• Review: Cessna 310R by MilViz

    Review: Cessna 310R by MilViz

    By Bill Stack
    April 15, 2012

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    Screen shots by MilViz

    The Cessna 310 is six-seat, twin-engine, low-wing general-aviation aircraft produced by Cessna from 1954 to 1980. Models that were improved over the years featured advancements such as larger cabins, more windows, and larger fuel tanks, and they carried lettered designations such as "B," "G" and "K." The R version had three-bladed propellers and a longer nose with a forward baggage compartment than its predecessors. Its gross take-off weight was 5,500 lbs (2,500 kg). More than 1,300 of them were built.

    On October 28, 1959, according to Wikipedia, a Cessna 310 carrying Cuban revolutionary Camilo Cienfuegos disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean on a night flight from Camaguey to Havana. Neither the plane nor the body of Cienfuegos was ever found.

    MilViz (Military Visualizations) touts these among numerous other features of its Cessna 310R:

    • Five liveries and three virtual cockpits
    • Unique sound set recorded from a real C310
    • Flight dynamics tested and tuned by a real C310R pilot and other pilots
    • Pilots Operating Handbook
    • Paint kit

    "The C310R's model depicted in this package is a highly detailed replica of its real-life counterpart," MilViz says in its product description. "The model was created by using high quality digital photos and the high fidelity sounds off of a real C310R owned by one of our testers!"

    SAMPLING OF LIVERIES
    ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** C-OLIN ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** D-IRFT ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** N5077J
    Screen shots by Bill Stack

    Visual Features

    This aircraft is very realistic compared with real-world photos I found on the Internet. All dimensions and parts are true to the photos. It is also visually impressive because surface details such as shadows, reflections, rivets, and seams make the aircraft appear like a photo rather than a simulation. Night effects are realistic within FSX's limitations. I didn't find anything disappointing about this aircraft's appearances inside or outside.

    The five liveries are C-GTER, C-OLIN, D-IRFT, N5077J, and N522J. The N5077J is personally owned by one of the development members, Ken Stallings. The others are intended to create "international representation," he explained.

    C310R IN FLIGHT
    ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** C-GTER ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** C-OLIN ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** D-IRFT
    C310R CLOSE UP
    ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** Surface Textures ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** Underside ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** Gear & Flaps Down

    Screen shots by Bill Stack
    NIGHT EFFECTS
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    Screen shots by Bill Stack

    C310R's Interior

    All cockpits and cabins compare favorably to real-world photos I found on the Internet. Many variations and modifications of this aircraft exist, and MilViz's depiction is consistent with them. Textures, shading, and clarity create an enhanced sense of realism. As with the exteriors, I found nothing about these interiors to criticize.

    C310R'S INTERIORS
    ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** Virtual Cockpit, Left Seat ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** Virtual Cockpit, Right Seat ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** Virtual Cockpit, Center
    ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** Virtual Cabin, Aft View ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** Virtual Cabin, Forward View ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** Virtual Cabin, Left Door Panel
    Screen shots by Bill Stack

    Three instrument panels are included. The panel called "Analog" has both GPS units. The panel called "Free Radio" has the standard FSX radio stack and one GPS unit with moving map. The panel called "G1000" has the Garmin 1000 glass cockpit found in several of the default FSX aircraft.

    All three instrument panels are sharp and clear, and all instruments and controls are easy to read and use. Most instruments are traditional. The two GPS units and the EDM 700 engine-temperature gauges are explained in dedicated manuals.

    Two GPS devices are included. The 530 model has a moving map; the 430 doesn't. Both offer many functions. The developer explains these instruments as follows: "To be perfectly honest, like most simmers, I never paid much attention to the GPS bundled with FSX, so until I actually got down to programming this version, I was truly not aware of the vast, unrecognized possibilities that do exist, even within the generic GPS500 default gauge. With the addition of the new capabilities that have been programmed, this ESDG representation is superb." MilVis says its GPS units are designed to make operation as simple as possible. These units are obviously not period because GPS was not available when this aircraft was produced, but GPS units have been added to real-world aircraft by their owners.

    Several popup windows enable close ups of GPS, engine instruments, and electrical switches.

    Having a 2D cockpit gives flight simmers who like 2D panels another feature to appreciate.

    As with the visual features, I did not find anything about the instruments or controls to criticize.

    C310R's INSTRUMENTS
    ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** Analog Panel ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** Free Radio Panel ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** Garmin 1000 Glass Panel
    ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** EDM 700 Engine Temperatures ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** Right Seat Popup ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** GPS Popup
    Screen shots by Bill Stack

    Animations

    The passenger cabin door and pilot window open with mouse clicks on their handles. The yokes can be removed from view with mouse clicks. By adding to the FSX keyboard commands, users can operate the baggage door and left and right wing lockers with keystrokes.

    ANIMATIONS
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    People Door Cabin Door Open
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    Left Window Cabin Door Open
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    Flight Bag & Right Window Pilot Window Open
    Screen shots by Bill Stack

    Special Features

    A preflight utility enables users to remove and replace the pilot, chocks, inlet plugs, and pitot-tube covers. Three mouse-clickable lights in the utility change from red to green when these features are engaged or disengaged.

    A paint kit that is available to customers through MilViz's forums enables users to redesign their aircraft liveries. It is not available as part of the downloadable package.

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    The C310R's Performance

    For my flight tests, I used Cessna Airport (KCEA) in Wichita, Kansas, U.S.A., where Cessna tested many aircraft during the 26-year C310 period. Its long runway is asphalt 3,877 feet, and its short runway is concrete 2,000 feet. Elevation is 1,378 feet. I used MilViz's default weight of 4,851 pounds, which is 88 percent of the aircraft's rated maximum gross take-off weight of 5,500 pounds. And I used standard atmosphere (59F, 29.92 in), clear weather, and calm air.

    Taxiing: The aircraft taxis easily except for veering hard toward the left, which requires constant correction; apparently the real plane is known for doing this both on the ground and in flight, see explanation below. Winds were calm according to ATIS weather report from nearby McConnell Air Force Base, so it definitely wasn't caused by crosswinds. And both engine instruments were showing the same readings, so it wasn't asymetictrical power, either.

    Taking Off: With flaps down 15 degrees, throttles at maximum, and tachometer at 2,700 RPMs as recommended, the aircraft accelerated to take-off speed quickly. As it gains speed, its leftward veering increases, requiring forceful rudder adjustment to stay on the runway. The aircraft lifted off around 80 KIAS (82 KIAS is in the checklist), using slightly more than half runway 35's 3,877-foot length. The manual says it needs 1,700 feet, but this would naturally vary with weight, weather, and elevation.

    Climbing Out: It banks toward the left as soon as it leaves the ground, requiring immediate correction. As with taxiing, this banking was not caused by winds or asymetrical power. After landing gear and flaps were retracted and power was reduced to 2,500 RPMs, the aircraft accelerated to 130 KTS and climbed at 1,000 feet per minute. With the nose lowered to reduce vertical speed to 500 FPM, the aircraft accelerated to 170 KIAS. Its strong leftward pull presents a constant hassle as faster speeds require more and more correction. I got tired of it, so I engaged the autopilot to let it deal with this annoyance. I set altitude to the specified ceiling of 19,300 feet and climb rate to 800 FPM.

    The aircraft climbed steadily at 160 KIAS. I adjusted propeller pitch and fuel mixture as required in the checklist as I climbed through the altitudes. At 10,000 feet, indicated airspeed was 145 KTS, which calculates to about 165 KTS true airspeed using a quick formula. Above 15,000 feet, it struggled to continue climbing and lost considerable airspeed. I had to reduce the vertical speed in the autopilot to avoid stalling.

    Cruising: After the aircraft cruised at 19,300 feet for a few minutes, it gained airspeed and settled at 125 KIAS. At this altitude, that computes to 164 KTAS using my quick formula. It held straight/level flight handily.

    Turning: To judge turning, I disengaged the autopilot temporarily. Entering and exiting turns is basically easy. The aircraft responds quickly to all controls &#8212 pitch, yaw, and bank. Turning left is much easier than turning right because of the aircraft's continual banking toward the left. The aircraft seems to lose altitude more quickly during turns at high altitude than at lower altitudes.

    Descending: After I reset the autopilot for lower altitude and an 800 FPM descent, the aircraft accelerated to 165 KIAS, which computes to 197 KTAS at 16,500 feet. That's faster than the 181 KTS cruising speed but lower than the 223 KTS never-exceed speed. When I inadvertently allowed the aircraft to accelerate into the airspeed indicator's yellow caution zone, it rocked violently until I decelerated back into the white safe zone. With power reduced by about half, this aircraft glided smoothly at about 800 FPM and 130 KIAS, which is about 160 KTAS at high altitudes. To attain the 181 KTS cruising speed, I increased power to about three-fourths per the levers.

    Approaching: Turning into and through an airport circuit presents no problems while under autopilot. Flying the circuit manually is a different matter because of the persistent leftward banking. Following the runway centerline on final approach was a significant challenge for this reason. The checklist calls for approaching at 93 KIAS with 5,400 pounds of gross weight and final approaching no slower than 80 KIAS. This aircraft approached comfortably at these airspeeds and touched down around 80 KTS.

    Landing: As soon as it touches down, this aircraft veers toward the left, requiring immediate correction to stay on the runway. It stopped well within the runways's length. The manual says it needs 1,790 feet, but this distance would vary under different factors.

    Overall: When guidance in the manual is followed, the MilViz C310R performs as expected in all respects. MilViz says its flight modeling is based on actual specifications and real C310 pilot reports. Its handling is almost identical to the FSX twin-engine Beechcraft Baron 58, except for its insistence on veering toward the left. At 5,500 pounds maximum gross take-off weight, the C310R is only 76 pounds lighter than the Baron's 5,524-pound maximum gross take-off weight. For these reasons, I believe its performance is essentially realistic for an aircraft of its type and weight.

    In response to my question, MilViz explained the C310R's leftward tugging as follows:

    Of all the feedback we have received from customers (and also frankly from the beta team at MilViz, this is the single most consistent complaint/observation.) Yet, I have been the single most stubborn person insisting that this combination of p-effect and torque remain precisely as Bernt modeled it.

    The reason is because when I fly my real world 310R, this is the exact amount of asymmetric yaw I get when I release brakes to takeoff. Frankly, this is not merely my personal airplane, but we have heard from several other real world 310R owners who say how happy they are to finally get a piston twin in FSX that accurately models this very real characteristic. In fact, Cessna documents in the POH a caution against doing a full power, brake release takeoff, precisely because the amount of stored up yaw from p-effect and torque would likely cause the aircraft to depart to the left off the runway, or if on a wide runway, at least get a few dozen to 75 feet left of centerline. In fact, presuming you do not have an FAA AMEL certificate, there is a requirement to demonstrate the emergency recovery of an aircraft that experiences single engine failure upon full power on takeoff roll.

    It is a very "aggressive" thing to say the least and you have to immediately chop both throttles to ground idle or within a few seconds you will eat grass off the side of the runway! So, while I understand it is an unusual degree of yaw compared to most FSX multi-engine twins, the fact is that the 310R produces more than a Baron or Seminole does (I have flown both many times) and my personal opinion is that across the board what is modeled for FSX are all significantly under-modeled in this area.

    Additionally, this is also true for the realistic yaw produced by losing an engine in flight. I believe our 310R raises that to a much greater level of fidelity and again many real-world 310R owners have contacted me directly to express their thanks for us doing it realistically. I personally think our 310R is adequate for initial AMEL familiarization training, though I would never wish to say it would replace real world aircraft training.

    -- Ken Stallings, MilViz

    Having never flown any Cessna 310, I cannot personally attest to how closely MilViz's rendition resembles the real-world aircraft's performance. Neither can I say how it compares to other C310s that might be available for MSFS.

    C310R Performance Specifications
    Item Value
    Empty Weight 3,3470 LBS
    Useful Load 2,153 LBS2
    Maximum Take-off Weight 5,500 LBS
    Maximum Landing Weight 5,400 LBS
    Range 1,132 NM
    Ceiling 19,750 FT
    Endurance 5.8 HRS2
    Take-Off Speed 92 KIAS
    Climb Speed 106 KIAS
    Cruising Speed 181 KIAS
    Stall Speed 80 KIAS
    Never-Exceed Speed 223 KIAS
    Approach Speed 93 KIAS
    Notes:
    Data are from MilViz unless otherwise noted.
    All data are basic. Specifics vary with conditions.
    1. Wikipedia
    2. Calculated from other data
    "NA" means "Not Available"
    Source: MilViz

    The Documents

    Several documents accompany this aircraft:

    Kneeboard: The kneeboard contains complete checklists and reference data. The checklists lay out necessary steps for all flight phases from preflight to shutdown. The reference sheet provides data about V speeds, weight limits, and use of instruments. Unfortunately, these did not appear in my kneeboards, so I had to read them with a web browser. The developer said they appear normally on their systems and suggested I reinstall the aircraft software.

    Pilot's Operating Handbook: Using 117 pages, the POH provides data about performance capabilities and limits, emergency procedures, complete checklists, and use of instruments. The manual features numerous tables, charts, and annotated images.

    EDM 700 Digital Engine Temperature Gauge: This two-page document explains the use of this unique instrument. "The major function of the EDM700 gauge," this manual says, "is to allow the pilot to lean or enrich the mixture so that fuel/burn ratio is maximized, while at the same time allowing the cooling effect of rich mixture settings."

    Garmin GNS 430: In 36 pages, this manual explains the multiple uses of one of the two GPS units found in these aircraft using plain text and numerous detailed images.

    Garmin GNS 530: This 47-page manual explains the many features of the other GPS unit included with these aircraft using plain text and numerous detailed images.

    Garmin GTX 330: This eight-page manual explains the use of this unique transponder used in the C310R model. The developer says the manual ". . . is designed to quickly orient the novice or experienced flight simulation pilot with an overview of the various controls of the Garmin GTX 330 . . ."

    All five manuals were written by real-world pilots, according the MilViz, and they are very well organized with clear writing and ample images for reference. They are in Adobe Acrobat format for easy use, and they are installed with the aircraft configuration files instead of in a separate FSX folder.

    DOCUMENTS
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    Checklists
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    Reference Sheet
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    EDM 700 Engine Temp Gauge
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    GNS 430 GPS Page 12
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    GNS 530 GPS Page 28
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    GTX 330 Transponder Page 6
    Screen shots by Bill Stack

    Technical Matters

    This aircraft is for Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX only.

    In the Aircraft Selection menu, the C310R is listed in the manufacturer category under "Cessna."

    Sounds are unique with 54 files for engines, winds, touchdown, gear/flaps operations, and similar effects. They are stored in a Sound folder dedicated to this Cessna 310R.

    Frame rates are good. My new computer (12 gigabytes of memory, 1,500 gigabytes of hard drive space, and Windows 7) is much faster and more powerful than my old computer, and it might be more so than the average flight simmer is using. But I didn't see anything about this aircraft that would cause poor frame rates for anyone.

    Removing the product, if desired, must be done via the Windows Add/Remove Programs feature.

    Technical support is through a form on the developer's website. Responses were within 24 hours and very helpful.

    Readers with technical questions not answered in this review should ask the developer, who is in the best position to answer such questions. Using the links below, go to the Pilot Shop page where the product is listed and described, then click on "Manufacturer Tech Support" in the right column.

    TECHNICAL & PURCHASE FEATURES

    MSFS Version

    FSX

    Instant download from the Pilot Shop

    Yes

    Installation program

    Yes

    License key required

    No

    Copyright acknowledgment required

    Yes

    Frame Rates

    Good

    Manual included

    Several

    Uninstall program included

    No

    Price

    $40 US

    More Information

    Detailed information about the real-world Cessna 310R is available from:

    REAL-WORLD IMAGES

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    Aero Dynamic Aviation
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    Aero Dynamic Aviation
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    Hillview Avionics

    The Developer

    Based in Montréal, Quebec, Canada, Milviz (Military Visualizations) has been a supplier for games, television, film and flight simulation since 1990. Its team of real-world pilots tests its simulation aircraft and write the flight data and manuals. The company also produces the Northrop T-38A Jet Trainer and F-15E Strike Eagle.

    "We pride ourselves on the accuracy and detail of what we do," its website says, "not just in modeling and painting but also in code and in flight dynamics."

    In response to my asking why MilViz made a civilian aircraft when its focus seems to be military, MilViz said: "The aircraft actually has a military background. It was used by the USAF in the 1950's to 1960's to provide utility transport for DV (mostly general officers making staff visits). At the time, the advent of the biz jet was not yet realized and at the time the Cessna 310B was actually considered a very high performance personal aircraft. The USAF designation for the C-310B was the U-3A (originally L-27B). However, the reason for the overall decision was because MilViz wanted to expand its operations to include civilian aircraft. We are actually working on other general aviation aircraft at this time. The 310R was simply the first of the genre. Our next foray into GA will be the Baron B-55."

    Overall

    MilViz's Cessna 310R is realistic inside and out, with one livery based on the real-world aircraft owned by one of the development team members. It's generally easy to fly except for the strongly and persistently pulling toward the left, and MilViz says this is typical of the real-world C310R. MilViz's outstanding manuals provide all the knowledge needed to enjoy these five aircraft. The GPS units and the EDM engine temperature gauges are also well done. Extras such as the preflight utility, paint kit, and 2D instrument panel add to its value. MilViz's prompt, thorough, and clear reply to my questions is appreciated.

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    Bill Stack
    [email protected]

    Learn more about the Cessna C310R by Military Vizualizations


    Bill Stack is author of several books about flight simulation, a regular author in flight-sim magazines, and a contributor to Flight Sim Com. His website is www.topskills.com

    Tags: 310r, cessna, milviz

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