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The Carenado Grand Caravan EX G1000

Introduction

Information supplied by Wikipedia shows the Cessna 208 is a single engined turbo prop aircraft with fixed tricycle landing gear. It is used as a short haul regional airliner and typically seats nine passengers and can also be used for cargo carrying and fitted with floats or skis. Variants can also have an underbelly cargo pod fitted for extra freight or passenger baggage.

The prototype first flew in 1982 and a cargo version was developed. A further variant was established for Federal Express with a stretched fuselage, an extra 4 ft, and underbelly pod which first flew in 1986 and was designated the C208B Cargomaster, and from this the passenger version of the 208B, the Grand Caravan was produced. It is these two variants that are represented in this aircraft. The aircraft initially had a single Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A-114 engine which producing 600 shp and this was upgraded to a Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A-114A engine which produces 675 shp.

The aircraft has four doors with one for each crew member, a passenger door with stairs on the starboard side and a cargo door on the port side. The 208B has a fuel capacity of 335 gallons, a maximum operating speed of 175 knots and a service ceiling of 21, 900ft to 25000ft depending on the variant.

Recommended System Requirements:

  • Windows XP – Vista – 7 -10 or MAC OS 10.10 (or higher) or Linux
  • X-Plane 11
  • CPU: Intel Core i5 6600K at 3.5 ghz or faster.
  • Memory: 16-24 GB RAM or more.
  • Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA, AMD or Intel with at least 4 GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better or similar from AMD)
  • 440MB available hard disk space

The model is supplied with a default white livery and five others. The on screen menu allows for various options including equipping the aircraft with a cargo pod and a liquid ice protection tank.

Installation and Documentation

Download speeds vary with internet connection but the folder did not take long to complete and once downloaded it has to be moved to the users aircraft folder. On opening X-Plane the model appears in the aircraft directory and can be selected for flight. The first time I started a new flight the model launched with me in the pilots seat view. None of the switches functioned and I had no control of the aircraft.

I reloaded the aircraft again and was presented with a box in which to enter the serial number supplied with the download from the developers web page. I entered the number and the on screen message confirmed authorisation. When reloaded the aircraft any view control was slow and juddery and there was a lapse between any input and any reaction. I also received the rendering options warning. I reduced all rendering settings to their lowest but had no improvement.

I spent some time investigating and found the cause was the Librain Plug -In. I was surprised as the information about the model states it is compatible. I downloaded a new copy from the link on the aircraft information page on the Carenado website but the problems continued. On completely removing the plug-in the aircraft responded very well and I was able to return the rendering settings to my original position.

I am always impressed with how all things integrate in X-Plane and I do not make the above comments to criticise the model or the plug-in, as I am aware these clashes happen, but simply to assist any user who faces the same issue on loading the model. The review was carried out having removed the Librain Plug-In completely.

The documentation folder contains six PDFs. The first two are a copyright document and a recommended settings sheet for X-Plane 11. The next three are a normal procedures document, containing checklists, an emergency procedures document, again with checklists and a performance table document. The final PDF is the X-Plane G1000 manual and this 133 page document goes through the instrumentation and how it is laid out, going into illustrated detail as to how to perform the multiple functions which the G1000 is capable of.

Given that this is the core of the cockpit in this particular aircraft this is a very useful document. The X-Plane G1000 is used in the default Cessna 172 G1000 supplied by Laminar Research. A copy of the G1000 manual is available in the Cessna 172 aircraft folder for those who would like to see the capabilities of this system.

Exterior Modelling

I approached the aircraft from the left front and followed the normal procedures check list for the exterior of the aircraft. The model has an on screen menu which can be opened by clicking one of three letters at the lower left part of the screen. Letter A creates a pop out of the model’s autopilot, C opens the camera menu which alters the field of view and allows the user to choose ten different camera positions, both outside and inside the aircraft, and also controls the sound volume and the letter O opens a third set of options allowing the user to toggle window reflections, instrument reflections, static elements, the cargo pod and doors, the liquid ice protection tank and the aircraft doors.

I used the third menu to set up the aircraft for a walk around. First impressions of the model were very good. Colours and tones are realistic and convincing and light, shadow and reflections give the model depth. Even from a distance it is clear that there is a high level of detail. The first part of the check list is the left wing light. This is modelled with very effective glass and fittings. The view point at the end of the left wing shows more detail. Having set the doors to be open I could view throughout the model with each door having its own steps or access ladder and views inside showing high quality, including equipment such as fire extinguishers.

Signage and livery markings are crisp and clear and the various parts of the aircraft have appropriate textures and colours. The static elements are also of good quality and add to the overall appearance of the model. Moving under the wing the control surfaces and mechanisms are modelled and the panelling and riveting is produced to a high standard. The undercarriage, tyres and brake mechanisms have been created with slight weathering and wear marks and are modelled to good effect.

The check list moves on to the leading edge of the left wing. This view shows the detail provided with further appropriate colours, reflections and textures. The lights in the leading edge are modelled to a high standard even when seen close up. The rear edge of the wing shows detailed control surfaces and panelling and the fuel filler cap is visible. Views inside the aircraft match the exterior views.

The baggage door is modelled to open in two halves and views from here again shows detail inside the aircraft. The checklist moves to the tail section of the aircraft and the view from here shows detailed control surfaces with vortex generators and static wicks created accurately and according to the manual. The tail light is also modelled effectively.

The checklist then moves to the right rear of the fuselage up to the passenger door. Moving closer to the aircraft the depth and texture of the model colours remains to a high standard and the attention to detail with such equipment as the passenger steps is evident. The checks continue across the right wing in a similar fashion to the left and include checking the radome in the wing, which is different from the left.

Moving forward the co-pilots door affords more views of the interior of the aircraft and the view taking in the whole of the right side of the aircraft shows how all parts of the model work well together. The cowling and exhaust are created in detail. I removed the static elements, which include in take covers, and was able to check the detail around the inlets and propellor.

Again the standards are maintained as there is considerable detail provided with realistic reflections on the propellor boss whilst the propellor blades are convincingly produced with makers marks visible. The front wheel strut is created in detail and again the tyres have appropriate colour and textures. When used with the cargo pod the pod doors can also be toggled open and closed and these bear the weight instructions required for loading and add to the realism of the model as do the crew figures which move independently in the cockpit.

The aircraft looks very good in flight and the detail maintains its integrity. The colours and reflections work well and the model fits in very well with the X-Plane scenery. It also looks good in low light. This aircraft is created to a high standard when viewed from all angles. The detail is very good and does not lose its effect even when viewed close up.

Interior Modelling

The modelled G1000 dominates the cockpit interior with its large, clear and colourful displays but the whole instrument panel is created to a high standard with switches, dials and levers all easy to see and read. Most switches are labelled on the panel and some are named when the cursor is hovered over them. The textures and colours of all materials in the cockpit are varied and realistic. Doors can be opened with the use of the interior levers as well as the on screen menus and the sun visors can be moved into position for use.

Moving back through the cabin area the seats look convincing and the views out of the aircraft are clear. Again textures and colours add to the positive experience. The passenger tables can be folded up and down and again the passenger and cargo doors can be operated with the door handles as well as the on screen menu. The details of the doors is high when closed including the various support struts. The interior looks impressive when viewed from all angles and thoroughly compliments the exterior detail.

The interior of the aircraft also looks good in low light and it is possible to control lighting levels of the avionics, analogue displays, cockpit and passenger cabin via switches on the instrument panels.

This model is created to a high standard on the inside of the aircraft and creates a great experience. The camera menu creates some useful short cuts for different views from within the aircraft and takes the user to key positions quickly and easily.

Sound

The sound system compliments the visual effect of the model. The engine sound is deep and convincing and responds well to throttle movements. The sound of the engine varies from inside and outside of the aircraft and also when doors and windows are opened. The movement of doors have their own sound attached to them. Switch, lever and instrument use are accompanied by appropriate noises which confirm their use.

There is a hum inside the aircraft as the avionics are brought in to use. In flight control surfaces can be heard moving during operation as can the application of the brakes. Warning sounds and verbal instructions are strident and certainly catch the attention. The volume can be controlled either by the users standard input or through the C menu to the bottom left of the screen. The sound package is convincing and realistic.

Systems

As discussed earlier the main, and impressive, system in the aircraft is the customised X-Plane G1000. Whilst I would normally discuss the equipment supplied to the aircraft in more depth here I would recommend that users experience it through the default Cessna Skyhawk (G1000) supplied with X-Plane along with the associated manual to experience a similar system to the one supplied with this model.

The system uses a Primary Flight Display and Multi-Function Display to carry out multiple tasks including setting the radios, the altimeter, transponder, timer, flight plans, routes to nearest airports, engine monitoring, fuel level and autopilot display. The system differs slightly from the default system in that the autopilot controls do not sit on the PFD and MFD but on a separate autopilot control panel situated above the central MFD. The autopilot can be made to pop out by toggling the A button on the on screen menu.

The unit has similar controls to the default G1000. There is a lot of information provided and it can look a little daunting at first but it pays to work through the manual and study the different functions whilst on the ground as this makes the use and understanding of the system in flight a little easier, it is, after all, there to assist the pilot. The handbook also contains a link to a video tutorial covering an approach and descent via a STAR.

I did find I could not pop out the displays as they would in the Skyhawk but as this is a small cockpit it was not a major problem. This is a great overall system and really adds a lot of options to this aircraft. As the G1000 is an electrical system it is backed up by more conventional instruments, and although there is less guidance in the documentation on how to use these they are standard for most aircraft.

Basic Flight Experience

For my first flight I did not refer to checklists but loaded the aircraft at the end of the runway with the intention of discovering what it is like to simply load and fly. I added some flaps, took off the brake and increased the throttle. I was able to watch the engines power increase through the MFD engine management display.

The aircraft moved forward quite quickly and easily achieved take off speed and a successful take off. The model continued to climb and was highly responsive to any control input. It was light and easy to fly with good visibility from within the cockpit. The model continued to handle well and I moved around the circuit, learning that the aircraft gained height very easily and care was needed not to climb too far.

As I turned back on to the runway heading I was able to control altitude and speed together and made a successful landing. The aircraft was easy to control once on the ground and came to a controlled stop under braking. This was an easy and straight forward first flight and I was already looking in the correct places on the display screens to obtain the information I needed.

I then undertook a flight following the checklists and procedures. It is at this point that I wish the developers could provide a cockpit diagram to help users find the switches required during the procedures. Whilst the G1000 allows a flight plan to be loaded manually I used Goodway to create a route and to check compatibility. I was able to plan and load this into the aircraft FMS very easily.

The normal procedures actually have various cabin checks to do prior to the external checks I have already completed so I started with them. The aircraft was parked on the stand at Exeter UK and with engines off. The checklist requires access to the pilots PFD and I achieved this by using the aircraft battery initially, with avionics switch one on the left front electronics control panel to on. I checked the parking brake, to the right of the pilots yoke, was on, that all switches were off and circuit breakers were in.

I located the Alternative Static switch as a red handle to the lower left of the control panel. The inertial separator handle is a T handle to the right of the pilots yoke and should be set to the normal position. I checked this and established from a forum on airliners.net that, “The inertial separator is common to all PT6 engined aircraft. Sometimes called an ice vane. It prevents anything with mass from entering the engine inlet. The PT6 engine is reverse flow engine with the air intake being at the rear of the engine. As air enters the inlet scoop it flows through a duct and out the outlet. Some of that air is drawn into the engine. But anything having mass would not be able to make the abrupt turn to enter the engine, and gets exhausted out of the outlet.”

The oxygen supply and fuel tank selector switch are overhead of the cockpit and I checked they were set correctly. The air conditioning controls are in the lower middle of the instrument panel and were set to off. The bleed air switch is just to the right of these and was set to off. The emergency power lever is set in the throttle console next to the pilot and I checked this was set correctly.

I next checked the trim controls and that the fuel shut off knob, red and to the lower right of the throttle console, was on. I ensured the battery switch was on and that the Avionics 1 and 2 switches on the electronics console to the left of the pilot, were on. The checklist indicated that the PFD and MFD should be on but I found this was not the case.

I found I could check their operation if I switched the stand by power switch to on on the electronics console. I checked fuel quantity and also readings of the engine and fuel displays. I moved the flaps handle to fully down and then switched the pitot/ static and stall heat switches to on for thirty seconds. These switches are to the left of the instrument panel. Once I had switched these off I went back to the avionics and battery switches and moved them to the off position. As I had already completed the exterior checks I moved on to engine start procedures.

The checklist confirms that the preflight checks have been completed. I was able to check all the doors were closed via the onscreen O menu. I ensured the parking brake was set and that the switches and fuel tanks were as required. I continued to follow the checklist and set the cabin heat mixer switch ready for flight.

It is situated at the bottom of the instrument panel between the two crew positions. The emergency power lever is positioned with the throttle and I set it to normal. The throttle and propellor RPM lever are alongside and need to be positioned correctly. The fuel shut off knob is in the pedestal below them and this needs to be on. I then switched the battery switch to on and the wing flaps to up before moving on to starting the engine.

I switched the beacon light on via the switch in the lights panel to the upper left of the instrument panel. I switched avionics number one switch to on and used the display to confirm it indicated that all was in order and the bus volts indicated as normal. I again checked the position of the emergency power lever.

I switched the fuel boost switch, in the panel to the left of the pilot, to on and confirmed this in the messages on the display as well as noting that the fuel pressure low message had been removed. I then switched the starter switch to start and again confirmed this on the display. I also used the display to check oil pressure was normal and that the Ng levels were stable above 12 percent.

All of these steps are clearly explained in the procedures check list. I then set the fuel condition lever to low idle and used the display to monitor fuel flow and ITT levels. This procedure created a successful engine start. I was able to watch the propellor react to this and the sounds package confirmed the operation. I then switched the starter switch to off and the fuel boost switch to normal and confirmed these actions through the messages on the display.

Finally I switched on the avionics number two switch and the standby power switch, starting the MFD and the co-pilots PFD, and ensured the navigation lights were in operation. The next section of the checklists dealt with a start with external power so I moved on to the taxiing section.

I set the propellor condition, released the brakes and taxied to the runway. The model responded well to throttle and brake inputs and steering was straight forward and responsive. I line up on the runway and returned to the checklist.

I set the brake and checked the flight controls and instruments. I set the barometric pressure for the displays and the back up altimeter and checked the back up instruments. I ensured the fuel boost switch was normal and the fuel system settings were correct, I set the power setting correctly and checked the inertial separator, I followed the check list and found that it mentions an engine soft key.

This is not modelled but the next step is to use the system soft key and this does work and allows the various power settings to be checked as required. I set trim for takeoff and set the inertial separator, lighting and flaps for takeoff. The checklist also ensures windows and cabin heat are checked and that the fuel condition lever is at high idle. I found that for this part of the checklist most steps are modelled to operate and allowed me to follow the checklist quite closely. I did find the overspeed governor test was not modelled and neither was the manual electric pitch trim.

I followed the normal take off procedure which was very straight forward with really only the power setting and flaps to operate and CAS messages and speed to monitor. The aircraft accelerated smoothly and climbs very impressively. I was able to make a successful take off.

Once airborne I used the checklists to set propellor RPM and other items correctly. I set the Nav input to GPS and also used the G1000 to set my desired rate of climb and target altitude. This was all straight forward to complete. The model responded quickly and smoothly and feels very agile for an aircraft of this size.

I used the time in the cockpit to enjoy the views of England’s south coast, check my waypoints and also to learn more about the G1000 and where to find the information it provides. I changed view by using the C option on the onscreen menu. All worked very well and the model provided a very enjoyable flight.

I then referred to the checklists as I approached my destination airport at Southampton. I ensured my altimeters were set correctly and I was using the appropriate navigation source. As I was approaching runway 02 there was no ILS and I therefore needed to carry out a normal landing.

I checked the fuel tank selectors, and set the fuel condition and propellor RPM levers as required. I switched off the autopilot and yaw damping. Whilst I had a button on the joystick to control the flaps I set them in approach mode in the 3d cockpit. I again adjusted the flaps for landing. The approach to the runway was over a motorway and I felt inclined to approach a little higher than the runway lights were indicating!

I landed as required and the aircraft needed so little run way that I was able to complete the after landing check list and taxi off from the midpoint and then on to a stand. The final part of the checklist refers to shutting down and securing the aircraft and I used the models own switches and levers to achieve this and then the O on screen menu to put the static elements in place.

The aircraft was a pleasure to fly and is modelled to provide the user with most of the actions mentioned in the normal procedures checklist. Whilst being easy to load and fly increased use of systems creates an increasingly challenging and interesting flight experience.

Summary

This model is created to a high visual and audible standard that creates a very realistic and convincing environment for the user. Attention to detail is impressive. I found a few challenges in that the Librain plug in created a problem, and the fact I could not make the PFD and MFD pop out, but these are minor issues which can easily be addressed in future updates.

I do think the user would benefit from a cockpit diagram to make the use of instrumentation easier. The aircraft is great to fly either by simply loading and flying or by creating more in depth flight experiences by using all of the systems and procedures provided. The aircraft responds well to inputs, either manual or autopilot, and is more agile than its size suggests. A good and interesting model for pilots of all levels of experience.

More information can be found at the dedicated Carenado webpage as well as at the Org store page. As of this publication March 11th 2020, the Grand Caravan EX G1000 cost at the 34.95 USD.

Feel free to contact me if you’ve got additional questions related to this impression. You can reach me via email Angelique.van.Campen@gmail.com or to Angelique@X-Plained.com.

With Greetings,
Andy Clarke

 

 

Add-on: Payware Carenado Grand Caravan EX G1000
Publisher | Developer: X-Plane.Org | Carenado
Description: Realistic rendition of Grand Caravan EX G1000
Software Source / Size: Download / Approximately 359MB (unzipped)
Reviewed by: Andy Clarke
Published: March 13th 2020
Hardware specifications: - iMac Intel i5 27"
- 3.5 GHz Intel Core i5
- AMD Radeon R9 M290X 2048 MB
- 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM
- Logitech Force 3D Pro
Software specifications: - macOS Catalina 10.15.x
- X-Plane 11.41r1 (64 Bit) Private Use
- A variety of freeware and payware airports

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