Review by: Daniel Faas
The Airbus A321 is a stretched derivative aircraft of the ubiquitous Airbus A320. Featuring two fuselage plugs, one aft and one forward of the wings the A321 adds up to 40 seats in a single class configuration over its smaller parent aircraft. However the A321 shares the same wing as the A320 which means a reduced range in order to accommodate the larger passenger load. When all is said and done the A321 can carry up to 230 passengers (in a single class configuration) 3,200 miles in its base configuration.
The design theory behind the the A321 as with all Airbus aircraft is computerized automation. Fly By Wire is the name of the game with the A321 and those not familiar with Airbus aircraft may find the process of flying these birds a bit unusual. Where the Boeing gives the pilot much more control, the Airbus gives the pilot much less, and the computers do most of the flying. The side-stick controls also may appear a bit foreign to anyone who is more used to traditional airliners.
The ToLiSS A321 installs very much like any other XP aircraft add-on with the exception that upon your first flight an activation screen which requires you to put in your e-mail and serial, nothing too difficult but something to note.
ToLiSS know Airbus aircraft and the externals are extremely detailed when it comes to modeling. It is hard to speak about the textures too much because ToLiSS (very wisely) included a high definition and standard definition version of this aircraft. Most of my screenshots are of the High Def version for reference. I had little issue with the performance of this aircraft, especially with the new “Vulkan and Metal” rendering option in XP 11.50.
All of the bits you would want to look at carefully are well modeled, the gear, engines, and all of the markings are there, although your mileage may vary depending on what livery you have installed. However with that being said all of the rivet counters among us should be very happy with the exterior modeling. I would say there is a lack of animations but otherwise top shelf modeling.
I did like the attention to detail with the cargo areas. The cargo netting and even placards are modeled within the cargo areas, which depending on how you set up the aircraft automatically open when you are parked with the engines off.
The interior of this study sim is perhaps even more detailed than the interior. All of the buttons and switches are modeled and look fantastic. Again there is a high def and standard def version but both look great, the High Def just has a bit more “crispness” to it and looks better on those 2k and 4k screens that we all love. Any of the parts you will look at consistently are beautiful and well modeled in 3D, a must have for any add-on maker who wants to be known for their realism.
I was a bit disappointed in the lack of animations within the cockpit. The sun screens, work tables, arm-rests etc are all static and the areas around the windows seem to have suffered a bit for the detail in the flight deck and instruments.
All of the screens can be independently dimmed and adjusted, and the lighting seems amazing at all points within the day. Even the circuit panel is lit supremely well in this add-on.
The interior of the cabin is done VERY well compared to some other add-ons which may even omit the cabin or leave it with low def, almost cartoonish textures. I was very impressed with the cabin and it even makes for a nice place to wander around during those long cruise legs.
The documentation for the this aircraft is good, and will certainly allow you to fly and use this aircraft to its full extent. There is a 56 page pdf aircraft manual which goes through all of the systems so you can be effective in piloting the A321. There is also a companion 49 page pdf simulation manual which helps you to set up the ToLiSS aircraft with your X-Plane install and your peripherals. The added tutorial flight is nice as well to help those of us who learn by doing more than by reading. A full AOM would have been nice but to be honest most pilots aren’t going to look at a 300+ page A321 manual so I understand the omission.
The lighting in the aircraft is some of the best I have seen in X-Plane. As with the screens, all of the lighting rheostats are independently adjustable and provide the perfect “glow” which makes you feel as if you are right in the cockpit. The color and level of lighting being right means the world when flying at night, and I could fly for hours at night with these cockpit lights.
ToLiSS set out to make a FULL simulation of the Airbus A321 and they did not leave anything out, included features are:
- Detailed FMGS with SIDs/STARs/Airways, performance prediction, temporary, alternate and secondary flight plans, fix info, etc.
- Choice of CFM or IAE engine, affecting aircraft performance and fuel burn
- Choice of sharklets or classic wing tip fences. (Affects aircraft drag.)
- Very accurate FBW implementation, including reversion to alternate and direct law
- Detailed systems including fault injection for currently about 90 failures. (Electric, hydraulic, flight controls, engine, etc.)
- Officially licensed by Airbus
- Commercial “Turbine Sound Studios” sounds for CFM and IAE engines included.
- Support of SID/STAR, including all leg types (Arc, course or heading to intercept, Radius to Fix, Holdings, etc.)
- Temporary and alternate flight plans
- Secondary flight plan
- Full VNAV guidance with TOC, TOD, Deceleration point, speed limits, fuel prediction, etc.
- Altitude and speed constraints as the real aircraft deals with them
- Ability to change the selected STAR while already in the STAR
- Support for go-arounds and diversions
- Step altitudes
- Airway support
- Fix Info page
- Latitude/Longitude crossings
- 2 independent MCDUs and autopilots
- Drag, thrust and fuel consumption models adapt to selected engine type and wing tip device
- Choice between new FMGS with temporary flight plan even during preflight phase or old FMGS with direct editing of the active plan during preflight phase.
- ToLiss uses the QPAC Fly-by-wire and autopilot module with numerous improvements
- Flight control system with hinge moment modelling giving realistic float angles for surfaces that are lost due to system faults
- Custom TCAS with Traffic and Resolution Advisory based on real aircraft logic
- Brake temperature model based on the detailled physics of heat transfer between the individual brake components
- Hydraulics model in which the pressure is dependent on usage. This is most notable when dropping to RAT mode or with and engine wind milling
- Detailled model of each ADIRU including alignment, small pressure sensor differences between the units, switching of sources for PFDs
- Custom air conditioning model supporting high altitude operations at airports like Cusco in Peru or La Paz in Bolivia without spurious warnings
- Flight warning system with ECAM actions supporting numerous system failure scenarios, e.g. engine failures, generator failures, hydraulic failures
- Fault injection system allowing to trigger system faults either at a specific point in flight or randomly during a flight phase
- Detailed 3D cockpit with high quality texturing
- 3d exterior model with CFM and IAE engine
- Choice between classic wingtip fences or modern sharklets (controlled via livery names)
- Each aircraft comes with licensed high definition sounds from Turbine Sound Studios, the market leader for aircraft sounds in the FSX/P3D world
- Rain effects thanks to the librain library provided to the x-plane community by Saso Kiselkov
- Custom particle effects for engine heat trail, landing gear smoke on touch-down etc.
- Standby compass that can be stowed, cockpit door that opens, fully modeled cabin, etc.
- Situation loading and saving. It is possible to save the flight at any point in time and resume it another day. This can also be used, e.g., to save the position just before approach and practice just the approach many times
- Autosaving allows recovering where you left off, should the Xplane session end unexpectedly
- Jumping waypoint-to-waypoint through the cruise phase: Shorten your flight to focus on the more interesting parts as you like
- 4 different startup configuration from Cold and Dark to engines running and ready to go
- In-screen popup displays or use of x-plane windows for popups
My test flight was a relatively short flight as far as the A321 is concerned. I flew from Chicago O’Hare (KORD) to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, NY (KJFK), a total flight time of about 1.5 hours at a around 400 kts TAS at flight level 310. It has been a while since I flew a jetliner in any flight sim, as I have been enjoying GA aircraft lately, and the Airbus is as automated as it gets, which took some getting used to again.
The ToLiSS A321 is a study sim and everything is modeled EVERYTHING. One feature some users may not be used to is having to wait for the ADIRS to align. In fact I had forgot to even turn on and align the system as in many aircraft this process is automatic. There is an option within the ToLiSS configuration menu to quick align for those of us who just want to get into the air.
Having entered everything into the FMGC (which requires some know how on entering certain values properly) I was able to push back. ToLiSS have their own basic push-back function but the X-Plane native push back works just as well. Taxing was fairly simple, the aircraft being as large and long as it is, takes some learning to get around tighter corners but it handles pretty well. There is an option to assign an axis to the steering tiller, however I simply used my rudder pedals as that is more familiar to me.
Take-off was right on the money and the V-Speeds calculated by the FMGC were reached and in no-time we were in the air. As this is an Airbus at about 1,500ft I allowed the autopilot to take over. Engaging VNAV and LNAV is as easy as pushing in the respective buttons on the autopilot panel (I forget the fancy Airbus name for it). Once the throttles are pulled back to the CLB (climb) detent the aircraft was completely in the hands of the many onboard computers.
The autopilot had no issues and the flight was relatively drama free (just make sure you enter in your proper transition altitude). We had favorable winds so ground speed was pretty high for the A321 at around 560kts.
Final approach was pretty straight forward, I took control of the speed early so I could manage the flaps and gear, the FMGC had already pre-entered all of the runway information when we chose our desired approach and within no time I had total control of the aircraft. The A321 is auto-land capable but as you can see from the screenshots below we had no need for it.
Landing rollout was nice and easy, the brakes were more than enough to slow this long and heavy aircraft down. The auto-spoilers deployed as needed and we had plenty of runway 22L remaining when we turned off. One of the features of realism I love is the brake overheat indicator and need to turn on brake fans. These little details matter when you are making a detailed study sim.
ToLiSS set out to make a study sim A321 and they did not disappoint. The details both inside and out leave little to be desired and the depth of systems on this aircraft is second to none. I also appreciated the configurator options which let those of us who might be in a hurry to skip over some of the “extra realism”. If you are a fan of airliners, and airbus in particular you need this aircraft. You can find the full package at Simmarket store for $93.24USD.