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Update Review : BN-2 Islander v1.1 by Nimbus Studios


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Update Review : BN-2 Islander v1.1 by Nimbus Studio's

 

I covered the release of the BN-2 Islander by Nimbus Studio's a few months back in June 2020 here; Aircraft Review : Britten Norman Islander BN-2 by Nimbus Studios

 

Overall I loved the aircraft, but it felt still a little under-developed, there was two quick reaction updates in v1.05, then v1.07 that helped, but here is the larger v1.1 update, that also comes with a promised scenery package as an extra...  Westray.

 

The BN-2 is famous for flying the Islander service Loganair's Westray to Papa Westray flight, in the Orkney Islands, which is the shortest scheduled flight in the world at 1.7 mi (2.7 km); the scheduled flight time including taxiing is just two minutes. Both the Westray Airports are now part of this BN-2 package, and very good they are... So lets us see that aspect of this v1.1 update first.

 

It is a very handy skill in that Nimbus is above all first a scenery developer, who later moved into aircraft design. So in an addition to the aircraft you now have the option to download Westray or Westray - EGEW and Papa Westray - EGEP, which is basically two island sceneries that are separated by a short strait of the northern reaches of the Atlantic Ocean in the Orkney Islands. Westray is old Norse for 'West Island'

 

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(Navigraph)

 

Note Kirkwell on the "Mainland" Island of Orkney and the main gateway into the Orkney Islands area.

 

Westray - EGEW

Westray airport or airstrip is located at Aikerness...  and Pierowall is the main village.

 

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There are actually three runways, but only one is as graded hardcore 09/27 (527m/1,729ft), the two others are grass in 01/19 (291m/955ft) and 13/31 (421m/1,381ft), elevation is only 30ft and all are represented here.

 

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There is not much in infrastucture at EGEW, except for a single reception building and a cargo shed, but it is well done. Note there is a H pad at Westray, but not ICAO.

 

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I particularly like the Scottish Island feel of the stone walls and fencing, the area feels also very windswept, because it is.

 

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Lighting is almost zero, but good in context. The area is full of farms and farming detail...  and plenty of cows. All the houses are again very authentic and come with that stoic stone architecture....  but significantly missing is the Noup Head Lighthouse? It is visible not only from the airstrip, but certainly on the runway approaches?

 

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The runway is just fresh stoney asphalt with no markings, and really well done is the surface detail and roughness which is highly realistic, there is some lovely 3d grass as well, and the boundary fencing detail is again exceptional.

 

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End of runway markers are again really good as in all the rock seawalls...  overall it is a highly realistic airfield. There are no charts available for either EGEW or EGEP, but this set of notices are excellent and well worth downloading; EGEWEGEPCharts201904

 

The shortest scheduled flight in the world

It may be only a short flight, but the flying is technically very hard to do. Tip number 1#, go and observe each runway before attempting this flight, as finding the runway over on Papa Westray is quite hard, almost impossible flying in blindly. It took me three runs before I perfected it. Oddly again there is no "Loganair" livery supplied, which is the Scottish Airline that currently flies the route with two BN-2s, so I used the BA "Express" version, which has done this same route. The cost is £36 return or £45 for a “sightseer fare.”

 

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Two things to remember...  important. Check your trim is central and that your flaps are one setting down in the TO position... 

 

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...  I love the dust that flows up from the wheels...   at the threshold of RWY 09 there is a turn circle, and you need to use every bit of the turn to turn as tight as you can, this is to get as much runway distance as you can usefully get. Hold the brakes to power up the engines, as again you have no margin to do a slow build up of speed, you need to almost leap off the brakes and go down that stretch of asphalt as rapid as you can go...

 

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...  those end of runway markers come at you sooo  fast, so once you reach the end of the white zone at 80 knts, you lift the nose...  and pray!

 

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Get it right and you should clear the markers, but it can be close...  you climb, but not far, only to 400ft - 500ft at the most, and once level you are already getting ready to land, flaps full "Down" and reducing your speed...

 

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.... Papa Westray - EGEP is directly across the strait from EGEW, but the runway is orientated 04/22, which is a cross angle to EGEW's 09/27. So you fly west and then turn around back into Rwy 22.

 

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If you try and be a smarty pants, and just fly over island to island and expect to land on 22 directly, then you won't see it or even find it...   the really hard part is getting the turn perfectly right into the final approach, you have to have enough speed and power to get around the tight turn, or the Islander will simply drop off a cliff in speed at the bank angle and go straight into a bad stall, that is if you don't regulate enough power on the turn...

 

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...   once through the turn then again settle you speed to around 70 knts, you are now looking for some farm houses, DON"T LOOK FOR THE AIRFIELD, because it is simply impossible to see.

 

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You aim is to fly directly between the farm houses at around 200ft to 150ft and little more drift towards the right farmhouse...   and then if you get it all right you will finally see the runway 22 markers straight ahead.

 

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Your new target is to now go low and slow, and just miss that fence at the end of the runway and not rip it all out of the ground...

 

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...  once over the fence and and it is a "let" or "get" down the BN-2 on to the hard stuff as quickly as possible.

 

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Even when down that end of runway fence is again coming at you at a high speed, and you only have your brakes to rub off the speed. As a note the BN-2's in use in a video have the three-bladed reverse thrust propellers, and you can hear the reverse thrust in operation, but we don't have that feature on the Nimbus version of the Islander?

 

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There is another turnaround circle at the threshold of RWY 04, again the field layout is almost as identical as Westray.

 

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The apron area is also almost identical with the same single reception building and a cargo shed, but here at EGEP they are set wider apart.

 

You think it is easy, but my first try shows how difficult it actually is...  I originally ended up in the field with a cow not greatly impressed with my antics!

 

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Papa Westray - EGEP

As mentioned the layout of Papa Westray is not that much different than EGEW, same cross runways of a single asphalt 04/22 (527m/1729ft) and noted as the same "Graded hardcore", 07/25 (partly) Graded hardcore and 18/36 Grass.

 

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The same building elements are used for both EGEW and EGEP, but the detailing has been changed to reflect the different locations.

 

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One thing to note is that the daylight up here in the Orkney's in December (winter) is very short to basically six and a half hours or 8.45am to 3.20pm, and set very low in the sky, so the area does not get particularly bright, certainly a seasons pack would have been nice.

 

Runway textures are different however than Westray, more stoney or pebble than the black asphalt at EGEW, but it looks good and is a great and authentic looking surface, the surface edges are really good as well.

 

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Again the Westray landscape is covered with the same stoic stone architecture as on Westray, again very good.

 

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BN-2 Islander v1.1

There was a few areas that felt very under developed on the release version of the Nimbus BN-2 Islander, as noted overall I liked it, but felt it was not finished up to a certain quality, this update is six months on, and a lot on the list has been addressed, but a lot has not either?

 

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The aircraft came with a unique feature, a vibrating tail. Personally I loved the feature, but a lot of users hated it? So in the update you can now adjust the vibration to your liking, via a - or + of 100%. That should keep them happy.

 

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The aircraft now has the  Avitab (Aviators Tablet) plugin intergration...  the iPad is set to the left, and can be flattened away via it's support arm...

 

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But you can turn it off, but the clickspot is hard to find lower right, The iPad button only resets to the menu, not the on/off power, you can however also make the AviTab fully disappear by pressing the top of the support arm. But a very nice to have.

 

Doors now make full sounds when opening and closing...   and the door alarm will now go off if the doors are open when you start the engines.

 

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The passenger "warning" lights have been fixed (they now light up) and now both the window blinds work (Co-Pilot's earlier did not), and so has the nasty under the instrument panel hole that has now been thankfully covered over.

 

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Not so is the horrible front gear hole around the front strut, or the under engine vents that look average and both are highly visible in flight?

 

The short flight from EGEW to EGEP was not long enough to check other parts of the undate, so a flight to Sumburgh EGPB (90 nm) was a better test...  so I fully fueled (143 GAL) and boarded a few passengers and added a bit of freight (350 lb) and headed for the Shetland Islands.

 

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If you remember with the original release review I had a long list of gripes, and yes the BN-2 was certainly under-developed. First I found a lot of the switchgear didn't work to the X-Plane commands, and the important ones like the braking and flaps, which are badly positioned to use (in a simulator, not in real flying). Thankfully all these items have now been corrected and the parking brake logic has also been done, so they work! but the landing lights still have to be switched on/off manually. Another gripe was the landing lights were too dim, they are better but still quite small, but better. Propeller animation were also quite average and "disky", they still are with no real depth, but I am more acceptable to them this time around...  my thoughts are that to change the two-blade to the three bladed, reverse thrust version would give the props more depth?

 

Flaps to TO (Takeoff) and as noted I'm full in both tanks, my thoughts are on the short EGEP 04/22 runway at 527m or 1729ft long, would I be too heavy to get off with a full total aircraft weight of 5340 Lbs? One way to find out...

 

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Yep...   and with a bit (not a lot more) to spare, particle effects have been added and like I noted earlier I love the dirt coming off the wheels, but the engine exhaust still does not have any of the needed effects?

 

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First thought's are that yes the aircraft certainly performs far better, as it has been retuned for better performance with experimental model (switched on) and it shows in the handling, the aircraft is far more sturdy and highly flyable.

 

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The BN-2 is an impossibly slow climber at 850ft per minute, but that is what the aircraft is. Sounds have also been greatly improved. I liked the lower speed (idle/taxi thrumm) before, but was not so much impressed in the cruise, that area has certainly improved, but can still be over time a little droney, but there is far more depth to the sounds if you change the throttle (power) position, added also are the new internal sounds, sounds with only one engine running, fuel pumps and the avionics sounds have been toned down.

 

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There has been a lot of refining done also on the main instrument panel...  The autopilot lighting was too dim, but looks good now, and I really like the flashing "TRIM UP" and "TRIM DN" effect, the VSI night texture also was too dark and the Pitch trim indicator was not visible at night.

 

Westray_EGEP-EGPB 15.jpg

 

I did have a big gripe about the flaps....  the up flap setting still shows a 2º in the down position? Islanders are known to fly in this configuration, but still I'm not completely happy?, the BN-2 still flies pitch up, and the overall speed does show with the drag in that odd aerodynamic angle...

 

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You can trim this out manually, but not under the Century 2000 2-Axis Autopilot, hence the still slightly odd nose up flying perspective...  and your cruise speed is still limited to under 120 knts, say around 115 knts, it should be around 130 knts? The issue pops up again on approach...

 

Into the circuit to land at Sumburgh RWY 33, it became impossible to reduce the speed under the 80 Knt threshold (white band) to lower the flaps to DOWN, so as you pulled the power back the nose just went up and up in pitch, but not the loss of the speed...

 

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...  the only way to balance the aircraft was to disconnect the autopilot, and trim the aircraft manually, get the speed down and set up the landing configuration of 70 knts and full flap. (I will admit the BN-2 is nice to fly and control in this configuration).

 

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My point is that, if you wanted to use the ILS, on the autopilot, then you wouldn't be able to balance or trim out the aircraft, yes in most cases you would do a manual landing anyway, but sometimes you may need the ILS guide if the weather is bad, and mostly that is the case up here and around these northern Scottish Islands.

 

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If you remember in the release review I struggled with a good landing configuration, and couldn't get the BN-2 under 80 knts without it stalling, but I am not feeling that effect today, thankfully the BN-2 feels more planted and controllable, I still think the approach speed is still a little too high for a STOL aircraft, but it is far better than before.

 

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Even the strong swirling winds that can accumulate around this western approach into Sumburgh, fail to ruin the approach phase, I am easily under a nice controllable aircraft, a vast change from the earlier release approach...

 

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...  I settle around 60 knts, and it is perfect landing.

 

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I am overall pretty happy with that landing, so there has been a significant improvement (not absolutely perfect) and a major refinement in the handling. And I still really love those wheel particle effects.

 

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Not only the physics been improved, but the whole aircraft is certainly far altogether better, again is this update in being what the release version should have really been in the first place?

 

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_________________

 

Summary

Nimbus Studios released their version of the STOL Twin-Engined BN-2 Islander in June 2020. The summary of that release review I felt the aircraft still needed more development and refinement.

 

Since that release there has been three updates, with the accumulation of this the third in v1.1. Update v1.1 also comes with the highlighted feature of including a scenery, or two in Westray and Papa Westray in the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland, the two airports are famous for the being known as the "shortest scheduled flight in the world", at 1.7 mi (2.7 km); the scheduled flight time including taxiing is just two minutes.

 

Both Westray and Papa Westray sceneries are excellent, great detail and both have a great feel for these Orkney Islands, technically they are very challenging as well, and so a very good addition to the Islander package. The aircraft refinements are notably very long (see changelog below, and all three of the updates are listed) as is the performance (but not yet perfect), and the addition of the Avitab (Aviators Tablet) plugin .

 

Notable are the changes in v1.1 was to mostly small items, like sounds (better and now the door sounds work), instruments (lighting and manipulators), X-Plane commands (Brakes/Flaps), manual adjustment of the vibrating tail, under instrument panel fill and passenger notices.

 

Still outstanding is the annoying see through hole in the nose (front strut) and nasty inner under engine air-intakes, average propellers (in movement), pitch nose high performance under the autopilot, that affects cruise speed and approach speeds and oddly no Loganair livery for the included sceneries (note you download the sceneries separately from the aircraft).

 

The BN-2 Islander by Nimbus Studio has come a seriously long way in refinement since it's introduction in the middle of 2020, in many, many areas it is refined (or fixed), but oddly some glaring obvious items (above) have not had the same attention. But overall this a far better and major step forward for the BN-2 Islander, and yes I am loving the aircraft in it's current condition, "very, very close but no cigar" yet.

_______________________________

 

Yes! the Britten Norman Islander BN-2 v1.1 by Nimbus Studios is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : 

 

BN-2 Islander

 

Price is US$34.95

 

Features:
  • Highly detailed 3D model
  • 4K textures
  • Full PBR Textures for quality refection
  • 3D Custom Sound System
  • Animated switches
  • Rattling and vibrations
  • Accurate handling and flight characteristics
  • Accurate performance based on performance charts
  • Realistic night lightning with custom lights and textures
  • VR ready (includes yoke manipulator)
  • Ice buildup visual effect
  • 8 liveries and more to come
Nice Comprehensive Menus
  • Windows for managing maintenance, weight and balance, doors and accessories, controls position and performance charts.
  • Maintenance module:
    • If you want a more realistic experience you can choose if you want the aircraft to require maintenance with time and usage, depending on how you fly and engine exceedance the mechanical components will degrade and performance will be affected.
  • Weight and balance:
    • A graphic interface gives you the chance to modify the cargo, passengers, fuel and CG
  • Doors and accessories:
    • Open and close doors, add or remove wheel chocks, engine and pitot covers or controls lock.
  • Performance:
    • This window will also allow you to see some performance charts.
  • Controls position indicator:
    • A small window on the right bottom corner will show the position of your controls.
  • Bonus: airports of westray and papa westray

 

Requirements

X-Plane 11

Windows, Mac or Linux
4GB VRAM Minimum - 8GB VRAM Recommended
Download Size: 1 GB (Plane + Liveries)
Current and Review version : 1.1 (November 27th 2020)
 

Installation and documents: Download is 1gb and the aircraft is deposited in the "General Aviation" X-Plane folder at 1.10gb

Installation key is required on start up and is supplied with the purchased download file.

 

Avitab (Aviators Tablet) plugin, is now required for this aircraft.

 

Documents supplied are:

  • Manual.pdf

 

Changelog

v1.1 changelog.txt

_____________________________________

 

Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton 

4th December 2020

Copyright©2020 : X-Plane Reviews 

  

(Disclaimer. All images and text in this preview 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 - 32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1TB SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.51b3

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

Plugins: Avitab - Free

Scenery or Aircraft

- Westary and Papa Westary are now supplied with the aircraft package.

 

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I have the Nimbus BN-2 and would also recommend it. Including the Westray airports seems to me to be a good way to differentiate their product from the Torquesim one. For me when I originally bought the Nimbus it was something of a coin flip as both had decent reviews.

Thanks again for the review and the help on flying between the two airports. It cuts out a lot of trial and error!

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As always Wikipedia is your friend

 

Flights between Westray Airport and Papa Westray Airport occur daily in both directions, except on Saturdays, when only flights from Westray to Papa Westray are available, and on Sunday, when only flights from Papa Westray to Westray are available.The total distance covered by the flights is 1.7 miles (2.7 km), which is about the same length as the runway at Edinburgh Airport. The flights are always combined with flights from and to Kirkwall Airport (27 mi (43 km) distance), flying in a narrow triangle.

 

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