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Aircraft Review : M20R Ovation XP11 by Alabeo

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Aircraft Review : M20R Ovation XP11 by Alabeo

 

There was a moment over the end of last year that you wondered about "What has happened to the Alabeo brand" as Carenado had already merged their products into the Carenado site and "was it all over" for the so called "Carenado Lite" aircraft that they released. You were led to this conclusion because over the last few years Alabeo released more Carenado niche aircraft than their original more quirky alternatives, so putting those points together wasn't that much of an academic paper.

 

But suddenly here was a new Alabeo site and this release of the Mooney M20R Ovation...  so it appears now nothing has really changed at all.

 

The heading say's "Ovation", but the M20R is totally a Mooney through and through, you just have to look at the aircraft to see that.

 

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The M20 design goes back to the middle-fifties as created by Al Mooney, but countless changes (even from wood to aluminium) has kept the aircraft flying through the decades, but not without a few bumps or even bigger business crashes along the way.  Mooney himself went bankrupt in early 1969, then Butler Aviation revived the company and carried on. The Mooney plant was again closed in early 1971, and it remained closed for more than two years until In October 1973 when Mooney was then purchased by Republic Steel's Robert Cumming who in January 1974 with the reintroduction of the M20F Executive, Mooney was again back into production.

Republic Steel was then acquired by the Ling-Temco-Vought corporation and and quickly dropped Mooney. The company then ended up in the hands of Armand Rivard of Lake Aircraft and Alexandre Couvelair, who was a Mooney dealer from Paris. In the 1990's the M20J 201, was the next production release which was also designated the MSE and was then the forerunner of this M20R.  This Ovation aircraft was designed to fill a gap between the normally aspirated MSE and the turbocharged TLS, and it was powered by a 280 horsepower (210 kW) Continental IO-550 engine and has the designated "long-body" (M20L through M20V). Although all M20s have four seats, the fuselage length increase of the "long-body" provided more rear passenger legroom, but it comes with a slight performance decrease and for a similar engine and vintage, a long-body plane is know to be about 4 to 6 knots slower than the short-body plane.

 

M20R Ovation

The "long-body" aspect shows in the M20R's profile, the rear passenger window is elongated but that makes for a great visual view for the rear passengers...

 

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...  In a walkaround you easily notice the aircraft's detail is very high quality as per a Carenado, and there is nothing short changed here in the design. Glass is superb as is in the curvature and reflections and the texture and panel detailing is also simply first class.

 

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The distinctive Mooney tail and rear tail-planes are beautifully reproduced with the aluminium strength folds well done and realistic. Discharge wicks and aerodynamic devices on the rudder add to the detailing. Pitot tubes, foot-steps and antennas are all done with finesse and note the way the rear navigation light is nicely built into the tail.

 

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Undercarriage is excellent as well with very good linkage work and perfect animations for both ground movement and retraction/extension, nose wheel is a little soft under braking, but not overly so.

 

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Menus

Three lower-left screen Tabs are standard Carenado/Ababeo A, C, and O

 

A is the Bendix/King KFC 150 autopilot pop-up. C is ten "Views" with "Field of View" and two sound adjustments. O is for "Options" including opening Co-Pilot door and high Baggage door (locker?)  Static elements are in the 'hardly worth the effort" zone with a static pull tractor, two cones and a few pitot covers and flags, there is also Window and Instrument reflections and the choice of changing the liveries without going to the main X-Plane menu.

 

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The Pilot is the most realistic I have seen yet and not stock Carenado, he also disappears when you use the static elements (nice) but gives a really great vibe to the aircraft and is animated... more please!

 

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Internal Cockpit/Cabin

Pop your head into the aircraft and you won't be disappointed...

 

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Everything is laid out with perfection, great instrument panel is highly detailed, but so is everything else in here, and the detailing is first class. The seats are vinyl with lovely worn crinkles for realism, even the seatbelts are perfect and realistic.

 

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Under panel rudder pedals and metal footrests are well done, as is the deep between the seats is the pitch trim (adjustment marker is on the panel directly in front of you) fuel tank switch and manual gear release. Note the lovely chrome seat sliders.

 

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Roof has lighting panel and working air vent. Cabin lights and air-vents are right down the cabin. It is all in the absolute detail...  four switch panels for each seat has working light switches and the pilot's panel also has the oxygen gauge and oxygen switch lower side panel are highlights.

 

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In The Air with the M20R

Power on and a start of the Continental IO-550 engine and you realise the sounds are excellent... full 180º aural custom sound and now FMOD, which is interesting as Carenado/Alabeo always used their own custom sound engine...  Only small thing was in the cabin was the lower in sound volume at around the 10 clock internally. Otherwise the sounds are faultless.

 

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Flying instruments are all focused on the pilot, so the co-pilot is really just a passenger here. Both beautifully created yokes can be hidden, they also both come with working trim, AP disconnect and XPDR INDENT actions.

 

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Several items immediately catch your eye...  first is the excellent set of combined analog and digital readouts right in your pilot's line of sight.

 

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The left side panel is digital only that covers your Fuel Flow, L & R Fuel Tanks, OAT (Outside Temp), Vacuum and VDC - AMPS (you push the button for the VDC readout). Then there are six gauges with digital readouts below that covers RPM, MAP (Manifold Absolute Pressure), CHT (Cylinder Head Temperature), EGT (Exhaust Gas Temperature), OP and OT (Oil pressure and Temperature)...

 

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... and an annunciator panel mid-panel top is a "Mooney" original for authenticity, looks and works like it is for real. Also note the nice engine digital output gauge right.

 

The instruments provided are basically the standard layout.

 

The Standard Six instruments are centred in the line of sight of the flying pilot with the Airspeed Indicator, Artificial Horizon and the Attitude Indicator on the top row and the Turn Coordinator, Heading Dial and Vertical Speed Indicators set out directly below. Left of the six pack top is a chronometer and on the right side top is a Garmin OBS VOR indicator (VOR2) and the same lower is the ADF dial indicator. Right of the instruments is the ELEV TRIM and FLAP position indicators. There is a electric RUDDER trim as well lower panel that is nice and easy to use.

 

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Avionics are situated right panel with an audio panel Bendix/King KX 155 COMM2/NAV2 radio top then a standard pop-up Garmin GNS 530, Bendix/King KR 87 ADF tuner, Bendix/King KX 165 COMM/VOR 2 radio and bottom a Bendix/King KFC 150 autopilot, and the KFC 150 also has a separate altitude and vertical speed adjustment panel below the ADF Dial. Second Avionics stack consists of two units, with top a Bendix/King KW 64 Panel Mount DME and bottom there is a Bendix/King KT76 Transponder and the addon RealityXP GTN750 can also be used in this aircraft. Far right instrument panel are sets of circuit breakers that are well done but are dummies.

 

Power up and the Ovation and the aircraft has a bit of kick behind it (depending on your weight) when you release the brakes,  but all that available power also creates a huge amount of asymmetrical thrust to handle. Mostly I can handle these forces or use the throttle upwards slowly to feed in the power to keep the centre line, but in many goes now and the slight (or sometimes bad) wavering on landing I am going to note this is the current X-Plane ground grip issue and not so much the aircraft, but currently it is a tricky job holding it straight at full power.

 

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The excellent tri-trailing-gear animation is well worth watching... it is really well done. 100knts TAS and you can pull back the yoke...

 

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....    again that power will easily give you a nice climb rate and you have just under 1240fpm to work with.

 

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Give it credit is that this Ovation is a lovely aircraft to fly, "is putty in your hands"...  lovely.

 

Rear passengers have a stretched limousine view from the rear.

 

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A great feature is the digital Fuel Flow display lower left panel...

 

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There are four switchable readouts that cover GAL (Gallons) to DESTINATION, GAL RESERVE, GAL NM (per Nautical Mile) and HRS (Hours) ENDURANCE. This is an excellent bit of kit, really love that tool.

 

The Bendix/King KFC 150 autopilot looks quite basic, but does everything really well. Pop-up panel is great and can be moved around the screen and scaled to suit. Altitude and Vertical Speed adjustment panel works well in tandem with the KFC 150, and even small V/S changes like 300fpm is easily accessed.

 

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Lighting

Instrument panel lighting is excellent...  There is behind the instruments lighting as there is for the Avionics lighting which both are adjusted lower right panel behind the co-pilot's yoke.

 

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But you can also use the very atmospheric under the glareshield lighting that is adjustable from the little knob on the centre of the yoke....

 

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....  as i noted you can switch on the overhead cockpit/cabin lighting via four wall switches, but they do turn on but don't however spot the lights down and so it is complete darkness back there, a developer oversight?

 

Externally the lighting is really good...  very nice built in wing Navigation lights both red, green and white with double flash strobes and a Beacon (RECOG) red light lower fuselage.

 

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Each wing has a built in Landing and Taxi light that are extremely effective in landing and on the ground.

 

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The M20R's cruising speed is around 150knts to 165knts as the Max speed is around 175knts with a outstanding range of 1426 miles | 1240 nmi | 2296 km and an altitude limit of 20,000ft which is impressive. And so this is a very versatile aircraft in the GA category.

 

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I found the M20R also a little tricky to land. Rubbing off the speed was quite hard and I needed a little too much pitch now and again (for my liking) to get the needle to go down under the 100knt zone...

 

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...   flaps are only two stage, and are effective initially. But then with the flaps down full they put you into a very tight speed zone of around 80knts.

 

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And so approaching the runway to are in a bit of a tight spot, as around that 80knts the aircraft is fine, but lower the speed even slightly and you start a very distinct fall in height, so you need to keep that power on to keep your altitude, but you are also going in too fast...

 

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...  even with my very light touch on the throttle and any movement out and the aircraft simply drops? so even a very light controlled flare to the runway is not yet in my case possible, so I am landing above the 80knts speed (everytime) which is way too fast and far above the stall landing speed 59 Knots. I'll work on it, but it makes for a messy landing as I am every time I am going too fast to then slow down cleanly or in a perfect straight line...

 

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As I said in that in areas the Ovation it is tricky to fly, but I am very confident that a bit of practise I will counter the aircraft performance quirks, but this M20R feels overall like a very powerful and fast (for a GA) aircraft in the air.

 

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Liveries

One blank and five liveries is the total of what you get here, all are US registered as well which doesn't give you much variety either (unless you are American). But quality is outstanding as they are 4K in size (4096 × 4096) and you notice the depth of detail.

 

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Summary

I wasn't really a big fan of Mooney's but that is because most of the versions I have flown were the really older classic versions. This M20R Ovation is a more modern and more powerful version than than those original wooden style of the aircraft, or is it the ultimate revolution of the M20 idea.

 

But this aircraft is a real cracker, a really lovely nice aircraft to have and  am really surprised for myself how much I really like this Alabeo version...  granted it is tricky in the takeoff and landing performances but that is a in certainly more of a challenging aspect than a detrimental deleterious way. It is an aircraft I will practise with to find those hidden performance areas as they are certainly there and I will have to use my skills to unlock them, and that is a challenge I relish that aspect, because in most cases if an aircraft won't come to me, I would just simply move on to something else because there is a huge amount of choice out there anyway...   It is that good to want to really conquer this M20R.

 

In every area the M20R shines. Quality is outstanding and the detailing is absolutely first class inside and out, sounds are really good (even with that slightly dull area to the left), Great Instruments and avionics, but this aircraft comes with some nice touches as well with that in your sight analog and digital readouts panel, Mooney annunciator panel, Fuel Flow switchable readout and digital engine readouts which are all great but highly usable features. I really like the pilot so much I want to invite him home for dinner...

 

On the minus side there are but just a few niggles, The rear cabin lighting not working? and I think for an aircraft of this category a few more liveries and few outside the US would be nice as well and that is it.

 

Overall the M20R Ovation was a big surprise. I expected another good but in the line Carenadoish lower grade Alabeo. But what I got here was one of the best GA's this year (Just Flights Arrows lll/lV are extremely good but expensive). And this Ovation will no doubt be joining my regular flightline, it is an aircraft that will certainly have a lot of hours and pleasure flying with a very happy pilot at the controls...  it is that good, and I always love to be surprised by something great.

 

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Yes! the M20R Ovation XP11 by Alabeo is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :


M20R Ovation

 

Price is US$32.95

 

Features

High-Definition Model
  • 4K Textures throughout
  • Superb material shines and reflections (full PBR)
  • Volumetric side view prop effect
  • High quality 3D model and textures
  • Fully optimized for X-Plane 11
Features
  • Custom sounds (FMOD)
  • RealityXP GTN750 compatible
  • Blank texture for creating your own designs
  • Accurately reproduced flight characteristics
  • FPS-optimized model
  • VR Compatible
  • uses the new SASL 3.0 for more features and better frame rates

Requirements:

X-Plane 11

Windows, Mac or Linux
2GB VRAM Minimum - 4GB+ VRAM Recommended
Current version: 1.1 (Last updated March 14th 2018)

 

Installation
Download of the M20R Ovation is 363mb and it is installed in your General Aviation Folder as a 424mb folder.

 

Framerates are good as those textures have been highly refined for use and so is using the new SASL 3.00 plugin, but that does also depend on your computers settings, but with my specs I got framerates in the mid-30's to the early 40's

 

Documents
Documentation is standard Alabeo, everything but the manual...
 
  • Alabeo Copyrights.pdf
  • Alabeo M20R Ovation Emergency Procedures.pdf
  • Alabeo M20R Ovation Normal Procedures.pdf
  • Alabeo M20R Ovation Performance Tables.pdf
  • Alabeo M20R Ovation References.pdf
  • Alabeo M20R Ovation Version History.rtf
  • Backup config file for RXP GTN 750
  • Credits.pdf
  • X-Plane 11 recommended settings.pdf

 

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Review by Stephen Dutton
16th March 2018
Copyright©2018: 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 512gb SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.10

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

Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro v1.07 US$69.90 : XPRealistic Pro v1.0.9  effects US$19.95

Scenery or Aircraft

- EGGD - Bristol International Airport by Pilot-Plus + (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$22.95

 

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