The Cessna Aircraft Company has been producing aircraft since 1927. Since that date, we have seen some of the most popular and pivotal aircraft designs roll off the production lines. Cessna is well known for their 172 Skyhawk, 182 Skylane, 208 Caravan, and the Citation business jets but there are a few Cessna aircraft that many people haven’t heard about or even seen. Many of these aircraft are now considered classics by today’s standards but they were the cutting edge aircraft of their day. One of the most popular of these classics that has now made its way back to the modern production cycle is the Cessna 206, commonly referred to as the Stationair.
The Stationair was created to serve a useful role in the growing trend of utilitarian aircraft. Originally developed off a stretched Cessna 182 Skylane and the undercarriage of the Cessna 210 Centurion, the Cessna 206 began production in 1964. Designed as a six passenger piston single, it was clear to Cessna that this aircraft had much more potential than originally anticipated thanks to the use of the larger opening rear cargo doors. The 206 showed its prowess as an excellent cargo hauler when the rear seats were removed from the airframe.
Cessna later developed a float plane kit to expand the usefulness of the aircraft for water takeoff and landings in order to make this a true “multi-role” aircraft. Powered by a 300 horsepower Textron-Lycoming IO-540-AC1A naturally aspirated engine, the aircraft is capable of climbing to its useful service ceiling of 16,000 feet. If you were to compare it to its smaller siblings, the 206 is a bit bulkier around the midsection with its stretched fuselage. Bringing it in at just less than 2100lbs empty. The 206 shares the wingspan and height of the 182 Skylane. with a total wingspan of 35 feet 10 inches and a height of 9 feet 7inches. The only major difference is in the length of the aircraft. At 28 feet 3 inches, it’s just 3 feet longer than a 182 Skylane.
As a big fan of general aviation, I always take a liking to more modern piston singles and turboprops. Smooth modern lines of the aircraft, powerful engines, together with complex avionics and instrumentation always makes for a more enjoyable flight experience. Amidst all this joy of modern aircraft technology and GPS navigation, a part of me always wanted to fly one of the classic aircraft of yesteryear. I wanted to experience something that today’s veteran pilots considered cutting edge of their day.
Over the last two years there has been a change in the trend of aircraft development for FS2004. Flight simulation enthusiasts are exploring the realm of classical aviation. This leaves many enthusiasts inquiring about the history of flight, the aircraft used, and more importantly, what’s available to fly. Several developers have been leading the way in design and development of these aircraft. Of these developers, one that immediately come to my mind is Carenado. Carenado has been producing classical aircraft for Flight Simulator since 2003 and today they have nine aircraft to choose from in their line up.
Installation and Documentation
The installation package is offered and sold directly from the Carenado web site. Upon visiting the web site, you will see that Carenado has already done an excellent job at presenting the Cessna U206 Stationair with a wealth of pictures and a healthy description of features included in the package. Upon completion of your purchase Carenado will send download and installation instructions to you via e-mail. The installation file came in the form of a zip archive with the installer executable inside. Installation was simple and automated, taking only a minute or two on my system.
As with any new product, I highly advise anyone and everyone to read through the documentation. The documentation included with the Stationair is not only informative and well represented; it’s also quite a pleasure to look at as well. The Checklist, Emergency Procedures, Panel Manual, and Performance Documentation are all provided as separate .PDF documents and are easily printable for a handy reference.
Exterior Views and Virtual Cockpit
Carenado has a reputation for meticulous attention to detail as seen in their previous aircraft. This is my first experience with a Carenado aircraft and I was quite surprised to see what level of detail is incorporated with the product.
The Cessna U206 Stationair is available in four different configurations for FS2004. It’s available in your choice of having Pantwheels or No Pantwheels (Covered Wheels or Open Wheels) and 1 or 2 Pilot configurations. This gives you a total of eight models to choose from, with each surface of the aircraft covered in highly realistic textures. The depth and detail of these textures give the exterior model the look of a well used but properly maintained aircraft with hints of oil and dirt here and there.
Control surfaces are accurately represented and animated with smooth animations. Additional details are also present, such as pitot tub covers, wheel chocks, opening doors, and cockpit windows. The one thing that caught my eyes, and I found as a pleasant surprise, were the animated pilot and co-pilot in the cockpit. Not only are they looking around but when changing the pitch or roll of the aircraft the pilots move the control yokes and throttles. This is a neat feature that I haven’t seen on many aircraft and it makes the Stationair a unique aircraft to fly and photograph.
With all this detail on the outside, I was curious to see what details lay on the inside of this plane. Switching to the Virtual Cockpit view gives a beautiful and accurate representation of the interior. The interior is adorned in deep red leather on the seating and cockpit walls. All of the instruments in the Virtual Cockpit are accurately represented and feature the standard clickable functions and the gauge animations are smooth as well as easy to read.
My favorite part of the virtual cockpit is the lighting at night. The instrument panel glows a beautiful hue of red with post lighting on the key instruments. The lighting is activated by the Landing Lights, so the only negative issue regarding this feature is that if you shut the landing lights off you will not see the post lighting. This issue has been linked to a problem with FS2004 and unfortunately can’t be correct by any third party developers. Another neat feature that newer designs in FS2004 aircraft have shown are reflections on the cockpit windows. Carenado has been known to do this with many of the aircraft in their library. The Stationair also has these reflections on the cockpit windows and they have been done without any impact on performance. They add quite a bit of depth to the look and feel of the Virtual Cockpit.
By far the most important item in any add-on aircraft is the instrument panel. This is where the average flight simmer will spend 95% of their flight time. I find the key to any 2D instrument panel is the accuracy of the layout when compared to its real world counterpart. Accurate placement of the primary flight instruments is not only a key part to enhancing realism; it’s a key part of enhancing fidelity in navigating the cockpit during crucial segments of flight.
Carenado has done an excellent job on the layout and composition of the 2D instrumentation. The primary flight instruments are directly in the center of the display and are accurately produced to represent the look and feel of the classic Bendix/King flight instruments.
The main panel is a photo realistic image of the Cessna 206 Stationair and the lighting of the panel is accurate and crisp. When you first load the aircraft, by default the control yoke will be visible in the lower center of the main panel view. This is a clickable accent to the main pane. While it has no real function, it can get in the way of operating the lighting controls and can be easily hidden out of the way by clicking on the center of the control yoke.
The 2D sub-panels are easily navigated by a pop-up navigation panel in the upper left corner of the screen. This is easily opened or closed from a click spot located to the left of the audio panel. Like the main panel, the 2D panels are also crisp, photorealistic images with accurate placement of gauges and are very easy to read and navigate.
Navigation in the 206 Stationair is quite simple. The standard default GPS is provided for moving map and GPS navigation. The standard radios equipped with the aircraft are easy to use without the complex functions of today’s radio navigation systems. The autopilot is the standard NAVOMATIC 300 equipped on the earlier Cessna aircraft. The only limiting function on the autopilot is that is doesn’t have an altitude hold. You have to manually trim the aircraft to hold your desired altitude. This makes for a true hands-on flying experience. The only issue in regards to the navigation in the 206 Stationair comes in the form of integration of Reality-XP avionics. Several people have commented on the difficulties of integrating the GNS and Apollo navigation systems into the 206 radio panel of the virtual cockpit due to the layout of the default radios.
This issue makes it difficult to place a radio such as the GNS 430 into the space occupied by the NAV and COM radios due to the placement of the gauge windows in the Virtual Cockpit. The result would be a radio that is cut in half. While this doesn’t affect the 2D panel, the simmers that fly from and enjoy using the options of the Virtual Cockpit may have some difficulties making a smooth integration without the use of the Drop Stack from Reality-XP.
Flying The 206 Stationair
Today, flight dynamics are probably the most important items of any aircraft package. Accurate representations of the real world aircraft are important in making the aircraft as realistic as possible. Carenado has done an excellent job at making a smooth flying 206 Stationair.
During my sessions of flying the Stationair, I put the aircraft through some rigorous flight maneuvers all to test the responsiveness of the main flight controls, trim, and the engine. The aircraft responds very well to control inputs both under heavy control movements and slight direction changes. With a full load on board, the 206 feels a little heavy, requiring heavier control inputs. This makes for a smooth and pleasurable flying experience in VFR conditions. The smooth flight dynamics of the aircraft make trimming the aircraft for straight and level flight quite easy to achieve. This will allow you to pay a little more attention to the air traffic controllers and frees up a hand for radio tuning and navigation. Overall, I was very impressed by the ease and smoothness of flight in the 206 Stationair.
The sound package that Carenado has provided with the 206 Stationair is great. Sounds are crisp and easily heard with no noticeable looping. Switching on the batteries of the Stationair will serenade you with the sound of the directional gyroscopes. On my first startup with the Stationair, I was quite impressed with the throaty gurgle of the exhaust as it sounded like an aircraft that has seen a few thousand hours in its lifetime.
The best part of the sound package is undoubtedly the engine. Advancing the throttle forward slightly, gave the subwoofer on my computer speakers a workout as the exhaust does its magic. However, once you reach 50 percent of the throttle, the three bladed prop makes its presence announced and makes for a very distinctive and beautiful sound under full power.
I have been flying many different aircraft in flight simulator for several years now. Aircraft ranging from passenger jets to business turboprops and helicopters. The one thing these aircraft all had in common was they were simulations of modern aircraft. Each one had its complexities but they were all similar in one way: you start the aircraft, input your flight plan into the GPS or FMC and go on your way.
Cessna U206 Stationair 6 II is nothing like that. It’s a true pilot’s aircraft. There are
no fancy avionics, no fly by wire systems, or autothrottle. It’s just
the pilot and the aircraft. While you do have an option to use a GPS
navigation, I think it takes away from the flying experience of the 206.
That is what makes the Stationair one of the most enjoyable classic piston
singles I have
flown in quite some time.
|What I Like About the Cessna U206 Stationair 6 II|
|What I Don't Like About the Cessna U206 Stationair 6 II|
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