• EADS Socata TBM-700 By ROTW For FlyII

    EADS Socata TBM-700 By ROTW For FlyII

    By Zane Gard Jr. (9 February 2004)

    The EADS Socata TBM-700 is a French made single engine turboprop that has been in production since 1990. It was originally a design project of Mooney (the "M" in TBM). They partnered with Socata, based out of Tarbes, capital of France's south-central Birgorre region (hence "TB"). Mooney later withdrew due to financial difficulties, leaving Socata which is owned by EADS to complete the project. EADS is the second largest aircraft manufacturer in the world and is responsible for such aircraft as the Concorde, Airbus, and Dassault Falcon. Their design capability is far beyond that of most private or corporate aircraft manufacturers.

    The TBM-700 was the first of the single engine turboprop high performance personal aircraft and was aimed directly at twin turboprops. It made its mark as a faster, much more economical aircraft that could be owner flown. There are only four turboprop twins that are faster, the Raytheon/Beechcraft King Air 350 (311 knots), the Piaggio Avanti (391 knots), the out of production Piper Cheyenne 400LS (349 knots) and the sadly obsolete Beechcraft Starship 2000 (335 knots). All of these competitors are larger, burn up to four times the fuel and are much better suited to a two man crew. Since its inception it has been joined by its own competition in the Pilatus PC12, a larger but slightly slower single engine turboprop, and the New Piper Malibu Mirage, slightly smaller, less powerful and almost half the price.

    What makes the TBM700 have such staying power? It delivers. At an estimated $300 per hour direct operating cost only the Malibu Mirage can better its economy; it's only slightly more to operate than a turbocharged pressurized piston twin. It'll carry four adults and full fuel over 1500 nm in a little over five hours. On shorter trips with less fuel it can carry six adults and be within 10 minutes of most small jets. It's this kind of performance that keeps 30 to 40 rolling out of the factory yearly.

    About the time that Microsoft was rolling out FS2000 TRI released FlyII. The original Fly and Fly2k had met with moderate success and were in my opinion the first to really compete with Microsoft's Flight Simulator. There were so many features touted for FlyII but unfortunately the corporate powers released it before the bugs were worked out, there were numerous huge patches which did make the sim usable but not all the bragged about features were functional and it had already lost some of its following. I too became so frustrated with trying to make FlyII work that I removed it from my computer and it sat in its box for another year. I then came across Ken Salter's step by step instructions for setting up and using FlyII and what a surprise... it works! Not only that but it had some distinct differences compared to Microsoft's product. The late Richard Harvey was not only an avid aviation enthusiast, he had a magical way of capturing those things that a real pilot enjoys about flying and bringing them to life in his sim. It is difficult to put a finger on just what that is, because spectators and non-pilots seem to prefer the Microsoft line. Microsoft is trying and getting better with every update, but Mr. Harvey was already on the right track with the Fly, Fly2k and FlyII series of flight simulators.

    Software developers such as RealAir Simulations and PMDG (Precision Manuals Design Group) recognized the potential in FlyII and quickly went to work designing very sophisticated add-on aircraft. PMDG's 777 and 757 remain a very complete simulation of the flightdeck of these airliners with nearly all systems and procedures accurately represented. RealAir Simulations originally offered its Citabria/Decathlon for FlyII. It was one of the first simulations to accurately depict stall/spins and aerobatics, they also have a re-write of the default Flyhawk (nee Cessna 172) flight dynamics with very realistic stall/spin characteristics.

    With TRI's decision to discontinue FlyII PMDG also dropped its development of a Socata TB 20 Tobago and RealAir Simulations stopped development of its nearly complete Seneca V. There is hope that the Seneca will still get released as freeware or even payware but all of the work is in someone else's hands now.

    There is another group of developers that have had the most freeware offerings for FlyII and continues to develop better aircraft and other interesting add-ons for FlyII. The group consists of four designers, Laurent Claudet, Rene Birot, Jean-Paul Mes, Jean Sabatier and TJ. Collectively they are called ROTW (Rest Of The World), a clever name since the most prolific freeware developers for Fly in the US was called "How in the World." They developed enhanced sky, cloud and ground textures for Fly and Fly2k.

    One of the best of ROTW's work is in their FlyII simulation of the EADS Socata TBM-700. It is one of the most sophisticated freeware simulations ever produced and basically every switch that can be found in a real TBM-700 is depicted in this simulation. The flight testing was done by two French Army TBM-700 pilots, Nicolas Boltoukhine and Bruno Tressarieu. Peter Siboli and Rob Young from RealAir Simulations are also given special thanks in the manual. FlyII did not offer virtual cockpits but did offer a very unique approach to its 2D panel views. They are the equivalent of a detailed illustration like you would find in a training handbook and they tend to look quite realistic, much more than any 2D offering I have ever encountered with any of Microsoft's offerings. You can use the mouse pointer or hat switch on a joystick to pan around this panel so you really have to learn the actual locations of each switch and gauge.

    The startup procedure for the TBM-700 follows the exact procedures outlined in the POH (Pilot's Operating Handbook, available online in PDF format from EADS Socata). The lower pedestal and overhead panel are accessed as separate views via the hat switch or using the ctrl key with arrows (a yellow arrow appears on the screen borders when using the ctrl key indicating which directions that other views are available). Something you will quickly notice is that in the quartering right and left views of the instrument panel that the visible gauges are functional a detail left out of the default aircraft. As you investigate further you will find that for night operations the passenger lighting can be turned on and off (you will see this looking back into the seating areas), and the panel lighting is adjustable via rheostat switches, one for the panel flood lighting and one for the individual instruments. The EFIS system has its own separate brightness controls, once again, just as in the real aircraft. I wish Microsoft would have tried to do this rather than its pink night lighting.

    Through my father's business I recently had the opportunity to fly a new TBM-700C2 so what I'm going to share with you is a comparison of my real flight experience with what you can accomplish in ROTW's simulation. I had already flown the sim version approximately 50 hours and had flown right seat in a TBM-700A back in 1996. Settling into the left seat I was confronted with a familiar view, the aircraft I flew was equipped with dual Garmin GNS 530's but other than that it was basically identical to the panel represented by ROTW. The demo pilot, Ken Rittenhouse, was surprised with my familiarity with the panel and this was only due to the time I had spent with this simulation.

       

    To prepare for engine start I set the parking brake, this is accomplished by pressing in the toebrakes and turning a knob just below the control yoke (in the sim you don't have to press the toebrakes, but you do have to find and turn the knob). Next go to the overhead panel and switch on the battery master and generator to main, over to the right switch the ignition to auto. Now to the lower panel and turn the fuel selector from off to one of the tanks and push the propeller lever all the way forward. On the main panel switch the auxiliary fuel boost pump to on. Back to the overhead and switch the starter on. On the main panel wait for the NG to register 13% and push the fuel lever forward to low idle. Now something happens that you just can't get in the sim. The sounds are similar but you miss the whiff of Jet A in your nose and the feeling of the propeller spinning up and trying to pull the aircraft forward--if it weren't for the parking brake you'd be movin'! I watched the ITT come up to a little over 730° C (1000° max) then stabilize back down.

    Turn the starter off and switch on all four gyros on the overhead panel. Back on the main panel switch the aux. fuel boost pump to off and switch the fuel selector to auto. This will automatically cycle the fuel tank selector from the right to left tanks every 75 seconds while on the ground and every 10 minutes when airborne. Next turn on the bleed air. Now switch on the radio master and autopilot/trim master. In the sim the autopilot has a nice bell sound to let you know power is up but the radio master is met with a loud beep from the GPS that if you purchased the RealAir Citabria is replaced with a much more pleasant chime. I was watching all this electrical equipment come to life only to notice the EFIS displays were still dead... what, the switch on this newer aircraft isn't in the same place as the sim! It was up above the PFD (Primary Flight Display). Ken explained as I looked at the warning annunciator panel that my goal was to get all those lights off and all that was left was the Pitot 1 and 2, but we left those off for taxi and switched on the inertial separator to prevent FOD (foreign object damage, or in other words sucking something into the engine that didn't belong there).

    We were flying out of KHIO (Portland Hillsboro) and the weather was IMC, 10 miles visibility, a 700 foot ceiling overcast with tops a little over 5000 feet, light winds out the northeast. Our flight was direct to KCVO (Corvallis) where the weather was only slightly better. Ken had already called our clearance in before engine start by switching just the radio master on; this will power up one radio and the sim includes this same feature.

    Ken handled radio communications and prompted me on what to do next so I could concentrate on getting used to this awesome beauty. After getting our taxi clearance to runway 12 I pressed the toebrakes in and released the parking brake. As my toes eased off the brakes we were moving with a noticeable amount of thrust, Ken told me to lift the gate on the power lever and pull back to get the propeller into beta range, this was all that was needed to control taxi speed, pull back further and you'll find reverse thrust. The ground handling was faultless, in fact a little easier than the T206H Cessna I had flown just the day before. Handling taxi speed by using the beta pitch did take some getting used to but I found I really liked it. In the sim you actually start in beta range and have to push the power lever forward to engage the prop, this brings an audible decrease in pitch accompanied by a rush of forward motion. I have found that by setting the power lever forward to the upper part of the "E" in POWER the setting will be where the real aircraft's detent is for the beta pitch. I found the real aircraft easier to control taxi speed in than the sim but a little time in either and you'll be comfortable. We taxied to the threshold for runway 12 and switched off the inertial separator, on the two pitot heaters, strobes, nav lights, checked trim was set for takeoff, flaps to takeoff/approach position, pushed the condition lever to high idle and switched the transponder from standby to on. Tower cleared us up to 4000 feet on runway heading and we pulled into position. I was nervous... this is the hottest thing I'd ever piloted!

    I lined up on the runway centerline, held the brakes and advanced the thrust lever watching for the ITT to stabilize a little over 600° then released brakes and continued advancing the thrust to 100% and tracked the centerline. This was happening very fast and the P factor was noticeable to say the least. This is another thing that no sim does a very good job of emulating. Before I could even comment on the acceleration were at 85 indicated, and a gentle pull back on the yoke brought the nose wheel up at about 90, next thing I knew we had wings. Positive rate of climb, gear up, 110 indicated flaps up and accelerate to Vy 130 indicated. We were already into the clouds so I was just watching instruments as we climbed out at close to 2000 fpm. I was absolutely delighted when we broke out just before passing 2000 feet to find we were between two layers of clouds, the upper layer starting closer to 3300 feet and extending up to about 5600. This is one of the most beautiful sights anyone flying can behold, it's like you are in the middle of a dream.

    Ken set the autopilot to hold runway heading and had me trim for 140 indicated at which point he engaged the airspeed hold which will maintain your airspeed for the duration of your climb. Departure cleared us to 5000 feet and had us turn to a 150 heading. By this time Ken had engaged the yaw damper, soft ride and half bank settings on the autopilot, our turn to 150 was just a simple turn of the heading knob and the autopilot managed it very smoothly. Most of us are accustomed to a yaw damper, but the soft ride is a secondary yaw damper which I will comment more on later. The half bank is a nice feature for keeping the passengers more comfortable by decreasing the bank angle in turns although you wouldn't want this on while flying a holding pattern or on approach! We were soon cleared to 13,000 feet and I was getting more at ease with all the controls. We leveled off and accelerated quickly to cruise speed, Ken was messing with the GPS and soon stated that our ground speed was 226 knots; considering our quartering headwind that's in keeping with book figures. The sim on the other hand is a little fast in cruise compared to the POH but I think that this has more to do with calibration of the torque gauge than anything else. At cruise you will also notice that fuel consumption is higher than the real life counterpart. I have found that if you adjust your power for fuel burn that the airspeed will closer match what you expect from this aircraft. Ken said that you usually figure 60 gal/hr for the first hour then 50 to 55 gal/hr for each additional hour.

    Ken got a clearance from center for 20,000 feet and had me set the autopilot to hold a vertical speed of 1500 fpm and up we went. As with any turboprop you have to adjust your power as you climb to maintain a given setting so I periodically pushed the power lever forward to maintain 100%. At 20,000 our TAS was close to 270. A Malibu Mirage would have been exceeding VNE to see that kind of true airspeed.

    We were quickly approaching KCVO and we were told to descend to 5000 feet. Ken told me to keep the power right at 100% and set the autopilot for a 1000 fpm descent and as we passed through 18,000 feet he had me set the rate of descent to 2000 fpm... that's still at full power! We were soon descending at that rate and were indicating almost 260 knots. Try that in just about any other turboprop and you'll tear a wing off! The Malibu Mirage would have already been exceeding VNE when we were at cruise and you certainly would have to pull power back before descending. The only turboprop that comes close to the 270 knot VMO (maximum operating speed) of the TBM-700 is the Piaggio Avanti at 260 knots. In fact there are some small jets with a lower VMO. This is one the areas that this aircraft really excels because you can make up for your time of climb (TOC) with a very speedy descent making your block time very close to your cruising speed. I took off my headset to hear the wind noise and it wasn't that much more noticeable than at cruise speed. We were still able to converse sans headsets without difficulty. I put them back on just in time to hear approach start vectoring us for the ILS 17 runway at KCVO.

    Ken had me pull power back to slow the aircraft; here is an area that the FlyII sim really shines. It is true that Microsoft developed turboprop flight modeling for FS2000 but they abandoned it in the beta stages in favor of a modified jet flight model. Steve Small really griped about this (as well as many other things that he feels the Microsoft team just doesn't see his way) and their response was to not continue using him as a beta tester after FS2002. Poor decision because I happen to love Steve's flight models. Pull the power back in a real TBM-700 and you come forward in your seat as the aircraft slows down, with FlyII's turboprop flight modeling you also slow down. Flight One's Malibu Mirage, as perfect as it is, is much more difficult to control approach and descent speeds.

    Approach cleared us down to 3000 feet and Ken tuned in the ILS frequency and pulled out the approach plate to review and go over missed approach with me. We were still in the clouds but there were occasional patches allowing us to see spots of the farming country below us. By now we had slowed to 180 knots and were cleared down to 1400 and were close to capturing the ILS. Pull the power back some more and we were below the gear extension speed of 178 knots, so the gear went down and the first flap setting; we definitely felt the plane slowing down now. Ken had turned off the half bank and soft ride and as we dropped below the clouds Ken switched off the autopilot and had me hand fly the aircraft with the flight director on... nice, very nice indeed. As we slowed to 120 knots I brought in the landing setting for the flaps and we were really in a nose down position now. We tuned the unicom frequency and announced our landing intentions. We captured the glide slope and trimmed to maintain it, I pulled the power back to about 25% and the aircraft slowed nicely to around 90 knots. On short final Ken had me switch on the inertial separator and pull the power back a little more as we crossed the fence with three red lights and one white, started to flare and pulled the power back and greased her in... whew! My first TBM-700 landing and it was one to write home about.

    I pulled the gate up on the power lever and pulled it back into beta range then further for little reverse thrust to slow us down and to my surprise the aircraft pulled to the right, this felt like P factor but the wrong direction, I corrected with left rudder as Ken explained to me that the big propeller when brought into reverse will do that. Any of the FlyII simulations that include reverse thrust have a feature that takes some getting used to. Once on the ground and you have the power lever pulled all the way back to zero thrust you hit the "r" key to engage reverse thrust, then the power lever acts as a reverse thrust lever so you push it forward again, only this time you get reverse thrust. Upon slowing down you have to pull the lever back to zero thrust and hit the "r" key again to disengage it. A little awkward but this does allow you to have infinitely adjustable reverse thrust. There is usually no panel or screen message to accompany this save for the warning message if the power lever is not pulled all the way back and you press the "r" key.. I have had several occasions where I landed in the sim, pressed the "r" key and pushed the power lever forward only to find that reverse was not engaged and I was accelerating. A tool similar in use to FSUIPC would be nice here so that you could program a portion of the power lever's travel for reverse.

    I taxied back for the active as Ken got our clearance back to Hillsboro. Once again the ground handling was without fault, I thought to myself, I'm really starting to like this. With no one else in the pattern we announced our take off and started back for Hillsboro. As we ascended through the clouds I noticed a little frost on the leading edge of the wings. While this wasn't of any concern Ken had me switch on the pneumatic boots. It was cool to watch first the outer leading edge puff up, then the inner. The boots cycle 6 seconds for the outer set, six seconds the inner set then 100 seconds off. FlyII comes with a gauge tutorial so you do have the ability to make almost any gauge, even one that would simulate the visuals of this on the wings. I've toyed with the idea of making a gauge that will give the sim this feature but at the same time I have also suggested to ROTW that when they update the TBM-700 that they include a visual representation of the pneumatic boots.

    We were cleared to 13,000 feet and when we reached cruise speed Ken had me pull the propeller lever back for 1800 rpm, at this setting you can use 110% power with no loss of airspeed. What you and your passengers notice is a quieter cabin. The FlyII sim will handle this same procedure and guess what? The sound pitch changes with propeller setting not power setting, just like real life. I haven't yet figured out why Microsoft can't get this one right.

    In no time we were being told to descend to 5000 feet and given vectors for the ILS 12 at Portland Hillsboro. As we dropped into the clouds Ken demonstrated what the soft ride feature really did by switching it off, we went from a very smooth ride to being pushed around a bit by the winds in the clouds. He then turned off the yaw damper and we were now getting pushed around similar to the ride in the T206 just the other day, only difference is we were indicating about 235 knots. We had kept the power up and Ken had me pull back the power so we slowed to 200 indicated. This helped the ride, then he switched the yaw damper and soft ride back on. Approach then piped in to tell us to continue our descent to 4000 feet and had us slow to 170 because there was a Cessna 172 in the pattern flying the same approach. Once again I found the speed very easy to change and hold with minor changes in the power. It was also nice to not have to worry about supercooling or changing settings on cowl flaps like in the T206.

    During the approach we were vectored in to a holding pattern to increase the distance between the 172 and ourselves. Finally, we were vectored toward the runway at 13 miles out. Ken had me hand fly the approach again, this time we were in the clouds until descending out of 900 feet. It's always a good feeling to see those approach lights right out in front of you. Another greaser landing thanks to Ken's voice prompts for power settings. I walked away with two hours of turboprop experience in IFR conditions with two instrument approaches... now that I've tasted this bird I want more!

       

    Of course I went home and fired up this same plane in FlyII to get a fresh comparison. The sim seems a little harder to get off the ground at 90 knots. Climb performance though was right on, cruise when setting for fuel burn is also correct. Feel is a difficult thing to put into a sim. Having flown the real thing I have a memory to fall back on, so the visual and sonic clues used by the sim trigger those memories and I think that the simulation is quite good. Let's just say that the simulation responds to inputs very similar to the way in which I remember the real thing flying.

    The ROTW Socata TBM-700 is available for download for use in FlyII in both a PC version as well as a Macintosh version. There is even a repaint of the French military version with the two pilots depicted in the front seats. You can find it in the file library ROTW's French site www.simvol.org. It is a large download and includes a detailed user's manual and checklists. Users of Windows 2000 or XP will have an annoying bug with the EHSI where if you try to switch the primary navigation input from Nav1 to anything else you will get an instantaneous crash to desktop. I finally tracked this down to a conflict with the co-pilot's HSI and removed the gauge from the cockpit. I made the changed panel file available and gave permission for ROTW to upload it. Hopefully a fix for the panel problem will be released soon but my real hope is that ROTW includes a fixed panel file with some other upgrades like moving controls surfaces that are visible from the cockpit, a pulse system for day use of the landing lights and the pneumatic boots mentioned earlier. The external visual model has smooth animations and is much closer to the real aircraft than the freeware Microsoft variants of the same plane.

    Since FlyII is no longer available for sale you may want to check used software shops and online auctions. If you have an old copy laying around that you removed in utter frustration, try reloading it using Ken Salter's detailed instructions. If you are already a FlyII fan you should certainly have this aircraft in your hanger. In fact if you are still using FlyII I also recommend that you purchase RealAir's Citabria/Decathlon and PMDG's 757 and 777 while they are still available. If you find that you are as happy with this sim as I have been, write TRI and tell them that you would like them to reconsider making FlyII. I think that a little competition could only improve all of the sims and that's just good for enthusiasts everywhere.

    Many thanks to David Monacell, the Northwest US sales director for EADS Socata, who arranged the demo and Kenneth Rittenhouse, former TBM-700 demo and Atlantic ferry pilot for EADS Socata, current CFO of Image Air in Bloomington, Illinois and a phenomenal instructor.

    Zane Gard
    drzgard@hotmail.com

    Download the ROTW TBM-700