After months of high anticipation and questions from the community, Laminar Research has today, as part of their seminar at FlightSimExpo 2021, officially announced the next simulator in the X-Plane product range – X-Plane 12, the successor of the second-most popular flight simulator of today, X-Plane 11.
As expected, X-Plane 12 will feature a very much improved weather engine for better immersion and realism while flying. X-Plane 12 is going to offer a much higher resolution and accuracy of the weather due to a whole new technology not loading data only from airport METARs.
The new weather system, in addition to the traditional METAR-generated weather, works with GRIB files generated by computers covering the whole earth. This also allows the developers to implement smooth transitions between various weather conditions at various times without being limited to the airport area only and to a certain hour. As Austin, the CEO of Laminar Research, said: “There are over a million data points.“
A new icing model is also going to be present in the new simulator. This was unfortunately not previewed in the video showcase.
The developers at Laminar Research were aware of flight simmers not being happy with 2D clouds, so they have decided to change that with X-Plane 12. The clouds will now be rendered in 3D so once you actually get in the clouds, they will be around the aircraft, and will not disappear.
Further, the developers have worked on improving the rain effects. When it is raining, water droplets will be visible on the ground and puddles. For the windshield effects, developers from Laminar Research have worked together with Librain developers on implementing Librain to the simulator from default. The results are clear and can be seen below in the article.
Also, as mentioned during the development in the past, various seasons will be present in the new simulator. This was a highly-requested feature by the community, and it’s nice to see the developers listen to the feedback.
The seasons will change accurately based on the area where are you flying. As in the real world, winter will not begin on the same day in Australia as in Germany, or in the United States.
As for the water, in X-Plane 12 we will finally be able to enjoy 3D waves and region-specific water colors. The wave height will be dependent on the current weather in the area where you’re flying.
With X-Plane 12 release, a large number of new objects will be available in their libraries for third-party developers to work with. From more ATC tower options to more lighthouse, park, and even cementary options.
This also allows for more immersive and diverse autogen.
Not to forget, the next generation of X-Plane will also offer 3D trees reacting to wind direction and speed. This will for sure bring many more options and immersion when flying VFR at low altitudes.
Ambient sounds. That is something that is not currently available in X-Plane 11, but will be available in X-Plane 12. Sounds will change based on the wind direction, time of the day, and weather.
X-Plane 12 will as well bring custom ground services from default. These include custom animated jetways on all default sceneries, animated pushback trucks, and other necessary ground handling equipment like baggage loaders, or catering trucks, for example.
There is going to be a plethora of new default aircraft available in X-Plane 12. Until today’s announcement, only an Airbus A330 rendition was publicly announced, however, three additional aircraft were announced today.
They will be a Cessna Citation X, Grumman F-14 Tomcat with animated variable-geometry wings, and a Cirrus SR22. All these aircraft are expected to offer custom systems and accurate flight dynamics, especially in case of the A330 rendition.
Based on the seminar, the default A330 will feature full fly-by-wire systems that were developed by Austin Meyer himself natively for X-Plane 12. Coupled with the brand new custom autothrottle systems, the developers promise, that it behaves the same as the real aircraft does.
As an example, hydraulic systems were mentioned. They are expected to simulate every single pump accurtely.
The developers from Laminar Research are currently aiming to get the first beta version out to the developer to test their products. Afterwards, a closed public beta will open followed by a public release.
No specific dates were given at the seminar as well as no information was given related to the expected price.
Q: Will there be an upgrade fee from X-Plane 11 available?
Once X-Plane 12 will enter early access, and you purchase X-Plane 11 through the Laminar Research website, you will get access to X-Plane 12 early access and a stable version of X-Plane 11. Otherwise, no discounts or upgrade fees will be available.
Q: Are there plans for any default helicopters?
Yes. It will be a surprise though, so not much information was disclosed on that topic during the seminar.
Q: Are there any closer dates?
There are some closer dates available, however, not to the public. Once things are ready, we should be able to get more information through X-Plane’s official social network profiles
Q: Is snow going to be present on the ground during the winter?
Yes. Actually, with X-Plane 12, the accumulation of snow on the ground will grow as long as the snow is falling.
Q: Will there be backward compatibility with X-Plane 11 addons?
The developers from Laminar Research expect most of the features from X-Plane 11 to work in X-Plane 12. However, due to some uncertainties, they want to run closed beta by third-party developers first so they can work together on improving the platform before getting it out.
Q: What are the PC requirements going to be?
There are no exact hardware requirements just yet, but the developers expect similar requirements as X-Plane 11 currently has. We should be able to get more information on this topic closer to the release.
Q: Will VATSIM and other online networks continue to be compatible with X-Plane 12?
To answer short: “Yes! Absolutely!“.
Q: Will there be always up-to-date AIRAC data?
Laminar Research is not looking into changing the way they work with AIRAC data, so the answer to this question was a no. There will be, however, a newer default AIRAC cycle on the launch.