Do you enjoy flying VFR, but don’t like flying slow single engine planes ? Search no more as the PA31 is here to the rescue. Carenado has simulated this two engine plane and made it a pleasure to fly!
After purchasing the aircraft you receive a .zip file (approximately 380 MB) which includes an installer and a text-document explaining how to install the aircraft. After unzipping the installer, the installation is pretty straightforward: after executing the installer a window comes up after clicking on ‘next’ it asks for your details (email and serial key) then after clicking again on ‘next’ you have to check your FSX location suggestion and then you click again on ‘next’ and the aircraft starts installing itself.
I’m also a flyer of the Carenado PA34 and PA21 and I was extremely surprised once my FSX finished loading and I found myself in the cockpit. Not a single blurry area or a (crappy) 2D-‘artwork’ (e.g. a picture of the real aircrafts’ floor copied and pasted on the simulated aircrafts’ floor. Then I switched to the exterior view and had the same impression as I had in the cockpit: everything was extremely detailed! Eager to do a small circuit, I started taxiing to the runway, a bit too fast as I did a 360° turn when trying to do a 90° turn by using rudder and the left brake.
Not knowing anything about the aircraft, I taxied onto the runway and applied full thrust, as I didn’t know what speed to rotate at, I rotated at about 90 KIAS and the aircraft went very promptly into the air. It was once in the air that I realised how the aerodynamics of the plane was greatly simulated the slightest gust of wind and the aircraft banked a bit to the left or right. After doing a short circuit I came in to land and was pleased to see that the aircraft was quite easy to handle and stable fully configured for landing.
The cockpit is quite modern even though there are a lot of analogue gauges, there are instruments with a digital screen. The aircraft includes a GNS530 GPS which is extremely well simulated (much better than the default FSX GPS). The functions of the GPS does not only include displaying the flightplan, but it’s also the place to tune in the COM1 and NAV1 frequency and show you information (name, distance and radial) of the VOR tuned in to the NAV1 frequency. Also a big plus for the GPS is that the screen resolution is not standard FSX quality, but set to a resolution to make it seem even more realistic.
Besides the GPS, there’s also a fully functioning weather radar included! With this radar you have the ability to select the range displayed and you can tilt the weather radar so it displays all the information you need to know concerning precipitation. There are also 5 modes you’re able to select (off, stby, on and log) however only off, standby, test and on are fully functional. There are also the buttons Wx/WxA, VP, MAP and NAV replicated on the left hand side, but they’re not clickable and so not useable.
The aircraft also includes an ADF frequency tuner and ADF bearing gauge, a NAV2 frequency and corresponding gauge, a radar altitude selector, turn coordinator, fuel flow indicator, fuel pressure indicator and many more gauges.
Here I must say that Carenado has deceived me a bit. There are 8 pdf’s included in the package: copyright, GNS350 user guide, weather radar information guide , references, emergency procedures, normal procedures and performance tables. The emergency and normal procedures are well given, but don’t give much information on aircraft handling and system information. The user guides for the weather radar and GNS350 explain to you what each button does and how to use these instruments properly.
Then we come to the deceiving part: the performance tables. These tables are incomplete they only include information on power settings and fuel flow during cruise, making it almost impossible to plan a flight correctly. What I also noticed is that the fuel flow during cruise described in the pdf does not correspond to the simulated flight also the power setting isn’t very reliable, which is quite a bummer for people who enjoy flying as if they were flying the real thing.
As usual, Carenado has done an outstanding job modelling the exterior they really went into the smallest detail and made it a real pleasure to look at. The reflections of the glass make the aircraft look stunning and for Carenado you really can’t expect any less.
Carenado has done a magnificent job simulating this aircraft. Besides the aircraft performances (see documentation section) there is not a single difference with the real thing. If you enjoy flying low altitude IFR or VFR at an average speed of 180 KIAS is this aircraft the perfect aircraft for you!