Commercial Aircraft Review
Carenado Cessna C182T Skylane G1000
[table “” not found /]
Being (almost) one of the most popular and most modeled GA airplanes both in real life and in flight simulators, I was initially unexcited knowing that Carenado was making a C182T for X-Plane 10. However, when I found out that it would feature the first Carenado G1000 and, with that, what they aspired to be the most realistic Garmin G1000 system available for X-Plane aircraft, I started to warm up to the idea of this aircraft. I love the G1000 system and I was interested to see what Carenado would make of it.
Looking at the C182T’s feature list impressed me immediately, as there are some genuinely new things. These include things like an actual working terrain radar, TAWS system and more. In fact, I’ll list the features on the product page.
– Exclusive Carenado G1000 (PFD and MFD)
– Terrain Awareness map mode
– Different declutter levels
– Advanced menus and cursor with scroll wheel, click/hold click/drag
– Aux- Trip Planning Window
– Checklist mode
– Crisp, vector-based water data
– The pop-up 2D windows can be resized and moved around the screen
– Pristine scroll wheel support
– FPS-friendly terrain map
– KFC225 autopilot integrated with the G1000
– 350 pixels/meter textures
– 3D gauges
– Original HQ digital stereo sounds recorded directly from the real aircraft
– 3D stereo effects, such as outside sounds entering open windows
– Customizable panel for controlling window transparency etc.
– Realistic behavior compared to the real airplane. Realistic weight and balance.
– Realistic 3D night light effects on panel and cockpit
– Volumetric side view prop effect
As you can see, it’s a pretty large and impressive feature list. However, let’s forget about the modeled version for a moment and look at some information about the real Cessna C182T G1000:
The Cessna 182 Skylane is an American four-seat, single-engine light airplane, built by Cessna of Wichita, Kansas. It has the option of adding two child seats, installed in the baggage area. Introduced in 1956, the 182 has been produced in a number of variants, including a version with retractable landing gear, and is the second most popular Cessna model, after the 172.
The Cessna 182 was introduced in 1956 as a tricycle gear variant of the 180. In 1957, the 182A variant was introduced along with the name Skylane. As production continued, later models were improved regularly with features such as a wider fuselage, swept tailfin with rear “omni-vision” window, enlarged baggage compartment, higher gross weights, landing gear changes, etc. The “restart” aircraft built after 1996 were different in many other details including a different engine, new seating design, etc.
By mid-2013 Cessna planned to introduce the next model of the 182T, the JT-A, using the 227 hp (169 kW) SMA SR305-230 diesel engine running on Jet-A with a burn rate of 11 U.S. gallons (42 L; 9.2 imp gal) per hour and cruise at 155 kn (287 km/h). Cessna has no timeline for the JT-A and the diesel 172. The normally aspirated, avgas fueled 182 went out of production in 2012, but came back in 2015.
The Cessna 182 is an all-metal (mostly aluminum alloy) aircraft, although some parts – such as engine cowling nose-bowl and wingtips – are made of fiberglass or thermoplastic material. Its wing has the same planform as the smaller Cessna 172 and the larger 205/206 series; however, some wing details such as flap and aileron design are the same as the 172 and are not like the 205/206 components.
Four-seat light aircraft with fixed landing gear, powered by a fuel-injected 230 hp (172 kW) Lycoming IO-540-AB1A5 piston engine, gross weight of 3,100 lb (1,406 kg) for take-off and 2,950 lb (1,338 kg) for landing. It was certified on 23 February 2001 and, as of July 2015, it is the only variant in production.
This information was pulled from Wikipedia, because the Cessna website doesn’t show or tell many more interesting details. However, there are some interesting performance figures that we can use to test the claim of accurate flight modeling. These are shown in the picture below.
So, after this introduction I think it’s time to see how well Carenado did on this aircraft. As you may know, they have received some criticism in the past for their systems and flight modeling, so I’m curious to see if they have stepped up their work a notch with this new G1000-equipped C182T.
Installation and Documentation
This is actually a little less straight forward than other XP10 addons, because the G1000 system requires you to download and install the Carenado database. After downloading it, put it in the X-Plane root folder (so the base folder for the program) and install the aircraft itself like you would normally. However, that is all you need to do, so it’s still not a challenge at all; it just takes a little longer than you may be used to and you have to remember downloading, unpacking and ‘installing’ the database.
After downloading the aircraft, going to the folder that is marked for clarity as DOCUMENTATION, you will find the following PDF files:
– Autopilot KFC225, a pretty self-explanatory title;
– Credits, a one-page file with credits and the Carenado website link and e-mail;
– C182T Emergency Procedures, detailing what to do when things go south in a number of possible situations;
– C182T Normal Procedures, detailing what to do when things don’t go south and you want to just fly normally, going from preflight inspections to shutdown;
– C182T Performance Tables, which tell you what you can do under what conditions and how far you can push the airplane. Also tells you handy things like fuel usage under certain conditions;
– C182T Reference, a one-page tiny manual on the speeds that are indicated by different PFD bands and your different V-speeds, like VNE, VFE and more;
– G1000: a guide on what features are implemented in the G1000 system and what sub-functions, menus and possibilities you have per menu/page;
– Recommended Settings X-Plane 10: again this is a pretty logical title; included are recommended settings for your X-Plane in general, telling you what a number of the settings mean and what they do in terms of performance and visuals.
In my eyes, this is an adequate amount of documentation. Obviously, you can’t detail or document as much as with the big airliners, and what needs to be there is included. Therefore, I would call it a complete set of documentations that you need to operate this specific version of this specific aircraft.
Usually I’m not a huge fan of these Cessna GA aircraft, because to me, they’re generally unexciting to fly and, in general with GA aircraft, I’m usually troubled by difficulties when trying to read gauges when not zoomed in a bit on my 24″ 1920×1080 monitor (aliasing makes it hard to read things). However, this aircraft is different. Flying it is smooth, responsive and feels safe, yet makes me feel like I do have to pay some attention. The throttle is responsive and although it takes a fair bit of throttle to get moving, it’s quick on the ground. Because of the large G1000, things are a bit easier to read. However, the needles that you get with steam gauges are convenient for aforementioned problem!
It does tend to slip and slide a little bit, but a lot less than I have experienced with other aircraft. It’s generally pretty stable and unless you yank the rudder around, it shouldn’t slip/drift. Braking is also pretty easy as it should be.
Once on a runway, I throttled up my power and within moments, started my takeoff roll. With full power applied and flaps lowered one notch, I was quick to take to the skies. I let the aircraft get to about 50-60 knots before pulling back, resulting in a smooth, quick takeoff. It got to that speed pretty quickly, which made me want to try some short field takeoffs. First up was Sekiu Airport, ICAO S12. Its relatively short runway, in XP10 (my configuration anyway) covered with trees on one side, makes for a challenging takeoff and landing space. However, the C182T handled itself well, needing only a single notch of flaps to be able to take off at full power.
I even had plenty of space left, which seems accurate. Flying around the mountainous area that surrounds Sekiu airport was a breeze, as the good handling and performance of the 182T, combined with its good climb rate, allowed me to evade all dangers. I purposely flew towards some mountains, to see how well it climbed and if it handles well in climbing turns. All was well and I was able to make some nice and tight, stable turns to avoid the mountains.
At normal airports, you don’t even need the flaps. This goes for many GA aircraft of course, but the low takeoff speed is always welcome. Flying this aircraft in some rougher weather was also pretty easy. It obviously does get thrown around a little by turbulence and it takes longer to climb through dense cloud layers than with the average jetliner, but the stability meant I didn’t have to deal with weird surprises.
While cruising, I didn’t really have to do much. The autopilot kept the aircraft going steady and made sure I didn’t have any weird surprises. Turbulence is something this C182T handles well, it doesn’t get thrown around like a roller coaster unless it’s pretty severe and I didn’t notice any unnatural behavior.
Starting my descent, I pretty much pulled the throttle back to idle and the aircraft seemed to glide down gently. The rate of descent and descent speeds seemed to match what I would expect and what I could find. A great resource for performance charts/tables is this link.
As I leveled out at about 1000 feet to do some pattern work, I applied some more throttle. Doing some simple downwind pattern work with touch and goes is a breeze in this aircraft, as is everything else! All in all, we seem to be off to a good start when it comes to this product.
On the inside, you’ll find the usual attention to detail that we have come to expect of Carenado. It looks gorgeous and although I’m not a huge fan of the color scheme used in these aircraft, it is very well-represented and actually got me to like it a little, being so realistic and ‘calm’ in color and layout.
The first time I entered the aircraft, I was pleasantly greeted by crisp visuals, good modeling work and 3D instruments. All the knobs, levers and switches are well done and look realistic, from small indents to their size and positioning. The reflections on the gauges coupled with the lively colors make the whole panel very nice and realistic. Comparing a photo of the real-world 182T panel shows that the three gauges in the middle of the panel are in fact quite accurate; the color bands on the speed indicator match those on the real instrument, for example.
Looking at the left side of the panel, I noticed that there are some alignment differences between the real-world picture and the Carenado version. An example of this would be the WARNING text in the top left, which is lower than the panel edge of the MFD in the Carenado aircraft, but about equal to the height of that edge in the real aircraft.
I do have to say that it may be possible that they are both different variants; perhaps the Carenado aicraft is modeled after a different year’s revision. That theory would be reinforced by the different text left of the steam gauges; in the Carenado version that shows ‘Turbocharged fuel flow’, in the real-world photo it has information regarding altitudes.
Another real-world photo I found shows the PFD having more buttons on the right side, below the HDG knob. That version also has the white borders around the Master/Avionics switches, as well as some other minor differences.
As is both clear and usual, there seem to be some pretty big differences between different C182Ts. However, I did notice that on all versions, the text at the top left that I mentioned, is misaligned. The issue there is that the rest of the panel is (95%) properly aligned, so I don’t really get how it doesn’t align, unless perhaps the entire panel size is a bit different in the first place.
The G1000 panels do seem to be a bit higher than on the real-world panel though.
The lighting work is very nice, offering an assortment of lights to brighten up different instruments, panels and the cockpit itself. At night, you definitely don’t have to turn the lights all the way up, but if you do it’s very nice to look at. The lighting is smooth, makes everything more readable (obviously) and generally gives me that cozy feeling that I get when I’m sitting in a dimly lit car at night.
A strange analogy, but it works! I actually spent a lot of my time trying this aircraft out at night, or during sunrise/sunset. However, I of course flew it during daytimes as well.
The shadows look great and give unlit parts of the paneling a very nice dark look. The G1000 panels stay very readable during both day and night, by the way. I do have to say I usually don’t turn the lighting all the way up, to add to the ambience. Besides, you don’t need to have it at 100% to read things better.
Moving away from the front panel, we have the seats and the rest of the cabin. A lot of details have been modeled, customary for Carenado by now. The seats look very nice, having rounded corners and good material work done; parts that stick out, edges in the material and color are all very realistic. The same goes for other parts of the interior, including corners or round parts in general. Looking out of the windows shows the wing strut attached to the body, including the details you may expect from it. The seatbelts look really nice as well. Material and color work on panels like doors and other cabin parts are just as good.
I’m going to do this section a little more structured. I’ll start with the front, after which we will work our way towards the tail of the plane in sections.
So, let’s start at the front. Looking at the propeller and spinner, you can see some nice material work that gives a pretty good shine on the metal of the spinner. It’s not as clear and shiny as would be realistic, but that would be quite hard to achieve. The detail work and bump mapping on the panel lines is pretty nice and the screws look good too, from a distance. The inlet below the spinner is nice and you can see some detail inside it, as well as the mounting frame around it. Looking back towards the propeller, the engine intakes have some detail modeled, but it looks more like a texture than an actually modeled radiator with actual parts.
You can easily see how the wheels are tilted inward a little to compensate for the pressure on them during landing. That is very nicely animated, by the way. Detail work like gear strut parts, pitot tube and various inlets etc. are all well done and crisp. The overall shape of the aircraft seems to match its real-world counterpart well. The tires are well done, the fairings look good and all the details seem to be there too. A nice detail is that the wheels do in fact still turn during flight; this happens relatively slowly, but there is a clear rotation happening.
Taking a look from the side, you can see a number of other details, including the flap mechanism, shape of the gear struts and some more nice paneling work. The shape of the wings and tail are very precise and good, incorporating obvious details that are sometimes missed or wrong. The trim tab on the tail is present and of course is animated.
The subtle curve at the end of the wings and the slots/little ‘stripes’ on the ailerons and flaps seem to be modeled, not just textured/bump mapped. Something else that I was pleasantly surprised by that I saw only once I let daylight shine directly onto the wings at a certain angle, is that there is bump mapping for all the riveting/paneling work on the wings; you can see the relief/shapes in it, which looks amazing and is a great detail.
During the night, the lights look beautiful. The beacon on the tail illuminates the tail section with a soft red glow that fades in and out. The strobe lights reflect on the ground and have a fast frequency, blinking a number of times in quick succession every 1-2 seconds. Very well done. The navigation lights are subtle, but correctly colored (the right shade) and as usual, Carenado’s done a great job modeling the lights themselves and placing the lighting in the right spot within the light enclosure.
Overall I’m quite happy with the level of detail regarding the modeling, but the liveries are also nice. Carenado included 6 total liveries, which are a variety of color and patterns (except for one bare white livery).
Sound wise, this aircraft is pretty nice as well. The switches have a solid, realistic sound and as you can expect, all the sounds are of high quality. Flap sounds are correct, deep/sound heavy and realistic, both inside and out. The engine sounds are very nice, diverse and intense from the cockpit, getting significantly louder as you throttle up. Turning the fuel pump on even causes a (very quiet) high pitched noise.
On the outside, things are a lot quieter and sound more like what you’d hear from a distance (even when zoomed in close with the camera). I personally prefer the sound from inside, with all the accents adding a lot to the immersion.
Revving up the engine and taking off is one of my favorite things to do in terms of the sounds I get out of the aircraft, with a large change in sound of course being present. During a nosedive, I also noticed that the sound does in fact change with the speed of the prop/engine when the wind is making it turn faster.
The alarm sounds are similar in quality to the rest: accurate and high quality audio. There’s not much to really say about sounds, other than that they do in fact sound accurate as advertised. It’s pretty immersive having such different sounds out and inside the cockpit, as it gives a nice sense of realism.
Systems / G1000
This is where things really get interesting, as of course this C182T has the first and most complete G1000 currently available on the (commercial) X-Plane market. I’m not really sure where to start, as this is a very complex system, but I’ll begin with some comments. I sent a mail to Fernando over at Carenado due to some questions. Below, you can read both my questions and his answers (in Italic):
– As of yet, there seems to be no AIRAC integration (Navigraph / Aerosoft). Do you plan on implementing this?
Yes, but not in the short term.
– Do you plan on implementing a PROC page and if yes, to what extent? The default XP10 FMS systems include only approaches. It would be great to have both approaches (STARs) and departures (SIDs) included if there is AIRAC compatibility. Yes, but not in the short term. We have to analyse it in detail. When we started developing this instrument, the default GNS430/GN530 were not in the horizon, so we used our own technology.
– Is there a weather radar present or will it be added in some way? There is no weather radar included in the instrument.
– Is the map range limited to only 50NM? That’s all I seem to be able to get. Besides that, it seems like sometimes I can’t scroll the range up or down (not exactly sure how to reproduce since it seems a little random). Yes, only 50NM because of performance issues.
– Finally, could you name some things you still plan on adding or changing, both in the G1000 and in the rest of the aircraft? We wanted to provide a G1000 for X-Plane with the most important features such as a moving and colorful map, terrain awareness, traffic, topographic, etc. And I think we reached that goal. This is a good point to start improving it. I don’t have a clear idea what would be our next step in terms of features as we are fixing some bugs.
A little side note to this is that I state not being sure why the range is acting up; I have figured this out by now. It seems that 50 NM is the maximum display range for the map, but not the maximum range for the knob that selects range; turning it when you have already reached, for instance for 3 turns, doesn’t do anything. However, the map will not zoom back in when you rotate the knob the other way. That only starts after those three turns; this is a minor bug.
“Simple” things included in the G1000 are little things like red arrows when nose-diving very steeply, realistic looking inset menus and accurate positioning of screen parts. The simple is between parentheses, because as simple as it may seem, this G1000 was created completely from scratch.
Carenado has received criticism for quality of systems and flight modeling before, but nobody can argue against the amount of effort that went in to this G1000. Yes, it has some issues, but many of them were fixed very quickly after release and they are still working on it.
Besides, you can see that they do in fact plan to integrate some big new features eventually. I would love for Carenado to keep up this philosophy, as building an even better and more complete G1000 system could give them a great playing card to assist with the high-quality modeling. On to the actual system: I have no clue where to start.
I really don’t! I could go over the left hand display’s features first, then switch over to the right side, but going through everything would take a huge amount of time. Therefore, I’ll try to highlight the things that impressed me most or that I just like; I’ll also use the included G1000 manual to look up and talk about some important features that I may have forgotten. Starting with the left hand side (PFD), I love the inset map. Not only can this map be controlled independently of the right hand side’s big map, you can also enable the terrain radar on it.
It stays after you exit the submenu as it should be (it didn’t before, but it was fixed quickly). The inset gives you a nice extra layer of situational awareness that helps you keep focus on your PFD when flying. The current route/leg information at the top of both displays is also very helpful.
Navigational aids and functions are plentiful; you can have up to three navigational indicators at one: your CDI indicator and two NAV indicators (obviously for NAV radios one and two); the CDI controls what the autopilot follows and is clearly indicated on the navigational rose.
The weird thing is that going into the submenu for that rose is that you can only select the 360 degree option; there doesn’t seem to be an arc option (similar to a Boeing’s Plan and Map options for the ND, if you’re familiar with those aircraft). However, it doesn’t matter too much as everything is still clear and legible in 360 mode; the colors are distinct and recognizable (although having the NAV1 selector and CDI to NAV does get a little confusing, as both arrows point the same way and look similar).
Most of the gauges on the right side function properly, like fuel flow, RPM etc. However, it seems like TIT/CHT temperatures aren’t modeled. It would be nice if they were, since they are used to set the power in the real-life aircraft. However, it’s not too much of an issue, as you can just use the other gauges; that will do just fine.
To its right is the main and most obvious ‘attraction’ of the G1000 system; the map. Normally, the map shows green for ground (at certain altitude; as you can see on the scale, the color changes). When you click the MAP key, you get the option to enable topography and terrain displays. I have to say this was confusing at first, but the standard screen that you see at startup already seems to be the topography display. Clicking the button seems to disable it, as it stops showing elevation colors and instead just shows black for all land and blue for water.
A little annotation: in the manual, there are ‘SHW CHRT’ and ‘ENGINE’ options at the bottom. The Show Chart would obviously be for charts you use in the real world, but it doesn’t have much use here. However, it is still shown in the picture, although not listed in the explanation. The ENGINE option not being there confuses me as well. I would assume that to be there, showing more detailed engine info, but instead the manual lists it as INOP. Some color bands across the indicators also look different, but that’s obviously nothing important. I do wonder why these differences exist, since as far as I know, it’s the same G1000 that Carenado used to get the pictures for the manual from.
Pressing CHKLIST gets you to the checklists, which are absolutely superb. You can easily select the checklist you want to use and the checklist is interactive, meaning you can check items off the list. Use the big knob to go through lines, the small knob to scroll through categories within that line (so if you’re on the GROUP line, you use the small knob to change groups). You can also move to the next line by pressing ENT; once you get to the checklist part, pressing ENT will automatically check the item and go to the next item. After the last item, it goes to the ‘Go to next checklist?’ option. Pressing RETURN will return you to the very top, meaning it selects the GROUP line. There, you can choose between Emergency or Normal procedures. Pressing the EMERGCY button on the lower right automatically starts the emergency checklists, in case something happens in flight. Seriously, this checklist is the best implementation I have seen to date in X-Plane and in fact in any G1000 system. The best part is that it’s right in the instrumentation and therefore easily accessible. Well done!
My only gripe with the entire checklist system is that it takes a number of seconds to load a checklist, during which the sim freezes. This is a shame, as it happens for a lot of actions; less for loading individual checklists, but loading up the emergency section takes a good 5-10 seconds. Apart from that, it has to load in the Carenado database whenever you select/load the C182T, which takes more than the announced ‘a few seconds’ that the screen shows.
Moving on; the communication between different systems is also very good; the knobs on the right panel change the values on both left and right sides when appropriate, This makes sense, since the outer frame of both G1000 displays seems duplicated; selecting a knob on one side also lights up the one on the other side. The only exceptions are the buttons at the lower right, for the MENU, FPL, etc. This is because they have separate menus/screens on each panel; on the left side, pressing the Direct to button brings up a basic inset screen, while at the right side it bring up a separate, more elaborate screen that features a map.
Scrolling the big knob brings us to the WPT section, where you can input any airport, VOR, intersection etc. and get information about it; it gets displayed on the map, you can get runway info, frequencies and more. Very convenient, but it resets and doesn’t seem to give you the option to select the VORs/airport(s) and such that are in your current flight plan; this means you’ll have to do a lot of scrolling back and forth if you want to check multiple things.
Going forward once more shows the AUX section. This one I don’t really get. It shows a bunch of trip info, like fuel remaining, outside temperature, set pressure, range and more, but some info seems to stay blank, like trip info. This is a shame, since trip info is convenient, showing things like total distance and ETA. Next to that, in the Fuel stats, it seems like the required fuel also stays at 0.0. Once I got up in the air, the endurance/range started changing, but required fuel stayed the same. Otherwise, it is a very convenient page for some quick info. The Utility page has some timers that allow you to time several values, like flight time (from power on or in-air), departure time and generic count-up or countdown timer. GPS status is really nothing useful, but there for authenticity; the System Setup page has a few selections available, such as airport filters and unit selection for fuel, altitudes etc. Finally, the System Status page is static as well.
The FPL page shows your loaded flight plan and gives you the option to quickly load preset flight plans (in the standard X-Plane format; maybe this will change when Carenado integrates procedures? They have, for other simulators, had extension packs that enabled use of the Navigraph database for procedure loading in an FMS, so it could happen with this aircraft. Naturally, you can also enter fixes and airports yourself, as well as adding and removing waypoints and activating any leg of the current flight plan.
That’s pretty much it for the right side panel; the left side panel is an extension of that, allowing many of the same features to be used at a smaller scale. This includes direct-to, flight plans, inset map with terrain and topography options and selection of radio and nav frequencies. Of course, you have the standard things like the navigation rose/compass, wind selection, bearing selection, navigation source selection and so on.
Moving on to the system tied into the G1000, the KFC225 autopilot! I’m actually super happy with the autopilot, as it is very easy and user friendly; setting it up is simple, as you can ‘link’ a lot of things. You can, for instance, set a target altitude, then a vertical speed. After that, clicking the ARM button makes sure that the altitude hold is armed for when the target is reached. Once in the air, clicking VS makes the aircraft take the selected vertical speed, after which it will stop once it reaches target altitude. The Heading mode obviously follows your selected heading (which you can easily set to your current heading by clicking the heading select rotary button).
Enabling the NAV button as well makes sure the plane follows the heading selected with the CDI button on the G1000 system. Also available are standard things, like the yaw damper, flight director and approach buttons, as well as a reverse mode, permitting ‘automatic back-course approaches and tracking outbound on the Front Course prior to a procedural turn’.
All in all, I very much do recommend this aircraft. It has a few issues and isn’t the most complete aircraft for things like IFR flying, but it can do the job if you can handle some extra pilot workload and some shortcomings. I still recommend it more for VFR, but you can still just have a flight plan loaded and the AP on, it just won’t do STAR approaches by itself.
This aircraft will not be for everyone, as there are a great many who prefer the traditional steam gauges over modern glass cockpit type systems like the G1000, but I urge anyone who can spend the money on it to give it a try. It already contains so many features, most of them well integrated, that you can spend a long time simply exploring this aircraft.
Carenado has stepped up its game with this G1000 and is planning to raise the bar even higher. With implementation of more and more IFR-related features, this could very well be the upcoming must-have for IFR GA flying.
As of yet, it’s also great for VFR, because of the very functional autopilot and the easy of radio and checklist management, combined with the heightened awareness brought by the terrain and topography maps. Being able to easily look up information about for instance VORs you want to track is also very handy indeed!
Congratulations to Carenado for really raising the bar with this product; please keep working on improving it for a while to come!