The Cessna Grand Caravan 208B is a single engine turboprop with fixed gear for short regional flights. The aircraft can seat nine passengers with a single person crew. It can also be used as a cargo feeder liner.
The first prototype of the C208B flew in 1982 and went under two years of testing and became FAA certified in 1984. The aircraft comes in different variations with different landing gear to suite various environmental conditions. The cabin of the Caravan can hold either cargo or four rows of passenger seats, with a configuration of 2-1 or 1-1 seats in each row.
As of 2008, Cessna announced that the Garmin G1000 glass cockpit will be standard in all C208Bs made, but the Carenado version includes steam gauges. Carenado has featured the following into their version of the Caravan:
High Definition quality textures (2048 x 2048).
Customizable panel for controlling seat configuration, windows transparency, 3D knobs, Cargo pod and doors.
Eye candy (wheel chokes, pitot cover, tail stand and sights prop)
Original HQ digital stereo sounds recorded directly from a real PT6A (Pratt & Whitney Canada) engine
Custom Bendix/King Weather Radar and original GNS 430
Pop up C208B Grand Caravan manual with normal & emergency checklist
Realistic night lights effect on virtual cockpit
Interactive virtual cockpit
Full moving parts: Ailerons, elevators, rudders, flaps, rolling wheels and trim tab
3D modeled pilot, cockpit area and passenger cabin area
Night light effects on panel
Installation & Documentation
For those who have not used the Carenado installer, it is very straight forward. Firstly, download the 100 MB .exe file, run it and follow the instructions given. You will be requested to enter your email address and serial code you received in an email after you bought the product, when it accepts the information, it will install the C208B where your FSX directory is located.
There are several different documents with information regarding the C208B including:
- AVSS Manual
- Normal & Emergency Checklist
- GNS 430 User Guide
- Virtual Cockpit Instruments
- Weather Radar Manual
In total there are just over thirty pages on how to run all the instruments and information regarding the aircraft. All of the documents give the simmer an understanding on how to control and operate the aircraft.
Generally, Carenado are very good at designing the exterior of their aircraft and the C208B is no exception as it is the start of the "HD" series from Carenado which features textures of 2048x2048 resolution. Everything on the exterior of the aircraft, down to the last rivet seems to be added into this fantastic model of the C208B.
The lighting placed into the aircraft looks very realistic, the strobes are customized by REX Overdrive and the rest of the lights look very nice on this aircraft. The lighting is realistic, with the exception of the beacon which "flashes" instead of rotating as it should (like in real life).
By default, Carenado have included 5 paint schemes and a white scheme for repainters to make various different paints with. There are many different 3rd party repaints available free of charge from OZx, Bill Womack and more. You can search the AVSIM library for paint schemes as well. All the paint schemes are very nicely textured and add to the realism of what it would look like in real life.
The Cargo Pod under the belly of the aircraft has the option of being able to be on the aircraft, or removed from it. These options can be choosen from the configuration manager inside FSX. It isn't the only thing you can change, you can choose between tinted windows inside the Virtual Cockpit, 3D Knobs on the radios (if you want to add RealityXP) and the doors. Many items are also animated on the exterior including the brakes on the gear, flaps, rudder, elevators, ailerons and various other parts of the aircraft.
As in most Carenado cockpits, they are stunning and represent what the aircraft truly looks like in real life, with the C208B being no exception. It is probably one of the best virtual cockpits, if not the best Carenado have released for FSX.
Everything in the cockpit runs smoothly without any stuttering, even though the gauges are not 3D, from what I could tell, it didn't make a difference.
The night lighting that Carenado have incorporated into this aircraft is terrific, however if you are flying in the country or bush, you will have difficulty flying VFR as outside it was pitch black. But don’t worry the panel lights up perfectly, giving you a realistic experience of what to expect when flying at night.
There are many clickable items in the Virtual Cockpit. All of the circuit breakers are modeled in 3D, not just the 2D texture that many other developers use. The autopilot works for any flight if you don't want to hand fly it on a long flight. A GPS is also included into the C208B which provides all your navigational requirements, and the manual gives clear instructions on how to operate it.
For the first time, Carenado have included a Weather Radar which is helpful in heavy weather to locate where the storms are and to how avoid them. In many ways I found it to be realistic, but FSX does not pick up precipitation as a real weather radar would.
There is no 2D cockpit included for those who prefer it, and the usual pop-ups of the gauges that Carenado includes are not included in this release.
The sound added to this aircraft is spot on. While I have not been around a real Caravan, gauging from the recordings - and feedback from other simmers - the actual aircraft sounds are very realistic and simmers will appreciate the effort that has gone into the sound package.
Writing about the flying dynamics is never easy, probably the hardest part in writing reviews. I have never flown a Grand Caravan but after flying the simulation version I can say it demonstrates a true feel to what the actual Caravan would fly like and with the additional SP1 released from Carenado, it improved the performance of the flying dynamics.
I did encounter one problem when I entered a stall. The aircraft’s audible stall warning went off but I could never seem to make the aircraft spin towards the ground when applying the right rudder. I was however, able to keep it in a stall while pulling back on the yoke, without it increasing speed.
i5 750 @ 3.5GHz
8Gb DDR3 RAM
Nvidia 9800GT 1Gb
Logitech 3D Extreme
While flying this aircraft on my system, I could not detect a loss of frames around demanding sceneries such as FTX PNW, FlyTampa TNCM and the default KLAX. With frames locked at 30, they stayed at 30 at all times in the exterior and interior of the aircraft.
I would suggest simmers with a 512 MB graphics card to be cautious as the 2048x2048 textures may cause an FPS loss, but on a 1 GB graphics card, I did not lose any frames.
Summary / Closing Remarks
Carenado seem to have pulled their socks up even higher with a fantastic release once again. This is probably one of the, if not the best aircraft I have flown from Carenado. It is priced at around $5-$10 more than what you normally expect from Carenado, but from my experience I can say it is worth the extra few dollars.
This aircraft will bring hours of fun to a simmer who loves to do some island hopping, bush flying or even tackling those IFR conditions.