Commercial X-Plane Aircraft Review
Carenado PA-34-200T Seneca II
|Description:||Real presentation of the Piper Seneca II aircraft|
|Flight Simulator:||X-Plane 9.7x and up|
|Reviewed by:||Tércio Sampaio|
|Published:||June 11th, 2012|
Computer / Software Specifications
|Computer System:||- Intel i7 920 2.4GHz
- 6 GB RAM
- ATI/AMD Radeon HD6970 2GB
- TM Hotas Cougar + TM WCS + CH TQ + Track IR
|Software:||- Windows 7 Ultimate x64
- Flight Simulator X SP2
In the wide world of General Aviation (GA) exist many symbolic aircraft. One of them is the Piper PA-34 Seneca. Designed and produced by the Piper Aircraft, a well known American company. This company made many historic and famous aircraft such as the Piper Cub. This aircraft is a classic in aviation history.
The PA-34 Seneca has many variants and it’s first flight was in 1967. This airplane is also a classic in aircraft simulation history and is present in almost all civil flight simulators for PC. This small aircraft has 2 contra rotating engines that provide excellent flight characteristics. When both engines are in synch, the pilot doesn’t feel the side effects of torque and prop wash/slipstream produced by each engine. The effects created by one engine zero out the effects created by the other because they rotate in opposite directions.
Carenado, is a very well known company that traditionally makes GA aircraft for FSX. They also made the PA-34 for the X-Plane. Carenado is the first company from the world of FSX that started to create addons for X-Plane. Carenados PA-34 version is the Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II, not the last one, but one of the most famous in PA-34 family. It’s so famous that there even exists a clone produced under license by PZL-Mielec, the M-20 Mewa.
The PA-34-200T Seneca II was designed to improve flight stability and to introduce the turbo charged engines to the PA-34 family. This new engine was the six cylinder Continental TSIO-360E. These types of engines increase the performance of the aircraft, especially at higher altitudes.
Another difference from the newer versions is the layout of the passengers seats. On the Seneca II it has the front row of seats looking to the rear and the back row of seats looking forward. This gives more space for legs and a club style layout for the 4 passengers.
The Seneca II received certification to fly on 1974. Today, it’s still a very popular aircraft in private aviation and some military aviation.
For me, it’s always a pleasure to see another add-on for X-Plane. This one was very well chosen. It’s very beautiful, a pleasure to fly and is a great classic. In the past few days I’ve flown many hours in this aircraft.
Installation and Manual
The installation was very easy. It comes in a ZIP file that you only need to unzip to your X-Plane aircraft folder. This kind of installation is very typical with X-Plane aircraft because you can have your aircraft in a non standard or specific folder.
Then, inside X-Plane, you can choose the folder of your aircraft and then open it. Inside the aircraft folder there exists a sub folder with the manuals. There you see 9 PDF files that cover these themes:
- Speed limits of Seneca II
- Detailed explanation of autopilot popup panel and it’s use.
- Normal and emergency procedures with detailed checklists.
- Performance tables and diagrams.
- Recommended X-Plane graphic settings to get the best look when using this addon.
- Details about the systems that Carenado custom developed to increase the realism of this aircraft beyond the X-Plane limits.
- Credits and copyright information.
All these 9 files total 34 pages. In my opinion a normal size for an aircraft of this kind. It’s sad to see that the manual doesn’t explain the overall cockpit, including all buttons, knobs and gauges.
Anyway, it’s a very easy aircraft to fly and if you already fly Cessna and other Piper aircraft, with the documents that Carenado includes, you can easily master this one.
Cockpit, Systems and Animations
Typical of Carenado aircraft, the cockpit is very well done. The cockpit is in full 3D and that’s a perfect choice for this kind of aircraft. You have all cockpit elements working and in high resolution. The buttons and knobs work just as the real ones.
Another impressive feature that you will notice are the gauges. They’re glass and amazing and beautiful. You can see the reflection of the cockpit and this effect changes at night. The gauges are very realistic and work very smoothly. Sitting on the pilot’s chair you’ll feel like a real pilot, with much detail for you to see.
Everything works and moves as the real one. You can, for example, choose the intensity of the cockpit light, open the doors and windows and even open and close the ashtrays. The sun shields are also available to move and you can choose a middle position for them, as well as full open or full close.
Another feature that is very good is the existence of 2 small pop up 2D panels. These panels are very useful. One is for changing the views and the other has the autopilot buttons. The autopilot pop up is great because their location in the 3D cockpit is not so accessible. There is a pop up panel that you can choose with predefined views to change your field of view.
This feature is very useful so you could adjust your view to your likes according to the aspect ratio of your screen. In the same panel you also have access to the front baggage compartment and you can open the compartment door. Thanks to Carenado for making these pop up panels so that the pilot’s job is a little more easy.
In the center of the cockpit there’s a Garmin 430 GPS and its equal to the default that is included with the X-Plane, but everything else are custom gauges. Carenado also introduced a new feature on how you control the throttle quadrant.
Now, using only the mouse, you can quickly and easily control the 2 levers at the same time. This includes not only the dual throttle but also the dual RPM/Prop levers and the dual mixture levers. For the virtual pilots that don’t have a dual lever throttle quadrant, this feature is very welcome and useful.
I’m happy to see, that you can remove the yoke with only a single click.
A feature that’s in some other Carenado products. This feature is very important and gives better vision and access to the lower part of the cockpit if you’re not using a trackir or any other product similar. I like very much the cockpit. The developers made it as real as possible, including the aged style that gives you more realism. Inside you have real representation of a Seneca II.
The passenger’s compartment is also very detailed. There, you can even see some cans of drink that you can insert or remove and some luggage close to the aircraft’s tail. I also noticed there exists some tiny details that increase the quality of this addon. These are details like the wheels stopping spinning some time after takeoff or the doors closing after a certain aircraft speed. These kinds of things will give you a general idea of the overall quality of this add on.
Graphics, Performance, Sound and Flight Model
As expected, graphics in a Carenado aircraft is excellent. You have 3 high resolution liveries based on real aircraft. The 3D model of the aircraft is very detailed. You have complex landing gears and also their bays.
The antennas, pitots and even small 3D details over the wings, are there, just like the real one.
The developers also reproduced the propeller discs that are so real that they even change when you change the RPM (rotations per minute). About sound, this add on is also a must to have. The engine sounds were recorded from the real aircraft and are full 3D. You can even notice the doppler effect outside when in a fly pass or the change of engine sound when you change the RPM of the engines.
The developers have done a great job here. As an example, you have a different engine sound if you have the windows or doors opened or closed. With all these graphics, sounds and 3D quality and detail, this aircraft runs very smoothly in my PC. I didn’t see any drop in my fps (frames per second) or any kind of stutter or lag when flying with it.
I made many tests when I flew this aircraft. This add on passed all my tests with great success. These tests included:
- Leaning the mixture and watching the working of fuel flow indicator.
- Reaction of the aircraft when both engines are stopped.
- Reaction of the aircraft when stopping one engine and the corresponding asymmetric flight.
- Relation between Manifold Pressure and RPM indicator when changing the RPM/Prop.
- Symmetric flight with the same RPM but with different throttle and mixture in both engines. This can only be possible in medium to high altitudes when the mixture leaning starts to give a real effect on the performance of the engine.
- Ground handling.
Another system that works very well is the autopilot. Its very simple as is the real one and even with bad weather, it works as expected. The successful result of these tests show how well done this aircraft is in terms of realism.
My opinion of this aircraft is that it is a very easy to fly and handle. If everything runs as expected, without any engine failure, this aircraft is more easy to fly than a small Cessna C172 with only one engine. But if you have a problem with an engine, piloting after that turns very hard. Now you have an aircraft very unbalanced and flying it is much harder than with a small single engine aircraft.
Anyway, this kind of flight is also a challenge that sometimes is good to keep you busy in your hobby, flight simulation. On the ground, because of the tricycle layout type of landing gear, it’s a very easy aircraft to taxi. You can easily see the taxiways in front of you. Also, when landing, you’ll not have any problem using the brakes in a hard way.
You’ll not crash the nose to the ground when braking hard as in a taildragger if you’re not paying attention.
It’s a nice aircraft to make some cross country flights at medium altitude. This aircraft is also certified to IFR (Instrument Flight Rules). So, you can easily use it at night or with very bad visibility increasing the challenge and giving you more opportunities to fly with it. I made some night flights and sometimes used the autopilot with naviads.
They were great, fun and were successful flights. Flying this aircraft in IFR is also nice training in your virtual pilot career. You can use that kind of training to later think about going to bigger wings.
I would like to say that this aircraft was made native to X-Plane 9, but it runs perfectly on the X-Plane 10 without any problems or issues. Carenado officially announced that they will release a patch later . This patch will give the aircraft the new cosmetic features introduced by the X-Plane 10. I hope, in the future, that these types of aircraft have full integration with the Reality XP GNS for X-Plane, as you can see in the FSX add on models.
It’s a marvelous aircraft and all the hours that I flew in this aircraft were very pleasant. It’s beautiful in all aspects and a very easy aircraft to fly. The aircraft’s speed is very decent because you’re not getting bored and you also have time to see the landscape and discover the beauty of the scenery around you. With slow speed when landing and great stability and maneuverability it’s a very good aircraft even for new pilots.
Analyzing all the features and characteristics of this aircraft, I wholeheartedly recommend this aircraft for pilots that want to start on twin propeller aircraft. This type of aircraft is perfect to test and train your abilities in emergency procedures when one engine fails and there is a need to deal with an asymmetric flight.
If you like Piper aircraft this one is also for you. The panel is very similar to some other Piper models. For example, the Piper PA-28 series has a very similar cockpit and if you already know this one, you’ll very easily enter into the spirit of the PA-34.
I’m very happy to see another excellent aircraft in the world of X-Plane. It has amazing graphics, sound and realism. When you fly with it, you’ll feel as if you’re flying in the real one. Carenado, again, does it very well and in my opinion this is a must have add on. It’s an amazing addition to your X-Plane Hangar. If you like GA aircraft, you will, for sure, love this one.
Looking at the quality of this one, I hope Carenado continues to develop more and more GA aircraft for X-Plane. For more information visit Carenado’s dedicated web page or have a look at the Aerosoft eShop X-Plane Seneca II web page.
This review is written for Aerosoft News Service and published via the Aerosoft website.
While the reviewer has complete journalistic freedom, we ask the reader to keep in mind where the review is posted.