• Review: Carenado C172SP Skyhawk X-Plane 11

    I conducted several cruise test runs in the Carenado Cessna 172SP under no wind, standard day conditions. I am very pleased to report that I was consistently seeing speeds only +/-1-2 knots off book value at every altitude I tested. For example, the provided real world performance tables cite a cruise speed of 119 KTAS at 6000 feet with 73% power set. This is with the engine running at 2600 RPM flowing 9.9 gallons per hour. I was seeing an astonishingly accurate 120 KTAS under these power settings and the fact that I was a little lighter than gross weight at the time probably accounted for the extra knot of airspeed. As I have mentioned, all my other test runs produced similarly accurate results.

    Carenado - C172SP Skyhawk     Carenado - C172SP Skyhawk

    Removing the wheel fairings in flight (via the "Options" menu) even slowed the aircraft down by about 3 knots! I absolutely love that kind of accuracy in my payware airplanes!

    I did some steep turns and stalls with the Carenado Cessna 172SP just to "play around" more than anything. The only thing that bothered me a little (from a non pilot standpoint) was that the stall horn seemed to come on later than it probably should. This is also apparent when flaring to land, as it never seems to come on as it does in the real aircraft.

    The Laminar Research replica of the Garmin G1000 avionics suite has been implemented into this aircraft. Unless I am mistaken, this is the first of Carenado's X-Plane 11 files to do this and not use their own proprietary variant. From my understanding, Carenado may have been having bugs and frame rate problems with their native avionics package and decided to make use of Laminar's instead. Whatever the case may be, performance of the G1000 was great in my experience, though, as a fan of old fashioned steam gauges, I was admittedly a little out of my comfort zone. I find it somewhat ironic that an avionics suite designed to enhance a pilot's situational awareness requires that one spend so much time looking down at the screens. Still, I have spent enough time with Laminar's G1000 equipped in the X-Plane 11 default Cessna 172 to be fairly familiar with its use in the Carenado aircraft. In fact, I found it an absolute pleasure to use unless, of course, I was clicking directly on the PFD or MFD to enlarge it. For some reason my mouse cues changed and when the screens were enlarged and I found operating the dials and buttons to be somewhat clunky and difficult. I had a much easier time utilizing the G1000 by selecting the PFD or MFD camera views within the "Cameras/Volume" menu.

    Carenado - C172SP Skyhawk     Carenado - C172SP Skyhawk

    Whether or not the systems in the G1000 are accurately reproduced is something that I cannot attest to. My impression is that the G1000 found in Carenado's 172SP is a good, plausible facsimile, but is likely missing some key systems found in the real world avionics package. Still, for more casual sim pilots like myself, it certainly is "good enough."

    I was a little concerned that the combination of high definition visuals and glass avionics would bog down my pretty standard fare iMac. I don't exactly have a dedicated, purpose built gaming machine. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to get frame rates in the mid 20's with fairly high rendering settings and cumulus overcast set. With this aircraft, it seems as though I can have my cake and eat it, too!

    Carenado - C172SP Skyhawk     Carenado - C172SP Skyhawk


    The Carenado Cessna 172SP is an amazing file. There...I just came out and said it. As I mentioned in the introduction, I was a little concerned that it might have just been "eye candy," but I did not find that to be the case whatsoever. I found the flight model to be extremely accurate (based on my limited experience and expertise), at least within the cruise phase of flight. Audio and visual fidelity are, in typical Carenado fashion, outstanding. Would I call this a "study" level simulation of a Cessna 172SP? No, I would not. Sim pilots craving that sort of detail from a Skyhawk should consider the Airfoillabs model or the Reality Expansion Pack for the default 172 instead.

    Carenado's Cessna 172SP is best suited for the semi-serious/casual sim pilots of the world. You want to have the looks and the audio fidelity, but still have the kind of flight model accuracy that lends plausibility to your flight sim experience. This file is accessible to the casual sim pilot who doesn't want to read a 100-page manual or watch tutorial videos on YouTube every time they want to fly around. Let's face it, if you're spending all this time and energy trying to learn how to fly your "study level" aircraft you might as well be down at your local airport learning on the real deal.

    Carenado - C172SP Skyhawk     Carenado - C172SP Skyhawk

    Throughout this testing and review process I learned that yes, X-Plane 11 really does need another Cessna 172...the Carenado Cessna 172SP. It is a major upgrade over the default Skyhawk, and one of the best general aviation aircraft I've ever flown in my years of flying in X-Plane. Currently priced at $32.95 USD over at Carenado's web site, it is hard to go wrong!

    Shawn Weigelt

    Purchase Carenado - C172SP Skyhawk

    1 Comment
    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Many thanks for the in-depth review Shawn; it really does look like a fantastic example of the Cessna 172.


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