Monday, July 20, 2009

Boracay Runway Problems

MANILA, Philippines - Hundreds of passengers of Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Zest Air, especially those on their way back to Manila after a weekend on the white sand beaches of Boracay, were stranded overnight when a runway problem caused the closure of the Kalibo airport yesterday afternoon.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM) to all three airlines operating flights at the Kalibo airport informing them of the closure of the airport from 4 p.m. yesterday until 7 a.m. today.

According to the NOTAM, the reason for the closure was “damaged asphalt” at the runway.

The airport’s closure stranded all passengers departing from Kalibo airport, mostly foreign and local tourists who came from the world-famous resort island of Boracay.

Michelle de Guzman, Cebu Pacific corporate communications manager, said they had two extra flights yesterday to accommodate the passengers of their three Manila-bound flights affected by the airport closure.

Cebu Pacific had seven flights from Manila to Kalibo and their returning flights, and one flight from Cebu to Kalibo and its returning flight that were cancelled.

Philippine Airlines had three flights cancelled while another Kalibo-bound flight from Manila, PR 323, was diverted to the Iloilo International Airport from which it was made to fly back to Manila.

Zest Air cancelled three Kalibo-bound flights.

PAL and Cebu Pacific had diverted their flights to and from Caticlan airport, the alternative gateway to Boracay, to Kalibo airport after airport authorities made changes in the operating conditions at the Caticlan airport.

Caticlan is the nearest airport to Boracay while the bigger Kalibo airport is about two hours’ drive from Caticlan.

PAL complained of the landing weight limitations while Cebu Pacific criticized the changes on airport operations imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

The CAAP designated the Caticlan airport as a one-way airport, which means take-off should be towards the sea, and landing in the opposite direction.

This essentially shortens the portion of the airport runway that could be used. These changes were made after a Zest Air flight overshot the runway of Caticlan airport last month.

PAL and Cebu Pacific said that they would shoulder the land transfer cost from Kalibo to Caticlan for passengers who have original bookings for Caticlan.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Jet Flyby wow!

How would you like to live at this apartment building. Exciting to say the least. A Navy jet from the Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia passes an apartment building during tactical demonstration flyover as part of the 2009 Chrysler Jeep Superstores APBA Detroit Gold Cup race, Sunday July 12, 2009 along the Detroit River in Detroit.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cebu Pacific Engine Deal to GE

GE Aviation, its subsidiaries and joint ventures, have announced more than $4.2 billion in orders so far during the International Paris Air Show in France, including agreements for its maintenance, repair and overhaul services.

The air show, held from June 15-21 at the Paris-Le Bourget Airport, is an opportunity for aerospace firms to show off their products and make deals.

GE Aviation’s announced orders include:

• A firm commitment by Brit Air, a subsidiary of Air France, for six Bombardier CRJ1000 aircraft, powered by GE’s CF34-8 engines, worth about $300 million at list price.

• An order from Cebu Pacific, a discount Philippines airline, for CFM International’s CFM-56-5B engines to power 10 new Airbus A320 aircraft worth about $155 million, plus a 12-year OnPointSM agreement for maintenance and overhaul of the engines, valued at more than $100 million.

• A $240 million order from Air Austral, based on the Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, for Engine Alliance GP7200 engines to power two Airbus A380 aircraft, worth about $240 million. The Engine Alliance is a joint venture between General Electric and Pratt & Whitney.

Evendale-based GE Aviation is a unit of General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), headquartered in Fairfield, Conn.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pilot Dies on Continental Flight

By ADAM GOLDMAN and VICTOR EPSTEIN, Associated Press Writers Adam Goldman And Victor Epstein, Associated Press Writers

"NEWARK, N.J. – The only inkling passengers had that something was wrong on the Continental Airlines flight over the Atlantic Ocean was when an announcement came over the loudspeaker asking if there was a doctor on board.

Otherwise, flight attendants continued to serve snacks. Passengers read magazines and watched movies. And the flight kept on its schedule.

But in the cockpit, the 60-year-old captain had died of a suspected heart attack and two co-pilots took over the controls. The 247 passengers aboard did not learn what had happened until the flight from Brussels landed safely Thursday and was met by fire trucks, emergency vehicles and dozens of reporters.

"I was shocked," said Dora Dekeyser of Houston. "Nobody knew anything."

"We weren't panicking. I never thought it was something as serious as this. We were relaxed," said Dekeyser's granddaughter, Stephanie Mallis, 18, of Lansdale, Pa.

After the crew of the Boeing 777 asked if there were any doctors aboard, several passengers approached the cockpit, including a doctor who said the pilot appeared to have suffered a heart attack.

Dr. Julien Struyven, 72, a cardiologist and radiologist from Brussels, examined the pilot in the cockpit and tried to revive him using a defibrillator. But it was too late.

"He was not alive," Struyven said. There was "no chance at all" of saving him.

The dead pilot was based in Newark and had worked for Continental for 32 years, the airline said. His name was not immediately released."

This is tragic for the pilot and his family. It makes a good headline, but is it really an emergency? With two other pilots aboard, it seems that there was no imminent danger to the plane or passengers. but what is questionable are the medical procedures and tests in the bi yearly physical exams for pilots, especially for a 60 year old Captain. Should there be stricter requirements? An age limit?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hawk Attacks Model Aircraft

Here is something you don't see everyday, a raptor chasing a model plane. I would guess there was a nesting pair nearby as you can see another hawk in one frame. I really don't think it was intended, but not a good thing to play tag with a bird.

Idonesian Dog On Runway Mishap

Here is an interesting mishap this week in Indonesia, The dog crossing the runway may not have contributed to the mishap. My theory is that he hydroplaned upon hitting the water on the runway, losing the ability to steer the aircraft. Maybe he tried to avert the dog and the decreased loading on the left gear increased the likelihood of hydroplaning. What do you think?

Idonesian og on runway mishap

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Missed approach at Mactan

Just happened to look out the window at work last Friday May 29th and saw what looked like a missed approach to runway 22 at Mactan Airport. It was a heavy rainstorm so I couldn't make out the airline markings. The noise was what first alerted me as I glanced out the window I could see the passenger jet, a big one, possibly an A-330, veer off the approach and make a go around to maybe land at runway 04. Was there a wind direction change? Not sure what happened after that, I noticed they were using 22 in the morning as I went to work. All is well that ends well as no one got hurt!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Installing CumulusX! And Sim_probe In FSX

In a previous post I wrote that two add on modules for Microsoft Flight Simulator X can indeed make it a very decent full scale soaring simulator. I also mentioned that it was a little difficult to get both add ons up and running smoothly, and promised to write another blog post on how to do it. Well finally here it is!

Peter L├╝rkens and CumulusX!

CumulusX! creates thermal lift with appropriate clouds either on the fly, or every time you load a new environment, or glider with a wide variety of characteristics. Or you can choose from a custom-tailored list of thermals. Both allow joining in online sessions, with the guarantee of equal conditions for all participants. It adapts automatically and continuously to the FSX internal weather conditions even under real-weather-mode. Unlike regional static thermal generators, Cumulus X! Is dynamic and works the world over in FSX. Clouds are substituted for the "natural" or shall I say invisible birds circling in FSX.

It is a module which resides in your FSX folder and is activated either manually or with an autorun feature. Autorun is the way to go and necessary if you add the other companion module Simprobe.

Forster Lewis and sim_probe

Sim_probe is the other half of a realistic glider simulation in FSX. It adds slope lift in any suitable location. By setting wind velocity and direction in the FSX program sim_probe automatically provides realistic slope lift for your soaring pleasure. Using the FSX programmable API called simconnect, sim_probe can sample the terrain around the users aircraft and with the prevailing wind calculate the appropriate lift factor to apply to the user aircraft.

The end result is continuously variable highly detailed lift and sink affecting the user aircraft increasing the reality of the user experience. For ridge-soaring flights in gliders the sense of the lift within the flight simulator is almost tactile. For technical information and to down load both programs visit the following links.

Getting them both working can be a little difficult for the average guy or gal, and this is complicated by the fact that a few key bits of information are hidden or missing from the installation instructions. In one case there are three sample copies of an XML file to get the programs to autorun, all three are different, and one works if you edit it properly!

These programs are running on my computer with Windows XP service pack 3, service pack two is REQUIRED or neither will operate.

Install CumulusX! First.

Installation of CumulusX!

You need to be logged in as an administrator.

Important: Make backup
copies of the original "AirObjectVisuals.xml" in the Flight Simulator X root folder and the DG808S panel-
configuration file at SimObjects\Airplanes\DG808S\Panel\Panel.cfg.

If you have previous installations of the new cloud model, named cloud2z.bgl, cloud2t.bgl, or cloud2t1.bgl, please remove them from its scenery folder, since Flight Simulator X maybe confused otherwise.

The distribution archive contains a sub-tree "Modules", containing two other sub-folders "CumulusX!" and "SlopeDataBaseTool" with the components of the program, some settings files and the manuals. The sub-tree "SimObjects" contains modifications for the shipped DG808S. The root directory of the archive contains a new version of the file "AirObjectVisuals.xml". In addition, there is an "Addon-Scenery"-sub-tree, containing a cumulus cloud model, effective for Simulator X built-in thermals as well. In combination with the new file "AirObjectVisuals.xml" this shows a 3D-cumulus-cloud model instead of the default bird animations. In order to have this effective the Addon-Scenery folder has to be activated in the Flight Simulator X scenery manager.

Extract all files into the Flight Simulator X root directory. If you have made backup copies of the above-named files you can safely accept "Overwrite" for the files being replaced.

You need to activate the "Addon-Scenery" folder in Flight Simulator X if it is not yet active, in order to let the 3D cloud model appear. In addition, check that the "Thermal Visualizations" in Options/Settings/Display, Weather-tab are set to "Natural".

It is recommended to deactivate the built-in thermal engine in Flight Simulator X by renaming "ThermalDescriptions.xml" in root folder of Flight Simulator X for example to "_ThermalDescriptions.xml". Otherwise you will get a weird mixture of thermals from Flight Simulator X and CumulusX!.

After you do all of the above, which is by the way the instructions supplied on Lurkens help file, you have to go to the modules folder in FSX root directory, open it, open CumuusX!, and look for the readme files, and most importantly the following information:

Enabling AutoStart

Fig. 20: Enabling AutoStart

It is possible(desirable ed.) to use CumulusX! in AutoStart mode. This means that after start of the program, it automatically connects to Flight Simulator X and enable lift. This is particular useful, if you want to start CumulusX! through Flight Simulator X by means of an "EXE.xml"-file. A sample "EXE.xml"-file is given in the appendix.

ED. Note:Don't use this one,and don't try to initiate autostart at this time, wait...until AFTER you install sim_probe, there is yet another xml sample in the sim_probe readme .txt file with the script necessary for both CumulusX! and sim_probe. Use this one, and remember only edit the destination folder where you would like the igc files stored. What you say is the igc file? Well sim_probe auto logs igc files of every flight you make so you can use them with a data logger such as SeeYou or several other free ones available.

Remember to both insert the xml.exe file AND click the auto start button in the program window.

Then the program starts in minimized mode, so if you are not planning to change your settings, the main window of CumulusX! remains invisible throughout the entire session, but You can open it by clicking on the modules header in the task bar in windowed mode. By the way if you want to open CumulusX! and edit settings on the fly in FSX You will have to set FSX in windowed mode. In AutoStart mode CumulusX! will terminate with Flight Simulator X, in normal mode it will remain active(you will have to close it manually).

The next time you start, Flight Simulator X will ask you to start CumulusX!, and if you trust the source. If you click "Yes", the next time CumulusX! will start fully automatically. If you check "AutoStart" in the CumulusX!-tools menu, CumulusX! will from now on connect automatically and enable lift.

Don't activate the autorun feature until after CumulusX! is running ok in manual mode, then after installing sim_probe add the following xml.exe file here: C:\Documents and Settings\your user account name\Application Data\Microsoft\FSX.


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="Windows-1252"?>

<SimBase.Document Type="Launch" version="1,0">
















<CommandLine>log="C:\\Documents and Settings\\Ian\\My Documents\\fs\\igc_files\\"</CommandLine>



Change the line in red above to suit yourself any folder where you would like the igc files stored.

Install Sim_probe

(1) INSTALL THE VISUAL C++ 2008 RUNTIME LIBRARY (vcredist_x86.exe)

Download and install the file from Microsoft:

A copy of the file vcredist_x86.exe is included in this zip file if for some reason you have a problem

with the above link.


From the Windows 'start' menu, open "My Computer" and navigate through the folders to

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Microsoft Flight Simulator X"

Open the sim_probe zip file (i.e. the file containing this readme)

with Windows Explorer

drag the 'Modules' folder

into your base FSX program folder, i.e. you should end up with

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Microsoft Flight Simulator X\Modules\sim_probe\sim_probe.exe"


From the zip file window,

drag the "SimObjects" folder

into your base FSX program folder, i.e. you should end up with

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Microsoft Flight Simulator X\SimObjects\Misc\SimProbe"



If you understand all the above and do it in the proper sequence, it should all work fine. If not back yourself out and start again.

Some notes:

The stock FSX DG 800 vario is erratic even with the new gauges supplied, better are the Cassiet gauges in Wolfgang Pipers sailplanes. Available at or try the SOAR modified DG800.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mentoring Aviation, Planting The Seed

Men and boys who follow aviation and are engulfed and addicted to many or all of its aspects generally can trace their interest to an adult in their early life. This is not meant to be a sexist remark that excludes women from aviation, I have met Patty Wagsstaff, and she would offer an argument. But aviation has traditionally been the bastion of men and boys for much of its history.

The Philippines is full of young aviation genius ready to be exploited and cultured by an interested adult. What I refer to is the talent even the youngest Filipino boy has for constructing a kite. I am continually amazed at the variety and ingenuity of these simple flying machines. Almost always made from discarded plastic bags and Tocino sticks they float above my Mactan home at every conceivable altitude. On occasion they are merely towed skillfully down a winding alley narrowly evading electric wires (sometimes). Others soar in the prevailing winds above the island. Gracefully hovering as stationary sentinals overlooking the barrios.

The makers are natural aerodynamicists, without formal education, let alone aerospace engineering. They fully understand fluid dynamics, strength to weight ratios, center of pressure, COG, and meteorology.

What boy in any culture can resist the lure of flight?
I sit at evening time making paper airplanes, they teach me kite making, I show them the joy of untethered flight. We connect. no language required. I guess it is the boy in all of us that drives us.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dauin Diving

Where and what is Dauin? Dauin is a remarkable dive destination within an hours flight from Manila. Both Cebu Pacific and PAL have daily flights to Dumaguete which is only 12 K north of Dauin. Located in Negros Oriental, it offers an unprecidented sample of rural Philippine life and culture.

Dauin is a low-profile tourist destination where scenic spots abound but has a sheltered laid back ambiance. This picturesque town near Dumaguete reveals a unique and mostly uncharted sea underworld. Dauin is a divers paradise.

A small and quiet place where big treasures are hidden underwater---this is what Dauin is to most tourists who have gone to Dumaguete, Negros Oriental. Dauin is some 12 kilometers of coastal scenery south of Dumaguete. It is a dive-capital in Dumaguete due to its numerous and pristine dive resorts. Dauin's main highway snakes along the Negros coast, while inner roads go past the groves of palms leading to the hidden resorts. Perfect beaches of fine sand stretch on for miles through Dauin seaside terrain.

Dauin is reached through a plane from any nearby provinces going to Sibulan Airport which is in Dumaguete City. From the airport, public transportation is available nearby to Dauin. Straight from Manila, a tourist can take a plane to Cebu and a ferry ride from Cebu, enjoying a 3 and half hour sea trek. Better yet, a straight flight from Manila will only be an hour's travel.

Dauin may seem like another typical rural town near Dumaguete at first glance, but its true tourism value is hidden deep beneath---one has to literally delve and uncover the potential of Dauin. In fact, Dauin's treasure lies buried, not in depths of earth, but in the obscure recesses of Dauin waters. Dauin's most fabled exotic dive spots are the marine protected areas and the "Car Wrecks".

When we talk of Dauin, we talk of the Car Wrecks---the specific spot in Dumaguete where a plethora of sea wreckages abound, among them automobiles. Dauin's "Car Wrecks" is a highlight among other dive sites in the area that attracts the curiosity of dive tourists. Another enchanting site is the "Banca Wrecks". The rich coral reefs that have grown among the wrecks are also eye-catching and loaded with deep sea life.

Nearby Dauin is the fascinating Masaplod marine sanctuary. This spot is reserved as a habitat for exotic fish species like scorpionfish, batfish, snappers, sweetlips, and others. Dauin's scenic coasts are dotted with reefs that shelter marine wonders. These are considered among Asia's best.

Dumaguete is definitely excellent, but wait till Dauin's secrets are revealed. A wide-eyed dive tourist will certainly return to Dauin and its rich underwater sea treasures, considered in Dumaguete as one of Asia's best. Dauin is one more dive destination near Dumaguete worth the trouble to discover.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Australia Philippines Expand Air Links

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines and Australia have agreed to new air service arrangements, opening the way for expanded services on routes between the two countries, the Australian Embassy in Manila disclosed.

Under the new arrangements, Australian and Philippine airlines are now able to offer up to 4,000 seats each way per week between major Australian destinations (Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and/or Sydney) and Manila and/or Clark in the Philippines.

Over time, and in response to demand, the new limit can be increased to 6,000 seats. Previously, the limit was 2,500 seats.

To encourage airlines to serve important regional destinations, Australian and Philippine airlines can now operate unlimited services to regional airports.

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Rod Smith welcomed the new arrangements.

Last year, over 313,000 people travelled between the Philippines and Australia.

“The new arrangements are a good example of Australia and the Philippines working together to liberalize international aviation to the benefit of the travelling public, the tourism industry and airline carriers in both Australia and the Philippines,” Smith said.

Meantime, the Australian government recently provided the Philippine Office for Transportation Security (OTS) with training equipment for the Aviation Security Training Center, strengthening the country’s capacity to secure its aviation system.

“The assistance seeks to enhance transport security measures across the country and reduce the vulnerability of transport systems to security threats,” Smith said.

The training facility equipment is part of Australia’s continuing security capacity building support that will enable the Philippine OTS to standardize training and application of aviation security measures across the Philippines.

The program also funded the training of Philippine aviation security officials on International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) courses at accredited facilities in Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Auckland. This training has built the subject expertise of aviation security managers, technical personnel and training staff.

“The assistance will significantly increase the capacity of the Philippine OTS to conduct aviation security training both in Manila and other regional airports throughout the country,” he added.

Australian Office of Transport Security Executive Director Paul Retter and Philippine OTS Director, Col. Lucas Cauton (designated Officer-in-Charge), formally signed a Deed of Donation that marked the official turnover of the equipment on 2 March 2009. During the ceremony, Retter was presented a plaque of appreciation from Undersecretary Cecilio Penilla, Philippine OTS Administrator, for his role in assisting the Philippine Government.

“Australia’s assistance will further develop the Philippine OTS capability to safeguard aviation against possible threats using internationally-recognized ICAO standards,” Cauton said.

Australia and the Philippines share a strong bilateral defense and security relationship that aims to counter global and regional threats. Since 2006, Australia has committed up to P10.9 million (A$340,000) for the implementation of a broader range of aviation security assistance measures to safeguard the long-term security of Philippine aviation and the travelling public.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

One Runway, Many Problems at NAIA

IT is well that Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Alfonso Cusi has given “additional guidance” to the Naia Time Slotting Committee to give priority to review the scheduling of small-aircraft flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), in light of recurring problems of runway congestion that aggravate an already problematic situation for aviation in general.

Cusi recently asked Gen. Ruben Ciron, chief of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), “to consider the utilization of Naia’s domestic runway, runway 13-31, during daytime for aircraft weighing 25,000 kilograms and below.”

He explained the rationale for the decision: “Aircraft like these are usually owned by operators at our general aviation, therefore, would be most logical to make them use the domestic runway for landing and takeoff. In so doing, we can maximize the use of the international runway for commercial operations.”

The Philippines is the only Asian country that has only one international runway (runway 24) at its premier airport, thus disrupting so many international flights when even just a single incident occurs on that runway.

In the latest incident, Cusi reported that at about 8 p.m. on Sunday, a Westwind-II aircraft with registry number N-911GU aborted takeoff at Naia’s international runway after the pilot noticed smoke emanating from its left wheel. Rescue teams were quickly deployed to the site, but heavy rains delayed their work.

But whether the rains are pouring or not, the fact that there’s only one international runway is a real constraint.

Disruptions to flights owing to this congestion compound the already problematic situation in general, as this paper’s aviation reporter, Recto Mercene, had long been writing about. As a result, air-traffic control has to use a “bag of tricks” in order to ensure the safety of all flights going into and out of Manila, i.e., imposing longer separation times between flights during peak seasons or holidays like Christmas and New Year. Again, the bottom line: Flights are delayed because—rightly so—air-traffic controllers must pick safety over convenience.

But the point is that if the necessary hardware are budgeted for and actually installed, so many of the problems faced by aviation personnel could be reduced. For instance, in Sunday night’s fiasco, it turns out the air ambulance was not an exception: Small aircraft are routinely deployed to runway 24 (the sole international runway) because domestic runway 13-31 cannot be used after sundown. The excuse: It’s “not an instrument runway,” and can only be used for visual flight rules. Sources said efforts to install an instrument system at runway 13-31 ran into technical snags a few years ago, and no one, it seems, has bothered to review the problem.

And, speaking of personnel, it’s been nearly a year since Congress passed the CAAP law, but the latest word is that reforms to boost staffing morale and competence are proceeding slowly. The problem of getting, training and keeping competent airmen is thus something that won’t go away soon.

Taken together, these persistent problems are bound to affect our status as an aviation center—or derail hopes to reverse the dismal Category 2 status imposed by international bodies.

Reacting to Cusi’s move to review the runway slotting system, MIAA Airport Development and Corporate Affairs Assistant General Manager Tirso Serrano was quoted saying: “This move is intended to likewise increase terminal capacities for Naia Terminals 1, 2 and 3. With the recent opening of NAIA Terminal 3, we have increased our potential to 32 million passengers a year.” Between that potential and fruition is a wide chasm that requires, among others: the political will and a clear, unified vision among turf-conscious aviation agencies, and the budget to obtain crucial hardware and pay aviation personnel salaries they deserve.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Chemtrad plane found

Officials say the wreckage of a light plane that had been missing for two weeks has been found in a northern Philippine jungle and that none of the seven Filipinos on board survived.

Regional police commander Chief Superintendent Roberto Damian says searchers found the 10-seater BN Islander on Tuesday on a thickly forested mountain outside Baggao township in Cagayan province.

The plane, owned by ChemTrad Aviation Corp., left the provincial capital of Cagayan on April 2 on a 35-minute flight to Maconacon township in nearby Isabela province.

Damian said Wednesday that helicopters were dropping supplies and equipment to the search teams to help them recover the remains of the victims from the remote area.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

FSX vs: X-Plane 9

This not a comparison per se. Both FSX and X-plane 9 are excellent flight simulators worthy of anyone's attention. Consider that Microsoft FSX is an effort of a large team of the best programmers money can buy, and X-Plane has its humble beginnings in the mind of one dedicated man, Austin Meyer, and you might guess my bias. That said, I use FSX at least as much as I use X-Plane simply because of how I have chosen to configure FSX for my own purposes, more on that later. The real point is these two programs are both flight simulators using the latest geographical mapping tools available and using similar but actually entirely different flight modeling systems. How can something be similar and different at the same time? To the casual user, the flight modeling will seem similar in the two programs. To a serious or engineering oriented user, then the similarities become superficial. FSX and X-Plane approach flight simulation from quite different angles.

FSX is a mass marketed high end PC game with easy to use graphical interface. Its forte is the availability of consistently good aircraft from many third party sources, as well as literally hundreds of add on modules, landscapes, and tools. It simulates commercial flying with a sophisticated ATC and GPS(as well as other avionics). It has many bells and whistles that add functionality and "glitz" to the interface. If you love FSX, you will probably not be impressed with X-Plane. If you are a plane designer, like to know what airfoil your plane has, its Reynolds number, drag coefficient and a hundred other flight conditions and parameters X Plane will be attractive to you. If you want to drop bombs, fire guns, and rockets, scoop up water with a tanker and put out forest fires, again X-Plane will be interesting to you. If you want to fly on Mars, simulate and control three different space shuttle re entries, analyze a plane design real time in flight, then again X-Plane will be of interest to you. Want to get dropped from a B-52 at 30,000 feet, land on a carrier, catapult launch from same, get aero towed or winched in a sailplane? Then X-Plane will be your sim.

FSX, is a relatively compact installation of, in my case, 15 Gigabytes. And I said that in one breath! Compact? This includes Cumulus X, simprobe, a dozen add on planes, Cassiet gauges add on, several scenery add ons, and an auto gen enhancement. FSX is a decent sailplane sim with these additions.

My X-Plane install includes only the stock U.S. scenery plus Europe so far, plus about two dozen add on aircraft. It occupies 22 Gigs of space. A complete install of X-Plane with all the worlds scenery will take 70 Gigs, with a few add on programs and aircraft can eat up 90 Gigs! Space is a consideration.

X-Planes scenery is more detailed in some ways than FSX. There are more buildings and given scenery settings, the airports tend to blend in more with surrounding terrain, giving a more natural look. But X-Planes roads and other items seem less accurate as compared to real life. FSX roads are more reflecting actual roads, but are not high res at close proximity. You can land on the roads in Xplane, and they are sharply in focus. I think the water effects are better in X-Plane, but so much depends on the user and your equipment blanket statements are difficult to make.

A little about the system I am running so you can have an idea of what is required. I don't have a super gaming system. The motherboard is an Asus M2N68-CM running an AMD X2, 2.6 GHz processor with 1mb L2 Cache. The graphics card is a 1 Gig Nvidia DDr2. I have 1 gig of system memory, and two 160 Gig Sata hard drives. What I can say is that on the same machine running graphics almost maxed out, X-Plane delivers consistently higher frame rates. Not a precise statement, but observed in my case. The control of graphic settings is different in FSX and X-Plane, so to say the rendering options are equal is impossible. My impression is that Microsoft uses a lot of resources for the slick user friendly graphic interface while X-Plane has a simple drop down menu interface, in exchange for a better sim experience. Honestly X-Planes menu system is clunky and difficult to use until you get used to it. X plane uses a lot of hard drive. The drawbacks to X-plane are that there are not as many third party planes and applications available, and the stock planes are not particularly impressive to my tastes. I have managed to add a few dozen planes to my X-Plane folder, and many are top notch. Beware that if you download the free planes from the X-Plane forum, many are done by amateurs and are not so great. Payware planes are available from many sources and offer a better choice.

X-Plane is a designer tool and offers an airfoil design and analysis program embedded. Airfoil data for the flight model is derived from lift polar data for each airfoil, you can choose appropriate Reynolds numbers and edit any selected airfoil. It also has a sophisticated plane designer program embedded. This requires previous design experience to use, and there is a bit of a learning curve. That said with my previous design experience I was able to concoct a crude unpainted aircraft in a few hours with no manual. And it flew! I can't list all the X-Plane features here but there are many tools available to test almost any aircraft component or system. FSX gets high marks for mass appeal, ease of use, and airline simulation. It has marketability. X-plane I would say is a techno geek tool and simulator. You have to judge for yourself which one suits you. I can't live without either.

Note red plane pics are screen shots from X-Plane 9, white plane is FSX. both taken at Innsbruck Austria. from approximately the same spots.

The following slideshow depicts some shot taken in both FSX and X-Plane 9 at the Grand canyon. The graphics setting are what I think are about equivalent. Note the frame rate difference. 50 in X-Plane, 25-30 in FSX.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cebu Pacific to Roxas

MANILA, Philippines - Gokongwei-owned Cebu Pacific Air, Inc. becomes the first and only airline operating a direct service between Cebu and Roxas starting May 2, it said in a statement.Through a promotional "Go Lite" fare of P488 all-in, Cebu Pacific said the seat sale will run from April 4 to 9. It is nonrefundable and valid for travel from May 2 to July 31, 2009.“Our Cebu-Roxas service will increase the accessibility of Roxas to its neighboring provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao regions. Local residents from Roxas can also enjoy the wide connectivity of flights we offer from our Cebu hub to other domestic and international destinations," Cebu Pacific vice president for marketing and distribution Candice Iyog said.After the seat sale, the one-way "Go Lite" fare from Cebu to Roxas starts from P988 all-in.Using CEB’s brand-new ATR 72-500 aircraft, the tri-weekly (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday) service departs from Cebu at 5:20am and arrives in Roxas at 6:10am. The return flight leaves Roxas at 6:30am and lands in Mactan Cebu International Airport at 7:20am.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Civil Aviation pressed to restore US confidence

Stakeholders in the travel and tourism industry on Friday want to know if the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has made any move to restore US confidence in Philippine air carriers.

This developed after the United States’ Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) included the country on the list of 21 countries under the restrictive Category 2.

Robert Lim Joseph, chairman emeritus of the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies (Naitas), said CAA’s action is crucial because Category 2 restricts flights to the US, thus putting on hold any plan by Philippine air carriers to expand and modernize their fleet.

Rep. Monico Puentevella fast-tracked the creation of CAA on March 5, 2008, to replace the Air Transportation Office (ATO) following FAA’s verdict that “the Philippines is an unsafe port of origin.”

In downgrading the country in January last year from the higher safety and security rating in Category 1 to Category 2, the FAA cited “failure to provide safety oversight of its air carrier operators in accordance with safety oversight standards set by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO),” a United Nations organization

Joseph said Category 2 is very onerous, citing a provision that prevents airlines from changing an aircraft for a better one, notwithstanding that the replacement is made by a tested and trusted American company.

He said President Gloria Arroyo gave CAA a marching order to resolve the Category 2 problem within 90 days, but there has not been any development since the directive was issued a year ago.

“What has happened to CAA? What is the status of the safety upgrades?” Naitas wanted to know. “There is no update,” Joseph said.

He said the bigger problem in not getting a higher safety rating is that Europe and other countries could follow the action of the US FAA, endangering further the growth of Philippine civil aviation.

He said one reason CAA has not made any major move to reinstate the Philippines to Category 1 might be due to its lack of representative from private stake-holders. Moreover, there are not enough knowledgeable people in the agency who can address and resolve the problem, he added.

“There should be somebody in the CAA board who understands air safety, security and airline operations,” Joseph said.

He suggested that CAA should tap the private sector for experienced airline executives who can help with the necessary improvements that would remove the obstacles for the country’s return to Category 1.

He said Congress could use its oversight function and find out how the law that created CAA is being implemented and what the agency is now doing to solve problems in civil aviation.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Coolest Build And Fly Mini Sim by Red Bull

This has got to be the coolest flash game for airplanes out there. you can design and fly your own plane. fly the Red Bull course or splash in the water.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Jungle Crash Land Game

Here is an addicting little game I just had to share with everyone, hope you enjoy flying through the jungle, but please don't crash land your plane!
Right click link below and open in new tab or window.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

airline losses hit 800 million

Losses of airline companies hit $800M in Q4, says IATA report

LOSSES OF airlines around the world reached $800 million in the last quarter of 2008, and full-year losses had likely hit $5 billion, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in a report.

The IATA, which represents 90% of the world’s airlines, also said stock prices of airline companies had plunged further this month, as market players remained uncertain about the end of the global economic crisis.

"Airlines have lost half their capitalized value over the past year," the IATA said, citing the Bloomberg global index, which went down by 9% in January.

"The bottom line is that financial markets are not sure whether the bottom is yet in sight," it added.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Making FSX a Decent Soaring Simulator

Microsoft Flight Simulator 10 is a powerful flight Sim. With its decided bias towards commercial aircraft and civilian power planes, it rather neglects the soaring enthusiast with its one sailplane offering. The stock Dg 800S is a decent flying sailplane with realistic flexing wings, however the thermal modeling in FSX is rather unrealistic and thermals are sparse. The aerotowing is completely ridiculous with straight out tows to altitude.

There are thermal add ons available at the various free download sights. These merely add additional stock thermal to selected global regions, a vast improvement but still rather static and there is no real slope lift except for the missions in FSX.

Enter Wolfgang Piper and Max Roodveldt.
These two guys have dedicated themselves to converting FSX into a fairly decent Soaring simulator. Wolfgang Piper has designed models for FSX that represent nearly every significant modern and vintage sailplane in Europe, as well as a few Schweizer models.

These sailplanes fly extremely well, have GPS, and (unlike the FSX vario)a compensated vario, and a neat realistic working yaw string. The gauges are designed by Max Roodveldt and are Caiset gauges. representing a step up compared to the stock FSX gauges. Way points in the GPS.nav file located in the FSX main folder are editable so you can add your own way points. not as easy as popping up the GPS in FSX though, which is disabled in the gliders. Everything you need to know to get these gauges working is contained on Wolfgang Piper's web page FS This includes installation instructions, files needed, and the tweaking guide.

This is only the beginning. Now that you have these nice gliders and gauges, where will you get realistic thermals and slope lift?

Cumulus X! is the module you will want to add to FSX. It creates realistic thermals using a thermal graphic that looks more like a real cloud than the default spirals in FSX. Invoked under the natural thermal selection in "weather" they self generate, are adjustable by the user for multiple parameters and include several default modeling presets for your use. but wait, it gets better, you can use real time downloaded weather files from various sources to generate lift info. The coup de gras is the nesting module called Sim probe. Sim prob is an add on for cumulus X that provides slope lift in realistic locations based on how you set up wind velocity and direction from within the FSX weather set up window.

I have been using these programs for about a month, and while a little sensitive to set up and glitchy at times, represent a step forward in thermal soaring in FSX.

Be warned if you are not capable of editing your registry files and or are not confident in editing you FSX directory files, don't try these add ons. It is not difficult but you have to follow the instructions carefully and make back ups as you go. In addition, there are some small unclear areas in the instructions with regards to editing your registry for autorun (which is desirable). I will write a detailed update for dummies (like me) in another article.

You will need a clean FSX install service pack two running on XP. Add on planes are OK. Vista users need to do some additional tweaking outlined on Wolfgang Piper's web site.

An additional program that adds more realism and flexibility is "Aerotow" from Paavo Pihelgas that makes it easy to change tow planes , and also to get the tow to fly a selected pattern.

TOWING AIRCRAFT allows one to select a towing aircraft. Lists all aircraft from SimObjects\Airplanes folder. Please note that not all aircraft are suitable for towing. Some are too fast (Learjet 45) and some are too slow (Piper Cub) for most gliders. Towing aircraft are flown with throttle at 75%.

PITCH OF TOWING AIRCRAFT allows to set pitch for the towing aircraft. The resulting rate of climb also depends on performance of the aircraft, so it may require playing around a bit with this value to get an acceptable result. Values between 5 and 10 should be fine for most aircraft and glider combinations.

PATTERN DIRECTION allows to choose the general path of towing. The towing aircraft is currently being flown by flight sim's AI and so the aircraft may not always fly exactly the selected path.

MINIMUM TURNING ALTITUDE is altitude above ground level, below which towing aircraft keeps flying runway heading. In case of left or right hand pattern, higher value means longer INITIAL CLIMB leg.

PATTERN DURATION specifies the duration of one CLIMB PATTERN. Values below 120 seconds may result in unexpected behaviour.

SAVE CHANGES saves all modifications made to towing settings. Modifications take effect after flight sim is restarted (if it is running).

So as you can see, we now can tell our tow pilot how to tow us and what plane we would like to use!

This program comes packaged with the redo of the Microsoft FSX DG 800S by This plane comes with two missions using the cumulus X and simprobe modules mentioned above.

With these additional modidifications to FSX, the program becomes a workable soaring simulator. If you fly the SOAR DG-800S, you can design your own tasks with way points in the flight planner window and they wiill automatically show on the Caiset GPS.


CumulusX! from

For the full soaring experience you should also have:

sim_probe from

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

25 injured in air crash Philippines

MANILA, Philippines: A turboprop plane landed short of the runway then struck a concrete wall at an airport in the central Philippines on Sunday, injuring 25 crew members and passengers, including foreign tourists, officials said.

The accident led to a five-hour closure of the Caticlan airport in Aklan province and forced the diversion or cancellation of several flights, airport officials said.

An initial landing attempt by the twin-engine plane operated by budget carrier Zest Air failed "due to unfavorable wind conditions," Civil Aviation Authority Director General Ruben Ciron said.

The accident injured 22 crew members and passengers, including two Germans, two Australians and a South Korean bound for the popular Boracay beach in Aklan, about 190 miles (300 kilometers) south of Manila, airport official Ma. Mecine Torres told The Associated Press by telephone.

Two airport guards and a utility man on the ground were injured by flying debris, said Rachel Hilada, a doctor at the Aklan Baptist Hospital, where the injured were treated mostly for fractures and abrasions.