Commercial FSX Aircraft Review
Carenado Bonanza A36
|Description:||Highly detailed and realistic GA (General Aviation) aircraft for Microsoft FSX|
|Reviewed by:||Angelique van Campen|
|Published:||January 27th, 2012|
Computer / Software Specifications
|Computer System:||- iMac 27″ 3.4Ghz Mid 2011
- Intel i7 3.4Ghz / 3.8Ghz during Boost Mode
- ATI/AMD Radeon HD6970 2GB
- 256Gb Intel SSD and 2Tb 7200RPM HDD
- Saitek Pro Flight System
|Software:||- Windows 7 x64 Ultimate (BootCamp) / Mac OS X 10.7.2
- Flight Simulator X Acceleration
- X-Plane 9
|Overall test time:||- Ground testing: 12 hours
- Flight testing: 8 hours
Introduction and Installation
It’s party time regarding GA aircraft models. Does it surprise me?
Right now, Carenado brings one after the other GA aircraft on the market and not only for Microsoft Flight Simulator, but for X-Plane as well. And that’s not all. Alabeo is born. It’s their new website where Carenado and a 3D designer start working together. For us GA flight simmer enthusiasts, it means even more high quality aircraft add-on models.Anyway, in this mini-review I’ll have a closer look at this Microsoft Flight Simulator X “Bonanza A36”. The FSX installation is, as usual with Carenado add-on models, straightforward.
Before you know it you’re done. Hold on, I can’t find any Carenado shortcut or whatever related to this on my desktop nor is there anything installed under the Start button. Digging into Explorer tells me that there’s a Carenado folder in the FSX root directory with a sub-folder named Bonanza A36.
Contents and manuals
This folder holds several Acrobat documents such as Reference and Normal & Emergency Procedures – Performance tables. But there’s more. You’ll find dedicated user guides for the KFC225 Autopilot, GNS430 and the EFD1000 Pilot Primary Flight Display. Apart from the other Acrobat manuals, it’s worth reading Recommended FSX Settings and for those familiar with Reality XP, Operation Tips and Reality XP Integration A36.
In other words, all kinds of background information for this tiny GA model you need is supplied for the real … sorry … virtual Bonanza A36 pilot.
I could write “as usual”, but it’s really true, my virtual walk-around check around this Carenado Bonanza A36 tells me that you’re dealing with an almost real aircraft. Every tiny screw, hydraulic line, electrical cable, linkages, weathered skin, decals, painted signs and much more of these things, are all created using the latest FSX features and makes the external model, a part of Bonanza liveries, unique.
Yes, I really mean this! There is, as far as I know, no other MSFS or X-Plane GA developer that goes so close to reality. But what about flight characteristics?
Virtual Cockpit and it’s Flight Performance
Having a great looking external model and a well-balanced Virtual Cockpit, still aren’t enough to make it a success story. BY the way, the Bonanza A36 doesn’t have a 2D cockpit. Instead, it has a frame rate friendly Virtual Cockpit although I have to admit that the EFD1000 isn’t depressing the frame rates too much, so good news!
Before jumping into the virtual cockpit, it’s worth giving some “variations or livery” background of the Bonanza A36.
It comes in five different variations – white, stripes, deep green, JAL (Japan Air Lines) and a 60th Anniversary. For sure there will be more variations/liveries that will become available in time.
Right on! Now let’s have a look in the Virtual Cockpit. What I said before, even with the complicated EFD1000 simulated, the FPS (Frame rates Per Second) are still good and makes any test flight or cross-country flight a pleasure. If you want, you can, using the keyboard command Shift+3, request a pop-up window that allows you to add/remove the windshield reflection and/or instrument reflections.
Doing this depends on your PC specifications, FSX settings and overall FPS. Flying the Bonanza with only the EFD1000 active is also an option. Selecting Cockpit from the FSX menu Views, View Mode, leaves you without a 2D cockpit bitmap, but instead, a Carenado window pops-up, allowing you to request a pop-up EFD1000, the GPS and, if you need, the Normal & Emergency Checklist Acrobat manual. My preference goes to the Virtual Cockpit and what said before, good FPS and a pleasure to look at!
What do I like about this Virtual Cockpit?
It doesn’t take much time to think about that. It’s such a clean, real simulated cockpit. The instrument panel, although not full with conventional instruments, is so real because of the the shadow, sharpness, even instrument screws, knobs, caution- and warning lights, circuit breaker panels etc. But wait! I need to correct myself. The Circuit Breaker panel on the RH lower instrument panel side is not simulated.
That’s just a digitalized image of an average quality, but who zooms in on this C/B panel? I’ve already mentioned the windshield, the instrument reflection, the side windows, wall panels, ceiling and all things belonging in the V.C.
It seems to me that nothing is forgotten including the internal to external wing views and not to forget, the rear of this cabin/cockpit. The wing views are extraordinary. Clearly visible are the rivets, vortex generators, fuel cap on the leading edge, the aileron and wing skin. The rear cabin is well equipped or I should say, well created and this means the ceiling with lights and individual air outlets, door handles, baggage area etc. Overall a pleasure to sit in and fly with!
Completely forgotten, til now, is discussing the integral lighting system and cabin lights. The fluorescent lighting system gives the overall cockpit/cabin a magical look.
You need, therefore, to see some of this during a sunset flight and believe me, the screenshots may be OK for you, but it will never replace flying this Carenado airplane. Together with my cockpit experience, I’ve got a good idea of the Bonanza flight characteristics although I’ve never flown this aircraft in real life. It’s the way it behaves during the different flight profiles I tried, as well as Bonanza’s acceleration and deceleration, maneuverability during steep turns, slow flights with/without flaps, stalls and more of these extreme conditions.
One thing is for sure. You can’t absolutely compare this with any other default FSX GA airplane.
It offers something real, although it isn’t, since we’re dealing with an add-on FSX GA airplane. The smooth test flight resulted in nice, well balanced flight dynamics. That begins with the recorded sound, which helps a lot, but above all, taxi, takeoff, climbs, cruise, special maneuvers, approach and landing, all of these profiles offer more or less unique flight dynamics. No doubt it behaves as real as it gets. I mentioned already the FPS. Those frame rates are lower than with other Carenado airplanes, which are fitted with old fashioned instruments.
Seemingly, the rest of the aircraft is roughly the same, thus polygons, one of the reasons why the lower FPS could be the EFD1000 digital flight instrument. But still, with this more complex instrument installed, frame rates are still pretty good and you shouldn’t see a slide-show.
Indeed, here’s my conclusion/summary.
It’s a mini-review and that means we’ve reached the end of this Carenado impression. With a price of around €25.00 or 30.00 US$ you get something that should, no, must be in your hangar. I mean, it’s too good to stay in your hangar. You should fly with it.
As usual, Carenado did it again!
Angelique van Campen
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.