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First Impression : 'Test-Pilot': Cicaré-8 Project by VSkyLabs

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VSL Cicare-8_Header 1.jpg

 

First Impression : 'Test-Pilot' Cicaré-8 Project by VSkyLabs

 

This helicopter is another in the series of "Test-Pilot" from VSkyLabs. The VSkylab philosophy is that you purchase an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed and is 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, but this Cicaré-8 is certainly a far more a completed aircraft than most of the releases than from VSkyLabs in the past. It is also the third light helicopter from VskyLabs after the Guimbal Cabri G2 Heli and the Mini-500 Project.

 

At first glance you actually think it is the Cabri, with the same scale, same size and even the same in look, but the Cabri had a Fenestron anti-torque shrouded tail rotor and this Argentine helicopter manufacturer's Cicaré-8 however has the standard twin-blade tail rotor on a boom tail.

 

VSL Cicare-8_Head 1.jpgVSL Cicare-8_Head 6.jpgVSL Cicare-8_Head 2.jpgVSL Cicare-8_Head 5.jpg

 

Modeling detail from VSkyLabs is the usual excellent quality, there are a few shortcut straight modeling lines, but overall it is very well done, from the external it all looks quite basic, but under the rear of the cockpit there is a very highly detailed EPA Power R917 Ti horizontal 135 HP engine which is based on the ROTAX 900 Series.

 

VSL Cicare-8_Head 3.jpgVSL Cicare-8_Head 4.jpg

VSL Cicare-8_Head 7 LG.jpg

 

The highlights here are the twin animated fans, buried internally, but can be easily seen, they turn on when the coolant temp goes over 85ºc, and turn off again at 84ºc, If you hover over 10 min, you can actually damage the aircraft, then you either have to land or fly to cool the engine. The full internal structure is also highly exposed and very authentic.

 

It is a tight fit in the cockpit for two people (early CH versions were single-seaters). View is excellent and the glass work is really well done...

 

VSL Cicare-8_Cockpit 1.jpgVSL Cicare-8_Cockpit 2.jpgVSL Cicare-8_Cockpit 3.jpg

 

Single central instrument panel is basic, but again well done. A full (Alarm) annunciator lighting panel, with test function that works is top. Instruments left to right are: Vertical Speed, Altimeter, Air Speed, Rotor/Engine %RPM...  Dials lower left are Turn Indicator, and L/R Fuel tanks (32 lts each), Dials lower right are Engine Information System, EGT/Temp. Two suspended instruments (both can be hidden) with on the left a Custom VSL AP-1 Auto-Pilot, and to the right a Heading dial. Avionics include a GNS 430 and a Garmin 345 Transponder. Positioned on the top of the panel is a Avitab Tablet (plugin required).

 

Overhead panel is basic with Fuses (non-working), Hobbs meter and lighting switches. Test panel lighting function is very good.

 

VSL Cicare-8_Cockpit 4.jpgVSL Cicare-8_Cockpit 5.jpg

 

Custom Auto-pilot is also very basic, but it can hold your atlitude ALT, change altitude ATT and do Left or Right turns, there is a full section in the manual on how to use the settings.

You can have a single or double yoke by selecting the zone in the centre part (join) of the yoke assembly...  both yoke handles can be set up in a Y or straight or lower level.

 

VSL Cicare-8_Cockpit 8.jpgVSL Cicare-8_Cockpit 9.jpg

VSL Cicare-8_Detail 7.jpgVSL Cicare-8_Detail 8.jpg

 

Fuel tank switch is between the seats, as is the basic collective. Cabin detail is very good, with some nicely detailed twin-seats

 

VSL Cicare-8_Cockpit 6.jpgVSL Cicare-8_Cockpit 7.jpg

 

Both doors can be manually opened or removed altogether

 

VSL Cicare-8_Detail 1.jpgVSL Cicare-8_Detail 2.jpg

VSL Cicare-8_Detail 3.jpgVSL Cicare-8_Detail 4.jpg

 

Rotor assemblies are well done, but the main rotor links and animation don't work or move, the tail-rotor yaw movement however does.

 

Sounds: There is a Multi-Layered FMOD sound pack included and it is brilliant, the sounds are very dynamic and highly-realistic, I loved them, and put them together the vibrating SimCoder Headshake plugin and you will feel like you are in the real Cicaré-8, externally they can be a bit cyclic....  but they still bring a smile to your face.

 

The aircraft is full VR (Virtual Reality) ready and VSkyLabs always makes sure the VR experience is first rate. Annoying though is the STMA updater with the version noted, a great tool, but forever popping up on the left screen...  I pulled it out of the package for my sanity.

 

VSL Cicare-8_STMA.jpg

 

Lighting: Lighting is very minimal, internally there is only an overhead light and no instrument back or side lighting, and no adjustment either? Externally there is a beacon, navigation lights and a single blobby landing light?

 

VSL Cicare-8_Lighting 1.jpgVSL Cicare-8_Lighting 2.jpg

 

Only one livery is boring, and considering there is some really great livery designs on the real aircraft is also a missed opportunity, there are no menus or extra features, but there is an extensive set of interaction zones for 3d and VR users. Overall these project aircraft don't have a lot of flashy features, the focus is on the flying and not on extensive or changeable features.

 

Sampling the Cicaré-8

Flying these very small and intensively light helicopters can be a very nervy experience. Any heavy movement can easily throw you. But I was at home at the controls of the Cicaré-8 right from the start...  yes movements have to be kept to a minimal, but otherwise control was quite easy, movement from a slight foward motion, to a standing hover was easy, and I stayed in the same place without any drift either, yaw left or right and you feel the complete control....  HIGE- Hovering In Ground Effect is very good, but you have to be aware to have the new "Experimental Flight Model" box checked.

 

VSL Cicare-8_Flying 1.jpgVSL Cicare-8_Flying 2.jpg

 

The transition to forward flight was very smooth with complete control of the collective in keeping of the same height while gaining speed...

 

VSL Cicare-8_Flying 3.jpgVSL Cicare-8_Flying 4.jpgVSL Cicare-8_Flying 5.jpg

 

... you need a slight yaw to keep the aircraft straight and there are no helpers in here in trim, it is all manual flying, but easy flying as well, I relaxed pretty quickly and enjoyed the machine and the view.

 

In flight I loved it, it is a very casual aircraft to fly and yes a novice could learn the dynamics quite quickly if they understand the basics of vertical flight.

Using the custom autopilot is very easy, press the ALT to hold your current altitude and then to go faster or slower then just adjust your collective. LT to turn to go left, and RT to go right, but you will need a few button pushes to get the bank you need, turn off the ALT to transition back to manual control which is pretty seemless.

 

VSL Cicare-8_Flying 6.jpgVSL Cicare-8_Flying 7.jpgVSL Cicare-8_Flying 8.jpgVSL Cicare-8_Flying 9.jpg

 

Returning to KHAF - Half Moon Bay the change with the translational lift to the hover was also seemless and also was controlling the forward motion into the hover itself, which is one of the hardest areas of vertical flight as you have no brakes in the air. However the sink-rate felt a bit low, to a point your not sure if the autopilot is actually still active, a bit of fine tuning there.

 

VSL Cicare-8_Flying 10.jpg

 

Yes yoke and rudder inputs need to be the absolute minimal for max control, but a nice touchdown was quite easy here. Overall excellent and to get a very non-uneventful first flight from takeoff to touchdown is quite hard without a bit of time and a bit of practise on any chopper, but here in the Cicaré-8 it all felt quite natural. I will note the Cicaré-8 is more nervy with the Experimental Flight Model switched on which is more focused for the pros, turn it off if you are newer to flying helicopters.

 

Features include:

 

VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project.

  • Highly defined model of the Cicare-8 helicopter.
  • Built around the powerful, native X-Plane 11.40+ 'Experimental Flight Model' environment (must be selected in the General settings window in X-Plane 11).
  • Fully functional VR (Virtual Reality) compatibility.
  • Built-in Avitab compatibility (Avitab plugin not included).
  • Multi-Layer FMOD sound pack.
  • The project is under constant development.
  • Highly responsive VSKYLABS support forums.

 

 

Now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore or directly from vSkyLabs

 

______________________________________________________________________

 

X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg

 

Yes! the VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Cicare-8 Project is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

 

VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Cicare-8 Project

 

Price is US$26.00

 

Requirements:

X-Plane 11

Windows, Mac or Linux
4Gb VRAM Minimum - 8Gb+ VRAM Recommended
Current and Review version: 1.0 (November 20th 2019)
 
Note: In order to use and enjoy VR environment in X-Plane, user hardware and system specs should meet the required specifications for OS, CPU, GPU, MB and RAM which are specified both in the given VR hardware websites and at X-Plane.com.
 
Designed by VSKYLABS
Support forum for the VSkyLabs Cicare-8
 

______________________________________________________________________

 

News by Stephen Dutton

23rd November 2019

Copyright©2018: 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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