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Aircraft Review : Pilatus PC12 HD Series by Carenado


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Aircraft Review : Pilatus PC12 HD Series by Carenado


There is already a significant PC12 in X-Plane by Shade Tree Micro Aviation, with their Pilatus PC12/47G. And X-Plane Reviews, reviewed (Aircraft Release : Pilatus PC-12/47G by Shade Tree Micro Aviation) that upgraded aircraft back in January 2015. The STMA version has been around for a few years and has a lot of very devoted followers, as it should have because it is very good aircraft.


Now released for X-Plane is the Carenado version, and in reality they are quite different in their approach to the same aircraft, and there is no need really to do a one to one comparison between them, so any notes noted here are really just a summary of the differences. But one area that we have to keep in mind is the price...  The STMA PC12 is noted as US$26.95 and the Carenado version is nearly a whole US$8 more at US$34.95.


Pilatus announced  PC12 in October 1989, and the two prototypes were completed on 1 May 1991, with the first flight taking place on May 31, 1991. A delay in certification in mid-1991 was required as a redesign of the wings with an increase of wing span and addition the of winglets was to ensure the performance guarantees were met. The  Swiss certification finally took place on 30 March 1994, and U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approval for the aircraft followed on 15 July 1994.


Performance : Cruise speed: 500 km/h (312.5 mph/270 KTAS) : Stall speed: 120 km/h (74.8 mph/ 65 KCAS) : Service ceiling: 9,150 m (30,000 ft) : Rate

of climb: 512 m/min at sea level (1,680 ft/min) : Power/mass: 3.7 kg/shp (8.2 lb/shp) : Range 0 passengers: 3,389 km (1,830 nm) - Range 9 passengers: 2,804 km (1,753 mi) (1,513 nm)


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tdg has been doing some great scenery in Ireland lately, so I wanted to check them out and the PC12 is the perfect machine to do that in. So we start at EINN - Shannon on the west coast of Emerald Isle. The Pilatus PC12 comes in several different fitouts. There is the 9 seater commercial or the six-seat corporate transport. There is also a 4seater/combi version and a medical fitout, but this aircraft is only in the six-seat corporate layout. But I personally wish it had been the 9 seater working machine for tourism/regional network routes.


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The PC12 is powered by the powerful single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboprop engine (the PT6A-67B), and the PC12 is certified for single-pilot IFR operations, although a second pilot is usually the normal. For a single-engined aircraft the PC12 is quite large in size with a length of 14.40 m (47 ft 3 in) and a Wingspan of 16.23 m (53 ft 3 in). You are not going to dismiss this aircraft on the ramp, because it has a real presence and it just oozes quality. First thing that takes your eye is the spinner on the nose?


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Carenado have noted that one of the drawbacks of X-Plane is that the simulator does not show chrome very well?  Well they fixed that issue?  This spinner is chrome like gorgeous, beautiful in every way. The engine air-inlet behind is also nicely chromed as well, and its not faked either but changes to your point of view...


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You are wanting in nothing with the details of the aircraft. This is detail overload and everything is done right down to each single rivet around the cockpit windows, oh and the latches on the engine cowls as well.  You can spend a significant amount of time just looking at this PC12, admiring it and the design. all the panels are noted and fitted to perfection, and the riveting on the rear fuselage and tail is astoundingly good. Undercarriage is totally perfect, struts, linkages...  bolts holding it all together...


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Let us look at the lighting for instance...  Lights out and the detail of the glass and rear internal reflector is realistic, turn on the light and you just don't get that X-Plane dot of a spot lighting but it is a full lit lamp, the wing and taxi lights are both this complete in design. You wonder again how how can you lift that already Carenado excellent quality, but you can and the results are here, the trick is in the really small stuff and not the overall design, it takes time and money to do this sort of incredible design of course, but that is what you pay for in this category. Quality is helped by using HD quality (4096 x 4096) and very detailed 350 pixels / meter sized textures. If you think that they will bring your computer to its knees, then that won't happen either. As all the textures have been totally optimized to not have a big hit on your frame-rate.




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Menus are standard Carenado. Both tabs on your left lower screen you have the C - Camera and  O - Options tabs. Options covers Windscreen and Instrument reflections, Static Elements (handpull tractor, cones and tags), Opening/closing buttons for both the forward passenger door and large rear baggage door (there are excellent animations and great sounds with both actions) and Scroll Highlights (we will note that option later). You now also change your livery on this tab menu as well.


Menu C is programmed built in views. With mostly cockpit focused positions, only one external (TailCam) and one cabin view in Passenger L. You can adjust the "Field of View" and the aircraft's sound "volume" as well.



Climb the stairs inside and you are in another world, and a great one at that.


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Don't fool yourself, as this is as real as it is going to get. looking into the cockpit you are faced with a realism of great proportions. It is as close to perfect in every sense. You would swear you were in a real cockpit.


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Get in closer and the detailing is simply totally overwhelming...  just look at those glass reflections, absolutely incredible.


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You just want to touch everything and run your hands down those woolly sheepskin seat covers. You don't have to do anything but sit in here and admire the design work. On detail then how about this...


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You can adjust the rudder pedals to your liking by twirling the handle? Totally absolutely useless really, but still a great detail.


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Mouse manipulators have again had another workover. For me I use a single click (Apple) mouse and the last manipulators (as good as they were) just didn't work very well with them? Here it actually shows a mouse in a one or two click mode and excellent the change is. You can still scroll fast and slow in those different directions, but most changes are now the half-mood manipulators that are rock steady. The highlighted scroll items can be turned off on the O - Options menu.



Before we get down to business then we will have a quick look at the cabin.


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Dden's lovely Challenger 300 has for years held the gong for the best cabin in X-Plane, but now it has serious competition from the PC12 for the title. This is one fully rendered cabin, luxury leather seating and lovely wood grain panels


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Animated fold-out tables and window screens that you can set anywhere you like, you want home, then here it is...   Even with all this the 9 seater still would have been a nice option. It is just the way I want to use the aircraft.



Power (battery) is on the overhead panel, there is also an external switch for "External" power, but there is no GPU (Ground Power Unit) outside which is the norm these days...  an oversight perhaps?


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The switching system is clever. First right switch turns the item on and you select the choice by the second switch for two selections. Very easy to get used to and visually great.


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Power on and the panel looks excellent...  very realistic. The panel layout is quite straight forward but is dominated by the EFIS or Electronic Flight Information System, we will get more into the system in flight. The EFIS takes in two of the six standard flight instruments in the Artificial Horizon and the Heading Indicator. The others are the Airspeed, Altitude, Vertical Speed and RMI or automatic direction finder. There is a backup CDI (Course deviation indicator) but that is also built into the EFIS and two other backup instruments in another Artificial Horizon and Altitude dials. Co-Pilot's side is the same EFIS standard six layout without the backup dials.


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Center panel top under the extensive glareshield is the excellent Benedix/King KFC 327 Digital/Electronic Flight Control System (EFIS) and the autopilot panel pops out. Next to the autopilot is the GARMiN GMA 340 Radio Comms Panel. Your ADF unit is the standard KR 87T50 Bendex/King ADF receiver.

Below in another pop out is the engine/fuel display (digital) with large digital readouts for YRQ, ITT and NG and below the RPM, Fuel QTY (analog and digital). GEN 1 and GEN 2 readouts are duplicated from the overhead panel, and you also have the engine oil pressure and temp gauges in digital form. You have a save button and panel alert lighting test button that includes the extensive CAWS (Central Advisory and Warning System) that shows you your alerts and caution items for attention.


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As standard now are two large GARMiN GNS530 gps units which are fully 10.30 functional and both pop out for ease of use. There are two GARMiN 327 Transponders, with one center panel and one right down behind the co-pilots yoke.


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Climate controls are on the co-pilots left lower panel and the Oxygen lever is on the pedestal. Stabiliser Trim is electric and the display is on the upper right of the pedestal, but no yaw adjustment. Center lower panel is the fairly useless AvDyne display...  pretty but still useless.


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The armrest hides a lot of the pedestal from the pilot's point of view, almost annoyingly so, so it is a good job it can be retracted back behind the seat. But still the throttle hides the condition/feather lever (in one) which you use a lot, so I had to set out an X-Plane view to get access to it. There are more rocker lighting switches for panel, cockpit and cabin lighting, but the above adjusters don't work which is unusual for Carenado? And in this aircraft that would have been a very nice feature to have. Flap selection lever of 0º - 15º - 30º and 40º of flap, and the indicator is positioned in very top left of the pilots panel.



Aircraft closed up and condition lever set to idle, and you are ready to press the "Start" button on the overhead panel. One click and you don't have to hold it down and the engine start sequence begins.


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Flick the "Flood" lighting switch and the panel changes colour...  Personally I didn't like this look of the panel at first? It would have been nice to tone it down a little or have some adjustment? And it is bright, but I did (eventually) get used to it...  The problem is you need it on to highlight the EFIS panel controls. Aircraft lighting switches are on the overhead panel for Taxi, Landing, Nav, Wing (ice), Strobe and Beacon.


It is not the given thing but leave the passenger door open when starting the aircraft...  then close it. You get a clever change in volume sound as the door bumps closed and clicks, which is a great aural soundscape. Sadly the small window on the pilots side does not open to the same effect? The engine sound brilliant in the start up and when running, great 3d sounds are recorded from a real PC12 and they are very realistic.


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The sweet spot is for the "Conditioner" lever is just above the idle position. Full up position will see the aircraft power off the ramp and into the scenery. But you need it set here for any taxiing and a moderate movement. The PC12 requires a little push of power to get it moving, and certainly if you are going straight into a turn around, but quickly get your throttle back into the full idle position for the straight taxi speed.


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You get Stab trim and GEN 2 alerts (a lot) on the taxi to the runway, but ignore both, as the GEN 2 switch is actually on? The second generator kicks in later than the main one. Flaps are set to 15º. Adjust the "COND" (condition) lever back to full power for takeoff from idle...  and listen to the change in engine pitch as the changes show on the engine display. It take a fair while to adjust, but you have glorious sounds in the process.


Flying the PC12

I'm flying from EINN - Shannon to EIDL - Donagal (not to be confused with Donegal itself as it is 71km to the south) which is a "lovely part of the world" The airport is "as the crow flies" 146nm north of Shannon, Western Ireland.




The PC12 is a very powerful single propeller aircraft and that will mean a lot of asymmetrical thrust pushing you to the left, the aircraft is quite jiggly at very slow speeds so you need to be on your toes and ready for the machine to behave quite savagely at the start of the run position. I build the speed as I control the straight line down the runway, and it takes a little practise to get it just right...  but it can be done with skill.


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Once you are out of the white band and around 130knts you can rotate and climb easily above 2000fpm. In the aircraft is amazingly good under the yoke and pedals, and a smooth climb and turn will give you a nice big smile on your face. Flaps in and UI settle into my head of which I set almost dead north on the ADF dial ENNIS (352 - ENS) as my first waypoint in the flightplan.


My altitude is set at 10,500ft, and is set on the ALT/Vertical Mode control panel (also known as the Altitude Preselector). If you are happy with the pitch and climb speed then click on both the ENG and ARM on the Altitude Preselector and the aircraft will hold that pitch for you...  the Autopilot (A/P) does not have to be activated. You can adjust the pitch by pressing the center of the knob for either the altitude or the V/S vertical speed. click either side of the knob to change - or + or scroll. Once ready I activated the A/P and locked in the GNS 530 flightplan. No doubt this aircraft is powerful, The PC12 will climb all the way to heaven if you want it to, to the 9,150 m (30,000 ft) service ceiling, you can't of course keep that V/S all the way up, a sweet spot is around 1,500fpm and the offical Rate of climb is 512 m/min at sea level (1,680 ft/min).


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The Electronic Flight Control System (EFIS) is a nice system, if you have flown any of Carenado's KingAir's you would be already familiar with it as the installation is the same here. Only difference is that the central positioned EFIS Control Panel does not pop out (There is a second panel down on the right of the co-pilot's yoke) and that is slightly annoying as you have scroll the screen down every time you want to make a change to the heading or switch your ADF and VOR pointers. (it is not a pop out on the image above)


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It is a slightly complicated system that is controlled between the Autopilot and the lower EFIS Control Panel with the Altitude Preselector, but it covers almost every area you need and everything is shown on the two main displays in the Electronic Attitude Director Indicator (EADI) as the top display and the lower Electronic Horizontal Situation Indicator (EHSI) display.


EADI includes angle of attack, rate of turn, flight director, artificial horizon, marker beacons, lateral deviation Indicator (LDI), decision height and altitude.

EHSI includes heading, course indicators, wind vectors and speed, nav source and built in CDI (Course deviation indicator). Both all NDB (1 and 2) and VOR (1 and 2) selections can be set on two pointer needles, that helps with heading decisions. The Autopilot settings are noted at the top of the EADI and you can have both "ARC" or "Rose" headings in the EHSI (I prefer the rose for 180º heading changes).


Carenado provide a 7 page manual for the EFIS, if you have not used it before then I recommend to get familiar with the system before really flying the aircraft seriously.


Stick Shaker

The aircraft comes with a new feature of a "Stick Shaker"!  Stick Shakers are a warning device on the yokes to warn you of an aircraft stall. There are several way ways to seriously stall an aircraft, low speed in either landing, wing slip or climbing. Here I tried it out by the climbing the aircraft because you have more altitude to recover.


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Just under a 4000ft per minute climb and down goes your speed into a serious stall. And yes the yokes "shake, and "rattle, hard!  So yes a great feature, I found that on another landing I let the speed drop too low and in came the "shake, and it works as advertised.


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Cruising speed is around 240knts and the engine sounds are excellent internally, Externally they are a lighter more buzzy sound that doesn't quite translate for this deeper rumble of the PT6 turboprop engine. But that does not takeaway on how good this aircraft looks in the air, you admire those beautifully sculptured wingtips and this modern if few decades old design. The weather radar on the port wing is lovely in the softer light. The two Carenado pilots do a good job as well, even if they do give you filthy looks now and again.


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Timer/Clock and Hobb's meter are buried down to the pilots left, and the flightplan looks on target. Moveable blinds are excellent but not very deep to cover the side windows more effectively and you have to be careful with the EFIS control panel, because if you set the VOR to active it will disconnect the flightplan from GPS to Vlock, and may not notice it until you are well off the your planned route...  I did that twice!


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My flightplan only goes as far as EIDL itself, but I have to be going slightly more north to return to land on runway 21, So I slip into a circuit at 1400ft...


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...    If there is an ILS freq you can check your distance from the runway on the EHSI lower display. At around 12nm I do nearly a 180º degree turn back towards the airport, just make sure you have turned off the half-bank function on the A/P.   Flaps down (40º) to a 100knts gives you a good approach speed.


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The RWY20 ILS (IFN 110.30) is only a horizontal alignment? It will center the aircraft on the runway but it won't grab you and lower your altitude to the threshold. The Autopilot however has an excellent pitch adjustment. It is very easy to set an minus-300ft descent angle and correctly reduce your height as you would on the beam. It is very fine in adjustment as well, so it is again very easy to fine tune your pitch correctly in the approach phase.


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100knts on approach and I turned off the A/P about 200ft from the runway. The aircraft is very steady, lovely at this flare phase, but you have to watch the PC12 doesn't float. Reduce the throttle lightly and your on the runway.

You have a powerful reverse thrust, and that is problem...  it is very powerful and when you release it back to the normal direction the aircraft at a slowing speed the aircraft can be very jittery in your hand's so you have to be really ready for it.


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Taxi and park position and you want to again open the passenger door early to hear that lovely engine wind down, and easy with the options menu.



Overall the lighting is simply excellent...


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Externally you have a great landing light spread with four lights across both wings and the taxi central light filling in the middle, so it is about perfect. The ice wing light by the door is a handy light for passenger embarking or disembarking the aircraft.


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In the cabin you have brilliant strip lighting for on the ground, then reading/spot lighting when in flight...  both are simply perfect, and you don't really need them both on at the same time. differential lighting tones are excellent. I found I turned them both off for a night landing as there is no door to stop the reflections.

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Four rocker switches on the rear pedestal panel turns on your lighting in the cockpit. From left to right. First is PNL (Panel) that turns on the basic instrument lighting. Second switch is ADVISORY for highlights around important areas of functions.


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Third rocker switch is the overhead dome lighting that gives you full cockpit lighting. And finally the FLOOD lighting that lights up the panel and switch gear. As noted this effect is quite bright and on all and especially on the FLOOD you wish for adjustment?


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Mostly I found the dome lighting switch to be off and the rest on...  the last two far right rocker switches are for the cabin strip and reading lights.


Rain Effects

The PC12 comes with great rain and ice effects, the rain dribbles down the windows, but looks just as effective from the outside as well as the inside of the aircraft.


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One default white livery and five design liveries. The registration number of the aircraft changes on the panel as you select the livery of your choice. All liveries are certainly very high quality but missing any real design variations or corporate based user interaction designs like RFDS (Royal Flying Doctor Service) which has 31 PC12's


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The Carendo Pilatus PC12 is a great aircraft to fly manually, lovely under the yoke and pedals. But the aircraft also demands time and hours on the airframe to fly the aircraft really well. The EFIS system is slightly complicated and you need time to really become one with it. I have flown this aircraft a lot over the last few weeks and it is so rewarding, but also so demanding to get your skills tuned into the aircraft...  overall that again is what simulation at this level is all about, but if any aircraft demands a though pilots manual, this is it.


Negatives are small, but the adjustment of internal lighting is top of the list? That panel is a "I like it" or "hate it" moment, you get used to it...  but you wish you could just tone it down just a little. A GPU is certainly an oversight here, it looks odd with power switched on without it, and you need that EFIS control panel at your fingertips in a pop out window. External sounds are not up to par with the internal, this engine has a gorgeous sound and you want to hear it. You do in most cases in starting up and pitch changes and the great thrum inside, but not where you want to.  Frame-rate was fine considering the complexity of the aircraft and quality of the textures, it looks heavy...  but it isn't really with no issues except at least a 1gb graphic card.

Features work well, with the great "Stick Shaker" working (and scaring you) when you get it wrong. The new manipulators are a great step forward as well than the older versions... certainly for my one clicker...  clicker.


Carenado aircraft are noted for their design and quality (that word again), but they always deliver, and the PC12 again raises the bar. This is without doubt simulation at its best for X-Plane, but demanding simulation at that.


The bar is certainly set high to say this is the best aircraft in this category. In design, features and its overwhelming quality, the Carendo Pilatus PC12 is certainly jaw dropping "oh my god" so good. certainly the most life-like aircraft I have seen up to date in design and that cockpit and cabin is to die for. So value to quality is really a none issue... it actually blows it out of the water and even at that high price. You get what you pay for, and you get certainly a lot of aircraft here.


The best in class, yes I think so, but for how long...   the next Carenado!




X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg


The Pilatus PC12 by Carenado is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : PC12 HD Series  and is priced at only US$34.95 


Installation : Download is 433.10mb that is unzipped to 515.30mb to your X-Plane - "General Aviation" Folder. (I use my regional aviation folder)


Documents :Performance tables and references (which are Airspeed Limitations), Emergency Procedures (checklists) and Normal Procedures (Checklist) and a guide on how the EFIS - Electronic Flight Information System works





Windows XP - Vista - 7  -8 (32 or 64 bit) or MAC OS 10.8 (or higher) or Linux

X-Plane10.30 (or higher)
2.5 GHz processor - 8GB RAM - 1GB VRAM 570MB available hard disk space
Current version: 1.3 (last updated March 31st 2015)

Special Features:

    Only for X-Plane 10.30 or higher. 64 bit compatible.

    Original PC12 Electronic flight instrument system (EFIS)

    Working stick shaker and pusher installed

    New and improved multi-function scroll support

    Volumetric side view prop effect.

    Two X-Plane GNS530.


    Original EFIS with EADI and EHSI installed

    Two GNS530 installed

    Original autopilot installed

    HD quality textures (4096 x 4096)

    350 pixels / meter textures

    Smooth animation button logic with custom audio

    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.

    Individual passenger 3D reading lights and numerous HDR lighting effects.

    Dynamic loading/unloading of 3D parts and plugin logic for FPS optimization.

    Ice and Rain effect




Developer site : Carenado

Review by Stephen Dutton

3rd April 2015

Copyright©2015: X-Plane Reviews


Review System Specifications:

Computer System:     

- 2.66 Ghz Intel Core i5 iMac 27”

- 9 Gb 1067 Mhz DDR3

- ATI Radeon HD 6970M 2048 mb

- Seagate 256gb SSD 


- Mac OS Yosemite 10.10.1

- X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.35 (final)


- Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle

- Bose - Soundlink Mini


- EINN - Shannon Airport Ireland by tdg (X-Plane.org) - Free

- EIDL - Donegal Ireland by tdg (X-Plane.org) - Free


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Guest Ron Tanner

Is this PC-12 available on CD, as I have no internet service. Or, can it be downloaded to a thumb drive on another computer and then copied to mine?


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  • 9 months later...
On April 6, 2015 at 10:23 AM, Guest Ron Tanner said:

Is this PC-12 available on CD, as I have no internet service. Or, can it be downloaded to a thumb drive on another computer and then copied to mine?


You should be able to do so, I usually download the aircraft I purchased on a different computer to make sure it works then transfer it over to the one I use

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  • 1 year later...

Thanks. Another great review. According to the manual the AP source should be indicated on the HSI. It is not sadly which makes navigation somewhat of a challenge. I think the second GPS doesn't drive anything but I need to do more tests to be sure. I may be making an obvious mistake but I don't think so. Other pilots have confirmed same.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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