• Review: Carenado - S550 Citation S/II


    "Systems? I don't have to show you any stinking systems..." This is a paraphrase of popular dialogue from a novel titled The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1927). It came to my mind and seemed appropriate to insert here. Do you really need to see any systems information to enjoy the Carenado Citation? Nah, not really. Chances are you aren't using it to learn to fly a real Citation. Without being able to verify information against an actual AFM or Flight Operations Manual (FOM), I can only assume the configuration of the electric, hydraulic and pneumatic systems are as faithful to the real aircraft as X-Plane will allow with its native systems modelling. A cursory trip through Plane Maker reveals extensive attention was paid to the electric system. I point it out because I think, by far, the native Plane Maker electrical system allows for pretty accurate system modelling without creating a break-out plugin system model.

    Carenado S550 Citation II     Carenado S550 Citation II

    Where the systems of this presentation really shine is the Electronic Flight Information System and autopilot. Only the FMS is native to X-Plane 11, and works well enough for its intended purpose. Carenado uses the SASL plugin to create the EFIS screens with pop-out capability, as well as their proprietary menu system of Autopilot-Cameras-Option. You can click on the EADI, EHSI or MFD and a pop-out version of the particular display will appear in 2D on the screen. You can click and drag the display to position it where you like, and you can resize it as well. The EHSI button panel also has pop-out capability. The features of all the EFIS panels are modelled thoroughly, in my opinion. The features are described quite well in the instruction document provided. I found the Autopilot control panel pop-out very useful, so I didn't have to keep slewing the camera view down and to the right to operate the 3D control panel (even though it looks very nicely modelled).

    Carenado S550 Citation II     Carenado S550 Citation II

    Flight Model

    "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!" spoken by the Wizard of Oz himself. From my experience with this Carenado aircraft, it performs to spec. I validated the cruise speed and power settings I experienced on my test flight against the appropriate cruise performance chart. This should be sufficient to satisfy almost everyone except the Anoraks* amongst the flightsim community. Peeking behind the proverbial curtain in Plane Maker surprised me, but the results of the efforts of the Carenado team speak for themselves. The model performs to spec.

    * "Anorak" is a British slang which refers to a person who has a very strong interest, perhaps obsessive, in niche subjects. This interest may be unacknowledged or not understood by the general public. The term is sometimes used synonymously with "geek" or "nerd", the Spanish term "friki", or the Japanese term "otaku", albeit referring to different niches.

    Carenado S550 Citation II     Carenado S550 Citation II

    Test Flight

    I chose to fly from Edenvale, Ontario, Canada (north of Toronto) to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, allowing for some time to get acquainted with and experience the "Slowtation". This is a moniker bestowed by the industry upon the early aircraft of the Citation model line, due to its cruise performance relative to its class competitor Learjet. According to Wikipedia a Learjet salesmen mocked it as the "Nearjet" vulnerable to "bird strikes from the rear". Primarily due to the fact that the Citation has straight wings as opposed to swept wings, the resulting cruise speed at altitude is markedly lower than swept wing bizjets.

    I used Goodway to generate a flight plan and exported it to the FMS, loaded it and began the journey. I elected to have real weather conditions load throughout the flight which didn't have an impact at departure. Climbout was uneventful, the autopilot was straightforward to configure. I planned to climb to FL330 initially, setting the altitude selector and pressurization accordingly (so I thought). Some time later in the climb, a master caution warning lit up - no warning sound. What gives? Observing the instrument panel my attention was drawn to the pressurization panel; it appeared the cabin altitude had somehow increased above 10,000 feet. I was able to fix this by adjusting the cabin altitude selector and the cabin altitude descended accordingly, thankfully.

    Carenado S550 Citation II     Carenado S550 Citation II

    Once level at FL330, the Citation displayed its infamous 'Slowtation' performance; 91% fan rpm, 195 KIAS yielded 315 KIAS, M 0.56. This is no fault on the part of Carenado, it just means they accurately recreated the S550 in X-Plane. While the Mmo is listed as M 0.72, the aircraft is incapable of reaching this limit in level flight at cruise altitude. No birds to chase me up there, that I knew of (does a Canada goose carry a Mode S transponder? I don't think so.) As I drew nearer to Halifax, I loaded up the instrument arrival and approach; FUNDY2.ILS23 is what I selected in the FMS.

    I had to refer to the FMS instruction manual to get familiar with the specific ways the native FMS operates. I wasn't able to use the input format I am familiar with when using a Universal UNS-1 FMC. That said, I was very impressed with how the autopilot coupled with the FMS flew the lateral navigation route. I didn't set up the VNAV properly so I used the Mk 1 eyeball to navigate my descent profile.

    The reported weather at CYHZ was windy, even by East coast standard; at 00Z wind from 300° true, 22 knots gusting to 33 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, light snow, clouds few at 2000 feet, broken at 4600, temperature -12C, dew point -20C, altimeter 29.63" Hg. I should have chosen the approach to runway 32, but I chose 23 for the fun of it. The approach went very well until I had to wrestle the bird to the ground. I would like to think I could have made it look easier if I was using a yoke and rudder pedals for control input, I was using the Gladiator Mk II instead. On touchdown I think I bashed the wing tips a couple or three times, but finally got it settled and stopped. I would say that the sight out the front window on the approach with the light snow streaking by looked very much like what Han Solo and Chewbacca see when the Millennium Falcon jumps to hyperspace. Oh the places you'll go! - Seuss

    Carenado S550 Citation II     Carenado S550 Citation II


    The team at Carenado are masters of the visual art of creating aircraft for PC flight simulators, their rendition of the Citation S/II is no exception. There is just the right amount of supporting documentation to get you in 'the game' but not so much as to overwhelm the novice bizjet pilot. I found this aircraft model to be very satisfying to operate successfully. There is an element of challenge to figuring out how to make it all 'go' properly, which when achieved should give the end user a sense of accomplishment. While this isn't a study-level rendition of the Citation S/II, I would say it isn't far off the mark. There is one glaring omission from the aircraft operation documentation, which I've save to mention here in order to bring focus and attention to this point.

    Nowhere, in any of the provided literature, have I been able to find any mention of the power lever locks. I found my salvation in the forums at X-Plane.org as I was not the only person having difficulty with the power lever movement.

    Carenado S550 Citation II     Carenado S550 Citation II


    If you think the Citation S/II from Carenado is something you'd enjoy, I won't tell you 'no' if you decide to buy it. At its listed price, I would call it a great value for the money.

    Purchase Carenado - S550 Citation II

    Thanks for reading.

    Sean McLeod

    Purchase Carenado - S550 Citation II for X-Plane

    Other Carenado Reviews

    1 Comment
    1. Paulvanuf's Avatar
      Paulvanuf -
      Fine review of the plane in which my wife and I celebrated 10y of marriage, some 30y ago...
      Is there a study level bizjet available for Xplane anyway?
      Grz. Paul
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