• Review: Carenado - Grand Caravan EX HD Series

    Grand Caravan EX HD Series

    Publisher: Carenado

    Review Author:
    Gustavo Mercado

    Suggested Price:
    $37.95

    Buy Here

    Intro

    Many firsts for this one. Although I have been out of the writing loop for a while (not because I wanted to by the way but because of the circumstances) many new and exciting things have happened in our flight sim world. Although I never thought it would be possible I started flying Airbus, me the number one Airbus hater in the world, the I would not purchase a flight that included an Airbus in the itinerary even if it meant I would pay less money, the mere sight of a A320 cockpit would ruin my day. Turns out that it was not really EADS fault, the problem was there was not a true high quality offering until the Aerosoft Extended version came along and all changed, now I'm in love with the airplane, I have to ration out my PMDG 737 time now, one flight the 737 one flight the A320. On the other hand the PMDG 777 was finally released, and last but not least I got into bush flying!

    I don't know how many readers have watched a reality show called Flying Wild Alaska, about a small bush airline and the challenges of flying small planes in the Alaska wilderness. I think they are working on their third season and wow what a show. I never imagined how tough it is to fly the bush in Alaska, and to tell you the truth those guys really fly. Forget FMC's, autoflight systems, autoland, etc. these guys fly airplanes non par, all the rest of us play Nintendo! Anyway through watching that show a new curiosity suddenly awoke in my mind, let's give bush flying a try in the sim. First let's see if my virtual airline (Phoenix Virtual Airways) has some bush flying available so I can give it a try and get my VA hours, and second let's see what's out there to fly as close to the real thing as possible.

    Turns out that both questions were answered positively. PVA did have plenty of bush flying in its schedule, and right around that time the Carenado Grand Caravan EX was being released. I immediately sent Nels the request and it was available, so I went for it and thank God I did because I got to learn a side of aviation that really does test your skills. Turns out that PVA has a good chunk of the ERA Airlines schedule, and plenty of those flights are in the Caravan so I booked a total of 15 short bush flights throughout Alaska and off I went. Boy, what an adventure.

    The Cessna Grand Caravan is a single engine, turboprop, fixed gear regional airliner built in the USA by Cessna. It is the workhorse of the bush and the third world. It flew for the first time in 1982, and can house up to 14 passengers with the single pilot. It is a very diverse airplane, working perfectly for passenger and cargo operations. It is used by Fedex to haul cargo to remote locations around the USA and the world. It is also used by many air forces for rescue and salvage operations.

    The plane has a range of around 1000 NM and can cruise at 190 knots in typical operating conditions. In small, poor countries such as mine (Nicaragua) the Caravan is the backbone of any and all regional airlines. I personally have flown in the Caravan at least 15 times and it is a sturdy, stable, and relatively comfortable plane that takes you from point A to point B quickly and can land almost anywhere. La Costena which is Nicaragua's regional operation operates a fleet of ten Caravans, one ATR, and one Shorts. Personally I will fly on the Caravan over any of the other two bigger planes any day. Its one pilot requirement makes a lucky passenger fly in the cockpit and that alone makes it the plane of choice for frustrated pilots such as myself.

    Technical Stuff

    The Grand Caravan comes in a 369 MB compressed folder which is directly downloaded from the Pilot Shop. It is the easiest add-on I have come across installation-wise. It gets quickly downloaded from the Pilot Shop, you immediately get your activation code through email and when you run the installer it creates a small dialog box in which you copy and paste your key and you are off. All the manuals and reading materials are inside the Carenado folder inside the main FSX folder. You can find the normal procedures, emergency procedures, limitations / specs, and the Garmin EX G1000 glass cockpit manuals. I had absolutely no issues from installation to loading the plane for the first flight, everything was a breeze.

    Exterior Model

    The exterior model, in a few words: it's a work of art. It comes with six variants of the Grand Caravan C208B. No specific airline liveries, just different registration numbers and the Grand Caravan EX4. The detail of the exterior model is truly amazing. It comes in HD 3D textures that look amazing, depending on the outside light you can actually see the window scratches both from the inside and out. The propeller has a beautiful look when it is rotating, it has a special shine not just the usual shadow looking effect, the textures are designed to be displayed at 2048x2048 which give it a new level of detail.

    All control surfaces are fully 3D animated and they look great. Flaps, ailerons, elevators, smoke that comes out of the engine when it ignites, the propeller moves to a perfect detail. Looking at the plane moving from the outside cameras it looks beautiful. The wheels, flaps, wing, and even the 3D pilots move naturally and give it the as real as it gets feeling. I have seen many Carenado products advertized in the Pilot Shop and they give you right away the impression of high quality, but to be honest I didn't expect this attention de detail.

       

    Interior

    The interior of the Caravan is a thing of beauty. To be honest I do not own many payware small planes in my hangar but if there is something better than this I definitely have to see it. Inside camera views are a thing of beauty, all knobs and switches work in 3D, which make the Garmin glass instrumentation super easy to use. I remember how hard it was to work the GPS on the default planes, that is one thing you won't have to worry about any more. All the doors open with a click of the mouse. It is a fully animated airplane inside and out.


    6 Comments
    1. iflygary's Avatar
      iflygary -
      Nice plane, however, I'm not sure if a leather interior and a few extra knots on the airspeed was enticing enough to warrant an additional nearly $40. I have the original one and just couldn't push myself to spend the extra money. I think Carenado missed the boat on this one when they didn't offer it as an extension package. There's not that much talk about it on their forums either, so I'm assuming many others felt as I did.
      Gary
    1. miloguy's Avatar
      miloguy -
      I too feel a bit the same as iflygary, only last 12 months I just got the cargo and orginal hd series, would be good if they could lower the price a bit...
      for any one wanting to fly this plane its awesome, although I never have flown a glass cockpit ..
      not sure what thats like , might give it a try at some stage though
    1. jamminjames's Avatar
      jamminjames -
      Quote Originally Posted by iflygary View Post
      Nice plane, however, I'm not sure if a leather interior and a few extra knots on the airspeed was enticing enough to warrant an additional nearly $40. I have the original one and just couldn't push myself to spend the extra money. I think Carenado missed the boat on this one when they didn't offer it as an extension package. There's not that much talk about it on their forums either, so I'm assuming many others felt as I did.
      Gary
      I agree. I have all of Carenado's aircraft but there is just not that much difference between this one and the old... Not $40 worth anyway..
    1. Jerwal's Avatar
      Jerwal -
      There is a slight difference between the old and the new one New glass cockpit and completely new flight dynamics added totally different.It climbs much faster than the previous worth buying.Still like the old one
    1. Gman23's Avatar
      Gman23 -
      I just bought the old version as so far, my experience with planes with the G1000 is that with 512 mb vram, the sim suffers. My experience comes with the 206 Stainonair. My 206 with the 530 Garmin is a much nicer experience. Maybe a patch is in the future?
    1. JonMon's Avatar
      JonMon -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jerwal View Post
      There is a slight difference between the old and the new one New glass cockpit and completely new flight dynamics added totally different.It climbs much faster than the previous worth buying.Still like the old one
      It's worth noting that there is an update on Carenado's website adding a Bernt Stolle FDE to the previous Caravan. Of course, this one is still going to be more powerful (at least without tweaking the old one).
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