Commercial Aircraft Review



A2A Simulations Cessna C172 Trainer Version 1.02




Publisher / Developer: A2A Simulations
Description: A highly accurate trainer rendition of the Cessna C172 for FSX
Software Source / Size: Download / 229.5MB (packed)
Flight Simulator: FSX
Reviewed by: Rónán O Cadhain Jr.
Published: October 25th, 2013


Computer / Software Specifications
Computer System: - Intel Core i5-2500k
- Nvidia GTX 570
- 4 GB RAM
- 500GB HDD
Software: - Windows 7 x64
- FSX Acceleration




















Introduction

In September of this year, A2A simulations released their Cessna 172 Trainer for FSX. For those who don’t know, A2A is a leading developer of piston engine modelling and they really go beyond just flying by going into the operation and care of an aircraft. They simulate it so that you have to set the mixture right or your spark plugs will fowl and there are many other neat little tricks involved in the operation of a light aircraft for personal use.

This add-on costs only $49.99 US, which to me represents great value for what really is an amazing product for getting yourself acquainted with the Cessna 172.


About A2A

A2A was initially created as Shockwave Productions by Scott Gentile back in 2003 and would have been well known in the community for their 3D lighting that was released many years ago. That lighting package could be added to any of the default or add-on aircraft. This was the start of what's become one of the best known names in FSX development of prop driven aircraft. Later there was the development of A2A’s famous “Accu – sim”. Accu – sim was developed and released in 2008 and marked a real milestone in the life of A2A simulations.

They've also released a number of well known add-on’s such as the B377 Stratocruiser, P51 Mustang and the B17- Flying Fortress. This Cessna C172 is the latest of top quality add-ons to be rolled out of the A2A Simulations development hangar.


About the Cessna C172

The Cessna C172 is a 4 seater, single engine prop, training aircraft, first engineered and produced by Cessna 57 years ago in 1956 and is still flying strong to this day. The Cessna C172 is the world’s most popular aircraft, with more having been produced than any other aircraft in the world by a significant factor of almost twice the next closest aircraft. Over 60,000 Cessna C172s have been produced and production is still going strong.

A brand new Cessna C172 will set you back about $275,000 USD. The aircraft measures 27 feet/8 meters long and has a wingspan of 32 feet/10 meters. Powered by a 160 horse power Lycoming engine, the Cessna C172 has a fuel capacity of 56 gallons/210 liters and has a maximum range of 700 nautical miles/1,296 kilometers. The maximum takeoff weight of a Cessna C172 is 2,425 pounds/ 1,100 kg.

Newer Cessna C172s can be equipped with an optional Garmin G1000 GPS navigation and primary flight display system to help pilots navigate with all the latest bells and whistles.


Exterior Model

One area where A2A has really excelled is in the development of the exterior model. Every bump and rivet is there to be seen in super sharp, crisp high resolution textures. Performance of the exterior model is perfect. You couldn’t ask for anything better. Particular elements of the exterior model add a lot to the feeling of it being a living, breathing aircraft. Things such as oil streaks down the side of the aircraft and underneath it really gave me that “this is a living aircraft” feeling.



Other things such as the ability to load up to 4 passengers and baggage from the outside was also great and much improved over the default 172. All the passengers were animated and made little movements at different times which added to the realism. Only 3 liveries came with the installer, but now, there are plenty more available online for downloading.. Overall, the exterior model was very impressive and added a real improvement over the default FSX Cessna C172.


Virtual Cockpit

The virtual cockpit contains everything you’d expect in a modern add-on for FSX. It operates smoothly and the texturing is amazing. When I first loaded the aircraft’s VC, I thought it looked quite similar to the default FSX. In fact, even after close examination, I still think it does look a lot like the default Cessna C172, but that’s where the similarity ends. This cockpit is an amazing model with many, many features. So many I can’t list them all, but they contribute to the atmosphere and the immersion factor of this aircraft.

A couple of items stuck with me though, the first one being the number of animations and the effects they have in this model. One example is the ability to install headphones into the aircraft’s headset sockets, the effect of which results in the sound of the engine in the cockpit being much more muffled. It's interesting, at least to me, to be able to compare the sounds you’d hear in the cockpit with and without the headsets on. Another neat feature was the ability to open and close some windows and the doors, which altered the sounds that you hear in the flight deck.

One feature that I found really intuitive, was the ability to click on both of the yokes and remove them from sight, independent of each other. Both yokes blocked the view to some of the instruments and controls, so it was good to be able to reach those controls without having to give the aircraft full back or forward stick, or full bank so that the yoke moved out of the way. Instead, you simply click and the yokes move out of your line of sight.



The switches in the VC presented me with no problems at all. Initially some users reported issues of not being able to select different buttons in the cockpit, but since version V1.1, the version I’m using, no further reports of this issue have been reported. Overall, the virtual cockpit produced by A2A is superb and on par with the highest quality add-ons and long desired for the Cessna C172.


System Modelling

You may think that a Cessna C172 doesn’t have many systems that need to be modeled with some complexity, but after seeing this A2A simulation, you’d be wrong. The level of system detail is simply amazing. Looking at some of the videos produced by the developers on how they went into detail and the levels they went into modeling this aircraft, you can appreciate just how much work must have gone into the systems side of things. Elements like the radio, GPS systems and more are all fully modelled of course.

When it comes to the systems point of view, other more fine tuned items that come with operating a small GA aircraft are also modelled. For example, if you leave the throttle at idle and the mixture lever set to full lean or the fuel lever set to cut off and you keep trying to start the engine, after a few tries, you’ll notice that your battery no longer has any charge left. Then it has to be taken to the maintenance hangar for repairs. More on that later.

Another great example would be running the engines with the mixture set to full rich and the throttle set close to idle. Doing this for a while will result in the engine failing after the spark plugs become fouled. It did for me. If it reaches the stage that your engine has failed, it’s a trip to the hangar again that’s in store for you. However, if you only partially foul the plugs, fear not, as there's a fix for you without that embarrassing trip to the hangar.

Simply set the mixture to lean, run the engine at high power for a minute and presto, your engine will be fit to fly. A2A has modeled many of these little quirks of operation into their version of the Cessna C172, and this is what sets them apart from the competition. You actually have to treat the aircraft as if it were real. Be nice to it and it’ll be nice to you, but if you mess up it won’t be very forgiving.


Maintenance Hangar

For me, one of the really big features was the inclusion of a maintenance hangar where you could fix and repair your aircraft and monitor its status. You can see how many hours the aircraft has racked up and also how many hours the engine has racked up. You can see the aircraft’s engineer’s report on the general condition of the aircraft every time you load up the maintenance hangar as well. The maintenance hangar also gives hints about how to best maintain your aircraft.

An example is that if you’re going to leave the aircraft on the ground for an extended period of time, they would recommend that you should select a certain type of oil for the engine, which I’m assuming works better when left sitting for a longer time. Little tid-bits of information like that are really impressive and just go to show the depth of simulation that A2A used when modeling this aircraft if the effects of using different types of oil in your engine are modeled on the aircraft’s performance.

The maintenance hangar allows a lot of customisation of your aircraft, from changing your oil to selecting a spark plug you think works best for your needs. The fine details and options are all modeled by A2A. Expanding on those details, with the hangar you can also select nose wheel fairings, main wheel fairings, flap seals and engine heater kits.



Another maintenance related function is the ability to perform a full walk around of the aircraft using the different views and systems set up by A2A. That's something that has been missing from the FSX world for a long time. That's something that plays such an important and critical role in flying a real GA or even commercial aircraft, it’s amazing it's been overlooked until A2A came onto the scene. To be honest, I can’t say enough about the maintenance end of this product. It really is something you need to experience for yourself, and I can’t recommend that enough.


Performance

Performance in this aircraft was amazing. It performed as well as the default Cessna C172, which for an add-on as complex and involved as this, really blew me away with just how fluid they managed to get it to run on my system. I managed to achieve a constant 30 fps (frames per second) in both the virtual cockpit and the external view, which is what I keep my frames locked at. Not once did I have even a blip below that, which added so much to the experience of flying this aircraft. Words can’t describe just how fluid the experience was for me, which is an essential element when flying VFR in FSX.

You really need everything to keep moving when you’re flying down low and slow in areas like FTX Northern Ireland and other high auto-gen, high scenery intensity areas that are similar in their performance demands. Even those who have a weaker system than I have shouldn't experience any issues whatsoever when they try out this bird on their system.


Summary

I can’t recommend this bird enough. It flies so smoothly, it handles so well, just like the real thing, that the Accu – Sim simulation adds a whole other level to flying your aircraft that you have to take into account. And makes it that much more realistic. The maintenance hangar gets you thinking about things that you may never have thought of before when flying in FSX. In short, this is one of the best ever GA aircraft ever produced for FSX that I've experienced and is unlikely to be removed from that spot any time soon. The price is unbeatable, considering the amount of effort and time that must have gone into the creation of this aircraft. I really can’t say much more other than if you’re in any way interested in GA, you need to head out now and pick up this bird.

I’m confident that this will go down as one of the top add-ons of the year and become the top GA add-on for a number of years to come.

More information about the A2A Cessna C172 Trainer can be found at the dedicated A2A Simulations store page. For only You $49,99 US you're the proud owner of this A2A C172 Trainer.

With Greetings,
Rónán O Cadhain Jr.


This review is written for Aerosoft Sim News 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.