AVSIM Commercial FSX Aircraft Review

Cessna 340 II

Product Information

Publishers: Carenado

Description: Twin engine general aviation aircraft add-on.

Download Size:
103 MB

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FSX
Reviewed by: Mike Cameron AVSIM Staff Reviewer - January 23, 2012

Introduction

Cessna began developing the 340 in 1969 with deliveries beginning in 1971.   Cessna borrowed the wing design from the 414 and the undercarriage & tail unit from the 310 but introduced an all-new pressurized cabin with the 340.   The Cessna 340 joined the Beechcraft Duke as the only pressurized six seat piston twin engine aircraft produced by a major manufacturer.

The first 340’s were produced with twin 285 horsepower TSIO-520-K engines but these were replaced with 310 horsepower TSIO-520-NB engines.  This version of the aircraft was the 340A and was introduced in 1976.   Other improvements to the 340A included reduced diameter props and a slight increase in weights.

The 340A was offered in optional 340A II and 340A III variants with various levels of IFR instrumentation included.   Production of the Cessna 340 continued until 1984 with 1287 aircraft being built.

Specifications(taken from Carenado document & 340A Specs from internet):
Wingspan: 38 feet 1 inch
Length: 34 feet 4 inch
Height: 12 feet 7 inch
Empty Weight: 3921 pounds
Max Takeoff Weight: 5990 pounds
Maximum Speed: 234 Knots
Maximum Structural Cruising Speed: 200 Knots
Maneuvering Speed: 155 Knots
Maximum Flap Extended Speed:
Approach (15°) 160 Knots
Full Down (45°) 140 Knots
Maximum Gear Extension/Retraction Speed: 140 Knots
Best Angle of Climb Speed: 86 Knots
Best Rate of Climb Speed: 108 Knots
Initial Climb: 1650 feet per minute
Service Ceiling: 29800 feet
Range: 1405 nautical miles with reserves at economical cruise speed

Installation and Documentation

Test System

Asus G72GX Laptop
Intel Core2 Duo 2.53GHz
6GB DD2 Memory
500 GB Serial ATA HD(5400RPM)
Nvidia GeForce 260M Video Card with 1GB GDDR3 Memory
17.3” LED-Backlit LCD Screen
FSX with Acceleration
Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick.
Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel & Multi Panel
CH Throttle Quadrant

Flying Time: 25 hours

Installation of Carenado Products is very easy.   Run the installation program, accept the License Agreement, enter your purchase email and serial number then click the “Install” button.   After all of the files are extracted and installed, click “Finish”.

The install routine automatically finds your FSX location and does not give you an option to locate a different location.   The first time that you load the aircraft in FSX, you will be prompted to “Run” or “Don’t Run” by the Microsoft Security Alert System, click on “Run” to install the gauges, then click “Yes” on the next window and repeat process as necessary.

The documentation for the Cessna 340II is located in the Carenado folder in the FSX directory.  This is a minor complaint that I have with recent Carenado aircraft; the installation readme does not provide the documents location.  I knew where to look because I have other Carenado aircraft installed on my system.

The included documents are all in PDF format and include Normal & Emergency Procedures, Reference Guide, GNS 430 Users Guide, Virtual Cockpit Instrument Position and the Weather Radar Manual.   Another thing that I would like to see Carenado change with future complex aircraft is to break the Virtual Cockpit Instrument Position Guide into multiple pages rather than a single page.

For example, the VC layout has a lot of lines pointing to each of the instruments and it becomes very difficult to view.  I printed the layout on a legal sized piece of paper and it was still difficult to read.

Interior Model

Carenado has always made aircraft with great looking textures and the Cessna 340II continues that tradition.   Everything from the creases in the leather seats and the folding table in the passenger area to small things like the headset ports all looks great.  In fact, you can clearly read the brand name Bose on the headset ports.

Only labels with very small lettering are hard to read and had blurry textures if zoomed in.  I do not have an issue with this because I am very happy with all of the interior textures.

One problem that I have had with previous Carenado aircraft is that all of the included aircraft always looked brand new, like they had just been delivered from the factory.   I personally like to have at least one of the included aircraft to have textures that look like it has been used, especially with an aircraft that has been out of production since 1984.

I am very happy that Carenado has included wear and tear textures with the Cessna 340II.   Examples of these textures include: carpet stains, worn rudder pedals that indicate someone’s feet have actually touched them and other small marks and scratches.

The interior lighting effect is also very good.   For the interior lighting screenshot below I used a picture from the Carenado website.

Passenger Area
Nice Interior Lighting
Well Used Rudder Pedals

Exterior Model

Four paint schemes and an all-white aircraft are included with the package, which to me is the right amount for a general aviation aircraft.   All are produced in high definition with 2048x2048 textures.   Carenado has chosen not to include any low definition aircraft with this product so users with modest systems may have performance issues.

According to the Carenado website, the aircraft has a polygon optimized model with friendly frame rates and on my system I did not have any performance issues when viewing in spot view, despite the high definition textures.    All of the exterior textures are just as great looking as the interior textures.   Carenado has also simulated wear and tear on the exterior of the aircraft with stains on the underside of the aircraft and other marks and scratches to indicate that the aircraft has been around awhile.

One small detail that really impressed me is that when the forward baggage door is open, you can see the back of the instrument panel.   Other great looking exterior details include: detailed landing gear, readable signage, wingtip lights, static elements (pitot cover, wheel chocks & caution cones) and many other things.   All of these elements make the Carenado Cessna 340II one of the best looking aircraft that I have installed on my system.

Underside of the Aircraft
Open Forward Cargo Door

Panel & Systems

The Cessna 340II has a very nice panel with instruments that are very easy to read.   All knobs, switches, buttons and dials are all three dimensional and labeling is also very readable without anything being out of focus.   Besides the Virtual Cockpit view, there are eight alternate views and a no panel view with the pop-up window key assignments.

When I first loaded the aircraft, the default zoom level was .69 but I like to be able to view more of the instrument panel so I adjusted the zoom level to .50.   The alternate views allow you to quickly zoom in to various areas of the panel and the aircraft.   I use the Radio & GPS view the most because it is easier to work with the GPS and more realistic than using the pop-up GPS.   The Control Windows display accessed by pressing the Shift+3 keyboard shortcut or menu item allows you to switch between 2D or 3D knobs, VC or clear windows and to display the static elements when parked.

This aircraft includes weather radar and when I first started flying this aircraft, I thought it was broken.   I could see clouds outside but nothing was visible on the radar.   After adjusting the tilt up/down knob, I would eventually see the clouds on the radar.  I read on the internet that the weather radar may be the cause of some performance issues.  On my system, performance was still pretty good with the weather radar activated, not as good as other premium aircraft that I own but still very flyable with no pauses or stuttering during flight.

I decided to deactivate it to see if performance changed.   Performance did improve slightly with the radar deactivated. The biggest issue that I have with the weather radar activated is aircraft load times. I counted approximately 40 seconds for the aircraft to load until the VC was visible on the screen.  If you want to switch to another 340II aircraft, then it takes another 40 seconds for that aircraft to load, which is way too long.

Deactivating the radar in the panel.cfg improved the aircraft load time, from 40 seconds down to about 12 to 15 seconds.   Unfortunately, you now have a very ugly looking panel.    Another issue that I have with the panel is with the included GNS 430 GPS units.   They work similar to the default FSX GPS in that they will display an FSX flight plan, load & activate FSX procedures but they do not allow you to program a flight plan or use updated real world procedures if you have access to them.

The one nice thing about the default Carenado units is that they will cross fill the FSX flight plan on both units.   It is possible to replace the default units with the ones sold by Reality XP for greater functionality but Carenado does not provide instructions for doing this.  If you are interested in installing the Reality XP GPS, here is a link with instructions for doing so in the Avsim forums.

That link also provides instructions for installing the Reality XP 530 GPS and having default 2D Knobs.   Also if you want the cross fill capability with the Reality XP units, you will need to purchase and install the Reality XP Unlimited Pack.   On my system I installed a single Reality XP GNS 430 as the top unit and moved the primary Carenado unit to the spot that previously had the secondary Carenado GPS.  This way I can have the autopilot be controlled by the more functional GPS and still load an FSX flight plan into the second unit.    I wish Carenado would provide an option to make it easy to install the Reality XP GNS 430 like they do with their newer Beechcraft A36 aircraft.

The navigation radio and autopilot both work well and I have no issues with them.  The oxygen system can be turned on but the needle does not move, so I guess this system is just for looks.  A small thing that I liked about the Virtual Cockpit was that when you turn the ammeter select knob, the needle moves.   Another thing that is nice about Carenado aircraft is that they work with my Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel and Multi Panel.

Virtual Cockpit
Reality XP GNS 430 Installed

Sounds and Animations

The animation and sound effects of the 340II are very impressive.   Carenado recorded the high quality digital sounds from a real aircraft.    All of the buttons and switches have an audible sound effect associated with them and the engine, flaps & gear also have good sounds.    My favorite sound effect is the sound that the aircraft makes when moving on the ground.

Besides the usual animations that you would expect from any quality aircraft (ailerons, elevator, rudder, flaps, gear, windows, doors, propeller & trim tabs), there are several other animations included with this aircraft.    These include rolling wheels, sun visors, copilot seat, pilot and the passenger table.   My two favorite animations are the folding passenger table and the combination of the main exit door opening, passenger seat blocking exit sliding forward and the air stairs being lowered.

Folding Table
Air Stairs

Flying the C340 II

This is the hardest section for me to review.    I own other premium twin engine aircraft for FSX, but I am primarily a single engine virtual aviator.    I am not an expert on flight dynamics and have not piloted the real aircraft.   I am going to try to review the flight model from the perspective of an average FSX pilot who might be purchasing their first twin engine aircraft for FSX.

By following the included checklists, I was able to start the engines without issue.   Ground handling and take off was also very easy.   I did not have any issues trimming the aircraft for the various phases of flight and hand flying the aircraft also was not a problem.   Of course, the autopilot works as expected to help with the workload if you are following an IFR flight plan with FSX air traffic control.

The only problem that I had with the flight model is getting the power setting right for approach and landing.    The included documentation does a good job explaining approach, gear down & flap speeds but does not say what the manifold pressure setting should be to accomplish this.    I had a tendency to take a much longer distance then needed to land the aircraft.    This is where a tutorial flight document would be nice for pilots who are flying the Cessna 340II for the first time.

I found a video on You Tube where the virtual pilot did a very good job explaining the approach and landing process.   After watching that video, I made much improved landings.    I have read complaints on the internet about the flight dynamics of this aircraft and that it is underpowered.   Personally, I thought that the Carenado Cessna 340II was a fun and relatively easy aircraft to fly and would be a good transition aircraft from the default FSX aircraft and the more realistic twin engine aircraft from other companies.

Inflight

Summary / Closing Remarks

I enjoyed reviewing the Cessna 340II from Carenado.   If you are a new twin engine virtual aviator and can live with a few issues that I mentioned in this review then it will make a nice addition to your hangar.

Carenado has always made aircraft with great looking textures and this aircraft continues that tradition.  I love that they have included wear and tear as part of the interior and exterior textures.   Animations and sound effects are also very good.

I thought that it was a nice aircraft to fly and was very forgiving.    If you already own the Real Air Duke or the Milviz 310R and are experienced at flying these aircraft at the most realistic settings, then you probably will not want the 340II.

Not all of the aircraft’s systems are simulated and even though I liked having the weather radar, it causes the aircraft to take forever to load and requires constant adjustments to see the weather on the screen.   The included GPS units are very basic and Carenado did not provide instructions for installing Reality XP units.

Despite these issues, I will be keeping the 340II installed on my system.

 

What I Like About The Cessna 340 II

  • Great looking interior & exterior textures.
  • Impressive sound effects and animations.
  • Relatively easy and forgiving aircraft to fly.
  • Weather Radar
  • Pretty good system performance once the aircraft is loaded despite the high quality textures.

 

What I Don't Like About The Cessna 340 II

  • Aircraft takes forever to load
  • Would like to see a tutorial flight added to the documentation and easier to view VC layout.
  • GPS units are very basic.
  • Instructions not included for installing Reality XP GPS units.
  • No low definition aircraft included in the package so performance may be an issue on some systems.

 

Printing

If you wish to print this review or read it offline at your leisure,  right click on the link below, and select "save as"

Cessna 340 II

(adobe acrobat required)

Comments?

Standard Disclaimer
The review above is a subjective assessment of the product by the author. There is no connection between the product producer and the reviewer, and we feel this review is unbiased and truly reflects the performance of the product in the simming environment as experienced by the reviewer. This disclaimer is posted here in order to provide you with background information on the reviewer and any presumed connections that may exist between him/her and the contributing party.

Tell A Friend About this Review!

2012 - AVSIM Online
All Rights Reserved