• Review: Carenado - PA31T Cheyenne II For X-Plane

    The Carenado Cheyenne II comes with five high quality N-numbered American liveries and one default blank white one for all the creative and industrious painters out there. The paint schemes are exceptionally well done on this aircraft but the lack of variety in terms of national representation with the liveries could certainly be disappointing for some sim pilots not based in the U.S.

    Carenado - PA31T Cheyenne II for X-Plane     Carenado - PA31T Cheyenne II for X-Plane

    The texture work and 3D modeling of the interior of the Cheyenne II is just as good, if not better than the exterior. The cabin feels spacious and welcoming and gives the impression that this is certainly a step up for passengers used to flying in smaller airplanes. The gray leather upholstered seats look shockingly realistic and the glossy wood fold out tables and paneling give the cabin a classy, upscale aesthetic.

    While the interior of Carenado's Cheyenne II looks great, it certainly doesn't look new...nor should it. This is a file that is supposed to be representative of an aircraft built 40 years ago. While it was undoubtedly "spruced up" since then, some scuffs and scratches in the panels, on the floors, and on the seats, give the impression that this aircraft is not a hangar queen, but sees regular use without looking "beat up." This high fidelity texture work speaks volumes about the talents of the Carenado development team.

    I'm the kind of guy who appreciates the looks of a great instrument panel, and the Carenado Cheyenne looks like an outstanding "office" space for a pilot to work. The panel consists primarily of steam gauges (which suits me just fine) and a nice Avidyne glass display and Garmin GNS 530. Everything is neatly laid out and I didn't find that I had to hunt around for gauges and switches in order to get the aircraft started. I suppose this is giving more credit to Piper specifically, but Carenado did an excellent job getting the cockpit as spot on accurate as could possibly be expected.

    Carenado - PA31T Cheyenne II for X-Plane     Carenado - PA31T Cheyenne II for X-Plane

    One of my favorite interior features of the Carenado Cheyenne II is the excellent night lighting, not only on the instrument panel, but within the cabin as well. It is so cool to switch on one of the gimbaled ceiling lights in the cabin and watch the beam play around the interior as you swivel the light.

    Fumbling my way through the start up procedure, I was able to get the dual Pratt and Whitney PT6's spooled up and the Carenado Cheyenne II ready for takeoff. I swear that I prefer a good piston-engine aircraft, but there is something about the whine of a turbine engine that is just plain sexy. Carenado has done it yet again with their sound files on the Cheyenne II and the sounds of the engines coming to life is a thing of beauty. I love the volumetric sounds on this aircraft and how the roar of the engines changes depending upon whether or not the windows or door is opened, or where your virtual camera is relative to the exterior of the aircraft.

    Switches make an authoritative "snap" and the "whir" of the gear and flap actuations sound authentic, if a little loud, over the noise of the engines.

    Carenado - PA31T Cheyenne II for X-Plane     Carenado - PA31T Cheyenne II for X-Plane

    Flight Model

    I'm going to start out this segment of the review with a statement that may come as a bit of a shock: I don't like flying the Carenado Piper Cheyenne II. There...I said it. I don't necessarily think the Cheyenne II's flight model is a poor facsimile of the real thing; in fact it is probably extremely realistic. I just found that, for me, flying this relatively large, powerful, and fast airplane was an aviating challenge I was not prepared for. I was constantly "behind" the airplane and, try as I might, I could never really catch up.

    The Carenado Cheyenne II's power is downright startling to a dedicated piston single guy like myself. This is especially evident in the takeoff roll and climb-out. Lightly loaded (a little over 7,000 lbs gross) I was seeing initial climb rates easily exceeding 2,000 feet per minute under standard day, no wind conditions. My typical X-Plane 11 mount is Carenado's Cessna 172SP or Just Flight's Piper Archer III. When compared with those two aircraft, flying the Carenado Cheyenne II is like transitioning to an F-15!

    Carenado - PA31T Cheyenne II for X-Plane     Carenado - PA31T Cheyenne II for X-Plane

    My flight experience with the Cheyenne II revealed that it liked to go fast and hated to go slow. When I flew the airplane slow and dirty (on approach with gear and flaps deployed) control inputs were sloppy and it felt like it was "wallowing." I wrestled the controls to keep it trimmed and level. With gear and flaps cleaned up and at faster speeds, the controls felt more responsive and harmonized. I suppose this is true of lighter airplanes (like Skyhawks and Archers), but the differences between flight regimes seemed much more pronounced on the larger, more powerful Cheyenne II. This realization further convinced me that I was not ready for such a high performance aircraft.

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