Wednesday, January 9, 2008

X-Plane Vs. FSX

Over the few years that I have been running my flight sim, I have alternated between two different flight sims. The first being X-Plane, and the second being Microsoft's Flight Simulator. Both of them are great flight simulators, but have their own niche. I have used X-Plane as the sim I use when I am engineering. Rarely I fly the default aircraft, but instead I fly aircraft models I have generated myself or aircraft I have modified. (A C172, with JATO rockets for example). When I am trying to be realistic in my flying procedures I tend to use FSX more due to the 3-d cockpit and ATC interface.

The following is a list I compiled highlighting many of the different features of the two.


-Supports worldwide terrain with 14 GB of scenery information
-scenery objects for most major cities
-auto generates trees and buildings for filler
-high quality reflective water
-highly detailed aircraft and 3D cockpits for all default aircraft.
-can use multiple monitors

X-plane 9
-OpenGL 2
-Worldwide terrain with 70 GB of scenery information
Has a higher resolution terrain texture.
DOES NOT come with scenery objects such as cities and airport buildings but these can be downloaded off the web for many airports. If you load at an airport with default scenery, there will be runways, taxiways and tarmac but no buildings. The demo area is an example of what can be added as scenery files.
- Highly detailed aircraft
- 3D cockpits for SOME default aircraft.
- will only use multiple monitors if using Matrox DualHead2Go, or using networked computers.
- Reflective water

Flight Model
-Aircraft performance is based on configuration files and variables given to the simulator before it flies.

X-Plane 9
-Flight model is based on aircraft geometry using blade element theory and engine performance variables. Wings are broken in to sections and based on the shape of the wing, airfoil shapes, and locations, flight model is determined.
-Higher quality flight model results from this and also allows for a built in aircraft design software. Make any airplane shape you want and see how it flies.


-Starts at a setup window, where there are options to setup a flight, read a tutorial, view pilot stats, etc.
-In-flight, the Alt key will bring up a menu where much of the flight setup and view options can be changed.
-Cockpit knobs and buttons in both 2D and 3D are clickable and can be mapped to a key or joystick button.

X-plane 9
-There is no setup screen. It put you directly into an aircraft. The program will start at the last airport you landed in the last aircraft you flew in. From there, a menu bar at the top is available to access all flight set up options, (aircraft, location, weather).
-Cockpit knobs and buttons are clickable in 2D and 3D cockpit modes.

ATC and other aircraft
-The amount of air traffic can be set in the options screen and FSX will generate traffic to fill the airspace accordingly.
-ATC is somewhat realistic but has problems with certain things like separation. There are a few different voices that can be selected and don't sound completely like a computer.

X-Plane 9
-User specifically selects how many aircraft they want in the airspace at any given time. This traffic can be dragged around on the map by the user. The traffic seemingly randomly and does not follow normal flight patterns.
-ATC sounds like a robot but has more available commands, one example: declaring an emergency. ATC will also watch your speed and do things like tell you to slow down if you are going more than 250kts below 10000ft.
-ATC does not talk to other aircraft.

-Crashing, overspeed, overstressed simple just stops the simulation
-Systems can be failed individually

X-Plane 9
-Crashing ends simulation
-Overspeed and Overstressing cause failures of parts of the aircrafts. Wings and flaps are damaged and fall off.
-Parts of systems can be failed. Don't just fail the engine, fail the drive shaft or ignition...

FSX features that X-Plane does not have (by default):
-learning center
-tutorials and pilot lessons
-built in multiplayer
-in game Garmin GPS features

X-Plane features that FSX does not have(by default):
-Fly on Mars
-Scenarios such as: space shuttle re-entry, X-15 drop from B-52
-Airplane maker, airfoil maker, world maker
-Flocks of birds that damage plane
-ability to interface with a physical Garmin device


Keith Smith said...

Nice article. Xplane DOES have native multiplayer, though, supporting:
- ability to fly own aircraft, or sit in the cockpit of someone else's aircraft
- support for instructor console (fail systems, set weather, watch instruments and flight path)

Anonymous said...

How do you sit in the cockpit of someone else's aircraft?

Keith Smith said...

Set up the master machine to send packets to a second machine serving the role as an 'extra visual'.

Detailed instructions are here:

Anonymous said...

It is a myth that X-Plane's flight dynamics is better then FSX' based on the fact that X-Plane uses a geometric model. Flight dynamics can only be as good as the quality of the underlying model.

Matt. said...

"It is a myth that X-Plane's flight dynamics is better then FSX' based on the fact that X-Plane uses a geometric model." Really? You bet! The first impression you get in X-Plane is full power and take off and it feels like a train on tracks, certainly not an aircraft that will yaw off te runway unless you use rudder corrections. Both FSX and X-Plane uses different approaches to realism, but both are seriously lacking. Lets hope X-Plane 10 AND Microsoft Flight starts getting real.

willssfca said...

I have used flight sim X for two years. And the numbers of calls back to microsoft support in India to have them fix the problems will blow your mind. The program has constant fatal errors, the engines in the 747-400 stop running when they feel like it and the planes once you land change airline liviries all by itself.

Have any of you out there experincd this? Do you have any answers ? I have an HP top of the line gaming computer only a year old. I just upgraded the video card to the ATI HD 5700 1gb 750 power supply I have intel I7 chip 15 gb hard drive tons of memory. Still runs bad. Will X- plane do a better job? Any feedback would be appreiated. Thank's guys.


brian said...

I tried x-plane 9, IMHO it's a friggin joke compared to FSX !! I'm a licenced pilot...owned 2 planes, so I should know. I dont understand Willssfca's problem..except for load times (I have lots of addons) I have NEVER had crashes or a problem with just need to have a fast computer to handle it. I'm sticking with FSX, until at least MS Flight comes out...hopefully the addons can be transfered.

brian said...

Willssfca, usually fatal errors (in FSX) means you either are running a corrupted file ( plane or scenery) or a conflict between 2 files (same name or something like that. The next you get a fatal error, try running FSX with a different plane and scenery and see if it runs, if yes...the problem is with the previous file you ran. Also I'm not a big fan of ATI, I always go with G-Force.

brian said...

Matt, as far as flight dynamics go...and as I said, owning my own planes...I find FSX MUCH more realistic!! The planes I tried in x-plane 9 were yawing from side to side, all over the runway VERY unrealistic. I always find FSX in air dynamics , head movement, the plane's buffeting in the air stream is as real as it gets. I tried nosing one of the x-planes over into a steep dive to check structural limits, and all the plane did with cartwheel onto it's back...ridiculous..would never happen. The plane in real life would dive straight and true until sometime broke (wings or tail)

Anonymous said...

I am a real world pilot, fly 737 and I find FSX is much better than X-Plane. X-plane to me is a dead world.

Anonymous said...

I'm x-plane v9.67 user, x-plane is a great flight sim for engineering. I can make an unreal aircraft, "close" to real.. I can test my model design in x-plane, if the test model can fly in x-plane, then it can fly in real world with same specification.. And it's really works with my RC model!

And one more fun thing about X-plane, I can hack it legally.. Haha!!

Jalu said...

Whatsoever,X-Plane and FSX is just flight simulators.they are the same.

BTW,i'm thinking to have X-Plane and FSX working together...:)

Peter Smythe said...

Remember that most planes don't tend to yaw off the runway as they have lots of drag at the rear thanks to the tail plane. Also, unless the plane is aerodynamically unstable, no force will push it to yaw. Think about it like this, if you bolt the steering wheel on a car to perfectly forward, it will not yaw significantly for miles. You don't see large airliners batting their rudderback and forthon ttakeoff because they rarely need much input. If you have some reason to believe they should yaw, e.g., having flown one, then I will differ to that, but for, it doesn't seem like planes taking off straight as an arrow is unrealistic.

Peter Smythe said...

They are quite different underneath, try flying a harrier in each to see what I mean. Balancing a harrier is difficultish in x-plane, getting it to go forward after vertical takeoff tales finesse. In FSX, it goes up, it goes forward, end of story.

Keith Smith said...

Jets don't yaw to the left because they're not subjected to the left turning tendencies that apply to piston aircraft. You ABSOLUTELY need to add right rudder in real life during the takeoff roll for single engine piston aircraft as a result of torque and slipstream effect.

Some Russian aircraft have props that spin the other direction, though, and as a result, require right rudder.