Thranda U206G Stationair: A Transition Aircraft
In a sense, the Cessna U206 and its variants were a bit of a transition aircraft for the manufacturer as it sought to solve the back country pilot’s need for heavy payloads on a single piston engine platform that would also provide short and unfinished field capabilities. Apart from the brief run for the 207 that was primarily utilized by regional operators for air taxi use, Cessna stepped into the world of the Turboprop with their next single engine heavy hauler, the venerable C-208 Caravan.
Now, Thranda is experiencing their own transition as they introduce the Cessna U206G, albeit in a somewhat reverse order as it follows their introduction of the Cessna Caravan/ Grand Caravan about five months ago. Thranda’s transition is, of course, the same one the entire X-Plane universe is undergoing as we all move into the brave new world of X-Plane 12.
In the words of Project Manager Dan Klaue, “. . . we want to publish the 206. We are working on compatibility for XP12, and that’s one of the last things we’re doing on it… so we’ll find out more soon. We’ll find out how the 206 behaves in its “natural habitat”, and that’ll make it possible to map a path for the other planes.
With the 206 in XP12-land, we’ll get a better idea of the issues that may come up, with how far off the flight model is, with how we can address that without publishing major overhauls of the plane, etc. My sense is that XP12 allows for XP11 .acf files to load… but without all the fancy XP12 overhauls. This “compatibility mode” will probably have to remain in place, until XP12 heads out of Beta and becomes final.”
So, the 206 is released with two versions: the X-Plane 11 version and the beta version for X-Plane 12. This review will focus on the X-Plane 11 version for function while considering the modeling in the X-Plane 12 environment to see how well it interacts with the new lighting model.
Before we turn out attention to the Thranda model of the 206, let’s avail ourselves of a little background and some performance information from Wikipedia, Aviation Insider, and a 1981 Cessna model U2016G Stationair 6 manual.
The Cessna 206 entered production in 1964 and remains on Cessna’s offering list as the Turbo Stationair HD. The Stationair, often referred to as the “sport-utility vehicle of the air”, became an answer for operators who wanted a large payload capacity simultaneously with a full load of fuel. That description is an updated version of the original “station wagon of the air” moniker which is where the Stationair name came from when it was first used for the U206 in 1970.
The U206 (the U stands for “utility”) serves diverse roles from back country flying with heavy loads or families, depending on the configuration, to aerial photography operations, to dropping parachutists. It has also been described as “the workhorse of the Alaska bush.”
Popular modifications include the addition of an OEM or third-party cargo pod, the use of wing tip tanks, tundra tires, skis, and the installation of amphibious or straight floats. The aircrafts strong engine and sturdy frame make it amenable to all these uses. Thranda has included the cargo pod and tundra tires in the current model and I’ve no doubt a float / amphibious version will follow once X-Plane 12 is a final release.
Our version, the U206G, was introduced in 1976 and features the Continental IO-520-F engine producing 300 bhp for takeoff and 285 bhp for continuous operations. It can be configured for up to five passengers with one crew or for full freight loads with all the seats removed.
The aircraft has a gross weight of 3600 lbs., an approximate useful load of 1600 lbs., and a range of 640 miles with a maximum structural cruising speed of 147 kts. The top speed is 156 kts. with a stall speed of 54 kts. in flaps down configuration. The maximum engine speed for 5 minutes at takeoff is 2850 RPM and the continuous operation speed is 2700 RPM. The aircraft is certified for VFR and IFR operations. Flight into known icing conditions is prohibited.
It has been noted that the Stationair handles like a truck. It is heavy in taxi and very solid in the air. It is described as heavy on pitch controls, lighter in roll, and handles turbulence comfortably. The 206 is also known for being nose heavy for weight and balance purposes and requires an uncomfortable attitude to make it stall.
Proper trim and forceful use of the yoke to flare are essential on landing to prevent a nose-wheel landing which has damaged many a 206. This is more prominent when the aircraft is lightly loaded and reduced if loaded towards the rear with an aft CG. Full flaps are recommended and helpful in avoiding this kind of expensive set down. Take off clearance over a 50-foot obstacle requires 1500 feet and less than 2000 feet to land over that same obstacle.
The clamshell side door configuration makes loading and unloading bulky cargo a simpler affair akin to the barrel loading capabilities of its historical predecessor, the De Havilland Beaver. The fuel capacity is a total of 92 U.S. gallons in two 46-gallon wing tanks that require manual switching during flight with a fuller tank takeoff and landing requirement. The useful portion of this is 88 gallons. The aircraft’s published performance ceiling is 14,800 feet.
During this review, we’ll match the Thranda U206G against at least some of these published numbers and see how close we get. This comparison will be done in X-Plane 11 since Thranda has stated the flight modeling requires some work before it will be accurate for X-Plane 12. First things first, though, so we need to install the model before flying it.
Installation and Documentation
The Stationair is available for download from the X-Plane.org store or Aerosoft. Installation is the standard process of extracting the “Thranda_C206” folder and placing it into your X-Plane aircraft folder. It is highly recommended that you avoid placing it into the “Laminar Research” folder as this will likely cause errors when you try to use the aircraft.
The folder size on disk is 2.21 Gigabytes and includes a “Documentation” folder that I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with if you are unfamiliar with the Stationair or unfamiliar with Thranda Design aircraft. Thranda user manuals are thorough, well written, and essential if you want to get everything possible out of your copy of the model.
This folder also contains performance charts for the Stationair and two documents with Thranda’s recommendations for starting points for controller and graphic settings. In a testament to the thoroughness of the documentation, Thranda has included the Laminar Research manuals for the Garmin 530 and 430 GPS units that are used in the Stationair s in case you no longer have the ones that came with X-Plane.
The final part of installation involves starting X-Plane and selecting the Stationair to start your flight. Once everything is loaded, you will be prompted to enter your serial number in the activation dialogue. Normally, this process takes only a moment, and you will be asked to reload the aircraft. The recommendation is to not use the “Reload Aircraft” option in the Developer’s menu in X-Plane. The preferred method is to shut down and restart X-Plane. The second method would be using the Flight Configuration menu to load the default Cessna 172 and then use it again to swap out the 172 for the Stationair model you select.
Keeping your model up to date requires either re-downloading when an update occurs or using the Skunkcrafts updater plug-in which you can find here. This is the recommended suggestion from Thranda.
The final phase of installation comes if you are installing the model into an X-Plane 12 environment. Upon first launch of the aircraft, you will be prompted to swap out the X-Plane 11 version for the X-Plane 12 version. If you choose to do so, the routine copies an updated aircraft file from a sub-folder into the main aircraft folder, overwriting the XP 11 version in the process.
The aircraft is then supposed to reload but, on several attempts, my XP 12 installation locked up and had to be force stopped. Upon restart, the XP 12 version of the aircraft loaded, and I experienced no further difficulty with it. When I checked with Thranda, this issue appeared to be one I was having for some unknown reason so you may find the automatic change occurs as it should. Instructions are provided so you can do the file copy manually if you do have difficulties.
The Thranda Menu
Much of what constitutes the dynamic generation series of aircraft from Thranda is found on the Thranda pop up menu. The menu is accessed by clicking on the grey arrow button that you will see on the left side of your screen once the Stationair is loaded. One note on the arrow button: if you do not want to see it while flying, you can hover your mouse cursor over it and use your mouse wheel to change the transparency level of the button.
Note the small vertical grey bar against the edge of your screen. You will need to know where it is if you make the button transparent and want to position your mouse cursor where using the mouse wheel will bring it back to opaque. By the way, this menu does not move to different locations on the screen. It does, however, respond to the user interface size option on the X-Plane graphics settings page. If you are running the simulator at a very high resolution and are having trouble reading the Thranda menu, increase this setting and the menu will increase in size.
With the pop-up menu, you can control the operating parts of the aircraft such as the doors, cowl covers, and ground equipment. You can change your livery on the fly, configure the interior of the aircraft and adjust the weight and balance.
Adjusting the sound volumes and camera views as well as activating the slew mode are done here as well. One of the most exciting features, customizing your instrument panel, is done through this menu. Finally, you can adjust the DynaFeel Intensity and see the features that are planned to be added with the coming expansion pack.
This menu is broken into four quadrants by the presence of the aircraft representation. The first option in the upper left corner provides access to the electric tug you operate with your flight controller to move the Stationair around. Pulling forward moves the tug and the Stationair forward while pushing back does the opposite.
You can turn the tug using whatever you have assigned to the yaw axis or by using your mouse scroll wheel when you see a double arrow cursor over the white dot that appears just in front of the spinner. When you activate the tug, the green click point on the bonnet, that can also be used to activate the tug, should turn red. You will also see a green “zero” to the right of the nose that will give you an indication of how fast you are moving the plane with the tug.
Window reflections and panel reflections will provide you with a more realistic, as well as more obscured, view of the instruments and the view outside the cockpit. Some of the instruments and the windscreen have particularly high amounts of reflection as we shall see.
The top right quadrant contains three options for controlling the covers, tie downs, and doors. The position or state of an item is indicated by its color, red or green. In the case of the covers and tie-downs, green is the proper color for flight and red means they are in place and the aircraft is parked.
You have the option of clicking on the individual spot for the item you wish to manipulate or selecting the “all” option in this upper right quadrant to change the status of all items in that category at one time. The doors are selectable and can be manipulated directly with click points on the aircraft representation as are the individual covers and tie downs. The engine bonnet is removed and replaced by clicking on it anywhere around the tug control dot.
The lower right quadrant contains options for the external and internal lights. These two items work the same way the selections above them do. You do need to have the battery turned on to enable the lights to work. If one or more exterior lights are on, the indicator will be a white dot. If all are off, the indicator is black. You can select individual lights to turn them off or on. The interior light option is a simple “all or none” option with no individual lights represented on this schematic.
At the very bottom of this quadrant is the Show/Hide Checklist option which brings up the Stationair’s normal procedures checklist for you to follow from pre-flight inspection to shutting down and securing the aircraft. This is followed by the emergency procedures check list. The checklist is both movable and resizable and can be assigned to either a keystroke or controller button.
In the final quadrant at lower left, are four additional options that allow for control of ground operations. This is one way to set the brakes if you care not to do it from within the cockpit. You may control the chocks individually from the “all tie-downs” options.
This menu provides the option to add the cargo pod for your freight carrying missions. Thranda’s penchant for details means that selecting the pod will add 35 pounds to the Stationair. This weight is reflected in the Weight and Balance menu and affects cruise speed due to the additional drag. The “Door” option that becomes available is followed by a green open/closed indicator that you click on to open or close that door.
The final option for this menu is the Startup Running option. This will allow you to have the Stationair load into the simulator with engines running. As soon as you click on this, your current flight will end, and X-Plane will go into its load new flight routine. The Stationair comes back with everything ready for takeoff.
Note the landing lights are on and the taxi lights are off. When you tick this off, the same thing happens except the Stationair reappears in its cold and dark state. If you have a controller assignment for the key and it is in the off position, the engine will stop immediately and you will need to manually restart it.
The next section of the menu is all about how the Stationair looks. There is a lot of depth to this menu that allows for many customizations of your Stationair. You can select an existing livery from the aircraft’s livery folder by scrolling through the preview images using the Prev and Next buttons or by using your mouse scroll wheel while hover over the image.
You can also enter the Dynamic Livery area where you have the capability to create your own paint scheme based on either a Classic or Modern design. This menu also allows you to control how shiny and or reflective your aircraft will be and how dirty it will be.
By default, when you select this menu, you will see that painted liveries is active and there is a small preview of your current livery. Under the preview are the notations “Dirt” and “Scratches” followed by numbers. This is Thranda’s brilliant response to an ongoing debate amongst armchair aviators about whether an aircraft should appear new or used. Then, if used, how used.
Models have been criticized for being too much in one direction or the other. Well, here, you position your mouse over the number and use the wheel to change it. The higher the number, the dirtier and more scratched up you plane becomes. Now you can have your aircraft looking just as new or beat up as you think it should.
The Stationair Manual found in the Documentation folder of your Stationair install exhaustively covers every part of this menu. There are a couple of things to be aware of about the dynamic livery options that are not mentioned. The first is that assigning a high level of metalness or roughness results in a grey preview image that impedes the display of your chosen color.
For this reason, you may want to complete your color scheme first and then assign your selections for metal and rough. Secondly, your color tones or shades will change as you change the metal and rough characteristics of your aircraft surface. Lastly, you may need to swap out to a painted livery and come back to your custom livery to get all the changes to take effect if applying your dynamic livery a couple of times does not reflect the change you made.
A few additional notes about this menu. If you want a visual guide of what area each item on the paint list covers, go to the MYEYES liveries and see the wild scheme someone at Thranda created. You can swap between Classic and Modern themes and the livery will still uniquely color each area mentioned in the list.
This interactive screen gives you more control over passenger and cargo weight than the default X-Plane options does. Additionally, you can remove the four passenger seats to increase your cargo capacity. This is done by toggling the red “x” at each seat location on the diagram. Each seat adds or subtracts 15 pounds from the total weight of the aircraft and can have a maximum weight of 350 pounds.
The rear cargo area is limited by design to 180 pounds and the cargo pod is limited to 300 pounds. The cargo depiction is different for each seat with differing minimums to get a Puma bag to appear in that place. The visuals for the cargo reach their maximum prior to reaching the maximum capacity for each area.
This menu is pretty much self-explanatory. It is a handy way to switch your viewpoints if you don’t want to assign them to your controller or keyboard. These are the defaults set by Thranda. If you reassign the view number to your own selected view, the simulated keypad will take you to those set views and not the default views listed. You can still access the Thranda default views by clicking on the green dots around the airplane silhouette.
The FOV slider is a convenient way to widen or narrow your field of view without having to interrupt your flight to go out to X-Plane’s graphics setting menu where this setting is otherwise located. I was only able to get this control to move by moving the mouse cursor over it until I got a two headed arrow cursor, and then scrolling with my mouse wheel button in the direction I wanted the slider to move. Clicking on either side of the button or attempting to click and drag the button provided no result.
Audio / Slew
This menu allows you to alter sound volumes per channel. Again, these are native X-Plane settings, but Thranda has been providing a way to do this while you are in flight since the beginning of the dynamic generation series. This can be very convenient particularly when the engine sounds are drowning out the radio volumes. This seems to happen arbitrarily with several aircraft I have flown, and I have found this option to come in handy more than once. Another option is to click on the headset jack in the 3D cockpit to mute the engine sounds temporarily.
The slew feature allows you to quickly change the position of the Stationair. You can do this while the aircraft is on the ground or in the air. There is an indicator informing you if ground mode is active directly under the Slew Mode button.
This feature tends to be more precise than the built in X-Plane function found on the sectional map. The one variable missing here that is on the default is the ability to set pitch angle. Other than that, heading, altitude, and location are easily set by clicking on the corresponding buttons and dragging them to move your aircraft.
This menu allows the operator to customize their aircraft instruments to their liking. You can choose from any of fifty-two different instruments including the Reality XP GTN 750 and GTN 650 if you own those add-ons. Reality XP is not yet X-Plane 12 compatible. If you want to know more about the RealityXP package, you can find the information here.
I highly recommend you reference the Thranda manual in the Documentation folder if this is your first time with this feature. So, let’s get an overview of how this works and then you can follow up and get all the details in the Stationair Manual.
The panel menu is a bit crowded and can seem a bit overwhelming the first time you see it. The image of the panel is a preview image of the currently in use panel. The panel number is shown under the preview image. There are many options included on this one screen that allow you to select from available backgrounds for your panel, select a preconfigured or saved panel, enter panel layout mode that will cover the panel with all kinds of green highlights, and add, save, and delete panel presets. A new panel will always start with duplicating the currently active panel. The Stationair ships with 6 pre-configured options.
A word of caution for all click points on this menu. They are very close together and, at high resolution settings, you can very easily think you are clicking on one and hit the other. I lost a completed panel doing this when I clicked on the “Add Duplicate” area and “Remove Last” is what happened, and I lost my panel. You may find that you want to increase the X-Plane interface size on the X-Plane graphics settings screen, but you will need to reload the aircraft either by using the option on the X-Plane developer menu or by switching to a different aircraft and coming back to the Stationair.
If you reduce the interface size after you are done with your panel, you will need to repeat the reloading. At this point, it is best practice to close X-Plane and restart it. Make sure you save your panel first.
The layout feature utilizes the X-Plane feature for highlighting instrument click spots. For this reason, you need to keep in mind that not everything that is highlighted can be moved or removed from the panel. The gauges and features that can be customized are highlighted with a green octagon, most of which have circles at the four cardinal points.
The center of the octagon allows you to click and drag the item on the x- and y-axes. The bottom green circle allows you to click and drag to adjust the location along the z-axis. The top circle will tip the instrument and the right one will rotate it. The left one is listed as controlling the lighting intensity.
The individual instrument tab allows you to work with each instrument. Here is where you activate an instrument you want and deactivate the ones you don’t want. The instrument is bright and opaque when “on” and dim and translucent when “off”. Of note on this tab is the second button from the top. That button allows you to change from working with an individual instrument to working with the GPS units. Towards the bottom, there is a lighting index number. This allows you to dictate what group an instrument is assigned to when it comes time to turn on the lights.
One glitch that can happen and is good to be aware of is the “lost” instrument. If you are activating an instrument using the individual instrument tab and cannot find it on screen, it may have become “lost” behind the panel by being set too far back on the z-axis.
Once there, it cannot be selected and moved by the mouse. There are two ways to get it back. The first is utilizing the numerical method on the individual instrument tab as described above. The other is to move the camera behind the panel to find it and then you can click on the lower circle to drag it on its z-axis to bring it out in front again.
It is a good idea to back up the file that defines your panel once you are satisfied with it. The file bears the name Panel#.json where # is the number assigned to your panel noted in the red text at the bottom of the menu. Those files are found in the “Thranda_C208_Stationair\objects\Inst” folder. Always remember to save your panels because they do not survive a restarting or reloading of the aircraft if you haven’t.
We now arrive at the last section of the Thranda menu. Here you will find configuration options and control adjustment options.
In X-Plane 11, the use or non-use of fairings will affect your airspeed as will the use of the cargo pod. My understanding from Thranda is that this is unable to be implemented in X-Plane 12 as of this writing (v 1.03 of the model and beta 7 of XP 12) so the air speed and performance are fixed as if the cargo pod is in place without the use of fairings.
Some numbers I recorded on a standard day in XP 11 started with a cruise speed of 121 with the fairings in place. Removing the fairings dropped that to 117, adding the cargo pod reduced it further to 113, and adding the tundra tires bottomed the speed out at 112.
Control feel is controlled by the DynaFeel Intensity sliders for pitch, roll, and yaw. I will again refer you to the Stationair Manual (page 18, to be exact) for the technical description of what light and heavy means. The simple version is that light means the Stationair responds the same at all speeds while heavy means the pilot must exert more energy at the controls to get similar results at high speeds that he or she would get at lower speeds with less effort.
Does this work?
To be honest, I don’t know how exactly how one describes “feel” in a simulator that is entirely visual but, I did notice a difference in flying the Stationair when I changed this setting. Some of it seemed pretty subtle, but an experienced pilot that knows what they are looking for may discern more than I. That said, the manual makes the point that the plane has been carefully tuned to respond accurately with this setting at 100%.
Now that we’ve completed covering the menu system, it is time for our walk around before starting our first flight of the day. It will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Thranda that there is nothing missing in the external model of the Stationair surfaces, structures, and details.
Let’s have a closer look starting our walk around at the cowl where a bright red two-part cover connected by a dangling rope requires us to remove it from the intakes. We also see a very shiny spinner which you can obtain in the dynamic livery editor by setting the properties to maximum for metal and minimum for roughness. That spinner is not entirely clean, and the reflection is realistically dulled. The propeller is likewise used and looks like it is probably a composite material.
The vents are likewise detailed along with the lower cowl, taxi and landing lights. All fasteners are apparent and dimensional as opposed to simply painted on. Time to move on and, while here at the front, we’ll pop the bonnet and have a look at the six cylinders opposed piston engine powering the Stationair. Here, Thranda continues to demonstrate excellence in modelling and finishing. Every part is properly connected, and the tubes and wires have satisfyingly realistic bends, loops, and curves. Everything here looks to be well maintained and flight ready.
Next, we’ll inspect our landing gear. What you see depends on what you chose on the miscellaneous menu. No matter the tire size, the tread exhibits some wear with some usable depth remaining in the grooves. Sidewalls and hubs are in good shape, text is legible, and the effect of the new XP lighting model is on display where it interacts with the hub.
The reflection on the tire suits from a distance but the left one may be a bit overdone. Front and side struts are properly detailed with all the supporting structures in place and the fairings have a nice fit and finish. Unfortunately, they are not included in the scratches setting so never show any dings or scrapes from those kicked up stones. This is also a good time to check on the operation of the cowl flaps and we see they operate smoothly and reveal a nicely done exhaust when closed.
Since we are flying with tundra tires and mud flaps, we need to make sure the flaps are securely attached. A quick look around to the back of the wheel shows us how well attached they are and also impresses with the brake line structures and other hardware.
The last check on the underside is the cargo pod since we will be using it for this flight. It is very securely fastened to the belly of the aircraft and the door is operating properly. Clicking on the door handle is an alternate method to the menu for opening the door.
Closing is a little trickier since you can’t see the handle to click on it, but the cursor does change when you are over it. The interior of the pod is difficult to discern due to its high reflectivity. This appears to be a function of the beta lighting model of X-Plane 12 since it is quite different from the X-Plane 11 variant.
Standing up, we can check the wing before we pop into the cockpit to turn on the lights and engage the flaps. There is absolutely no surprise here as the irregular surface of the wing comes dramatically to life to the point that we can see some rippling in the skin. The front edge is smooth and undamaged, the pitot is impressive, the vents are clear. The strut attachment is quite secure. Time to get those lights on and flaps extended.
The pilot’s door is well defined, and the glass is suitably unclean since we haven’t washed the windows in some time. We also see the windscreen is in good shape with remarkable glass qualities. Clicking on the handle opens the door accompanied by an appropriate sound. Our light check reveals an accurate depiction of the fixtures, and we can see at night that they are quite functional if not a little overly bright. Another X-Plane 12 creation that is likely to be adjusted.
The flaps are properly modeled with admirable detail and dimension. They operate as expected and reveal well represented flap hinges. The surfaces here and on the interior edge of the aileron are of a lower resolution texture which is acceptable since frame rates must somehow be preserved.
While the manual details a flap interrupt switch that Cessna installed because the full extension of the flaps interferes with the rear door, that switch does not appear to be functional on this model. Note: Thranda is aware of this and of the cause. Expect it to be operational with a future update.
Speaking of the rear door, we are now able to inspect that since we’ve made our way around the aircraft noting the continuing solid work of Thranda’s modelling and texture work. At the side door, animation is smooth and convincing. The sounds are a little quieter than the pilot’s door and the rear door has no sound events associated with it. There is a delay for the sound event when closing the front door.
That about does it for our walk around. Time to get into the pilot’s seat and get the lights and battery turned off. By now, we’ll probably need an external generator to power the plane!
The interior of the Stationair is a simple arrangement of two crew seats and up to four passenger seats. It has a rear cargo area that is separated from the cabin by a cargo net.
It is also an interior that is showing a little age and use while keeping a well-maintained appearance. The seat textures nicely represent the differing materials and sections are merged smoothly at the seams.
Shading and PBR effects create the appearance of folds and wrinkles, and the beaded edges are well formed. The seat backs include the pocket and the seat belts drape smoothly over the edges and follow the contour of the seating surface.
The metal work is nicely rendered and the material presentation varies, as one would expect, from the seat frames and rails to the seat belt buckles, and from the door and window handles to the operational ash trays. The rendition of fabric retains its quality where it is used to enhance the side walls and cover the floor with carpet. Completing the interior are operational windscreen air vents, visors, windows, and small metal compartment covers on the wall near each front seat are operational.
Speaking of windows, the glass features a nice reflective quality that includes some coloration as well as dirt. If these effects are bothersome, they can be turned off using the pop-up menu general tab as we saw earlier. Personally, there have been a few times when I wanted to turn them off, but I found the feeling of flying without windows present even more bothersome which is what it seems like when you do turn off the reflections.
Panel and Gauges
Sitting in the pilot seat, the first two things that grabbed my attention were the big, blocky control yoke and the heavy glare shield which, in some ways, are a nice reminder that this is a solid and substantial aircraft meant for heavy work. Interestingly, there are no flight control buttons on the yoke which means yaw and pitch trims must be maintained using the trim wheels on the pedestal.
This Stationair does not have any roll trim (although Thranda has offered you a “cheat” on page 28 of the manual that you can use if you want it). Below the trim wheels is the fuel selector that is noticeably absent a “both” option which means the pilot will have to maintain fuel weight awareness to avoid flying into an out of balance condition. All the labels are crystal clear and sharp, so they are easily read even in low light conditions.
The Stationair has two variants of the glareshield padding. The default shows considerably more wear and tear than the one you will find being used by the Thranda and VH-FEL liveries. These seem more like the interiors you’d want to use if flying business acquaintances or families on pleasure trips where the default seems much more geared to the laborious duties of bush cargo work.
There are fifty-two gauge, switch, and other controls that you can choose from to create the panel layout of your liking. They are all easily read in both bright and dim lighting conditions. Lighting is provided by a red panel flood light that can be combined with individual instrument lighting provided by light posts if you’ve included them on your panel. Keep in mind that the lighting situation in X-Plane 12 continues to be developed so changes can be expected in this area.
Many gauges will pop up into their own window that can be repositioned and resized. The pop-ups are not affected by lighting conditions. In my testing in the X-Plane 12 environment, the circuit breakers are interactive and functional except for the strobe and taxi light circuits. Switch sounds in the cockpit are realistic and add nicely to the flight experience.
New to X-Plane 12, and therefore very subject to the imperfections of a beta product, is the visible representation of weather effects on aircraft. For the default aircraft, this is limited to the presence of rain on the windows and the gradual formation of condensation or ice on those same windows.
The initial release of the Stationair was not equipped to take advantage of the weather environment, but a subsequent release added that feature to the model. Now, the rain comes down and covers the entire aircraft and changes on the window according to how heavy the precipitation is.
This also results in what can become a very serious icing condition if the temperatures are in the necessary range for that to happen. Allowing the plane to sit on the tarmac in this situation will end up requiring some serious deicing prior to being able to use your aircraft! Leave it to Thranda to start pushing the envelope on what can be done in the X-Plane environment.
So, having looked at the model, the time has come to find out how it behaves. The numbers quoted under the weight and balance menu section were obtained in X-Plane 11. The following flight was done in X-Plane 12 because it looks so much better, and I have a hard time going back to X-Plane 11. Keep in mind both X-Plane and the X-Plane 12 variant of the Stationair are both works in progress.
This flight took place right after Beta 8 was released. According to Thranda, the flight model in X-Plane 12 seems to be close to where it should be with perhaps a little tweaking to the dyna-feel system and the need to find a way to have the cruise speeds change with equipment changes.
Pages 36 – 38 in the aircraft manual document the proper procedures for flying the Stationair. The conditions for my flight were partly cloudy with a 2 kt. wind from a southerly direction. The runway in use had a heading of 185 so the wind was off the left of the nose a bit. Altimeter was 29.73. The Stationair was configured without the cargo pod, with the fairings, and carried only the pilot and 132 pounds of fuel in each wing making this a very light load that maintained the 206’s forward CG.
Taxiing, as described, is best done at slow speeds. Steering and braking are very sensitive, and you will find yourself out of control quickly if you use the controls too rapidly. This does seem to be even more the case with the use of tundra tires. I chose to takeoff without flaps since I did not need to climb rapidly over obstacles. Slowly increasing the throttle to full and ensuring the RPM was at the red line as instructed, the plane rumbled down the runway and needed that right rudder.
Roll out happened right about the 52 knot mark, and initial vertical speed was about 900 feet per minute at 66 knots. I tapped the toe brakes to stop the main wheels from spinning, dialed back the RPM and throttle and leaned the fuel accordingly to obtain a 500 foot per minute climb where my airspeed was about 92 knots. The numbers manifold and RPM numbers were slightly different which might be because I was flying so light or due to the effects of flying in X-Plane 12.
The Stationair proves to be a stable flyer that can be sensitive to control inputs. I did find a need to use some rudder to maintain a coordinated turn and, for this particular flight, I found a need to trim the rudder a bit left. The autopilot controls work as they are supposed to, and the fuel tank switching is smooth and flawless.
My experience with approach and landing has been that of learning to cope with the Stationairs power and forward CG. Thus far, I have been unable to land the plane any other way than by the numbers. True to published information, reducing power too far results in a sudden drop akin to flying a brick and increased throttle does not reduce this instantly. Power off landings don’t seem to be possible until you are right over the threshold and just feet above the runway. If you are too far above, the landing will be a bouncy affair.
The Stationair is known for it’s nose heavy configuration and is, therefore, very susceptible to nose wheel landings. Obviously, this is not a good thing. This tendency bears itself out in the simulation environment so proper approach speeds are necessary because full flaps will help to reduce the nose wheel landing, but it will also cause the plane to float over the runway if your airspeed is too fast because the Stationair needs a nose high attitude to touch down on the mains.
This also results in one of the other features than can make landing a little unnerving and that is you can’t see the runway in front of you until that front wheel comes down. I have not been able to land without full flaps while approaching a 3000-foot runway over a tree line about 300 feet from the landing zone unless I use heavy braking (which easily creates an out-of-control situation) or running out of space.
Landing was indeed nose up and the Stationair stalled right at 52 knots with 20 degrees of flap.
So, I hope you have a good picture of what the Thranda U206G experience is all about. If you’ve read my review of the Thranda Caravan, you know my bias is favorable towards Thranda aircraft. However, if my inclination is to lean at all in their favor, it also means my expectations are that much higher. I have attempted to maintain a balanced perspectifve with my experience of the U206G.
Now, I expect by now you can decide if this aircraft is worth the price. If you are still unable to, I can, realistically, assure you it is. In the short time since its release, Thranda has already updated it to version 1.03. Even with that, they are already demonstrating their penchant for pushing the X-Plane environment envelope and there remains much more to come. Not the least of the things to look forward to is that this is likely to be the first third-party float plane for X-Plane 12.
There is one caveat to my complete endorsement of this aircraft. If you are a glass cockpit fan, you need to know the G1000 will not be making an appearance in the U206G.Thranda told me this was a conscious choice they made when they decided the 206 would be sticking close to its bush flying capabilities. Another thing you may want to consider if you are thinking about this plane for X-Plane 12 is there has been no comments from RealityXP regarding updating that plugin for the new version of the simulator so it may or may not be available for use in the Stationair.
While conducting my review, I did find some glitches, imperfections, and blemishes. I have not specifically mentioned them because they were mostly related to the aircraft being in a beta environment. Many of the ones I did find I was unable to reproduce in X-Plane 11.
The more serious issues were related to lighting and weather and neither of those are stable in X-Plane 12 as of this writing. I have also spoken with Thranda team members about these issues, and they are aware of most and have them on their list to address in coming days. Many will not be taken care of until X-Plane 12 is final which is really no surprise to anyone familiar with Thranda because releasing a plane for a beta version of X-Plane is something they have never previously done.
Ultimately, if you are a bottom-line type of person, my bottom line is this: The Thranda U206G Stationair is worthy of a place in your hangar. The high quality of their productions continues in their latest offering, and their end user support and dedication to the X-Plane platform means this transition aircraft is going to have a long and useful life throughout the duration of X-Plane 12.
Your comments, helpful critiques, and corrections are always welcome. You can contact me through X-Plained.com.
Until our next adventure, cheers and blue skies!
|Add-on:||Payware Thranda Design Cessna Stationair 675 / Grand Stationair 208B|
|Publisher | Developer:||X-Plane.Org | Aerosoft | Thranda Design|
|Description:||Realistic rendition of Cessna Stationair 675 and Grand Stationair 208B|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / Approximately 2.21GB (unzipped)|
|Reviewed by:||Paul Beckwith|
|Published:||October 29th 2022|
|Hardware specifications:||-Ryzen 9 5950X CPU @ 3.40GHz
- 64 GB DDR4 3200MHz RAM
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 10 GB GDDR6X
- Honeycomb Alpha Yoke
- Honeycomb Bravo Throttle Quadrant
- CH Products Pedals
|Software specifications:||- Windows 11
- X-Plane 11.55 (64 Bit)
- X-Plane 12 Early Access