Just Flight have expanded their stable recently by developing a partnership with renowned GA aircraft developer Carenado. The latest addition to the stable is the C208B Grand Caravan, something which I have been waiting for since FSX came out.
Whilst the default Cessna Caravan is OK (term used very generously) the only other really good Caravan for FS was the FS9 version from Wilco, which would not port over into FSX successfully. Thankfully we now have a model designed specifically for FSX which takes advantage of all the special effects which FS9 models are unable to use.
About The Caravan
The Caravan is used all over the world and is popular with airlines because of it’s adaptability (it can change from passenger to cargo variant in 30mins), reliability and money making potential; it carries 12 passengers and 2 pilots, but can remain profitable with only 4 passengers. The Caravan’s rugged airframe construction and steel-tube landing gear mean that even the worst areas can become landing sites. Combine all this with it’s low maintenance costs and low fuel costs its easy to see why this aircraft is so popular.
The Caravan comes in several forms: Freight, passenger, amphibian and personal, but this review is focused only on the passenger version (although Just Flight have recently released the cargo expansion pack)
Download, Installation & Product Info
Download and installation aren’t really worth a mention. You order online at the Just Flight website, download the installer, run it, enter your key code to confirm purchase and then let the installer do its work. Simple as you like.
The download doesn’t take too long and only takes up 400mb on your hard-drive. However, I found it strange that after installation I didn’t get a folder on my Start-Menu under Just Flight; I had to manually navigate to the folder in the FSX directory (C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft
Games\Microsoft Flight Simulator X\Carenado).
In here you will find then manual broken down into 7 separate PDF files:
- AVSS Manual – auto-pilot READ THIS the autopilot is slightly different to normal
- C208B Copyrights
- C208B Normal & Emergency Checklist – Included in the VC as a pop-up manual
- C208B Reference
- Carenado GNS430 User Guide
- VC C208B Instruments
- Weather Radar Manual
The Caravan is the first in Carenado’s HD series of aircraft; this is immediately evident once you have seen the textures as they are brilliant. The aircraft has been designed to push the limits of what is possible in FSX, but at the same time the frame rates are not affected greatly. The VC has been created with realistic instruments and has a customer Bendix/King Weather Radar and an original GNS430 GPS system. The GPS is different from the default version, but after a quick read of the manual you’ll be up to speed in no time.
The C208B ships with 5 liveries and 1 blank texture set – presumably for re-painters. The textures are of high quality and look very impressive from any angle. It would be nice to have a few more liveries included, but at least your hard-drive won’t become clogged up with these few. The included liveries are:
- Blue Executive
- Brazilian Air Force
- GoTropical Caribbean Airlines
- Red Wine Stripes
- UAE Air Force Parachute Squadron
When on the ground, via the pop-up panel, you can configure ‘eye candy’ animations such as wheel chocks, pitot cover, tail prop stand and the opening/closing of the exits. There is a lot packed into this small aircraft and the high quality we have come to expect from Carenado continues.
Whilst this is a very high quality add-on, you don’t need to spend a long time learning to fly it, just jump straight in and learn on-the-fly. In my opinion the hardest part is taxing around the airport as the power delivery from the engine and low speeds is huge. After a lot of flights and time in the cockpit (20+ hours) I am beginning to get the hang of taxing. Although I think that the sensitivity of my throttle may play a part here.
Once in the air the flight characteristics are fantastic and I only switch on the auto-pilot when I am above 10,000ft or cruising. The only problem is that the Caravan is very badly affected by winds; the normal cruise speed is 160kts, so if you are flying into a headwind of more than 20kts, be prepared for a late arrival.
Flying the approach by hand is something that will take a fair amount of practice to get right. The turboprop engine takes a little time to respond to throttle inputs, so if you start to get a little low on approach you’ll need to get on the power quickly. But after a few approaches you will begin to recognise the signs nice and early and be able to take action.
The only downside is that there isn't a 2D cockpit and some of the buttons in the VC are hard to see and click on. Using TrackIR I didn't have too much of a problem, but without it took some time to get some of the click spots. It is possible to make the 3D knobs 2D via the in-cockpit configuration, tool, but I prefer to have 3D in the 3D cockpit. Switching to 2D Knobs will also help your frame rates should you have any performance issues.
Another fantastic addition to the Carenado range that continues and improves upon the high quality we would expect from them.
Whilst the lack of detailed performance info in the manual and more textures is inconvenient it doesn’t stop you enjoying the aircraft. The C208 is the aircraft I fly most in FS9 and FSX and this model is by far the best to date.
The HD textures look fantastic on my standard definition screen; I can’t wait until my HD screen arrives in a few days. It is worth considering that if you don't have TrackIR you may struggle with some of the click spots in the VC
With a price of £19.99/€28.95/$34.99 Just Flight have got the price about right. If you are an Air Hauler then this add-on will be of great interest to you. I strongly recommend it.
Mutley’s Hangar Score 9/10
Review machine Spec: Intel Core2 Quad 2.40ghz | 4gb DDR2 RAM |Nvidia GForce 880GTX |Windows 7 64bit Home Premium