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Aircraft Review : Cessna 404 Titan by Alabeo

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Aircraft Review : Cessna 404 Titan by Alabeo

 

Just slightly flying off the California Coast, the morning sun glistened off the paintwork of the C404 Titan. The aircraft is a twin-engined workhorse, created for small airlines to carry nine or less passengers on either scenic tours or short regional charter flights. My flight is a short one from KSMO-Santa Monica Muni to KPSP-Palm Springs in a "I have just got to get out of LA...  Darling" flight for some overpaid actor and his partner.

 

But up here I am far away from the dramas of the world for awhile, as the Titan is powerful, smooth and thankfully quiet.

 

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A pilot's life is usually pure hell, and then a period of pure euphoria, reflection or boredom (on long flights) and then pure hell again, In am thankfully in that middle euphoric stage, away from the earth and just the correct headings to cover.

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Visually I find the C404 similar to the Seneca II, but the cabin has been stretched and blown up a size larger, certainly a great commuter aircraft...  but to fly it is very different in size and feel to the Piper aircraft. It is very confident aircraft taking off and you can easily climb out at 1500-1800 fpm (feet per minute), set the course and climb easily to your heading.

 

The Cessna 404 was a development of the Cessna 402 with an enlarged vertical tail and other changes. The prototype first flew on 26 February 1975. It is powered by two 375 hp/280 kW turbocharged Continental Motors GTSIO-520 piston engines. Two versions were offered originally; the Titan Ambassador passenger aircraft for ten passengers, and the Titan Courier utility aircraft for passengers or cargo. Seven versions followed with a full cargo version with a strengthened floor. As noted this is a commercial/charter aircraft and not a private ownership to fly on the weekends type of design. Just under 400 (396) aircraft were built and last Titan rolled off the production line in 1982.

 

Performance : Maximum speed: 267 mph (430 km/h) - Cruise speed: 188 mph (303 km/h) - Range: 2,119 miles (3,410 km) - Service ceiling: 26,000 ft (7,925 m) - Initial rate of climb 1940ft/min.

C404 Titan by Alabeo

 

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In the front it is a 70's classic view. Still very old standard but very familiar place to be, you will feel at home here very quickly.

 

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A glance over the shoulder and the cabin is a nice place to travel. With lovely hard wearing fabrics, the well designed seats will survive the worse of rough denim jeans treatment for years. Curtains look a bit naff today and show the age of the aircraft, but they do add to the cosy feel inside the aircraft. The roof lining is extremely well crafted, again age is showing around the edges but it is very realistic.

The office is very well appointed, but in the old style way and not with a lot of modern gizmos.

 

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You have a full set of instruments but very little switchgear on the panel. The standard six instruments (Airspeed Indicator, Attitude Indicator or Artificial Horizon, Altimeter, Turn Coordinator and Vertical Speed Indicator) are high and central on both pilot's and co-pilots sides of the panel, with the Artificial Horizon having built in CRS (course) and CDI (course deviation indicator) built in.

 

Other surrounding instruments include a clock (top left) and (lower left to right) NDB pointer, VOR 2 course deviation indicator (CDI) and radar height display. In the middle is the setting for the "Altitude Management System" to set your altitude for Autopilot cutoff when you climb or descend, but for the life of me I couldn't find the arm switch?, no manual in instrument placing does not help either, arm is noted on the autopilot display?

 

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The autopilot (AP) display is set on the left with the Nav 1 - GPS source select below, a full set of annunciators with test option fill out the left side of the panel.

 

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Nice yoke but no lower switchgear behind the control, just "Prop Sync". Left an Oxygen tank supply gauge and "Hobbs" meter.

 

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Co-pilot's side has only standard six instruments and cabin heating controls, and flap indicator (UP 183 KiAS - T.O. & APPR 152 KIAS - FLAPS - LAND) and selector, Flap lever is hard place to adjust for the pilot.

 

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Centre Panel has the engine performance dials in a single line across the top. The engine needles are for a twin, but run together. Pull one engine throttle down to see the separated needles for both engines... (left to right) is Manifold Pressure - RPM - Fuel Flow - EGT (Exhaust Gas Temp) - Oil (Pressure & Temp) one for each engine (two dials) - Fuel Qty (gauge).

 

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Radio Equipment is spaced in the middle across the panel. All Bendix-King except for the transponder.

 

Garmin 347 TSO Audio set with a Garmin 430 (X-Plane standard) - KN 64 DME... this unit will display VOR distance, speed and time (similar to the BK 62A) - ADF KR 87 TSO with built in flight timer (FLT) and elapsed timer (ET) - Garmin GTX 320 Transponder - KX 165A TSO Radio for COM2/NAV2 settings (GNS 430 is used for COM1/NAV1) - AVIDYNE display (fairly useless) - Bendix-King weather radar (X-Plane standard)

The radio equipment is all period based, mostly standard (meaning oldish) but functional, there are NDB pointers but the VOR2 direction is the CDI type.

 

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The throttle quadrant is a nice bit of kit, dual levers for the twin engines in throttle, RPM and mixture, all beautifully done and worn, there are lighting sliders (again very well done) above the levers covering: Side Console - LWR Panel - LEFT INSRT - ENGINE (Instruments) - RADIO - COMPASS & PED (Pedestal) - R FLT INST, left is a lighting switch for the overhead cockpit (spot) lights.

Front and left side are the excellent trim wheels with takeoff neutral markings.

 

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Situated lower down (on the front) are the autopilot buttons. This is also available as a pop-out tab (A) that is situated on the bottom left of your screen, the pop-out can be moved around and changed in size to fit your needs. Altitude is either on on or off, you need to turn on the altitude button to adjust the pitch to go up or down, then activate it again to hold the altitude. As noted if you press the altitude button during a climb or descend it adjusts holds your altitude and does not "Arm" the system. As switched off it then is still not armed and you keep climbing till you press the altitude to hold it, so it does not arm in either context?

 

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All your switchgear, fuses and electrical are positioned on the left side panel. Well done but hard to read in the pilots position. Switchgear covers all external lighting and ice-protection, top are the main power switches and a lovely voltage indicator, which is switchable.

 

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Fuel tank switches are on the floor between the seats, beautifully bashed and worn, perfect. Roof detail is lovely as well, air-vents and two spot lights are great fittings.

 

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Blinds are animated and turn down only, but very nice.

Between the San Bernardino Mountains and the San Jacinto Mountains there is a valley you can slip through to get to desert floor of where sits Palm Springs.

 

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Inside the Titan is is very hush, hush... too quiet, well that is debatable, turn the sounds right up and its still only a murmur so I would question if that is realistic, open the small window flaps and the outside noise is violent, so in many ways the quietness is soothing and a change from the clatter and noise of the many latest releases. These smooth Continental Motors GTSIO-520's power you along, look great and sound simply awesome on the ground, noted are the sounds are real C404 recordings and it shows. Note the excellent window reflections, Carenado/Alabeo were always the pioneers of great effects.

 

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Another tab (C) menu pop-up is the standard Carenado views. Some worked but most didn't? Only really the pilot and fuel tank view worked, but all the outside view were dud? The "Field of View" and sounds "Volume" are here also. note - (C) Camera views has been fixed, see "notes" below).

 

Popping out of the other end of the canyon and Palm Springs appeared directly on our right, I was going to do a complete circuit and land to the north on RWY 31L, note 31R is only a small 1,500m runway...

 

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The C404 is quite tricky to land. Worse when you have an outcrop of mountain range in your flightpath, and that means a sharp turn in to RWY 31L approach. So speed is critical, drop the flap a notch and you can still balloon upwards while still trying to rub off the descent speed, even while well under 100knts....  that can ruin any good landing.

 

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The main undercarriage is trailing arms, and to note the whole detailing of the gear is exceptional, but trailing arm undercarriage can be quite soft on landing...  and that is the case here.

 

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70ktns red line is the stall speed, but even just a smidgen over at 80kts and you are still way too fast...  get the flare wrong and you are hopping the aircraft with the champagne in the rear splashing all over your roof lining, and few "sorry about that" comments to the passengers.

 

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Getting as close to the stall speed is a trick done well. I got it right, but that was after three landings...

 

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There only one more tab menu to note of the three...  the (O) options menu.

 

You can select to change the window and instrument reflections, and have access to open and close all the doors and baggage compartments... and there is a lot.

 

They include three nose baggage compartments, left and right main and a smaller nose door. No baggage though and here a few bags would not go amiss, it is quite empty in there. The rear double door with split stairs and upper hatch is extremely well done, you wish there was a cargo version.

 

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The neat small pilot hatch (door is a bit of an overstatement) is excellent, fresh air in the hot sunshine while preparing the aircraft, or bailing out if the need arises.

 

There are static objects featured, but they are a bit thin on the ground. you get a hand-pull tractor, and some pivot covers and our two pilots disappear but that is about it?  No wheel chocks?, no engine inlet covers, no hanging tabs, so you feel a bit short changed.

Nightlighting

 

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There is no beacon on the aircraft and that makes the lighting a bit sparse on the outside. Navigation lights, strobe lights are good, there is an ice light on the left wing but it does not shine on the actual wing area? The wingtip landing lights are good and retractable, but if you use a joystick or kety to switch on your landing lights (I do both landing and taxi lights on my Saitek joystick) it is a double action deal, in that the button will turn off the lights, but you need to retract them by the switch on the side panel.

 

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Internal lighting is excellent, the panel is very adjustable and the overhead spot lighting is great (switch is top left on the pedestal), but not movable that has been a feature in the past.

 

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Standard instrument lighting is adjustable via the row of sliders on the very top of the pedestal. And it is very easy to find the right amount of light for takeoff or landings.

 

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The light on the fuel selector is nice touch.

 

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Rear cabin lighting is excellent, with nice (switchable) spot lighting over each seat, it gives you a nice feeling when flying late.

 

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This extremely internal great lighting looks really good outside, the pilots in half light look very realistic.

The landing and taxi lighting is very good on approach and on the ground.

 

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The spread of the wingtip landing lights and central front strut support taxi light give a very wide arc of light, very easy in the cockpit to navigate dark taxiways and lonely runways at night.

 

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The day's work is done and it is time to wrap up the aircraft, very nice it is as well.

 

Liveries

There is one blank livery and five graphic liveries in the C404 package, all are 4K hi-quality textures, refined for good frame-rate.

 

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Summery

Some aircraft come along and in time will become a fixture in your favorite list. When you need a certain aircraft to do a certain job or flight it is usually the one aircraft you will pick. My F33 Bonanza will always be the go to single light engine aircraft, The C208 Caravan for utility work and so on. No doubt this C404 will become my large twin because it is a great aircraft, quiet, powerful and has a great range.

Quality and detailing is the usual high standard you expect from Alabeo, there is a certain 70's feel about the aircraft but that is its charm as well and the great dirty worn feel of the interior means you have an aircraft of hours of work behind it, its real and comfortable.

Alabeo originally represented the budget side of Carenado, all the quality for usually under US$20, so for the price you expected to have a few none working areas and extras...  but this C404 Titan is now right up there in the Carenado US$30 cost bracket, I'm not saying the value and quality is not in the aircraft because it certainly is, no doubt.... but you do for the price expect a full set of Static Elements?, the excellent animated forward roof mounted spot lights? baggage that seems to have gone missing from Carenado/Alabeo aircraft lately, and working views (Camera - Fixed see notes below)...  very small stuff in the large scheme of things, but you do pay for the features in this category.

One for the hanger?  No doubt, a lovely aircraft in every area and the more time spent in the pilots seat the more I love it, quality is high and you will revel in your own pure private euphoria as you skim along your own coastal fringe, California will do me for now and a few more hours in the C404 Titan Ambassador is certainly the best way to fly.

 

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Yes! the C404 Titan Ambassador by Alabeo is now available from the new X-Plane.Org Store here : C404 Titan 

Price is US$32.95

Features

High quality Alabeo model
  • Volumetric side view prop effect
  • High-Resolution 3D model and textures (4K)
  • Custom C404 Titan sounds
Alabeo custom Systems
  • On screen menus
  • 64-bit compatible
  • Plugin-enhanced
  • FPS-optimized model
  • SuperManipulator scroll wheel support
  • X-Plane 10 GNS430
Other features
  • Five high-resolution paint schemes
  • Blank texture for creating your own designs
  • Accurately reproduced flight characteristics
  • Complete documentation with procedures included

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Installation :   Download file size is 294.10mb to your X-Plane - GA Aircraft Folder. Installed file size is 361.00mb

Notes: There has been a fix for the (C) Camera view popup, download and install : C404_Titan_prefs.txt.zip

Documents : Full set of C404 Procedure and Performance manuals and tables, Credits and Recommended settings.

 

Requirements :

Windows 7-8-10 (or higher) or MAC OS 10.6 (or higher) or Linux
X-Plane 10.40+ (Any edition)
1GB Video card
405MB available hard disk space
Current Review Version: 1.1 (last updated October 30th 2015)

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Developer site : Carenado.com

 
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Review by Stephen Dutton

5th November 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 512gb SSD 

Software:   - Mac OS Yosemite 10.10.4 - X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.42 (final)

Addons - Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini : WorldTraffic v2

Scenery or Aircraft

- KPSP - Palm Springs International 2.0 by GPB500 (X-Plane.Org) - Free

 

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