It’s beautiful, it’s very modern and it’s one of the helicopters that’s paving the way into the next generation of rotary flying.
The H160 is a state-of-the art machine with impressive performance and characteristics. It’s one of those machines that you immediately realize it’s very special just by looking at it.
And it’s coming for X-Plane.
A team of 3 developers (Jean-Pierre, Laurent and Bastien), a team experienced in aeronautics (Laurent was a pilot and Bastien a helicopter mechanic) and some experience with X-Plane and FSX as well, are building the model for this sim.
Experience in both real and virtual aviation should translate into a good understanding of how everything works, especially since Bastien has a lot of knowledge of the Helionix system (Airbus’ avionics system).
The project started after Jean-Pierre began working on the 3D model. Since he is already well underway with his A400M (also for X-Plane) the team decided to start working on the H160 as well.
The project – which is planned to be freeware – is pursuing to “get as close as possible to the existing device and these [sic] different variants”.
But trying to get as close as possible to the H160 is a bit abstract and like aiming at a very fast-moving target since the Airbus model is still in a prototype stage – so documentation is pretty much non-existing.
The team is working based on what they can get online, their knowledge of systems and what they hear about the H160. But the team is hoping to keep on working on the model as new pieces of information come out and the H160 gets into production.
The current status
The team says the exterior model is done but they are always adapting and updating the model as the Airbus prototypes also change. The H160M (the military version), for example needed a whole new dashboard and a few optional items.
Flight model is pretty stable right now but there’s still a lot of work to be done on the Helionix system as well as the sounds (which I’m guessing should be hard to do since access to the prototypes must be really limited).
So, where does this leave us?
Don’t expect this model to be out anytime soon. Not only the team is not solely dedicated to doing helicopters for X-Plane (like most teams, anyway) but they are also working on a very volatile platform where they have few to no access to information – and the real aircraft.
Personally, I’m happy this is happening, even if it takes some time. Seeing new helicopters – and especially such modern ones – coming into our hobby is absolutely wonderful and, who knows, might even spike the interest of companies such as Airbus itself, in the future.
Right now, as usual, we’ll just have to be patient.
But that’s something we are used to already, right?
Credit: I'd like to thank our reader, Haden Cassiram for giving me a heads up about this project. Thank you, Haden!