IPACS has released the latest version of their Aerofly flight simulator. And no, after FS2 we don’t get FS3. We get FS4.
Confused? Yeah, a lot of us are. It’s not totally clear why the jump in versions, but IPACS decided to go directly from version 2 to version 4.
So, what’s new? A lot, really. I have to say I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about the new version and saw the screenshots. Things that I consider to be important, such as proper water, for example, are not added yet.
But there are a lot of very interesting new additions to the sim, such as missions, a career mode, and AI traffic, as well as a few improvements.
Unfortunately, there are no new helicopters (we can fly the R22 – which is one of the best, if not the best helicopter in any sim out there) and the H135. The flight model seems to be the same, which is not a bad thing since it was very good already. But IPACS may have something up their sleeve for later.
IPACS has a nice post on their forums indicating the difference between Aerofly FS2 and Aerofly FS4. I have copied the content here for your convenience.
Aerofly FS 4 uses relatively new graphics features which may not be available on older hardware.
- Quad-Core CPU
- 8GB or more RAM
- Graphics card with 4GB+ RAM, Vulkan support and OpenGL 4.0 (or higher)
If you previously used high or ultra graphics quality you now need to bump that down a notch or even two. We changed the graphics settings to make full use of new and modern graphics cards and the ultra setting is only recommended for these cards.
New lighting engine
Aerofly FS 4 features new real-time dynamic multi-color lights that illuminate the ground and objects in the scene - You'll see landing, taxi, nav, beacon, strobe lights, etc. and airport apron flood lights in some of our screenshots. These lights are quite optimized and there barely any performance impact from them.
We've changed the way how and when airports and scenery tiles get loaded. With a global airport database we know ahead of time when we get close to an airport that needs to be loaded for rendering. The loading then happens in the background and only for the closest airports that you can see. Images and elevation data as well as the new buildings and trees are also loaded in this manner.
With this change the Aerofly FS 4 application loads even quicker than Aerofly FS 2, On our hardware we measure a time from desktop to flying in as little as 12 seconds on a freshly restarted PC with SSD.
In the simulator you'll now see a lot more buildings and trees. Depending on your graphics card all these buildings increase the load on your graphics card and to keep the same high FPS you may need to decrease the graphics quality a bit.
Aerofly FS 4 now uses our own cloud rendering techniques which allows us to increase the cloud draw distance significantly.
Aerofly FS 4 still has global coverage of lower resolution aerial images and elevation like Aerofly FS 2 as global navigation data. So you can still fly around the world like before. To limit download size Aerofly FS 4 has several free Addons (DLCs) that you can install to increase the high detail region size or ground image resolution.
- Over 1200 hand made high quality airports are available with all free DLCs installed
- New apron flood lights
- New taxiway edge and centerline lights
- New hold short guard lights
- Several U.S. airports were updated and some were added as well
Scenery & Cultivation
All US regions that were previously DLCs for FS 2 are now included in the base scenery of Aerofly FS 4.
Oregon and Washington states have been added to the base scenery region, so now the base simulator scenery now covers the entire west coast and reaches far in land up to Colorado and Arizona. The Florida Keys and Miami region as well as the New York metropolitan area are also included.
A very large section of Europe is available as a free DLC covering everything from West-Europe up to a line from Estonia to about Moldavia, Bulgaria, not included yet are Greece and Turkey at this time, but we're continuing our work in Europe as well as other regions.
- 3d buildings everywhere and trees based on several different data sources
- Full coverage with buildings and trees in the entire flying area
- Custom modeled points of interest (POIs) like castles, famous buildings (in Europe more than 500+ POIs)
- New library buildings and structures like towers, cranes, antennas, powerlines, churches, chimneys and cooling towers, fuel tanks and grain silos, etc.
- New wind-turbines that rotate in the wind
- New building types and textures
- New building shapes like T and L shapes or custom footprint
- New roof shapes
- Simulated air traffic based on tens of thousands of real world global airline flights
- Airline, Cross country and local flights
- Optional flight labels and flight path traces
- Animated aircraft models with rotating propellers, moving flaps and landing gear
- Traffic is automatically removed when the player wants to takeoff or land and a collision is imminent
- Select from recommended 10,000+ real world airline flights and immediately start flying
- Adjust the flight conditions, routing and/or aircraft if desired
- Lots of custom flight presets for sight seeing, practicing and flying challenges like the circling approach into Innsbruck
- With the push of a button the aircraft can be teleported along the planned route to skip long and boring cruise segments
- Combine the time-skip with the immediate selection of a new flight mission and you'll be able to visit many new places very quickly
Career and Achievements
- Pilot and aircraft log books to review recent flight paths and to track flight time
- Statistics of takeoffs, landings and flight time per aircraft and in different aircraft categories
- Achievements for different aircraft categories
- Achievements are non-invasive, there is no pop-up or sound during flight
- Flight school removed: Was only working with the C172 and wasn't flexible or expandable, now we have more assistances during the flight and more of a learning by doing approach
- Many quality of life features like automatic tiller nose wheel steering with rudder input when not assigned otherwise have been added
- Optional assistances have been added that can help the user during the flight
- Copilot can fly the aircraft from A to B fully automatically, just press 'c' to give control to the copilot
- Copilot can be used to maintain current path while the user goes AFK for a second, like having an autopilot with autothrottle in every aircraft
- Assistances like automatic landing lights, automatic caution/warning mute after a few seconds, auto-tuning, auto-propeller speed, auto pressurization, etc.
- New aircraft configuration display showing gear, flaps, slats, airbrake, parking brake, pitch trim
- New mini-map in the flight info showing extended centerline to best suitable runway
- Improved attitude indicator with autopilot flight mode annunciator
As before a lot of the common joysticks and yokes available on the market already have the correct assignment out of the box
- We've added even more default assignments for more devices so users can start flying right away
- Users with multiple devices or devices with several levers can now define specialized assignments for:
- Twin prop, twin jet, quad jet (and default)
- Improved navigation menu with easier route creation
- Improved controls menu with more options
- New menus for assistances, career & flight-log, missions
- A320 with Sharklets
- A380 (*)
- B787-10 (*)
- Bf109e (*)
- CRJ-900 (*)
- Ju 52 (*)
- Fokker DR 1
(*) Aircraft AddOn DLC
- All aircraft now with landing flights that illuminate the ground
- Almost all aircraft now feature a 'cold and dark' preset option
- New aerodynamics simulation (see details below)
- New turbo-engine simulation (see details below)
- New electrical systems added in a lot of aircraft
- New master caution and warning systems for most aircraft that have this IRL
- New realistic radar height callouts
- New GPWS terrain warnings
- New and more realistic engines sounds in A320 and many other new sounds like APU and avionics fans
- New experimental first hydraulics simulation in A320
- New experimental fuel system in C172 and A320
- New simulated touch screen displays in modern airliners (simulating the cursor control device)
- New electronic checklists in modern airliners
- New EFB in the B777 and B787 (work in progress)
- Added approach marker indications
- Many improvements to autopilot, FMS and CDU
- Improvements to the individual EFIS systems and screen rendering
- Aircraft with EFIS door pages or door indicator lights now have clickspots on them to open that specific door from within the cockpit (applicable to aircraft where the doors are modeled)
- Countless small new features added to the entire fleet of aircraft, several thousand changes in each airliner
- Many small bugs have been fixed
New Aerodynamics Simulation
- Airfoil simulation now uses the current flaps, slats and spoiler deflections to compute lift, drag and moment coefficients
- Multiple control surfaces (not just 2 like before) are now allowed, e.g. inboard and outboard aileron and inboard and outboard flaps on the same wing as well as individual spoilers
- Added Mach drag rise
New Turbo-Engine Simulation
- Turbofan engines and turboprop engines now use our new thermodynamic component based engine physics simulation
- All components of the engine are simulated based on physics laws and characteristic parameter such as intake area, design compression ratio, efficiency, etc.
- Modular approach allows realistic simulation of engines with multiple spools like the three spools found in the RR Trent 972B engine
- This engine simulation inherently has a more realistic behavior and dynamically responds to environmental conditions such as temperature and density changes
There are a LOT of differences between the previous version and this new one but is it enough for some of the rotorheads out there to get the new version? I would honestly like to see, at least, a new helicopter, but I think a lot of the changes may justify the investment on the new version.
That’s my personal opinion, of course, and you may see it differently. I have to admit, though, it would be a lot easier if we got more information from IPACS. Not to bash them or anything like that but they do seem to live in a bubble as most of the information is only conveyed through their forum, meaning they only target those who already know about the sim.
This makes it harder for the community to know what’s happening and get more excited about the product.
Nonetheless, Aerofly FS4 is here, it brings a lot of new stuff, and you can get it right away!