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FlyJSim Dash 8 Q400 Next Generation

Introduction

The De Havilland Canada DHC-8, commonly known as the Dash 8, is a series of turboprop-powered regional airliners, introduced by De Havilland Canada (DHC) in 1984. DHC was later bought by Boeing in 1988, then by Bombardier in 1992, then by Longview Aviation Capital in 2019, reviving the de Havilland Canada brand. Powered by two Pratt Whitney Canada PW100s, it was developed from the Dash 7 with improved cruise performance and lower operational costs, but without STOL performance.

Three sizes were offered: initially the 37–40 seat -100 until 2005 and the more powerful -200 from 1995, the stretched 50–56 seats -300 from 1989, both until 2009, and the 68–90 seats -400 from 1999, still in production. The Q Series are post-1997 variants fitted with active noise control systems. When the Dash 8 rolled out on April 19, 1983, more than 3,800 hours of testing had been accumulated over two years on five PW100 series test engines. The Dash 8 first flight was on June 20, 1983. Certification of the PW120 engine followed on December 16, 1983.

The Dash 8 was introduced at a particularly advantageous time; most airlines were in the process of adding new aircraft to their fleets as the airline industry expanded greatly in the 1980s. The older generation of regional airliners from the 1950s and 1960s was nearing retirement, leading to high sales figures. De Havilland Canada was unable to meet the demand with sufficient production. In April 2008, Bombardier announced that production of the classic versions (Series 100, 200, 300) would be ended, leaving the Series 400 as the only Dash 8 still in production. Production of the Q200 and Q300 was to cease in May 2009.

The Series 400 introduced a longer airframe, than its predecessors, that was stretched 6.83 metres (22.4ft) over the Series 300 (10.26 metres (33.7ft) over the Series 100/200), has a larger, stouter T-tail and has a passenger capacity of 68–90. The Series 400 uses Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150A engines rated at 4,850 shp (3,620kW). The aircraft has a cruise speed of 360 knots (667km/h), which is 60–90 knots (111–166km/h) higher than its predecessors.

The maximum operating altitude is 25,000ft (7,600 m) for the standard version, although a version with drop-down oxygen masks is offered, which increases maximum operating altitude to 27,000ft (8,200 m). Between its service entry in 2000 and the 2018 sale to Longview/Viking, 585 have been delivered at a rate of 30-35 per year, leaving a backlog of 65, for a market value at a stable level of $21 million new. By 2017, the Q400 aircraft had logged 7 million flight hours with 60 operators and transported over 400 million passengers with a dispatch reliability over 99.5%.

Specifications:

  • Crew: 2
  • Cabin Crew: 2-3
  • Length: 107 ft 9 in / 32.8 m
  • Height: 27 ft 5 in / 8.4 m
  • Wingspan: 93 ft 3 in / 28.4 m
  • Width: Fuselage 8ft 10 in / 2.69 m, cabin 8ft 3 in / 2.52 m

Just to make this clear; I have never piloted a Q400 but I have flown in several as a passenger. I am a recreational user of X-Plane and I am not a qualified pilot. I write reviews from that point of view and make comments which I hope a helpful and relevant to all users.

Installation and Documentation

Download speeds vary with internet connection but I found that the download itself was straightforward. Once the file is downloaded it should be placed in the users aircraft folder. The aircraft manual states that the first time the aircraft is loaded the user will be asked to enter the Product Key in the box which appears on screen. As with many new models when i loaded the aircraft the cockpit appeared with several functions not working but with no box for the product key.

I went to the Developer tab at the top left of the screen and clicked on”Reload Aircraft with Art” option. After a short time the model reloaded and this time the product key box appeared. A product key is supplied with the download and this can be pasted into the serial number area in the box. Once this is done the user should press the activate key. Once this is successful a notice will display confirming this. The user is asked to reload the aircraft.

This can be done by the method described above, by reloading the aircraft through the flight directory in X-plane or by loading another aircraft and then reloading the Q400. Through comments from other developers and from experience I feel the latter is perhaps the best option to ensure a full reload of the model. Once this is complete the model is ready to use.

The aircraft folder includes a documents folder which contains three items. The first is an online manual. The benefit of this manual is that it is constantly updated and is therefore always relevant. I did find that I could not download the manual for offline reference unless I did it a page at a time. A minor issue given that the user will be at computer to use X-Plane but something to be aware of.

This on line manual covers installation, controls, patching, commands, performance and frequently asked questions in its first section. A second section covers the user interface including the use of throttles and propellor settings, the on board tablet (JPad) and commands, how to load and unload the aircraft, various options and how different settings are saved. A third section covers liveries with a useful colour library of all the supplied 19 colour schemes and markings, using the paint kit and creating liveries.

Other liveries can also be downloaded from the forums. The final section section covers click spots, tips and tricks, support and a quick reference guide. This is a very useful guide, although a few sections are work in progress, and I recommend checking it before using the model in earnest as it covers many useful topics and starts to make the user aware of the capabilities of the model.

The second item is a Q4XP manual for the flight management system. This is a 50 page PDF covering all aspects of the system. General areas covered are Start Up, Display Brightness, Adjust key Alignment, Initialisation, Flight Plan Construction and Editing, Flight Plan Summary, Flight Plan Options, Instrument Interface, Flight Plan Navigation, Navigation and Manoeuvre Functions, vertical Navigation, Stars and Approaches, Approach Procedures, After Landing, System Shutdown, Fuel Management and Performance.

Most of these sections have their own subsections making this a thorough and comprehensive guide. I think the document is quite daunting to read on its own and is best run through with the aircraft loaded and the FMC available to operate. Carrying out the instructions in a calm stationary environment is perhaps better than trying it out for the first time in flight.

The third document is a 41 page Tutorial PDF. This takes the user through a flight between Vancouver and Seattle. The flight includes loading the aircraft, throttle settings and using the JPad to load the Q400. Whilst the FMC manual covers all aspects the tutorial takes the user through loading this particular flight which is a great way of becoming familiar with the systems. Once this is done the tutorial works through the checklists provided on the JPad including engine start and taxi.

Once at the runway the tutorial works through the final checks and take off. The aircraft is taken through cruise whilst contact is maintained with ATC. The flight moves on to approach and landing, again following checklists. The aircraft is then taxied to a gate and shutdown. Having just read the document it really motivates the user to carry out a proper flight and gives the confidence to employ all the different systems and equipment provided with the model.

Exterior Modelling

Approaching the aircraft from the front left, having set the doors to be open and connected the GPU the crispness of the detail is immediately obvious. Light and shadow look very effective and there is a real contrast between the various colours being used and the texture and appearance of the metal and glass. The propellor blades look very impressive.

Moving closer the finish of the propellor blades and hub looked very convincing with a matt finish, coloured tips and visible makers marks. The glass in the windows appears different from the light fittings and the detail of the main undercarriage is evident. The characteristic high tail is clear and prominent. Looking towards the front of the left side the boarding stairs are well modelled and views through the windows and windscreen show a first view of the detail of the interior. Panel work is detailed and signage is legible. The nose wheel mechanism is also modelled in precise detail.

Viewed from the front the model again shows a high level attention to detail. Moving further to view the aircraft from the front right the detail around the open door is very impressive and the signage is crisp and legible. Light and shadow still work very well and the panel detail continues at a very high standard. Colours are appropriate and varied. Looking back along the aircraft allows a good view of the starboard engine, propellor and undercarriage.

This all modelled to a convincing and high level. Closer views of this equipment really does show the high standard of modelling with polished surfaces, legible makers marks and views into the air intake. The modelling of the leading edge is apparent. Using the magic of X-Plane camera angles moving higher and further away illustrates the clarity of the livery and how crisp and clear the model is and how well the detail is presented.

Moving down and closer the wing surface is created very accurately with every aspect modelled and light and shadow highlighting the various textures. Looking from the rear right allows a view through the rear cargo door and in to the cabin crew area. Moving closer shows how detailed the door modelling is and the rear view of the main undercarriage. The colours are very vivid and there is just the amount of weathering to add to the realism. The reflection of the light off the windows is very impressive.

Views from above the rear of the aircraft show the high tail and the control surfaces. The rear left of the aircraft gives views of the rear passenger door and shows off the textures and surfaces of the model to good effect. Changing livery does not affect the quality and the signage and lettering remains crisp and clear. Views from the left side show the detail of lighting and the boarding stairs.

The aircraft sits well within the X-Plane scenery and the level of reproduction is clearly very high. Close views under the wing illustrate the detail of the control surface mechanisms, lighting and undercarriage.

When viewed with the engines on the propellors and their movement is modelled very well. The developers make mention of the high standard of the lighting in the Q4XP and when seen in low light the model is very well presented. All lighting can be controlled and has a very powerful effect. The lights not only illuminate the model but the aircraft’s surroundings.

In the air the external views of the aircraft remains high quality. The lines, colours, signage and detail of the model remain clear and visible. The propellors look very good and all textures have the same realism as when on the ground. Light and shadow also continue to work well with the model.

In low light the aircraft looks as impressive as it does on the ground. The aircraft lights are sharp and bright and again illuminate not only the model but the surroundings. The interior lights are visible from outside and create a very realistic effect with just the correct amount of brightness and hue.

It should be noted that the Q4XP does not have any aircrew, cabin staff or passengers modelled, which some may find slightly strange when compared to other aircraft, but I found I became accustomed to this quickly and it did not detract from any enjoyment. This is a beautifully created model full of a high level of external detail. Whether on the ground or in the air, and regardless of the light in which it is presented, this is an impressive recreation of the Q400.

Interior Modelling

Sitting in the pilot’s seat the instrumentation appears clear and crisp. All writing and numerals are legible and there are varied colours and textures. The various switches and controls are clearly labelled, as in the real aircraft, and are therefore easier to identify. The flight deck is modelled to show appropriate wear marks and whilst having the look of a modern aircraft it also looks used.

There are interesting additions such as coffee/water cups and pens for the flight crew. Seats and belts are produced to a high standard. Fixtures and equipment are created to build up the realism surrounding the pilot. The areas behind the pilot are not left out and are produced to the same level surrounding the user in a very authentic environment.

Moving in to the passenger cabin the detail continues. All seats are created to a high standard and the interior of the model is very convincing. Doors to the storage areas can be opened, showing the detail on the exterior doors, as can the toilet door and toilet lid! The passenger stairs are modelled folded inside the front left hand door and the flight attendants seat can be folded down.

The arm rests open on the front passenger seats allowing folding tray tables to operate and the overhead lockers all open. Views out of the windows are very clear and the window blinds can be pulled down to any position. At the rear of the passenger cabin the galley area is very well modelled with the various lockers and trolleys all visible. External doors open to allow views in to the interior of the baggage and storage areas.

Views out of the aircraft are clear and impressive and the flight deck looks very good in low light.

Lighting in the passenger cabin is controlled from the flight attendants panel and in low light the area is exceptionally well presented. Overhead and side wall lighting creates a great atmosphere. I did notice that a hand icon appeared over the individual passenger lights and the flight attendant call button over the front seats. The hand appeared in both pointing and gripping modes but nothing happened when I clicked on them.

I have contacted the developers who responded very quickly and told me that the lights should work and the matter is in hand for future updates. The same thing applies for the rear seat tables. Neither of these issues detract from the enjoyment of the model or the flight experience but I mention them so a reader does not spend time trying to make them work at present. The passenger stairs are also well lit for passenger safety.

A further interesting feature is the escape hatch in the roof of the flight deck. It is possible to turn the handle to open it and then pull the hatch down to remove it. A very interesting feature in an already very detailed model.

Sound

Engine noise in the model is very impressive and realistic and this responds well to changes in throttle input and internally the model has the electric hum associated with modern passenger aircraft. The doors have their own sounds as do the large number of animated switches and levers and this provides confirmation a system is being used or a checklist is being followed.

Warning tones are strident and clear and the volume of sounds change dependent on doors being open and closed. The start up procedure really does create great sounds as does putting on reverse thrust. The sound is such it is easy to imagine the vibration of the aircraft. The model has great all round sound package that certainly compliments the high standard of visual presentation.

Simulated Systems

The developers have created their own system to manage the aircraft through an on board tablet, the Jpad. This can be displayed or hidden in various places on the flight deck. The Jpad is totally interactive and gives detail on aircraft status, loading and weight distribution, a large amount of checklists, which can be ticked off when completed, and settings for the model which can be altered without reloading through X-Plane.

These include the aircraft state when engines are off, units of measurement and engine control. The system is intended to be easy to use and to present the pilot with numerous options and flexibility in using the aircraft. The Jpad can be hidden by clicking on its window suction cup. This works well but please note the Jpad suction cup is not visible once clicked to hide the device so remember where it is as the user needs to click that area of the window to make the Jpad re-appear.

Having used the Jpad I can say it is an excellent companion to the model. It provides so many options in passenger, fuel and load configurations and allows realistic loading and unloading of the aircraft. It allows the user to control things such as loading times, with a quick option, GPU support, ground handling and the various flight options creating flights with different complexity and challenges. The checklists are easy to follow and the additional explanations for some items are very useful.

The developers have also created a fully functioning UNS-1Ew Flight Management System. This system enables flight planning and displays this on the MFD map. This has been modelled to be as close to the real thing as possible and does include direct keyboard entry. As mentioned earlier in the documents section a full instruction manual is provided and some basic inputs are included in the tutorial flight.

This is a detailed and realistic system and using the manual will be essential for those not familiar with it. At present flight plans from elsewhere, for example Simbrief, X-Plane FMS and Little Nav Map, cannot be loaded in to the UNS and therefore all routes have to be created through the model’s own system. There is a useful tutorial video.

The developers have worked to make the model as close to the real thing as possible and this includes many aircraft systems created to work correctly. The throttles have their own gate that allows movement from one setting to another. Movement of the throttles reveals a visual representation of throttle settings and the same applies to the settings of the condition levers.

Having not flown a Q400 myself I cannot state these systems work the same as reality, but I can say that the number of systems modelled to function is very impressive, and can give the pilot a very immersive experience with different levels of interaction chosen by the user themselves. In order to ensure completeness I have used the developers guide to the modelled systems in outlining what is available.

I will comment on the use of these systems when I carry out flights with the aircraft. The electrical systems are modelled to make AC and DC control panels and power systems, the Multi Function Display (MFD), APU power, external DC power and the circuit breaker panel all functional. The autopilot is fully modelled as is the fuel system with its own page on the MFD. Alongside these the fire control system allows the user to deal with fire if it becomes necessary. The radio system is functional.

The aircraft’s control systems and hydraulics are modelled to be controlled by the pilot. These include all flight control systems, MFD displays, attitude control, stall protection system and hydraulic power distribution. Further systems that can be controlled include bleed air control, air conditioning and distribution, ice protection and de-icing, avionics cooling and wipers on the flight deck. Added to these the developers have also created a large number of information and warning systems to indicate where there are issues with the operating systems provided.

The developers have delivered an impressive array of equipment with the model. The flying experience can be greatly enhanced as the pilot learns to use these systems and increase the realism of flights.

Basic Flight Experience

As the tutorial flight, which I will do next, starts at Vancouver I decided to carry out my first flight, a circuit, from the same airport. I appreciate how detailed this model is and the fact it has numerous working systems and I wanted to see whether it was possible for an inexperienced pilot to load and fly the aircraft. I set up the Q400 at the end of the runway with engines running.

I made no real reference to the manual or tutorial and did not use the UNS flight management system. I had read the above documents and was aware that a hardware button had to be assigned to allow the throttles to pass through the gates when moving from one setting to another so I did this before take off. I added some flaps, released the brakes and increased the throttles.

The aircraft moved steadily down the runway. It was easy to steer and left the ground smoothly. I continued to climb and was able to easily read the flight information on the clear and vivid displays and instruments. I raised the flaps and undercarriage. Views from the flight deck were very good and the aircraft looked very good in flight.

I continued on an anti-clockwise circuit which was easy to follow both with instrumentation and the view from the cockpit. I also used the flight to become more acquainted with the throttle adjustments. I must stress that I was not trying to make “correct” settings but simply enjoying the flight. The aircraft was smooth and felt like a solid and stable platform.

It responded well to all control inputs and was fun to fly. I completed the circuit and lined up to land. Manoeuvres were straight forward and at no time did I feel rushed, although of course I was not carrying out all the checks and adjustments that would be required on a more realistic flight.

The engine sounds responded very well with throttle changes and the undercarriage and flaps had their own sounds as I lowered them. I was able to land successfully and spent some time on the ground learning more about the throttle and gates and also how to engage reverse thrust. I was able to sort these things out quite quickly.

I throughly enjoyed this first flight. Whilst I do not claim this flight involved the correct procedures it did show the aircraft to be forgiving to my untrained inputs and the fundamentals were easy to learn. The environment in the flight deck was very convincing and the sound package added to the outstanding detail throughout. For my next flight I decided to follow the tutorial document supplied with the model. This involved loading the aircraft with the engines off at a stand at Vancouver airport.

I followed the initial advice in the tutorial and started loading passengers and fuel. Once set up the JPad shows a page illustrating the doors opening and passengers boarding, along with their luggage. The passengers are shown filling the seats. Weights and passenger numbers alter as boarding takes place and the fuel quantity increases to the preset level as the aircraft is fuelled. As appropriate doors are shown to open and close on the jpad they can be heard moving from the flight deck. Views from outside the aircraft confirm the correct doors are open and that the GPU is attached as requested.

Whilst this was taking place I followed the tutorial guidance for the flight management system. Once I had input the route waypoints, made easier by the keyboard input that comes with the flight management system, the course appeared on the information display. Working through the checklists guidance in the tutorial shows where to find some required information, for example the V speeds are found by clicking the bottom left of the speed tape.

I found that working through the checklists took some time on the first time around as I had to locate switches, controls and instruments using the quick reference guide in the manual. The checklists can be clicked to expand them for extra guidance. This will become easier with practice but give yourself some time the first time round, especially inexperienced pilots like I am.

The learning process is challenging but interesting and allowing time means the pilot becomes highly involved with the model. I also found that saving a flight, even in the early stages, did not mean that all actions on the checklist remained completed. I was very impressed at how the systems responded to switch inputs immediately and everything was integrated.

The next checklist was the Start Approved checklist in preparation for engine start after the passengers and luggage were loaded. This involved switching the batteries on, checking the correct lights were on and that the engines were ready for the start procedure. The start process is straight forward and is controlled from the engine start panel. It involves indicating which engine to start before pressing the start button.

There are great engine sounds as the propellors spool up. Once the engines are running the power system is changed from external to internal power. After starting the engines I moved on to the After Start checklist, this included setting hydraulic and electrical systems correctly, adjusting lighting and ensuring the condition levers were at maximum.

I also checked the electronic display panels. I then moved on to the Taxi checklist and then taxied the aircraft to the holding point for the runway. I found it was easy to steer and control the speed of the aircraft on the ground and there was a good all round view when taxiing.

The next checklist was the Line Up list. Once complete I moved the aircraft to the end of the runway and followed the tutorial guidance to set the GA switch on the power lever and the altitude select and navigation settings for the autopilot. The next stage was the take off itself and this involved increasing power, after lifting the gate on the power levers with the assigned button, and checking the V speeds as the aircraft moved down the runway.

The power increased gradually and the aircraft moved smoothly down the runway for take off. Take off was smooth and all the systems functioned well and the instruments and displayed looked very impressive as they presented their information. Once airborne I did as advised and activated the autopilot, switched off auxiliary systems, raised the flaps and set the condition levers.

The aircraft moved smoothly under the control of the autopilot. I then completed the After Take Off checklist. This involved engine and propellor settings and retracting the undercarriage. The aircraft looked great in flight.

The next part of the tutorial gave me the opportunity to explore the FMS further. The guide covered flying directly to a waypoint and setting up and following a hold pattern and seeing how it was displayed on the unit. The system is easy to use with intuitive commands and clearly displayed options. The guidance also covered using the autopilot to reach set altitudes. The views of the aircraft remained impressive, as did views from within. This section also covered the Cruise and Descent checklists.

I then set up the aircraft for an ILS landing at the destination airport, Seattle. I followed the tutorial to use the autopilot to prepare the landing. The aircraft responded well and captured the glide slope and lateral guidance. The tutorial gave essential advice on propellor settings, airspeed and various settings. I had to pause the simulator several times to ensure I was following the tutorial correctly.

This is a comment on my own limitations, not those of the model. I then completed the landing checklist. I followed the glideslope and, as instructed, disengaged the autopilot at about three hundred feet. I carried out a successful landing and moved off the runway to a taxiway where I completed the After Landing checklist which involved disengaging systems and lighting not required now the aircraft was on the ground.

I then taxied to the stand recommended in the tutorial but on approaching it I found my version of Seattle airport had two lamp posts very adjacent to where the aircraft parks. I decided to use the next stand along. I followed the tutorial and brought the propellor levers back to Start/feather and then to Cutoff to stop the engines.

Once done I requested the GPU, via the Jpad, but received a notice that this was not possible as I had left the landing light on. This was useful as I thought I had switched it off. Once I had attended to that the GPU was connected and I completed the shutdown checklist. There is a further Last Flight checklist, which was not part of the tutorial flight, which takes the aircraft to cold and dark rather than the handover condition.

I then used the Jpad to start unloading the aircraft and the doors opened, the passengers disembarked the cabin and the baggage was unloaded. The load information altered to reflect this change.

This was both an interesting and enjoyable flight. The tutorial is easy to follow and helpful although, as I have mentioned, I did need to pause the simulator sometimes to find a control or to ensure I was doing something correctly. The systems all respond quickly to any input and changes and the FMS is great to use.

The detail provided in the model, together with the amount of working systems and multiple options allow the aircraft to be used by pilots of all abilities and allow any user to grow in to the Q400. The challenges within each flight are positive and it gives great satisfaction to continue to learn to use the aircraft properly. A real pleasure to fly and gets you wanting to go back for more.

Summary

This is a high quality model, when considered from any aspect, and is accompanied by detailed and helpful documentation that compliments the effort put in to producing the aircraft itself. The very high level of detail, both externally and internally, immerses the user in every aspect of using the Q400. The number of systems modelled and the way they integrate with each other creates a totally realistic flying environment.

It is not just the aircraft systems but also the support systems, such as the Jpad that make this such an impressive model. It may be possible to become a little daunted by everything that is available but for experienced pilots this is a great challenge and for those who have much to learn, as in my case, it is possible to take an incremental. layered approach to flights, and gradually make them more complex and involved.

The challenges are quite addictive in the sense that I want to do another flight to complete it in a slightly more realistic manner. A great model for users of any experience, it flies well, is a stable aircraft and the combination of options and variations for each flight are seemingly endless.

More information can be found at the dedicated X-Plane.Org store page and of course at the dedicated FlyJSim web page. As of this writing that product cost 79.95USD.

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 FlyJSim (FJS) Dash 8 Q400 Next Generation
Publisher | Developer:X-Plane.Org | FlyJSim
Description:Accurate reproduction of Dash 8 Q400
Software Source / Size:Download / Approximately 4.68GB (unzipped)
Reviewed by:Andy Clarke
Published:January 7th 2022
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 Big Sur 11.x
- X-Plane 11.5x (64 Bit) Private Use
- A variety of freeware and payware airports

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