By Art Burke (22 June 2001)
|Cessna Citation X at FL400.|
My critical eye almost missed the key points of the system requirements. (My father once accused me of having a keen sense for the obvious!) Minimum requirements are listed as Pentium II 450 MHz PC, 64 MB RAM and a 3D video accelerator card (and of course the semi-obligatory sound card). The recommended requirements, however, call for a Pentium II 550 MHz PC with 128 MB RAM and a 32 MB 3D video accelerator card. After more than a year's experience with FS2000, I most certainly agree with the minimum requirements.
I was a tad disappointed with the packaging. Sounds trivial, but between music and software, I have more than 200 CDs. Virtually anything deviating from the standard jewel case often represents a bit of a storage problem. On the plus side, the packaging provides the ability to include an attractive little folder providing documentation in the form of pre-flight briefing installation instructions, how to use the electronic documentation, uninstall info, support, updates and registration. These instructions are provided in both English and German.
|Hawker 800XP over Florida.|
The included electronic manual (in German or English) is viewed with Adobe Acrobat Reader. It seems comprehensive, informative and generally downright readable. That's really good because it looks like the less than experienced jet plane simmer is really going to need it! Those familiar and/or experienced with the "big iron" may find a lot of things here reminiscent of large, passenger-focused airliners. The rest of us would be well advised to peruse the manual. I printed the sections describing the instrument panels and programmable FMC (Flight Management Computer). In the real world one would undoubtedly need hundreds of hours experience before being turned loose at the controls of these planes. Fortunately, in FS2000 you can learn as you go! I know, I know - the purists out there are bellyaching already! Well, I did peruse the manual to make sure I knew the locations of the necessary instruments. But I was also anxious to get in the air!
|Citation lower pedestal.|
Cessna CitationAlthough this is a pretty busy panel, it's surprisingly clean. Rather than place literally everything you need on the panel all at the same time, the pilot can select sub-functions for a number of the gauges. There is even a graphic display of climbs/descents available via this "sub-function" concept. Simmers acquainted with the LearRDB panel will see a few familiar presentations. There are several options available even in the EICAS display, including anticipated range based on current fuel consumption. I could go on, but I won't. Let's just say it's an excellent panel, but it might take just a little getting used to. There are a lot of functions here.
Handling characteristics seemed quite good. My first serious test flight took me up to FL200. As with most (if not all) corporate style jets, you'll have to keep your eye on the airspeed while operating below 10,000 feet. With power to burn, this fellow will pin your tail against the seat and do it quickly! Despite all the power, there is decent range as well - in excess of 3,000 nm.
At first there seemed to be a dearth of the "standard" FS2000 amenities - there is neither a GPS nor a function switch for NAV/GPS. The first apparent omission is handled somewhat busily, in my opinion. When you first see displays of upcoming waypoints, bearing, distance, etc., it seems quite cluttered. These waypoints are displayed in the rose/arc navaid window. It seems somewhat better once you get used to it, but it's discomforting at first. The "missing" NAV/GPS switch is unnecessary (unless you're dead set on using the default FS2000 flight planner!) as the Citation comes equipped with a multi-functional FMC (Flight Management Computer).
The FMC also takes a little getting used to. In fact, I think it's downright quirky. Several times I accidentally selected the "Add Waypoint" function. When I arrived at the window where that function is accomplished, it refused to let me "cancel" the function. I finally overcame the balky sequence by putting in a valid waypoint, then deleting it. The keystroke sequence to activate the FMC (which is displayed, along with the radio stack in a totally separate window) is SHIFT+5 (using the 5 on the numpad with the Num Lock disabled) and it's removed by SHIFT+8. At first I was all thumbs. After a few practice sessions it's much easier than I first thought.
|Citation main panel.|
After a leisurely takeoff from KLEE on my final check flight, I climbed to FL320. At 2,500 feet per minute, the climb didn't take long. After burning off a little fuel, I climbed to my cruising altitude of FL430 and opened up to about Mach .80 to check the stability. Several jets of this variety in my hangar seem to experience oscillations at ultimate cruising altitude. At both FL320 and FL430 I didn't see the VSI needle waver the slightest bit! This Citation may turn out to be the replacement plane for my Gulfstream IV.
I can't vouch for the accuracy of the panel and individual instrument functions, but it looks good, looks "hi-tech" and works great. If you're the type who likes a plane that tends to keep you active, can get you there with both speed and comfort (above the path of the "ordinary" folk!) and looks good in the process, this is it! This one will certainly be a regular in my hangar.
|Climbing out in the Hawker 800XP.|
Hawker 800XPAfter having flown the Citation, you get the impression this plane is either "lugging" or just hanging back. It's actually a pretty good performer, but it certainly isn't as hot as the Citation. Climbing into the ozone takes just a wee bit longer.
The panel has similar instrumentation to its mate in this package, but, with its heavier emphasis on analog instrumentation (it is, after all, an older plane!) it doesn't have that modern, jazzy looking appearance. Perhaps it's a little like being removed from the glass cockpit of an Airbus and transported via time machine back into a DC-3! The arrangement of the various clusters took a little getting used to but everything one needs is available.
The flight management computer is the same as that described above. After a few flights to gain experience, the mechanics of managing the FMC are starting to become easier!
|Hawker 800XP panel.|
The exterior view yields something of a "plain brown wrapper" (actually it's your basic white on white!) but the lines are smooth and clean. One can detect a little of the non-circular in various aspects but that seems to be the norm in the great majority of FS2000 aircraft. Animation is what one would expect, down to the rotating turbines. The pilots can be seen through the transparent cockpit windows as well. I must confess - this would not be my first choice for a corporate jet - I think the Citation wins that award! This is a fine aircraft nonetheless. It actually makes a good illustration of how an "older" aircraft (remember, this was one of the early successful corporate jets) can still display form and performance, comparing very favorably to a number of today's corporate entries.
ConclusionsThe Citation is my obvious preference of these two planes. Not necessarily because it's superior to the Hawker, but only because I preferred its highly modern panel. Your choice might be totally different and that's defensible as well.
Is a package that's probably going to be priced around $20 US worth it for these two planes? I guess honestly I have my doubts. I've purchased quite a bit of "stuff" for FS98 and FS2000 in the last four years or so. In the actual aircraft department perhaps I've become spoiled. The availability of significant numbers of freeware aircraft (perhaps that should read quality freeware aircraft!) sometimes makes the decision to purchase planes more difficult.
Does this package represent the quality, performance and desirability one would hope to find for flightsim aircraft? I think the answer is a qualified yes, but I can well understand the opinion of those who would say no. With the problems seen recently with some of the more successful freeware developers, it wouldn't surprise me to see more packages of this variety. Could we perhaps see more than two planes in a given delivery?
Visit JustFlight at: