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Aircraft Review : PA-31T Cheyenne ll XP11 by Carenado

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Aircraft Review : PA-31T Cheyenne ll XP11 by Carenado

 

The Cheyenne is part of the Piper "Indian" Series including the Navajo and the Chieftain of a twin-engined prop long range 6 to 7 seater aircraft. Both the Navajo and Chieftain were air-cooled six-cylinder horizontally opposed piston-engined machines. The Cheyenne however is of the same construction and layout, but has the far more powerful 620-shp (462-kW) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-28 turboprop engines compared to the  Lycoming TIO-540-A 310 shp (231 kW) on the Navajo, and there is also a slight difference in length with the Cheyenne longer at 34 ft 8 in (10.57 m) to the Navajo's 32 ft 7½ in (9.94 m) in the Cheyenne ll configuration and the wingspan is 42 ft 8¼ in (13.01 m) for the Cheyenne to the slightly smaller 40 ft 8 in (12.40 m) of the Navajo. So all round the Cheyenne is far more powerful and slightly bigger aircraft than it's brethren brothers, but in context it still looks very similar to the family lineage.

 

It is no fable if you are a regular visitor to these reviews that I like the Carenado PA-31 Navajo, I have lauded it's charms mythically several times even if it does have a few foibles in that the PA-31 it is hard to trim and to keep trimmed at speed, and at low speeds it can be a bit of a handful... but it is those challenges that keep the machine also in the front of your mind than rather allowing it to just blend in with every other medium twin of your choice, and there is now a huge range in X-Plane of some very good twins to choose from. As in life it is in the quirks that allow certain subjects to stand above, and rather than be lost in the hoards and the aircraft shouts of the refrain "If it works then why change it".

 

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So in respect this review had a head start and add in the fact it was a Carenado release it soon became the situation that the PA-31T had more to lose than to gain if my high expectations created by the Navajo were not satisfied. First views of the PA31T however quickly discounted those fears as the aircraft is very nice.

 

The Cheyenne looks more purposeful, with the larger engines and the broader propellers...

 

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...  it even more takes the look and feel of a KingAir than a Piper, but the raison d'être here are those lovely wingtip tanks, they are like slim-line torpedo's attached for a purpose.

 

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One of the gift's of Carenado is that they can deliver variant after variant of the same aircraft and make each machine wholly different, this by a change here and a configuration there, so as no two or even three are the same, but these wingtanks are a masterclass in how to achieve that aspect.

 

Detail and mapping is as always on these HD series first rate with realistic metal and dielectric materials, so every screw and rivet is countable, every line and panel is delivered, and so the detail delivers in spades, note those lovely copper turbine exhausts, the paddle of the propeller blades, the NACA ducts...  all are perfection. Minor aerodynamic elements are also well designed for a perfect all round rendition of the Cheyenne... in other words it is all pretty good.

 

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It is rare that anytime Carenado glass is poor, and again it isn't here either... if one development studio have perfected PBR glass then it is Carenado, and it is always a pleasure to admire the work, reflection and shine.

 

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The Cheyenne also has something extra the Navajo doesn't have? an extra windscreen wiper for the co-pilot, so there must be a better options list here from Piper.

 

Undercarriage is basic in design, no trailing links here, but it is still highly well represented with arms and linkage to counteract the vertical forces...   Note the taxi and landing lights on the front strut.

 

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Menus

Carenado provides you with their usual three tabbed menus on the left lower screen that can be scrollable hidden. A ) is for the pop-up panel of a Benedix/King KFC 300 Autopilot which can be scaled for size. C ) Is the standard Carenado ten preselected Views, Field of View and Volume panel. And O ) is the Options panel.

 

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Options include the usual Window and Instrument reflections. The Static elements provided here are still quite basic with only two cones, wheel chocks and front flag pitots, engine inlet/outlet covers and ground puller. Doors opening include rear passenger door and separate front nose baggage door, and there is also the choice of changing the liveries without going to the main X-Plane menu. And the now familiar twin highly realistic pilots disappear when you activate the static elements. As noted frequently now, I find this old fashioned Carenado menu now very restricting, it is an all or nothing approach, and when parking I need the chocks, but certainly not a static puller? a more separate selections are now the normal rather than these old fashioned basics element sets.

 

Interior

Single left rear entrance door has built in steps, and the entrance into the cabin is partially blocked by a seat, of which I presumably would note would fold up to gain entrance. Note the tiny jump seat and cocktail cabinet.

 

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Interior feels more older Carenado than modern day Carenado, so this aircraft is a representative of the 70's more than the later mid-80's as production for the ll was manufactured from 1978 to 1983 with 343 aircraft sold.

 

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Feel is all browns and dark creams with wood highlights, it is all very nice in a period sort of way and a take on what was exclusive back in those days. Fit-out is very good with nice carpet, fittings and everything is covered including two animated tables to do your work on or play cards.

 

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Far rear is a carry on baggage area, but the overall feel in the cabin is still a bit gloomy.

 

Cockpit

The shape of the instrument panel and glareshield is the same as the Navajo, but beyond that in the actual layouts then everything else is different and this layout makes the PA--31 look a bit basic.

 

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Upper roof switchgear is the same idea, but missing are those huge central twin fuel gauges so the upper switchgear panels feel more wider and higher.

 

And again the layout of the instrument panel with those twin downward rows of gauges and avionics that mimic the style of the  KingAir layout.

 

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Centre lever pedestal is excellent with the full set of Throttle with beta reverse, Propeller and MIxture levers, the Benedix/King KFC 300 Autopilot panel is also positioned here with the quite large trim wheel and trim Nose and Roll knobs.

 

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Twin fuel tank switches are hard to find on the lower floor rear, Fuel capacity is 390 gallons with the wingtip tanks, with a fuel burn of S.L.-648 lbs./hr. - 14,000ft- 544 lbs./hr. - 29,000ft- 340 lbs./hr.with an extraordinary range of 1,702 mi (2,739 km, 1,478 nmi) (econ cruise, 45 min reserves).

 

Seat armrests are animated to drop down, a nice touch and you fiddle with them just for the fun of it...

 

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...  left side pilot's window is a huge document window that opens, another very nice detail.

 

Instrument Panel

Ultimately all aircraft instrument panels are the same layout, it is just the way the instruments are laid out and what avionics are installed...

 

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In the PA-31T the pilot here gets preference, with a wide off central layout for the avionics. It feels slightly cramped in the office, as the yokes are quite narrow, but beautifully done with built in electric trim and autopilot AP disconnect, and they will also disappear if required.

 

The centre main Artificial Horizon with built-in bank is matched by the lower Heading Dial with a built Course Deviation Bar (CDI), and with the upper annunciator panel this full layout is part of the KFC-300 system. To the right of this instrument cluster is top the Airspeed Indicator and the Attitude Indicator is in the same position top right and centre left and right are the Turn Coordinator and Vertical Speed Indicators in creating the Standard Six layout. Far left top to bottom is a Clock, a very nice Stall Margin gauge, and Temperature gauge with a Pneumatic Pressure gauge far, far left. Below the Turn Coordinator is a Collins twin VOR/ADF pointer dial. Below the Vertical Speed gauge is the KFC-300 altitude/VS setting panel.

 

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left centre is a comprehensive set of twin eight row engine instruments...  Top to bottom covers: Torque, ITT (Interstage Turbine Temperature), Prop RPM, Manifold RPM (percent), Engine Fuel Flow (FF), Fuel Pressure, Oil Pressure and Oil Temperature...  Lower panel has a Climate Altitude Control Panel (28,000ft ceiling) with dials for: Cabin Rate of Change, Cabin Pressure and Cabin altitude adjustment dial... and with a switch you can dump the cabin pressure or test the system. The landing gear selector and lights are right lower panel.

 

Co-Pilots panel is quite basic compared to the left pilot's but still has the full Standard Six instruments: Airspeed, Artificial Horizon (standard) and Clock top row with Turn Coordinator, Heading Dial, Attitude Indicator centre row, lower row has the twin Fuel Qty (Gauges) lbs x 100 to 1400, localizer indicator and Vertical Speed Indicator. And there is a very nice Radar Altimeter centre panel... lower right panel has an Oxygen pressure gauge and a resettable "Fuel Consumed" counter in lbs.

 

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Avionics per se are quite basic... X-Plane Garmin GN530 GPS with the Avidyne Weather display dominate the panel, the Avidyne has improved a lot over the last year, with not only the weather being displayed, but the route as well with a better working range. Standard issue Garmin 347 audio panel is below the GNS 530 with two very basic VHF COMM and VHF NAV radios below the 347 audio panel (both cover VHF2 COM and VOR2 COM frequencies).

 

Centre right avionics cover the Bendix/King KR 87 ADF tuner and King KT76A Transponder, with a working ATC/DME and test panel below. Top panel are a line of annunciator warming lights and the Bendix/King VOR1 and VOR2 switch panel. There is a an annoying "Master Caution" light top left panel that goes off with any of the annunciator lights activating, and you are constantly shutting it off even for minority alarms and to note the separate avionics power switch. Overall there is a lot of detail to absorb, and again the KingAir feel is very abundant.

 

Overhead panel is a variation of the Navajo layout but more comprehensive...  top row you have three dials noting left and right engine amp output and in the centre the main battery voltage. Row down switchgear covers left external lighting and right windshield and Pitot heating, surface DE-ICE and tail light, with the Main Battery Master Switch centre...

 

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the larger lower switchgear panel covers left and right engine: Ice Protection, Open/Close Oil doors, Fuel Pump, Ignition and starter switch...  centre panel are four lighting sliders for left and right panel lights, Placard and Avionics lighting . There is a switch centre window post, but I can't see what it or if it does anything, the hobbs hour meter is below.

 

Left and right side panels are both circuit breaker panels (non-working) with a Goodrich Prop De-Icer Amp gauge and engine fire extinguishers.

 

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Overall you are pretty well impressed by the fit-out and interactivity.

 

Internal Lighting

Overall the interior and panel lighting is excellent... Instrument panel has instrument backlighting on sliders for both pilot sides...

 

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A MAP light (switch (arrowed) is on the top window sill) also for each side...

 

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...  or use the full cockpit overhead light, which is very good. Overhead panel lighting is gorgeous, really nice and beautifully done in the dark.

 

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The cabin has five roof mounted spots that are fully adjustable and the switches are just above the tables...

 

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...  the rear single spot can be adjusted to cover the entrance. There are both separate switches for the No Smoking and Seatbelt signs, which are very nice...

 

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...  but in an oddity if you use the "Placard" slider both signs will then illuminate together with all the other main console lighting, so in reality you can't turn them off if you are using the main panel lighting... odd.

 

Flying the Cheyenne

 

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There are no twist keys but rocker switches on the OHP, Fuel tanks all on to down (upside down on the rear floor), fuel pump on (choice of a single or twin pumps, single is fine), Ignition switch...   Mixture to full, Prop to INCR and when ready then push the "Starter" rocker down...   a turbine engine start is always quite different from a piston ignition, you feel pressure building and not the usual turning and spark into firing the cylinders, with the turbine it is different as until the turbine pressure is at a certain point the fuel and ignition is then added and the PT6A-28 turns into a powerful power unit. The full start sequence is fully automatic, you just wait while the procedure is completed...

 

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The right engine powered up feels slightly distant, once running you switch the "Starter" rocker the opposite way to engage the "Generator", if correct the AMPs will show positive above on the dial for that engine, then turn off the "Ignition" switch. You then do the same procedure to start the left engine and the noise is far louder (the exhaust trumpet is just by your window), and with both PT6A-28's running it is smooth feeling but powerful, and quite different from the Navajo in feel.

 

Release the brakes and the PA-31T won't jump forward...  thankfully, so a bit of throttle is required to move. My route is from EKTY - Aalborg, Denmark to EKVG - Vagar, Faroe Islands, about 600 Nm and a perfect distance for this aircraft. Fuel required is 1088 Kg (1090 Kg set) so you are quite near full tanks (you need a lot of diversion fuel with the Faroe's), with a full up takeoff weight of 3672 Kg. A Navajo is 3,930 lb (1,782 kg) empty to the Cheyenne's basic 4,870 lb (2,209 kg) so you can see this is a far more heavier aircraft if only just slightly bigger.

 

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You can easily taxi on one engine, but to adjust for the power unbalance... but don't move too quickly as the nose gear is quite soft, the Cheyenne will bounce up and down like rabbit wanting food if you touch the brakes while clipping along. Both altimeters have to be adjusted separately and the pilot's side has both hPa and inHg were as the co-pilot's pressure is only in inHg, I found they didn't match either.

 

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A full annunciator test fills in the time taxiing down the very long taxiway N, the master alert goes off, as it does frequently and it always makes you jump. The full set of annunciators for both that are under the glareshield and for the KFC-300 panel is impressive.

 

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You don't have to put the throttles totally to the wall, but only just slightly back from full throttle, and the speed movement is impressive, the PA-31T builds speed very, very quickly at Flap 15º (flap 1) and you can pull back on the yoke at around the blue marker (arrowed) 112 Knts, The trick is to keep your pitch tight at around 3º and the aircraft will smoothly go into flight, once speed is around 140 Knts you can up the flap and increase the pitch to 5º while still building speed both forwards and upwards....  impressive for the weight.

 

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The Navajo is a bit messy in crosswinds, the the Cheyenne shares a few of the same traits. In the roll the aircraft can be a bit niggly (or short yoke movements) and if you don't watch it, the aircraft can be in a slight bank either way, so precise control with focus while climbing is needed, In your corner though over the Navajo is all that extra power.... official climb rate is 1750 fpm and 1500 fpm feels about right.

 

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The Cheyenne would easily trim out, unlike the Navajo, but the extra power tended to make the aircraft sit in a slight bank attitude, and as I was only testing and not staying in this phase of the flight I could be lazy and used the throttles to adjust the bank out level (less power to No.2 engine) which worked fine. Any banking is really good as long as you are again precise, the aircraft demands attention and focus.

 

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Powering up the KFC-300 Autopilot to take over the workload is easy...  You can adjust the pop-up nicely to what you like, as the real position is just too hard to use situated behind the throttles.

 

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You can use either the panel based "Altitude and V/S" panel on the lower instrument panel or directly on the pop-out AP panel, the V/S on the pop-out can be a bit ambigous to use with where to point your pointer, it can be the same to use as well, so the altitude panel tool is the better of the two, but if I selected 1200 fpm , but got 1000 fpm. Climbing away from Denmark and the Cheyenne it is a very nice place to be and sit out those few hours...

 

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...  inside as well, the aircraft as noted is a very long range (for this size of aircraft) so it pays to be very comfortable in here...

 

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Sounds are thankfully better than the Navajo as well, I wasn't taken as much with the last release as they had an annoying buzzy, buzz, buzz, but with the PA-31T they are really good, and not as droney or wearing as the buzzy Navajo, it maybe the turbines are alround a far better sonic sound. All sounds are of course very effective in changes and feel inside or moving around the aircraft.

 

I have selected only 12,000ft here, so the pressurization system is really not being use to it's full capacity, ceiling is 28,000ft, and with those wingtip tanks you can go slightly higher to 29,000ft, but be aware to use the now active pressurization and oxygen systems which became available with X-Plane 11.30. And when back down at a normal lower altitude to de-pressurize the aircraft.

 

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On arrival at the Faroe Islands you have to be aware of the speed limitation with a aural alert, if you want to reduce throttle power below 160 knts then off goes the warning siren, so if you are descending from a very high flight level, you will need a lot of distance to do so without driving yourself batty in the process, as speed (160 Knts) and height (28,000ft) can give you distance, and even at 12,000ft I felt restricted.

 

The Faroe Island XP scenery is glorious....  and the RWY 30 approach to Vagar is very tricky, but very dramatic.

 

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Any approach to Vagar is critical, so speed is your tool, I aim for that blue line at around 114 Knts, with 15º of flap...

 

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...  I am lucky today as the sky is clear, this is very rare up here as it is usually very low approach visuals, and with Koltur filling the airspace between you and the airport, a minimum of 2,500 ft is usually required (you can just get away with 2,000ft) in clear weather. Today I am doing something different and using the ILS (110.30) which I rarely do, as the crosswinds here are killers, but again a clear day gives me a chance to try out the approach (of course you would think it would be the other way around with an ILS approach, but I always preferred a manual approach here as I know it well).

 

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Once in the ILS path it is FULL flap and as low a speed as I can go...  which around 80 Knts, but I feel fully in control. I am aware though that a slight speed above or below 80 Knts will not be good, so fine tuning the throttle is absolutely required, I have done a few approaches here in the PA-31T and it is very goood in the crosswinds unlike the Navajo, but fine throttle adjustment was always required for control, and the aircraft responds well to any changes.

 

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Close to RWY 30 and the ILS is showing a position far right of the centre line? I have to be careful in to break the ILS hold, to correct it could cause more issues than it solves, so I will this time just go with it, Vagar is awful for crosswinds, so a ILS release to early may twist me somewhere I just don't want to go.

 

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Vagar's 12/30 runway is sloped heavily both ends, so you have to be aware of that and don't come in too low, thankfully it is very long at 1,799m (5,902ft)

 

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so you can slightly float before landing... landing speed is right on the edge of the white band at 75 Knts and stall is at 72 Knts, so there isn't a lot of space to get than last part wrong, but saying that the Cheyenne is also very good at low speeds and full flap, but I recommend a throttle system for minute control.

 

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... any landing on three wheels at Vagar is a good landing, take my word for it....  my guess the ILS is out to the custom scenery (the reason I checked it) so the developer will be notified. I really love Vagar, as it is the most brilliant place to fly into...

 

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...  shutting down the turboprops can be time consuming, pull down the mixture levers and the engines keep on running with all the warnings going off, the only way to shut them down is to shut off the rear wall fuel flow levers, then they finally wind down, and wind down....  and wind down, the final running down still takes forever.

 

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Librain effects work very well, and also creates wing icing in the correct conditions (download and install the LIbrain plugin into the Cheyenne's plugin folder)

 

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External lighting is very good as well...  with Landing and taxi-lights on the front strut, those lovely recognition lights in the nose of each wingtank, left ice wing light, position, strobe and tail beacon... tail is lit as well to round off the full monty.

 

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Liveries

One Blank and five registered liveries are provided, but all are US registered which is a bit boring. Thankfully the variations of design are very good.

 

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Summary

It is a Carenado, so you expect a certain level of refinement and extraordinary detail inside and out. With the PA-31T Cheyenne ll you are not disappointed in either of those areas, and it is overall a really nice big twin aircraft with all that smooth turboprop power. A development of the Navajo in that every area this Cheyenne is better in every department, a real step up, and the Navajo was to start with also a very good and dynamic aircraft.

 

In the negative, there isn't many points to note really... a bit touchy in the manual flying (so was the Navajo) but otherwise a performance beast, the No Smoking and Seatbelt signs are switchable, but not with another lighting selection, not too many liveries and all are US registered which is a bit boring, and restricting menu options...  and that is about it.

 

There are now a feast of choices for these types of large twin-engined aircraft, to a point it is difficult to choose between them. Maybe go by the brand in either a Cessna or Beechcraft or the type of engine in either a piston or turbine driven machine. But here the Cheyenne ll gives a pretty good and powerful combination of a nice big twin, with all that lovely turbine power... the PA-31T's range and ceiling is extremely impressive as well, and finally throw in the excellent Carenado quality and design and it is all round pretty impressive package, and maybe the best of the class, but that category will always be debatable, but I would at this point say yes, if not totally the best, it is certainly right at the top of the list....  Highly Recommended.

 

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X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg

 

The PA-31T Cheyenne ll XP11 HD Series by Carenado is a new release for X-Plane11 and is available here at the X-Plane.OrgStore:


PA-31T Cheyenne ll XP11

 

Price is US$37.95

 

The aircraft is directly available from Carenado as well.

  
Features
  • High-end 4k PBR (Physically-based Rendering) graphics throughout, with ultra-realistic materials rendition (Dynamic reflections, realistic metal and dielectric materials, etc.)
  • Custom KFC300 autopilot with detachable pop-up window
  • Rain effect support*
  • In-depth FMOD sound design implementation, including atmospheric distance effects, realistic prop effects, etc.
  • RealityXP GTN750 support (with 3D panel display support)** (**Require GTN75 sold separately)
  • Extensive VR support with snap points in every passenger seat (All knobs, buttons, dials, handles, etc. also optimized for VR usage)
  • End-user customizable via Manifest.json file.
  • Goodway compatible
  • Engine and prop design re-authored completely for XP11.30+ new engine model
  • Librain support also includes visual ice effects on windows. (Requires librain)

 

Requirements:

X-Plane 11
Windows, Mac or Linux
4GB VRAM Minimum - 8GB VRAM Recommended
Current and Review version: 1.2 (last updated June 12th 2019)
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Installation:

Download for the PA31 Navajo HD XP11 Series is 414.20mb and the unzipped file is deposited in the "General Aviation" X-Plane folder at 607.50mb.

Key authorisation and a restart is required.

 

Documents:

There is Normal and Emergency procedures (checklists), excellent sets of reference and performance tables. But no full manual.

 

  • Carenado PA31T_Cheyenne_II Emergency Procedures.pdf
  • Carenado PA31T_Cheyenne_II Normal Procedures.pdf
  • Carenado PA31T_Cheyenne_II Performance tables.pdf
  • Carenado PA31T_Cheyenne_II References.pdf
  • Copyrights.pdf
  • Credits.pdf
  • PA31T Cheyenne II Version History.rtf
  • Recommended settings XP11.pdf

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

Review by Stephen Dutton 
24th June 2019
Copyright©2019: X-PlaneReviews
 
(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)
 

Review System Specifications:

Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1Tb SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.35

Addons: Saitek x56 Rhino Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini

Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro v1.10 US$69.90 : WorldTraffic 3.0 Plugin - US$29.95 : LIbrain rain effects - Free

Scenery or Aircraft

- EKYT - Aalborg XP by Vidan Designs (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.90

- EKVG - Faroe Islands XP by Aerosoft/Maps2XP (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$45.99

  

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Thanks for the comprehensive review. This is one of my favorite aircraft and I’ve been 

looking for a review before purchasing. Looks like it’s on my list. Thanks

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" Librain effects work very well, and also creates wing icing in the correct conditions " I guess this should be windshield icing (but I think the cabin windows also got it). :)

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Stephen, another great review as always.  Yeah I bought the aircraft from carenado directly shortly after it became a available to us to purchase.  I love my turboprops, and then flying the hell out of it ever sense I bought it.  It's been a nice addition to use for FS economy.  I have accumulated a few videos flying the aircraft over on my youtube channel Dionm01, if you want be bored out of your mind hehe.  I totally agree with your summary, and my only gripe is with Carenado not evolving the aircraft in enhancing our experience with the aircraft such as dual GTN 750 support or GTN 650 support along with other enhancements that would add value to our purchase.  But we all know Carenado does not do that sort of thing.  In one of my videos specifically https://youtu.be/90ReWq3P7Uo I did a a letter to Simcoders & Carenado in what I would like to see them add to improve our Cheyenne II experience.  Again thank you so much for your efforts, I enjoy your reviews.  Cheers to you
Dion Markgraf

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