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Aircraft Review : King Air 350 by AirfoilLabs

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Aircraft Review : King Air 350 by AirfoilLabs

 

AirfoilLabs released their first project in the Cessna 172SP Skyhawk back in the 3rd Quarter of 2015. As a project it was certainly highly ambitious and in areas also created new levels of aircraft detail and interaction. The Skyhawk also had a strange feel that was not the usual X-Plane type of feedback that you usually had, but the 172SP's role was never in doubt, as it was aimed directly at trainers and pilot's that have certified on the aircraft or even if you currently owned one. Their feedback was that overwhelmingly the Czech studio AirfoilLab's C172SP was a great if not a perfect reproduction of the real aircraft... not bad for a first release. The X-PlaneReviews review is here: Aircraft Review - Cessna 172SP Skyhawk by AirfoilLabs

 

 But I will admit the feel and high immersion was something you liked or not, so the C172SP split users into two camps, say 80% for to the 20% against. Myself personally I had a foot in each and again the percentage was about the same in say 80% /20% of how much I really liked it. For one it is deathly slow aircraft if you like VOR to VOR flying, you judge distance in months not hours in getting anywhere and I am not a big fan of too much realism of where it starts to get in the way of the simulation....  but that does not take away the fact of the scale of the achievement that AirfoilLabs in what they had created.

 

So when the announcement came that AirfoilLabs next project would be the King Air 350, then that was a real "whoa" moment, as for ambition goes you have to give AirfoilLabs a lot of pertinacity, as this is another huge step and with another huge project cliff face to climb...  it would have been all quite so easy just to have done another single-engined light GA of say the Cessna 152, but no it is the huge twin King Air 350.

 

Super King Air 350

There are so many King Air variants you need a wall chart to work them all out of the active 7,300 aircraft produced. But the highly successful B200 Series created all that and operators wanted even more and more out of the iconic airframe. First came the 300 series in were as the B200's airframe was "cleaned up" and used even more powerful engines (PT6A-60A, rated at 1050 shp) installed in redesigned cowlings (known as "pitot cowlings" due to the reshaped engine air intakes) with MTOW increased to 14,000 lb (6,300 kg). Not finished there they then wanted even more bigger King Air and so the fuselage of the 300 was stretched again by nearly three feet with two extra cabin windows on each side and winglets added to the wingtips to create the Model B300. The aircraft was introduced in 1990 and initially marketed as the Super King Air 350...  at a later date the "Super" title was dropped and later aircraft were fitted with Pro Line 21 avionics.

 

AirfoilLab's King Air 350

Even from the first release images of AirfoilLabs new machine, it was very obvious this was a very highly detail and well crafted aircraft. In the release version as well you were certainly not disappointed either, this is nice modeling at it's best.

 

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But let us not forget that this is one of the most competitive categories there is and you are situated directly against the high-dynamics of the Carenados and the JustFlights. In that company the visual effect is slight flatter, its good, even very good and make no mistake, but the level here now required is to the extreme more than just very good... it is also a personal viewpoint as well as many would even nudge more towards the AirfoilLab than the extreme Thranda dynamics, but I am more the other way around.

 

Detail of course is excellent and extremely well done.... not only the exposed areas like the undercarriage, but the semi-hidden areas as well like the highly detailed wheel wells.

 

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Expected... well yes actually because this is where your money goes, high detailed costs...  and there is to be no shrinking of the budget, but you certainly get your money's worth here...  we expect the overall fuselage and flying surfaces to be correct as they all are very impressive, but again it is in the detail that we look for value and quality....

 

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....  lighting assemblies are excellent and highly detailed...  love those huge trumpet exhausts, and they are very well crafted here. The spinner and chrome detail is very good as well, note the nice attachment screws.

 

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Rear engine locker detail is also very good, lovely chrome and detailed lock...  wing construction (rivets) and paneling to the correct scale is also very good.

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Trim adjusters are excellent, great detail. The external avionics are well done as well, a simple thing to brand them, but this sort of detail also gives the aircraft the air of authenticity....  beacon has the internal bulb filament... impressive.

 

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There are a few elements that are not textured though, like a few aerials, drain pipes and some blade radio fins, they are only pure 3d modeling, do so AirfoilLabs think we wouldn't notice?

 

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Glass is very good, but not the best I have seen lately... the close up surround detail is slightly ragged and in some lighting viewpoints you lose the reflectivity, but you really like the rare green tint and wear and tear window scratches.

 

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Oddly enough  there is no option to turn off the window or instrument reflections, and you don't need to inside as the tint is not visible. All glass has a rain feature that is very good...  I don't think it is the new Librain effect, as the waterdroplets and effect are quite different, but they are very good and realistic.

 

Time to have a look inside the B350...

 

Internal Cabin

There is only one entrance door on the King Air's, to the rear on the left side, opening it up and the animation with the rope stair is very good, it is very hard to animate rope or flexible materials and it is well done here.

 

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As you enter there is a single crew seat opposite, and a large luggage area with safety straps to the right....  note the lovely aluminum door frame, that is nice detail.

 

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In the cabin then leather and rich grain wood abound, this is certainly an executive layout with double sets of club chairs, this is very nice arrangement, but a lot of KA350's are used for medical evacs, so an option of a medvac cabin would have been really good.

 

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Each club area has foldout animated tables, beautifully done and overall the cabin fitout is excellent and very luxurious...  but I am going to be a bit picky here, as there are areas are speedy modeling...  circles are time consuming to create in 3d, to eliminate the straight line on a circle effect then more straight smaller lines you do, the better the circumference...  the larger the lines saves time and work. There are areas here that show such straighter more than circle design, window frames and lighting are the most obvious, there are well done areas, but there are also a lot of noticeable design points throughout the aircraft.

 

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To note is that now in X-Plane we are moving in the era of ultra quality, certainly in this category, so anything now that was then brilliant and exemplary of even a few years ago, can now be judged by a very different scale.... don't get me wrong here this cabin is extremely good, but detail is detail and that is what you pay for.

 

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Cabin lighting is very good even excellent, but not as spot seat adjustable as say the Carenado...  main cabin overhead spot lighting is set in three positions in Bright - Dim - Off, but I couldn't see much difference between "Bright" and "Dim", yes it is slightly dimmer, but not as noticeable enough to be different or certainly usable.

 

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So the "Off" is a stark dark contrast...

 

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"Exit" lights (two) are manually switched (very nice) and a switch on the rear wall by the door will light up the rear entrance and cargo area, again very nicely done. Externally the cabin looks very cosy and inviting but the glass looks missing?

 

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Cockpit Cold

Time to look behind those lovely doors...     the cockpit doors can't be opened from the cabin, which is weird? and can only to be opened from the cockpit side, which begs the question "how do get in there if the doors are locked from the other side?"...  there are several areas like this (including the armrests) that can't be activated from certain angles...

 

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Yes it is a King Air cockpit with that familiar layout, as they say "fly one, then fly them all"...  but the detail set out here is deep, extremely deep.

 

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Yes AirfoilLabs have done an extremely great job in here, and in finding the right balance between the practical and the wear and tear...

 

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...  we have seen a lot of King Air cockpits in X-Plane and some very good ones, but this is without doubt the best of them all in minute detail and interaction. As they say, "you have to give credit, where the credit is due".

 

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Powered Cockpit

Turning on the power brings the King Air to life, there is a GPU (Ground Power Unit) as to not ruin your battery power if you are on the ground setting up for a significant time. Note the separate avionics switch... even with this switch on the full panel is still not full active as a lot of the avionics have separate ON/OFF switches. On a cold startup you get a none aligned EADI (arrowed) and I never found out how to align it?

 

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You can remove the chunky yokes, but the "AirfoilLabs" replacement logos look out of place by being too bright and are quite a distraction? A modified custom (darker) version of the logo would have been more expertly done...

 

Outwardly the instrument panel looks very complex, but actually it isn't, as all the systems are broken down into their system areas and if you know what area you are looking at it is all easy even basic to use, but a rough drawn chart can help if you are new to King Airs.

 

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The pilot's side is dominated by the Collins EFIS 84 (Electronic Flight Instrument System) avionics with on top the EADI (Electronic Attitude Director Indicator) and lower the EHSI (Electronic Horizontal Situation Indicator) the Co-Pilot only has the lower EHSI and a standard Artificial Horizon top.

 

The EFIS is surrounded by the main flight instruments with left the Airspeed Indicator, ADF/VOR direction pointers below. Right is Attitude Indicator positioned top, Vertical Speed Indicator is middle and the backup Artificial Horizon bottom.... far left is a Rate Of Turn indicator top and a Gyro Slave set out below.

 

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There are the standard twin sets of gauges set down the left centre panel that covers the engine outputs with top to bottom: ITT (*Cx100) - (Interstage Turbine Temperature), Torque (FTLB x 100), Prop - RPM, Turbine % RPM, Fuel Flow and Oil temps/Pressure... nice digital readouts are included in the Torque and RPM dials.

 

Lower left panel covers Electrical, Anti-Ice, Prop AutoFeather, External lighting (in two sections either side of the landing gear lever) and Ice Protection.

 

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Co-Pilot's side is again quite basic in the layout... the already mentioned lower EHSI and a standard Artificial Horizon are central, then Airspeed Indicator, ADF/VOR direction pointers to the left with a Radar Altitude dial bottom. Right is the Attitude Indicator positioned top and below the Vertical Speed Indicator with a Rate Of Turn indicator far right, another Gyro Slave is below. On the lower right panel are four dials covering Gyro Suction, Pneumatic Pressure, Cabin Air temp (ºF) Hobbs (Hour) meter is middle and Oxygen pressure far right...    switchgear and knobs cover Environmental systems.

 

The central panel is really well done and very authentic, it is also a little complex. King Air COMMS panel is top with separate volume knobs....  Collins Altitude Selector is below.

 

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Old style Collins CTL22 serial tune control units cover COM/NAV radio frequencies, COMM 1 & 2, NAV 1& 2, Transponder and ADF. The tuners are highly impressive from the standard block default ones you usually use in X-Plane. 

 

All CTL22s have separate volume knobs and built in four position frequency memory and all can be tested.

 

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The Collins WXR-850 Weather Radar is also not the usual dummy unit...  It comes with full RADAR, NAV and TEST, GAIN, TILT and RANGE functions, heading can be UP or North.

 

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The display can also be used as a backup EADI or EHSI by selecting the lower selection buttons (green).

 

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Impressed... you should be.

 

Center console has the Collins APS 65 Autopilot and EHSI functions and a separate EHSI panel for the Co-Pilot. The FMS is a custom version of the X-Plane11 default FMS, and as usual the panel pops-out. The cabin pressure/altitude adjustment knob is here as well, with the pressure dump switch just above.

 

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Side panels cover all the circuit breakers, the B350 has a custom electrical DC and AC behavior in detail, with electrically operated relays and load distribution per component... it is very extensive and realistic. The upper fuel panel is standard King Air and fully switchable with tank crossfeed...  a nice touch is the switches don't just switch up or down, but lift to the new position which is very realistic.

 

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Overhead Panel (OHP) is again standard King Air, but well done in detail. Simulated buses include Battery Bus, Center Bus, Dual Fed Bus, Left Gen Bus, Right Gen Bus, Triple Fed Bus, Left AC Bus, Right AC Bus, Avionics buses 1, 2 and 3. All interior lighting is focused here as well.

 

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Two annunciator panels covers Master and Caution Warnings top and the large multi status panel lower...  all annunciators can be tested...

 

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.... again it is highly impressive and detailed.

 

Centre pedestal is a pure King Air arrangement, with twin levers for Throttle, Propeller (Feathering) and Condition. Aileron and Rudder trims with a large wheel pitch trim wheel on the left. The Flap[ lever is here as well with three dials covering Flap position UP -º20 - º60 - º80 - DOWN selections, Cabin Climb and Cabin Altitude dials.

 

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So in detail and the depth of the systems there is no doubt this is an impressive aircraft, all functions and switch gear work as per a real King Air, so that then nominates the aircraft as a "Study" grade aircraft... the only aspect that is not real world is the FMS, but as X-Plane and advanced avionics progresses (notes of Pro-Line are already simmering around the sim) then in time even the basic FMS will certainly be replaced.

 

Cockpit Lighting

With an array of lighting knobs on the OHP then the cockpit lighting options should be very good, and they are.

 

Full panel lighting to just instrument lighting is excellent. Twiddling the knobs will find you with your perfect setup, of also dim left side or right side main instrumentation or selected areas like the engine dials or avionics. The EFIS displays brightness can be adjusted via the console panel, and separately for either pilot.

 

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There are two overhead spots that are animated, but not spot animated in that they throw a spot light aka Carenado. In reality it is just two broad overhead lights and one for each side...  it still works in creating mood lighting, but you miss the dynamics and drama of the Carenado feature.

 

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XJet

The AirfoilLabs KA350 is different as well from other X-Plane aircraft. This is the first use of the "XJet Plugin" which is LUA based code. Most heavy system aircraft use plugins to replicate and achieve realistic systems and animations. The standard is the SASL plugin and also the Gizmo system, which in it's earlier incarnations was quite a nasty piece of simulator crashing pain. But most if not all developers are devoted to the SASL system because the SASL developer will be flexible enough to create custom code for certain functions at the whims of the aircraft developer.

So here is a new LUA based version and AirfoilLabs notes it's features that includes Aircraft Systems Logic Tools to simulate realistically very complex electrical systems and a built in Interactive Checklist System that is able to control the aircraft automatically with camera focusing and audio specs. It is also available on all X-Plane based platforms of Windows, Mac and Linux.

 

But the new plugin has it's teething problems. On the aircraft systems side it looks pretty faultless, (unless you use the replay) so that is not the issue here. It is in the external factors that it shows it's issues.

Number one is the authentication of the aircraft, and quite frankly it is a mess of untested pain...   It is supposed to install not only the XJet plugin but the aircraft itself and a load of software packages like java to make the whole thing run. This "Product Manager" is supposed to be run externally before starting X-Plane, but note it only at the first load or insert, then then loads in only the XJet plugin.

 

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When install is complete you then start over again and install the aircraft, with the authorisation (key) of the product...  done, not!

 

Running X-Plane and opening the aircraft gives you a warning to authorise the aircraft (but "what" I have already done that?), try and do that and the authorisation will not work as usual. To authorise the KA350, you need to then go back to any other aircraft in your "Flight Configuration" and load it, then pull down the "Plugin Menu" and then with the same "Plugin Manager" panel and then again redo the authorisation key...  and now it will finally work...  well yes?

 

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Several times when doing a startup in reloading the AirfoilLabs KA350, you will find you need to go back to the last step of reauthorisation via another aircraft to run the KA350 for that simulation...  annoying.

 

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You do a sort of a cheer when it all finally works, but no doubt it will be all fixed up and working correctly in time and the point is why with such an important aspect and the very first introduction to the aircraft then why wasn't the installer tested? and tested again...   It all caused so much confusion.

 

Another aspect of the XJet plugin is that it is sluggish...  you see it in the aircraft's movement and certainly in any internal view movement, as X-Jet is not as refined yet as it needs to be, framerate is not the issue and it seems it is with the other plugins like xEnviro and WorldTraffic3 that this movement is even more highlighted. The aircraft also has a "Save" last flight feature, that saves all the current systems as they were on the last flight, however in some instances I found when loading the AR KA350 it would load the aircraft in another place, and in my place that was in the drink or a lake somewhere else???  it is all very odd.

 

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Menu System

The AirfoilLabs KA350 has an extensive menu system that is activated via movement to the left of your screen. There are five rows of menu options...

 

  • Aircraft situation
  • 2D Panels
  • Static Elements
  • Weight & Balance
  • Settings

 

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Aircraft Situation : There are four options on the state of the aircraft :  Cold & Dark, Before Start, Before Taxi and Before Takeoff....  I did find that in a few aspects there was still a few switches to throw (i.e. battery switch on the before start state?) to get to the said situation, so it is always a good idea to run through the checklist.

 

2D Panels : There are six options of pop-up 2D panels : Pilot AP/YD, Co-Pilot AP/YD, Pedestal, Environmental (lower console), EADI and EHSI

 

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All pop-outs are extremely scaleable (from full screen to absolute nothing!), window pop-out and moveable around the screen, all pop-out panels are highly useable. Note: if you scale too small you may not resize the panel back to normal, as there is no default reset button either? 

 

Static Elements : There are seven static elements available : GPU (External Ground Power Unit), Fuel Tanker, RBF (Engine inlet covers, tags, flags and cones), Chocks, Tie-Downs, (Open/Close) Door and Maintenance Stands.

 

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All the static elements are excellent. Highly detailed GPU and an outstanding fuel tanker, Chocks only is a big "Thank You" and you have to really love those four Maintenance Stands... 5 stars!

 

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There are more active areas for ground activities...  You can switch on the clickable green areas to show these active zones around the aircraft.

 

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These zones can be used with the menu, or directly (say position the chocks or open the door)...    but more so for more access to the aircraft. Both side engine panels can be opened to reveal the Pratt & Whitney PT6A-60A reverse flow, free turbine engine...

 

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.....   and the oil stick can also be accessed. Fuel can be loaded remotely for both the outer and inner tanks, and even the earthing cable is to be attached!

 

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Rear engine cowl lockers open via latches, and there is ground puller that can be used directly to move the aircraft.

 

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Weight & Balance : The weight and balance sheet is also excellent, it comes in two options with lbs/Gal and kg/l....

 

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There is the full extensive list of weights available and the adjustments are numerous with four separate fuel tanks, Crew, Passenger and Baggage and Presets for Fuel and aircraft load weight... full weight graph shows Centre of Gravity and inches aft of datum. Only notes are that the scale left is noted in "POUNDS" on the Kg selection? and the panel is not scaleable. Overall the W&B sheet is excellent.

 

Settings : The settings panel is quite well laid out in two areas : General and Sound. Top has the "Remember Aircraft State" of which I like, as the aircraft is still set up the way you left it last flight...  but note it did have that bug where it constantly dropped me in a lake?

 

Several settings will show an "Arcade 2D Panel" along the top of your screen, this is selectable for both internal or external views.

 

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And the Green click regions noted above that can be set three ways : Hide, Hide When Still and Show Always.

 

Both pilots and passengers can be shown separately, and visible When Outside, Always or Never.

 

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The humaniods are debatable in their quality? They seem to have been created quickly for the feature than with much care for realism, they are passable and not animated and I don't use them except the pilots in the external view.

 

Alpha when Airbourne, restricts the throttle from going into the reverse beta mode while in flight, which can be helpful with add-on throttles.

 

You can select the "Environmental sounds "(external sounds) ON or OFF, Turn ON/OFF Pilot/Co-Pilot call outs in V references and Adjust the checklist volume.

 

Views/Walkaround : There are two selectable view tools that are selected via the "Camera" bottom left of your screen. One is for the Panel views and the other is a Walkaround feature that can be used in conjunction with all the active zones around the aircraft.

 

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Handbook

There is an aircraft handbook available as a pop-up in the cockpit (this is a handbook, not a manual), the handbook can be selected either by pressing the book in the left pouch by the pilot, or by pressing the logo bottom right of the screen. There are four tab selections in: General, Limits, Normal, Performance and one Options page.

 

GENERAL There are two pages covering the sizes and dimensions of the aircraft

 

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LIMITS There are four pages of noted limits for the aircraft's limitations, and there is a lot of detail in there.

 

NORMAL is the built in checklist and very good it is to...  (note the voice is loud unless you adjust the speakers volume)

 

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When you run the required checklist the (Co-Pilot) will run through the list with you. The item is pointed out and the action is noted on the bottom of the screen, If you complete the action the checklist will then move on to the next item, If you want to pass through the list item you can just press that item and move it forward yourself.... brilliant.  It is excellent for learning all the items and switches around the KA350 panels, and with a few run throughs you are an instant expert.

 

PERFORMANCE allows you to find the best performance figures for that flight in Takeoff and Landing. In certain zones you can input current details to get the correct current performance figure, but they can be slightly buggy with the inputs.

 

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Options

There is also an "Options" panel that is selected top right of the panel (arrowed).

 

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Options include "Camera Focus" were the camera moves to the next item on the list. The "Checklist Flow", here you can select three options in: Manual (clicking on the item will move you to the next list item), Semi-Automatic (By doing the action on the checklist it moves to the next list item) and Automatic (This will automatically do the checklist for you).  You can set the actual speed the checklist is completed action by action.

 

CHECKLIST HINTS (lower screen) can be shown ON/OFF, and under the SPEECH options you have the voice say "Checklist Items" and Checklist Hints".

 

On the top of the options page is a slider to adjust the transparency of the Handbook. Scale adjustment is huge, you can go from small (excellent for doing the checklists) to very (fill the screen) large.

 

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Flying the King Air 350

 

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Starting a King Air is actually quite easy....  Once your checklist is done and the aircraft is ready (fuel, weights and systems sorted) it is then down to the start procedure. Set the Trim to neutral (0) and switch on the ignition switches... 

 

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...  set the condition levers to "Low Idle" (for fuel flow) and switch up the engine start switch of the engine you want to start. They take their time to go through the extensive start sequence, but finally the prop will turn and the engine will whine into use, it sounds really good from the cockpit.

 

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Sounds are very good and doppler dynamic externally and internally...  the engine startup sequence is also excellent, so is the change in power feedback.

 

Using the "TakeOff" performance page in the handbook and filling in the required areas will give you your takeoff ref speeds and if you press the "Set Markers" that will then set the speed bugs on the Speed dial.

 

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Half throttle to get the aircraft moving, then about 100% torque to start the speed build... as the required takeoff v2 is only 120knts you are rotating and climbing very, quickly. Co-Pilot vocal readouts are excellent, but it also depends on if you want everything noted that you are doing, overall the readouts are very good.

 

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Climb speed is 2000 fpm, but you have a lot of choice as the maximum is 2750 fpm, but 2000 fpm is still very good with the available power. Once you have a nice positive climb then gear and flaps up... but with the gear retracted and the landing/taxi lights are still active as they hang below the nose?  A small detail but a highly noticeable one.

 

The KA350 is very nice in your capable hands, heading adjustments and banks are lovely, but it is a good idea to level off and set the trim early. The trim is very good in this aircraft, and can be adjusted via the buttons on the yoke...  personally I use the keyboard to save off any distractions from looking down than forward while in the crucial climb, so to note that the AirfoildLabs aircraft uses the "Pitch Trim Up/Down - Mechanical, not servo" setting rather than the usual standard "Pitch Trim Up/Down" and so you have to set that key input on your keyboard to use it.

 

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The aircraft will trim up very nicely, but you do also get a slight right bank? I tried adjusting the Aileron Trim, but that didn't work as well as I wanted it to...

 

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...  adjusting the throttle input torque was the best way to eliminate the bank.... of which I kinda like because you have a more realistic feel to the engine output power, but to note the aircraft was fighting though an almost headon 44 knt crosswind.

 

This is not the first time in X-Plane we have used the Collins EFIS 84, but not to this system depth as in the functionality here you are wanting nothing, but that also comes with the aspect of a required manual to also understand the full functionality of the system, and how to get the best out of it...  and it would take a review alone to cover all the intricate details and I wouldn't recommend this high-depth functionality to a newcomer to these sort of systems.

 

All VOR 1 - VOR 2 - FMS selections can be set individually on both the EADI and lower the EHSI which are controlled via the pop-out panel (or rear console if you are a diehard). Upper CRS ACT is used to set the EADI but the selections are shown in the top section of the EHSI...  the CRS PRE is the same for the EHSI and setting, there is also a BRG (Background) function as well for ADF 1 - VOR 1 - VOR 2 and FMS....  Course CTL (Control) can also be switched.

 

KA350_Flight 1.jpgKA350_Flight 2.jpg

 

Nav Data includes ET (Time used), Wind direction, TTG and GSP (Ground Speed)...  a nice aspect is that when you come up to a change of heading the current waypoint will flash alerting you, again this is not something we have not seen in the past but it is in the professional way it is done here that you really like.

 

KA350_Flight 3.jpgKA350_Flight 4.jpg


Both the current waypoint and heading pointer will both flash at 4 nm out from the heading change. To a point you have to be aware to manage all the Nav-Aid and FMS pointers, if not the EHSI can get seriously complicated if you have them all selected, simple selections of current requirements sometimes beats using all the features, just because you can. All three heading selections are available with HSI (rose), ARC and MAP.

 

KA350_Flight 5.jpgKA350_Flight 6.jpg

 

VOR 2 selections can hold three channels (arrowed below) and several selections of available data...

 

KA350_Flight 17.jpgKA350_Flight 18.jpg

 

Display details (Test) on the EFIS panel shows the huge amount of selections available, with all the major functions having ARM availablity...  1/20 is half bank (arrowed).

 

KA350_Flight 7.jpgKA350_Flight 8.jpg

 

The extensive menu options though can get in the way of using the EFIS panel, it pops-up and activates unwanted things while you are using the panel, same with the right lower handbook tab (arrowed right) as that tab gets constantly in the way of the range selection on the central MFD panel.... and YES both do get seriously annoying while trying to make quick flight adjustments.

 

KA350_Flight 9.jpgKA350_Flight 10.jpg

 

The King Air 350 has a ceiling of 35,000 ft / 10,668 m and a Max Speed of 320 kts, a Normal Cruise is 310 kts and an Economy Cruise is around 234 kts, but I found if you pushed the 350 past 340 knts - 350 knts it would start porpoising (pitching up and down) quite badly so the 235 knt range was the best for a clean flight, but still note that heavy crosswind. The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-60A turbines crank out 1,050 shp / 783 kW, so climbing to high altitudes is not a problem and the best aspect for a cleaner faster flight if the distance is over 800 nm. So with full tanks you can certainly cover a large distance with 1,806 nm / 3,345 km range and an extended range at 2,670 nm / 4,945 km.

 

Externally the particle effects are not good around the engines, and they also abruptly stop (in a line) by the entrance door level....

 

KA350_Flight 11.jpgKA350_Flight 12.jpg

 

... parts of the visual triangles are highly noticeable and distract constantly from the look of the aircraft in flight.

 

KA350_Flight 13 LG.jpg

 

Overall the sounds are very good, but there are some quirks...  external sounds can get very deep droney and repetitive and if you sit in the cabin in the left seat you can't hear any sounds, but they are there with the right side cabin seats? (oddly some Carenados do this as well) so maybe that is a FMOD quirk.

 

KA350_Flight 14.jpgKA350_Flight 15.jpg

KA350_Flight 16.jpg

 

Externally the lighting is very good, but again has quirks...  end of wing assembly lighting and (Ice) wing lighting is actually very good, as is the lower beacon and the tail lighting, the floating landing and taxi lights are of course awful as is the over bright cabin that is still over bright even when set on the "Dim" setting as also the window glass is not filtering out the lighting differences so the windows at night look like they have no glass.

 

KA350_Flight 19.jpgKA350_Flight 20.jpg

 

Arrival in Portland KPDX means getting ready to land...  using the Performance "Landing" tab in the Handbook you fill it in of the airport's details and press "Set Markers" to again set the landing speed bugs... again it was buggy in filling in data zones.

 

KA350_KPDX 1.jpgKA350_KPDX 2.jpgKA350_KPDX 3.jpg

 

Once aligned with RWY 10R you switch over the VOR 1 for the ILS alignment (note the setting change is done in the upper segment of the EHSI for use in the EADI)

 

KA350_KPDX 5.jpgKA350_KPDX 6.jpg

 

There has been some controversy on the AirfolLab forums that the KA350 is hard to land, or specifically it bounces...  hard. Obviously in most cases a bouncy landing means you are going too fast...  but there is more going on here, yes I feel the KA350 is approaching the runway too fast, but the numbers on the dials disagree with that at the stall speed is 94 knt dirty, so really the 100 knt marker is your final stall line. I personally have done three perfect landings, The blue line 125 knts is the best minimum approach speed, but a little higher at 135 knts gives you more control.

 

Control the speed and you control the height, as you may go a little long, but you will stay in control for a nice touch down landing...  the bigger problem is when you use the ILS glideslope, as the speed control at the same 135 knts then the KA350 does something weird...  as you drop out of the glide slope the KA350 decides to drop and you can easily lose control (I have several times) my guess is the Autopilot in taking control and not switching off, but once the AP is off you get your control back, but only after a marginal shove of the throttles for height and more power, its nasty... so it is best to avoid it by taking control and adjusting the power (switching off the AP) before the ILS slope runs out...

 

KA350_KPDX 7.jpgKA350_KPDX 8.jpg

 

KA350_KPDX 9.jpg

 

...  it is certainly not easy to do as it can take some skill to get right, but my overall feeling is that it is a bit of both going on here, yes you can land the KA350, but I still think a little bit of refinement is still required by AirfoilLabs, if the KA350 was a real aircraft you would call it "Nasty" with this approach aspect.

 

KA350_KPDX 10.jpgKA350_KPDX 11.jpgKA350_KPDX 12.jpgKA350_KPDX 13.jpg

 

A final note is that the AirfoilLabs KA350 absolutely loaths the X-Plane Replay mode....  obviously the X-Jet plugin is not configured correctly for the replay, so it will fly the aircraft, but not to expect any correct readouts from all the spinning instrument dials and wonky displays, worse is coming out of out of the replay mode as the KA350 acts really weird with completely odd things not working or not adjustable, as only a full X-Plane restart will bring the aircraft back to normal, and even then to remember to have the feature setting "Remember Aircraft State" switched off unless you want the same defective aircraft that you left running in the last flight of the KA350.

 

KA350_KPDX 14.jpg

 

_____________________________________

 

Liveries

There are 18 liveries, all are created from real world KA350 liveries and cover all aspects of the types of KA350s flying including the Air Ambulance variants. N70EU is default and there is a blank. Four liveries are the Wheels Up Cancer support, for Breast Cancer, Heart and Ovarian Cancer. 

 

KA350_Livery N70EU.jpgKA350_Livery ADAC.jpgKA350_Livery NSW Ambulance.jpgKA350_Livery Blank.jpgKA350_Livery N77.jpgKA350_Livery D-CFMD.jpgKA350_Livery Japan Coast Guard.jpgKA350_Livery Norway Coast Guard.jpgKA350_Livery Mexico Navy.jpgKA350_Livery NOAA.jpgKA350_Livery RN.jpgKA350_Livery Starship AirAmbul.jpgKA350_Livery Swiss AF.jpgKA350_Livery Titan.jpg

KA350_Livery Wheels Up.jpgKA350_Livery Wheels Up Cancer.jpgKA350_Livery Wheels Up Heart.jpgKA350_Livery Wheels Up Ovarian Cancer.jpg

 

_____________________________________

 

Summary

First of all don't let us forget the size of this project, the sheer ambition on show here with is excellent King Air 350. But the point of the huge undertaking and the introduction of a completely new Plugin system X-Jet is that it is all extremely highly complex and with an plugin system still in it's development stage. Most developers use SASL, and the main reason they use SASL is that it has had a huge amount of development over the years and is highly stable...  and there is no doubt that there is a huge amount of versatility and highly dynamic elements that this new X-Jet tool will bring to our aircraft.

 

But trying to bring both a extremely complex aircraft and a new plugin tool into use together, then was that all a step a bit too far. I have no absolute doubt that the X-Jet plugin and systems will be refined and soon will be also very stable, but the reality is that currently the KA350 is a bit to a lot buggy and not completely stable, some at times even infuriatingly so, it is a bit like a Forrest Gump chocolate "You just really don't know each time you use the KA350, of what sort of aircraft you are gonna get". In reality the aircraft needed far more development and testing before releasing it onto the unsuspecting user, a few months and some good feedback would have completed the project to a higher and far more professional level that you would expect at this level, Of say would Aerobask deliver an aircraft like this, I doubt it...  and from the off in the installation set up and activation palaver is just plain painful is the sort of starting point you just don't need.

 

In the extensive (even mind boggling) features and system depth the KA350 is astounding, the feature list is simply huge, even mind boggling and the detail in the systems is even very and highly realistic, it is noted as "Study" grade and I will second that. Electrical, Fuel Systems,  Pneumatics, Fire Protection, Ice and Rain Protection, Pressurization and oxygen systems and Hydraulic Power System are all covered and all are highly realistic and you are wanting for nothing.

In avionics and again the feature list is huge and with a lot of depth of a perfect replication of the Collins EFIS 84 (Electronic Flight Instrument System) and EADI/EHSI displays and yes it is the very best EFIS system now in X-Plane... in the value aspect then the money is off the wall in what you receive and even at an US$50 investment.

 

If you buy this aircraft you will certainly love it like I did, and certainly for it's depth. But also be very aware it takes skill to fly it well, but more so to work around all it's current foibles, quirks and some are quite maddening...   as for deep down this still a buggy aircraft and still in development and in currently purchasing the aircraft you have to be aware of that factor, even if some things noted here are just so simple to avoid.

 

So this KA350 aircraft is absolutely brilliant, but lacks refinement. I will note this review was also done without a manual? there is a manual available but only in the.php format, and that version would not load via the Chrome browser. And as infuriating that is, for this also is an extremely complex aircraft and totally requires this sort of indepth information to use it, and in some ways that fully sums up the release of AirFoilLabs King Air A350.

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________
 

X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg

 

The King Air 350 by AirfoilLabs is a new release for X-Plane11 and NOW available here at the X-Plane.OrgStore


King Air 350

 

Price is US$49.95

 

This aircraft is a noted aircraft for X-Plane11 only and version v1.0 is required

 

Features:
PBR 3D Model
  • Extraordinary Ultra HD details both in interior and exterior. Every rivet, every sign, every screw, every light, every instrument inside and outside is modeled to the highest fidelity. And photorealistic engines.
  • Ultra realistic cockpit details, glasses, dirt, scratches.
  • Ice on wings, windows, rain effects, wipers and more.
  • High Optimization Method - to save performance all details were designed in separate overlay objects to enhance 3D detail and economize on texture size.
  • 18 amazing, hand painted Liveries with artistic touch. All liveries are based on real paint schemes.
3D FMOD sound
  • 924 sound events and snapshots in total. Real recording from 350 was used, too.
  • The principle is that all you can touch and move is provided by manually and meticulously edited sound samples.
  • Enhanced Multi Layered Engine Sound Design meets realism and complexity. These details are taking into account: Location, Propeller, Propeller Pitch, PT-6 engine (no propeller) On, PT-6 windmilling, Starters, Igniters - all modeled separately to cover all real world situations.
  • Realistic cockpit sounds are modeled to such details as Bus Ties Relays (electrically operated switches), Ticks in the audio system, electrical discharges during igniters, etc.
  • Ground Movements, Tire rumble based on surface, Cockpit vibrations based on G-Forces, breaks squeaking, skidding, Impacts based on G-Forces.
  • When manipulating with aircraft in the exterior everything is provided by a sound: caps, latches, remove before flight objects, doors, electrical towing, refueling etc.
  • Pilot/Copilot Callouts indicating V speeds and other details during takeoff and landing phase.
  • Ambiences - you feel, when you are outside, real wind sounds based on X-Plane 11 weather system, outside precipitation
Aircraft Systems Simulation
  • Electrical System: Custom made system for simulating complex electrical DC and AC behavior in details with electrically operated relays, load distribution per component, inverters, sensors and more. The load of the system influences even how bright the annunciators lights are. Simulated buses: Battery Bus, Center Bus, Dual Fed Bus, Left Gen Bus, Right Gen Bus, Tripple Fed Bus, Left AC Bus, Right AC Bus, Avionics buses 1, 2 and 3.
  • Lighting: All lights in Cockpit, Cabin and Exterior, described in the real aircraft manual are operational and connected to correct buses.
  • Master Warning System And Annunciators Logic with dimming.
  • Fuel System: Realistic layout of the fuel cells with boost pumps, transfer pumps, crossfeed system, firewall fuel valves, vents and drains for manual Fuel Check in exterior preflight.
  • Auxiliary Power Unit simulation with engine start, realistic electrical behavior.
  • Engine: Custom made simulation of Alpha, Beta(Ground Fine) and Reverse regimes. X-Plane Commands modified to match real behavior. Inertial separator simulation. Custom Feathering system. Custom Autofeather system and test logic based on real aircraft. Simulation of Primary Governor, Overspeed Governor, Fuel Topping Governor. Low Pitch Stop and Test simulation.
  • Rudder Boost logic and Pitch Trim system logic based on Manual. 
  • Fire Protection: Engine Fire System detection replica with FW Valves logic and Fire Extinguisher.
  • Pneumatics: Custom logic matching the real system dependencies to environmental controls, pressurization vacuum system, gyros suction.
  • Ice and Rain Protection: Engine Inlet Lip Heat, Inertial Separators, auto-ignition system, windshield anti-ice, wipers, propeller deice system, pitot heat, surface deice boots simulation. 
  • Pressurization: Cabin Pressure Control systems with testing logic simulated.
  • Hydraulic Power System.
  • Avionics: all systems are modeled as close as possible to the real instruments. Radio instruments (COM 1, COM 2, NAV 1, NAV 2, ADF, Transponder) all modes available with memory function and simple testing sequence. Avionics power and gyro initial spin-up replica. All digital displays graphics and logic based on real aircraft data. EADI (Primary Pilots Display), EHSI (Pilots HSI/Map), MFD (Main Map Display), EHSI Copilot. Weather radar simulation. The provided FMS is X-Plane 11 FMS, therefore the aircraft uses standard navigation database integrated in X-Plane. Autopilot Modes Logic and interconnections are custom made to match the real one.
  • Aircraft performance is tuned to match speeds in real performance tables
XJet
  • A new plugin system for X-Plane 11 that provides licensing, software distribution, automatic updates as well as full integration in X-Plane 11 via the newest X-Plane SDK. It works on Windows, Mac and Linux.

 

Requirements:

X-Plane 11 (Fully updated)

Windows, Mac or Linux
4Gb VRAM Minimum - 8Gb+ VRAM Recommended
Download size: 800Mb
Current and Review version: 1.0 (April 5th 2019)
 
_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

Installation:

Download for the AirfolLabs KA350 is done via an installer "AFL+Product+Manager+Windows+installer" messy to use and buggy (see details above) and final install in X-Plane folder is 2.29gb. Final authorisation is done via the X-Plane plugin, again messy and unreliable.

 

Documents:

Manual is available only in the .php format, and it didn't work when used in the chrome browser... useless!

 

____________________________________________________________________________________ 

 

Review by Stephen Dutton 
20th April 2019
Copyright©2019: 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 US$69.90 : WorldTraffic 3.0 Plugin - US$29.95 : SimBrief - Free

Scenery or Aircraft

- KHAF - Half Moon Bay by Rising Dawn Studios (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.00

- KPDX - Portland International Airport 1.5 by mister x6 (X-Plane.Org) - free

Logo Header X-PlaneReviews 200px.jpg

 

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“You can remove the chunky yokes, but the "AirfoilLabs" replacement logos look out of place by being too bright and are quite a distraction? A modified custom (darker) version of the logo would have been more expertly done...“

 

I second that motion !!!

(destroys immersion for me)

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"The aircraft will trim up very nicely, but you do also get a slight right bank? I tried adjusting the Aileron Trim, but that didn't work as well as I wanted it to.. "

 

Trim the rudder also,  and that bird flies very stable (without any AP)

 

 

trim.JPG.77c00939f5276e17fcf1993c743ecb2d.JPG

 

 

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Yes I tried the rudder? but remember I had a heavy angled crosswind and I don't think it trimmed it out enough... I should do of course, because that is what rudders are for. 

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