The Quest Kodiak is a new generation of bush aircraft, designed to get in and out of some of the most difficult strips around the world. This has been designed for the primary role of the missionary and humanitarian efforts of organizations that fly into some of the most remote and harsh places in the world. The Quest Aircraft company was created and is backed by missionary organizations, like Mission Aviation Fellowship.
The Kodiak is a tough, rugged and powerful aircraft. The beast of the aircraft is the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34 turbine engine. This engine has a long history of performance and reliability in a variety of different guises. These engines have a Mean Time Between Outage of up to 9000 hours. The engine is mounted backwards as this allows for the power train to be mounted in the front of the aircraft without long transmission shafts. The engine has a max continuous output of 700hp, with a takeoff output of 750hp. This allows the aircraft to have an outstanding performance which is needed for STOL. Of course all this power cannot be used without a propeller and the Kodiak takes care of this with a 96in diameter Hartzell constant speed featherable and reversible propeller.
The airframe is the beauty which the beast is mounted too, and I personally think this aircraft looks good. The modern STOL design starts with the wings. The wings of the Kodiak are of a discontinuous leading edge, this allows the aircraft to fly at slower speeds and still retain airflow over the ailerons. This is a key component of flying slow and allowing short landings and takeoffs on small bush strips.
The brains of this aircraft is the glass cockpit inside. Fitted to the Kodiak is the Garmin G1000 Flight deck instrumentation. Three 10 inch displays are fitted, two duplicate the primary instruments and the center screen displays engine data and GPS data. The flight instruments provide a clear and precise picture of where you are and how the aircraft is performing at a glance. The cargo area behind the cockpit is a very useful area, which can hold 8 passengers, or a load of 3,100lbs. You can carry 55 gallon drums, full sheets of plywood or even your Polaris snowmobile! Large clamshell doors on the rear of the aircraft allow easy access to the passenger area, with the bottom part of the door becoming steps to get in and out of the aircraft easily.
There are a variety of options available for the Kodiak, from interior packages with oxygen systems (the cabin isn’t pressurized), cargo pods underneath the aircraft, amphibious floats to allow water landings, storm scopes and anti-icing systems. The Kodiak has a range of over 1000nm at 12000ft, and an endurance of more than 5 hours with an hour reserve.
There are going to be comparisons between this and the Cessna Caravan, and the aircraft has been called a mini-Caravan by some people, I personally think that this looks completely different from the Caravan and does a different role. It does look a little like a Cessna at first glance, but on closer inspection it is different. It is shorter that a Caravan, but has a taller cabin, in fact it is almost the same cabin space as a Caravan, despite it being shorter. The comparisons between the Cessna stop there as the Kodiak out performs the Cessna in almost every other aspect
Lionheart creations have created a FS2004 and FSX version of the Kodiak; this is version 2.0 of the simulated aircraft. Lionheart have created some nice add-ons in the past and this is no exception, I will go into this a little later.
Installation and Documentation
You have two options for purchasing this aircraft from the developer’s website; either with Paypal or the more familiar Flight1 wrapper system. The Flight1 wrapper system is a simple and easy to use piece of purchasing software, enter your details and click purchase. Or if you have already purchased the aircraft, you can reinstall using the same purchasing software. When you purchase the software you can select to have your details saved on the server for a keyless reinstallation at a later date, or save a key file on your hard disc. I personally prefer to save the details on the server and use them later for reinstallation. Once you have purchased your software, it will ask where you want to put the installer file for the aircraft. You can select any location you wish, just remember where you have put it so you can run the installer once it has been unpacked.
Once you have unpacked the installer, double click on it and run the installer to start the installation process. The installation process is simple, a few clicks and you are on your way. Once the installer has done its job you will have a folder under the main FSX folder, in here you will find the readme PDF.
The PDF file is a comprehensive readme that explains the installation, usage of the aircraft, the Garmin G1000 glass cockpit, flying the aircraft and different models included with the package. Also, the readme offers other options to enhance the Kodiak, from other add-ons, high definition panel textures and other options. The readme includes a bit of history about the developer, other products that the developer has designed, and about the real life Quest Kodiak. There is a small “questions and answers” section as well.
Flying The Kodiak
First thing that you notice when you walk up to the aircraft is that it is not a small aircraft, it’s almost the same size as a Cessna Caravan. But don’t let the size fool you. This aircraft is almost as nimble as a fighter jet, but uses a lot less runway. Doing your walk around you will notice that the aircraft is ruggedly built and designed to survive hard landings and takeoffs in the bush.
Getting into the cockpit will require a little step up, as this aircraft is a bit taller than your average 172. Once inside you will find an up to date cockpit layout with glass displays and turboprop controls. The interior layout is simple but stylish, and can be ordered in any sort of fit out to match your requirements, from a full cargo layout with a pod beneath the fuselage, to eight seats which seat the passengers in comfort.
Firing up the PT-6 Turboprop is a simple affair, not as complex as some more advanced aircraft. Simply run through the pre-start checklists, ensure the prop is clear, turn the fuel on and crank the starter, the PT-6 will fire, add fuel via the condition lever and the engine will stabilize in its normal idle position.
Taxing the Kodiak is a breeze, you just have to remember this is a bit larger than the 172 you might be used to and by using differential brakes you can turn the Kodiak inside its wingspan. A very handy feature in tight areas. I have also found that if you use reverse pitch you can back the aircraft up, not that I could find any official mention of this in the manual. Again, very handy if you need to have the entire runway length available.
After lining up you would normally use flaps 1 or 2 for takeoff, depending on factors like runway length, temperature, aircraft weight etc. I found the best performance using flaps 1 for an empty aircraft and flaps 2 for a loaded aircraft. The takeoff roll is very surprising as to how little runway is used, whether loaded or empty. This aircraft loves to get into the air quickly, again another very handy design feature.
In the air the aircraft is very stable in all regimes of flight, from takeoff it is apparent that the aircraft is very easy to fly. But one issue I found that is not really unique to the aircraft but a general turboprop trait, and that is the time the engine takes to spool up. If, like me, you find yourself very low on airspeed (read almost falling out of the sky) the spool time of the engine will catch you out, especially on final approach at very low speed. You do need to think about 10 steps ahead of the aircraft.
In the air the aircraft seems to fly by the numbers listed on the manufacturer’s website. In fact watching some videos on YouTube I have found that the stall and recovery is exactly the same as the real aircraft. As the aircraft slows and gets near its stall speed, the warning horn goes off, if you keep the nose up, the aircraft controls become very sluggish. If you don’t drop the nose, a full stall will develop. This will result in a drop of a wing, depending which way the aircraft is banking, then the nose drops and the aircraft almost falls on to its back.
As it drops, airspeed picks up quickly and the aircraft can be flown out very easily. I found that if you try and fight the wing drop and subsequently roll, the aircraft will enter a violent spin. Best way I found to stop the spin was to center the controls and let the aircraft fly out, with minimal opposite control inputs. If you fight the aircraft it will bite you. This is a pilot’s aircraft and really rewards good piloting.
Panel, Virtual Cockpit and Views
Having never seen the real Kodiak cockpit I can only comment on the pictures and videos I have seen on the internet. The layout depicted with this add-on is of a general three glass panel layout for two pilot operations. The real aircraft allows customization of the panel; you can also have the co-pilots Garmin 1000 screen removed.
Now we all know that glass cockpit screens are usually frame rate killers, I can attest that this is not the case with these screens. You can run this aircraft with minimal frame rate reduction. Even with the GPS screen active on the middle screen, you still get good frame rates. Lionheart has made the GPS refresh rate slower than the default, this decreases the load and gives you better frame rates as a result. The default GPS map is displayed in the center MFD and this can be put to sleep by clicking on the map button, this removes the map.
The Garmin 1000’s depicted in this aircraft are not fully functional, they control the basics of autopilots and display engine information. The default Garmin 1000 has more functions than this, but has a heavier frame rate hit as a result. I found the displays easy to use and displayed everything you really need. If you are a hardcore simulation nut you will be disappointed that the Garmin’s are not fully functional, but the Garmin is that complicated that they can be a simulation by themselves. The Autopilot is an S-Tec 5-50X model, and is realistically implemented. This is a full function autopilot. The autopilot is easy to use and makes flying long haul easy. The autopilot is linked to the Garmin MFD’s and you can control the autopilot height and navigation functions from the MFD.
There is a high definition texture pack for the cockpit. This gives you a higher resolution for the panel and allows for crisper writing and makes it easier to read. There is a slight frame rate hit, but not that noticeable. This hi-def cockpit makes it a nice place to work from. Looking around the virtual cockpit you get customized interiors for the different exterior models. For example, if you are flying the rescue version, you get a gurney and patient inside, if you are flying the cargo version, you have cargo in the back.
The interiors are well done and look the part. The textures are crisp with good depth and great interior lighting at night. The sun visors are positional, and make it easy to position them for low sun conditions. Almost all the switches are fully functioning, with a couple of minor exceptions. The switches are modeled in 3D and work like they should.
This is version 2 of the Kodiak from Lionheart. As such, it has been completely rebuilt to take advantage of the new features that FSX offers, including bump mapping, specular lighting and DX10. This makes the aircraft great on frame rates as with some of the default aircraft. There are 10 different models included in the pack. These are: Passenger version, Cargo Version and a Rescue Version, these also include an optional cargo pod beneath the fuselage and an amphibian version as well. There are 7 different repaints for each model. All the different paint jobs are not registered in the aircraft config file, if you want all the versions you will need to manually add them to the config file. There are instructions on the LionHeart website.
The outside model looks good, and if you have a machine that allows you to run light bloom and all the advanced features of FSX you can produce some stunningly realistic screenshots. You would be hard pressed to find issues with the model, it looks just like the real one, and with the FSX bump maps and lighting effects, you could be mistaken for looking at a picture of the real one.
The different options, cargo pod and amphibian, are modeled in detail, and when you choose one of these the cargo pod or floats look just as good as the real versions. One little issue with the amphibian version is that it sits high when in the water, apparently this is a compromise due to FSX contact point issues. You can change the contact points but you may get sparks when landing on land. Details on how to change contact points are also on the Lionheart website.
Paint schemes supplied are crisp and match the real world liveries perfectly, with different colors included to match the models. I personally like the factory orange and yellow schemes. Lighting is well done, but if you prefer, you can add the shockwave light to increase the realism even further. Night lighting from the cockpit looks nice and subtle and doesn’t dominate the exterior like some lights can.
Animations on this model are good, from the landing gear compression on landing to control surfaces moving realistically. Even the pilot looks around periodically. Doors open and you can even hide the rear door on the sky diving (empty) version. Also included are custom views, these views cover views from the tail, left and right wings and a belly cam. This camera is similar to cameras on commercial airliners, a very different perspective to see how close you were to those trees on takeoff!!
One slight disappointment are the sounds. These are defaulted to the Cessna Caravan that is included in FSX. This means that the sounds are good, but could be so much better. Hopefully a new set specific for the Kodiak will be developed.
The airfile of this aircraft is very good. It would take a Kodiak pilot to confirm what I think, but the aircraft flies and handles like a modern turbo prop should, with realistic engine behavior and convincing flight characteristics. Going from the supplied numbers on the Quest website and figures included in the readme files, this aircraft flies exactly by the numbers published. The stall characteristics seem to follow what happens with the real world aircraft from the videos I have seen on the web. If anything it feels too easy to fly, but then that is more than likely the way it has been designed in real life.
Summary / Closing Remarks
This aircraft fills a niche in the market. There are no really good Caravan sized aircraft for FSX. If you like bush flying and have been craving something a little bigger that a PC-6, then this will fit the bill. I have had a great time throwing the aircraft around into and out of some very tight landing strips. In fact, you can get in and out of strips you would not think you could get an aircraft of this size into.
There are a couple of niggles, which given the aircraft, really are minor. For the price, the package is good value and combined with the different variants make this a winner. With full DX10 compatibility, I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good stable aircraft that flies as it should but gives you a lot of versatility.
What I Like About The Quest Kodiak
What I Don't Like About The Quest Kodiak
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