Stephen

Aircraft Review : Agusta Bell AB412 by X-Trident

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Aircraft Review : Agusta Bell AB412 by X-Trident
 

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No helicopter is more renowned and as well known as the "Huey", It was and still is through licenses with Augusta (Italy) and Westland (UK) one of the most versatile helicopters ever built. But before you go and play really loud "Ride of the Valkyries" and scream "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" while half dressed with a cowboy hat on, this "Huey" is not that two bladed iconic aircraft the UH-1. The 412 is the later built advanced four blade main rotor twin-engine utility helicopter version that flew in the late 70's (August 1979). And this initial model was certified in January 1981. The version here is the Agusta (Now Agusta/Westland) AB412 and to note that the Westland version is the "Griffin" (HAR2). Over the last three decades just under 900 aircraft have been built.
 
The 412 is in widespread use for a number of utility roles, including EMS, SAR (Search and Rescue), Police and Fire services and oil rig support, its twin engine configuration being an asset, particularly in the latter role in flying offshore. It is also well serviced in military service. Power is by  2 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6T-3BE Twin-Pac turboshafts, 900 shp (671 kW) each.
 
Performance - Maximum speed: 140 knots (161 mph, 259 km/h) - Cruise speed: 122 knots (140 mph, 226 km/h) - Range: 402 nmi (463 mi, 745 km) - Service ceiling: 20,000 ft (6,096 m) - Rate of climb: 1,350 ft/min (6.86 m/s) - Power/mass: 0.2663 hp/lb (437 W/kg)
 

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The "Huey's" advantage was its box like fuselage with a tail and rotor section added on at the rear, this gave this utility aircraft a huge amount of flat space inside the cabin and created a very versatile and utility machine. But the very square fuselage shape also gave the aircraft another advantage with those two very large front windows in the cockpit that gave the pilot and copilot a great view forward and scan area. Today the "Huey" is so well known and so familiar it has taken on an almost mystical significance in aviation. For X-Plane users we have waited a long time for a really good version on this aircraft, one to savour and to satisfy a wanting to fly an aircraft of this caliber. So even before the aircraft was released it had a very large expectation pressed upon it and so the designers had a lot of or all of that expectation to live up to. Above that, helicopters in X-Plane already have a big reputation for quality and features. So does the AB412 live it up to that high expectation?
 
Yes and more... The AB412 is not as highly featured as the AS350 B3+ and the recently released Bell 407 from Dreamfoil Creations, but in every department it delivers in spades. More so in the gut feeling department, you don't just like this aircraft, you love it and get seriously addicted to it...  The AB412 is a relationship breaker so you have been warned.
 
Close up the detailing is exceptional. Make sure you have the "draw per pixel lighting" ticked on your Rendering Options menu to see the perfect riveting and paneling detail of the outer skin. And you certianly won't be disappointed in any area. Glass including those distinctive green panels over the pilot and copilots heads are close to perfect, and fly into the sunlight and the front and side windows are realistically perfectly mottled and worn. Detailing is very good and down to even the wiring held on by tie-clips on the front struts and the twin-exhaust outlets set up high.

 

Design
Helicopters are however about real detailing in the smaller points of the aircraft, and the highlights here are the elements of the rotor designs. How helicopters fly is mostly by small movements at points you can't really see. So to have that perfect animation of the workings of a rotor design in going to show you more than just a load of pretty good 3d design element work. In this area the AB412 is exceptional.

 

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The biggest movement is with the collective, that gives the blades the bite (twist) they need into the air to lift the aircraft.
 

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Then there is is the pitch (up - down) and roll (left - right) movement of the (cyclic) finer push rods, that changes the angles of the blades to the rotor head.
 

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The whole design work and animation of the actions here is simply excellent and right down to the rotor notice on the main shaft assembly. The tail rotor assembly has the same intricate part work and movement.
 

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You don't just get the blades actual yaw movement, but also the linkages in there actions on how the blades actually do move. It is brilliant stuff to activate (via rudder pedals or joystick yaw movement). It is all very impressive.
 
Menu

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The aircraft's Menu is in the X-Plane banner "plugin" menu. I like these plugin menu's because they don't tab up the screen and are very easy to use. The Menu is not very extensive but highly useable.
 
First on the list is a slowing down of the rotor action (Rotor Demo Mode) so you can see how it works, Panel View 1 is for the overhead panel view, Joystick Safe Mode Some Macs have joystick issues and this is a safety (I haven't experienced anything?), GPU Toggle a GPU for external power to the aircraft, Remove Before Flight You get a full set of tags and tie-downs with the aircraft. A sub-menu also covers crew and extras which you can toggle them on or off, included is a Pilot, Co-Pilot, Three crew, Guns and Patient.
 

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In the guns option, when the door is closed the gun is set in the stored position. Open the door and you have an optional gunner and the gun is positioned ready for action. It is best used on the military version of the AB412 as you have other extras all over the aircraft like flares (on the rear tail), wire cutters and infrared camera or thermal imaging cameras.
 
Overall I really loved the crew menu, It is great just to have what you need when you need it, The Pilot will always be shown with the power running, but the rest are switchable. This gave me the option to fly with two crew to the base then pick up the extra crew and then fly to the pickup zone (aircraft carrier or Rig) and then add on the patient. Then fly back to base and drop off the the crew and patient and then fly back to the home airport to stand down. So it is all very efficient and easy to do.
 

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The front doors open via the door handles inside in the cockpit 3d view, The rear are clever and are two-piece doors, Open the larger one and when it is finished moving you will get another manipulator to open the second smaller portion, same in reverse. The left and right larger doors can also be opened by pressing Shift/F1 or F2.
 

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The cabin is well fitted out with a bar/canvas type seating bench and that familiar diamond soundproofing matting that is a classic look on the "Huey". The internal detailing is excellent here.
 

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Cockpit
We are so familiar with the classic huey cockpit that it is second nature to us. But here it is so real, we can now actually not only look at it in real detail, but also interact with it. The design is so perfect. A small note in that a few switches are still not usable, not a big deal in what is missing. But they will be activated as the aircraft proceeds with more updates in the future. Nothing really important though is missing.
 

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The cockpit is dominated by those two very large collectors, the pilot's collective is larger than the copilot's. Stop/Start switches are on there with landing and large external light switches. On my version the Search light didn't work. Hoist and RPM switches are not working either. The main feature however are the two large throttle grips for each engine that you can turn to add on power or reduce the torque (power), full twist is idle. Seriously great to use, but wait for the rotor percent % to get to the full 100% power before moving the collective.
 

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The instruments are beautifully recreated. Overall the panel looks very crowded with instruments but they soon become familiar. The Standard Six don't really stand out as there are only five in the altimeter, artificial horizon, Heading, Vertical Speed and Speed (knots) There is a ABS (radar) altimeter and a spare backup artificial horizon and clock (far right).
Engine (rotor) power % to 100% and Torque for each engine are also in the central viewing zone. Slightly centre and stacked are the twin engine gauges with from the top...  GAS Prod (Gas producer rotation speed) - ITT (turbine temperature) - Engine Oil (Temp and Pressure) - Fuel Pressure - Gearbox Oil (Temp and Pressure). Arranged next in the centre are from the top are - hydraulic Sys 1 and 2 (Temp and Pressure) - Fuel quantity (two tanks left & Right) - Electrics in Volts and AC-DC. Below is a battary of system alerts and warning lights. The copilots side is much simpler with the Standard Six instruments and a large weather radar (X-Plane version).
All instruments are very easy to read and use, but you do need to be familiar with them all to get the best out of the aircraft. There is also a set of custom commands that you can set for keyboard or Joystick inputs for and they are listed in the manual.
 

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The box like Overhead Panel (OHP) is mainly Electrical switches (master and Gen), lighting switches and knobs and wipers, which are three speed. To the rear are the multi-rows of fuses.  Airvents surroundi the box structure with a rotor brake on the right (on/off) with no animation? There are twin compasses (one for each pilot) on the top of the main windows crossbar.
 

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On the pedestal are the basic radios in Comm 1&2 - VOR 1&2 - ADF and IDENT (transponder). Fuel panel switches (main) with boost pumps and engine governors. Hoist power switches and the Autopilot, I will cover the Autopilot more in depth in flight.
 
Lighting
The Panel lighting is very good (bright), but not with a lot of depth, you can set the brightness via the turn knobs on the OHP, but it does not change the perception much, but just brighter or darker.
 

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Using the HDR does not give you much difference but only the more shading on the rear cabin lights and that is about it, So the HDR is not really a feature here and so you can save your frame-rate and leave it switched off. There are spot lights around the cockpit but I couldn't get them to work on the version I used.
 
Flying the Huey!

 

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With all the electrics on and the fuel load set and ready to go. It was time to start the turbines, you switch on the NON-BUS to start each engine via the switch on the collective (fuel on) and start up whine begins, Once one engine is at idle then start the same sequence with engine no. 2. On this early version and no checklist I found the NON-BUS was in one position to start one engine and and other position to start the other.
 
Once both engines are at a nice idle speed and warmed up, you can then twist up the double throttle grips and wait while the engines scream up to 100% power. The dials are simply excellent in the way they read out the settings. Slight slow pull of the collector and gradually you grip the air. Then you are off the ground and in control with the cyclic and rudder pedals of which don't need much movement or yaw against the tail (a little only is needed). The aircraft is really nice to handle even in this low hover position. More collective and a slide slightlt to the right and your moving with a little left rudder to send you left and away from the pad. The aircraft is powerful and you feel the lift and the translational lift to forward flight and more speed is easy and progressive.
 

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If you are not smiling by now then you should be. The aircraft is simply amazing in the feeling department as you chop your way faster through the sky. The sounds are excellent with that great turbine whine filling your ears, adjust the pitch and there is this great "chop, chop, chop" sound that is so familiar. It gives you goosebumps and the AB412 just makes you smile so hard now your mouth hurts. In the air the aircraft looks simply brilliant as you slide it nicely into turns and find your new heading...
 

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Autopilot
The first issue with the autopilot is seeing it?  As huge head of the collective blocks it out from view from the pilots position. So you either have to move sideways or set a view point to access it. The AP is in three parts...  The main activation switches on the pedestal and the individual item switches that are set on the panel. A third panel is the adjuster point with a display and knob.
 
SAS is "off" and ATT is "on" in the first mode in that will take control of the aircraft but just hold the current heading, speed and height. On the panel you can lock in your height (500ft) by pressing the "ALT" button to "CAP"(capture).
 

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Change the altitude via the knob (700ft) and the ALT goes into "ARM" mode. then press VS (Vertical Speed) to pitch the aircraft to the new altitude, you can adjust the pitch (VS) again via the knob. (sometimes you may have reduce the collective or gain the collective to help the VS speed), your vertical speed will then show on the VS instrument.


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IAS on will allow you change speeds via the knob, you have to be very careful when you come out of the AP and certainly with the speed setting, It is best to regulate the speed by first turning it off here on the panel button than just turning the whole lot off via the ATT/SAS button on the pedestal. Get it wrong and the aircraft will quickly dive or climb to a position you will not recover from. So it is best to turn them off one by one on this set of buttons on the panel and really go in reverse to then turn off the ATT switch.
 

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The HDG (heading) is adjusted via the knob on the heading instrument when activated. and when your VOR (1&2) or NDB frequencies are set you can activate them via the radio switch panel below the heading instrument (the nav-aid direction pointers are on the outer ring of the heading indicator)
 

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You very quickly fall into the ease of the AP system and flying the aircraft, set a new turn and the aircraft will nicely turn to the new heading and resumes its powerful push forward, medium distances are a breeze as the aircraft covers the ground very quickly, you can easily see why the AB412 is so popular in the EMS/SAR roles.
 
Night lighting externally is very good.
 

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There are small strobes on the aircraft and they flash well (bright) even in the daylight and look very realistic. Two (one top and one under the tail) red beacons and a landing light and EXTernal light. View inside and the aircraft looks great traveling in the low light conditions.
 
Liveries
There are 12 liveries and two plain white ones and still you would want more!  There are so many different liveries out there, and all are very good. The mix is excellent but a few more military versions would be nice and there is (at this point) just one American one in the LA Fire Department. There are two white versions in the plain (default) and Custom with all the extras added. And there are various differences between them like ice landing pads and pontoons and various lighting settings.
 

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Mission
My mission objective today is to fly out to a rig and collect a patient and then return back to Glasgow Prestwick (EGPK), situated off the West Coast of Scotland.
 

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The AB412 is very good when you come off the power and has the drag to reduce the speed to the point you want to go through the transition to the hover phase. Many helicopters struggle here and the speed can be hard to wash off, but the AB412 can be perfectly controlled right though these phases.
 

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Once on the deck the power was wound down to idle and as I was going to be here for a short while I powered the aircraft down completely. Once our patient was secured and the crew loaded it was time to power up again and head back.
 

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A slight hover to check the slight wind and then a turn away from the rig required light touches to the collective and turn of the cyclic and rudder pedals. Once back on the correct course back towards Prestwick, I reset the AP to 125knts and 500ft. The crew were very happy with the space in the rear but the patient quite obviously was not doing as well with all the moaning and groaning going on.
 

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The approach to Prestwick (EGPK) was slow at 60knts and I then reduced my height to 50ft above the runway as an approach. The helicopter pads are situated around the rear so you have fly past and then loop around parked aircraft to find the landing places. Again the trasition to the hover was immaculate, Helicopters by nature are hard to fly, but if they are well calibrated then your learning curve and feeling of the machine is going to be far easier, As I eased down towards the ground you have to watch the AB412 does not tend to slightly swing as if you get into a swinging match with the hover you will lose, so it is as easy as she goes. Half an hour later and the AB412 is shutdown and ready for the next flight in a few hours.
 

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Summary
Aircraft are like relationships...  Some people come with expectations and usually live up to them. Some you just don't like at all, not because there is anything wrong with them but you just don't match up well together "It is a just a personal thing", a few you are not sure of, but after a few weeks of getting to know them you then really like them...  Then there are the ones you just simply totally go overboard over, totally obsessed with them and want to be around them every living minute....  That is the Agusta Bell 412!
 
Does hedonistic behavior make you biased?  Not if you are aware of their faults then I don't think so. The AB412 does have a few very minor issues like a few switches not working (or going the wrong way) and AP can behave a little oddly with my joysticks, In most cases it is perfectly fine and this is all just fine tuning anyway which will but sorted by the updates. The AB412 is not nestled to the brim with features, menus and extras and like, but what it does deliver in features are really well executed. My wish list?  Well I would have liked rain and mist effects on the windows, Helicopters are the best when flying in poor wet conditions. It is noted with the developer so that might come in the future.
 
On the rest AB412 delivers in every department and X-Trident have done a great aircraft with excellent detailing, and it is mostly noted in the gut-wrenching, loving every minute of flying this a really great aircraft and one as famous as the "Huey". It is brilliant, It delivers...  And certainly one of my favorite aircraft in X-Plane...  Certainly the one at this moment.
 
Yes! the Agusta Bell AB412 from X-Trident is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Agusta Bell 412   (note: current release is not the release 1.0 version but a final beta 0.9, all users will be updated automatically when available)
 
Price is US$35.95
 
Installation : Download is 276.mb which is unzipped to your X-Plane Helicopter folder at 326.30mb
 
Support Thread : Bell 412 by X-Trident

Review by Stephen Dutton
 
Copyright © 2014 : X-Plane Reviews
 
30th July 2014
 
Technical Requirements:
Windows, MAC or Linux - X-Plane 10.25 or higher - 32 and 64 bit compatible. Joystick required
512Mb VRAM - 1GB VRAM Recommended

Current version: 0.9
Updated store#
 
Review System Specifications:
Computer System:     
- 2.66 Ghz Intel Core i5 iMac 27”
- 6 Gb 1067 Mhz DDR3
- ATI Radeon HD 4850 512mb
Software:     
- Mac OS Mavericks 10.9.3
- X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.25 (final)
Addons
- Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle

- Bose Soundlink WiFi Speaker
Scenery
- EGPK Glasgow Prestwick International Airport by GOLF 1 - free .org   (EGPK Glasgow Prestwick International Airport 1.1)
- Oilrigs - Khamsin (turn on Oilrigs and Aircraft Carrier in X-Plane Render settings)
 
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Thank you for the accurate review (and for helping us tune the AP)

I am currently working to fix the biggest issue of v0.9 (the collective disengage) - with help from the beta testers I found the issie and I am testing the best fix.

There will be soon a v0.9.1

 

Version 1.0 will probably be some time in september

 

Regards

Alberto (x-trident)

MadMckMax likes this

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0.9.1 will (probably) be distributed next week.

 

Main changes are:

- fix of the collective disengage issue

- fix of the system failure reset on exit issue

- experimental support for hardware throttles

- paintkit (some independently developed liveries are already out but you need 0.9.1 to fully enjoy those)

 

Regards

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Hi

If you have purchased version 0.9, please just re-download from the same link to get 0.9.1

 

Regards

 

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Hi!! I try to buy this on the site, but when I order is there a message that is impossible to buy that...please help becouse I realy want this nice piece of bell 412

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Hi!! I try to buy this on the site, but when I order is there a message that is impossible to buy that...please help becouse I realy want this nice piece of bell 412

 

The store link above has been repaired, just try it again uros...  well worth the purchase!

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Hi! I´m working on a project using XPlane 8 and I can´t use another version of XPlane because many protocols and programs

are made for that version. So, I need now the Bell 412 model in XPlane 8. Any possibility to adapt the XPlane 10 model to XPlane 8? 

Regards.

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Hi! I´m working on a project using XPlane 8 and I can´t use another version of XPlane because many protocols and programs

are made for that version. So, I need now the Bell 412 model in XPlane 8. Any possibility to adapt the XPlane 10 model to XPlane 8? 

Regards.

 

I really doubt it?  These aircraft are very highly intergrated into XP10 with their features and systems, XP9 as a maybe....  but XP8 is really now a history lesson. There is quite a few v8 Helicopters on the .Org download, Try a few of these?

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