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    Carenado Socata TBM 850


    Gaiiden

    Review by Marlon Carter

     

    Introduction

     

    Carenado has once again released another intriguing general aviation aircraft that is bound to catch your attention. What makes this aircraft different from many others is that their latest offering, the Socata TBM850 is the world’s fastest single engine turboprop.

     

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    The TBM850 is not an entirely new aircraft. Socata first developed the TBM model with the release of the TBM 700 back in 1988. The TBM 850 is a modified version of the 700 with a much more powerful engine and upgraded systems and avionics. The 850 that we will be reviewing is equipped with a G1000 that Carenado has been developing for a while now. 

     

    I had the opportunity to ask Fernando at Carenado a few questions about this project and I think you would find the following dialogue quite interesting.

     

    Q - Why did Carenado decide to develop the TBM 850?

     

    A - Because many customers have asked for it, it is a wonderful and fast aircraft and we had access to one of them.

     

    Q - What features of the TBM do you think stands out as unique?

     

    A - I would say that the extra power (850 FLAP position) which allows to increase HP from 700 to 850 after taking off.

     

    Q - How accurate are the systems of the TBM 850?

     

    A - Very accurate. It was developed under a real TBM pilot and also tested by real TBM pilots.

     

    Q - Will Carenado branch off into similar sized Jet Aircrafts such as the Phenom 100/300 or maybe the HondaJet?

     

    A - We are studying the possibility for jumping into jets. We have not decided yet.

     

    Q - What is the aim of Carenado in developing strictly general aviation aircraft?

     

    A - We try to recreate the most popular aircraft. The one you can see everywhere in any aero club around the world. We try to recreate a flying experience in those aircraft which we love.

     

    Q - Carenado has recently implements new features in aircraft modeling such as window scratch effect, propeller effects and outstanding interior textures. Will older aircrafts from Carenado see an upgrade with these features?

     

    A - Yes, but not all of them. We are adding new technologies in almost every release, so we can't update every aircraft after each release as this would demand a lot of time.

     

    Q - The G1000 is quite a complex system to simulate for FSX and other FS platforms, Is Carenado planning to continue its development of the G1000 unit to add more features in the future?

     

    A - Yes, we are doing so since our first G1000 aircraft (CT182 Skylane) and we will continue doing so.

     

    Q - Would you also consider adding WAAS capabilities to the G1000?

     

    A - Yes, but in the future.

     

    As you can see, the TBM850 is far from being a “lite” product. Given the fact that this is a single engine turboprop there aren’t many systems onboard this aircraft that require in-depth simulation. The major feature of this aircraft is the G1000 which is laden with features as we will see in this review. Let’s have a look at some of the features of this aircraft.

     

    Socata TBM850 Features & Documentation

     

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    Special Features

     

    Carenado G1000 (PFD and MFD) with GCU 475 Control Unit.
    AFCS GMC 710 autopilot
    NEW 3D knobs technology
    Flight Plan creation option directly from the MFD
    Windows lighting scratches effect
    Volumetric side view prop effect
    Dynamic propeller shines effect.
    Cold and Dark start option

     

    Features:

     

    Carenado G1000 (Primary and multi-function displays) with GCU 475 Control Unit.

    -Normal and Emergency Checklist on screen.
    -TAWS and TCAS with visual and audible alerts.
    -Fully customizable (AUX page included).
    -Inset map with traffic, topographic and terrain awareness option.
    -3 different wind option displays.
    -Special TBM 850 system page.
    -MFD map with traffic, topographic and terrain awareness display option.

    -Flight plan creation option directly from the MFD.

    HD quality textures (2048 x 2048).

    NEW 3D knobs technology.

    3D gauges.

    Knobs and switches sounds.

    Original HQ digital stereo sounds recorded directly from the real aircraft.

    Customizable panel for controlling windows transparency, instrument reflections and static elements such as wheel chocks and sights props.

    Real behavior compared to the real airplane. Real weight and balance. Tested by real pilots.

    Lighting rendering system. Landing, taxi, strobe and beacon illuminate objects and ground.

    Cold and Dark or ready to taxi options for start the simulation.

     

    Included in the package:

     

    5 HD liveries.
    1 HD Blank livery
    1 model with 2 pilots on board
    Carenado G1000 PDF
    TBM 850 Emergency Checklist PDF
    TBM 850 Normal Procedures PDF
    TBM 850 Performance Tables PDF
    TBM 850 Reference PDF
    Recommended Settings PDF

     

    Technical Requirements:

     

    Windows XP with SP3 installed, Vista or 7 (32 or 64 bits).
    Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX with SP1 and SP2 (or Acceleration Pack) installed or Lockheed Martin - Prepar3D Flight Simulator.
    Pentium V/3GHz or similar
    Minimum 2GB RAM (Recommended 4GB RAM)
    512MB graphics card.
    480MB available hard disk space.

     

    After a first glance at the special features list you will quickly notice that Carenado has indeed included brand new features to this aircraft. In their previous release of aircraft with G1000 avionics, it was clear that while it was very appealing visually, there were a few important functions missing. One of the disadvantaged with previous releases was the inability to load your flight plan through the MFD. Another downside was the difficulty of using the knobs on the control units.

     

    With the release of the TBM850, we are seeing that Carenado does listen to their customers and they are ever vigilant in trying to provide a product that will please the masses. The TBM850 G1000 now allows you to load your flight plan through the MFD and with the introduction of 3D Knob Technology, using the control unit has become easier than ever before. Other new options include the ability to choose between a cold and dark or ready for takeoff cockpit and the visual volumetric prop side view effect.

     

    The documentation that comes with this aircraft is very in-depth in some instances while in others I thought it was a bit scanty. For example, the G1000 documentation was useful in showing you each page and what each knob does, but apart from showing you how to enter and edit your flight plan, it doesn’t provide a step by step process for other functions. This shouldn’t be an issue for persons familiar with the G1000, but if you are new to this unit the transition may bit a bit tricky.

     

    On the other hand, the documentation that relates to performance and checklist items were cover quite extensively. My only recommendation to Carenado would be to introduce a tutorial flight document that shows how to fly an aircraft by the book. All in all, the documentation will helpful in helping you find your way around the aircraft.

     

    Let’s have a much more detailed look at this aircraft by first of all having a look at the visuals and systems in greater detail.

     

    Visuals & Systems

     

    When it comes to visuals, Carenado is definitely at the top of the list. Their modeling technique and textures used both inside and outside of their aircraft are easily the best we have available today. The TBM850 is an oddly but beautifully crafted aircraft and capturing its beauty for FSX is surely not an easy task.

     

    When Carenado released the Piper Malibu they demonstrated that recreating uniquely designed aircraft are a walk in the park and it is just the same with the TBM 850. If you were to view Carenado’s rendition of the 850 next to real world photos the comparison would be startlingly accurate. Nearly every line, every curve and every rivet has been perfectly modeled. As shown in some of the screenshots below, attention to detail was the order of the day when it came to seemingly insignificant parts of the aircraft such as the wheel wells or the wing and flap areas.

     

    With regard to animation, it goes without saying that all control surfaces are completely movable. All doors that can be opened on the 850 have also been modeled along with options to add wheel chocks and covers for various parts of the aircraft.

     

    What also made the external model of the 850 quite interesting was the addition of the volumetric prop side view effect which gives the prop a 3D appearance as it spins and changes angles. Another prop effect that was added is the dynamic shine that appears at certain angles of light. These are details that have been omitted by many developers, but perhaps from now on Carenado will make this feature a permanent part of their future products.

     

    After inspecting and being impressed by the exterior model, I could hardly have imagined that this was just the tip of the iceberg. When you move to the interior of the 850 you will be overwhelmed with the level of detail that has gone into its design.

     

    The cabin is laid out in striking detail with seats, latches, AC/Air Ducts and lighting fixtures that look amazing real. Window shades work not only in the VC but they also show on the exterior model as being open or closed. This level of detail and the quality of the textures used was very impressive and I haven’t even touched on the cockpit as yet!

     

    Moving to the business end of the 850 you are instantly captivated by the hi-tech layout of the avionics and the overall brand new look of the cockpit. The level of detail in the cockpit provides a very convincing immersion experience while flying this aircraft. Each knob and switch has been modeling to the highest quality possible whether they are simulated or not. From what I have seen thus far however, the only switches that have not been fully modeled are the circuit breakers which look so real it was hard not to try pushing them.

     

    One of the coolest and most original features implemented by Carenado was the cockpit window lighting scratch effect. For anyone who has flown an aircraft or simply sat at a window seat of an airliner, you would recall that as the light hits the window at certain angles, the appearance of light scratches will appear on the window. While other aircraft for FSX have had window reflections, none have been able to reproduce these light circular scratches. This feature creates an amazingly realistic experience while sitting in the cockpit on sunny days.

     

    As it relates to animation features within the cockpit, while the sun visors are movable you are not able to position them exactly the way you may wish. You have the option of either having them up or down.

     

    As expected the yokes are both movable and can also be removed to have a clearer view of the cockpit by using the designated click spot. While on the topic of click-spots, in the past it has been a bit of a challenging using the control knobs for the G1000. This time around Carenado has created a 3D Knob Technology that allows each knob that may have multiple functions to glow when you which to control either the inner or outer knobs. This added feature makes life so much easier when using the GCU 475 Control Unit or AFCS GMC 710 autopilot.

     

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    Let’s have a look at some of the systems of the 850. As mentioned before, the most significant part of the systems of the TBM850 is the G1000. The G1000 from Carenado has come quite a long way since its first release with the CT182T. In the past, the ability to create your own flight plans from scratch through the MFD was none existent. This meant that in order to create a flight plan, you had to rely heavily on the default MSFS flight planner.

     

    My original thoughts on Carenado’s previous version of the G1000 were one of slight disappointment. One would have expected to have the FPL function fully operational to have the optimum experience of using the G1000. This time around Carenado has implemented this feature and it works like a charm. My only wish at this point is to have WAAS capabilities and to be able to select both Departure and Arrival procedures of all kinds similar to the Flight1 Mustang.

     

    The G1000 is NOT 100% functional since there are a few features that have not been implemented in part due to limitations in FSX. The checklist feature is by far one of the greatest highlights of the G1000 and with the addition of the 3D knob technology, navigating through the checklist pages are even easier than before.

     

    Other interesting features of the G1000 include Traffic alerts, Terrain and Topographical awareness and a special TBM850 systems page. The PFD also seems to be well simulated with the ability use the inset map and to access the Timer and V-speed functions. All in all the G1000 works great but I am hopeful that as Carenado continues to improve it, that the 850 will also be updated with more functionality.

     

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    A unique part of the TBM 850 is the ability to increase your horsepower from 700 to 850 but moving the flap level up 1 notch from 0. In the flying experience section of this review we will explore this option in greater detail but thus far I can confirm that this option works quite well.

     

    Other systems such as the unique fuel system of the 850 stay true to the real world design. While flying with the fuel system in manual mode, fuel has to be closely monitored as you are expected to switch between both left and right tanks at a specified time interval. If you choose to use the auto fuel function (recommended), you will also see that this critical function is carried out automatically and it really lightens your workload.

     

    Since the 850 has the ability to fly as high as FL310, the pressurization system also has to be simulated correctly. If you fail to set the pressurization correctly for your cruise altitude, I can guarantee that the system will remind you about your failure to do so.

     

    An interesting feature I would like to point out is that the TBM has a switch called INERT SEP. This switch apparently moves a flap inside the engine to protect it from icing. When this switch is turn on or off there is a definite change in the ITT and Torque which shows that the system is indeed working but I cannot speak to its accuracy in terms of the actual loss in power being similar to the real aircraft. Nonetheless, if you are flying in icing condition and you turn this switch on, you will have to adjust your power setting to account for the ITT or Torque changes.

     

    The final area I will touch on is the lighting system. The lights on the 850 are quite simple but I absolutely love the fact that they work independently. The exterior lights are very realistic and the flashing lights make reflections on both the ground and the aircraft itself. The interior lighting it also very nicely done and it creates a realistic night time flying environment from both the cockpit and especially the cabin.

     

    As mentioned before, the systems of the 850 are not extremely in-depth but it is by no means a “lite” product. I think that the 850 is the perfect balance that anyone can ask for in a GA aircraft of this type. What I would encourage however is that you should try to source added information on the operation of this aircraft to gain a better understand of some of the systems. This is the one of the downsides of the documentation provided but this is purely an optional approach.

     

    This pretty much covers the systems and now it’s time to talk about the handling and flight characteristics.

     

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    How does it fly?

     

    After doing a number of flights under virtually every conceivable flying condition, I was more or less satisfied with the performance of the aircraft. In clear and calm weather the TBM performs quite well and it flies quite smoothly. In less than favorable conditions, the TBM becomes quite a handful to fly and it will demand a lot of your attention.

     

    While the TBM is a single engine aircraft, the engine is very powerful and managing this power is the key in keeping this aircraft under control. While taxiing the aircraft, I found that it required a lot of thrust to get moving (almost as if it were stuck in the mud). After the aircraft gets rolling it stays at a steady pace but if for some reason you are required the stop, the fight to get moving begins all over again. I am not sure if others will have this experience but it was definitely something I noticed in the handling right off the bat.

     

    When preparing for takeoff, a bit of finesse is required to smoothly apply takeoff thrust as the RPM gauge may spike quite rapidly. Nonetheless, the aircraft’s takeoff performance it quite spot on with a small margin for error due to FSX limitations.

     

    While climbing in clear weather the aircraft handles quite well when hand flying. If you choose to fly with real world weather programs such as REX or AS2012, I can guarantee that you are in for quite a ride. Since the TBM is not a very large aircraft, it is still easily pushed around by gusting winds. Even with the autopilot on, the aircraft takes a beating but still manages to remain “stable”.

     

    One of the highlights of this aircraft is undoubtedly the ability to go from 700hp to 850hp with the flip of a switch. From the moment that you position the flap lever to the 850 setting there is an immediate change in the attitude and overall feel of the aircraft.

     

    As far as overall speed goes, some have reported that the aircraft hardly accelerates while others saw the prescribed performances changes. I found that both of these experiences were true in my case and the determining factor can perhaps be narrowed down to overall weather conditions during your flight. As far as autopilot functions go, the autopilot on this aircraft is rock solid and controlling the various functions is easier than ever before with the new 3D Knob Technology.

     

    The same holds true to the G1000 functionality and while there are a few features missing, Carenado does not have far to go in creating a rock solid G1000 unit. With the addition of the ability to create flight plans directly from the MFD, you will find that flying this aircraft provides quite a realistic experience.

     

    As far as landings go, I found that the aircraft was a bit tricky to land and especially so under windy flying conditions. If you own rudder pedals you may be able to have a much smoother flying experience but for those of you with only yokes or joysticks, it can be a bit of a challenge. In calm weather, the TBM handles quite well on landings but I have yet to master the art of a greased landing with this aircraft.

     

    The final area I will touch on may not necessarily be related to the aircraft handling, but in terms of the overall flying experience, I have to mention that the sound package that comes with this aircraft is absolutely amazing.

     

    Can it be improved? Yes, as with all things there is room for improvement but in a nutshell it is definitely a good rendition of the TBM850 sound environment. With the 3D sound effects, you are able to have the full experience of sitting in an actual aircraft where each turn of your head results in a different sound perspective. A feature such as this adds volumes to the overall experience of virtual flying and I think you will be pleased with what Carenado has to offer.

     

    Summary

     

    Summarizing this review may be a bit difficult given the fact that I am not a qualified TBM pilot. What I can comment on however, is whether or not this aircraft provides an enjoyable experience.

     

    While the systems onboard the aircraft are much more complicated than previous aircraft released by Carenado, the TBM was never meant to be an “in-depth” systems simulation. For the price tag of $39.95, I think you are getting an aircraft that is bound to fill your days with many exciting GA flights to anywhere your imagination can take you.

     

    The innovative features in this aircraft, 5 HD liveries and custom G1000 with Electronic checklist definitely sets it apart from any other in its class and I am sure that as Carenado continues to develop their products and advanced avionics systems, the TBM will definitely see continued upgrades. Overall, I can give this aircraft an 8/10 rating within its category for best overall value and implementation of unique features.



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