More About X-Plane Situations and “Scenario-Based Training”

To allay confusion about the “situation” with the Situations that I created to complement the scenarios in my latest book, Scenario-Based Training with X-Plane and Microsoft Flight Simulator, here’s a little more information. As I explained earlier, the developer of X-Plane frequently updates the code, and each time he does, the format of the .sit files changes, and you may not be able to load the provided Situation.

It’s not practical for me to recreate the Situations every time Austin updates X-Plane and to try to maintain an archive of the files for every version that folks may be using at any time. If he stabilizes the .sit format in future, I’ll create new Situations.

But the Situations I provided are just a convenience. You can use any recent version of X-Plane with the scenarios described in each lesson. In fact, you could use the scenarios/lessons effectively with any simulation (FTD, PC-based, etc.), provided that simulation has the required scenery, navaids, etc. Instructors can also use the scenarios and templates for lesson plans, as part of ground-school classes, flight planning exercises, challenges for practicing aeronautical decision making, and so forth.

I focused on X-Plane and FSX because they’re the most popular, cost-effective PC-based simulations that are widely available. I documented the core features of those simulations (again, not especially dependent on a specific version) that help instructors, students, and pilots use them effectively to complement formal training or just have more fun with the hobby of virtual aviation.

Again, the core of the book, the FITS-based scenarios, can be used with many simulations. If you use X-Plane, you just need to use the information provided for each lesson/scenario to place your aircraft at the starting location, adjust the weather, and then start “flying.”

For more information about the book, visit its pages at my Website and at Facebook.

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11 Responses to More About X-Plane Situations and “Scenario-Based Training”

  1. wadcomtest says:

    Hi Bruce,

    I got a copy of the book and I’m very excited about it. It’s just what I’ve been missing — a clear roadmap to practice.

    I understand that it’s not practical to recreate situation files for every revision of X-Plane. However, what if you could give a summary of each situation: what geo position to start at, what altitude, heading, suggested engine RPM and Mixture, weather settings (in X-Plane terms). If you post it in a simple text table, people would start create and share situations for every possible version of X-Plane! I would start doing it for sure!

    I’m rather novice and I found I missed important information in the book situation descriptiona. For example, not knowing the “right” altitude for the first two lessons I had trouble stabilizing the plane because the suggested RPM for “Normal cruise” at low altitude would set too high a speed. Etc, etc.

    Having put this data in a spreadsheet would spare you of future work — the crowd will do it! And I’m sure it’d be immensely helpful for beginners out there.

    Thanks for the excellent resource!

    • bruceair says:

      Most of the information you need is provided in the detailed descriptions of each scenario (lesson). For specifics about setting up the airplane for basic flight conditions, see Chapters 6, 11, and 12. You can also find an Excel workbook with additional details about the scenarios at the book’s page at my website, http://www.BruceAir.com.

      • Hello Bruce,
        Thank you very much for the very helpful book.

        I also run into the issue with .sit files. Let me express my thoughts on the problem.

        As I can see, the version 9 of X-Plane has not been changed for a long while, actually.
        I have the latest version of X-Plane 9, that is 9.7.0, and it was the same almost a half of a year ago. It seems the developers are fully focusing on the version 10 now.

        Considering that and the fact that the book was written primarily with X-Plane 9 in mind, perhaps it’s a good idea to recreate the .sit files one last time for them to be suited for the latest version of X-Plane 9.

        I personally and the X-Plane community would really appreciate that.

      • bruceair says:

        Thanks for your comments. I created the .sit files for X-Plane in the summer of 2011 with the understanding from the folks at X-Plane that they’d work with subsequent versions. Version 10 appeared long after the book went to press. After the problem with the .sit files appeared, I had an exchange of emails with Austin (the man behind X-Plane), and given the scope of changes to .sit files, even in interim releases, he recommended strongly against using the files, despite what the X-Plane user guide says about sharing them. I may try to create a new set of .sit files if the (ahem) situation improves, but at present, doing so would just add layers of confusion and become a Sisyphean task.

        As I note on the page for the book at my website, setting and saving the initial conditions for each flight manually is the best solution for X-Plane users, especially since folks are “flying” so many different iterations of the simulation. Doing that ensures that you have .sit files that work with whatever version of X-Plane you are running. I’ve posted an Excel workbook that complements the descriptions in the chapters for the lessons/scenarios. That workbook includes links to charts and airport information relevant to each scenario to help you use the interactive map and related features in X-Plane to put the airplane of your choice in position to start a scenario. Many of the scenarios begin on the ground, typically at the end of a specific runway, making that process even easier. Using the information in Chapter 12, “Flying the Cessna 172 Skyhawk,” you can quickly set the aircraft’s power and configuration to establish stable flight appropriate to the initial conditions for the scenario.

        I know this isn’t an ideal solution, and I’m watching developments, hoping that the .sit files eventually will work as they’re intended to.

  2. wadcomtest says:

    Hi Bruce,

    can you comment on the issue of overpronounced left banking tendency on initial climb with stock Cessna 172, as described, for example, here:

    http://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?showtopic=51251

    (There are in fact multiple similar postings)

    The only solution seems to be to use right aileron trim (which is of course not there in real life). However this means that right rudder can no longer be applied and it leads to memorizing wrong technique for a real aircraft.

    What would be your recommendation on this?

    Thank you!

    • bruceair says:

      The cause of and proper compensation for left-turning (not left-banking) tendency is described in the Airplane Flying Handbook, among other sources, including the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (see p. 4-26ff). It’s primarily a problem of yaw, and therefore rudder, not aileron, is the primary control to compensate for left-turning tendency. Using aileron to correct for the perceived roll results in a climb in a sideslip.

      • wadcomtest says:

        Well, that’s exactly the point — you are absolutely correct for a real world aircraft (and probably for FSX — I never used that), but in X-Plane there is an exaggerated banking tendency. The forum thread I referenced discusses that.

        If I use right rudder to cancel out the banking effect on climbout, I have to apply *so* much pressure that the heading changes greatly — flying a straight line becomes impossible!

        I’m not sure if you use FSX or X-Plane primarily, but if you try climbing in X-Plane Cessna at a slow airspeed with full power, I bet you’ll notice that.

        I would very much like to use the proper technique but it seems impossible in X-Plane. I would really appreciate your thoughts/advice on that.

        Thanks again for a great book!

      • bruceair says:

        I haven’t experienced the effect you describe (if I understand you correctly). If it’s truly an issue with the flight dynamics of X-Plane, there’s not much I can do or say about it. As I noted before, the proper technique for compensating for left-turning tendency is to counteract the yaw with opposite (right) rudder.

  3. Hrundi Bakshi says:

    Personally I think the statement that it is “not practical to recreate situation files for every revision of X-Plane” is a rather lame excuse. How much time would it really take to reconstruct those for the two major versions/ revisions X-Plane 9 and 10? A couple of hours, maximum?
    Or, if that is really too much to ask for, then just do as one of the previous guys suggested, publish an Excel file with all the key parameters and let the crowd do it. Then we can all benefit from updated .sit files.
    Given that the book was written in 2011, anyhow, it would be time for a second edition, wouldn’t it be?

    • bruceair says:

      First, you can find a Microsoft Excel file with information about each of the situations via the link from the book’s page at my website (http://www.bruceair.com/SBT/sbt-wiley.htm) and the OneDrive folder that includes all the resources for the book (https://onedrive.live.com/?cid=110aa5b593d58477&id=110AA5B593D58477!4157).

      As I explain on that page, the .sit file format changes every time the developer updates X-Plane–even so-called X.x updates change the .sit file format.I discussed the issue with the developer when X-Plane 10 was released, and, despite his assurances when I wrote the book, he told me not to rely on .sit files in the future.

      It truly isn’t practical to update the complete set of .sit files each time an incremental version of X-Plane is released. Doing so would be far more than “a couple of hours” work and would require maintaining a large library of files keyed to each X.x version of the simulation.

      The core message and value of the book as a complement to training haven’t changed since its publication. Updates to the quality of scenery, new aircraft, and other new features don’t require a new edition. And in any case, producing a new edition is a decision for the publisher, not the author.

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