Commercial Aircraft Review
Carenado TBM850 G1000
|Add-on:||Realistic presentation of the TBM850 G1000|
|Publisher | Developer:||Aerosoft | Carenado|
|Description:||Rendition of one of the nicest single-engine turboprops|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / approximately 302MB (unzipped)|
|Reviewed by:||Rick Verhoog|
|Published:||June 6th 2016|
|Hardware specifications:||- Intel Core i7 3770K @ 3.5 GHz|
|- 16GB DDR3-1600 MHz RAM|
|- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 970 G1 Gaming|
|- AKG K7XX headphones and speakers|
|- Saitek X55 Rhino HOTAS|
|Software specifications:||- Windows 10 Pro|
|- X-Plane 10.45|
|- Real Terra Haze|
|- Skymaxx Pro Version 3|
|- A variety of freeware airports found from the x-plane.org forums|
The TBM850 may not be as well-known as some of Carenado’s other creations, but it certainly is a welcome addition to the roster of X-Plane General Aviation aircraft. A very fast turboprop with G1000 system is a new branch of product that I personally got very excited about.
The real-world counterpart is one of the, if not the, fastest and safest turboprop business aircraft currently on the market. A luxurious way of getting to your destination with an easy, complete avionics suite. The original TBM700 was the world’s first fully pressurized single-engine turboprop, with many variations following it. This eventually got to the TBM850. Identical airframe, but a more powerful engine for what TBM calls ‘jet-like performance with turboprop efficiency’. With a range of just over 1500 nautical miles, this statement does not seem exaggerated.
It seems fitting that this is Carenado’s first turboprop G1000 aircraft for X-Plane, after the Cessna 182T and the SR22 GTx. I’m curious to see what Carenado made of this aircraft, so let’s take a look.
Installation and Documentation
If you have never used an X-Plane Carenado aircraft with their G1000 system, you will need to download the database from their site. The link to it is in the lower right of every G1000-equipped aircraft’s product page. All you need to do then is unpack the database and place it into your X-Plane root folder. After that, the aircraft goes into the Aircraft folder of your choice.
Every time you load the aircraft, the Carenado database has to be loaded as well. This unfortunately means that you will have to wait for that every time. This gets frustrating, as it takes a long time to load.
Looking at documentation, we find the standard Carenado collection of documents, checklists and information.
I can’t do much more than be positive about this. On the ground, taxiing is smooth and works well; no unexpected movements, no wheel slip or continued motion with the wheel turned the other way. You don’t need much power to keep going: in fact, even at idle the airplane moves by itself and picks up speed rather quickly. This makes for a challenging taxi that requires the occasional braking and control. To stay standing, you really do need to use the brakes. Fortunately, the easy movement helps with being able to control the aircraft well.
Lined up on the runway, introducing power gets the aircraft going quite rapidly. At near-full power, speed rises very quickly and the plane gets up in the air in no time. It doesn’t have much tendency to rise by itself though, so there is a definite need to pull back on the yoke or stick in order to lift off. Climbing out goes easily, as this aircraft will keep building speed even without full power, while at 1500 feet per minute. If needed, you can get out of a sticky situation very easily as the real-life aircraft is rated at 2350 feet per minute rate of climb. Combine that with the G1000 terrain display and you’ll be safe in most situations.
Something I don’t fully understand is part of the power settings: above a certain percentage, the power always reduces to its ‘maximum’ allowed. Moving the power level beyond that setting causes a temporary, but very high increase in the power setting. In fact, if you increase power quick enough, the power will rise so much that the engine overtorques, breaks and dies. This also seems to cause an immediate fire that fills the cabin with smoke. Not entirely comfortable and it feels just a little too sensitive. I’m not sure if this is accurately compared to real life, but it would seem a little dangerous.
However, at cruise altitude all you need to do is reduce the power setting and the aircraft does just fine. Keeping around 70-80 percent power with reduced RPM maintains a comfortable cruise speed of around 180 to 190 knots indicated airspeed. The advertised true airspeed of the 850 averages 300 knots, which seems to be accurate for this model. Fuel consumption is good as well, with the TBM850 having a range of about 1520 nautical miles. This seems to be pretty accurate, from what I can see during my trips. Being relatively short trips, at around 250-500 nautical miles, I haven’t yet been able to fully fly to its maximum range. That doesn’t seem completely necessary though, as flights like mine are good enough to show a rough indication of available range.
Starting the descent after pulling back power shows a pretty average descent speed. Comfortable descent rates of around 1500-200 feet per minute can be achieved without speed increases. The autopilot keeps the aircraft nice and steady and adjusts the aircraft during turns to keep up the descent rate.
During the approach and final approach, you don’t need a lot of power to keep the aircraft going. The flaps do raise the nose a bit, but not as much and as rapidly as some other aircraft experience. With full flaps and gear, the amount of power needed for a proper approach is good, but not great. The aircraft itself is very stable, though. That makes it easy to keep the aircraft under control, even during windy conditions. It’s easy to correct tiny movements very accurately and there’s no tendency to roll or yaw excessively.
The little bit of floating on landing is pretty easy to deal with and setting the 850 down gently isn’t much of a challenge, but you have to keep your focus on the plane. Being too fast or slow can easily result in a harsher landing than you thought due to a sudden drop or fast descent.
The inside of this plane is just as impressive and attractive as every other Carenado model. The modeling is smooth, with good attention to detail. The switches are all looking good and movement is correct; no switches that move around a pivot point that isn’t correct or such oversights. The leather stitching on the front of the glare shield could look nicer, but there’s always things you can wish for. It looks good as it is and it’s not a big deal.
Let’s elaborate a bit further on the details, both in the front and in the cabin. For instance, the little notepads above the copilot’s display, the little information charts and stickers are there and that includes the information sticker on the windshield. A very nice touch that was made possible in X-Plane a while ago is a working time counter, which measures how long you’ve used the aircraft for. That means you can now truly count flying hours.
The material work is very nice, with the matte shine of the black cockpit combined with the somewhat brighter reflections off the G1000 bezels and paneling making for a surprisingly immersive experience. Combine this with high-res textures, instruments and text/modeling and you have a cockpit that offers a beautiful flying experience. Carenado have also nailed the sides and middle ‘bar’ that houses the compass. Gorgeous colour changes as the light reflects off the angles and corners combined with great looking shadows are also present.
Taking a closer look at the modeling work of the cockpit reveals that there are some minor details Carenado may have slightly misrepresented. With a picture of a real-life TBM850 next to the simulator, it looks the backup instrument and autopilot back panel has more angled edges in the spots where it makes place for the large MFD. Apart from that, plus some minor fit and finish that can be different from plane to plane, I don’t see much wrong with general modeling and coloring.
The flap handle’s slot positions are pretty different compared to the real-life variant’s flap handle, though. The trim wheel is also a little different, but these differences may even change from plane to plane, being more or less accurate. The rest of that panel is impressively well-made, though. The pedals, hand hold and dials with their screws are impressively accurate. I noticed, after a few moments of confusion, that while the Carenado version has a door at the pilot’s entrance, some real-life models apparently do not.
Moving on to the cabin, I notice a high level of detail here as well. While it may be a little boring or unexciting in terms of colours and features, it does look nice. The ventilation is modeled quite well and the leather seats have a lot of detail, including seatbelts. Cargo netting in the back and sticker work in all the right places finishes up the model and makes it a bit more appealing to look at. The same goes here as before, noting that some stickers or details are present that do not appear in the real model, or at least pictures that I saw of it. That doesn’t put me off though, as it still looks good.
A fun little detail I noticed is that the window blinds are all individually adjustable; click to drag them up and down. They’re see through and actually look really nice! Something that isn’t as nice, however, is the modeling of the door animation. A mistake seems to have been made, which means the pneumatic struts that hold the door open are not exactly right. They don’t only clip into the frame, they also have no bars coming out of them, so there is nothing actually holding the door up. The tray table inside does not have these issues, and is therefore properly animated.
Night lighting has been cared for as usual, with a nice, immersive glow without so-called banding visible across the cockpit panels and cabin. The control knobs are not fixed position-knobs, but rotatable across their entire range of motion, making for incrementally brightening lighting when turning them. This lets you adjust it to exactly your liking and allows even small changes. Very helpful to have, as not everyone likes the exact same lighting. With the outer lighting reflecting off the fuselage and ground, the experience is pretty complete regarding lighting.
As to be expected and in line with the interior, exterior modeling is pretty top-notch. Something that has always sort of bothered me about X-Plane is the ‘plastic’-like glow/sun reflection on planes, but that’s apparently linked to the alpha layer of the paint work and something I’ll just have to live with, at least for now. Otherwise, the plane looks great; crisp with smooth lines and sharp edges. From the engine exhausts to the tail, modeling was done carefully. We’ll start at the front and work our way to the back of the plane.
Starting at the nose cone and propeller, it’s already a positive experience. High-polygon modeling makes for smooth surfaces and edges, combined with texturing that gives a realistic shine and feel to the materials. The metal texture on the exhausts isn’t that high-res, but that is only visible up close. Farther away, it looks just fine and is definitely good enough. The same goes for other textures for things like hinges; zooming in close like you’re standing right by the plane is the only way to make them a little more visibly blurry.
Arriving at the windshield, I find some nice texturing work. Things are relatively smooth and cared for as usual, with the windows tinted nicely. The door handles, hinges, screws/bolts and all kinds of other lines and separations look good and have the bump mapping that makes sunlight reflect off of them, giving subtle lighting differences across the airplane.
Moving back a little, down to the nose gear, we find a detailed gear with bolts, screws and other elements modeled. Relatively unexciting, but good gear modeling is, in my opinion, an essential part of modern add-ons. When you don’t have it and see simple sticks under your plane, things suddenly look a lot less nice. Extending this to the main gear, there is an equal level of detail in the work. Everything’s sharp, cared for and all the pivot points and connections seem to be in the right places.
The middle of the fuselage isn’t much exciting, so we’ll look at doors and other openings/details instead. As said before, it seems some doors aren’t exactly ideal when it comes to their animations, being seemingly wrong. However, doors themselves do align well with the aircraft, both in that they do not intersect the rest of the plane, as in that they don’t misalign outward or inward. The wings are nicely joined to the fuselage, with all expected details present, including fuel caps, lighting and other various parts and extrusions. The lights are modeled well, fully detailed and with glass covers.
Finally the tail section is up. Beautifully rounded corners, smooth surfaces, edges and other shapes combined with beautiful texturing and good detail are all present. Grills, attachments, edges, plates and whatever small shapes or antennae stick out all look great and add to the complete feel of this aircraft’s exterior. Carenado did another good job at the exterior modeling, making for a great looking TBM850 that feels true to life.
I feel like a broken record player, but yes, the sounds are good too. Although the sounds are not all individually recorded and matched to their real-life version (or at least it doesn’t seem so), they are still nice. This is quite obvious, as it would be a grave sin to not have at least semi-decent sounds for things like switching in this day and age. Where some aircraft, however, have switched that sound strange, hollow or otherwise off, the TBM850’s switches are pretty good. They have a nice, clicky sound to them that is very recognizable from the kind of firm, real-life switches you would expect to see on these aircraft.
Moving on to engine sounds, I’m quite satisfied as well. Where jets in X-Plane (and in general, flight simulators) still tend to have somewhat unrealistic sounds, prop aircraft usually do not suffer the same fate. The same goes for this TBM; the high-pitched sound of the turboprop will make your ears bleed at high volumes, but feels pretty realistic.
Inside, the sound is dampened and a lot softer. It sounds less harsh and high-pitched, so watch out! As soon as you enter an outside view, while at comfortable levels for cockpit sounds, the sound will be much louder and can therefore be quite painful for the ears. This is realistic, however, as turboprops usually aren’t exactly quiet and the high pitch is what, to me, is the most annoying thing about them.
Other kinds of sounds, including gear, flaps, landing, rolling and startup/shutdown sounds also do the job. I don’t know if they’re completely accurate, but they fit well and they seem to be timed properly.
This is going to be a relatively short section, as a very big summary of the G1000 can be found at my C182T review.
However, it is worth noting that there have been improvements over the previous versions, found in the C182T. I contacted Fernando Herrera over at Carenado and he explicitly told me this is an updated version of the G1000 system. For instance, this version is a lot better with menus. Where in the C182T menus would often not show up, or their options would not work, the worst version being not being able to delete your flight plan, this version solves those major flaws. Inversion of a flight plan and the cursor selection also works a lot better, although it seems that there are still some issues with the cursor.
This is because, from time to time, clicking the middle of the cursor to enable or disable selection will not work. You press and press, but nothing gets highlighted and this means you cannot select waypoints in order to insert a new waypoint, or delete one. You would have to find another way to fix this, if possible. For instance, I would get the selection to work by going to a different screen and deleting/activating a flight plan, or reversing my current one.
Some of the issues that were present still remain, however. This includes the 50NM zoom limit on the range. Carenado informed me back when the C182T released that going over 50 miles caused a significant performance drop. The shame is that 50 miles is decent, but really not all that much. It would be great if they figured out a way to increase performance and up that limit. Similarly, when you get to 50 miles on the range and then zoom out more, it ‘registers’ your zooming, but doesn’t work. What this means is that if you click zoom out twice, you will also have to click zoom in twice to get back to the 50NM setting. A bit frustrating when using the scroll wheel, especially when the zooming is relatively slow to load.
Going from this, my biggest issue, by far, with this airplane is performance. I don’t like being too harsh, but I really can’t understand what went wrong here. The C182T, on my system, averages about 3-5 frames per second more. Thing is, even that gets lower performance than many of the most advanced payware jetliners. A default airplane at EDDF can easily hit 40 FPS for me and my settings. The jetliners get around 20-30, the C182T 14-17 and then the TBM850 clocks in at a rather miserable 11-14. I get that making a G1000 is very difficult, especially back when Carenado started and there was so much less to build on available from Laminar Research. However, those advanced jets have fully interactive and interconnected cockpits, systems, FMCs and much, much more. How Carenado has failed to improve performance by now, four G1000 aircraft along (the DA42 included at time of writing, however not tested yet), is beyond me. It would also stand to reason that an update to the C182T G1000 should be close in terms of time. That aircraft is workable, but sometimes barely so in IFR conditions and even a little in VFR conditions.
On the positive side, the G1000 is a great start. Yes, it has issues, but it does provide a solid initial effort. A terrain map that is colorful, accurate and has great water information has been sorely missing from the world of X-Plane. It being connected to the rest of the aircraft, from PFD to radios to autopilot, makes this a good aircraft to fly around in a semi-IFR setting. Why do I say semi-IFR? Simple; the aircraft currently does not support approach or departure selection in the way of SIDs and STARs, although that has been said to be a goal for the future. Also, the sometimes frustrating issues with waypoints can get in the way of proper operation during IFR flights, especially online with something like VATSIM or IVAO.
One last positive thing: the checklists. While the checklists are slow to load when entering a different category, they work well. Pressing ENT moves through the list, checking items off as you go. This G1000 is the first time I have seen a properly integrated checklist system, instead of pictures that just scroll by, pretty much. I love being able to actually get good checklists that I can reset, scroll through and work with. Many different categories, separate emergency checklists, the works. Very nice job from Carenado in this regard.
So, do I recommend this TBM850? I’m not sure entirely. What is sure is that you will need a heck of a system to run this. Maybe, if the DA42 performs better as was stated in an email from the X-Plane.org site, you’d be better off getting that. However, if you really do want the TBM, be warned. It’s good, but it’s definitely got issues. The biggest one for me by far is performance; never have I seen such a small plane have such an impact on my framerates.
On the other hand, the relatively improved G1000 works a lot better than it has before. Terrain map, checklists and a plethora of options give you something special to work with in the General Aviation and turboprop area of X-Plane’s aircraft catalog.