Laminar Research is hard at work on the next-gen release of its ever-popular X-Plane series — the 12th iteration, to be exact. Over the last few weeks, the studio has been drip-feeding nuggets of new info. The latest of these little news updates formally announces that all aircraft in the upcoming sim will receive a very realistic feature: wake turbulence.
For the uninitiated, wake turbulence refers to the phenomenon that occurs when an aircraft rolls out and takes off from the runway. Because of the high speeds these metal machines reach at takeoff, they disturb the air around them, generating invisible “wakes” in a similar fashion to the disturbed waves that taper off from the rear hull of a boat in motion.
Rock and rollin’
Since aircraft all have to take off in the same direction and then climb for a few moments, the disturbed air is felt by aircraft that immediately follow. Much like how the size of a boat will determine the size of the wakes it leaves behind, the same applies to airplanes.
For example, a small Cessna 172 trainer won’t make much of an impact. But if that same 172 were to immediately take off following a far larger Airbus A380 or Boeing 777, the Cessna is going to have an extremely violent time getting in the air. This is why there’s often a waiting period for takeoffs. The same procedures also apply when landing.
With X-Plane 12, Laminar is seeking to introduce the real-world atmospheric disturbance into the sim world.
Across the board
Every aircraft in X-Plane 12 that uses the X-Plane flight model will produce wake turbulence, according to a recent dev blog. This doesn’t just refer to player aircraft, but AI aircraft as well. In the same dev blog, Laminar explains that “each wing is calculated using the same methods and the same accuracy as for the user aircraft.”
The sim will also allow online multiplayer integration, as well as traffic data injection from real-world data. These sorts of aircraft will not benefit from the enhanced calculations given to native AI and the player’s aircraft. The sim will then “guess” what affect such an aircraft will have on factors such as its wake turbulence generation. The guessing isn’t arbitrary, however. Instead, the calculation is done by taking the size of the aircraft model into account.
Wake turbulence is one of the many simulated mechanics that X-Plane 12 will incorporate.
It will also factor in small, but very important details. For example, fuel systems getting flooded if an electrical pump is left on too long will be present, along with the various wild effects that weather can have on an aircraft — just to name a couple. This sort of attention to detail is something that X-Plane has prided itself on for eons, and Laminar seems very keen to push further beyond with this latest iteration of the sim.