Carenado - C208B Grand Caravan HD
By Alexander Czarnecki (June 11, 2011)
The Cessna C208B Caravan is a single turboprop aircraft well known around the world. It is variously used as a passenger aircraft seating 9 to 14 passengers, a cargo feederliner or even, armed with Hellfire missiles, in the Air Force. It is a very versatile aircraft and can be fitted with wheels, skis, enlarged tires for unprepared runways, and floats on the Caravan Amphibian model.
Microsoft included a Caravan in default FSX and it is a pretty good aircraft. However Carenado, with a reputation for outstanding general aviation aircraft add-ons, has now released a Caravan expansion for FSX.
Carenado states as follows:
Five different paint schemes plus a blank texture. Customizable panel for controlling seat configuration, windows transparency, 3D Knobs, Cargo Pod, Doors opening and many Eyes candies (wheel chokes, pitot cover, tail stand and sights prop)
Original HQ digital stereo sounds recorded directly from a real PT6A (Pratt & Whitney Canada) engine
Custom Bendix/King Weather Radar and original GNS 430 - Pop up C208B Grand Caravan manual with normal & emergency Checklist
Tested by real C208B pilots - Realistic night lights effect on virtual cockpit
FSX features: external dynamic shadows, internal dynamic shadows on VC, volumetric normal mapping, specular mapping and bloom lights - Polygon optimized model - Friendly FPS - Autopilot installed
Includes: Interactive virtual cockpit - Full moving parts: Ailerons, elevators, rudders, flaps, rolling wheels and trim tab - Animated sections such as: propeller, doors, windows, sun visors, copilot seat and pilot
Lights: Navigation lights, landing and taxi lights - 3D modeled pilot, cockpit area and passenger cabin area
Realistic light effects on gauges - Nightlight effects on panel - Separate switches for instruments lights and cabin light
Toggle yoke - Real behavior compared to the real airplane - Real weight and balance - PDF documents: Normal and Emergency Checklist, GNS430 User Guide, Weather Radar Manual, C208B Reference, AVSS manual and VC diagram.
Flight dynamics and real behavior of C208B Grand Caravan have been tested by three C208B real pilots.
No system specifications are given, but due to the HD textures, I recommend at least a 512 MB Graphics Card and a Dual Core Processor and 2 GB RAM.
Also available is a Super Cargomaster Expansion Pack which requires the Carenado - C208B Grand Caravan HD to be installed first. This adds a cargo model with one paint scheme plus a blank texture, with a FEDEX and DHL ones available as a free download from the Carenado web site, with the links provided in the documentation.
The main C208B Grand Caravan HD add-on comes as a 97 MB download. When downloaded, run it and follow the instructions given. You will be requested to enter your email address and serial code you received in an email after you bought the product, when it accepts the information, it will install the C208B in your FSX folder. The Super Cargomaster Expansion Pack is a 37 MB download which is installed the same way.
Documentation regarding the C208B includes:
- AVSS Manual
- Normal & Emergency Checklist
- GNS 430 User Guide
- Virtual Cockpit Instruments
As is expected from Carenado the Caravan externally is beautiful. The Caravan package is the start of the "HD" series from Carenado which features textures of 2048x2048 resolution. While these textures really pick up every detail, they impose a fairly significant system demand.
The package includes five color schemes plus a blank one for repainters. There is another one in the Super Cargomaster expansion pack. Also there are many different third party repaints available for free download from the FlightSim.Com file library and other places.
There is no 2D panel, as is the trend nowadays. The virtual cockpit is excellent, with preset camera views to view light switches, radios, etc. There is also a full virtual cabin which has seats for the base add-on, and cargo for the Cargomaster expansion pack.
Virtual cockpit night lighting is very good.
One thing, there are no 3D popups for the gauges. However a really cool feature is the addition of a Bendix/King Weather Radar. The middle picture above is a shot showing the weather radar while flying thru some bad weather.
Carenado handily included two popup control panels. One controls the doors, and the other has options to customize the aircraft; changing the seat layout, removing or adding the cargo pod, toggling 3D cockpit knobs on or off, showing the external tiedown stuff and whether to show the virtual cockpit windows.
The sounds are very realistic and sound like a Cessna. Having not flown a real Caravan, I can't comment much on the flight dynamics, but it feels and behaves like a single engine turboprop. But with the flight dynamics being tested by three real Caravan pilots, I'd say they would be pretty true to life.
Performance And Bugs
The only bug I could find is that light bloom from external lights shows thru the panel. It only shows if you have light bloom enabled (image above, right). Because of the HD textures, simmers with a low to mid range system will encounter a pretty high performance hit. I found frames dropped as much as 50% compared to the default Cessna.
Another fantastic aircraft from Carenado and if your system can handle the frame rate loss, you will love the plane! The price may be a tad higher than usual, but don't let that deter you. It is worth it. The versatility makes it a really fun plane to fly. Have fun flying it!
Dell Studio 1555
Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU T6400 @ 2.00 GHz
3.00 GB RAM
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570 512 MB Graphics