Your Remote WebFMC
Yeah, you sure know what a CDU (Control Display Unit) or MCDU (Multipurpose Control Display Unit) is, right? And yes, you probably also know that those aircraft that are fitted with such a control device need most of the time every 28 days a new AIRAC (Aeronautical Information Regulation And Control) cycle, right?
By the way, in the old days it was just a CDU while todays modern aircraft have a MCDU. As the name suggests, the MCDU has besides the flight management function or interaction with the FMCs, also other functions like CMS (Central Maintenance System), AID (Aircraft Integrated Data) System thus aircraft systems and so on.
This review deals with the Green Arc Studios WebFMC payware add-on. It’s a product that is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. It allows you to remotely present the aircraft MCDU on a tablet/iPad or any smartphone/iPhone. There’s by the way also a free WebFMC product which works the same, but is only limited to the Zibo 738 and the 739 Ultimate aircraft. What said, this review offers you a thorough impression of the Green Air Studios WebFMC, tested on an iMac with macOS Mojave 10.14.2.
Yes, you’re right when this sounds familiar to you. I did indeed wrote a review about the Haversine AirFMC. Basically the same product, or at least the same idea, but AirFMC is only available for macOS and iPads while the Green Arc Studios WebFMC is compatible with, said before, Windows, Mac and Linux and in combination with Android and Apple iOS hardware.
WebFMC Pro – The Ultimate Remote CDU of X-Plane
According to Green Arc Studios; “Quickly edit the flightplan, monitor flight progress, set up your approach and do all the typical work of the pilot without having to move around in the cockpit. And enjoy external views during cruise while monitoring flight progress on separate screen or take a quick look at your phone to verify calculated landing speed with just a glimpse of an eye during busy time on approach.”
“Immersion … mimics real CDU with optional wear and smudge effects for better immersion. Uses CDU textures and keyboard layouts specific to the aircraft type. Supports physical keyboards on PC. Scales dynamically to fit any display or window size and can look as native app on mobiles by using browser’s “Add to home screen” feature.”
As of this writing, December 2018, the Green Arc Studios WebFMC Pro X-Plane 11 plugin supports the following aircraft:
– FlightFactor 757 v2 Professional
– FlightFactor 767 Professional
– FlightFactor A320 Ultimate
– ToLiss 319
– JarDesign 320
– Rotate MD-80
– IXEG 737-300
– EADT x737 (x737FMC required)
– Zibo Mod 737-800
– 737-900 Ultimate
Green Arc Studios continues “It’s a lightweight and small plugin and does no visible impact on X-Plane performance.”
“Also very important, it’s a simple installation. Just drop WebFMC into X-Plane plugins folder. No need to install any software on the devices, all you need is a web browser. And last but not least, there’s also a free version available. For that, download and install WebFMC Free (https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/43314-webfmc/) to try out all features completely free of charge with Zibo Mod 737-800 or 737-900 Ultimate.”
And perhaps one more line that makes this plugin so attractive …. (as per December 2018) ….. Our goal and future updates is to support for more aircraft will be added via free updates. Aircraft planned for future updates include: FlightFactor 777, JRollon CRJ-200, SSG 747, SSG E-Jets, FlightFactor A350, and JarDesign 330.
What do we need?
We don’t need much except then of course the payware WebFMC Pro plugin. You can first decide to download the freeware version to get the idea how the remote MCDU or CDU looks like. Remember that the freeware WebFMC is limited to only two aircraft; the Boeing 737-900 Ultimate and the Zibo 737-800. Still it’s a good idea to see with your own eyes how this plugin performs. When you like, it, you can buy the Pro version and I can tell you, it’s worth every dollar! Basically it’s the same plugin, but the huge amount of supported aircraft makes it a valuable and worthy plugin. And worth to add, the constant growing of newly supported payware add-on aircraft
Ok, back to the payware WebFMC Pro plugin.
After you bought it from the X-Plane.Org store, download the file (WebFMC-Pro-1.1.0.zip) and unzip it. Copy the complete unzipped folder WebFMC to the X-Plane 11 plugins folder (Resources/plugins). The provided manual will also tell you how to this, but as of this writing, I’ve got the idea that the manual is not yet fully updated for the macOS and Linux support since the installation screenshots are only applicable for Windows.
Since I review the WebFMC Pro on Mac, keep in mind that the plugin is only compatible with macOS Mojave!
Next you need to get the product activated. As explained in the well written and nicely created user manual …. The Pro version requires a license file which I received shortly after my purchase. The license file – webfmc-lic.txt – should be copied into WebFMC folder. If you installed the license while X-Plane was running, it needs to be restarted for changes to take effect.
With the WebFMC plugin installed, we now have the possibility to see the CDU/MCDU on our tablet/iPad or on your X-Plane computer display/monitor. By the way, I use an older Apple iPad Gen 3 model with iOS 9.5.3, but that doesn’t make any difference. It works fine with the older iPad iOS.
Next we need to find out which IP address X-Plane or actually your computer is using. According to Green Arc Studios “After starting X-Plane 11 with a supported plane loaded, the FMC can be displayed on either your monitor or your tablet by connecting to port 9090 of your PC with a web browser running on any device in your local network.”
“Please note that both your X-Plane computer and the device you want to display the WebFMC on, must be connected to the same local network. It is perfectly fine to have the PC connected to your router/access point by wired ethernet and a mobile connected via WIFI as long it’s same local network which is typical for default configurations of home routers and WIFI Access Points.”
“For example, to display the WebFMC CDU/MCDU from the computer running X-Plane, point your web browser at http://localhost:9090 or http://127.0.0.1:9090. Just to clarify, this is on the same monitor where X-Plane is running too. Some developers have this popup 2D CDU/MCDU already by default programmed.”
“The other option is, and has my preference, is to display the WebFMC CDU/MCDU on any other device in your local network, just substitute the address with a valid local IP address of the X-Plane PC, e.g. http://192.168.1.34:9090.”
Starting up WebFMC … ToLiss A319
In this review I decided to go for a favorite add-on aircraft. Since the idea is the same, this review will show you only two different add-on aircraft MCDU’s on either the monitor/display or on an external device. Reviewing all WebFMC add-on aircraft is a shame of time since the basic principle for every aircraft is the same.
As highlighted in the previous section, we can call up the CDU on the X-Plane display/monitor or on a remote device and this is not limited to only a tablet. You can also call-up the CDU on a smartphone. The reason that it is so easy to call up the CDU on any device and yes, this differs from the Haversine AirFMC, is because it is just using a standard web browser.
As long as you’re on the same network, as long as you entered the right IP address of the X-Plane computer, you can call up the CDU on any device. I couldn’t test it with Android hardware since I only own Apple iPhones and iPads. And by the way, when you have a second monitor/display connected to your computer or Mac, you can also call it up on this one.
CDU on X-Plane display/monitor
Remember, calling up the WebFMC CDU on the X-Plane computer is only possible for supported aircraft, but that makes sense I hope. Another item I thought was that the WebFMC CDU is just a copy of the master CDU/MCDU from the supported aircraft meaning that it has no logic, and that it can’t do any calculations or whatsoever. But there’s a need to correct that a bit.
According to Green Arc Studios “we don’t simply “copy” FMC textures from the X-Plane cockpit – we use photos from real aircraft where possible (some of them courtesy of other people). Our communication protocol between X-Plane and the browser is very effective, we only transmit FMC contents as text and only small portions that actually changed – which means very little WIFI network traffic, low latency, lightweight.”
As said before, let me do a test with the ToLiss A319.
I start X-Plane, by the way this review is based on WebFMC Pro version 1.1.0 and X-Plane version 11.26r2. I select the ToLiss A319 with engines not running and no external power connected as well as no APU running so a cold and dark cockpit.
Next I open a web browser – Safari, Chrome, Vivaldi, Opera, Firefox or Windows users can also use IE or Edge – and enter as address http://127.0.0.1:9090 (or you enter in the URL bar localhost:9090). Because we’re calling up the WebFMC CDU on the X-Plane computer, there’s do need to know the computer IP address. Very easy, and straightforward.
In the example of the ToLiss A319 which comes by default with a popup 2D MCDU, you could say that there’s no need to have the WebFMC instead or is it perhaps useful to have the WebFMC active? That depends how and what kind of CDU/MCDU it is and if it’s resizable.
The ToLiss 2D popup MCDU has the advantage that it’s a part of X-Plane. What does that mean? When you run X-Plane in full screen, the ToLiss 2D MCDU lies always as a floating window on top of the X-Plane screen. But the downside is that the ToLiss 2D popup MCDU isn’t resizable. When you compare this with the resizable WebFMC, and X-Plane running in full screen, the web browser WebFMC CDU is only visible when you want to see the browser. When you click somewhere in the ToLiss cockpit, the web bowser disappears to the background.
Of course, you don’t have this problem when you’re running X-Plane in Windowed mode. But there’s a solution to bypass this web browser versus X-Plane full screen issue although I have to admit that for macOS Mojave and belonging browsers I only found one solution and that is a floating on top of every window extension. That said, the only option/solution I found for macOS is for the Chrome browser. For this browser we need to install an extension named “Floating Browser Window”.
As of this writing the extension is still in beta, but what I’ve seen is OK. With the following screenshots I’ve tried to give you an idea how to load it as an extension in Chrome and how to activate, including adding the IP address – in my case that was http://192.168.178.234:9090 – and save it. Once saved, you can via this app start the floating Chrome browser however, the browser shows then nothing (no status bar, no menu bar, no favorite bar and so on) anymore only the CDU/MCDU image and that’s what I wanted.
Since I don’t own all supported aircraft, I can tell you this; the Rotate MD-80 Series and the Zibo 737-800X have no popup CDU/MCDU which makes this Chrome floating extension very useful. All other add-on aircraft I tested – FF 757/767, ToLiss A319, FF A320 Ultimate, JARDesign A320Neo v3.3, have a build in popup 2D MCDU so there’s not really the need that you use WebFMC on the X-Plane computer except when you want the CDU/MCDU remotely presented on an external device.
CDU on Remote Device
A much easier and better solution in my humble opinion is using a remote device like a Smartphone or tablet. Let me give it a try on my iPhone and iPad 3.
To do this, we now need the computers IP address. You can either get the computers IP address via- X-Plane tab Settings – Network – This Machine IP Address or on my Mac via System Preferences – Network. This is one way to see your Mac IP adress. Personally I find this way easier since my Mac can only have one IP address while for some reason X-Plane shows me 3 IP addresses of which one is for sure wrong. Anyway, in my case my IP address is 192.168.178.234.
With this information, I startup X-Plane, load the ToLiss A319 and as before, I start the aircraft in a cold and dark configuration. On my iPad, I open Safari and enter http://192.168.178.234:9090. Click enter or go and there’s the WebFMC CDU. A funny thing to highlight when you know how the ToLiss MCDU looks like, the presented CDU as it is on the iPad without toughing anything, looks different. The WebFMC gets the right look and feel the moment I select the ACCEPT line. That said, I click LSK (Line Select Key) 6R and plop, I’ve got the correct shape, color and so on of the ToLiss A319 MCDU, of course, provided the link with X-Plane is made.
The moment I provide the aircraft with AC (Alternate Current) electrical power, either via EXT PWR or by starting the APU, the aircraft MCDU will be powered as well as the remote iPad WebFMC CDU. Not much rocket science is needed to understand how easy and comfortable it is to have the CDU on a remote device. Doing the above on my iPhone works flawless too and yes, it’s all a bit smaller, but it works out-of-the-box!
Starting up WebFMC … FlightFactor 767 (or 757)
Lets go for the FlightFactor 767 or 757. It doesn’t make much difference. The principle as explained above with the ToLiss A319 is the same, but I’m a bit curious if the look and feel of the FlightFactor CDU is shown in the same way on a remote device. And guess what, the moment you connect the web browser on the iPhone/iPad to X-Plane and thus your X-Plane (computer) IP address, the same CDU is shown in the same layout and the right colour. It’s so easy. There’s really not much needed to get the remote WebFMC visible. Don’t believe me? Check out the following screenshots.
I did the following tests with an iPad 3 (iOS 9.5.3), iPhone Xs Max iOS 12.1.2 and my iPad Pro iOS 12.1. Yes yes, I know … what did I tested … the full screen web browser bahavior. As you can see on the previous screenshots, the WebFMC CDU on the iPad or iPhone always shows a menu bar, if you like it or not. Personally I would love to see that the whole iPhone/iPad screen is filled with the CDU. Time to investigate and worth to check out one of the instruction movies from Green Arc Studios.
I found a movie that clears my mind namely, WebFMC – Android – Add to Home Screen, and yes, this movie deals with Android devices. When I looked a bit further in the manual, I would have found a movie dedicated for iOS. Anyway, this worked too. One note from Green Arc Studios regarding the Add to Home Screen “the availability of “add to homescreen” is limited to browsers that are well integrated with OS (be it Android or IOS), therefore some of the less-popular browsers don’t have that option.”
Logically, it should work the same. It should be possible to have such an option available with iOS browsers, right? The answer is not so easy then expected. The first browser to test for full screen WebFMC with the “Add to Home Screen” function is Safari. As you can see on the following screenshot, the iOS Safari browser has an option in the menu bar. I marked it red with a square.
Clicking on it gives you a couple of options. One of them is “Add to Home Screen”. That’s what I need, right? I click on the “Add to Home Screen” button. A new floating window pops up. I click Add in the right-hand upper corner, and I’ve got a shortcut on my iOS desktop. When I click on the WebFMC Pro app, I get my CDU but now not with a menu bar, no, a full screen with only the CDU. Yes, that looks much better.
Then I tried to do the same with Firefox, Opera Mini, Chrome and Puffin. OK, Puffin for some reason didn’t work at all and I had no VPN active. Anyway, as you can see on the following photos, none of the browsers (Firefox and Opera Mini) had the “Add to Home Screen” option and thus none of them where able to be set to full screen.
Ho ho, hold on, except web browser Dolphin was able to be set to full screen mode. I have never heard of Dolphin, but that’s not important for now. What’s important and that can be seen on the following screenshots that Dolphin has the option to set full screen mode and with a simple click, it goes to full screen.
OK, at the end it turns out that only Safari has the “Add to Home Screen” option and as backup you could also use the Dolphin browser who had a fullscreen option.
I mentioned this before, the Green Arc Studios WebFMC has real intelligence and just to clarify this; FMC or flight management related items are calculated by the FMCs and presented on the CDU/MCDU. So the WebFMC just presents the CDU/MCDU with the data received from the add-on aircraft.
That said, when you need to update the AIRAC cycle, you do that in the same way as you do it always within X-Plane which means via a file explorer you upload the updated AIRAC cycle. You can’t do that via the remote WebFMC CDU nor that you can do it via the X-Plane CDU/MCDU. What you can do, but that’s something different, is swapping between the active and standby AIRAC cycle.
In the real aviation, the FMS always has the latest active AIRAC installed as well as the previous AIRAC cycle. As of this writing December 2018, you will see on the MCDU AIRAC 1813 and 1812. Pilots use, logically and in this example, always AIRAC 1813, but in case this AIRAC 1813 DB gives problems, then they can always fall back to the previous AIRAC cycle.
This was fun. And yes, the multiplatform usability makes Green Arc Studios WebFMC a strong product. As mentioned before, it can be used with X-Plane for Windows, Mac and Linux and besides that, you can also use remote devices running Android or iOS. And not unimportant, the constant growing list of supported aircraft. Oh yes, I could write that this and that add-on payware aircraft is missing, but those are also on the developers wish-list to add to his list when time permits.
Not that I’m an expert in plugins and how their “load” on X-Plane is, but the overall feels as a lightweight plugin. I mentioned it before, it’s so easy to get it active. Just install the complete unzipped WebFMC folder in the X-Plane plugins folder and the only thing you need to do is to find out the X-Plane computer IP address and literally, via any browser from any remote device, you can get the MCDU/CDU image to the remote device and use and programs it from there.
As of this writing, WebFMC Pro version 1.1.0 cost you 19.99 USD. More information and buying details can be found at the dedicated X-Plane.Org store page.
And also worth to check out is the Green Arc Studios website. It offer a wealth of useful information and a lot of movies how to do the necessary steps.
Angelique van Campen
|Add-on:||Payware Green Arc Studios WebFMC|
|Publisher | Developer:||X-Plane.Org | Green Arc Studios|
|Description:||Realistic rendition of a FMS CDU (MCDU)|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / Approximately 27.9MB (unzipped)|
|Reviewed by:||Angelique van Campen|
|Published:||January 2nd 2019|
|Hardware specifications:||- iMac Pro
- Intel 3GHz Intel Xeon W / 4.5Ghz
- Radeon Pro Vega 64 16368 MB
- 64 GB 2666 MHz DDR4
- 1 internal shared 1TB SSD (Big Sur 11.x)
- 1 internal shared 1TB SSD (Bootcamp Windows 10)
- 1 external 2TB LaCie Rugged Pro SSD (Big Sur 11.x)
- Saitek Pro Flight System X-52 Pro and X-56 Rhino
- Honeycomb Alpha Flight Controls
- Honeycomb Bravo Throttle Quadrant
|Software specifications:||- macOS Big Sur (10.15.x)
- X-Plane 11.5x