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Aircraft Review: AOASimulations-T6A Texan II


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Aircraft Review: AOASimulations-T6A Texan II

 

By Stuart McGregor

 

Introduction
Now, I'm not sure about you, but does the X-Plane world feel like it’s in a bit of a twilight zone or no man’s land at the moment? The ground-breaking advancements achieved with X-Plane 11, are essentially at the end of their commercial run, and the eagerly awaited X-Plane 12, still has some way to go until it is in its final release state. For us armchair pilots this can be a little frustrating in our 365, 24/7 on-the-go world, where patience isn’t a commodity you see a lot of these days, so I can only imagine the dilemma this gives commercial developers. Do you wait until all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed in X-Plane 12, or do you continue creating and releasing in X-Plane 11, knowing the platform has been superseded by its younger brother? 


Well, the good news is that the folks over at AOA Simulations have decided not to wait to bring us their ‘Texan’, the T-6ATexan II. This aircraft has recently been released for X-Plane 11, with a commitment of a free upgrade to X-Plane 12 for existing users when the simulator is in its final state of release.


In real life, the Texan is described as a single-engine turboprop aircraft and has been around since the late 1990s. It has been used as a training aircraft by several military organisations around the globe and more than 850 have been built to date. From what I have read, it is still very much the mainstay of the United States Air force and Navy when it comes to pilot training.

 

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It has a low wing cantilever design with the majestic Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68 1100 hp engine, tandem seating arrangement with elector seats to allow the flight instructor and trainee to live every moment together, all topped off with a hefty four-blade constant speed, variable pitch prop. The Texan also has a retractable tricycle landing gear assembly, with many of the features being based on the original development aircraft, the Pilatus PC-9. However, don’t be fooled, because the Texan is indeed a very different aircraft in many ways. To explain this in greater detail, the AOA Simulations folks have included a very nice reference document in the manuals section of their package that describes the Texan’s development journey. This is well worth a read to see just how much it has changed from the original Hawker Beechcraft development PC-9. I personally always like additional features like this because in my opinion they bring a greater level of depth to the user experience and allow a more immersive environment when you know a bit about the aircraft, its history and how it came into being.

 

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Documentation
I will be honest and say that military jets and combat aircraft are not an area I typically venture into very often, so when I had the opportunity to try out what looked a bit like a fighter jet with a prop on its nose, I was intrigued to find out more. My GA side was screaming, “Oh yes please!”

 

The package in review comes in a 360MB download with the aircraft itself and a couple of liveries, as well as a few added extras in terms of documents. In the Manuals folder, you will find an alternative abbreviated checklist (X-Checklist plugin is required) to the one provided by default, a paper kneeboard checklist you can print, emergency procedures, a training flight tutorial with charts (KNGP to KRND), pictorial overviews of flight instruments, and if you are a MAC user, there is an explanation of a workaround if you experience issues when you first load the model.

 

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There is also a highly detailed 38-page User Guide to take you through every inch of the aircraft and that is a must-read if you really want to get the most out of the Texan. The developer has also included some contact details and links of where to request help if you get stuck. Sadly, I can’t offer any comment on how successful the MAC workaround is, as I use a PC, however it looks like the developer has put some serious thought into the issue which is good to see.

 

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The Aircraft
The developers quote that their Texan has been in development since early 2020 and clearly a huge amount of work has gone into the aircraft. You get a real sense of the details and the hours of work by just reading the manual alone, so I believe it is fair to say that the Texan really does come fully loaded. 

 

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I loved the fact that both the front and rear cockpits are fully functional, thus providing a unique flying experience from each seat, and it was nice to be able to have the choice. The internal details in both cockpits are well presented and bristle with features. The texturing is of high resolution and high quality, and I found reading the various dials and panels to be of no issue, even in VR, when using my Rift S. The developers even quote that the Texan has been optimised to maximise performance in VR, and I would have to admit, that when using my system, I had no issues and enjoyed a very smooth experience.

 

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When you first step into either cockpit, it is a bit daunting if you’re not used to military-style aircraft, however, the automated tutorial-level Checklist provided is very useful when navigating around the various systems. In my tests, I probably only scratched the surface of the instrument capabilities of the Texan, and you literally could spend hours and hours just working through your flows and testing out every feature, switch, lever, knob, button, panel, and fuse. As far as I could tell, everything shown works or is at least animated. If you are used to flying fast jets, I am sure the layout will come very naturally to you, however, I must admit it did take me a little time to work my way around.  By the way…the ejection seat does work, so be careful with that handle!!!

 

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The unobstructed view that the glass canopy offers, is truly excellent, particularly in VR, and you really get a sense of just how compact and well-fitted everything is around you. The feeling of being in the cockpit was something I really enjoyed, and as I mentioned previously, just moving a few feet back to sit in the rear seat, adds a totally different dimension to the experience. The Texan comes with specially created FMOD sounds and the cockpit interaction sounds were nicely done, from the very subtle fuse click actions to the more distinct canopy locking mechanism.

 

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From the X-Plane main menu bar, you can access the dust lock removal option, as when in cold and dark, there are several covers protecting sensitive parts of the aircraft. Even these covers are well modelled, as they sway gently in the wind, a very nice touch and great attention to detail. From the outside when the canopy is open in cold and dark, there are no pilots visible, however, they both appear when closing the cockpit and removing the dust covers. The characteristic turbine whine as the engine starts up is very nice, and you really do have the sense of that mighty Pratt and Whitney engine roaring into life right beside or in front of you. As you move around the exterior of the aircraft, the engine tone changes as you would expect, and this is particularly noticeable when you throttle forward and set the Texan into action. The sense of power from the 1100hp engine and prop thrashing through the air as you accelerate down the runway is something you must experience to really appreciate it.

 

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The exterior details of the Texan are superb in my opinion and incorporate very high-quality textures, such as the hydraulic lines in the landing gear, through to the multitude of rivets across the shiny aircraft skin. During prefight, it is worth just taking a few minutes to walk around the aircraft and take in the quality of the modelling, and this is particularly impressive if you can do this in VR. You can literally walk up to the various parts and take a good look, reach out and almost touch the surfaces. The developers really have done a wonderful job both inside and out, and in my opinion, the Texan is one of the best in terms of overall appearance, although I do still think it is a little bit of an oddball with the fighter-style canopy, dual seating arrangement, and that big old prop at the front. It does take a little bit of getting used to at first. 

 

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Now, if you’re anything like me, when you get a new toy, the first thing you want to do is to try it out, so the thought of working through a full set of start-up procedures may not be top of your list. The good news is that very early on, the developers thought of us “impatient types”, and kindly provided a very nice simple 11-step process on page 5 of the User Guide to get up and flying, and this is very helpful. Now don’t get me wrong, at times there is a real sense of satisfaction about going through every step of your flow and eventually seeing the ground disappear below, however, at times I just want to start up and off I go. I like the fact that in the Texan you can do both and I did, although I must admit that just firing up and heading down the runway was my preference. This is perhaps a suitable time to mention that I am using a VKBSIM joystick and pedal set as my control inputs, and I found these to work very well both on the ground and in the air. As there are no toe-brakes with these pedals, I did use a small script to give me brakes and this worked well, although there is a stick forward option that you can use within the aircraft if you prefer. I had no complaints about the handling of the Texan, although care with the throttle is highly advised both when taxiing and when taking off. There is a mighty amount of power at your fingertips, so my advice is to use it wisely. As they say, ‘with great power comes great responsibility…’ and never a truer word was said in the Texan’s case. Remember this thing can do more than 300 knots when flat out!!

 

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The glass canopy really does give an amazing view, particularly in VR, however, if you are using flat screens the developers have included a couple of highly novel add-on features to enhance your views in the cockpit. The manual goes into quite some detail to explain what you can expect; however, the best way is just to try them out. These are actioned via buttons on the glare shield and using dedicated buttons on your controller, and the ‘Roll to See’ feature allows you to pan around while taxiing, as well as some interesting effects when doing aerobatics. The Target Track feature allows you to lock on to AI aircraft if you are flying in formation (a key skill by all accounts) and if you are familiar with other aircraft from AOA Simulations, you are likely to be at home with this feature already. As I do most of my flying in VR, these features are disabled so I didn’t spend a huge amount of time testing them out, however from what I did see, this is quite unique and adds another and different layer of immersion to the Texan. 

 

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One final system feature I would like to highlight is the Flight Assistance system which allows various assistance features to be turned on and off. The button is a bit fiddly to find (highlighted in the manual on page 11) however there are eleven different features such as AOA indexer and brake cues, airspeed indication of gear and flap speed bands, wind direction and speed, through to braking using the control stick and many more. The basic idea is to make life as easy as possible for any newbie pilot or as realistic as possible by switching this off for those who would like more of a challenge. When you are new to an aircraft, this sort of thing really does help, as there is nothing worse than getting frustrated and giving up before you have even started.

 

As I mentioned earlier, the Texan is fully loaded with so many great details and features, and although this type of aircraft is not necessarily my “go-to” happy place in the sky, the more I flew it the more I came to appreciate just how good an offering this is from AOA Simulations, both in terms of the basic aircraft but also just how enjoyable the overall flying experience can be. If you also like lots of technical details, procedures and everything that goes with that side of things, then again, I believe the Texan has something to offer you. 

 

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Final Thoughts
The T-6A Texan II from AOA Simulations, under normal circumstances, is an aircraft I wouldn’t typically be flying, however, I am glad I had the opportunity, as it’s always good to try something new.


When you factor in the excellent internal and external textures, the 3D modelling, the control and integration of features, the sounds, and of course the flying experience, I think it’s fair to say that the AOA team really has put out an excellent product. Although it is currently only available for X-Plane 11, I am sure as X-Plane 12 creeps ever nearer to having a final release version, all the new features in the sim in combination with the Texan’s feature set, will be something quite special. A real synergistic masterpiece…


So, should you splash out $40 on the Texan? Well as always that is down to you, your budget and what you are looking for. However, I truly believe that the Texan is well worth thinking about, especially if you have considered the fast jet challenge but have not been sure where to start. 


If it’s good enough for real-world pilots, then it certainly works for me! 

 

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The T-6A Texan II by AOA Simulations is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:

 

T-6A Texan II

Price at time of writing US$40.00

 

Features:

 

This model was developed using the official USAF 1T-6A-1 Flight Manual and SNFO (Student Naval Flight Officer) P-880 Aircraft Systems explanatory guide.

 

Two default liveries, USAF and U.S. Navy TAW-5.

 

17 additional liveries will be available on the X-Plane.org freeware download manager.

 

This is the T-6A model with federated (many small units combined into one system) glass display panels.

 

The project has been in development since February 23, 2020 and is our most detailed model to date.

 

The Model

  • High quality 3D model with high-resolution, 4K PBR textures.
  • Fully functional virtual front and rear 3D cockpits with more than 380 control manipulators. Everything works, fly from either cockpit.
  • Both pilot and instructor models visible in cockpit views.
  • Optimized to save FPS in VR.

Ground equipment

  • The Flight model
  • Fully aerobatic, high performance dynamic flight model tested and approved by several former T-6A pilots.
  • Single “Power Lever” control of engine and propeller enables "jet like" simplicity.
  • Unique T-6 Trim Aid Device (TAD) is accurately modeled. This compensates for most engine torque effect with automatic rudder trim.

 Sounds

  • Professional FMOD sound package by SimAccoustics
  • Documentation
  • Detailed 38 page User Guide and detailed avionics illustrated guide sheets available HERE ON OUR SUPPORT PAGE prior to purchase.
  • Several checklists options to choose from including detailed checklist powered by Xchecklist freeware plug-in.
  • Tutorial checklist and example Training Flight to get you up to speed with the aircraft.

 More details

  • All panel displays are accurately modeled and powered by SASL plugin / lua code
  • Complete electrical systems model. Every circuit breaker on both the battery and generator bus panels is functional. Individual systems can be isolated, failed and restored via its cockpit circuit breaker.
  • Optional "AOA Extras" for student pilots or those who want to know a little more about what's going on with while the fly. 
  • Save load feature allows you to save some options once and they are the same on your next flight in the model.
  • Default Laminar G1000 available to use with a custom database in the panel mounted GPS unit.

Future developments

  •  This model is for X-Plane 11 only. It is not compatible with X-Plane 12. When X-Plane 12 is stable then a new version will be released as a free upgrade for existing users.

 

Requirements:

X-Plane 11  
This model is for X-Plane 11 only. It is not compatible with X-Plane 12. When X-Plane 12 is stable then a new version will be released as a free upgrade for existing users.
4 GB VRAM Video Card Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
Download Size: 360 MB
Current version: v1.0 (November 1st 2022)  

 

Review System Specifications:

Windows 10 64 Bit
CPU Intel i9-9900k
64GB RAM
Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti

Oculus Rift S

 

Aircraft Review by Stuart McGregor
30th November 2022
Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews


(Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed
without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) 

 

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