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Aircraft Review : 690B Turbo Commander by Carenado

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Aircraft Review : 690B Turbo Commander by Carenado


The Aero Commander series is one of the great aircraft designs that came out of the early 50's. Like the recently reviewed Aerostar 601P, the Aero Commander is large twin and is also originally a Ted R. Smith creation. First thing to note is that this 690B Turbo Commander is not an upgrade of another Carenado Aero Commander which is the Shrike 500s of which is in fact a very different aircraft. The 690B has in differencal a new wing centre section and a completely different engine configuration with the twin Garrett AiResearch TPE331-5-251K turboprops engines moved further outboard, a changed flightdeck layout and the pressurisation system is upgraded for an altitude ceiling of 31,000ft.


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External Design

Those Garrett's are very impressive, and very finely modeled here, they look and sound spectacular. Note the extravagant huge booming exhausts.


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The same high quality of Carenado design very is evident from the nose to tail of the this Commander, for some reason they just seem to get better and even more highly realistic, the trick is in the minor detail, here is it very extensive, almost every panel and rivet is accounted for with wear and the tear is also very well realised. This is because Carenado have used Physically Based Rendering materials and textures throughout and the PBR materials are authored with the same industry-standard software used by the film and gaming industries.


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For any new time developer wanting into the X-Plane game, the stakes now are certainly high and as with this sort of perfection you are up now up against such detailing in realism. Glass is also perfection, and all the surfaces have excellent reflection properties.


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Upper roof hatch style windows are heavenly, but they look even better from the inside, note the lovely window surround detail...


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You can of course spend ages noting every single aspect of this exterior, but it is almost perfect and again this is another new slightly higher level of quality through and through.


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Internal Design

The cabin is just as highly detailed, but more to the earlier Carenado style than their latest aircraft, in other words it is a more very heavier look for the leather seating and trim.


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Detailing is in the "Oh wow!" territory, with a very custom style perfection. Layout is set out in a executive club seating arrangement, with a jump seat side right, and exit door side left, and internally it is certainly luxurious. You feel the internal thick cladding of the design, as the 690B had the extra soundproofing over the 690A. Animated tables pop-out from the side of the cabin enclosure for the each single side seating arrangement....


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...  and the unusual window layout of a small, then the huge panoramic long window is amazing for the backseat fliers, and looking outside it comes with those huge powerful turbine Garrett's filling out your view, note the really beautiful reflective chrome on the spinners. This is an aircraft you want to spend a lot of time of inside, as the rear is as brilliant as the office up front.


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Flightdeck instrumentation and systems are comprehensive, at first glance the layout looks very complex, and more a regional airliner setup than a large executive twin.


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Instrument panel is far, far more different than the 500s, the only points that are the same between the aircraft are only the position of the standard six flying instruments and again that is only on the co-pilot's panel.


Yokes can be hidden, which is great as the ram style yoke covers a lot of the lower panels, but they are better for flying with in smaller spaces. Switches for map light and Ident actually do work as does the A/P disconnect (red button)


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Centre console is complex with just a set of throttle levers and combined propeller/mixture levers noted as RPM, note the throttle lever friction levers...


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...  Prop sync, taxi light switches are here with the park brake. Collins 106/107 Autopilot (A/P) is down low centre console, thankfully there is a pop-up in the menu.


Overhead Panel (OHP) is just simply amazing in detail and use. Both Elevator and Rudder trim wheels are very authentic and to note those huge speakers, gotta be a great when just ferrying the aircraft, "Rock and Roll". All spot lighting in the aircraft are separately switchable and animated to focus the light, instrument brightness is separate for both pilots. Many rocker switches are three way with a clever arrow up and down and a hand finger to set the middle position.


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OHP switchgear is comprehensive, and even complicated as well. Areas include: Generator, Lights (Ext/Int) Ice Protection, Avionics, right and left engine starter panels, Landing lights and wipers. Ice Protection is again comprehensive and highly detailed with authentic amp switching, and there is full information on how to use the system in the provided "Systems reference guide". A note is warranted in the fact that all these sort of systems are currently being overhauled in X-Plane (see - FlightSimExpo 2018). So there is a good chance that these systems will become even more realistic and functional in the future, but this system installed here is still very well done.


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Personal mask oxygen panel is on the co-pilot side and as is the circuit breaker panel pilot's side, note the armrests are all animated for use.


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Instrument panel

Flying instruments are a different setup on each side of the instrument panel. The pilot's side has the Collins semi-glass vertical mounted Artificial Horizon top and the Heading Dial lower. The co-pilot's layout is the same AH top and HD bottom, but they are standard instruments and that the Course and Heading knobs are opposite on each setup, and you sort of don't get used to the heading knob being on the left on the pilot's side.


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Airspeed Indicator and Turn Coordinator are left of the centre instruments and the Attitude Indicator and the Vertical Speed Indicators are on the right, both sides, but the Attitude Indicator is a different type style on each side.


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On the pilot's side the other dials covers a Clock, Cabin Climb Pressure and Cabin Altitude (pressure) in 100ft/1000ft, there is also a Radar Altimeter. Co-Pilot's side is again a Clock, main Fuel Quantity (all fuel tank is made up 22 individual fuel cells in the wings and fuselage that are interconnected to form a single tank of a total capacity of 384 U.S. gallons, (about 2,573 pounds of Jet-A). Suction and Reg Pressure dials and a Hobb's meter is lower center to the right.


The centre of the panel with the avionics is a bit of a ergonomic design mess, so you have to note which instrument is which to find them, but there is a sort of system at work here. Top row and centre has an engine readout in a two - two arrangement, from left to right are the twin High-Pressure RPM dials then the Percent RPM 10-100 with an insert clock dial 0-9. Centre is a Fuel consumed counter (resettable in lbs) then the two large dials that covers both engines Oil temperature and Oil/Fuel Pressures. Far right is the Elevator and Rudder position indicators. Centre are the twin dials to cover engine EGT (Exhaust Gas Temperature) gauges, then lower the engine Fuel Flow (LB/HR) dials. Lower centre panel is an ADF/VOR2 pointer, far lower right are two instruments to cover Hydraulic Pressure and Flap position in Up- 1/2 - Down with markings for 1/4 and 3/4.


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Avionics consists left of a standard pop-up Garmin GNS 530 top, GARMEN GMA 340 Audio Panel, Bendix/King KX 165 VOR2/NAV2 radio and NAV2 Bendix/King KX 64 DME receiver stacked below. Right panel avionics are a Bendix/King KX 87 ADF unit top, Avidyne radar (functional) centre and a Garmin GTX 327 Transponder/Clock bottom. The RealityXP's GTN750 can be used as an option replacing the GNS 530.


Glareshield annunciator panel is first rate, but also again a little confusing to work out at first. Warning items are mostly concerning the turbine engine warnings and lever positions. Pressing the "Test" button on the left will illuminate the panel, but there are also other warning lights around the panel including: Fuel Temperature far left, A/P settings on/off and Fuel Flow centre.


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Lower panels cover left...  Environmental (Oxygen Pressure) and Landing gear, Left Flap lever and circuit breakers right...


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...  I am surprised that by now Carenado still don't do active circuits, as they would do them very well. The systems here though are all very active and covered in the said "Systems reference guide", included are the: Electrical System with buses, Ice Protection, Fuel System and HP Limiter. So there is the need in this aircraft to study the systems and understand how they work to get the very best out of the aircraft.


But there is the point to be made that developers are advancing to the very limits now of X-Plane's default built in systems, as to make a lot of the systems work, there are and certainly in this 690B compromises to the X-Plane system basics, and to a point Laminar Research have not done a lot of changes in these areas for years, hopefully with Phillipp Ringler now moving into the systems areas and more as X-Plane's avionics are now pretty well complete, we will now see far more attention on these system areas in the future.


Ground Details and Menu

On the ground the undercarriage is a work of art, and very well animated.


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Struts and links are all recreated with incredible detail, internal gear bay is just as detailed. Taxi lighting is on the strut, and only comes on if the gear is lowered.


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I'm not sure of the crack on the upper gear support? a detail, or wear and tear...  anyway I wouldn't be flying this aircraft in real life with that there!


Gear animation is simply first rate, and you can watch all the twist and turning action from the cabin windows, the link between the upper support strut and wheel assembly is again very well animated, here it is at full stretch holding the the two assemblies together


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Menus are the standard three menu tabs lower left of your screen and all are the usual standard Carenado A, C and O menu staples.


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A is the Collins 106/107 autopilot pop-up panel. C is ten "Views" with "Field of View" adjustment and two sound adjustments. O is for "Options" including opening Pilot (passenger) door and a Baggage door left rear.  Static elements provided are basic with, two cones and engine inlets front and rear/flag, pitot covers and there is also Window and Instrument reflections and the choice of changing the liveries without going to the main X-Plane menu. The twin pilots disappear when you activate the static elements. There is an option for the "External Power" but Carenado don't show a cart outside the aircraft, surely it can't be hard to feature a power cart?


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Note the lovely drop-down step, which is fully animated and detailed.


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The Collins 106/107 Autopilot panel is scalable (thankfully as it is rather large)...  but the adjustment triangle is very small and hard to see, obviously to not having it stand out alone right in your view, but it can also be hard to find against a bright background.


Flying the 690B Turbo Commander!

As with understanding the aircraft's systems, then flying the 690B also requires a bit of skill and knowledge, flying the actual machine per se is not the issue here but it is a quirky aircraft that is quite deep in the way you use and fly it. I flew from KCVG - Cincinnati to KMCO - Orlando...  and then just kept flying on again to KRSW - South Florida, and what was just my usual routine of understanding and dissecting the aircraft for a review, then in this case the flying just went on and on and to the point of flying this long route until it then took out a complete full day. Now that is very unusual for myself, unless it is usually an heavy grade "Study" aircraft with a zillion systems or features. But that also shows how much time and effort it required to really fully come to terms with this aircraft.


The startup of the 690B is a little complicated, more so by the setup of the "beta" range. The beta range on the throttle levers is the lower part of the throttle range that puts the propellers into a reverse pitch for reverse thrust. But in X-Plane in trying to replicate the beta range zone on the throttle slider has really just messed it up, the worst instance is in the FJS Dash8 where it just doesn't work at all, or then or even when it does or doesn't work in flight or on landing. The problem is X-Plane doesn't really know if it supposed to activate the beta mode or not, so sometimes you get the action, and sometimes you don't, it's confused and so are you. This is more pronounced if you use a throttle system like I do with the Saitek x56. So if you set the throttles in the 690B like you should do in the "GND IDLE" position and above the beta zone, then the thrust is too high, so to get idle you have to set your throttles at the bottom of the range and in the reverse beta zone? To make the beta reverse thrust work then set a key or in my case the joystick trigger to the key setting "Hold thrust reverse at max" and this simulates the "beta" range reverse action. So if you set your throttle levers correctly then they won't work... but set them in the wrong position and they do? and this also causes the annunciator for the beta warnings to also always show?


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This is first of all highlighted at engine start up as the 690B has a propeller "Startlock" that holds the propellers in a flat pitch, to unlock you need to hold them in a reverse pitch? above 60% RPM, and the same again to lock them at engine shutdown. 


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Starting the TPE331-5-251K turboprops is automatic, but you do have to do it a sequence. Main switch is first to fuel pump ON, and the IGN OVRD switch has to be ON (Fuel/Hydr on as well). There are two engine start positions with the AIR and GND, with the AIR position you can start the engines only in flight as the aircraft uses the forward motion of air against the propellers to start the engine, on the GND start position it uses a Garrett air turbine starter to start the engine, so it is air turbine turning a turbine to do the starting. The whine will start and then the engine will power up on setting the GND position.


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At above the 60% RPM point then you use the "Hold thrust reverse at max" trigger to unlock the propeller startlock, just slight hold and you feel it change.


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Then start the other engine with the same process, turn off the IGN OVRD once the engine is at the correct RPM at around 78%.


Taxi lights are on the gear strut, but the landing lights are inserted into the wing? You have to flip a switch to "Extend" them, so make sure you remember to do that, and to retract the lights again after takeoff. There are wing (Ice) lights built into the engine cowling.


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Before flight or in the climb phase you have to set your cabin pressure...  this is done via the "Cabin Alt" knob and the settings are noted by the internal dial that is in altitude feet, I am flying up to 15,000ft so I set this to the inner-ring, and the cabin pressure will be shown and set on the outer-ring at  2,400ft, mode to "AUTO" so it will do the pressure changes for you in flight.


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With the throttles full back set the RPM levers to just below LO GROUND setting, but don't forget to put them to HI FLIGHT position before takeoff.


It took me a fair while to get the sweet spot for taxiing speed, as if not there is too much power and far too much speed and you are consistently on the brakes and makes for a pretty unrealistic taxi if even infuriating in trying to rub off too much of speed all the time.


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Even then you use minimal throttle to move forward, once moving I pull one throttle lever back and use the other engine to control the speed, it takes a little practise to get comfortable, but once you do it right makes the Turbo Commander behave as it should.


Even with a slight push up of the throttles the 690B takes off like a bucking bronco, it easily quickly passes 100 knts and with rotate is around 140 kts with a slight single setting of the flaps. Your holding on more than flying this aircraft so strength, precision and control is required as you take flight and is vital...


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Once clear of the field I level off around 4000ft, initial handling feel is very good, but the aircraft is powerful so you have to one make sure the throttles are kept close together as the power will side slip or yaw you, and that is until you switch on the Prop-sync. Overall in the flying I love the aircraft's handling, but it is quite different from a usual twin-engined aircraft like say a KingAir.


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The big -twin will climb at a max of 2849fpm, so an initial 2000fpm is fine and then after 10,000ft drop it to around 1,000fpm, that max climb rate is very different to an earlier Aero Commanders as 1,800fpm was about max.


Setting the V/S (Vertical Speed) is a bit tricky, as the ALT (and panel light) has to be off to adjust the V/S, you do this via the wheel DN or UP, but you don't need a lot of movement to adjust, a few clicks will get you climbing up (or down) quite fast, so it is not very precise, keep the RPM slightly under the red and 70% on the climb.


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If the pressurization is working then the "Cabin Altitude dial" will show you the pressures, the long needle shows your cabin altitude and the short needle is the DIFF Pressure, which can go quite high.


Sounds are in the "extremely good" category, as all are FMOD and 180º soundscapes and are simply really great, start up sequence is very and highly realistic, and through the throttle range to cruise you get all round excellent sound, and to me good sound is not boring or repetitively annoying, and you don't get either here.


One thing I did notice is that the 390B simply devours fuel at an high rate...  Official range is 820 nm, but I loaded in 17,000lbs and was on fumes at Orlando after 550 nm, you can max the range out to 1100 nm but that would be an aircraft empty of passengers and cargo and not pushing the higher speeds at all, and trying or aiming for the 280lbs per hour goal... so watch those gauges!


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Ice protection is again quite extensive, L and R windshields are heatable, rudder heating element, Engine inlet de-icing, pitot heating for tubes and vents, prop ice protection and de-icing boots that work.



The lighting layout is very good, but mostly done by movable (animated) spot lighting with eight spot lights, in two over the cockpit, two with one over the door entrance and one over the jump seat... four spot lights cover the rear seats and tables.


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Cockpit instrument lighting has adjustment each side of the panel and those twin overhead spots.


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External is the already noted wing and gear taxi lighting, wing ice. A beacon on the tail, new bright strobe lighting and small navigation lights.


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KMCO - Orlando

Awareness of the NAV2 settings between the Bendix/King KX 165 VOR2/NAV2 radio and the NAV2 Bendix/King KX 64 DME receiver in that the NAV2 frequency has to be done manually on the DME unit, even the X-Plane frequency insert will not put it on the same DME frequency?


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On approach to Orlando's RWY 17L and it is tricky to get the speed correct, if the gear is still up then you get a warning if you go below 140 knts, but you want to drop the flaps? so to go slower you have no choice but to extend the undercarriage, the RPM lever needs to come back into the LO position to again (to try to) lower the speed...


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...  your aiming for an approach speed of around 100 knts full flap, which is not a notched flap setting, but a hold down the lever to do a continuous flap movement either up or down, so with the flap indicator in a very buried position, it can be a bit of a hit and miss and even to a gut feeling of the actual flap position? And make sure the Prop Sync is also off before landing.


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If your cabin altitude is to zero and the cabin pressure is also low, then press the DEPRESS button to depressurize the cabin. And note the outstanding view out of the cabin windows.


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If you have got everything right in the balance of the speed which on finals is essential, Stall speed is 59 knots, (109 km/h) flaps, so 60 knts is your marker..


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...  so your flare speed is around 85 knts. A nice flare and then reduce the power...


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...  once tracking correctly on the runway and with the levers in idle then trigger that reverse thrust...   and the job is done.


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Well not quite? remember to re-trigger (reverse) the propeller startlock's on the engine wind down...  and "holy hell" is there only THAT much fuel left in the tank?


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One blank and five US registrations and one Belgium registration covers the livery choice, all are however very high HD 4K quality.


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This 690B Turbo Commander is a very technical aircraft, it has a lot of areas and systems that you really need to understand and in flying the aircraft really well also demand's a bit of skill and experience, so this is an aircraft that is certainly not for new flyers or for anyone that doesn't have a fair bit of simulation experience.


For the pro-pilot, then it is smorgasbord of features and systems that include, a comprehensive pressurization system, Manifest.json (custom aircraft configurations), Fuel system, Ice Protection System, Electrical System with buses and HP Limiter system and there is support for both the native X-Plane GNS 530 and RealityXP's GTN750*


The instrument panel is comprehensive and very authentic, but also confusing and comes with a heavy workload, beta range is catered for but tricky to use, and requires a bit of skill in using the throttle and RPM modes to their full advantages, so this is an aircraft that requires time and even study and mostly even a lot of flying to get it really if perfectly right, it took even myself three days to really get the full perspective of the full range of all the aspects of the aircraft.


From a modeling and detailing perspective, then this 690B is in that upper niche area of being at the top of the top of the class, it is a quality act, with exceptional glass and chrome. Undercarriage design, detail and animations are excellent and the lighting is very good with the sounds in range and 3d spatial awareness are again top notch.


You are however starting to feel the limitations of the underlying X-Plane framework with this aircraft, as developers are now out pacing the inner X-Plane systems setups, obviously Laminar Research will catch up, but it shows how far we have come in these heady days with aircraft that are as great and as excellent as this Turbo Commander, the aircraft is not for the faint-hearted either but then the rewards of this 690B are also very high and it is highly addictive and already a very popular aircraft...  highly recommended.




X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg


Yes! the 690B Turbo Commander by Carenado is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

690B Turbo Commander


Price is US$37.95 


Special Features

  • The latest technology in X-Plane
  • Optimized for X-Plane 11
  • State-of-the-art configurable FPS-friendly logic system.(details here)
  • Fully VR compatible
  • Full PBR (Superb material shines and reflections)
  • Specially designed engine dynamics for X-Plane 11
  • Flight physics optimized for XP11 standards
  • Ground handling adapted for XP11 ground physics
  • Physically Based Rendering materials and textures throughout
  • PBR materials authored with industry-standard software used by the film and gaming industries.
  • X-Plane GNS530 (FPS friendly)
  • Support for RealityXP's GTN750* (integrated into 3D cockpit, when available)
  • Goodway Compatible
  • Realistic behavior compared to the real airplane. Realistic weight and balance. Tested by several pilots for maximum accuracy


X-Plane 11

Windows, Mac or Linux
4Gb+ VRAM Recommanded
Current version : 1.0 (July 3rd 2018)
Download size: 450Mb


Download of the 690B Turbo Commander is 428.60mb and it is installed in your General Aviation Folder as a 518mb folder.
Extensive, but no actual aircraft manual as per Carenado, and in this case you really needed a detailed manual. The 690B Systems Reference Guide does cover however many of the featured systems.
  • Recommended Settings XP11 .pdf
  • 690B Systems Reference Guide.pdf
  • Carenado 690B_Turbo_Commader Performance tables.pdf
  • Carenado 690B_Turbo_Commander Emergency Procedures.pdf
  • Carenado 690B_Turbo_Commander Normal checklist.pdf
  • Carenado 690B_Turbo_Commander References.pdf
  • Copyrights.pdf
  • Credits.pdf




Review by Stephen Dutton 
18th July 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 11.25

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 : WorldTraffic 3.0 Plugin - US$29.95

Scenery or Aircraft

- KCVG - Cincinnati International Airport by Skyline Simulations (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$27.00

- KMCO- Orlando International Airport by Nimbus Simulations (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$24.95


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