registered: Jan. 2006
last visit: 20.09.18
So here I am laboring away above the south Pacific on another of Yoland's nearly endless challenges. As usual I am months and thousands of miles behind the other pilots who have undertaken this trip. So, I find myself at 12,500' plowing ahead on a leg which is more than 1000 nm long and (almost) all over water. In circumstances such as these the mind wanders. So, I turn to the forum for entertainment (mine, if not yours).
As a general rule, I find flying in default aircraft pretty boring. This is because they do not implement most of the functions of a "real" aircraft. So, I always look for an interesting payware aircraft to execute these multi-leg trips. On this particular trip, the Pacific Round Trip from Melbourne Australia, the recommended aircraft is the Beechcraft King Air 350. So, I dutifully went off and bought the most elaborate one I could find. Unfortunately, it was too elaborate by half, as much of the functionality was dependent on a database download which I couldn't get to load. I spent some time on the internet searching for a solution, and I actually found several, but they all seemed to require that I do elaborate brain surgery on the "black screen" innards of my machine. As we say in my conversational Spanish class, "no me gusta". So, I looked for something else and came up with a gem.
It's the Flight One Super King Air B200. This aircraft is about two generations before the King Air 350. It came out in 1972, but this particular "instantiation" (don't you love computer science talk?) represents "an overhauled 1984 B200 refurbished with the Blackhawk Modifications XP52 Upgrade, Raisbeck EPIC modifications, and the Garmin G1000 system.". This aircraft comes with a 120 page "Pilot's Guide", which should give you some idea of the level of detail included in the model. I am nowhere near having comprehended all of the features implemented in this aircraft. For openers, almost every switch in the virtual cockpit is alive; there are few dummies. I quickly learned that I had better follow the published "Normal Procedures", when I started the engines in an improper sequence and ended up flying with an ITT overheat condition which I could not correct in flight. There are also several inflight alarm horns which are there to tell you that you're screwing up. The challenge is to find out what you are doing wrong.
However, I have already discovered a couple of features which I really like. The first of these is a working beta range. If you have been at this hobby for a while, you know that many sim aircraft do not taxi well. You must run-up the throttles to get it moving, but then it quickly over speeds, and you have to throttle back and apply the brakes to avoid losing control. This isn’t usually a problem with high quality jet sims, but it’s pretty common in small reciprocating or turbo prop aircraft. In “real” turboprop aircraft, taxing is accomplished with the variable pitch propellers in the “beta range” where the applied thrust is adjusted by variations in the pitch of the propellers, rather than the turbine’s N1. I have several aircraft in my hangar that claim to implement this feature, but it isn’t apparent to me that they work. Not so for the B200, which can be taxied at a slow, steady speed with the power levers in the Beta range. You may have to use a registered version of FSUIPC to adjust your throttle settings to give you throttle access to this range.
The second feature I really like is the Garmin G1000 avionics suite on this aircraft. I have several aircraft that also implement the G1000, but none as completely as the B200. The best feature is the page that shows in real time current estimates of the fuel and endurance projected to be remaining at the flight plan destination. This estimate changes as the flight progresses, as factors such as climb rate, headwind component, etc. change. This is particularly important when using the B200 to fly the Pacific Round Trip, as many of the individual legs are near the range of the B200 and there are very few intermediate airstrips where one might refuel. With additional experience with this type, I’m sure I will learn to make accurate preflight estimates of the range of the aircraft. But, for the moment, I just load up with 100% fuel, climb to cruising altitude, and then adjust the throttles (torque) until the estimated endurance exceeds the required endurance by an hour or so. This gives me plenty of fuel to execute several go arounds and still divert to a nearby alternate within the destination archipelago. For some of the legs, this isn’t a slam dunk and I have to back off the throttles and accept the increased flight duration to ensure an acceptable fuel reserve. At the very least, this gives you something interesting to think about as you wile away six hours in the cockpit between Rangiroa and Pago Pago.
edited by: Westcoast, Sep 23, 2017 - 11:06 AM