• Review: Carenado Piper PA34 Seneca II

    Piper PA34 Seneca II

    Publisher: Carenado

    Review Author:
    Klee C. Dobra

    Suggested Price:

    Buy Here

    Carenado PA34 Seneca II     Carenado PA34 Seneca II     Carenado PA34 Seneca II

    This is a first for me. I've never reviewed a product other than to offer an opinion based upon personal use, and usually that opinion is influenced by my experience with similar, or like products. Already we are in virgin territory; although I've enjoyed the flight sim hobby since the early 1980's, I must admit I've never bought a professionally modeled airplane. Our hobby, in my opinion, has been very well served by talented and dedicated artists who willingly give of themselves for the good of the hobby. I've always chosen to honor them by using their often-spectacular work over that offered for profit. That being said (and I believe it had to be), I am about to offer a review of what could be a very nice airplane for the FS2004 members of the Flight Sim community.

    Carenado offers a multitude of aircraft for a variety of sims. Precious few are offered for FS2004. One that is, is Piper Aircraft's PA34 Seneca II, a six place light twin built from the 1970's through to the 1990's.

    Carenado PA34 Seneca II
    Carenado's "Old Beige" Seneca II on the ramp at KACK

    The Seneca has experienced several iterations through its life, some quite unique prior to certification as a light twin. This aircraft was an outgrowth of Piper's very successful Cherokee Lance (PA-32). Initially, the Seneca was a Lance with two wing-mounted engines augmenting the fuselage mounted center engine. (Montgomery, MR & Gerald Foster: A Field Guide to Airplanes, Second Edition, page 96. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992.)

    A half dozen or so years following this humble beginning, the Seneca had morphed into the Seneca II we know today. Piper's market for the six-place twin was general aviation and corporate aviation, although the airplane saw service in various foreign militaries and in a multitude of training environments as well. Over 2,500 Senecas of this type were built. Competition for the Seneca II came in the form of Cessna's T303 Crusader and the Beech Baron 58. This aircraft compared favorably with both, sporting slightly more cabin room than the Baron, and a more polished interior than the Cessna.

    Carenado, it seems, has modeled the Seneca II very well, with performance mimicking the statistics for the real airplane very closely. Never having flown a payware twin before, I was eager to try this lovely looking airplane. From the three liveries offered, I naturally chose the "Old Beige", it being a vintage Piper paint job. Carenado, in their literature, states that this plane comes with two, or three, bladed props. Out of the box, the Old Beige livery has two bladed props, wouldn't you know! It took several days of tinkering to determine how to change from two bladed props to three!

    Carenado PA34 Seneca II     Carenado PA34 Seneca II     Carenado PA34 Seneca II

    This brings me to Carenado's documentation. For the FS2004 version, it is all but non-existent. Not a very good way to start a payware experience. I cannot speak of the FSX version, or that for X-Plane or P3D, but it seems to me if a company intends to market a product with a price tag close to $50.00, they should really provide more than:

    "Cruising - - Reference Performance Charts Teledyne Continental Operators Manuel and Power Setting Table, Power - - Set, Cowl Flaps - - As Required, Mixture - - Adjust, and Engine Gauges - - Monitor."

    Fortunately, after searching for a while, I found on the Internet, from Airborne Aviation, an Aircraft Information Booklet (37 pages) specific to the Seneca II. Without it, I surely would have blown one, or perhaps both engines, on my first take-off! My point here is that after spending hard earned dollars for the product, one should not have to search the Internet for documentation on proper technique!

    Carenado PA34 Seneca II     Carenado PA34 Seneca II     Carenado PA34 Seneca II

    With "Old Beige" loaded and softly purring at idle outside the terminal, I was eager to get at it. I wanted a closer look at this beauty and figured I could learn the nuances after a quick turn around the patch. We taxied to the active and held for clearance, which was quick in coming. As we rolled out onto the active, I slowly applied power, full power. At 60 to 70 knots, the nose wheel began a gyrating dance. No matter how hard I tried (and no matter how hard I've tried since) to avoid this with future flights, it simply cannot be eliminated. It only lasts a short time, but without care, it causes a nose gear failure and a crash. I cannot tell if this is a quirk in the software, or a bug in my computer. However, I've never experienced anything like this before. I must assume that it is software related as no other aircraft does this nose-bouncing dance in my FS2004.

    1. Rbelthrand's Avatar
      Rbelthrand -
      I like the Carenado way to put all the details of the airplane on the sim. But speaking of flight dynamics, they also lack of realism, when you fly this seneca on cruise config, your nose always is up, like 2 or 3 degs up on the horizon. I was waiting if they fix that problem, also the plane feels very light on the flight controls, and seneca is known for being heavy on its handling.

      If you fly reading a real seneca ii manual, you will see that everything is different.

      But yeah, the exterior and interior design is very accurate.
    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Great review Klee, really nicely done.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Carenado's Seneca.


    1. jamminjames's Avatar
      jamminjames -
      Nice review Klee, just wish there were more good repaints available. If you know of any please pm me and let me know where to find em...
    1. Sascha66's Avatar
      Sascha66 -
      It's one of my favorite VFR planes, too!
    1. tiger1962's Avatar
      tiger1962 -
      A great review Klee, great screen shots and nice work with the 2D panel - not many reviewers would do that! Just for everyone's information, the bouncing nosewheel patch can be found on the Carenado Updates page, named "Several FS2004 Aircraft - Bouncing Issues", here's the link:
    1. adamb's Avatar
      adamb -
      Very nice review of the Carenado Seneca Klee, great job! Like tiger said, the update should fix your bouncing problem, have fun!

    1. KCD's Avatar
      KCD -
      Thanks all for your remarks...

      Rbelthrand... FYI, a couple of tweaks on the trim wheel solves the pitch problem, and I found that the model I tested flew quite nicely to the numbers in the manual I had downloaded.

      DominicS... Thank you, I appreciate your thoughts.

      jamminjames... Thanks for your nice comments; I wish I did know of some other paints, although the Old Beige paint, my favorite, is an old Piper livery and you'll see a lot of them if you search for Seneca II photos.

      Sascha66... Thank you! I tried to contact you several months ago about upgrading my basic scenery. I never found out how to contact you so I went with G.E., would still like to chat about your product, could you P.M. me a viable e-mail address?

      tiger1962... Thanks, Tim, your link to the fix was terrific, and it works almost as well as your fix for the CLS Arrow II. I appreciate your assistance, the Seneca is now a joy to fly!

      adamb... Many thanks for your comments!
    1. julifix's Avatar
      julifix -
      Also for me it's my VFR/IFR favorite aircraft, especially flying with FSEconomy. I like it very much. I bought a soundset of AREZONE and this pushes up the feeling/hearing much more.
      Great work, Carenado.Thanks for this fine review.
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