] Independent FMC emulation
  • [ADDED] MCDU standby functionality
  • [ADDED] Support for latitude/longitude entry as a waypoint
  • [ADDED] Support for place/bearing/distance (PBD) waypoints
  • [ADDED] Proper functionality of landing lights and nose light with respect to gear handle position
  • [ADDED] Option to synchronize both altimeters when not flying in shared cockpit
  • [ADDED] Ability to synchronize the minimums when not flying in shared cockpit
  • [ADDED] Option to accelerate mouse scrolling for various knobs
  • [ADDED] Chocks and cones
  • [ADDED] ETE
  • [ADDED] Vertical deviation display to DESCENT PERF page
  • [ADDED] Proper handling of early and late descent to PROF
  • [FIXED] Inability to LAT REV to NEXT WPT via the FROM leg
  • [FIXED] Missing wipers in external model
  • [FIXED] View finder
  • [FIXED] Missing approach transitions under some conditions
  • [FIXED] Speedbrake behavior
  • [FIXED] FCP drawing bug relating to PROF status
  • [FIXED] Missing alerts and annunciator statuses during GPWS test
  • [FIXED] PROF altitude drawing bug on PFD relating to very low altitudes
  • [FIXED] Vibrations not displaying at the correct time
  • [FIXED] Display error on DESCENT PERF page
  • [FIXED] Circuit breaker light not functioning on “DIM” setting
  • [FIXED] GO AROUND page
  • [FIXED] Engine indications during startup
  • [FIXED] Some missing legs on SIDs and STARs
  • [FIXED] “WXR ON” only showing in WXR mode when WXR is on during ground operations
  • [FIXED] Distance based leg naming
  • [FIXED] An issue preventing approaches/runways from being listed
  • [FIXED] Some altitude restrictions not displaying properly
  • [FIXED] VMIN being way too high (preventing proper approach speeds)
  • [FIXED] Deleting the CLB THRUST altitude improperly resetting it to 1500 above the departure airport
  • [FIXED] ATS “RETARD” mode during non-autoland situations
  • [FIXED] MCDU scratchpad resetting when 24 characters are entered
  • [FIXED] PPOS displaying incorrectly on the PROG page
  • [FIXED] MCDU resetting to the start of the STAR if the runway is changed
  • [FIXED] AFS speed selection during departure
  • [FIXED] Missing information on DUPLICATE NAMES page
  • [FIXED] Erroneous FLAP DISAG with certain flap settings
  • [FIXED] Erroneous BANK ANGLE warning
  • [FIXED] Graphic issue with left master warning
  • [FIXED] Observers unable to pop out displays or hide yoke
  • [FIXED] Engine sound spooling down during takeoff
  • [FIXED] 2D popups appearing black until resized in FSX
  • [FIXED] Various MCDU operation improvements
  • [FIXED] A display bug on the IRS STATUS page
  • [FIXED] A bug that could cause pitch oscillations in HOLD and VS AFS modes
  • [FIXED] Landing light splash staying illuminated incorrectly
  • [FIXED] Data display on ND showing some characters too large
  • [FIXED] Data display on ND showing incorrectly at certain headings
  • [FIXED] Reversed animation on left aileron tab
  • [FIXED] Nose gear gravel deflector sticking through nose gear doors
  • [FIXED] Ability to interact via scrolling where it should not be possible
  • [FIXED] Pushing/pulling FCP speed knob engaging ATS
  • [FIXED] Several FMA related issues
  • [FIXED] Several VERT REV related issues
  • [FIXED] Speed of wing landing lights extend/retract animation to match real world speed
  • [CHANGED] Improved magenta line tracking
  • [CHANGED] Improved DRAG messages on MCDU
  • [CHANGED] Optimized rendering pipeline
  • [CHANGED] 2D popups can now be closed by clicking in the center
  • [CHANGED] 2D MCDU popups now honor click/release behavior similar to the 3D MCDU
  • [CHANGED] The default “reset altimeter” function (B by default) now works
  • [CHANGED] Improved 2D popup default sizes and positions
  • [CHANGED] Improved ATS response
  • [CHANGED] Middle clicking the nose/landing lights on the overhead now toggles them all
  • [CHANGED] Increased initial ground drag friction slightly
  • [CHANGED] Various minor interaction improvements
  • [CHANGED] FPLN and DIR TO page now display ” when the previous the prediction was the same
  • [CHANGED] Fuel flow rate
  • [CHANGED] Brake depressurization time

We have also released an update for the addon manager. To update both the plane and addon manager, just open the addon manager and follow the prompts.

turbofandude

Yes, you read the title correctly. After an extremely long journey of over four years, we have set a target beta date that we’re ready to announce. Before I jump right in, I’d like to cover a few important topics.

 

What will “beta” be for this product?

This will not be a several month beta process. We have been in what our community manager, Josh,  has called a “progressive alpha” for just shy of a year. What this means is that many of the systems on the airplane have already been tested relatively thoroughly. They’ve been reviewed by pilots, checked against documents, and tested via aircraft sharing by testing team members and developers alike. The result of this is that our systems are no longer “bleeding edge”. Beta will be aimed primarily at finding and fixing “showstoppers”, meaning crashes, memory issues, or major system malfunctions.

717_approaching_beta_1

 

How will post-release updates work?

No matter how much we prepare, test, and consider, finding EVERYTHING before release is impossible. We’re aware of this and we’re prepared to respond accordingly. Our addon manager will have the ability to deliver updates to the product efficiently (by that, we mean without remembering passwords, re-downloading the entire aircraft, or reactivating). Our intent is to consider the aircraft in active development immediately following its release. Problems will be corrected quickly and we will do everything we can to stay ahead of reported issues.

717_approaching_beta_2

 

What should you expect from here?

We will post another article before release detailing exactly what to expect on launch day, details regarding our activation system, and preparations we’ve made to ensure the best possible service on day 1. Any questions or concerns expressed before then will be handled via that article.

717_approaching_beta_3

 

When will the 717’s beta start?

Thank you for actually reading what I had to say. As of now, our target beta date is December 10th, 2016. At this point, it is time for the testers we’ve confirmed over time to contact us, as we stated you would be told. You must include a reference to your confirmation of acceptance to the beta team in your correspondence. We are not accepting new testers at this time.

We’re almost there folks. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks. We’re still on track for release this year. When we have a firm date, we’ll be sure to let everyone know.

You can discuss this article on the TFDi Design Forums by clicking here.

717_approaching_beta_4

turbofandude

Folks,

Over the last year, thanks to an immense amount of help from the Community Opt-in Beta, we have added, fixed, or changed over 400 different items in the TFDi Design 717 and Addon Manager. It has become largely a new product. With that said, we are approaching version 1.1, which marks the main, public release of the aircraft that we were initially aiming for last December. When we release the update, we will post another article detailing the significant changes.

The Plan

So, that said, we have a few changes we wanted to explain to everyone and make our plan clear. As of version 1.1, you can expect the following:

  • Development effort toward the aircraft will be reduced, though several new features and bug fixes will still occur
  • Information, announcements, etc. for other/future products may occur
  • We will move all posts before version 1.1 to a sub-forum to clean out the main aircraft forums
  • The latest (at the time of the 1.1 release) Community Opt-in Beta version and Prepar3D v4 will become public
  • The Community Opt-in Beta will still be used to test fixes and new features

What will 1.1 Contain?

When we release version 1.1, we will post information detailing specific new features, note-worthy fixes, and significant changes to the aircraft. For users catching up who are not part of the Community Opt-in Beta, you will notice changes like the following:

  • Numerous new MCDU features
  • Innumerable systems additions, improvements, and fixes
  • Major changes to the tablet
  • Countless new Addon Manager features
  • Considerable stability improvements
  • Various CTD fixes
  • Prepar3D v4 support
  • TrueGlass and RealLight (for Prepar3D v4)
  • Significant FADEC and engine improvements
  • Performance improvements
  • And MANY, MANY smaller changes

For a complete list of what has changed in the Community Opt-in Beta, please see the changelog here.

Version 1.1 will also contain the following (that are not currently in the Community Opt-in Beta versions):

  • Exterior texture overhaul and a proper paint kit (this will break existing repaints)
  • Overhauled fan blade appearance and added blurred variants for engine running/high RPM scenarios
  • Wholly rewritten documentation (full systems and FMS guides)
  • Cabin lighting
  • The WING/NACL light in P3Dv4 (this will be released to the Community Opt-in Beta soon, but I listed it here for sanity)
  • Various external model details and fixes

The Future After 1.1

We have promised several features and had intended for them to be in version 1.1. That said, as we’ve discovered, the current Community Opt-in Beta version, 1.0.9.17, is proving to be one the most stable and thorough versions yet. That, combined with the fact that we do not want to hold out on delivering the massive amount of other improvements to the aircraft from customers, led us to delay those features. We want to ensure that a stable, complete version of the plane is available to all customers while we take time to correctly implement and test these new features.

With that in mind, we will continue working on and testing, and at some point in the foreseeable future, add the following features:

  • HOLD
  • ALTN F-PLN
  • Level-off arrows while changing altitudes
  • Official compatibility with specific GoFlight hardware (more details to come)

We do have intentions of adding several other options/features. However, I don’t want to officially promise them as we do not know what the future will hold just yet. We’re aware that the delay of some of these things may frustrate or disappoint some users, so I’d like to take a minute to explain entirely, from our side, our reasoning beyond the obvious.

Last year, as we prepared for release (still blissfully unaware of how far we still had to go), we all strapped in and worked weeks of 16 hour days. During that 6 week sprint, three of us put in, combined, nearly 2000 hours of work. Although I am, to this day, impressed with the level of commitment and dedication my team showed, we felt the effects of that up until around Flight Sim Con 2017. It affected our drive, the enjoyment we took in our work, in some cases, the quality of work, and it contributed largely to the tunnel vision that led us to release the aircraft in the state we did. I made a promise to never do that to my team again, and I wanted to ensure that we all, our fans, customers, and us alike, can enjoy the holiday season this year with our families. So, this, combined with the fact that we have a version of the aircraft we know everyone will enjoy and that the remaining features will require more time and testing, we decided that this was the best route to take for everyone.

Conclusion

Although we will not announce the exact date of this update, it is getting VERY close. We all sincerely appreciate your patience and enthusiasm and look forward to seeing you all fly what our vision for this aircraft was. Also, to add some media to the wall of text above, here is a preview at cruising altitude with the WING/NACL light on in Prepar3D V4:

717_wingnacl-1024x576.png

turbofandude

It is with great excitement, pride, and some nerves, that we announce the release of the TFDi Design 717. It is now available for purchase here.

We started this journey four years ago. Throughout those years, we’ve made many friends, worked with developers, pilots, testers, dedicated simmers, and combinations of all four. We’ve learned more than we had ever anticipated and it has been an incredible journey. As I hinted at yesterday, we are now beginning a new journey with our customers and supporters. We have taken great pride in giving the community that supports and purchases our products a voice. We’ve taken pride in, despite the circumstances, staying humble and part of the community.

On that note, we want to take the opportunity to work with you on the 717 from here forward. There are plenty of areas we’d like to improve and features left to add, and there are things we can’t do alone. We want to hear your thoughts and feelings on the product – new features, fixes, and more are possible quickly and easily and we have every intention of delivering them. We want to make the 717 a product like no other, beyond simply correctly modeling the aircraft.

We look forward to hearing from you and continuing to expand and improve the product you’ve waited so long for. On behalf of myself, Brandon Filer, Joshua Mendoza, Martyn Becker, and Brandon Olivo to the developers, testers, pilots, and enthusiasts that have helped us along the way, thank you.

See you in the skies.

turbofandude

TFDi Design is proud to announce the TFDi Design 717 project!
We are working hard on the new 717 project, and it is farther along than expected.

Why the 717?
The 717 is a very fun airplane to fly, and is different than any other aircraft. It has a unique design, both externally and internally, and will be a pleasure to design and fly. The flight simulation community was in desperate need of a quality 717, and we feel we can fulfill that need.

How far along is it?
The 717 is currently about 20% of the way completed. Currently the external model is mostly completed, and the flight dynamics are mostly complete as well. We are in the process of texturing the external model and collecting resources for the virtual cockpit. We are planning a rapid development cycle for this project, and plan to push it as fast as we can without sacrificing quality.

WHEN CAN WE GET IT?
As always, TFDi does NOT make any projections on release dates, as they are subject to enormous change. We will keep everyone updated, and the best place to stay up to date is right here!

Want to contribute?
TFDi needs resources and information from real pilots and crew, and we would love any help any of our fans could give us. If you or someone you know can help, please email us at admin@tfdidesign.com!

turbofandude

If there’s one thing we try to avoid when working on anything, it’s tediousness. Sometimes it’s as simple as using Notepad to replace all instances of a line of text. In the case of the displays on the 717, we wrote a program to design the gauges visually rather than in code. Why, might you ask? To answer that, allow me to give a bit of an overview of gauge development.

One of the options when programming gauges in C++ is to use Direct2D for the visual components. Direct2D is a 2D graphics API that’s part of the DirectX libraries. It’s a modern API for rendering 2D shapes and text to make up a digital display in FSX. Normally when testing out a program, it’s quite simple to launch it, try out your new code, and shut it back down to make a tweak. However, this isn’t so quick or simple in FSX. To test a change to anything, let’s say, the shape of the attitude indicator on the PFD of the 717, we must first switch to a different aircraft so that our gauge (a DLL/GAU, you’ve probably seen them in your FSX folder before) is not being used by FSX, “build” (essentially means our code is being converted to its final usable format) the new copy of the gauge, then open up our aircraft menu and select the 717 again (and of course click through that annoying dialog that asks us if we want to run the new DLL…). Those aren’t a lot of steps, but when you need to do this hundreds of times AND edit things point by point, it can take up a lot of…time. Above all, it’s just tedious and annoying to do. While powerful, Direct2D can be unpredictable in the way its shapes are rendered, which just makes this worse. We thought, there must be something we can do to make this easier? That’s when it dawned on us.

Direct2D isn’t just an API for use in graphics engines/games. It can also be used to render shapes in a standard desktop program. After a bit of research and some planning, we set to work on what we call D2D Studio (seen below, with the 717’s PFD loaded up). Keep in mind that the screenshot below demonstrates a work-in-progress version of the PFD and is by no means final.

D2D Studio Main Window

Rather than having to build our DLL and switch out of/in to the 717 every time, we can design most of the major shapes in real time. This makes it very quick to draw arcs, lines, and place text.

D2D Studio Line

We also implemented a feature where we can add a background image behind the display. This is helpful since we have real photographs of every display in the plane. We can set the background and start designing based on the actual locations of components of the displays. Below is an example of this – all of the PFD components we’ve drawn so far, with our photograph behind it.

D2D Studio PFD Background

Once we have what we need “drawn out” in D2D Studio, we have a feature for generating C++ code based on what we’ve made. We can then directly copy and paste this code into Visual Studio (an application/programming tool). Once we have the code in, we can then start adding functionality to our creations.

This program took us about a week to make, but saves us potentially months of development time.

turbofandude

The smartCARS Mobile app is now available!

 

Overview

The mobile app will allow you to view your flight data in real-time, chat with other smartCARS desktop and mobile users, and stay ahead of flight problems from your mobile device. Whether you’re planning a flight with friends, keeping track of your flight from another room, or making sure nothing unexpected happens while multitasking on your flying computer, smartCARS Mobile and smartCARS Premium have you covered.

 

Screenshots

phone-acars2  iphone-acars1  ipad-chat  phone-settings

 

Availability

The mobile app is available for iOS 6 and later, Android 2.1 and later, and Windows Phone 8 and later. The app is free to download, as access to it is included in a smartCARS Premium subscription.

If you are a smartCARS Premium subscriber: visit one of the following links on your mobile device(s) to access the app store page for the app.

iOS App: http://smartcarsfs.com/premium/ios

Android App: http://smartcarsfs.com/premium/android

Windows Phone App: http://smartcarsfs.com/premium/wp

 

If you are not a smartCARS Premium subscriber: we encourage you to give Premium a try. More information on smartCARS Premium is available at http://smartcarsfs.com/premium.

 

If you own an active smartCARS license:  you can use coupon code SMARTCARSCUSTOMER to purchase smartCARS Premium for 20% off (indefinitely). If you purchased smartCARS Premium before this discount was active, contact our sales department at sales@tfdidesign.com to get the discount applied to your account (do not cancel your current subscription and repurchase).