• Review: Alabeo - Cessna 177 Cardinal

    Initial Thoughts

    Having previously purchased a number of aircraft from the Alabeo stable back in my X-Plane 10 days (including the C177 Cardinal), I was expecting to find an aircraft of high quality, and well modelled in terms of appearance, features and handling. The good news is that the move over to X-Plane 11 hasn't changed this, and I was extremely pleased with what I found as I got reacquainted with the C177.

    As mentioned, the C177 comes with two variants, and therefore provides something a little different to many of the single engine options available. The different options can be accessed from the X-Plane start up menu by selecting the relevant livery (_R option), however they can also be assessed when in the sim and even during flight. This can be done via the pop out panel on the left of the screen via the livery options section. In the pop out, you will also find the Bendix/King Autopilot panel, Camera Views / Volume Control as well as a menu that allows you to change a number of details called Options.

    Alabeo - Cessna 177 Cardinal     Alabeo - Cessna 177 Cardinal

    These include the ability to add and remove features such as window and instrument reflections, fairings, and allows you to open and close various doors on the aircraft from this panel.

    Eight liveries (USA, Germany and France) and a blank white texture are provided, and three of these, (marked _R) allow you to fly the variant with the retractable landing gear. As I said it took me a little while to work this out as it wasn't totally obvious at first, but a nice feature nevertheless.

    Looking from the outside, the C177 is well proportioned and has a very authentic feel about it. The textures are well presented, and as you walk around the aircraft you really do get a feeling you are dealing with a high-quality product. From the rivets and screw heads, through to the fuel tank covers, radio antennae, landing gear details, lights, trim tab, etc., everything looks the part! The smoothness of movement in the various control surfaces was also excellent, however one of the most noticeable differences from the earlier X-Plane 10 model is the improved sounds. With the introduction of FMOD, the sounds in this new release are rich and authentic, and the way the tone changes as you walk around the exterior really adds to the realism. I also enjoyed the view looking into the cockpit from the outside, as it was possible to see a highly detailed pilot, as well as the various instruments. From an exterior perspective, this aircraft is certainly up there with the best of those available on the market at the moment, and out of 10, in my opinion it easily merits an 8/9.

    Alabeo - Cessna 177 Cardinal     Alabeo - Cessna 177 Cardinal

    Stepping inside the C177 and taking your seat behind the controls, you will find a very well-presented cockpit area and cabin. The textures of the interior are very well done (I really liked the black panel facia), and the various dials are clear and easy to read. The doors can be opened from the pop out panel (as mentioned earlier) and also from within the cabin, as can the half panel windows on each of the doors, and when opened, the change in sound is noticeably different; a nice feature, which adds to the overall realism. You will also find a couple of different internal color schemes as you swap between the liveries, and in both cases the texturing is excellent. The changes include seat covers, carpets, hand holds, ashtray covers, warning labels, foot pedals... I could go on and on. The individual sun visors can be moved up and down as you wish, and if I wanted to be pedantic, having the option to move things like air vents would have been nice (I have seen this feature in some other models). As I said though, I am being pedantic...

    Alabeo - Cessna 177 Cardinal     Alabeo - Cessna 177 Cardinal

    When you manipulate the various switches, you get a clear 'click' as you toggle each one from on to off, although to me it did seem a little 'tinny', but that is just my own personal opinion and doesn't really detract that much from the overall effect. In saying that, I enjoyed the flap change sounds as you go through the motions, and I really appreciated the fact that my Saitek panels worked as is, with no need for additional scripts! The view of the outside world using my 3 x 27" panels was pretty good, allowing me to get a good view from the pilot seat without too many obstructions from the window frames and glare shield. Little things like this make all the difference, and I really do like it when things just work out of the box! Out of 10, I can easily give the interior an 8/9.

    Handling

    While taxiing and taking off, I found the C177 to be very smooth and easy to control when using my CH Pedals and Saitek TPM unit. Turns were simple to execute, and braking was also smooth and progressive and not too abrupt. During take-off I was able to maintain a steady line until the magic moment, and then up I went. Overall, I was pretty happy with the way the aircraft handled, both during taxiing, take-off and landing, and the C177 was definitely on par with many of the other top end aircraft out there.

    Alabeo - Cessna 177 Cardinal     Alabeo - Cessna 177 Cardinal

    In the air, my test flights were equally as pleasurable, and manoeuvring the C177 (both variants) around the sky was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Turns again were smooth and effortless, and the view out the front and side windows was fabulous; the lack of wing struts definitely makes a difference. The Bendix/King auto pilot functioned well, and I was able to control the aircraft with ease and little effort. I should also mention that the C177 also comes with a Garmin GNS 530 navigation unit, so it should have enough electronic gizmos for those who are looking for a bit more than just the basic instrument set. Out of 10, again a very healthy 8/9.

    Final Thoughts

    Single engine aircraft of this type are by nature generally easier and less complicated to fly than their larger multi engine cousins, and to be honest for me at least, this is why I enjoy flying them so much. But please don't be put off by the lack of engines, size, or bristling electronics, as this doesn't necessarily mean less enjoyment for the end user. This is certainly the case with the Cessna 177 Cardinal from Alabeo. The level of detail on offer, along with the high quality of the product, both aesthetically and from a performance perspective, means that the package on offer really is worth considering if you are looking for a step up from your favorite C172. The fact that the package also includes two variants is an additional bonus, adding a cherry to an already fine cake. The Alabeo team have created a very nice product in the shape of the C177 and the recent transfer over to X-Plane 11 has really brought the best out of the aircraft.

    Alabeo - Cessna 177 Cardinal     Alabeo - Cessna 177 Cardinal

    Overall, I'd have to rate the C177 from Alabeo, an 8 or even 9 out of 10! If you're looking for a slightly more sophisticated weekender than the venerable C172, the C177 Cardinal might just be the one for you.

    Stuart McGregor

    Purchase Alabeo - C177 Cardinal For X-Plane


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