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Aircraft Review : Embraer AT-27 Tucano by BFDG

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Aircraft Review : Embraer AT-27 Tucano by Brazilian FlightSim Development Group

 

Fast turbo-prop twin-seaters are one of the most valuable, versatile and efficient aircraft you can have on your flightline. Their main role is as a trainer between standard trainers and fast jet aircraft. But their multi-role capability does not end there as light attack, counter insurgency (COIN), close air support and aerial reconnaissance missions are also their forte, that their unit price is under US$10 million is mighty good on the balance sheet as well.

 

If you are a strategic state there is little choice in buying weaponry and air-power from other than the huge markets dominated by the Americans, Europeans, Russian and Chinese markets...  And the bottom line cost can be high and in many cases because of trade or political differences your supply of the aircraft and spares can be precarious as well. The Brazilians wanted autonomy from these and other factional issues when it came to their own military requirements, and so the Brazilian government turned to a small light turboprop manufacturer called Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica (Embraer) and created a government-owned corporation to do just that.

 

The Brazilian Air Force operated over one hundred piston-powered Neiva Universal basic trainers in the 60's and 70's and needed a more better and faster replacement. Neiva rolled out the prototype N621A (YT-25A) in 1975 with an extended body as the replacement, but the Brazilian Air Force was unimpressed with the design. Embraer bought out Neiva and devised the basic trainer based on the Neiva Universal as the PT6A-poweredEMB-311 counter-insurgency aircraft based on the Carajá. The basics were correct but changes to the EMB-311 were the more powerful PT6A-25C engine, raised rear cockpit and the addition of ejection seats. Eventually, the original specifications underwent a major modification, including a smaller fuselage with an upright cruciform tail instead of a swept-back tail; a more domed canopy; extended elevators; greater distance between the nosewheel and back wheel; reduction of the wing root; and an increased wingspan, tailplane and landing gear and this aircraft became the EMB-312 and the prototype of the Tucano or Toucan in English. The first prototype took flight on 16 August 1980, bearing the FAB serial 1300. The second prototype flew for the first time on 10 December 1980.

 

A total of 118 T-27s were purchased by the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) with an option for a further 50 aircraft.On 29 September 1983, the first units were delivered as an aerobatic demonstration aircraft for the Brazilian Air Force Demonstration Squadron, the "Smoke Squadron" (Esquadrilha da Fumaça). The total number of delivered units to the  Brazilian Air Force is 168 aircraft.

 

There are a few variants to consider. First is the EMB-312S that was built under license by Short's of Belfast, Ireland. to meet a Royal Air Force requirements for a high-performance turbo-prop trainer to replace the Jet Provost and this aircraft is known as the "Short Turcano". Another variant is the EMB-312H that was an helicopter attack version designated as the "Helicopter killer", but it didn't go into production but did become the basis of the EMB-314 Super Tucano, dubbed the ALX, and was adopted by the Brazilian Air Force as the A-29. The aircraft here is the original EMB 312 and not the "Super" 314 version. The Tucano is currently flying in sixteen air forces over five continents.

 

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Brazilian FlightSim Development Group

 

Brazilian FlightSim Development Group (BFDG) are very much into military aircraft. Their past aircraft have been the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and the Lockheed C-130HM Hercules transport, and here is their latest aircraft in the EMB-312 Tucano, and a very nice aircraft it is as well.

 

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For a mid-70's design the aircraft does look very modern and BFDG have done a great job in modeling this twin-seat trainer, quality is up and the design is solid.

 

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I like the look of the EMB-312. From the slight offset to one side view it is a very nice looking aircraft. Detailing is good and you do have the raised lines and panel silhouettes, but the livery texture lines tend to overwhelm the finer detail and is more evident on very close inspection, it doesn't matter because it looks good anyway.

 

The large Hartzel HC-3BTN-3C/T10178-8R propeller dominates the front of the aircraft and it is well done with propeller angles that are animated from feather to full positions.

 

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There are a lot of complex shapes and curves in the fuselage that have been rendered really well, small detailing of radio antennas, foot supports and the canopy glass is excellent, very good and well conceived.

 

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Tri-cycle undercarriage is very well constructed and detailed, and I really like the branded tyres and wheel hub detailing.

 

Menu

 

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The pop-up menu is located via a tab on the lower left of your screen. It can be moved around for the best position and it is only a "General Options" selection.

 

Selections include: Canopy Open (close), Reticle On (Gunsight), Earplugs (needed!) Pilons (Pylons?) Out, HUD (Head Up Display) Removed, Chocks/Covers, GPU (Ground Power Unit), Mirrors, Front Pilot in/out, Oxygen Masks, Rear Pilot in/out, Maintenance, Views - Front or rear pilot. 

 

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Menu selections are very good, with the excellent "Maintenance" giving you access to the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-25C turboprop, 552 kW (750 hp) engine with toolbox and work stands. Other switchable items include: Chocks, Tags (covers) and a very large GPU.

 

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Another feature allows you to have the oxygen masks attached and the visor down or a clean face, both pilots can be in or out of the aircraft.

Most menu

 

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Four underwing pylons carry two Mk 82 unguided, low-drag general-purpose bombs and two cannons which are loaded in the X-Plane Aircraft/Weight&Balance&Fuel/Ordnance menu. You can hide the support pylons via the menu, but only if the ordnance has been used or selected off...  if not it looks odd with the pylons hidden in the trainer mode.

 

Cockpit

 

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Front and rear cockpits are identical except for the HUD and rear view mirrors on the front pilot's glareshield.

 

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The virtual cockpits are very well done and detailed...

 

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The main panel is well modeled and has a complete set of dials and gauges with the standard six (Airspeed Indicator, Attitude Indicator or Artificial Horizon, Altimeter, Turn Coordinator, Heading Dial and Vertical Speed Indicator) well placed with the excellent turn indicator which is invaluable and perfectly sighted with the Artificial Horizon. Right panel is engine monitor dials and gauges with the left panel used for backup instruments and switchgear., lower panel is the VOR (2) information and older standard radio sets, lower right is the Comm (communication) switches.

 

There is a basic Garmin GPS 150, but there is no autopilot or screen for its use.  Right side panel is mostly aircraft electrical and oxygen switches and left side panel is the throttle, gear, flap and engine start controls. Fuel panel far is lower right on the main panel with alert annunciators well done above with Warning (red), Caution (yellow) and Advise (green) lights panels and related causes diagram.

 

Outwardly the panel in use looks great, but there is a short of greyness about it and my guess it is the lack of really good instrument reflections, the panel should be very accessible but it isn't as black are not blacks and the whole panel looks like it has a sheet of perspex over it? the main rear panel is really a more lighter grey than the far darker grey here. The top two mirrors use the rear X-Plane view, but as we know any feature using this idea hurts your framerate, and so it does here also, at night they are in daytime and bright than the rear dark sky, so they are best switched off.

 

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Overall the panel work is very good and detailed.

 

Nightlighting

 

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Panel lighting is overall very good, but you do get that same frosty glaze over the instruments and dials.

 

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External lighting is good, with the green SLIME formation lights switchable. There are very good landing lights in each wing and a well created front wheel strut taxi light that conveniently switches off when you close up the gear, a small but welcome feature.

 

Flying the AT-27 Turcano

 

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As to be expected the Tucano gives you a huge amount of power at your disposal, but you will need to keep engine on the green arcs and when in the MAX position, or full throttle the propeller speed will be maintained at around 101.5% Nh. So under normal operating conditions, the propeller speed will be constantly maintained at 99-100% Nh by the governor during the flight phases, over do that and your in trouble and you will have a blown engine in front of you. So the mantra is to keep your power levels always within the limits.

 

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Top speed is 539 km/h (291 kts) and in cruise your best at 180 kts at 15.000ft, ceiling is 28,700ft and your range is a whopping 1,916 km (1,034 NM) on the internal fuel tanks.  

 

The aircraft sounds like a Cessna Caravan on heat and as it should as the Tucano uses the same PT-6A Turboprop as the C208. But the sounds in 3d are not refined and you get the wrong zoom sounds from the wrong directional angles as you fly the aircraft, one moment they are whisper quiet and the next it is roaring in your ears, so it doesn't sound right or authentic, it works right in some areas but is way out in others...

 

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In the handling stakes you have a very nice solid platform under your control. Certainly an aircraft that is used to do some serious training is going to be a nice aircraft to fly, but the Tucano is lovely to aim and curve your way though the air. Nice and tight balanced turns dead on the marker in the rate of turn meter gives you goosebumps of "let us do that again"...  so slight aerobatics is also within your reach, but let us not forget this AT-27 it is not an aerobatic machine, but just a very good trainer and light attack machine.

 

Systems simulated are electrical with main bus and emergency systems active, 4 AC bars are available in the aircraft the main and emergency 115 V AC and 26 V AC systems.  Generator and AC Inverters cover both MAIN and AUX, and both inverters operate in parallel automatically when feeding all the AC circuits. Warning Systems cover fuses: 2A / Cabin Air: 57,5A / Engine: 28A / Electricity : 32A / Fuel System: 40A / Radio/Instruments: 47A / Flaps Systems: 25A / Trim Systems: 22,5A / Lights: 70A / Landing Gear: 6A.

 

Hydraulics covers two engine driven hydraulic systems which are available in parallel operation. An emergency gear deployment handle is available after an engine fail and if the loss of the hydraulics system for landing gear deployment

 

The fuel system is modeled with the both internal and external tanks. With the internal tanks 1,450lbs, the aircraft has 6,3h of autonomy while with the extra two 330Lbs external tanks you can reach a maximum range of 9 hours.

 

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Variable flap control is effective, and very slow 80knt approach speeds are within easily of use and the aircraft is supremely steady in this speed range, and the view on approach is excellent.

 

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Sliding down to 7oknts will give you a great landing speed and with slight raise of the nose the contact is perfect...

 

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Only one thing here blights the copybook, it is the way BFDG have created the propeller animation for slow or idle throttle positions...

 

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When in low revolutions you get the full propeller or the turning propeller effects, and it simply doesn't work and looks odd, worse is when you are on approach as you regulate the throttle you suddenly have this huge non-moving object stuck right in your sights, so you have to add in throttle to get rid of it and a clearer view. Reverse pitch is however good and so is the "Taxi" zone setting on the throttle for the correct taxi speed.

 

Liveries

 

14 liveries including: Brazilian Air Force which is covered by many different squadrons, Fuerza Aerea Venezolana, Colombiana, Argentina, Iranian Air Force, French Air Force (Armé de l'air) Royal Air Force, and even some private liveries. FAB (Brazilian Air Force) 1317 is default.

 

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Summary

 

There is a distinctly new higher level of quality and design work from Brazilian FlightSim Development Group in the Embraer 312 Tucano and this is a very nice aircraft and a lovely machine to fly.

 

Great features and details and a huge selection of liveries with excellent good reproduced systems of the real AT-27.

 

But there are a few small mis-steps that could have created a really top notch machine, but I feel there is still a learning curve going on in there and even if the items noted are small, they do take away the 5 star rating...  The lower propeller animations I just don't like, and the sounds are not tuned in the 3d zoom angles and can be quite annoying (or over loud) when you are enjoying the aircraft. The average gauge panel reflections spoil all the great work that is on the panel and grey out the panel and the interior. I never liked the X-Plane rear view mirrors but there is not a lot of options in this case... all small things but noticeable. To that note X-Plane level of quality does keep climbing, what was brilliant even a year ago can be average today.

 

Overall the Tucano is a great aircraft and a great fast turboprop trainer and the quality is certainly on the up and this is the best yet from Brazilian FlightSim Development Group and a mighty effort to deliver one of the world's really great light attack and trainer aircraft.

 

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The Embraer AT-27 Tucano by Brazilian FlightSim Development Group is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

 

EMB 312 AT27 Tucano

 

Your Price: $24.95
 
Features:
  • High-resolution textures
  • Nice custom sounds
  • Virtual cockpit and cabin with animated switches, knobs and levers
  • Custom gauges
  • External tanks, gun pods and bombs fully functional
  • Easy to use interface to turn pilots in/out, HUD, GPU, chocks and covers
  • Realistic Flight Characteristics tested by real life pilots
  • Systems and warnings systems modelled
  • Sasl Menu for selection options
  • English manual – user friendly – checklists

 

Requirements

X-Plane 10.40+ (any edition)

Windows, Mac or Linux
512Mb VRAM - 1Gb VRAM Recommended
 
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Installation and documents:

Download for the Embraer AT-27 Tucano is 409.00mg and the unzipped file is deposited in the "Fighters" X-Plane folder at 508mb.

 

There is a manual (17 Pages) and Checklist Sheets (13 Pages). A full Paintkit is also provided.

 

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Review by Stephen Dutton
 
13th July 2016
 
Copyright©2016: X-PlaneReviews
 

Review System Specifications:

Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - GeForce GTX 980/SSE2 - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.45

Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini

 

Scenery or Aircraft

- KFMY - Page Field - Fort Myers, Florida 1.0 by timbenedict3 (X-Plane.Org) - Free

- KLAL - Lakeland Linder Regional Airport 2.01 by Drankum (X-Plane.Org) - Free

 

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