I love A2A’s aircraft, and have three: the Cessna 172 Skyhawk trainer, the Cessna 182 Skylane, and the Piper 180 Cherokee. Of these, the 182 is my favorite and aircraft of choice. The A2A simulation, especially with its Accu-Sim component, makes this aircraft as realistic as I can imagine it could be for a simulator. This includes knowing how to start the sucker, which can be a challenge unless you’re into flooding the engine, fouling the plugs, and possibly running down the battery. (But this is why we have checklists, and if you follow the real one for the 182, you’ll be just fine.) The sound of the engine, the flight mechanics (today I was flying and noticed a constant bank to the right, and sure enough that fuel tank was about twice as full as the other), the sound of the brakes and the creaks of the airplane … everything about the A2A aircraft is first rate and terribly realistic.
But I haven’t flown them much over the past month or two, instead sticking with the very nice Carenado 182T. Now don’t get me wrong — the Carenado is a great simulation aircraft. Compared to everything else out there, it’s first rate. But it’s not the same as the A2A. The A2A just feels and flies and sounds terribly real compared to anything else. It’s absolutely about the texture and immersion of the sim, and the A2A wins that hands down. But I’ve foregone it for one reason: it hasn’t played well with the myriad Saitek panels and avionics I have running in the sim.
This problem is well-documented. Still, I haven’t found a good solution, and it’s boiled down to three things: getting the master battery and alternator switches to work correctly, getting the fuel and engine gauges on Tom Tsui’s great integrated fuel gauge to read correctly, and getting the RPM also on Tom’s RPM gauge to read correctly. There’s a fix for the battery / alternator issue, and at times the engine gauges would mostly reflect what the A2A would show on the virtual cockpit panel, but the RPM gauge as always very far off from reality (also well-documented).
Well, today I finally found the fix. It was a roundabout way of getting there, but get there I did. And now the A2A is absolutely perfect, and I can’t wait to fly these aircraft for many years to come. Here’s what worked: First, I deleted all Saitek software and drivers, including the folders in Programs and Programs 86, and only installed the Flight Information Panel drivers (NOT the FIP software) consistent with the guidance near the end of this thread. Then I installed the registered version of SPAD.neXt, activated its LVAR option, and activated SPAD’s A2A 182 profile. Then I changed this line in the .XML file of Tom’s 172 RPM gauge:
< Value Minimum=”0″ Maximum=”35″>(A:General eng1 rpm,RPM) 100 /</Value>
… to this line:
< Value Minimum=”0″ Maximum=”35″>(L:ENG1_RPM,RPM) 100 /</Value>
(Thanks, Tom, for that fix!) After that I played with the A2A 182 profile in SPAD.neXt a bit. I had to change the fuel pump switch snippet to just be a simple fuel pump on/off command. I programmed the BIP panel. And I still run some things via FUSIPC, like controlling the transponder Ident and Alt-C settings with the buttons on the throttle quadrant. But the rest of the setup was straightforward. The swtiches and controls did as they should, and the FIPs ran great … and most important the engine and RPM gauges were accurate. After you get through its (somewhat steep) learning curve, SPAD.neXt really is a great tool, and I’m looking forward to getting the most out of it in the coming weeks.
Now, into the (virtual) air in the A2A 182!