Before I start the review, I need to digress slightly. I live near our local airport, and since it is a rather central point, we get lots of traffic from all different sources. The airport is frequently used by military traffic, since our 5th South African Infantry Battalion is stationed less than 2km away from the airport.
On many occasions we would be visited by military transports, like the CASA's, the replacement for the C-130 and also Pilatus PC-12's belonging to the South African Air Force. However, our town is also situated in a political hotspot - this means that luminaries frequently visit the airport in chartered aircraft.
About 2 years ago, on a public holiday and whilst having our usual flying club breakfast like we do on public holidays, another such luminary visited our town. He arrived by way of a chartered B200.
I remember seeing the aircraft approach, flat and fast, faster than anything we have got at our airport. I remember watching it taxiing off the runway and to the parking area of the airport. My initial reaction? It was love at first sight.
This was the first of many encounters I would have with visiting B200 and B350 aircraft. I remember all of them as fondly as the first.
I also had the pleasure a few short months ago to start my career as an Avsim reviewer by doing a review on Carenado's rendition of the C90B, the elder brother of the B200. I was really impressed. So naturally, when they released their B200, I was very keen to get my hands on that too.
Having said that, I will be drawing some comparisons between the two products for an obvious reason, to which I will get later on. Let's have a look.
Installation and documentation
After completing your purchase, you can download the aircraft from Carenado's site. It is a 165 MB large download. The first difference between the B200 and the B90 becomes apparent here - the B90 download is only 147 MB large. As expected, the download gave me no hassles whatsoever.
It takes you less than two minutes to get the aircraft installed onto your hard drive. You will need to enter your order details as they were when you had made the purchase in the form of your e-mail address and serial number to proceed with the installation first though. Again, no surprises, no vices.
Upon completion of the installation, you can go and look up the aircraft in your FSX/P3D folder. Since I am using FSX, I go to my SimObjects\Aircraft folder. Here you find a nice surprise. There are two installers for separate sound sets, one for the original sound and one for a sound set where the cockpit noise has not been reduced - excellent. More on the sound differences later on...
You also find CAR530 and RXP530 installers. What are these you ask? Well, this is to install and uninstall the third party GPS unit from Reality XP. Since I don't own that, I will not be taking that into account in this review.
If I now go back to my root FSX folder, I find a Carenado directory, which contains my earlier B90 files, but also my new B200 files. Inside the B200 folder, I find the following:
- Avidyne Multifunction Display Manual;
- EFIS manual
- Electronic Vertical Speed Indicator manual;
- Emergency Procedure manual;
- GNS 530 User Guide;
- GPS Annunciation Control Unit;
- Normal Procedures;
- Performance Table;
- Terrain Awareness Annunciator Control Unit;
- Copyrights; and
- Recommended Settings.
After scanning the manuals, I make the same comment I did when reviewing the manuals for the B90 - well written, gets the point across and gets you flying and using the various different instruments. Again, you won't hold an engineering degree in understanding the instruments they cover, but you will be able to operate them.
As expected, the performance tables and procedures have been taken from the B200 manuals, so they look the same as for the B90 and they read the same, however there is a word of warning here - the B200 procedures as described does vary quite a lot from the B90 manual. So don't think that if you know the procedures in the B90 manual backwards, you have the B200 manual figured out too. Take the time to read and learn.
Another document that needs mention is the Recommended Settings PDF-file. This tells you on how to get the most of the aircraft, both visually and performance wise and you should really take the time to read through it and set your system up accordingly.
So in conclusion, the manuals are well written, user friendly and although concise, gets the point across. The installation was hassle free and remained the same, so if you installed one Carenado product there will be no surprises.
Again, there are no panel states to load - Cessna trick it is. Does it detract from the enjoyment of the sim? No, because since this is a GA aircraft, it doesn't take ages to start up. Had it been an airliner simulation, my answer would have been different.
Fuel and payload are both loaded via the default FSX Fuel and Payload Manager.
For repainting the aircraft, just use the white textures included with the installed aircraft. It is also here where another difference between the 90 and 200 versions by Carenado become obvious - the 90 had a LITE version, using fewer polygons for better performance; however the 200 has no LITE version.
So apart from the absence of the LITE version of the 200, nothing really different to report here from the 90.
Again, there is no 2D panels to fly the aircraft from, you have to fly it directly from the VC. Just as one would expect, the VC is just gorgeous. It is on even quality and better than the 90. The same HD textures have been used to render everything in the cockpit.
I commented on the little roundels around the steam gauges inside the VC in my previous review on the 90, and they deserve mention again. The flight yoke is again beautifully modelled with the LCD clock in the middle, and as one would expect the light reflections do look photo-real off of that LCD display.
Looking at the dimensions of the panel, they have remained largely unchanged. The same feel of sitting inside a King Air is obtained in the cockpit of the 200. By looking at photos, the guys at Carenado have reproduced the dimensions perfectly. As I mentioned in my first review on the 90, I have never actually been inside any King Air cockpit, so I have to rely on photos to make my comparison, and although maybe a little crude, it is enough to convince me that the dimensions are true to life.
If one looks at the overhead panel, the same set of rule apply - what should be there are there and they have been modelled to the same high standards as the rest of the VC. Exactly as with the 90 model, the 200's steam gauge engine instruments have digital readouts inside them. I again make the same comments regarding these instruments - they have been beautifully and faithfully reproduced. You do not absolutely need the digital readouts, because the steam markings are crisp and clear and they read easily. For some of my fellow pilots having flown other steam gauged products, you will know that this is an area which can make or brake panel realism in terms of how easily one can read and interpret the readings on the gauges. As far as I am concerned, legible steam gauges can be a deal breaker. Well done Carenado, 10/10...again.
As with the 90, reflections inside the cockpit windows and instruments have been faithfully modelled in glorious HD. These can also be turned on or off via using the option for it by pressing Shift+F5 to access the menu. I found that on my system though, these reflections had no effect on performance, so leaving them on was an easy decision. It adds greatly to the immersion of the simulation.
This being a desktop simulation, you have to compromise slightly by zooming in and out of certain areas to get clear reading on instruments or switches farther away from you. In a real cockpit you would be able to lean over or backwards to get access to these areas, so this hardly deserves mention at all.
If you find that the flight yoke gets in the way of accessing switches modelled behind it, just click the yoke at the base - this will remove the yoke and give you easy access to the switches behind it.
Should you wish, you may also press the _A_ key on the keyboard to cycle between the following different areas in the cockpit:
- Wide angle view of the VC from behind the First Officer’s head;
- Full face view of the Avidyne and GPS systems, which include the altitude selector and several of the NAV radio equipment;
- The fuel system;
- Lower full face view of the main panel from the Captain’s seat;
- Top down view of the throttle quadrant;
- Full face upper view of the overhead panel;
- Full face view of the lower panel on the Captain’s side;
- Top down view of the autopilot and pressurization system;
- Full face and zoomed in view of the flaps and cabin view.
Note they may not necessarily be in this order. As you can see though, not much has changed from the 90. You can cycle these in any part of the flight. although 95% of the time, I simply prefer zooming in and out as if leaning over and leaning backwards in my seat. As you would expect these sub-views are all in glorious HD and very high quality.
As per usual, you can also cycle through some 2D pop-up views of certain items by using Shift+X, where X obviously denotes some numerical like 1, 2 etc. The following items can be called up in this way:
- The Avidyne system;
- The Garmin GPS system;
- Nad Display and RMI, the first stacked on top of the latter;
- The EFIS and Autopilot consoles; and
- The menu allowing you to play around with the cockpit reflections.
Common sense would dictate that since there is no 2D panel which can be used to fly the aircraft, the VC should be fully clickable and indeed it is.
I have included some screenshots of the interior of the aircraft below:
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You will notice that there are certain differences in instrument layout to the 90, but more on that a little later.
Again, nothing new here from the 90. What about night lighting? Simply wonderful. It is better in my opinion than that of the 90. Here are some screenshots of the lighting:
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So a final verdict on the VC? Beautifully modeled, the same high quality as the 90, and a little better in some respects, and just as easy to get comfortable with. It is a faithful reproduction of the King Air 200 and as with the 90, I cannot fault it in anyway, another 10/10.
Firstly, the dimensions are all good. But you would expect that right? It certainly has the distinctive look with the T-tail section and the rest of what makes the B200 a B200, is all there. There is no mistaking about what it is that you are looking at.
As for the graphics, the same HD, high quality is present than with the 90. You still won't find much in the way of wear and tear, but yet again, the rivet lines have been reproduced as an almost photo-real piece of art. When zooming in nicely you can clearly see that the aluminum surface is true to life - it feels like I can just stretch out my hand and touch the beast_
One very nice addition is the option to have winglets on the aircraft or not. I like mine with the winglets so I leave them on_
Have a look at these screenshots:
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So let us have a look at the systems that Carenado have implemented. Right in the middle of the panel, the most impressive feature, as with the 90, is the two Garmin 530 displays and the Avidyne system just below that.
Let us start with the Avidyne display. It has the following items that you can switch through:
- It has a MAP function which is fairly similar to the standard GPS unit in FSX, but it is far more detailed and nicer to look at.
- The next is the TAWS, which is essentially a GPWS system. It will warn you if your aircraft is in danger of flying into terrain and give you a good overview in a specified radius as to where the danger areas are.
- TRIP information, which is akin to receiving information from the LEGS page of an FMC in an airliner.
- The Airports Nearest To Position page, which is a very neat little feature and has remained by far my favourite feature since my review of the 90. By selecting an airport, I will get all navigation and communication frequencies, and an overhead map layout of the airport.
- An Aux page which will allow you to tinker with the system to set it to your liking; and
- The RADAR page, weather radar, but it does not work in 2D mode (as a pop-up) and only displays something when there are clouds ahead.
So any changes from the 90 here? No.
If you look at the rest of the systems you will find they are all there to a larger extent. The autopilot and EFIS all function properly. As with the 90, the only areas of the A/P that you cannot use are the V/S and IAS functions. That doesn't really bother me at all though, since as with most general aviation (GA) aircraft, I mostly hand fly and trim the aircraft.
The fuel system is present and correct, and the chronometer that I love so much on the yoke, works perfectly as well. As with the 90, the cabin still pressurizes with valves open, but again nothing major. The electrical systems and de-icing systems all work as in the 90, with the exception of the generators which still won't reset.
The B200, as with the C90B, was built around FSX native technology, and having said that, the same FSX limitations that apply to FSX native aircraft mostly apply to this package as well. What I have found though, is that the trade off is a fair one - there is enough depth in this simulation to make it enjoyable for both the experienced pilot and the novice. The experience is enjoyable.
Now we can start focusing on some differences between the C90B package and the B200 package, starting with the sound. As I said earlier, you can install the original sound pack, the one with cockpit noise reduction, or the package without the noise reduction.
What I found was that both reproduce the sound of the King Air really well, but the difference isn't breathtaking to be honest. The one just sounded a little more muted to me than the other. Having said that, all the sounds are there - the gear, the flaps, some switches etc. As with the C90B, a touch of class really_ Very nicely done and it really adds to the immersion.
Now for the most important part - how does she fly? This is where the real differences start to appear. The power plants on the B200 are a bit more powerful, since the aircraft is heavier and bigger than the C90B. With regards to taking off the aircraft, I will place you in the same picture as in my review of the C90B:
First of all, we have to think about what we are about to do here. We have two turbine engines generating a very large amount of torque. We have two large propellers which will turn at around 2200 rpm at take off and they are not contra-rotating propellers, which can cause serious direction changes. If you have ever doubted this, ask a few Cessna 182 pilots about their first outings in this fairly small aircraft when converting from a C-172. Many a pilot have ended up next to the runway due the sharp increase in torque caused by the larger and more powerful engine which powers the C-182. Right, so that tells us two things - firstly, once those props get up to speed, the torque which is generated will cause the aircraft to tend to veer quite drastically in the direction of the propeller spin, and two, once the wheels leave terra firma, the stabilizing effect of the wheels will cease and we will have a moment which centers around the shafts of the propellers causing the a wing to drop a bit.
No surprises there, this aircraft can be a handful on take off. But then again, that is the way it is supposed to be. As with the C90B, you have to be careful with those throttles - your props will certainly run away if you are not, which means that the props will overspeed. Will it cause damage? No, but you get nasty results, trust me. If you still choose to ram the throttles fully forward - well you have been warned.
As with the C90B, should this be a problem you can just trim the rudder and ailerons a bit to correct for it and make the aircraft a little easier to operate. The other option is to turn all those realism settings in FSX off, making it nice and easy to run down the runway and get airborne like a pro. But come on, you don't want to do that now do you?
Another thing which may seem obvious is that you will not get the fast climb outs that you get in a pure jet. Another difference between the C90B and the B200 comes into play here - the B200 is fairly more powerful and will climb a little easier, but you won't get pure jet results either.
As with the C90B, I found the climbing the aircraft out with full autopilot proved easy and I found no vices to report in the autopilot systems. As with all autopilots though, tell it to do something stupid and it will follow your instructions - remember the old _Intel inside, idiot outside_ or the GIGO (garbage in garbage out)? Very applicable here, but that is true of all automated flight systems.
Again, as with the C90B, the pitch can be very sensitive - remember that this is an FSX native aircraft. Just tweak your controls so that they are less sensitive, or if you have a registered version of FSUIPC, just tweak it through there and you should be fine.
I used the aircraft extensively in cruise, both whilst on autopilot or simply trimming it manually for a look see, and the results are good, nothing silly happening. The same goes for getting the aircraft down from cruise, though since it is a little heavier, you can expect slightly higher descend speeds at steeper angles than in the C90B.
The same goes for tuning the radios, doing an autopilot ILS coupled approached or simply hand flying it in. Hand flying will prove a little more challenging if you have all the realism features turned on, since again you will have to check torque, wings wanting to drop a little etc. Perfectly predictable though, just makes the approach a little more interesting as you'd expect.
As with the C90B, try to cut down on the sharpness of the intercept angle if you are flying an ILS approach with the autopilot, since not doing so will cause a bit of oscillation through the localizer and glide slope - again, FSX native.
As with the C90B, visibility down that beautiful sharp nose and to the sides are excellent so flying it in by hand is easy, since you keep track of your surroundings easily making the VFR type flights easy and fun.
I did notice that, just like the C90B, the B200 was quite sensitive to wind changes, but that is unfortunately due to the weather engine of FSX which has been discussed in numerous forums and threads. What I can say is that I disabled all the turbulence and wind effects on the aircraft, otherwise landing it with a bit of wind around, can prove to be unrealistically challenging. Also remember that this is not only done with this aircraft, I also do it with my other products, since I have long since come to recognize the shortcomings in Microsoft's weather engine in FSX.
Just make sure that you watch your gyro drift if you enabled these settings within FSX. Not doing so could catch you out by using incorrect headings and cause a bit of a problem during particularly the line up for the landing.
So these are some of the consistencies the aircraft shares with the C90B - how about some differences now? Well, for starters, the aircraft doesn't run away with you on the ground like the C90B. You don't have to taxi with a little bit of reverse on either. It feels a little heavier on the ground too.
The performance figures for the different regimes of flight are different. Make sure to study the tables well, and yes, the aircraft can be flown by the numbers just like the smaller and older C90B. For anyone interested in checking this, you may go to the King Air Training Site, located at: http://shop.kingairtraining.com
This site contains manuals etc to be purchased and downloaded in PDF-format, and although this B200 version is MUCH more expensive than the $ 5-00 C90B manual, it might be worth having a look at.
Now, I did not personally go and purchase the manuals, since I found the data and checklists provided with the product to be sufficient. If you did however read my C90B review, you would notice the parallels drawn with the real figures taken from the real book and how they coincided with the figures that I had obtained whilst simulating flights in the C90B.
From the previous review, I can only say it again - Carenado did say it was tested by real King Air pilots, so there you have it then.
Final verdict then? Lovely aircraft. If you a re a B200 enthusiast, you will find the aircraft rewarding, no question about it. Yes it is FSX native in many respects, but in my opinion from looking at the book values and also some cockpit videos, the aircraft performs very closely to the real thing. And personally, I loved the flight model.
I run a Core2Quad Q9550 at 2.83GHz, 6GB RAM and a 768 MB Geforce GTX 480. I found no performance issues at all, no matter whether the weather was good or bad. Just like with the C90B, locking 40fps at KORD was no problem, and airborne gets you way more than that.
For all the eye candy that this product carries, it performs really well, but as always, make sure that you have the minimum system requirements to run it according to the developer's guide lines. I believe that anyone with a fairly mid-range system should be able to get good performance from this package.
Extra Q & A
I anticipated quite a bit of barter in the forums about buying or not buying this aircraft after the C90B's release and I wasn't disappointed. I always enjoy reading some of the users' forum posts to get an idea of what people want to know about a product before I set about trying to describe it to you.
I read a few comments about it looking like the C90B. Well yes, but then it is a Beechcraft now isn't it? You would always expect to see some consistency through a company’s line of products. If this was not the case, think of the tremendous amount of extra money companies would have to spend, not to mention the time involved, in getting someone rated on a slightly newer/bigger model.
BUT... If you do take the time to read through the procedures and spend some time looking through the cockpit, you will notice some elemental changes to the overhead and a few other things here and there.
Another issue I read about were some users reporting about sudden stalls whilst climbing out. I honestly did not have any such experience whilst operating the aircraft. As I said, FSX's weather engine is not the best and this could be the cause of it. Having not experienced it, I cannot comment on that.
One thing is obvious though - they may look quite similar, but they are different aircraft. Carenado did not simply take the FDE of the C90B and copied and pasted it into the coding of the B200. You will immediately notice the difference once you are used to the one and try to fly the other. Trust me folks, they are different!
| Publisher: Carenado |
Reviewed By: Rick Desjardins
The idea with the comparisons are to try and point out what the similarities, but also the differences are. As with the C90B, the $ 39-95 you will spend on it will be well worth it.
The whole package, the sound, the FDE, the looks, everything gels together beautifully for a faithful reproduction of flying the B200. Not much that I did not like about the aircraft.
Now for the tough question - would I buy this if I have the C90B? That, I'm afraid, can only be answered by the user. If you like to have both, you would not be disappointed. If you were simply using the one to wait for the other, you would buy it. Being a B200 fan, it definitely all comes down to what you want and how you view what you have and what you want. If it is similarity you are scared of, yes there are similarities but also many differences. They are different aircraft.
What I Like About the Beechcraft King Air B200
- The sounds
- The flight model - can be flown by the book, but have the little nuances to round off the flight model
- The beautifully modeled VC
- The specially modeled Avidyne and GPS units
- A working weather radar
- Concise but useful and user friendly manuals included in the package
- The price
- Many different liveries to choose from, including military versions
- Clear difference in flight model to the C90B
What I Don't Like About the Beechcraft King Air
- There might have been a more weathered look to the aircraft, but that is just personal