Stephen

Aircraft Review : PA-34 Seneca V HD Series by Carenado

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Aircraft Review : PA-34 Seneca V HD Series by Carenado

 

In one form or the other the Twin-Engined PA-34 Seneca has been in production since 1971 and that is now 46 years of continuous sales and development. The Seneca was developed as a twin-engined version of the Piper Cherokee Six which was a very popular aircraft of the late sixties. The prototype for the Seneca was a Cherokee Six that had wing-mounted engines installed and still retained its original nose engine. The prototype was flown as a tri-motor aircraft in the initial stages of the test-flying program, but the nose motor was discarded for production. Still in production there are over 5000 of these twin-engine PA-34 Pipers now built.

 

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This is the latest release by Carenado of the Seneca Twin. It is not the only Seneca by Carenado as there is already an original Seneca ll version the 200T which is the mid-seventies version of the aircraft. This V or Five version is the current version of the PA-34 and it comes with the G500 glass cockpit system and not the olde world clockwork cockpit of the Seneca ll. We will look at both aircraft soon.

 

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To get a feel of the new Seneca V I took a short passenger delivery trip from the Gold Coast to Ballina/Byron, Australia to deliver a few cashed up visitors to the area, and yes I am running this review in X-Plane11. Don't worry as I have run the same flight in X-Plane10 so nothing is amiss and there isn't and this aircraft is noted as compatible with X-Plane11 and is pretty what to expect when X-Plane11 goes final. A small note is that this is in XP11b9 and I am currently finding it very stable after a lot of testing and flights, not totally perfect yet, but the basics are very good.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Byron 5.jpgPA_34_Seneca_V_Byron 6.jpg

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Detailing is exceptional, and the X-Plane11 PBR gives the the Seneca V aircraft a really nice added gloss. But realism in detail has never been higher, note the louvre grills on the engine housings and the door hinges and lock, the riveting is well...   riveting in the pure detail of it all.

 

Externally the Seneca V isn't that much different than the Seneca ll 200T which had the Lycoming O-360 E series 210 hp (157 kW) at 2800 rpm, as this V version has the Continental IO-360RB which is almost the same name but a different engine which produces 220 hp (164 kW) at 2600 rpm and that is the significant difference as the engine housings are very different on the Seneca ll as shown below.

 

Car_Seneca_v10_Head 1.jpgCar_Seneca_v10_Head 2.jpg

 

You do feel the evolution of time though between the 70's Seneca ll and the current Seneca V, small things but the V does feel far more modern as the windshield is now one piece and not the two separate panes with a central bar, and the nose is not quite as pointed. 

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Byron 7.jpgPA_34_Seneca_V_Byron 8.jpg

 

It is only around 144kms to Ballina Airport from Coolangatta and so you get there very quickly if by the scenic coastal route. Takeoff and cruise around 170knts is quite comfortable in the V, but landing is a bit more tricky and in comparing the Seneca ll it is very much the same deal.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Byron 1.jpgPA_34_Seneca_V_Byron 2.jpg

 

I found my joystick a bit notchy, so small inputs are the go. But the real focus is on the throttle for landing. Stall speed is noted as 61knts (113 km/h, 70 mph), but you have to be aware that it comes in with a crash or a very sudden loss of lift. So 90knts - 80knts is the lowest fail safe zone on approach with full flap, less than that and you are falling quickly and using 100knts until full flap is a good idea as well. And so you have to hunt the throttle to keep the aircraft airborne and find that right speed to let the aircraft down at a slowish rate, get it wrong in the flare and you will bang down on the runway with a crash, it took a few landings to perfect the approach and flare (using the pitch slightly (up and stall) is a good trick for controlling the last of the descent).

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Byron 3.jpgPA_34_Seneca_V_Byron 4.jpg

PA_34_Seneca_V_Byron 11.jpgPA_34_Seneca_V_Byron 12.jpg

 

Menus

 

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Standard Carenado menus apply here, with the usual three tabs on the lower left in C, O and A.

 

Car_Seneca_V_Menu Views 7.jpgCar_Seneca_V_Menu Views 8.jpg

 

C is Carenado or really "Views" with "Field of View" and two sound adjustments.

 

Car_Seneca_V_Menu 2.jpgCar_Seneca_V_Menu 5.jpg

Car_Seneca_V_Menu 4.jpgCar_Seneca_V_Menu 6.jpg

 

O is for "Options" including opening Co-Pilot door, Passenger door, Luggage door and front baggage compartment door. I like the detail in the front compartment, really well done as if there is a little space to put your bags. Static elements are in the 'hardly worth the effort" zone with two cones and a few pitot covers and flags, You see the differences here on the older Seneca ll with a lot more on show including the excellent baggage. Other selections here include the scroll visualization choice, window and instrument reflections and the choice of changing the liveries without going to the main X-Plane menu.

 

Our passengers delivered and it is time to return to Coolangatta.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Return 1.jpg

 

If you are still sitting on the fence on if X-Plane11 will deliver, then enlarge the images below and look at the detail, as a new era of realism has now been born.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Return 2.jpgPA_34_Seneca_V_Return 3.jpg

 

Cockpit and Cabin

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Cockpit 1.jpg

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Carenado's new Garmin G500 navigation system dominates the panel, and a very nice installation it is as well and I personally like it better than the bigger display G1000. Backup instruments are to the left and lower with a OBS direction pointer and twin sets of engine dials are excellent, with a high switchable information panel above. Equipment upper panel includes a Garmin 347 audio panel, a S-Tec Autopilot, Two GNS 430 GPS units. Lower panel are an old Bendix-King KR87 ADF and a Garmin GTX 327 Transponder/Time unit.

 

There is a very nice if basic pedestal unit and rudder pedals with under panel alcoves are highly detailed. Roof mounted Lighting and Electrical switchgear is well done but very fussy to use on the lights with three way switches. Nice blue lighting looks cool but ineffective.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Cockpit 4.jpgPA_34_Seneca_V_Cockpit 5.jpg

 

Looking hard at the pedestal you notice there are no trim wheels attached?

 

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They are both mounted deep between the front seats, beautifully done, but awkward to use...  A pop-up screen would help here.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Cabin 1.jpgPA_34_Seneca_V_Cabin 2.jpg

PA_34_Seneca_V_Cabin 3.jpgPA_34_Seneca_V_Cabin Table.jpg

 

Cabin is leather luxury, quality detailing is "want to touch" real, you are amazed that this sort of detailing could get better, and it does...  look at the really small detail like seatbelt webbing, clasps and the leather seating folds and it is beyond good. Fold out table is in Veneer.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Cabin 4.jpgPA_34_Seneca_V_Cabin 5.jpg

 

Rear luggage bay is empty but very well presented, and the window blinds work.

 

To see the differences and period changes let us look at the Seneca ll.

 

Car_Seneca_v10_Cockpit 2.jpgCar_Seneca_v10_Cockpit 1.jpg

 

The Seneca ll panel is padded and filled with dials and switchgear 70's style compared to the clean modern look of the V.

 

Car_Seneca_v10_Cabin 1.jpgCar_Seneca_v10_Cabin 2.jpg

 

The cabin in here feels daggy and used, and you can almost smell that old aircraft worn tired aroma and want to remove those tired crappy curtains.

 

G500

I am not a big fan of the push button Menu style modern instruments. I find I am more head down looking through pages of menus than setting the instrument to the action of what I require. That said I like the G500 as it does the setting adjustment better than the G1000 units.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_G500 0.jpg

 

The unit has two screens with the Artificial Horizon and Heading rose with Speed and Altitude tapes and bank guide on the left screen, and the Navigation display on the right screen. The G500 also pops out for ease of use.

 

Most of these Gamin units use the left hand knob to change settings, but on the G500 it is easier to use because the main items in HDG (heading), CRS (course), ALT (Altitude), V/S (Vertical Speed) and BARO (barometer) are buttons down the left hand side of the display.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_G500 3.jpgPA_34_Seneca_V_G500 4.jpg

 

And so making the adjustment easy as selecting the item you want and then adjusting it with the lower knob.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_G500 5.jpgPA_34_Seneca_V_G500 6.jpg

 

Sometimes you wonder if that new ideas are really better than the old ones as this system works very well compared to fiddling with the G1000 menus.

 

There is the ADF 1/ADF2 and VOR1/VOR2 pointers that is selectable from the menu. They are both extremely thin and I am not sure if effective in this need to look down and gather information quickly mode, but they are at least available.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_G500 7.jpgPA_34_Seneca_V_G500 8.jpg

 

Navigation display is very good, but the zoom is not very close for local airport flying, zoom out and you get those unused blank tiles showing and it is still slow and jerky when turning quickly.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_G500 1.jpgPA_34_Seneca_V_G500 2.jpg

 

The DCLTR (declutter) is good and you can also bring up a compass rose on the moving aircraft on the map to help with directional headings.

A note in that to use the Carenado G500 or the G1000 units you have to download a separate data folder that is deposited in your main X-Plane root folder, it is a hefty download at 870mb that expands to 3.63gb when unzipped and installed.

 

Autopilot

The Seneca V uses the S-Tec (now Genesys) Fifty Five X Autopilot.

 

The system is well intergrated into the aircraft's systems, with a centre panel main unit and above the G500 is a situation display and the unit pops-out from the "A" menu tab.

 

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It works well. Only note is that you have deselect ALT to move higher or lower and then reselect ALT when you have reached the required altitude. One slight annoyance is that the AP switch is right over on the Co-Pilots side? I can use a joystick buton to turn off or on, but a stretch if you don't have that setup and actually finding the switch?

 

A nice feature is a six position selectable information panel that gives you details on: TEMP, FUEL, INST (engine read out), ELEC, TIME/DATE and %PWR (Engine power outputs). the panel will pop-out for ease of use.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Info Panel.jpg

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Info Panel 2.jpg

 

Arrival at YBCG

Passing over Terranora and a sighting of the coast means we are back on the Coast or the Goldie as is is sometimes called.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Arrival YBCG 1.jpgPA_34_Seneca_V_Arrival YBCG 2.jpg

 

Like on the Seneca ll those huge engines spoil the view and make looking down quite hard, there is only a small area between the panel and the window frame that you can use.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Arrival YBCG 3.jpgPA_34_Seneca_V_Arrival YBCG 4.jpg

 

I fall into the circuit over the water that gives you a hard left to hard left and along the beach to YBCG's RWY 14. You aim at the Currumbin Highrises on the beach but the bigger boys in the Jets use the Burleigh Heads Highrises further north for the same job and at only a 1000ft to get the approach right.

 

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Tugun Hill and Tugun below makes this approach exciting, you come in low and fast over the forever complaining residents, flaps are three stage and don't give you that nasty lift feel if you get down around 100knts.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Arrival YBCG 7.jpgPA_34_Seneca_V_Arrival YBCG 8.jpg

 

Tugun Hill makes you give a slight steep slope angle into YBCG, but as noted earlier I found I took a lot of runway before settling the Seneca V easily and far and right down past the usual touchdown zone, but you need to be as slight as you can to get that flare and wheel touch right and perfect.

 

Ground View

Back on the GA line and you can admire the aircraft's (and Carenado's) wonderful design work.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Arrival YBCG GND 1.jpgPA_34_Seneca_V_Arrival YBCG GND 2.jpg

 

Bad panel and glass gaps are now non-existent, we are simply now getting brilliant design, and X-Plane11's lighting effects brings us closer to perfect reality.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Arrival YBCG GND 3.jpgPA_34_Seneca_V_Arrival YBCG GND 4.jpg

 

Power off and the excellent reflections on the displays are highlighted.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Arrival YBCG GND 5.jpg

 

Lighting

Internal lighting is very good with lots of great spot lighting in the rear.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Night 1.jpgPA_34_Seneca_V_Night 2.jpg

 

The rear spot switches are hard to find as they are low and facing the passenger on a panel, and not on the roof in the usual position.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Night 3 LG.jpg

 

There is a very strong spotlight over the Co-Pilot's door, that helps in boarding...

 

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Panel lighting looks good and is adjustable, but the blue roof switch lights are not very effective. It doesn't help in that the switchgear is three way awkward, with "off" in the middle hard to find? And the landing lighting (outboard) can be made to flash.

 

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External lighting is good but not brilliant. Taxi light is quite weak, and so are the outboard landing lights.

 

Liveries

One blank (white) and four American with two Brazilian liveries are provided, but well done but not much choice and nothing really special here.

 

PA_34_Seneca_V_Livery Blank.jpg

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Seneca ll

A few notes on the original Carenado Seneca ll that is also available. For its age in X-Plane (it was the very first Twin I reviewed) the old girl scrubs up very well in X-Plane11, it is a nice companion to the more modern V and has that clockwork panel and a great side electrical/starter panel.

 

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The only visual note is the forward gear doors don't close. But before you send off a nasty telegram to Carenado it is not actually a Carenado issue but a Laminar Research X-Plane11 bug issue and all early Carenado's are affected as is my beloved A33F. So a fix should come soon as X-Plane11 heads towards final.

 

Summary

Nice, Nice, nice. There is a lot to like here if you love Twins as the Seneca is one of the all time great and successful Twin-Engined aircraft of the world.

 

You are probably bored by now at the accolades thrown at Carenado, but give credit due here as the detailing is just so good and so well done and it shows how far we have moved on since the earlier Seneca ll in that level of sheer design. It is  with those HD quality textures (4096 x 4096) in size with 422 pixels / meter texture deep and that is detail, that is a lot of detail.

 

It is a thoroughly more modern aircraft to fly as well with the well intergrated G500 unit, and from the user angle wise I think is better than the more menu focused G1000. The ADF/VOR pointers are a bit on the very thin side, and they have gotten all the earlier gremlins now worked out, so it is a now nice bit of kit.

 

Great Autopilot and Information panel features this aircraft is a sub 1000nm distance hauler. It is slightly tricky to land, and has great sounds (a little too quiet in the cockpit though) but overall it one of the best Twins out there.

 

The Seneca V also flies well in X-Plane11, as I saw no issues and thoroughly enjoyed myself flying in our new realm, so it is certainly XP11 ready.

 

The Seneca V is a General Aviation Classic, and you can now own one (if a brilliant simulated version) of this aircraft, quality and thorough design is also part of the deal, so it is a very nice addition to your X-Plane hangar.

 

______________________________________________________________________

 

X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg

 

Yes! the PA-34 Seneca V HD Series by Carenado is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :


PA-34 Seneca V HD Series

 

Price is US$32.95

 

Note: If you purchased the first release 1.0 version then redownload from Carenado to v1.1, as a few details have now been upgraded.

 

The original Seneca ll Is also available here at the X-Plane.OrgStore:


Piper PA-34 Seneca II

 

Price is US$27.95

 

Seneca V Special Features
  • Carenado G500 compatible with X-Plane GNS430 (included)
  • Optimized for XP10.5x - X-Plane 64 bit required
  • All-new sound architecture
  • Volumetric side view prop effect
Features
  • Carenado G500 GPS
    • Terrain Awareness map mode 
    • Different declutter levels
    • Advance menus and cursor with scroll wheel, click/hold or /drag
    • Crisp, vector-based water data
    • Pop-up windows can be resized and moved around the screen
    • Pristine scroll wheel support
    • FPS-friendly terrain map
  • Original Seneca V autopilot installed
  • HD quality textures (4096 x 4096)
  • 422 pixels / meter textures
  • 3D gauges
  • Original HQ digital stereo sounds recorded directly from the real aircraft
  • 3D stereo effects, such as outside sounds entering open windows.
  • Customizable panel for controlling window transparency, instrument reflections and static elements such as wheel chocks and turbine inlet/exhaust covers.
  • Realistic behavior compared to the real airplane. Realistic weight and balance. Tested by real pilots.
  • Realistic 3D night lights effects on panel and cockpit.

______________________________________________________________________

 

Requirements :

Windows 7+ (64 bit) or MAC OS 10.8 (or higher) or Linux - 64bit Operating System
X-Plane 10 fully updated (any edition) - 64bit mode
3 GHz processor - 8GB RAM - 1Gb+ VRAM - 2Gb VRAM Recommended
Windows users: Please ensure that you have all the Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributables downloaded and installed.
CARENADO G1000  database must be installed
Current Version: 1.1 (last updated Feb 5th 2017)

______________________________________________________________________

 

Installation : Download is 392mb which is unzipped to your X-Plane folder at 478.00mb.

Documentation : includes

 

  • Carenado G500 PDF
  • PA34 Emergency Checklist PDF
  • Normal Procedures PDF 
  • Performance Tables PDF
  • PA34 Quick Reference PDF
  • Recommended Settings PDF

 

Aircraft checklists are provided, but no overall aircraft manual.

 

______________________________________________________________________

 

Stephen Dutton

8th February 2017

Copyright©X-Plane Reviews: X-PlaneReviews 2017

 

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 11beta9 / Checked install in X-Plane10.51

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

Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 : WorldTraffic US$29.95

Sceneries:

- YBCG : Gold Coast International v1.0 by tdg (X-Plane.Org) - Free

- YBNA - Ballina - VOZ Australian Scenery by Barry (Bazza) Roberts (X-Plane.Org) - Free

 

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Hiho.

 

Thank's for the review.

 

I have a small question about the frame outside of the Window. I bought the plane and the frame is a bit annoying because it is right in the field of view.

 

Does the frame have any meaning I don't know?

 

Sorry for my bad english.

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21 minutes ago, Guest Xardius said:

Hiho.

 

Thank's for the review.

 

I have a small question about the frame outside of the Window. I bought the plane and the frame is a bit annoying because it is right in the field of view.

 

Does the frame have any meaning I don't know?

 

Sorry for my bad english.

 

I think it is a heater panel to clear that glass area of mist or ice. SD

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Ok. Thank you.

 

The plane is really fun to fly, although I constantly damage the engines when landing. :P (I'm pretty new at X-Plane)

It seems that this plane does not forgive mistakes. Sometimes the engines broke immediately when rolling on Unpaved ground (e.g. if you roll slowly to the runway and you touch the Unpaved ground with one tire) :(

 

But I am still very satisfied with this plane *thumbsup*

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On 2/6/2017 at 7:16 PM, Stephen said:

Stall speed is noted as 61knts (113 km/h, 70 mph), but you have to be aware that it comes in with a crash or a very sudden loss of lift.

Thanks for this review.

 

Do you see this behavior as a 'bug' or reflection of this aircrafts real world behavior. 

(I've not flown any X-Plane aircraft this twitcy on landing, i.e. prop contact, gear collapse etc.)

 

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In the real world it is called a "Stall" for a reason. But you have to adjust the landing speed to the conditions, the 61knts is guide not a definitive number, you have to take in wind direction and speed, flap settings and just plain airmanship to get the landing speeds correct. SD

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