pchelicopters.com interview Lockheed Martin's P3D Team
Another huge name talks to PCSimulators.org and pchelicopters.com. Lockheed Martin is world famous for it's real life aircraft. It develops some of the most advanced military planes in the world. Aircraft including the F-35 Lighting II, Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk & C130 Hercules,. As well as fixed wing they also have developed helicopters like the experimental Lockheed XH-51 helicopter & Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne (below), Vh-71 (below). Click below images to enlarge.
Lockheed Martin as well as being world famous for their real aircraft are also developers of one of the best flight simulators for the PC, P3D or sometimes as it's know, Prepar3D. P3D has recently been updated to support 64 bit and has a huge community following. With a very large selection of aircraft and scenery available for the sim it is one of the major players in flight simulation on the PC.
Q. Lockheed Martin is a world Famous aircraft manufacturer, is the company the same one that develops P3D?
A. Yes, Lockheed Martin is the primary developer of Prepar3D. The software fits perfectly with Lockheed Martin's unparalleled aviation history and future as a training and simulation leader.
Q. Was P3D born from Microsoft Flight Simulator?
A. Prepar3D is a direct evolution of the Microsoft Flight Simulator baseline. In 2009, Lockheed Martin licensed the source directly from Microsoft, and we have continued the development of the platform with a strong focus on making the software ready for advanced training and simulation.
Q. P3D has now moved over to 64BIT code with P3Dv4 what has been the general feedback from customers about this?
A. Prepar3D v4's update to a 64-bit architecture has changed the simulation landscape. Feedback has been outstanding and now developers and users are able to push the simulator to new levels. Better performance, higher quality visuals, more complex scenes, and better utilization of hardware are now all possible.
Q. Does P3dV4 now use more GPU processing power and can it also make use of SLI technology?
A. Yes, modern GPUs open the door to many advanced capabilities and performance gains that were not possible in the past. Utilizing the full potential of GPUs has been a primary focus of ours and will continue throughout v4 development and beyond. Examples of how we shifted processing from the CPU to the GPU include tessellation, special effect particles, shadows, and detailed precipitation. Prepar3D has supported SLI for years, and we continue to support SLI with v4.
Q. What programming language is P3D written in?
A. Prepar3D is mainly developed in C++ with a large majority of the user interfaces in C# and Scaleform (Flash/Animate). We also have numerous scripting languages for various build processes and tools.
Q. What tools are used in making the aircraft, scenery and buildings?
A. I'd say the primary tools are Autodesk 3ds Max for creating the 3D models and Adobe Photoshop for creating the textures. Adobe Animate is also used to create multifunction displays using Flash.
Q. What sound applications are used and how is the sound captured?
A. Each developer does it differently. Overall, Prepar3D will accept most sound formats.
Q. Do civilian and military pilots test the aircraft?
A. Yes, when a training program uses Prepar3D as the foundational technology, often pilots are intimately involved as subject matter experts to help tweak and tune the aircraft.
below. Helicopter flight in P3D in the best flight simulators for PC video and the MP Design Studios Guimbal Cabri G2 (click image to view videos)
Q. How long does it take to develop an aircraft on average?
A. It depends on exactly what is being trained and simulated. Aircraft are getting more complex, but they are also getting more automated.So, any estimates rely on a combination of the training goals and the aircraft complexity.
Q. Which flight simulator apart from P3D also impresses you?
A. The flight simulator community has a wealth of great options available. It is encouraging to see so many different flight simulators being developed. It shows that there is a strong need and desire for flight simulation and it motivates us to continue making sure Prepar3D is the best flight simulator it can be.
Q. Are there any plans to include career mode in P3D, a lot of people have been asking for this, one of our poll shows 82% wanted a career mode built into a flight simulator ?
A. A career mode is likely something we would leave up to our ecosystem developers. In the simulation and training world we often develop add-ons or integrate Learning Management Systems (LMS) that track a student's progress – so, we do develop capabilities like a career mode, but they are usually customized for a specific training regime.
Q. Helicopter flight models in FSX and previous versions of P3D didn't include all helicopter flight dynamics like vortex ring state etc. Are there plans to include more helicopter flight dynamics in P3D v4?
A. Absolutely. Now that Sikorsky is part of Lockheed Martin, rotary has become a renewed focus of ours. In fact, in v4.2 you will see a couple new MH-60s and a new CH-53E. Additionally, v4.2 will be the first release to feature helicopter AI and helicopter autopilot capabilities. We will continue to work helicopter related features and look forward to expanding support of rotary platforms in the very near future.
below : the helicopters to be available to P3D, the MH-60R and MH-60s
Q. What new aircraft will be available for P3D in the company months,both fixed wing and rotary ?
A. In Prepar3D v4.2 you will see an MH-60R, MH-60S, and CH-53E.
Q. Any plans to move onto Steam with P3D?
A. Prepar3D is available directly from Prepar3D.com and we have no plans to move to Steam.
Q. Do Lockheed Martin pilots use P3Dv4 in training?
A. Yes. Prepar3D is a foundational technology for diverse types of training devices used on various high-profile Lockheed Martin
Q. Can you tell us what's in the pipeline for P3Dv4, any new developments?
A. We expect to continue to build on the 64-bit baseline and focus on improving rendering performance and support of next generation virtual reality devices. We plan to further improve our Software Development Kit (SDK) and give the ecosystem all the tools they need to create unrivalled simulation content. Finally, we are sneaking a few new experimental capabilities, like Voice Control, to give users a feel of fringe things we are interested in adding to the platform.
Exciting times are ahead and the Prepar3D team is not slowing down
any time soon!
The Prepar3D Team
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