Testing [XPGFS] NOAA Weather free plugin in crewed flight

Testing [XPGFS] NOAA Weather free plugin in crewed flight

We tested [XPGFS] NOAA Weather plugin in crewed flight and here is a short report

How we tested

At the first, we removed weather’s section from smartcopilot.cfg file. There wasn’t weather’s synchronization i.e. [XPGFS] NOAA Weather free plugins worked independently for pilot and co-pilot.

Nome’s airport (PAOM) has bad weather: heavy clouds and precipitation, so it was good for us! 🙂 We took off from PAOM and went toward St Lawrence Island (240 Magnetic).

Red arrows – flight from PAOM with climbing in clouds, then navigation toward VOR (using as NDB – without radial) and green arrow using VOR (with radial).

What we tested

  1. Clouds’ layers – are they same for both pilots (structure, the base, upper border)?
  2. Atmospheric pressure.
  3. Does aloft wind the same for both pilots?
  4. Precipitations – does it the same for both pilots?
  5. Is it possible to use VOR as an NDB (additional test).

Results

  1. It was found that the altitude of the base of clouds could be little bit different for pilots. Top of the cloud layer was similar for both pilots. Please note, that X-Plane 11 generates unique clouds and the base and upper surface is a “straight line”, so the difference could be for this reason.
  2. Atmospheric pressure was the same (source: NOAA).
  3. Aloft wind was the same.
  4. Precipitations – the same.
  5. Yes, it is possible to use VOR as an NDB in vSkylabs DC-3.

More details about the flight

Aloft wind kept changing all the time. Later (weather in the picture is not the same as it was during the flight) I checked aloft wind in Little Map program. As you see in the picture above aloft wind on the same altitude is different along the path. It was difficult to keep straight line of flying. Additionally, without correction airplane drifts due to wind. Our heading was 240 but with correction we should fly 243 minimum. I found electronic emulation of famous E6B and put a link to our site, you can find it HERE. This device will help to calculate heading correction.

Aloft wind (NOAA) at 10000ft: 1 – 269/2kt; 2 – 0/0; 3 – 117/3kt; 4 – 111/5kt; 110/7kt
December 5, 2019, 1825Z

Video (in Russian)

Conclusion

[XPGFS] NOAA Weather is enough good for us i.e. for crewed flight. Installation is tricky but it is free, light and works very fast
With this plugin we should use smartcopilot.cfg files without weather section (just delete it). Or switch it off in the SmartCopilot – but never know – does particular config file for 3rd version or older. If you use older version cfg file – you CANNOT switch weather sync in SmartCopilot.
So, I think that we can demand that every pilot should have this weather plugin for flying in our group. What do you think?

Additionally, we really understood that pilot (commander) and co-pilot must have their own responsibilities – please watch the last seconds of the video above. It is in Russian, but you will understand what about I am talking. So we should think about exact responsibilities for 1st and 2nd pilot.

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