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Aircraft Review : Carenado C90B King Air HD Series v1.1

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Aircraft Review : Carenado C90B King Air HD Series v1.1

 

Route : KHND - Henderson Executive to KGCN - Grand Canyon NP

 

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One of the great tourist routes (on everyone's bucket list) is a flight over the Grand Canyon in Arizona, US$250 is the average fare. Nowhere else does the aircraft really come into its own for viewing spectacle than from the position of a couple of thousand feet above this  monstrously huge gnawed dug out mountain in the Arizona desert.

 

Most operators leave for the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas's, McCarren International. But if you want the private exclusive tour then you would then head up north to Henderson Executive (KHND) and pick up a private operator that will treat you like a VIP or a celebrity for the day. It costs a lot more of course but you also get the free French champagne thrown in as part of the deal.

 

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The ideal aircraft to fly four to six passengers in comfort is the Beechcraft C90B, with its big windows, but also the power to get to the Grand Canyon quickly adds to the benefits. In the fleet we also have the X-Plane Default C90B, and a very nice aircraft it is. If you have already bought X-Plane 10 (It comes with X-Plane9 as well, but not the upgraded version) then it comes free with the simulator, and it is with no-doubt the best default aircraft in your General Aviation Folder. For me though today I got the newest addition to the fleet the just released Carenado C90B. Outwardly they look very much the same aircraft but then get closer to the Carenado version and things start to get a lot better.

 

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Carenado provide a menu (O) of Options (bottom left). Here you can give the C90B tinted windows, static elements (including chocks, warning cones but no tags, and the pilots stay seated in the cockpit), You can open the main "Passenger door" on the left rear and even open up the left and right engine cowlings. Want to check the engine oil or fluids before flight then, well now you can....  this adds to a great feature on the aircraft walkaround.

 

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The C90 is a seriously nice looking aircraft, it comes with Carenado's HD (High-Definition) series textures (2048 x 2048) and it shows in the quality of the livery. Get in very close and the detailing is superb. Panel detailing (with rivets) and vents are all very lifelike. The undercarriage is excellent with full struts, hydraulics and braking systems, and are all as real as...  the real things. The Propellers are the standard quieter Hartzell four-blade, constant-speed and full-reversing 90-in diameter versions. And not the Raisbeck Swept Blade Turbofans, which were retrofitted to later C90 models. The C90's four distinctive chrome exhausts are beautifully crafted here. The wings with the updated (v2) lighting is excellent and so is the tailplane and tall tail, looking side on at the dimensions and the full perspective of the aircraft - it looks perfect.

 

History of the C90B King Air

The Beechcraft King Airs are a little confusing as they are listed in to two separate families. The Model 90 and 100 series are known as King Airs, while the Model 200 and 300 series were originally marketed as Super King Airs, with the "Super" being dropped by Beechcraft in 1996 (although it is still often used to differentiate the 200 and 300 series King Airs from their smaller stablemates). The Model 90 King Air was conceived as the Model 120 in 1961. In May 1963, Beechcraft began test flights of the proof-of-concept Model 87 with a modified Queen Air and fitted with Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-6 engines. On 14 July, Beech announced a new type, and a month later began accepting orders for the "King Air", with deliveries to commence in the autumn of 1964. After 10 months of test flying the Model 87 was delivered to the United States Army as the NU-8F in 1964.  On 24 January 1965 the first definitive prototype, by now designated Model 65-90 and also fitted with PT6A-6 engines, flew for the first time. The first production aircraft was delivered on October 8, and by the end of the month 152 aircraft had been ordered. The Model C90 was introduced in 1971, with the wingspan increased over earlier models by 4 ft 11 in (1.50 m) to 50 ft 3 in (15.32 m), Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) increased by 350 lb (160 kg) to 9,650 lb (4,378 kg) and it was fitted with the newer upgraded PT6A-20A engines. The C90B (and C) were marketing names for the updated versions of C90A which were produced between 1992 and 2005 and were 456 built.

 

Maximum speed: 311 mph TAS (270 knots TAS, 500 km/h TAS) : Cruise speed: 260 mph TAS (226 kts TAS, 416 km/h TAS) : Stall speed: 90 mph (78 knots, 145 km/h) IAS (flaps down) : Range: 1,530 miles (1,321 nm, 2,446 km) : Service ceiling: 30,000ft (9,144 m) : Rate of climb: 2,000 ft/min (10.2 m/s)

 

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The default C90 suddenly powers up and departs for its tour. So it is time to get on board and get the aircraft ready for our own passengers.

 

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The easiest way to get inside the aircraft is using Carenado's © Camera menu. It is the standard menu on all Carenado aircraft. And it makes it easy not only to jump quickly into the 3d mode and into the aircraft, but you also have 9 other views and a "Point of View" slider.

 

Inside there are 4 large leather seats in a club layout. And two other (smaller seats) in one facing inwards on the right and one situated on the rear bulkhead. In theory you can carry six passengers, or four and an attendant or two. The internal cabin doors can be closed via the (O) Options menu for privacy in the cockpit.

 

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The shutdown cockpit is unfussy, very clean and business like. It is not hard to find your way around everything, but there are some specialised items that we we will come to. On the overhead panel (OH) there is only the electrical dials and the lighting knobs for all the instruments and cockpit overhead lighting. One big switch on your left of the panel will turn everything On/Off in a one click each way.

 

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The power now on and the panel lights up nicely with reflective lighting. All the main power/lighting switches are grouped down low behind the pilots yoke (removable). There is a Ext Power (External Power) supply that you must remember to switch off when not needed. On the pilots side wall there are the (twin) fuel gauges and fuel transfer and supply switches. The text here is quite blurry, but easily remembered. The small windows open on both sides and the engine noise is quite significant when the open gap is there. This is great for starting the engines. Detailing is simply excellent, some switches are hard to read but very much in keeping of the panel design...  Carenado are masters at this sort of detail application and it shows here with this sort of depth and quality.

 

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Each engine has its own "Ignition ON" switch, and then another switch to start the each engine that both sets are situated low and behind the yoke. It takes awhile to wind up and then start each turbine to full power. Multi-track stereo sounds are excellent as the whine and then the power as the engine comes into life. When running, don't forget to turn off the Ignition ON switches as displayed on the glareshield. Ignore the RVS, as it notes the levers are not in the up position. You can do a full test of all the alerts and very impressive it is.

I set both the Prop (feather) and Idle to as low as I could get away with...  In the full up position of both of these levers the C90 will taxi like a speeding bullet, you need to calm the engines down for an effective taxi.

 

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One of the highlighted features now on Carenado aircraft are the rain and Ice effects.

 

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The rain drips down the windshield, and the wiper clears it away (but the rain spots are not replaced), Ice covers the windows (but I couldn't see anything on the wings). But with both the rain and ice together is very effective.

 

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Pulling away from the stand the taxi is good if you have controlled the RPM, only small nips of the brakes are required to keep the speed. You don't use much flap, just 20º. On to the power slowly because it will leap away, and then build up the speed. As both props rotate together in the same direction there is a slight pull  to the right, but only a little left rudder is required to keep the center line straight. Rotation is clean and you don't need a lot of angle to climb out, once you have a certain speed then let the C90B climb.

 

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In The Air

If you have flown the X-Plane default C90, then at this point in climbing away from the runway, you will have to usually move to the Autopilot (A/P) that is situated down behind the pedestal. The problem with this is that you have to scroll away from the horizon and your forward view. To a real pilot it is only a glance down to the right and then adjust the autopilot by feel...  but for you it is usually the situation that when you come back to the forward view after setting the A/P that you will either be - inverted or going in a totally different direction?

 

In Carenado's version you have a popup (A/P) that is selected by the (A) or Autopilot on the lower left menu. This beautiful rendered panel is an excellent A/P, but it is quite large. It can thankfully be moved anywhere around you screen, It can be also resized as well by the lower right corner into any size you like. Close the A/P and come back to it later and it keeps the position and size.

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"Heading" is selected with the left knob and the "Course" is selected with the right. Press the center of either knob to select current heading or course. Vertical Speed (V/S) has a few different variations. You can either just set the V/S or press the rocker switch to go either up or down. The best however is "CLIMB" or "DEC" (descend). Select your height (higher or lower) in the center panel and then press either the CLIMB or DEC buttons and the A/P will set you on a - or + 800fpm altitude change. It will set the ALT SEL (Altitude Select) automatically as well to level you out when you get to correct set altitude.

 

The Autopilot is also connected to the EFSI (Electronic Flight Instrument System) that is connected to the Electronic Attitude Director Indicator (EADI) and the Electronic Horizontal Situation Indicator (EHSI) on the main (PFD) aircraft panel.

 

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The EFSI is very detailed and functional and the displays on the small Glass panels are excellent. The EDHI has many functions including Autopilot Mode Annunciators, Marker Beacon indicator, Glide Slope Indicator and Lateral Deviation Indicator (bars), Flight Director Guide, Ground Altitude and Decision Height Annunciator. The EDSI panel has Identifier and distance to VOR or Waypoint, Course Control Symbol, VOR TO/FROM indicator, selected pointers and lateral deviation and Course selection (degrees). The various EHSI functions include In-depth and accurate fuel logic and it works like the real thing, and also takes all the failures into account. However you must turn the system EFIS system on, and the switch is on the A/P panel?

 

Note above the EAHI is the terrain (TERR) warning system, turn it on and you get alerts from 1000ft to 500ft of your lower terrain values.

 

In the center of the main aircraft panel there is an AVIDYNE Entegra EX500. This unit is very good but limited in application. It has fixes, but they are way to small to register. And you can have the Heading or Rose modes. The weather is also displayed and this is best function of the display. A standard GARMIN GPS400 and the standard radio (COMM and VOR) tuning knobs complete the equipment package.

 

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All powerlines lead to our first attraction - The Hoover Dam. The C90B was powering along at comfortable 200knts and easily climbed to 12,500ft. (it will climb 2000fpm with ease)

 

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In the air as on the ground the C90B is a lovely aircraft. At every angle you like the silhouette against the desert sky. It flies wonderfully as well, light to the touch and easy on the turns (just a touch of power sometimes). There is a small warning though in using to much power in the cruise as if you push the engines too hard for long periods at full throttle they will simply burn out. The trim is easy to set up and you have to be careful because the trim switches work on the craftmanship yoke. The window shades (both sides) are clever as well, They are movable right around their tracks and adjustable up and down as well. The main cabin windows can also be dimmed as well.

 

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Liveries

Liveries are the standard white (default) (top), BlueGold, Deepbluered, Silverblue (upper line), Beigered, Ejercitodelaire and the famous Japanmaritime (lower line)

 

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The Grand Canyon (Hopi: Ongtupqa; Yavapai: Wi:kaʼi:la) is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6,000 feet or 1,800 meters). It has been carved over billions of years as the plateau raised up out out of the desert to the elevation of 2,600 feet (800 m) to an average of 8,000 ft (2,438 m) above sea level. In fact the Canyon is a big plateau with a huge gap carved through it. The biggest misnomer is the that everyone thinks the canyon was big cut down into the ground, when in fact it is the opposite in that it rises up very high. To cover this you have to quickly fly high. 12,000ft will then put you only at a  slight height above the canyon. For the C90B this was an easy task.

 

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I started my run from the west looking for Point Sublime and then followed the zig-zag off to a slight angle to give the passengers the best view. The French champagne was out with a small meal that is helped by the foldaway tables. The view outside the windows was spectacular and so was my view from the cockpit. Keeping close to South Rim and over the Grand Canyon Village you turn North at just before Zuni Point and then held that heading until past Chuar Butte and then flew out over the plataeu before doing an almost 170º turn back and heading down the eastern side of the "Palisades of the desert".

 

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The view right out of the cockpit windows was spectacular, and every time you do this Canyon run it will always run a tingle up your back.

 

The Carenado C90B has great nightlighting...  The panel is simply beautiful at night and entirely adjustable via the OHP selection of lighting knobs.

 

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There is the new feature of the swivel lighting on the roof of the cockpit. You can move the light in any direction and bright or fade the lighting on the light itself. This shows the power of the HDR in X-Plane and how versatile the HDR system is. In the rear cabin (switchable) the lighting is spot lit on to the seating. The ambience inside is excellent, but the HDR switched on is a real framerate buster. down to only 2-3 frames on my system.

 

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Grand Canyon National Park Airport (IATA: GCN, ICAO: KGCN) is just south of the South Rim and Village. I did another 90º turn to the West and another 90º turn to line up with RWY 03, but watch your elevation here as it is 6609ft (ASL), and the C90's height radar is the item you keep your eye on.

 

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Reducing height with the DEC makes your life very easy, and the EADI shows you your cross hairs with the glideslope. Manually or automatic the descent is very easy as you reduce your speed. Flaps will slow you effectively, and the deployment is not going to give you too much lift if you get the correct speed at each drop, but watch that stall speed that is quickly in the red zone at 80knt's, so you aim for just above at 90knts to 95knt's. In the flare you add a little power before settling down the wheels and reversing the propeller pitch for reverse thrust. (well noted on the pedestal) The thrust is very effective and KGCN's runway 3/21 at 8,999ft (2,743m) is very long for a General Aviation aircraft so in fact you can take your time to slow down or flare late to get to the terminal that is situated at the far north end.

 

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The company does the tagging system to return passengers back to Henderson, I will sit here and refuel quickly as the first group will return soon that went out on an earlier flight, my group will come back to KGCN in a few hours of seeing Canyon from the visitor centre.

 

Conclusions

As Carenado aircraft get larger, then so does the file size. The C90B will average around 460mb so if you have only 512 VRAM (like I do) available you are going to start to feel the pinch. 1gb VRAM is recommended by Carenado and I second that recommendation. If you have downloaded your C90B from Carenado (ver1.0) then I recommend to update as soon as possible because the 1.1 version (the .org version is the correct 1.1 ver) fixes a lot of - if not all the issues with framerate on the Mac and a few lighting issues. The review here has been updated to the v1.1 version. And the updated version is now very good. And yes because of the minimum VRAM available you are going to have to compromise somewhere if you are running very large sceneries or if the weather is heavy on your system. In this review I averaged 50-40fr dropping as low as in the high 20's with clear skies, and that is very good.

 

Direct comparisons to the X-Plane default C90B is always going to be put forward. Because the aircraft is very good in its basic form. I have had many hours behind its controls and it has a place in my heart if not the earliest of my own X-Plane experiences. The Carenado C90B is however a far more advanced and far better quality machine. It's detailing and functionality is way above the standard version. Outwardly they look the same. But on closer inspection they couldn't be more further apart in quality, equipment and certainly in the outstanding features.

 

Fly the C90B once and you won't want another twin. And that is big claim with so many twins in the Carenado hangar. It is a lovely large machine. The A/P is very comprehensive, convenient and resizable. The only issue is the HDR on less powerful equipment in that it brings the framerate to its knees. But in every other area of quality, functionality, cockpit lighting, excellent 3d surround sounds and system realism it is simply outstanding. Value!... In value it is a Carenado aircraft, and that is always a great investment. And the bigger the Carenado aircraft grows then the better it seems the value and the return for your money. Overall the Carenado Beechcraft C90B HD series is excellent.

 

Yes! the Carenado C90B King Air HD Series is now Available from the X-Plane.OrgShop : C90B King Air HD series

 

Price is US$34.95

 

Documents : post-2-0-25995000-1384937463.jpg

 

Developer Site : Carenado

Dev Thread : X-Plane.org

Review By Stephen Dutton

20th November 2013

 

©copyright 2013 : Stephen Dutton

Note: Carenado have released an C90 King Air Service Pack, dated 20131119. that addresses the ver1.0 framerate issues, HDR lighting has been updated and other minor tucks and fixes. Go to Carenado to login and download this updated 1.1 version

 

Technical Requirements

:Windows XP, Vista 7 or 8 (32 or 64 bits) or MAC OS 10.3.9 (or higher) or Linux

X-Plane 9.70 or X-Plane 10.20 (or higher - 64 bit compatible)

4GB RAM/1GB VRAM

Version 1.1 (last updated November 19th 2013)

 

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

- X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.22 (final)

Addons

- Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle

Scenery

Hoover Dam & the Grand Canyon version 10 - chris noe (X-Plane.org)

KLAS - KHND (Glitter Gulch) - Tom Curtis (X-Plane.OrgShop US$24.95)

- KGCN Grand Canyon National Park Airport  - myb  (X-Plane.Org)

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Guest Juan Carlos

Good afternoon:

I am interested in this software, but I need to know if operating with SAITEK

Pro Flight Radio Panel and SAITEK Pro Flight Multi Panel.

Regards,
 
Juan Carlos
 

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Guest Dean Cully

Re: taxi speed control: the Condition levers should be in Low Idle with Propeller levers full forward, as for takeoff.

Use the Power Levers ("throttles") for taxi speed control by lifting them (in the real airplane, at least) over and behind the flight idle gate (rear stop in the flight range) and into "beta range", i.e., Ground Idle (extreme aft position in this mode is Reverse Thrust). Power Lever position aft of the flight idle gate is for ground use only (seriously bad and prohibited in flight); this is a feature of turboprop engines that doesn't relate to reciprocating engine contol technique. When the power lever is placed aft of the flight idle stop (called a "gate" because the lever has a way of getting past it), it no longer affects engine speed alone. In effect, it becomes a propeller pitch control while the speed governing system determines fuel metering.

The most common reasons for keeping the Condition Levers at high idle are for running the air conditioner (the AC equipment requires a higher N1 turbine speed to operate; strictly speaking, this only applies to the right engine), and for obtaining the most effective and fast-acting reverse thrust, as when maximizing the airplane's short-field landing capabilities. Otherwise, it's noisy and prone to causing more than necessary propeller erosion while taxiing and can frustrate efforts during round-out and flare due to the higher turbine speed and increased propeller thrust as a result. The engines are usually started with the Conditions at Low, but they can be started normally anywhere above Low.

I have only limited experience with the X-Plane C90B program and have experienced frustrations, likely due to the interface, mostly, while my actual flight experience with the airplane itself is over 2,000 hours. It's been over 4 years since I flew the C90B, having flown the King Air 200/B200 since. I'm waiting in frustration for a decent BE-200 or B200 program for X-Plane (Mac) to be developed, one that accurately emulates the performance and panel graphics of the real thing. I'm curious to know if my suggestions work for the high taxi speed problem. Also, yes, the EFIS system is turned on with a switch on the pedestal panel just ahead of the Flight Director-Autopilot control unit, just as depicted in the simulation. The pilot-relavent imaging looks good, down to the engine guages; I no longer remember exactly what power and configuration combinations will result in what speed and vertical rates (as on an instrument approach) were used in the real airplane. If someone else with real-life experience in the C90B doesn't beat me to it, maybe later if I take a chance and splurge the $35, I'll write an evaluation based primarily on how it compares to the real thing as a training aid and pilot proficiency enhancer.

What I'm really after however, is the -200/B200 (either, it doesn't much matter though the B200 is preferred), and with the ability to "fly" existing current instrument approach procedures including RNAV-GPS procedures with the Garmin 430 or 530 (either, both have the same basic logic) GPS receiver, without purchasing more hardware.

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Guest Dean Cully

Addendumbs to my previous post, i.e., things I forgot to mention: reverse thrust (power levers aft of "ground fine" in "beta" range) is for use above 60 knots during landing or aborted takeoff (i.e., weight on wheels, never airborne), not for taxi speed control as it's generally not good for the propellers and engines. And, the main reason for using high idle: during start of the second engine, high idle on the running engine gives its generator more power to assist the other engine's starter. The C90B has an electrical system closely related to that of the newer design -350, allowing for cross-generator assist, unlike the -200/B200s I now pilot and I believe, older versions of the C90A type; using the cross-generator technique can well result in a blown current limiter as the second engine's starter is engaged while the battery is recharging from the first start.

For the software developers, the -200 is a much higher performing airplane than the C90A ("C90B"), having a better power-to-weight ratio, so no, this C90B program is of more limited use to those who need to keep their skills fresh in the 200. Mostly, though, the differences will be in performance and not so much in graphics. I'd even be happy to have the full C90B cockpit visuals but with B200 performance parameters and effects. That's all I'd need for pilot proficiency purposes (in addition to and IAP database including GPS IAPs). How about a button I could click on that does nothing more than making it behave as a B200 while still appearing as the C90B (which is the same as a B200 to the untrained eye)?

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Guest Hollerider

Have personally spent some time in a B200 and can say that Carenado has hit the nail on the head. Very good replication of the systems and procedures. Only thing missing is the FMC.

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Addendumbs to my previous post, i.e., things I forgot to mention: reverse thrust (power levers aft of "ground fine" in "beta" range) is for use above 60 knots during landing or aborted takeoff (i.e., weight on wheels, never airborne), not for taxi speed control as it's generally not good for the propellers and engines. And, the main reason for using high idle: during start of the second engine, high idle on the running engine gives its generator more power to assist the other engine's starter. The C90B has an electrical system closely related to that of the newer design -350, allowing for cross-generator assist, unlike the -200/B200s I now pilot and I believe, older versions of the C90A type; using the cross-generator technique can well result in a blown current limiter as the second engine's starter is engaged while the battery is recharging from the first start.

For the software developers, the -200 is a much higher performing airplane than the C90A ("C90B"), having a better power-to-weight ratio, so no, this C90B program is of more limited use to those who need to keep their skills fresh in the 200. Mostly, though, the differences will be in performance and not so much in graphics. I'd even be happy to have the full C90B cockpit visuals but with B200 performance parameters and effects. That's all I'd need for pilot proficiency purposes (in addition to and IAP database including GPS IAPs). How about a button I could click on that does nothing more than making it behave as a B200 while still appearing as the C90B (which is the same as a B200 to the untrained eye)?

Yes Dean you are perfectly correct in keeping the condition levers in low idle and the propeller full up. It is a turbine after all and you need the RPM. The feeling I get is that the aircraft does not have the drain of auxiliary items like the air-con that puts the pressure on a real world aircraft. But I will look into that as it is interesting. We have so much area to cover in a review that the small items can get overlooked. But your notes are highly interesting.

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Guest vsully

Where did you get the livery for the default C90B? Thanks for a great review of a great plane!

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