I’ve always had an interest in aviation, and over the past few months I’ve found the time to start playing X-Plane, a flight simulator. The Colimata Concorde is an aircraft that can be purchased, and offers a simulation that lets you experience some of what Concorde would have been like to fly.
In this review, I’ll go over the externals, systems, and other features that the Colimata Concorde has.
To begin, the Concorde is priced just under $60, and is available via the X-Plane store. The aircraft is in active development at time of writing, and the developers are active on the forums. The aircraft comes with manuals, including a quick manual which includes useful tips for flying, as well as a cold and dark start manual which is very useful in learning how to start the aircraft.
Two versions of the aircraft are available to download – one with a 2k cockpit, and one with a 4k cockpit. The 2k one will use less VRAM, so is good for those with older computers. In addition to this, there are various alternative
.acf files in each of the versions that allow you to remove the virtual cabins in order to get more FPS.
The Concorde is not a simple aircraft – for people who have flown the highly automated aircraft in the game, the Concorde is vastly different. With the cockpit filled with steam gauges, and INS navigation, it’s very nice to fly something completely different from a typical modern aircraft.
Modelling and texturing
Outside modelling is done nicely – I had no glaring issues with either the modelling or texturing. The aircraft also comes with ground handling vehicles, which are nicely done and make it look more realistic when parked up at a stand.
Moving to the cockpit, it is done very well. Each knob and circuit breaker is detailed, and the 4k resolution looks great. If you are on a lower end PC, Colimata has given you the opportunity to use 2k textures – these are very useable, but the labels are more blurred so it may not look as nice.
With full FMOD sound, the Concorde sounds great. Startup sounds simulate the roar of the Olympus 593 really nicely. The interior also sounds great, as does the cabin – it has life like noises like talking. During cruise, the aircraft is very quiet, due to the speed, which is a very nice touch.
Fly-by mode is particularly striking – near silence until the aircraft passes you, and then a loud sonic boom – it’s quite a thrilling sound it is really nicely implemented.
The various voices that simulate the engineer as well as the other crew talking are also nicely done, and feel very infitting with the Concorde. Sounds are very nicely done on the aircraft.
The aircraft comes with brilliant manuals that detail how to startup the aircraft from cold and dark, as well as a quick 10 steps guide that is handy in learning the aircraft – showing how to do climbing phases as well as use various features of the aircraft. The included flight engineer allows you to easily trim the aircraft for various stages of flight, which significantly eases the workload of flying the Concorde with one person.
In addition to this, the included flight engineer can do various tasks for you – from simple ones to trimming the aircraft for various stages of flight, to starting up the systems and engines. This is great for new users, as it allows you to get a quick feel for the aircraft, and it also makes it more accessible for experienced users who just want to fly the aircraft without taking the time to start it up from the dark state. However, I would highly advise learning the startup and operating procedures of the aircraft – you will still need to use them in flight.
The Colimata does allow integration with the Philips CIVA INS system, however for this review I have used the default INS that came with the aircraft. This is a simplified version of the real thing, meaning that you do not have to manually update the coordinates for each waypoint as you would using the Philips.
The use of the INS is fairly simple (there is also an included G1000 that you can use if you are not comfortable with INS). Using the in game menu for the aircraft, you can manually add a route or load one in from a flight plan. This means that you do not need to do any waypoint coordinate entering, and you do not need to manually set your own position coordinates to start the INS. I quite like this – it makes the aircraft more enjoyable for those who have not used INS navigation before, but also allows the option to integrate with the Philips CIVA if you want something a little more advanced. Once you have set up the navigation, you’ll be able to use the three INS to view waypoints, distance and times to those waypoints, wind information and much more.
In regards to systems, the Concorde is still in development – as a result, not all the systems are implemented. However, in its current state the aircraft is perfectly flyable – major missing systems such as max climb and cruise autopilot modes, as well as HSI aligning to the INS is being added in an upcoming update. The engineering station is missing many systems, however does have all essential ones that allow you to cold and dark start the aircraft. The Colimata is under development, and as a result many of these systems are likely to be implemented in the future. This being said, the Concorde systems are very flyable, and I only found myself missing the HSI align mode, as well as the max climb and max cruise autopilot modes – which are soon to be added. For now, using vertical speed to climb works great.
Systems in the Colimata are there – whilst it may lack some of the more advanced ones, all the ones that make Concorde unique, as well as those required for startup, are there. The Concorde is still a challenge to fly.
This is incredibly well done in the Colimata – flying the Concorde is very challenging. With its delta wing, the stall speeds are incredibly high – you’ll usually be landing at 180 knots, 40 or so higher than the widebodies of today. Flying the Concorde feels incredibly different to any other aircraft on the simulator – lumbery and heavy at low speeds, whilst being very twitchy at high speeds.
Thinking ahead of the aircraft is very important – due to its speed, your various waypoints and stages of flight come up a lot faster than they do in a traditional aircraft such as a 777. Descending needs to be done far earlier than it is done in today’s airliners due to the speed and height that the Concorde cruises at.
Landing is significantly more difficult than any other airliner that I have flown in XP. With a high angle of attack due to the delta wing, actually seeing the runway over the nose can be quite difficult. Thrust must be carefully managed to balance the aircraft at an appropriate angle of attack to prevent it from stalling, but also to stop the aircraft from climbing (which is easy to do due to the powerful engines). During the flare, it is very easy to over-flare the aircraft and land on the tail wheel, as getting a smooth landing is quite a challenge. It takes quite a bit of practice to perfect the landing of the Concorde. Luckily, the developers have modelled the significant ground effect that the Concorde’s wings create when near the ground, which helps reduce vertical speed significantly.
With the ability to cover great distances in a small amount of time, the Concorde opens the ability to do many more routes up. Most of the routes I have done have been from the UK to America, namely the well known Heathrow to New York flight. However, I have also done some other routes such as the 1987 Concorde world tour. With a range of about 4,600 NM, the Concorde can get to islands like Jamaica, make a fuel stop, and then continue on towards Hawaii – I have found these flights with fuel stops to be the most fun.
To plan my routes, I use this Simbrief profile, which has been very accurate.
Routes can also be found on the Concorde’s forum page on the X-Plane forums, which provide the historic routes that the Concorde flew when operational.
A brilliant aircraft – the FXP Concorde feels significantly different from both modern aircraft and retro aircraft – it is very fun and demanding to fly, and I would highly recommend it if you are looking for something different from the typical airliners offered for X-Plane. With the ability to use a complex or simple INS system, as well as great manuals and options to start the Concorde up, it’s a great choice for both beginners to retro aircraft, and those with experience looking for something that is more of a handful to fly.