Review by Gene Davis. With the 64-bit version of X-Plane 10 now available the simulation has changed considerably when it comes to performance and the way it operates on newer computers by giving the arm chair pilot a pretty realistic flying experience using the technology available to it. I have since made the jump to an 8 Core AMD 8350 Processor and I have to say the difference in X-Plane 10 is night and day when compared to that of its original release.
That being said, many aircraft that were created for X-Plane have had to undergo upgrades and changes so that they would function properly in the program when running in 64 bit mode.
This, although annoying at first, because here you were with planes that were no longer useable with the latest release of X-Plane because it wasn’t compatible any longer, though you could run it in the original 32-bit the difference in performance and speed was so great that I often found it hard to go back to the 32-bit mode of X-Plane. This was the issue I had with Carenado’s Cessna 208 Grand Caravan when I first asked for received it, I installed the plane and never gave any thought to it not being a 64-bit compatible aircraft.
So, the first time I booted it up it did not work correctly and this was ultimately my fault because I failed to read the product page at Carenado’s website. Though, it did run fine in 32 bit mode I just wasn’t happy with it and not at all happy with X-Plane 10 in 32 bit mode after using the 64 bit mode.
So, fast forward to just a couple weeks ago and to my delight Carenado had released a new version of the Cessna 208B, this one titled Cessna 208 Grand Caravan HD Series V2 and it is now fully compatible with X-Plane 10 and its 64 bit operation.
The Cessna 208B Grand Caravan plus Cargo Expansion Pack
The core Cessna 208B package from Carenado is the passenger model and includes 5 different liveries along with a painter’s model. Now, if you choose to get the Cargo Master expansion, along with the core package, you will also have the same 5 liveries as the core package, but each plane will be configured to haul cargo instead of passengers. There is also full set of manuals specifically designed for each of the passenger or cargo models and they can be accessed from the individual aircraft folder of the one you want to look at in the documents folder.
The exterior of the C208B Grand Caravan and the Cargo Master version is superb as each of the models are incredibly detailed with lots of eye candy and all of the moving parts one would come to expect with an aircraft from Carenado. The liveries are created with ultra high resolution textures that give a definite “real “look to the airplane when in the simulation. If I was to compare this package to the original HD FSX Caravan package I would have to say that I prefer the X-Plane 10 version over the other, though I have not tried the newer EX HD C208 series aircraft for FSX and I am not able to make a comparison there at this time.
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The cockpit is a familiar one if you have used this aircraft in FSX and it includes all of the features you would expect in an aircraft of this type. The plane uses the KFC 150 autopilot and includes the GNS 430 along with a full set of instruments and navigational equipment. I was impressed with the quality of the gauge work and how the gauges move realistically while in flight, gauge clarity, gauge update and fluidity is excellent with this aircraft and really does bring out the best in X-Plane 10.
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Interiors are also modeled quite nicely from the cockpit to the rear of the aircraft and depending on which you choose to fly you will either see seating for passengers or a place for cargo if you are flying the Cargo Master version. Going over some of the eye candy in the cockpit is also impressive, though it doesn’t do anything there is a full panel filled with the individual circuit breakers for the plane and the pilot and co pilots seats are rendered in full detail and you can almost reach out and touch the seat covers!
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One of the interesting additions to this package has to be that of the menu system built into the plane. While running in X-Plane with the Cessna 208B passenger or cargo version you will see a menu near the bottom left of your screen and it appears as C ->, D -> and O ->.
Clicking on each one will result in different options, clicking on C will allow you to change your field of view (10 different options), clicking on D will allow you to open the doors and cargo pod and finally O will give several different options that allow you to change the appearance of the plane first being the ability to add and remove the cargo pod, second is the ability to add the static elements such as the tow tractor, pitot cover, sights props and chocks. You also have the ability to change the load configuration from a full load of cargo to an empty plane with the Cargo Master and the ability to change the seating configuration in the passenger model as well.
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The sound is by far the biggest improvement in this add-on when compared to the older version in the FSX plane and is ultimately better in X-Plane 10 in my opinion. The X-Plane 10 version uses a module to give the sound a 3d effect giving you a pretty realistic audio environment from inside and outside the plane. The sound is produced from original HQ digital stereo sounds (44.1 KHz) recorded from the actual PT6 engine which really gives you a true feel for what the real aircraft sounds like. When you take off you actually hear the roll and the aircraft rattle and shake as it heads down the runway, something I haven’t seen in many X-Plane aircraft. From start up to shutdown this plane by no way disappoints in the sound department!
Purchase, Download and Installation
The Grand Caravan can be purchased directly from Carenado’s website or it can be found on just about any reputable flight simulation site for purchase. Buying the plane from Carenado will cost you $29.95 and an additional $9.95 if you want the cargo version. Personally, I recommend both because the extra cargo models are nicely done and add a lot to the package as a whole.
Once purchased you can download the plane via your account with Carenado or via a link on the receipt their store sent you at the time of purchase. Save the download to a location where you will know where it is at. Most times downloads by default are saved to the download directory built into Windows, but if you are like me you might use an alternate location for archiving purposes. The file will be in a zipped format so it is necessary to extract it to a folder of your choice somewhere on your hard drive, same goes for the Cargo Expansion add-on as well.
Being that it is X-Plane there is no installer to run and it must be copied over to your X-Plane folder manually where your aircraft for X-Plane are stored. If you are familiar with X-Plane and how the aircraft are placed into the program then it will not be a big deal but if you are a novice to X-Plane it can be kind of confusing. The core Cessna 208B file will be extracted to a folder with the same name as the zip file sent to you, usually Carenado 208B Grand Caravan V2 and it will need to be placed into the X-Plane 10/ aircraft subfolder. I like keeping my aircraft separate from one another, especially pay ware aircraft, in X-Plane so in my case I have created a folder called Carenado and dropped the Cessna into that one.
As for the Cargo Pack, this is where things get a little tricky because to install the expansion pack into X-Plane you must create a COPY of the your existing Cessna 208B folder and rename it to something like Cessna 208B Cargo then copy the contents of the zip file for the cargo package that you received from Carenado into this new folder and overwrite the existing files as specified in the directions. Make sure to read the Carenado SC Installation Instructions PDF in the Cargo master Expansion folder for a better understanding before just jumping in and coping files and folders.
Though I understand where and how to make aircraft work in X-Plane I would much rather see an installer for both of these add-ons rather than having to copy and paste files from one folder to another, or just a separate installer for the Cargo version of the plane would have been nice.
Flying the Cessna 208B in X-Plane 10
I have owned the original 208 from Carenado for FSX since it was released and is by far one my personal favorites when it comes to flying in places like Alaska and I was somewhat hesitant climbing into the X-Plane version of this aircraft because I haven’t really seen an aircraft that has been developed for FSX and then X-Plane be really all that good and let’s just say my expectations were not that great!
Flying the 208B in X-Plane was wonderful as it had excellent control and it was easy to manage the cockpit while in flight, my first impression as I left Newport Oregon was “Wow! This is pretty darn good!” As I was headed down the runway the first thing I noticed was the rattling and shaking of the plane and how it reacted to the outside environment, not to mention the sound as I neared takeoff speed.
After takeoff I did some typical maneuvers around KONP with the plane and headed north over Newport then turned south towards Coos Bay all the while using real world weather. The aircraft reacted to the winds coming off the ocean from the south and you could almost feel the plane fighting it at times as I lumbered down the coast line.
During the flight I played with some of the buttons and switches, used the GPS, set the autopilot and tested how the sound responded to dramatic throttle adjustments during flight and the only thing I could find was going from the exterior view back into the cockpit view it would sometimes have a hard time catching up and there would be distortion in the sound for a few seconds.
As far as physics is concerned, the plane does respond to outside elements such as wind and turbulence and will be harder to fly if not loaded correctly.
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The flight went without a hitch and I landed in Coos Bay with a slight cross wind and as I taxied to parking and shut down the engines down I walked away with a smile on my face, the sound was excellent, the flight characteristics were above par (trust me, it doesn’t fly like some the default planes in X-Plane) and the plane just looks fabulous in X-Plane!
If you are looking for a pay ware aircraft to pick up for X-Plane then I would strongly recommend the Caravan package from Carenado. To be frank, after seeing the Caravan I would strongly recommend any of their aircraft for X-Plane 10 because I can’t help but think if this one is as good as it is then the others must be just as good!