On a post published in June on the official forums, DMO announced they have been working on yet another heavy helicopter. This time, on the Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane.
This beast can act as both a cargo lifter and a firefighting machine. With a very unusual, yet impressive design, it's one of those helicopters that you recognize the second you look at it.
DMO is working hard to bring amazing features to the S-64, including the ability to control the third operator:
So, the S-64 development is in full swing. A plugin has bridged performance gaps in the simulator infrastructure, such that the engine power levers have an integrated governor functionality (like real life). The craft does not need to land its belly in the water in order to draw water into the firefighting tank. The pond snorkel has a pump that will suck it up (so long as the snorkel hose is in the water), and the sea snorkel will use ram pressure to drive water into the tank (so long as the sea snorkel is in the water with sufficient speed to drive water up the tube).
Another challenge was the snorkel hose. By exploiting some existing data points that the sim calculates, I created a model that has rudimentary "noodle physics" so that the snorkel hose (when deployed) sways and moves relative to momentum and airspeed.
The plugin also drives the hoist operator's position controls. Yes, the S-64 has a seat for a third pilot who sits backwards and looks out the rear-facing bubble canopy. When lifting and placing loads, this person has the best vantage point to accomplish such tasks. It is a disconcerting and unusual point of view from which to be controlling the aircraft though. When this operator's controls are activated in the 3D cockpit, cyclic control is effectively reversed such that left is right and forward is back. It is a weird and fun challenge to not only fly but precisely place loads from this position.
There are also a lot of other cool information on the thread that shows how serious DMO is regarding the release of this
Screenshots of the DMO S-64 Skycrane
Please note that the screenshots below are either renders or taken in X-Plane 10. Testing on X-Plane 11 and PBR texture work has not begun yet.
Almost ready for release?
Well... Yes??? It seems like the S-64 has been under development for some time and it's in a very advanced stage. The team has reached a point where they are very happy with how the helicopter is coming out and release might be quite close.
Now for the good news: I've been suffering through the development process for well over a year and this aircraft is nearing completion for initial release. So (if this sort of thing appeals to you) inordinate amounts of time needn't be endured waiting for it to be done. A few more coding tasks must be completed, along with some texture and model refinement/details. The toughest thing has been accounting for variations (i.e. Siller seems to operate E models exclusively and have no sea snorkels, only pond snorkels. Corpo Forestale has a specially-made nose panel to accommodate weather radar, the tank that HTS uses for fire fighting is completely different from Erickson, Evergreen's tank is also completely different). What fun!
I don't know about you, but I am very excited to see this one in my virtual hangar!