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    Eaglesoft Diamond DA42 Twin Star


    Gaiiden

    Review by Mike Cameron. The information below was gathered from the Eaglesoft Product Page and the Airliners.net website.

     

    The Diamond DA-42 Twin Star is a four place carbon fiber constructed light twin engine aircraft powered by jet fuel burning twin diesel engines. The Diamond DA-42-tdi Twin Star was the world’s first and only piston aircraft combining an advanced airframe, avionics and twin engines. The airframe is composed of an advanced aerodynamic & crash worthy carbon fiber composite structure. With the revolutionary turbo-charged jet fuel TAE Centurion compression ignition piston engine, the Twin Star is the undisputed piston engine technology leader in the general aviation aircraft market.  With remarkably low fuel consumption, the DA-42-tdi was the first diesel powered GA aircraft in history to cross the Atlantic non-stop.  

     

    Austria’s Diamond Aircraft unveiled the DA-42 at the May 2002 Berlin Airshow. The first flight of the Twin Star was on December 9th 2002, leading to European JAA Certification in late 2003 and US FAA Certification & first deliveries in mid-2004. The DA-42 design objectives included high speed cruise at very low throttle settings and good low speed handling.  It is loosely modeled on the Diamond DA-40 Diamond Star single four place aircraft. The engines drive slow turning three blade constant speed propellers, which combined with the DA-42 fast climb rate results in a low ground noise signature.  The engines also feature electronic fuel management, automatic propeller controls and auto feather.

     

    The DA-42 is suitable for flight training as well as private and business use.  Embry Riddle Aeronautical University was the launch customer with an order of ten aircraft and Lufthansa Airlines ordered 40 for its pilot training school.

     

    Specifications:

    Maximum Speed: 194 KIAS

    Cruise Speed at 75% Power: 162 KTAS

    Initial Rate of Climb: 1700 FPM

    Maximum Operating Altitude: 18000 Feet

    Range at 60% Power with Standard Fuel: 1061 NM

             With Optional Fuel Tanks: 1485 NM

    Empty Weight: 2270 Pounds

    Maximum Takeoff Weight: 3673 Pounds

    Maximum Payload: 1366 Pounds

    Wingspan: 44 Feet

    Length: 27.8 Feet

    Height: 8.5 Feet

     

    Installation and Documentation

     

    The Eaglesoft DA-42 Twin Star uses the Flight1 “Wrapper” for product activation and installation. For instructions and installing the aircraft the first time visit the Eaglesoft FAQ page .  I am going to be using the “Reinstallation” method because this is a review copy that was supplied directly from Eaglesoft.  This procedure will be the same if you need to install the Twin Star again at a later time. 

     

    Start the “Wrapper” program and select the “Click Here to Reinstall” button at the bottom right of this first window.  On the next page select “Reinstall Using Your Key File” and press the “Select Key” button to browse to your product key that you saved the first time that you activated your aircraft and select “Validate”. I like to save my product key in the same folder as the aircraft Flight1 Wrapper for easy backups.  Enter your four digit password that also was provided during the first activation (I write this down on my product receipt), and select the “OK” button.

     

    The program will generate a License File that you can back up to the default location or one of your choosing (I use the default but will later copy this license file to my download folder).  The Twin Star setup file is now unlocked and you will be asked if you would like to run this program at this time, I always select “Yes”.  If you select “No” the unlocked setup file will be stored in the same folder as your License Key. Accept the License Agreement, verify the correct FSX location or browse for the correct location, allow the Mindstar Aviation KAP140 autopilot to be installed and select “Finish” to complete the install process.  

     

    This may seem complicated but is really very easy without having to type in any long & sometimes complicated serial numbers or keys.  The first time that you start FSX after installation you will be asked to approve the HyperGauge.dll file, select “Run” and “Yes” to approve this file.  The first time that you load one to the Eaglesoft DA-42 Twin Star aircraft in FSX you will need to repeat the above process for the ESDA-42_Gauges.GAU file and two that follow.   

     

    Three PDF files are included with the aircraft, Cockpit Reference, G1000 Manual and the Eaglesoft FAQ’s document.  Two additional HTML files are included an Aircraft Reference and the Twin Star Checklist.  All of these documents are located in the Eaglesoft folder in your main FSX directory. I just wish there was a more comprehensive operations manual on how to fly the Eaglesoft Diamond DA-42 Twin Star.

     

    Interior Features

     

    The interior of the Twin Star is very nice. It does not have luxury textures, like wood toned trim but still the interior textures are very nice.  Sitting in the pilot seat and looking at the right seat I notice a small dip in this seat to indicate someone has actually sat there.  The back seats also have this feature.  I like to see signs of “use” with my premium aircraft and this is the first time that I have seen this type of “wear” texture in an aircraft and I like it.  Another sign of wear are the floor mats with faded but still readable labeling.

     

    Interior objects are all three dimensional and look very realistic.  I needed to adjust my eye-point forward in order to look at the back of the aircraft; otherwise there was a texture issue with the pilot seat being to close. The only other minor interior texture issue that I have with this aircraft is with the Diamond Aircraft logo on the seats. I like that it is included but is a little too blurry for my taste. If this is a “wear” texture I can certainly live with this.

     

    Interior labeling is great looking and is clear even when looking at them up close. There are no alternate interior views but for an aircraft of this size it really is not needed.  Interior lighting is also excellent and is controlled from the instrument panel. The only issue that I have with the lighting is that the rear lighting is not modeled so your virtual passengers will be in the dark.

     

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    Preflight Configuration Panel & Exterior Features

     

    Before commenting on the exterior features, I want to quickly discuss the Preflight Configuration Panel. I enlarged this panel for screen grab purposes. This panel allows you to control the interior and exterior aircraft features.  These options include Remove Tie Downs & Pitot Covers, Load Luggage, Pilot & Copilot, Visible Crew Glasses and Toggle VC Rain or Glass.  The FS9 aircraft will have the VC rain effect and FSX has the VC Glass textures.  When you first load the Twin Star all of these preflight actions have already been checked which means all of these preflight actions have already been performed.

     

    My default start setting is cold and dark so I wish these would have been unchecked at first so that I could remove the static objects, load the luggage and crew as part of my preflight procedure.  Luckily there is a Save button so I unchecked these items accept for Crew Glasses and pressed “Save” to remember my settings. I also unchecked the VC Glass box because I do not like how the VC Glass texture looks and I prefer clear glass. The first screen grab below is with VC Glass enabled and the second is VC Glass disabled.

     

    There are eight aircraft included, four formatted for widescreen monitors and four formatted for square monitors.  I have a widescreen monitor so all of the screen grabs for this review will be the widescreen aircraft.  The first thing that I notice about the Diamond DA-42 Twin Star is that it has a very aerodynamic looking exterior. Where the Cessna, Piper & Beechcraft Twins all are very large almost like a sport utility vehicle of an aircraft, the Twin Star reminds me of a sports car.  

     

    The Eaglesoft Twin Star has excellent looking exterior textures and features.  I love how the sun reflects off of the carbon fiber fuselage & propellers. The lack of visible rivets and the winglets add to the modern look of the aircraft.  Exterior labeling is very clear and easy to read.  The three dimensional exterior details are also very realistic looking.  My only minor issue with the exterior is that Eaglesoft did not include any alternate exterior views, only spot and locked spot.  I like to use the alternate views for my simulated walk preflight walk around.

      

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    Panel

     

    The Eaglesoft Twin Star for FSX was released several years ago when they were still making FS2004 aircraft so like the FSX default and FS2004 aircraft the Eaglesoft DA-42 Twin Star includes a fully functional and great looking 2D panel. This aircraft only has the Garmin G1000 panel and on the early FSX G1000 aircraft I preferred to fly the aircraft from the 2D panel because of the lighting of the VC panel it was very hard to read the G1000 information.  The VC lighting on the Eaglesoft panel is much better than the default simulator G1000 panels.  

     

    A nice thing about this aircraft is that it uses a flight stick control instead of a control yoke which allows unobstructed panel views from the pilot seat.  I think this makes for a much more realistic experience instead of having to hide the yoke in order to see the hidden panel items.   

     

    The top of the panel contains the backup airspeed indicator, altimeter, directional gyro, compass, the ELT (not simulated) and the lighting controls.  The left side contains the engine ECU and the alternator switches.  The center contains the primary flight display (PFD), G1000 Audio Panel and the multi-function display (MFD).  I am not going to provide a detailed explanation of the G1000 system because that would require a lengthy section of this review.  I will only comment on Eaglesoft G1000 features that I like or do not like as I operate the Twin Star.   If you would like to learn more about the real world G1000, I found this series of video tutorials on You Tube

     

    I like how the PFD & MFD have boot up sequences and with the interior lighting turned on, the LCD screens are very bright and clear.  The G1000 textures are much nicer than the default G1000 system.   Less impressive is that the radio fields are blank when you boot up the PFD, you need to tune all of the radios for the frequencies to be displayed.  The right side of the panel contains the non-simulated circuit breakers and the icing controls that are animated but not simulated. The bottom right of the panel contains more circuit breakers and moving left along the bottom are the flap controls, the KAP 140 autopilot, landing gear, electrical & avionics master switches, each engine master & starter switch, pitot heat and on the far left the ECU circuit breakers.  Below the autopilot are the rudder trim, parking brake, cabin climate controls (non-simulated), throttles, fuel controls and the trim control.   

     

    I love that everything in the cockpit is within an easy reach from the pilot seat.  With the exception of the rudder trim label which is blurry, all of the other panel labels are clear and easy to read which is nice. Before moving on to flight planning I want to quickly comment on the traffic alerts on the MFD. First, traffic near the aircraft is displayed even while I was parked on the ground and I like that the alert displays some information about the aircraft rather than just a warning icon.   I also like how easy it is to tune the radios, the outer & inner knobs are clearly defined and I did not have any hesitation with the frequency changes that I sometimes have with the GNS GPS radios, especially in performance heavy scenery areas.  All of the various displays are easy to read but as with all instrument panels I would occasionally need to adjust my eye point for a closer view.  

     

    Another nice feature on both the PFD and MFD is that there is a brightness control in the upper right corner of each display, which I like to turn down for better contrast when using the topographic map view.  Besides the two NAV map pages the other displays that are selectable with the FMS knob are Waypoint (WPT) with several subpages and Nearest (NRST).  Unlike the PFD “NRST” button which will only display the airports, there are multiple pages available on the MFD (airports, intersections, NDB’s, VOR’s and Airspace Alerts).  These waypoints are nice for quick direct to flight plans. When flying using the virtual panel, the nearest window is one those display’s that I needed to adjust my eye-point to see because this window is very small.  

     

    The Eaglesoft Twin Star G1000 system is a customized version of the default G1000 which means you cannot manually create a flight plan and relies on the default simulator flight planner with its outdated navigation database.  The work around that I like to use with aircraft that use a modified FSX GPS is to create a flight plan with an external flight planning program that exports flight plans to FSX. I still cannot manually create a G1000 flight plan but depending on the program I may have updated waypoints.  If you would like a more realistic G1000 system including manual flight plan creation there is another option the Mindstar G1000 system for FSX.

     

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    Mindstar G1000 System

     

    Most flight simulator virtual aviators are probably not familiar with Mindstar Aviation.  This company develops gauges & avionics solutions that bring most of the advanced systems of general aviation to the Microsoft flight simulator series of products.  Their primary customer base is commercial and these customers expect the most realistic simulated experience possible.  After the G1000 product was released to the commercial customers, Mindstar Aviation decided to release this same product to consumers via their website. As I am writing this section, Mindstar has just released the consumer version of their Garmin GNS430 & 530 GPS package.  Even though the G1000 product was released several years ago, Mindstar continues to release free updates with new features.

     

    I have been looking for a more realistic Garmin G1000 system for FSX and then I read about this product when Mindstar announced that they were developing the GNS430/530 system. I have also read some positive comments about this product on several forums so I knew that I had to try it out for myself.  The bad news is that there has not been a lot of support from flight simulation aircraft developers for adding this G1000 into your favorite simulated aircraft.

     

    The Mindstar installer adds two new default Cessna 172SP aircraft, one with the Mindstar G1000 with default autopilot and one that uses the Mindstar autopilot.  A FS2004 Cessna 182S & 182T was also installed into FSX, but I could not operate either of these aircraft without FSX crashing on my system.  Now for the good news, Eaglesoft provided support to Mindstar, so when you run the G1000 installer it will also add two additional Twin Star aircraft. One designed for square monitors with the Mindstar G1000 and the Mindstar KAP-140 autopilot and the other designed for widescreen monitors.  The nice thing about this is that no panel editing is required; it is ready to go after installation. If you purchase the Twin Star after the Mindstar G1000, just run the G1000 installer again and the two new aircraft will be added to your aircraft list.  I now have a premium twin engine aircraft installed with the G1000 along with the Cessna 172SP.

     

    The first thing that I noticed is that all of the navigation & communication radio frequencies are now displayed as they should be.  I am not going to go into detail about the feature differences other than to say that the Mindstar system includes some more real world functionality than the Eaglesoft G1000 system.  The displays themselves look great and everything is clear and easy to read. One feature that the Eaglesoft G1000 includes that the Mindstar panel does not is the brightness controls on the PFD & MFD.

     

    Operating the Mindstar knobs is extremely easy. Anywhere outside of the outer knob controls the outer knob and anywhere on the inner knob controls the inner knob, both with your mouse wheel for operation. I love not having to search for click spots.   One of the primary reasons that I wanted to install the Mindstar G1000 was to have realistic manual flight planning.  Most of the G1000 equipped aircraft that I have installed on my system still use the FSX Flight Planner for this purpose.  The navigation database installed with the G1000 system is old, 01-SEP-2007 to 15-SEP-2008 but Mindstar has partnered with the Real NAV Data service for optional navigation cycle updates.  For details on the consumer subscription of the Real NAV Service visit their website .   

     

    If you are familiar with creating a flight plan on the RealityXP GNS 430 or GNS 530, the procedure is the same.  After pressing the “FPL” button, the flight plan window is now open with your departure airport already entered, left click on the center of the FMS knob to load the curser, rotate the inner knob to locate the first waypoint character then rotate the outer knob to move to the next position and repeat this process until your waypoint is entered then press the “ENT” button to accept the waypoint and repeat the above until the flight plan is complete.  

     

    Mindstar has included another time saving feature, when the first character is displayed you can finish the waypoint entry by using your keyboard.  Another nice feature is the ability to delete a waypoint and the approach procedures also work without issue.   After the flight plan is activated, the familiar magenta line is now displayed on the MFD, waypoint information is now displayed at the top of the screens and the magenta pointer is now displayed on the HSI on the PFD.

     

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    Flight Model

     

    For a twin engine aircraft the Diamond DA-42 Twin Star is a very easy aircraft to operate.   The aircraft does not have a lot of systems to learn.  One of the included documents is a checklist which I will be using for this section to see how accurate the simulated procedures are.   This is such an easy aircraft to start that I was able to memorize the engine start procedures after the first startup.  

     

    The Preflight Configuration Window allows you to remove all of the parked aircraft static items as part of the preflight procedure which adds to the realism.  The first issue that I encountered was that my CH Throttle Quadrant controls were very sticky with this aircraft. I like smooth movement but this does not happen with this aircraft. I finally selected a twin engine joystick calibration profile in FSUIPC and by doing this solved this annoying issue.   I did not have any issues with the rest of the preflight checklist and I like that even though the icing controls are not simulated, these along with gear warning test can be tested as part of the preflight.  

     

    As mentioned earlier the engine start checklist is very easy to memorize.  Throttle at idle, left engine switch on, left mouse click on the key to start the left engine and repeat this procedure for the right engine with a right mouse click to start this engine.   I do not know if this is how the real aircraft operates but when you start each engine the fuel control automatically moves to the full forward position, then during warm up adjust the fuel controls to the cross feed  setting.   

     

    Another issue that I have is that if I have the throttles at idle or less than 700 RPM, the engines would stop. At least it is very easy to restart the engines.  I just had to remember to keep the RPM’s up while taxiing or I would have to do a restart.  I did not have any issues with the rest of the startup procedures.

     

    To taxi the Twin Star is also very easy, much easier than then most of my other twin engine aircraft, just steer with your nose wheel in the direction that you would like to go.   The Diamond DA-42 Twin Star does not have magnetos so there really is not a run-up procedure but I would increase the throttle as part of the before take-off checklist to see if there was any engine roughness even though this is not simulated. Another oddity that I encountered with this aircraft is that even though the Twin Star does not have propeller controls, I needed to move my CH Throttle controls full forward in order to have the proper engine RPM’s for take-off.  

     

    This is a very nice aircraft to hand fly. Move the throttles to full for about 10 seconds and rotate at Vr, but I had to let the speed increase past the rotation speed because on my system rotating at this speed would cause the stall horn to sound. By letting the airspeed increase before rotating helped with this issue. I like to hand fly to the cruising altitude and I needed to trim continuously in order to maintain climb but I was able to trim for cruise without issue, just used small control movements.   The controls are very responsive when hand flying.

     

    The autopilot is pretty easy to operate, with the default G1000, load an FSX flight plan or create one with the Mindstar G1000, press the “ARM” button & dial your selected altitude then press the autopilot power button.  The aircraft will now fly to your selected altitude and I love that the autopilot will level off smoothly at the proper altitude. I also like to select the “NAV” button on the autopilot to follow the flight plan and my Saitek Multi-panel works nicely with the KAP-140 autopilot.

     

    The Twin Star cruises at a nice 150 knots indicated; so this is a wonderful short to medium cross country flights.  For descent I wanted to use the same autopilot procedure to descend to my desired altitude, but I could not get this to work. I had to disable the autopilot, enter the new altitude then power on the autopilot for descent.  The Twin Star slows down very nicely but I had to remember to start my approach well ahead of time so that I was at my final approach speed on time.

     

    One final note, the large MFD moving map allows me to easily see terrain features when VFR flying without a loaded flight plan and for recognizing these features on final approach into smaller airstrips.

     

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    Sounds & Animations

     

    The Eaglesoft DA-42 Twin Star has some very nice sounds & animation effects.  The first sound that you will hear is the warning sound when the primary flight display boots up, also, you can hear both the PFD & MFD fans in the background which adds to the realism. The traffic warning sound message on the multi-function display is also very nice. 

     

    I like that when you load the baggage during preflight, you can hear this door closing and the main canopy operational sound is also excellent.  When the main canopy is opening I like that the handle is animated rather than just having the door open & close which greatly adds to the experience.   All of the operable switches and dials are animated with appropriate sound effects.  

     

    I do not know how the real Diamond Twin Star engines sound like but the simulated ones sound impressive.  It is nice that the tone changes when the main canopy or the baggage door is opened and closed.   The engine vibration effects during startup are excellent and the stall horn is also very impressive sounding.

     

    Summary / Closing Remarks

     

    Despite a couple of issues, I am very impressed with the Eaglesoft Diamond DA-42 Twin Star. This aircraft has detailed interior & exterior textures, very impressive sound & animation effects and a wonderful flight model. I really like that the Mindstar G1000 is easily installed into the virtual panel for a more realistic G1000 simulation and flight planning. The Mindstar product also allows you to subscribe to a current navigation database service for the most realistic flight planning possible.  

     

    The only real complaint that I have with this aircraft is that the radio frequency fields are blank on the primary flight display when it is first powered on; you need to manually enter these frequencies for them to be displayed.  This should not happen with a premium aircraft.  Luckily I will be using my Mindstar G1000 equipped aircraft which display the navigation and communication frequencies correctly. 

     

    The only other real issue that I had was that my throttle controls did not operate smoothly and if the RPM went to an idle setting, the engines would stop running.  Lastly, the Eaglesoft G1000 is a modified version of the default flight simulator G1000 system without the manual flight planning capability and other realistic features.

     

    What I Liked About The DA-42 Twin Star

    • Mindstar G1000 virtual panel option.
    • Great looking interior & exterior textures.
    • Impressive sounds & animations.
    • PFD & MFD brightness control and easy radio tuning.
    • Very good flight model
    • Very good system performance for a glass paneled aircraft.

    What I Didn’t Like About The DA-42 Twin Star

    • Lack of visible radio frequencies when the PFD is first powered on.
    • Modified version of the default FSX G1000 system.
    • Cannot manually create or edit a flight plan.
    • Throttle controls are not very smooth on my system
    • Lack of operational document other than a checklist, reference sheet and G1000 manual.


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