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  1. Aircraft Update and Review : Carenado C208B Grand Caravan v2 HD series Route - KEYW (Key West) to MYNN (Nassau Intl) The Grand Caravan from Carenado was their first larger, one size up aircraft for X-Plane. And right from the start at the release in Mid-2012 everyone knew this was something special. It was a sensational success and really cemented Carenado’s already formidable reputation of creating the very best aircraft in General Aviation. Over a year later it has now been finally updated to 64bit and moved over into the HD series. So what does make the Caravan C208B so special. What are the core ingredients that makes it stand out a little above the rest of so many other really good aircraft. Why time and time again it was always the Grand Caravan that you of choice would to choose to fly again and again. I think I know the answer to those questions and this review is a way to explore them and highlight the qualities that made this aircraft so good and we can also see the extra features and update changes to v2 . The Cessna 208B Caravan is a short-haul regional airliner and utility aircraft with a single turboprop engine. It uses a fixed-gear undercarriage for reliability and for rough runways and the aircraft is built by Cessna in Wichita, Kansas in the United States. The aircraft typically seats nine passengers with a single pilot, although with a FAR “Part 23’ waiver it can seat up to fourteen passengers. The 208 Caravan I prototype first flew in December 1982. The production model was certified by the FAA in October 1984. Since then, the Caravan has undergone a number of design evolutions, and working with FedEx, Cessna produced first the Cargomaster. (utility cargo version). Cessna offers the 208B in many configurations and the basic 208 airframe can be outfitted with many various types of landing gear, and allowing it to operate in a wide variety of environments. Some common adaptations include skis, enlarged tires (Tundra) for unprepared runways and also floats on the Caravan Amphibian model. The 208B Grand Caravan is a 4 feet (1.2 m) stretch of the Caravan I. The 208B also features a more powerful Pratt & Whitney PT6A-114A engine (built in Canada). Cost is US$2,022,450 (Base price) and over 2000 have been built. Cruise speed: 197 mph (171 kn; 317 km/h), Range: 1,240 mi (1,078 nmi; 1,996 km) with max fuel and reserves, Rate of climb: 770 ft/min (3.9 m/s) To a point the Grand Caravan is a niche aircraft with a wide scope of different roles, It fills the need of an aircraft sized larger than the standard General Aviation aircraft and is still smaller than a commuter aircraft of 20 seats and above. So it is ideal as a regional feeder aircraft or in its most popular role as an Island hopper in transporting around 9 to 14 passengers over short distances (200nm to 500nm). This is a typical route that we will fly today is from Key West to Nassau Intl which is 245 nm. To set the aircraft up for its flight you have three sets of menu options on the lower left of your screen. (D) is for Doors and this pop-out menu allows you to open and close the aircraft doors, which in include the Pilots and Co-Pilots door(s) (with a great swing down ladder), a passenger door (right rear) and a double (upper and lower) Baggage door, and when you open the passenger door if you have the cargo pod attached under the aircraft the four smaller baggage compartments also open. (O) is for Options and this second pop-out menu allows you to stow the Static Elements (Chocks, Tow Tractor, Pivot Cover and engine and prop covers. You have a choice of two seating configurations in eight Single seats (8 Pass) or a singe and a double seat per row (and two single seats (11 Pass). the Co-Pilot's seat can be used as either a passenger or a pilot. I am here going for the 11 passenger configuration for this flight. You can also on this menu select either Clear or Tinted windows (VC Windows), I like the dark green tinted. You can choose if you want the under-slung extra (baggage) cargo pod on or off, It adds weight to the aircraft and so if you going for range or flying a considerable distance it is better left off. (C) The top Menu item is “Camera”, that gives you the standard Carenado view system with a zoom function. This has been extended in v2 to add extra programmable views. Settling into the Pilots seat is time to get the C208B ready to go, the panel is clear, unfussy and well laid out. The main engine and power/electric switches are on your left on a tall box structure, and the lighting switches are arranged (grouped) on the left lower part of the panel. The centre upright pedestal has an emergency power lever, single throttle lever, Propeller RPM/Feather Lever and a (clever) gated conditioning/cutoff lever. On the far right is the gated flap lever (3 positions). A huge pitch trim wheel on the side and another rudder trim wheel lower down in the pedestal box. The Bendix/King weather radar has been updated in v2 with a rainbow activation screen. It is quite bright and can either (thankfully) be turned down or you can select the “on” position that gives you the standard screen. The system is just limited to the standard X-Plane weather screen and is really just on or off. You don’t turn a key but push a switch to start the huge Pratt & Whitney PT6A, So after setting the RPM and condition levers to right up high you then just sit there. Nothing happens at first but then deep in the nose something stirs, it cranks and whines and finally rumbles into a sucking whiny loud turbine roar. One of the highlights of the Caravan is its noise, 3D stereo sounds are all around you, but in reality it is so noisy you can’t really tell which direction it is coming from anyway. It is mega great though as nothing else sounds like the caravan, on the ground you get those whiny sucking air turbo sounds and in the air it just roars. The propeller animation in v2 has had a revision and it was pretty good in v1 but now in v2 it is more refined. Let off the brakes and you have to control the power. The Caravan was always hard to taxi as it has so much thrust. I found adjusting the RPM doesn’t work? The only way could reign in the power was to pull the condition lever back into the gate (to far back will kill the engine) and finally you can taxi out at the right speed (and with a bright “low oil Pressure” light in your face). It may not be the right thing in a real Caravan to do but, it was the only way to reign all that thrust in? Power is the problem on takeoff as well. Push up the throttle on 10º Flap, and the asymmetric thrust will pull you hard to the left. So you have to be aware right from the moment you let the brakes go to give only a little thrust until you can lock the nose-wheel straight and then give it full power after a certain speed. It works with a little deft right rudder and once in the air you can quickly straighten the airframe up. Even with a full fuel and passenger load the aircraft has the power to climb easily and you soon find the aircraft settled into a 800fpm climb to 10,000ft. Watch you speed though, if the C208B starts to struggle then half the pitch. But otherwise it will climb quite high, you are not pressurized but have a ceiling of 27.700 ft (8.443 m). You have real C208B weight and balance dialed into the aircraft and that gives you a realistic feel for the aircraft empty or fully loaded. I don’t know if you could call the Grand Caravan a beautiful aircraft, it is functional and utilitarian rather than pretty. But Carenado’s work here is exceptional, the textures are now in the HD (High-Definition) series, and the detailing is excellent. All the riveted panels are there to be seen and the detailing is exquisite in noting the flap runners and pitot probes, and the rubber trailing edge aerials that feel and act with realism and movement. Wire mesh in the engine intakes and a beautifully crafted tricycle undercarriage, that springs and claws together when not under-load. A final piece is the large horn of an exhaust that billows smoke under-load. The windows and glass is perfection in realism. In the air the panel is very functional. The white background on black dials looks modern and distinctive, The Standard Six set of instruments is well set out, but the yoke (removable) can hide the radar height and turn indicator. I like the voltage switch, you can switch it to different aspects of the voltages in four modes. There is a full set of alert lights that can be in two modes in that completely dark or a night setting, which illuminates the panel slightly to see them at night - It works well in the day also to see what their different functions are. The equipment stack is not large, but you still have everything you need. Radio, A Garmin GNS430 (Comm1/VOR1), Bendix King KX165 (Comm 2/ VOR2), Garmin GTX 320 Transponder, Bendix King KR67 ADF and an excellent KFC 150 Autopilot with pitch hold (V/S) and height ALT on a separate panel (push button to switch to either “select Height or V/S” (Vertical Speed) ) The Co-Pilots./Passenger side only has the Standard Six instruments with lower Air-Conditioning and Cabin Heat controls. The panel lighting is excellent with small over lights on the dials, switches and with no background dial lighting, and so at night it is spectacular and still very functional. Overhead is your fuel supply switches and oxygen supply. Overhead lighting works in the front but not in the rear? The front window blinds work in being very adjustable, but still odd in the way you move them into position, and get it wrong and they can be hard to store away again, They are just tricky to use but essential for the pilots in flying directly into the sun. Cabin detail is first rate and can’t be faulted, worn in parts but still a modern flavour in cloth seating for the pilots and rear seats. The two pilots up front are fully animated and realistic... Wouldn’t it be great to have the same animations as passengers in the rear?... As it looks pretty empty back there without anybody sitting in the seats. In v2 the lighting has been brought up to HDR standards, the new flickering strobes are excellent, as is the wing light (left side only). The taxi and landing lights are both set in the wings together and are very good, the tiny detail attention by Careando is shown here by them (Taxi/Landing) being noticeably different up close. The standard Nav/Beacon lighting is also more noticeable though the upgrade. Now way out over the water it is starting to feel empty out here, The engine is feeling strong and purring along, but you have to watch those flickering dials. This engine feels like a tractor engine and you can run it hard at full throttle until the pressures start to show you that you should back off a little. You get a white (paint/default) livery and five other HD liveries, (Clockwise) Executive (Blue), E Arab, GoTrop, Brazil and Executive 2 (Red). GoTrop is my favorite, but there are over thirty others available on the .org As Nassau Island popped up on the horizon it was time to descend. I was happy the VOR (ZQA 112.70mhz) finally kicked in and on the Caravan it gives you your speed and distance to the Nav-Aid. In many cases you pull back on the throttle and slow the speed. But in the C208B it can cause you to stall without the power on. So it is a little throttle back and set the V/S to -700 to start the glide down and then adjust the throttle to match the right speed. If you get it right dropping the flaps to 10º and then 20º to reduce the speed down to 80knts, but don’t forget to give the aircraft a little throttle to balance the drag - as the flaps do create a lot of drag. The Caravan is very stable on the descent and it is very easy to turn-in and line-up with the runway (RWY32). Using the throttle to find the right speed is also very easy and a final flap down to 30º is setting the aircraft up easily for landing. Lowering the speed (throttle) smoothly till you get to the right place to slightly flare it down. As quiet as it is in the air. The Caravan suddenly becomes noisy on the ground. First is the noise of the Reverse Thrust of the Propeller, and noisy and powerful it is. This action can give you almost STOL (Short TakeOff and Landing) capabilities. The sounds of the engine reving up high here is simply amazing as in “goosebumps” territory. But then you suddenly have duel issues to contend with, 1) holding it straight on the centerline (keep the front wheel locked until the speed is right down) and 2) that powerful engine is pulling you hard as you move into the taxi speed zone. I have to jump on the condition lever to get it back to the first gate position as soon as possible to quell the speed. Otherwise set it on the approach ready. This can be problematic if you need power on a missed approach and really not advisable, but it does give you a better transition from your landing speed to a sedate taxi speed. As you taxi the 3d sounds change with every turn as the high whine returns. Find your parking position and pull back the condition lever to “Cut-Off” and revel in the winding down of the turbine. You just love these sounds and never get bored of them and that is a big part of the attraction to this aircraft. Hit the menus to open doors and get the baggage out. I personally would like the lower pod baggage doors on a separate button option from the opening passenger door, as they droop down even if you just want to let a passenger out. The C208B is a complex aircraft but frame-rate is not a problem, I rarely get the shudders and rarely go below the 20 frame-rate mark. Conclusions Why is the Grand Caravan 208B so good. First off is the sheer versatility of the aircraft. Any situation or idea you can dream up in a short distance flight, can be usually done in the Caravan. Pickup passengers, island hop, deliver mail, short regional airport to regional airport delivery flights, tourism flying, hub shuttling and delivering cargo or small freight. The Caravan can do anything that you can put together in flying 8-11 passengers (or Cargo) in a 500nm circle. The Carenado Caravan was my “Aircraft of the Year 2012”. Many other aircraft that were released were better like the Boeing 777. But I flew more hours and went to more destinations in six months in the Caravan than any other aircraft over the whole year. It is challenging to fly in all that power from one engine, it has brilliant sounds, It is beautifully crafted by Careando and fully featured and detailed, and you can also configure the aircraft in many different ways... and most of all you just fly and watch your course and hum along to that turbine sound like you are in heaven. At 10,000ft in a C208B Caravan you are as pretty close to heaven that you can get. Follow on from this review to the "Expansion Pack" Version of the Caravan with a review the If you have the v1 of the 208B Cessna Caravan then the v2 update is now available at the X-Plane .OrgShop... or if you want to buy: Price is $29.95 : C208B Grand Caravan HD Series Documents: Technical Requirements: Windows XP , Vista, 7 or 8 (32 or 64 bits), MAC OS 10.3.9 (or higher). Linux X-Plane 9.7 , X-Plane 10.22+ . 32 and 64bit compatible Pentium 2 GHz - 4GB RAM/512 MB VRAM. 1GbVRAM Recommended Download: 291.60mb - 252MB available hard disk space Current version: v2 (last updated September 25th 2013) X-Plane10 is required for HDR lighting effects and the HD textures are rendered to maximise the low frame-rate. updated store# Developer Site: Carenado Review By Stephen Dutton 27th September 2013 (note: the engine torque enhancements are included and ignore the C208B service pack on the Carenado site.) Full List of v2 updates: -32-bit and 64-bit Mac, Windows, and Linux support. -X-Plane 9.7 and 10.22 acf files included. -Updated SASL to official v2.0.1 release, which contains optimizations that benefit from Laminar's X-Plane 10.22 release. -Overhauled lighting system. Lighting halos for nav and strobe lights are now more visible under certain viewing angles. -Landing light features tightly-focused "glare" effect when viewed from the right angle. -Landing lights optimized to work better under v9.7 lighting, as well as v10 HDR-off and HDR-on lighting -Nav lights have been improved for a more realistic appearance. -Strobe lights have been re-programmed to follow a strobe flashing pattern, determined by the plugin. -Improved ground handling -Optimized objects -Improved weather radar, -improved stereo sounds -Improved interior and exterior graphics and visualizations -No longer has inverted fuel and oil systems. More realistic. -Optimized various menus, to use less memory. -Tweaked turning radius on ground to compensate for new v10 no-toe-brake-with-rudder setting. -Adjusted trim time from centre to max for v10, as this setting, left un-addressed, will cause the same plane to take twice as long to trim. -tweaked gauges, such as fuel and oil pressure, vacuum, etc. to conform to v10's new way of calculating "Nominal pressure/temperature" as opposed to "Max pressure/temperature". -Programmed default camera snap points for v10 (on top of existing ones via "Cameras" pop-up menu) 2 Different .acf files: one for v9 and one for v10. -v10 .acf features optimized objects. Interior/exterior shading is applied only where needed, saving resources. -v10 .acf has further optimizations to objects that don't need the background (clouds, skies) to be drawn through them, if they're not transparent, saving further resources. -v10 .acf also protects certain textures from resolution degradation at low rendering settings. This guarantees that the panel instruments and text are always crisp and clear, no matter what rendering settings are chosen for the sim. -v10 .acf is optimized to make use of HDR rendering, especially in terms of lighting. This includes spill lights, which illuminate the surroundings, coming from Nav and Strobe lights. -When HDR mode is turned off, care has been taken to optimize the appearance of the plane without the enhancement benefits of HDR. Review System Specifications: Computer System: - 2.66 Ghz Intel Core i5 iMac 27” - 6 Gb 1067 Mhz DDR3 - ATI Radeon HD 4850 512mb Software: - Mac OS MountainLion 10.8.2 - X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.22 (final) - ExtremeSceneryMAXX Addons - Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle Scenery - KEYW - Key West International Airport V1.0 - fletcherj - MYNN - Lynden Pindling International (Nassau Intl) - mhayling
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