Piper PA-32 'Saratoga
For FSX /
Prepar3D Published by Alabeo
Reviewed by Andrew Godden
Founded in 1927, Piper Aircraft have had a long history in light
aircraft manufacturing. A prolific producer of a range of aircraft
models, the Piper name is synonymous with some of the most iconic
and popular aircraft models in the general aviation category. Models
such as the J-3 'Cub', PA-18 'Super Cub', PA-20 / PA-22 'Pacer' /
'Tri-Pacer', and the extensive PA-28 'Cherokee' range, all have a
prominent place in aviation history.
Alabeo continue to add to their offering of general aviation
aircraft with the Piper PA-32 'Saratoga II' TC. The 'Saratoga II' TC
was the last model variant in the broader PA-32 'Cherokee Six' range
and it is a beautiful complement to the Alabeo range. With its high
performance and good range characteristics, the 'Saratoga II' TC is
a brilliant aircraft for personal use or in an air taxi or freight
The Piper PA-32 'Saratoga II' TC is a single engine, low wing,
passenger aircraft with a retractable tricycle landing gear. Powered
by a Lycoming TIO-540-AH1A, turbocharged, 6 cylinder, horizontally
opposed, fuel injected, 300 hp engine, the 'Saratoga II' TC is used
for private transportation, air taxi services, and freight and
utility flight operations.
Until 1972, when the Piper assembly line in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania
was destroyed in a flood, the PA-24 'Comanche' was Piper's luxury,
high performance, single engine aircraft. Rather than re-establish
'Comanche' production, Piper began modifying its heavy lifting,
single engine, PA-32 'Cherokee Six', by adding retractable landing
gear and designating the type as the PA-32R.
The PA-32R design began life as the Piper 'Lance', using the
'Hershey Bar' wing design from the 'Cherokee Six'. Common with the
'Cherokee Six' line, it also features a baggage compartment in the
nose between the cockpit and the engine compartment, as well as a
large double door in the back for easy loading of passengers and
cargo. Having its first flight in August 1974, the PA-32R was
introduced in 1975. After a redesign to a tapered wing, the type was
redesignated the 'Saratoga'. Production culminated with the
'Saratoga II' TC variant in 2009 after a production run of some
Availability and Installation
The Alabeo Piper PA-32 'Saratoga II' TC is currently available
direct from Alabeo and Alabeo resellers as a 'download only' product
(some resellers also offer a master back-up CD / DVD service for a
minor additional cost). It is priced at US$29.95, or the equivalent
on currency cross rates. The download file size is 338MB and it
requires 887MB of HDD space for installation. An ‘activation key' is
issued on purchase and is used during installation and the
installation process is intuitive and seamless.
The model features listed by Alabeo for the Piper PA-32 'Saratoga
II' TC are typical of models in the Alabeo range and include:
• high quality 3D model;
• high definition textures;
• Alabeo Garmin GNS 530 and GNS 430
• Flight1 GTN 750 integration;
• Reality XP GNS 530 integration;
• custom 'Saratoga II' TC sounds;
• gauges reflections and windows
• blades shines and volumetric side
view prop effect; and
• realistic behaviour.
aircraft designs are practical and functional, reflecting the role
the aircraft are designed for. The 'Saratoga II' TC is reflective of
this design concept and its looks are true to its role and
capabilities. Alabeo have specifically modelled an early production
model of the PA-32R-301T 'Saratoga II' TC variant and, as regularly
demonstrated by Alabeo, their modelling has accurately captured the
essential, design of the 'Saratoga II' TC.
Piper PA-32 'Saratoga II' TC is distinguishable from the broader
PA-32 'Cherokee Six' range by its engine cowl, with smaller, round
air inlets, and retractable landing gear. Alabeo have established
themselves with a reputation for quality, attention to detail, and
sheer consistency in their development of aircraft add-ons, and the
modelling of the 'Saratoga II' TC displays all of these attributes
with the high quality 3D model and high definition textures. A
comparative review of photographs of real world aircraft to Alabeo's
rendition reveal the exterior shape and dimensions to be very
accurate and a true representation of the real world aircraft. Any
noted variations were minor and are considered to be related to real
world production variations or a degree of artistic licence on the
part of the developer.
The Front End
Wing & Passenger Door
have modelled the interior on the standard club seating
configuration for the model and the cockpit represents the
archetypal layout of aircraft in the Piper 'Cherokee' and 'Cherokee
Six' range. The cockpit layout, with its plush leather club seating
and foldaway table, provides the 'Saratoga II' TC a fantastic
environment for those long flights. The quality of the textures,
such as the leather on the seats and the wood panelling on the
table, display the Alabeo trademark for quality and detail, and the
carpet and side panelling displayed some evidence of 'wear and tear'
to give the interior a less than pristine appearance. However, the
quality of the textures on the cabin side panelling appeared to be
of a lower quality and wasn't as crisp as other cabin textures.
Nevertheless, a comparative review of photographs of real world
aircraft to Alabeo's rendition reveal the interior shape and
dimensions to be extremely accurate and a true representation of the
real world aircraft. Any noted variations were minor and are, again,
considered to be related to real world production variations or a
degree of artistic licence on the part of the developer.
Flight Instruments and
Comfort & Pleasure
As with any aircraft of this type, avionics
suite fit outs are numerous and varied. Notwithstanding model
specific variations, the cockpit of the 'Saratoga II' TC presents as
a familiar environment. Later models of the 'Saratoga II' TC were
fitted with Avidyne 'Entegra' and, later, Garmin G1000 glass
cockpits. However, Alabeo have modelled the 'Saratoga II' TC on an
early production model for the variant with standard analogue flight
instruments, supplemented with the Garmin GNS 530 and GNS 430 GPS
units, the Garmin GTX 327 digital transponder, and the S-TEC System
Fifty Five X autopilot system. The cockpit configuration also
provides full co-pilot instrumentation with a standard 'six pack'
instrument layout, something not often seen in general aviation
aircraft add-ons of this type. All elements of the cockpit are
highly accurate and very detailed, and are clear and easy to read.
Naturally, at lower zoom ranges, some of the clarity is lost on some
of the flight instruments and panel labelling and can be difficult
to read, however, various alternative cockpit camera views are
available to provide more detailed views. There was a noted issue
with the elapsed flight time function on the Garmin GTX 327 in that
it does not display the elapsed time correctly. The features and
operation of the GPS units and the autopilot system are covered in
the supplied manuals. Taking into account the various avionics suite
fit out options available for the 'Saratoga II' TC, a comparative
review of photographs of real world aircraft reveal the panel layout
to be a highly accurate rendition of similar real world panel
Engine Instruments & GPS Units
There are six individual liveries (a selection only shown below)
provided with the Alabeo Piper PA-32 'Saratoga II' TC, each having a
unique aircraft registration number, as well as a blank texture for
aircraft painting enthusiasts. The liveries display the usual Alabeo
high quality. Surface textures, reflections, and shadings give the
aircraft a crisp and realistic appearance, with additional dirt,
oil, and grease stains providing a very natural appearance.
Animations, Lighting and Sounds
The animations of the primary and secondary control surfaces and
other moving elements on Alabeo's Piper PA-32 'Saratoga II' TC are
all modelled faithfully and include:
• primary control surfaces –
ailerons, stabilator, and rudder;
• secondary control surfaces – flaps;
• others – retractable gear, rolling
wheels, antiservo tab, cockpit door open / close, cabin door open /
close, forward baggage compartment door
open / close, pilot
vent window open / close, cockpit window visors, and cabin window
• various static ground elements.
The lighting and lighting effects on the 'Saratoga II' TC are very
good and are a realistic representation of the real world aircraft.
In particular, the interior night light effects for the instrument
panel and the cockpit replicates the night lighting seen in
photographs of real world aircraft.
Cabin Lighting 1
Cabin Lighting 2
The custom 'Saratoga II' TC sounds are also effective. They
provide good stereo separation with view movement in the Virtual
Cockpit view and are reasonably representative of the real world
General Characteristics and Performance Specifications
The general characteristics and performance specifications for the
Piper PA-32 'Saratoga II' TC are provided in the table. This is
based on data from the official Piper PA-32 'Saratoga II' TC Pilot
Operating Handbook, data provided by Alabeo, and general research
sources. Some of this data varies between sources and also may be an
approximation due to variances in data and the specific aircraft
modelled by Alabeo.
A specific Test Flight was conducted from Lady Elliot Island (YLTT)
to Essendon (YMEN) to test the flight performance of Alabeo's Piper
PA-32 'Saratoga II' TC. The flight was conducted in clear weather with
a full fuel load and the aircraft at maximum take-off weight (MTOW). A
cruise altitude of 6,500 ft was adopted and the route distance was
approximately 910 nm. The route was particularly chosen to provide a
basis upon which to test the range characteristics of the 'Saratoga
II' TC. Like most aircraft of this type, adjustments must be made to
fuel / pax loading to remain within the MTOW limitations.
The aircraft was easy to taxi. With a flaps setting of 'Flaps 1'
(10°), aircraft rotation occurred at approximately 75 knots indicated
air speed (KIAS) and the aircraft easily maintained a best rate climb
speed of approximately 95 KIAS at the specified initial rate of climb
of approximately 1,050 ft/min. Alternatively, with a flaps setting of
'Flaps 0' (0°), aircraft rotation occurs at approximately 80 KIAS,
however, the former takeoff setting provides for a nicer takeoff. Even
with the 'Saratoga II' TC at MTOW, the turbocharged engine made the
takeoff roll comparatively short and relatively easy, quickly
establishing the 'Saratoga II' TC on the climb to cruise. Established
at the specified rate of climb, the 'Saratoga II' TC climbed
effortlessly, but as altitude increased, it required the natural
adjustments to the rate of climb to maintain an optimum climb speed
until the aircraft was established at the cruise altitude.
During cruise, a 55% power setting was established for long range
cruise, with a manifold pressure setting of 25.0 in Hg and an rpm
setting of 2200 rpm. This cruise setting produced an average speed of
approximately 136 KTAS (125 KIAS), a fuel flow rate of approximately
10.5 gph, and an endurance reasonably consistent with the range
characteristics of the aircraft. This represented a variance in fuel
flow performance compared to the Performance Tables provided by
Alabeo. The Performance Tables indicate the performance settings, as
used in the Test Flight, should have produced a fuel flow rate of
approximately 12.5 gph. The Test Flight confirms the modelling of the
aircraft for speed and range performance to be reasonably accurate.
Whilst the detected variance in the fuel flow rate had a significant,
albeit positive, impact on the range performance of the aircraft, it
does not detract from the flying characteristics of the aircraft. It
is estimated the variance in the fuel flow rate, over the duration of
the Test Flight, resulted in fuel consumption being approximately 15
gals less than expected.
Configured for landing, with full flaps, and trimmed for a descent
rate of approximately 500 ft/min, the aircraft’s approach speed was
approximately 90 KIAS and it touched down at approximately 80 KIAS,
with a landing roll out comparable with the specifications for the
In testing the accuracy of the instruments, based on the measured Test
Flight, the speed indications on the airspeed indicator, were
consistent with the averages measured. Additionally, when establishing
a set rate of climb on the vertical speed indicator, the respective
gain in altitude on the altimeter was achieved within the measured
minute, and a standard rate turn was achieved within the measured two
minute period using the turn coordinator.
Turning for Finals
The performance of Alabeo’s Piper PA-32 'Saratoga II' TC was
excellent in flight, displaying the expected general flight
characteristics of this aircraft. The aircraft handles very nicely and
is a delight to fly. Overall, the aircraft model displays a very
accurate rendition of the flight characteristics and a reasonably
accurate rendition of performance of the real world aircraft.
There are seven manuals / documents provided in Adobe Acrobat format
(.pdf) for the Piper PA-32 'Saratoga II' TC:
• Alabeo GNS 530 Users Guide - this
two page document details the operating of the Garmin GNS 530 GPS
• Alabeo GNS 430 Users Guide - this
three page document details the operating of the Garmin GNS 430 GPS
• Alabeo Autopilot and AVSS - this
two page document details the operating of the S-TEC System Fifty Five
X autopilot system, and the Altitude
and Vertical Speed
• Normal Procedures - this 13 page
manual details the procedures for the normal operation of the
• Emergency Procedures – this 10 page
manual details the emergency procedures for the aircraft;
• Performance Tables – this five page
document details the performance tables and specifications for the
• References - this three page
document details the airspeed limitations for the aircraft.
Additional documents provide information for P3D users and information
on the integration of the Flight1 GTN 750 GPS unit and the Reality XP
GNS 530 GPS unit.
Value for Money
On a value for money assessment, the Alabeo Piper PA-32 'Saratoga
II' TC is considered excellent.
The aircraft model performed excellently within the existing settings
I have in FSX. I have most of my settings set very high and there was
no need to make any adjustments. There was no discernible frame rate
impact directly attributable to the Alabeo Piper PA-32 'Saratoga II'
TC and FSX continued to perform smoothly and as it would with any
This version of the Alabeo Piper PA-32 'Saratoga II' TC is for FSX /
P3D only. Other specified technical requirements are as follows:
• Windows XP (with SP3 installed), Windows Vista, or Windows 7 (32
• Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX with SP1 and SP2 (or Acceleration
Pack) or Lockheed Martin Prepar3d Flight Simulator v1.4 or v2.0
• Pentium V, 3GHz or similar, 2GB RAM, 512MB graphics card, and
887MB available HDD space.
Review Computer Specifications
The specifications of the computer on which the review was conducted
are as follows:
• Intel i7 990X Extreme 3.46GHz;
• NVidia GTX580, 1536MB graphics;
• 12GB Kingston DDR3 2000MHz;
• Windows 7, (64bit);
• Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX Acceleration; and
• additional major add-ons include: Active Sky Next, REX Essential
Plus Overdrive; Ultimate Traffic 2; Orbx FTX Global BASE;
Global VECTOR; Orbx FTX Global openLC EU; Orbx FTX region series;
and Orbx FTX airport series.
Alabeo have delivered again, doing an excellent job with the Piper
PA-32 'Saratoga II' TC and it is a fantastic complement to the other
general aviation aircraft in their repertoire. The 'Saratoga II' TC
displays the hallmark Alabeo traits of detail and accuracy and
provides an excellent balance of quality and detail at an excellent
price. With excellent cruise speed and range characteristics, the
'Saratoga II' TC is a wonderful aircraft for touring and one you will
High Performance & Luxury
Displaying the usual high quality and attention to detail, the Piper
PA-32 'Saratoga II' TC is another fine product from Alabeo which
represents excellent overall value for money.
High quality textures and attention to detail.
Realistic modelling and performance.
Very good documentation.
Excellent value for money.
Minor issue with the elapsed flight time function on the digital
Minor variation in fuel flow compared to flight performance data.
Low texture quality in some areas of the cabin.
● External Model:
● Flight Characteristics (does it fly by the numbers):
● Flight Dynamics (does it feel like what it looks like):
● Value for Money:
The Alabeo Piper PA-32 'Saratoga II' TC is awarded an overall Mutley’s Hangar score of 9.5/10,
with an "Outstanding" and a Mutley's Hangar Gold Award..