The product reviewed now is, as the title referred, the Elite XTS. It is a professional IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) flight simulator of GA (General Aviation) aircraft. The developer is ELITE that stands for “Electronic IFR Training Environment”, is a famous and old company with big experience in this kind of business. They develop and provide many dedicated hardware and simulators for pilot instruction, tutorial and training in many flight schools worldwide. This includes full size cockpits for multiple aircraft and helicopter simulators, some using Lockheed Martin Prepar3d scenery.
The Elite XTS is the last version, released few weeks ago, of a long life sequel of many versions which objective is providing a simulator that can be used in flight schools or at home. As such, that it is available in 2 versions, for commercial and for non-commercial use. Very nicely, ELITE Company also gives the choice of buying a full version or an upgrade version for previous Elite 8.x customers. This new Elite flight simulator supports and works with many dedicated hardware that can increase the experience and gives a more realistic interaction between the pilot and the virtual aircraft. It also includes many improvements and more features, comparing with the Elite 8.6, which for sure will pleasure new customers and current users of Elite 8.6 that upgrade to this new XTS.
For the purposes of this review I use a TM Warthog Hotas, CH TQS and a TM RCS but it can also works with many others joysticks, yokes and controllers. The product reviewed is the European version and also includes the GTN650/750 that is sold separated.
Installation, Manuals and configuration
This IFR simulator are provided through a USB pen and in the package is also included a Wibu-key USB hard lock, in case of upgrade version, the new Wibu-key is not included and you should use the one from version 8. As like version 8, you should have your Wibu-key connected in your PC every time you want to use the XTS.
The installation rans very well and it was a very easy process. This new XTS fully supports windows 7/8/10 32 and 64bits and includes a setup wizard that do almost all the tasks for you. For Garmin GPS’s it includes separated installers.
After install all the software and the included drivers, if needed, for Elite hardware and Wibu-key, you should also manual activate the Garmin GNS and GTN. Aside of Garmin GPS, the Elite XTS is less than 4GB on your hard disk.
On the Elite USB pen and in the installed folder you have 12 PDF documents. These manuals are strongly detailed and gives you all the information that you need to know.
The PDF manuals covers these:
– Installation Manual – 52 pages that includes all steps in very detail.
– Main Operator’s Manual – 158 pages that covers all menus and Elite XTS operation.
– KFC 150/KAP 150, KAP 100 and KAP 140 – 219 pages.
– EFS 40/50 – 217 pages.
– GNS400W/ GNS500W series – 456 pages.
– GTN650/GTN750 – 1190 pages.
– Troubleshooting – 11 pages.
– BCLSH PPIII – 6 pages.
– Screen Configuration – 11 pages, includes multiscreen configuration.
As mentioned, because it’s the European version, the scenery installed by default are all Europe. It includes all in Genview and only Switzerland in Realview also. Sold separated you can of course complete your collection of maps such as with Australia, North and South America, etc. For example if you buy the Elite XTS on the USA store it includes USA scenery instead of Europe.
The Genview maps are generated maps that are perfect for IFR and includes the main roads, rivers and cities areas for basic VFR (Visual Flight Rules) flights and detailed illumination system of the runways. About Realview is a low resolution textured scenery that increase the capabilities for VFR flights. Anyway the main objective of this simulator is IFR, were your navigation are mainly watching and using your cockpit instruments, and the sceneries included are perfect to it.
Before start using the XTS an important task should be made, the hardware configuration. It support multiple controllers like CH and Thrustmaster joysticks and throttle quadrants. ELITE also provide and sell specialized hardware that greatly enhance the experience and realism of the simulation and interaction with XTS. If you not have a dedicated throttle quadrant, you can control the engines symmetrically using the keyboard on dual prop engine aircraft or also with the mouse on the panel controls of single engine airplanes.
New with this XTS is the possibility to configure left and right throttle/prop/mix to your controller axis. I was super happy to saw that because now you can fully control, using for example a CH TQS, all the 6 levers of a bi-prop aircraft. So with a special configuration on my operating system I could create a way to control the rudder, joystick/yoke and the 6 levers of a TQS using my controllers.
About the mentioned ELITE hardware they are very well constructed, usually all metal, and they includes modules and drivers to work on others flight simulators such as MSFS, P3D and X-Plane. If you can afford them, I recommend you get these hardware.
This Elite XTS supports multiple screens and on each screen you can choose what information you want there like the moving map, menus, separated 3D external visuals, Instructor station, etc. I have 2 screens, one main 24” wide screen with the main simulation, and one 4:3 19” side screen that I use for menus and moving map. An important and great feature of this new XTS is the support of Full HD 1080P wide screens and also 4K, it is an amazing improvement from the older version.
This Elite XTS, using a module, can connect with handheld GPS that supports AV400 and/or NMEA protocols and also includes Wi-Fi connectivity with external EFB. For more detailed information I recommend you contact an ELITE representative.
Using the Simulator
My first impression after choose an aircraft and a location to start was very positive. The textures and high resolution of cockpits that now supports wide screens are gorgeous and very well made. Another great feature of this new Elite flight simulator is the cockpit night illumination with dimming. All these new features increased much the immersive of being in the aircraft comparing with old Elite versions.
The XTS includes 10 aircraft:
– Archer III
– Arrow IV
– Baron 58
– Bonanza A36
– Cessna 172R
– Cessna 172S
– Cessna 182S
– King Air B200
– Money M20J
– Seneca III
These models covers many different types of GA aircraft and, typical to Elite flight simulator, you can also configure and personalize each one. Each aircraft have his own cockpit based on the real aircraft and his personalization includes many different GPS and cockpit instrument configurations. Included in this XTS are the Garmin GNS430WAAS and GNS530WAAS GPS and, sold separated, the Garmin GTN650/750. A new and great feature of XTS is that you can now fully control these GPS’s using your mouse on screen and you not need any dedicated hardware to enable or operate them. Also all the knobs, switches and buttons on cockpit are clickable with the mouse and works like the real aircraft. You can also drag the full instrument panel up or down to adjust your external view area.
The different configurations of instruments includes different gyro indicators like the E500, EFIS40 or the classic old King version, and different Bendix/King versions for the avionics stack and RMI/ADF, including 8.33 kHz COM spacing radios. Exist also others configurations like the throttle quadrant layout or the lights arrangement.
The level of detail is impressive, the systems works like the real counterparts and the flight model includes all prop effects, like torque, p-factor, gyroscopic effects and slipstream. Even without dedicated hardware, all effects are there and pilots can perfectly use this simulator to also train aircraft behaviour that was modelled taken into account the real aircraft. About ground physics the XTS have some limitations, but the prop effects are also present there and you should use pedals to stay on the runway while taking off.
The realism are such that probably is the only simulator that have the PT6A engines of B200 King Air modelled as the real one. Particularly in this engine, because it’s a free wheel prop, without any rigid link between prop and the core engine, when you change the rpm/prop the FF (fuel flow) should stay stable. This real effect is wrongly modelled in all other popular flight simulators even with the use of dedicated add-ons.
About sounds it is very ok and I liked to see that it includes the sounds of engines starting up. On the configuration menu you can adjust individually the volume of each sound type like the sound of flaps or the engines.
In the weather department this flight simulator fits perfectly his purpose as a professional IFR training tool. It includes visibility effects, winds, turbulence, cloud layers, icing and pressure. Using the XTS you can, very fast and easy, fly with real weather from an automatic downloaded METAR file or you can manually adjust all weather parameters including dynamic changes. A nice feature is the weather information representation on the moving map chart that helps you to plan more efficiently your flight.
The XTS being an IFR training tool, it have many obligatory features. These features includes malfunctions that can be triggered by random events and configured in big detail. This is important to train alternate or emergency procedures and to practice the detection of failures.
Another very good feature that is useful to create training situations, is the possibility of remove or add scenery navaids and adjust the visibility of scenery objects. This can be used to enforce a reduction of VFR capability and increase the needed IFR skills of pilot.
The Map works as a moving map and nicely popup, with mouse over, navaid data that is useful while you progress through your flight, like the airport or the VOR/NDB frequencies. This screen also works as a flight analysis tool, with replay capability. There you can also see the horizontal and vertical profile path of your flight to for example analyse the quality of your approach. When need, you can very easy readjust the position and state of your aircraft, including load and fuel, to fast try or train different conditions or situations.
Here you not have AI aircraft, external views and the scenery is not as eye candy as in other flight simulators, but is important to say that Elite XTS amazingly achieves his objective of being an excellent IFR flight simulator and in many features is the best on this task.
The Elite XTS is an excellent IFR flight simulator, now more affordable and a big improvement comparing with the older 8.x version. Many other flight simulators even with expensive add-ons not get some features that this XTS have. To all current 8.x users, the XTS is an obligatory upgrade. This simulator is very popular in flight schools and I recommend you also for home use to get more proficiency in IFR practices and procedures.
Intel i7 920 2.4GHz, 12GB RAM, Nvidia GTX1060 6GB
TM Hotas Warthog, TM WCS, CH TQ, Track IR, Raildriver, Logitech G25
Windows 7 Ultimate x64