by Ray Marshall. I don’t know why it continues to happen this way but it surely does. All the totally outstanding FSX add-ons are released in bunches or batches. Although fully independent of each other, our top tier developers can work for months and sometimes even years and when it is time to hit the ‘here it is’ or ‘Ready for Market’ button our credit card takes a major hit. Not from the instant download of one or two, more like 3 or 4 must haves within a span of a few days or weeks.
Not necessarily in any order but this last batch consisted of the PMDG 777, the A2A Simulations C172 Trainer, the RealAir Duke v2, and the Flight1 B200 King Air. To round out the list we were all stunned at just how quickly the smooth running Majestic Dash 8 Q400 hit the top of the charts. And to complicate matters even further, Aerosoft’s Airbus X Extended and the updated v2.0 Twotter were finally completed.
I was busy researching and writing reviews for a couple of those so I missed much of the mad dashes to be in the first 100 or so to jump on the download wagon. I had committed to write the AVSIM review of the Flight1 B200 King Air although I did not know that it would be completed so soon. I was thinking maybe a Christmas release. I was as surprised as everyone else when it appeared on the ‘Now Available’ screens in late July.
I was totally engrossed in the A2A C172 preflight and Maintenance Hangar for a month or so when out of nowhere the RealAir Piston Duke v2 shows up on my doorstep. Because the two airplanes are so different in real life and both are modelled in FSX just about as close to reality as anyone has seen to date, I was able to add the new Duke to my workload. I kept an eye on the Flight1 forums and when the SP1 was announced, I decided I should not wait any longer.
Using the world renowned Flight1 wrapper system, I had it downloaded, installed and running in a matter of minutes. This has to be the slickest of all the simulation purchasing/download systems.
I have half a hangar full of Flight1 products so all my folders, keys, and backups were in order. I immediately forwarded the 124 page Pilot’s Guide to my iPad for some nighttime reading and went looking for the Preflight and Startup checklists.
My first impression of the King Air cockpit was how large and spacious it was compared to the Duke and Skyhawk that I had been flying almost constantly for the last two months. I noticed lots of new switches and knobs with logical groupings by system or function with new camera views making them easy to see and operate. I also see myself spending some serious time just sitting in the pilot’s seat with the manual and the many included checklists. I noticed the design team built us a nice well used model, but loaded it up with the latest Garmin G1000 avionics flight system with that wonderfully oversized MFD in the middle of the panel with standard PFDs on either side. This does not look like any King Air that I am familiar with.
Let’s back up a bit and talk about the King Air B200 because this is not your Grandmother’s KA B200. This is more like someone won the lottery and wisely selected the best of the best airframe and engine modifications, new cabin appointments, full panel updates and more. According to the Flight1 Pilot’s Manual, this started as a typical 1984 B200 model with some high time engines and an early ‘80s collection of instruments with the radios and avionics and maybe a couple of newer GPS units that may or may not be coupled to the antiquated autopilot. In other words, the perfect B200 King Air that you can find almost everywhere that is in dire need of a $1.5 - $2 million dollar upgrade. You see, the King Air cabin has been ‘the one’ that all the new VLJ’s did not want to be compared to and the Garmin owned STC for the full panel replacement with their totally integrated G1000 King Air specific flight system was fully tested and being installed in high time King Airs all over the country.
Turboprops in general have always occupied a unique niche in corporate aviation. They cover the middle ground in both price and performance between the piston twins and the pure jets. The inherent reliability of turbine engines allow for more time between overhauls than the typical piston engines, usually an extra 1,000 hours or so.
King Airs have come to be regarded as perhaps the ultimate turboprop and are usually considered the standard by which most other turboprops are measured. And within the King Air family, the tall tail B200 is generally considered as the best of the best as reflected by the sales volume and universal acceptance.
It seems the original King Air could hold its own against the competition, and there was a lot more competition back in the 70s. When the B model was introduced in 1981 with that enormous 2 story T-tail with larger engines, a slightly larger cabin and better pressurization the King started to distance itself from the competition. You seldom hear anything about the Cessna Conquest, Swearingen Merlin, Turbo Commander or the Piper Cheyenne anymore. Walk up to any charter company at any given airport and you would find a couple of King Airs either loading, unloading or waiting for your charter. It was the ‘go to’ heavy hauler of choice for most of its lifespan that started in 1973. Beechcraft continued introducing newer, larger and more expensive King Air models even until the present day. Beech management studied and considered updates for the B200 from time to time but never moved off dead center. Raytheon assumed ownership in 1996/1997 and continued business for 10 years until Hawker/Beechcraft acquired the brand.
This lack of Company sponsored upgrades for the B200 opened the door for the STC modifiers and OEMs to pump new life into the aging fleet. And they did it in spades. Like most free market enterprises a couple of companies took the lead and held on because they could upgrade your King Air to any level you could afford.
“King Air was the right product for its time, and it has stood the test of time well. After all, 7,000 buyers can’t be wrong, can they?”
A few of the weak spots were addressed, a few new innovative features were added based on owner requests, and the sum total was a series of practical improvements, along with an upscale cabin, winglets and a few more redesigned aeronautical trim pieces added resulting in an improved package. They just called it the Super King Air 200 with the Raisbeck Epic Gold treatment.
Raisbeck is a Seattle based large-scale modifier that bundles several aftermarket kits for the King Air family. Raisbeck is known for aftermarket modifications that improve performance, enhance passenger comfort and increase the carrying capacity of these already exceptional airplanes. This includes an innovative ram air recovery system, enhanced performance leading edge wing cuffs, aft body strakes, and upgraded 4-blade composite props systems ready to be strapped to two factory-fresh hot turbine engines. All together these mods enhance the King Air to even higher performance than the newest Hawkers coming off the on again/off again assembly line.
“The Raisbeck Epic package alone can reduce takeoff speeds by 5%, takeoff distance by nearly one-third, improved time to climb by up to 25% and boost cruise speed nearly 3% in addition to increasing resale value by up to one-half the retail price.
The Blackhawk engine upgrade provides even larger increases in performance.”
Just to give you an idea of what these modifications and upgrades can do for you, the standard B200 with the original Pratt and Whitney PT6A-42 turbine engines will cruise at 285 knots. Our Flight1 Blackhawk Super King Air 200 cruises at 310 Knots. That is getting awfully close to the Cessna Citation Mustang speeds. But there are also substantial improvements on the low-speed end. The Raisbeck prop upgrade package with Ram Air increases lift thereby increasing thrust during takeoff resulting in shorter takeoff and landing distances. Other noticeable and needed improvements correct some noise and vibration issues.
Speaking of Mustangs, the sales force for the Model 510 Mustang targeted King Air owners as their most promising candidates when trying to sell their $3 million dollar entry level Citation. They were fond of calling the King Air owner attention to the noise and vibration that was just part and parcel of turboprop airplanes. They also stressed their ‘pure jet’ could cruise above the weather to the delight of the precious cargo in the cabin seats. And true enough, they moved many turboprop owners to the smaller, reduced headroom, 4 – 5 seat, slightly faster, slightly higher flying Mustang. Every time one of those new Jet owners would standup and bump his head he wondered how he was talked into this deal. I’m sure they missed those larger seats and walk-in cargo area plus all that extra elbow room in his or her old King Air. The B200 King Air has a little more than twice the cabin volume of the Citation Mustang and more headroom.
He or she would usually say “if they would just add some sound absorption panels, some vibration arrestment devices and some quieter props and bigger engines that could be throttled back at cruise” the King Air would be a perfect alternative to this sawed off pipe.
And that folks is exactly what the aftermarket refitters did for the King Airs. With a fleet of 2,000 or so aging King Airs just begging for upgrades and overhauls business started booming.
The other big gun responsible for about half the improved performance set up shop in Waco, Texas as Blackhawk Modifications. These guys will take a pair of run-out -42 engines on their last leg and replace them with factory new P&W Canada PT6A-52 850 shp engines. Their Super XP52 kit, like we have designed into our Flight1 B200, fits a 1,360+ shp gas generator section adapted from the newest King Air 350i to boost the high altitude performance. Many of these upgrades and mods result in net weight gains due to newer, improved parts and lighter materials. This in turn adds to the performance increases. The XP-52 kit alone adds an additional 34 knots cruise at high altitude.
| || |
An alternative is to splurge and buy a new King Air 200GT, 250 or even a big new 350i. These by the way are not selling too well at $5 - $8 million dollars.
For a reasonable investment of around $3 million dollars you can buy and equip a 1984 B200 so it will actually cruise faster, fly just as high and just as far as that new B200GT. You can climb directly to FL350 in 26 minutes. You will have to throttle those Blackhawks back a bit during high altitude cruise to stay under the 0.52 Mmo redline. Best cruise is 313 Knots at FL260 at mid weights which is 6 knots faster than a new B200GT. But there is much more than faster climb and cruise performance. You can also choose to equip this new speed demon with the Garmin G1000 King Air specific large format, flat panel display avionics package. This looks suspiciously close to the Cessna Citation Mustang’s avionics suite and it should. The oversized 15 IN MFD mentioned earlier is straight out of the Mustang, along with an upgraded controller and full autopilot. Our overhaul will include a totally new cabin, new winglets and a new tip to tail paint job.
Not just any winglet, we will be getting the BLR Winglet System that adds an aluminum wing tip, carbon fiber winglet and integrated position, recognition an strobe lights. These BLRs increases the overall wingspan by 3 feet 5 inches, providing an increase in wing aspect ratio and a valuable reduction in induced drag. This allows us to fly faster on less fuel and acts as a pressure barrier, preserving lift at the outboard extremity of the wing. This increase in wing efficiency increases the handling qualities during slow flight, one-engine out conditions, and at higher flight levels. Not only that but they look cool and modern.
“Aggressive weight-cutting and performance-improving changes. What’s not to like about gaining access to an additional 1,100 airports?”
Some of the smaller details include a better insulated cabin to keep the passengers warm during the higher flight levels. We will have a new ice vane system that works both on the ground and at altitudes along with the latest generation of the Hartzell low-vibration 4-bladed composite props.
The third major modification in building the ultimate King Air is the complete gutting of the original mish-mash of old analog and first generation digital avionics, taking the cockpit panel down to bare metal and replacing everything with the fully integrated Garmin G1000 King Air specific package. This was FAA approved as an STC a few years ago. This was an adapted design of the phenomenally successful Cessna Citation Mustang suite and upgraded with many newer generation components. Realizing a substantial reduction in wire harness and individual instrument casing weights, a reduction in empty weight of almost 150 pounds is achieved. This Garmin flight management system is truly impressive.
The real world edition is fully loaded with features, some that are not available in FSX but many are included and Flight1 continues to add features with their timely updates. Yes, the Flight1 B200 is WAAS certified, uses Navigraph FMS data, reads SIDS and STARS and includes all the features in the Flight1 Mustang and C182 editions. This edition now includes the banana arc and the simulator version of the SafeTaxi airport surface diagram feature.
Yes, the 2d popup integrated AFCS and GCU 477 controller keypad is included along with the ability to popup and enlarge the PFD and MFD. By undocking the popup window it can then be moved to a second monitor should you have one.
Engine instrumentation, with caution and warning cueing displayed on the MFD is, of course, specific to the B200 Blackhawk. The Crew Alerting and Warnings annunciations have their original dedicated grouping and displays in the warning panel top center.
Add full new animated cabin and cockpit appointments and a spiffy new paint job and we are ready to take on the world. That is the FSX sim world. So with the Raisbeck Engineering Epic bundle coupled with the Blackhawk XP-52 kit, and the King Air Garmin G1000 package you can now see why I stated this is not your Grandmother’s King Air. This is truly the Ultimate Super King Air and it is a joy to fly in FSX.
The exterior lighting package is the same as any real world Super King Air that you may see at your local airport. This one has all the expected white, green, reds, strobes, etc. and is more like the other heavies with Ice Lights and Tail illumination. In addition to those animations that I mentioned earlier and the standard disappearing yoke and animated yoke, pedals, throttles, etc., the additional cockpit and cabin animations include movable sun visors, sliding doors, arm rests and passenger tables. Airframe icing is simulated on the windshield and leading edges, in addition to the pitot tube.
The Garmin G1000 system for the Flight1 King Air is based on the existing Flight1 G1000 with some important and notable improvements. The most obvious is the MFD Engine Indication System that is custom for the King Air. Here is a glance at the critical engine and fuel flow parameters.
| || |
Another significant new inclusion is the Garmin SafeTaxi emulation. This provides enhanced position awareness when on the airport proper with the MFD set for close range. This should work with any MFD screen that shows the airport diagram.
The most recent addition is the Selected Altitude Intercept Arc, (SEL ALT ARC) display, commonly referred to as ‘the Banana’. This is a huge benefit for identifying a start of descent point among other things.
The GCU 477 MFD controller has been upgraded a bit from the Mustang version with some additional functions and should be somewhat easier to use.
There are probably many other added features but, I am drawing a blank.
Flight1 B200 VC on Left, real world KA G1000 system on right.
Flight1 B200 King Air vs Flight1 Cessna Mustang panels
At first glance I thought the new F1 King Air panel was a dead ringer of the F1 Cessna Mustang, which is an exceptional FSX add on also. On closer inspection I started to see several very important differences. So much so that I dug out my AVSIM Cessna Citations review and assembled a direct comparison of the two G1000 panels. The two are very similar and very different. Sure, the main three large flat panels, the Flight Director and Automatic Pilot unit and the 3 round backup instruments are almost exact duplicates, but not much else is the same. Look at the location of the 3 standby instruments. Not too handy for the copilot seat but great for the pilot, especially an FSX pilot.
A very noticeable difference is the Engine Instrument System display on the MFDs. Mostly bars and arrows for the Mustang and all colorful digital round gauges for the King Air. The King Air still has the Crew Warnings at top center with the AFCS unit directly underneath. The Mustang has that huge rotary test and check switch and a half dozen large lighted push to reset caution/warnings scattered across the panel above the 3 flat panels.
So a closer inspection confirms the two panels appear very similar but are quite different when looking at both at the same time. I think it is amazing that a retrofit shop can upgrade a 30 year old airplane to look as new and as sharp and as functional as Cessna’s best-selling corporate jet. It is just a matter of having deep pockets and/or good credit.
Other Similarities between the Mustang and the King Air
One of the big selling points of the Mustang sales team was that it could go higher to fly over most of the bad weather and was vibration free when compared to the Beech King Airs and similar turboprops. While true at the time of the Mustang introduction, those points are not so valid today. With the Blackhawk and Raisbeck upgrades and the addition of the much quieter and smoother running props and lots of soundproofing being added to the older King Air airframes the altitude restraints and the noise and vibration negatives have been practically removed. What remains now is the newly outfitted and much larger King Air cabin with walk-around room that the smaller tubed Mustang can’t match. The large gap between the higher altitudes and the cruise speeds of the two are now much closer.
Fine Whine - Transitioning to the Flight1 B200 Blackhawk King Air
Of course any transition will depend on your previous flight experience. Those coming from multi-engine pistons like the Baron or Duke or one of the larger Cessnas will find a very different operating concept with the turbine engines. Most piston pilots agree that flying turboprops is simpler from the engine management point of view and will love the additional takeoff performance and cruise speeds.
| || |
| || |
Those coming from the high performance singles crowd might be slightly overwhelmed but in a good way. Like always, those with G1000 experience, meaning all those Cirrus SR22 and the newer Cessnas pilots will have an easier transition and just have to catch up to the new higher speeds, heavier weight, and much larger cockpit and the two engines on the wings. They will also be sitting a lot higher above the concrete as they learn how to taxi a turboprop without wearing out the brake pads. Beta will be their favorite new word. (Beta is the range behind idle and in front of reverse on the power levers.)
I guess you do know the Super King Air is officially a ‘heavy’ weighing in at the magic 12,500 pounds Maximum Takeoff and Landing Weight.
The older round instrument guys and girls are eventually going to have to bite the bullet and move up to the integrated flat panels someday and this is the perfect time and perfect aircraft to do so. It is not like you have to give up the old way, heck I fly both and enjoy both immensely.
The last bunch will be those with airline backgrounds or the corporate jet pilots that are curious to see how these remade and upgraded King Airs compare to their tube-style people-hauler type flying. Actually, as soon as they get over not having VNAV available and learn how to do some basic math in their head to calculate descent time and distances they will have an easy go of it and should thoroughly enjoy this great new simulation.
A quick overview of some new stuff
Following the trend, or maybe I should say, continuing to lead the trend of programming outside the box in order to add new life and stretch the FSX envelope to previously unknown limits, the Flight1 development team has added the Maintenance Module. This is the first Flight1 model have comprehensive maintenance and failures for FSX. This feature certainly adds a big dose of reality and enhances the simulation and therefore our enjoyment.
Maintenance can be as simple as changing the oil according to the schedule or changing those brake shoes that wear out way too often up to and including a full-blown engine overhaul or somewhere in between. You can also elect to totally ignore the Maintenance Module and just fly the airplane with total disregard for simulated maintenance. It is as simple as adding or removing a check mark or two.
In addition to controlling the routine maintenance you can also control the rate of wear and tear. Here is the introductory paragraph to the Maintenance Module (MM):
“The MM makes provision for line services requests, and monitors aircraft usage at the system level, persistently tracking wear and tear on the engines, propellers, tires, brakes, and flaps. The engines consume oil while they are running, and it is possible to mismanage engine operation on the ground in a way that can damage them. Pilots may affect repairs from within the MM, and are able to enable or disable wear and damage features independently. For those who do not desire this feature, all failure and damage realism settings can be disabled.”
The Maintenance Module can be accessed any time the Flight1 Beechcraft Super King Air B200 is loaded into Flight Simulator, regardless of the current view. Open the Maintenance Module by choosing the Add-ons > Flight1 B200 > Settings option from the Flight Simulator Menu Bar.
A new free Android App is included
The Flight1 Beechcraft Super King Air B200 includes a custom-coded Android application simulating the GCU 477 MFD Controller. When connected to the flight simulator, the app provides all the functions of the GCU 477 within the sim, but without taking up screen real estate or requiring a camera move and without any frame rate cost.
Flight planning is accomplished through the MFD, using the GCU 477 MFD/FMS controller. This consists of a three-function rotary knob, a joystick, FMS function keys, and an alphanumeric keypad to quickly and easily input letters and numbers. Moving through the different display screens in the MFD is also accomplished using the MFD/FMS controller knob. You can use mouse clicks to operate the rotary knob for data entry or as an option, you can also use your keyboard for typing the alpha/numeric input to the GCU 477 controller.
Using the Controller Android App
I don’t have an Android tablet or device and the app doesn’t work on my iPad or iPhone so I just undock the popup window and slide it over to a second monitor when I’m doing data entry for the MFD. But, those who do use this Android App state it is really slick and saves valuable monitor display space for them, in addition to just being super cool and making use of a touchscreen. It makes a good step toward the home cockpit and more realistic sim flying.
Proper sounds are a large part of the immersion for me. I expect to hear the wind noise, the brake squeals and squeaks, turning sounds, the tire noise, thumps and bumps of gear retraction or extension, switches being thrown and all the normal cockpit sounds. I also expect to hear some instrument whrrrs and spinning type noise but remember the G1000 replaces most of those analog whirring and purring sounds and it is mostly quiet. On the real one, you have some positive tactile/haptic feedback as you push a button and turn the knobs, but it is difficult to near impossible to reproduce resistance or the slight vibrations when using mouse clicks and hot spots.
The engine sounds are the easiest to identify. Most pilots instantly recognize those manly Pratt and Whitney and Hartzell propeller sounds from a distance or as a King Air is taxiing or making run-up checks or during climb outs but only a chosen few actually know those sounds from inside the cockpit. These are unique sounds and the Flight1 team has captured them well. For those one of two flight simmers with piano tuning or sonar operator hearing capabilities there are always some aftermarket add-ons from one of the specialty sounds studios should they think they could be improved.
The interior cockpit operation sounds are all there, proper clicks for switches, swishes for knobs turning, etc. I personally like the sounds just the way they are, especially the beta sounds.
A few of the extras that I really like . . .
I like the Lotus style landing lights; the damage / failure modes, especially the degradation of engine performance for poor pilot technique, and flap and gear damage for extending outside the proper range, and the realistic brake fade; the visible icing effects – not just the windshield, but the leading edge buildup that affects the flight performance; I like the choice of factory clean G1000 screens or the visible fingerprints; (I have never seen a clean screen in real life, they are always covered with fingerprints); I like the working electrical, fuel, pneumatics and pressurization systems ( I love to see those needles move when I flip a switch); I like the auto feather feature; I like the fact that I can add or delete waypoints on the fly and build a flight plan while sitting in the plane without importing from the FSX planner; and I like that I can pop-up and move the GCU 477 keypad and AFCS unit to my 2nd monitor.
There is actually not a single thing that I do not like; this is just a short list of the ones that makes the simulation so much more realistic for me. I really do like this recent trend of responsibility and feelings of ownership made available by our favorite developers.
A requirement for learning to maintain and fly this one is that you do indeed read the included manual, maybe more than once, and then dedicate the time to practice flying like a real King Air pilot would fly this simulation. Because this model is a specific hybrid, you absolutely must use the Flight1 Blackhawk Super King Air documentation because there are so many upgrades to the standard B200 King Air.
A little Side Note
A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away . . . I flew my Cessna 150 over to Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base outside Orlando, Florida to get one of those weekend SES ratings. Jack saw my 4 or 5 year old C150 tied down and asked if he could take it around the pattern a couple of times. OK, I have a few hundred hours total time and Jack is closing in on 24,000 logged hours. I say sure. Without speaking a word during that short circuit or two I learned more about good piloting technique, smoothness, deliberate actions, and such than any series of lessons.
Now this is a lowly C150 with a very senior pilot in the left seat. I will always remember that he didn’t push or pull anything, he didn’t turn anything – he eased the throttle in so slowly it was not even noticeable when he got to full power and he didn’t pull the yoke back at lift off speed, the airplane just magically transitioned from the ground mode to the flight mode and then just ascended toward the heavens. Somehow, the plane eased into a fully coordinated climbing left turn with no visible effort by the pilot. Guys, I’m witnessing some smmoooooth flying technique. The touch and go and landing was the same type of flying. He never touched the brakes when taxiing; the plane just somehow came back where we started. Nose wheel glued to the yellow line. No visible effort by the pilot.
There's a website called FlyingLikethePros.com with video tutorials on how to be more professional in your approach to flying. There are lessons on the use of iPads in flight, flying with the Garmin G1000 system in actual IFR, how to get extra help from ATC when you need it and more.
The one practical tip you should probably start with is to strive to be a smoother pilot. You can do this on your own or with an instructor, but either way concentrate on flying as though the CEO is in the back sipping his drink and your mission is to give him as comfortable a ride as possible.
Anyway, that is how you need to fly this Blackhawk Super King Air B200 in FSX. Work on it. Smoothness is rewarding.
The reason for Jack’s request was revealed as soon as we got out of the Cessna he stated “I’ll trade you my yellow XJ6 Jaguar even for your Cessna”. I declined as I had a beautiful ’67 Stingray at the time and Jags were for old men and rich ladies. He was looking for a Cessna 150 to put on floats to expand his seaplane base inventory to attract more of those modern young pilots. (I got my seaplane rating that Sunday afternoon flying his classic yellow J-3 Cub on Edo floats with 2 hours total time in a seaplane)
Unfortunately, we lost Jack in a fatal crash when the elevator failed on a Seabee he was ferrying. He never got his Cessna on floats.
Recently Announced King Air Deal
Looks like the Beechcraft King Air will be flying the friendly skies for a long, long time. Let’s see $1.4B/105 = $7.5M each. Wow.
“Flight 1’s development team is online daily providing support for the Flight 1 B200 and providing answers and corrective actions. “
“The FDE "feel" is fantastic, the beta range is extremely well simulated.”
“If you want high fidelity with Navigraph update supported avionics all wrapped up in a speed fast GA plane this is the one to own.”
Here is an image of one of those lonely nights crossing the ocean.
Flight1 has designed full cockpit and instrument lighting controls in the simulation. The Overhead Lighting Control Panel contains individual adjustable controls for the panel flood lights that controls indirect lighting under the glare shield which illuminates the main panel, the dome light, the G1000 backlighting, the analog instruments such as the volt/ammeters and fuel gauges, and the left and right side lower panels.
More information is available here
Here are some takeoffs and landing shots.
| || |
| || |
Rather than typing the text from the Pilot’s Guide please read these boxes to get a feel for what you have for options with the Flight1 B200. Hint. It is extensive.
As normally expected, Flight1 has programmed nearly every knob, switch, button, key, and lever that can be clicked, turned, pushed or pulled with the associated function. Using the Virtual Cockpit as the base with full high definition textures for every gauge, bump, crack and crevice and a few popup 2d panels for the control boxes it is really something to behold.
Most major aircraft systems are as close to real world as one could expect. The Pilots Guide is loaded with full descriptions, examples, limitations, overviews, checklists and performance charts. This is one of the few simulations that you do not need to go looking for supplemental documentation. The only exception is Yoda’s tutorials.
The Android Application for the GCU477 MDF Controller, commonly referred to as simply the ‘keypad’ may be the precursor as to how the latest real world aircraft panels can be made to work in FSX. Three or four small supplemental touch screens and viola, you can have a simulated G5000 panel for instance.
The Pilot’s Guide has a few flying tips sprinkled throughout the 124 pages. The first jewel is how to show ATC that if you ‘walk like duck, and fly like a duck, you may just be a duck’ or better stated as:
KING AIR FLYING TIP #1
“Because our B200 is equipped with the Blackhawk XP52 engine upgrade, we're most often going to fly it just below or even into the RVSM region, which is generally where the jets are, and above where the bulk of the other turboprops are. At times, it's going to seem like ATC is using every excuse they can think of to get you to descend early and get out of the way of the tube liners. When that happens (and it will happen), don't go for the usual "three nautical miles per thousand feet" descent profile because you'll just get down too early and have to spend a lot of time bumping along in the lower air. Instead, pull the power back less dramatically, say to 86% N1, and dial in a -1000 foot per minute rate of descent. You'll save on fuel and gain a few knots in the process.”
| || |
| || |
| || |
To say the Flight1 B200 King Air has extensive Cautions and Warnings would be a severe understatement. Take a look at the tables and what is monitored and the cause for illumination. A fault requiring immediate attention will illuminate the Master flashers in addition to the individual annunciators in the associated panel. The annunciator will remain on until the fault is cleared.
Time for another flying tip
KING AIR FLYING TIP #2
“Let's take a minute to think about properly landing the King Air B200. It should go without saying (but it doesn't) that one should use the proper approach and touchdown speeds. You'll find the approach speeds on page 9 of this manual. Go ahead and look, I'll wait. Notice that the approach speeds decrease as the aircraft weight decreases. This is because the approach speed (also known as VREF) is calculated as 1.3 times the stall speed, and since stall speed varies with weight, so does the approach speed. But, what is the approach speed, exactly? Well, I'll tell you, in bold letters, because it's important: It's your target speed for a point 50 feet above touchdown.
Approach Speed is not your actual speed while on approach, nor is it your touchdown speed. In a genuinely stabilized approach, you'd fly VREF speed all the way from the Final Approach Fix to 50 feet above touchdown. This technique works great in jets, but it just isn't necessary in turboprops, nor is it desirable. What you want in a turboprop is to maintain your single-engine best rate-of-climb speed for as long as possible, in case you have a balked landing (which is what a missed approach is called in a King Air) and a failed engine.
So, in visual conditions, your best approach is flown gradually decelerating to about 121 KIAS, flaps to APPROACH, until you're at about 500 feet above touchdown. At that point, select FULL FLAPS, and you'll slow to about 105 KIAS pretty quickly. After that, you can slowly pull the power off to reach VREF at 50 feet above the runway threshold. Aim for touchdown about 1,000 feet down the runway, slowing your rate of descent to just one or two hundred feet per minute. Your airspeed will bleed off naturally, and the King Air will deliver you a nice, smooth landing.”
It’s in the details
The Flight1 Pilot’s Guide walks you through the recommended startup procedure for this PT-6 powered King Air. This is the procedure that Beechcraft says is ‘the’ correct one. Believe me, this is not a simple blow and go type startup, but, once you master all those little important cues it will become second nature. Next, all those numbers you have been using flying the stock King Air are now totally useless because the Blackhawk XP52 mods raises the ITT limit by 80 degrees C.
Even with the ice vanes extended you’ll swear this one has the STOL kit installed. Now if you thought the Turbine Duke was a performer wait until you fly this one. You can now get off of those really short runways.
The good news is that we not only learn all the turbine start details, we also learn all the other important things like, setting takeoff power, managing climb power, setting cruise power and managing power in the descent and landing phase. I’m not talking about a statement or two; I’m talking about paragraphs and pages of stuff we have been yearning to find. Yep, it is all in the details.
Because this is a true high flyer you will also need to know all the ins and outs of the Pressurizations and Supplemental Oxygen Supply System.
Limitations and checklists galore are included along with a special section on Cold Weather operations. Good timing for that one. Brrr.
You will find every page of the 124 pages filled with important and necessary information. Well, except for that one page that says . . .This Page Intentionally Blank. But, it is a good place for your notes.
What about all the G1000 details?
I can’t teach you how to use the G1000 in FSX as part of a review but I can state unequivocally that this is by far the best G1000 implementation you will find in any add-on model for FSX.
Yes it’s true, it does not simulate every feature of those real world Garmin G1000 units and it probably never will, but, what it does do is make simulation flying as realistic as possible with three flat screens. The flight planning and progress monitoring is greatly simplified with the features available to use provided we actually make use of them. This requires some dedicated study time and even more simulator flying time.
There are lots of books, videos, and such to help us along the way. My suggestion is to read the Pilot’s Guide first, then highlight a few of those pages where you don’t remember all the details. Then go find as many tutorial flights as you can and fly them using your new Flight1 Super King Air with the G1000 system. Of course, the first one should be the one made by the guy who wrote the manual – Yoda.
As an old retired real world pilot and flight instructor, I find nothing better for learning than doing. This means follow the tutorials and make the flights over and over if necessary. I always learned a lot more than the students when I was teaching, but don’t tell them.
There is not much that you can’t do with this Flight1 G1000 while flying the Super King Air in FSX provided you take the time to learn all the features and make good use of them. With the new maintenance and failures features added the lines between simulation and reality are blurred even further.
If you want to know more than is in the Pilot’s Guide there is a link for the Garmin G1000 real world edition. This one is 700 pages long and kind of reminds me of the PMDG way of explaining things, but, this is what the development team used to build our simulator version.
Should you want to read the Flight1 Pilot’s Guide, simply purchase the simulation. You have 30 days to return it should you have a reason to do so.
The External Model
Take a close look as these images of the nose gear. That folks is some seriously nice design work for FSX.
| || |
The exterior model is elegant. Make sure you click on the images to view them full screen.
Here is a series of shots on a typical jaunt to the islands. This is a seriously good looking aircraft and a truly good performing add on for FSX.
| || || |
| || || |
| || || |
You can elect to turn off the copilots PDF if you are flying as a single pilot and needs the squeeze an extra ounce of FPS in the simulation. These images were taken by Crosswind and posted at the Flight1 forums site. Thanks Simeon.
The internal model of this Super King Air could be the subject of its own review. There is way too much here to try to summarize in a few paragraphs or even a few pages.
Let’s just say it is a nearly perfect balance of realistic and properly colored textures with just the right amount of wear and aging for a simulation. Everything looks correct and balanced to me. Sure, they could have made it look clean and new, but it is not intended to be clean and new, it is a refurbished and upgraded 1984 cockpit with a new G1000 Avionics Flight Control System.
The full VC is nice but I personally appreciate the popups for those times when I need a popup. Having the Android app for the GCU 477 keypad should be appreciated by those with Android tablets. I have a large second monitor that I use but would like to see an IOS version for the touchscreen action. Now, add an iPad app for this and watch how fast I jump on it.
Let’s Fly the Tutorial Flight
A good test of this ultimate flying machine is the first tutorial flight from PASI to PAJN (Sitka to Juneau Intl Alaska). We will be flying the LifeMed Alaska repaint as recommended. If this is your first Yoda authored tutorial you are in for a treat. This short flight is more like a Type Rating check ride on steroids. It starts out simple enough – VOR to VOR - almost a straight line to our home base in Fairbanks, PAFA, but then comes the in-flight diversion.
This B200 tutorial flight covers how to properly fly the Flight1 B200 from preflight to shutdown, including engine startup procedures, manual flight plan entry, taxi and takeoff techniques, use of anti-ice and de-ice systems, cruise considerations, in-flight changes to the flight plan, approach, and finally the landing using only beta or minimum reverse. What more could you ask for an introductory flight in a Blackhawk Super King Air B200.
You are cautioned not to use any real world checklists that you may have found online or received from your brother-in-law that dropped out of flight school. Remember, this is not your standard B200, this is the Flight1 Blackhawk/Raisbeck/BLR edition.
The abbreviated synopsis is we will plan a routine one hour flight at FL260, 300 Kts, 4 SOB, Full fuel load with a TOW about 600 lbs under gross.
What I especially like about Yoda’s approach to writing a tutorial flight is that everything is there in front of you. The plan, the specifics, the checklists, the information that you need to make the flight, etc. as you would normally find, but, then the good part is he doesn’t just have you flip a switch or verify a lever position, he thoroughly explains the ramifications of not doing it correctly or specifically why you should do it this way or not do it this way. This approach is so much more realistic and immersive than do this, now do this, do that, check this type of the more common run-of-the-mill tutorials.
I have always been curious to know more than we normally see on the surface. At the end of a Yoda flight you should feel rewarded for a job well done. Then 3 flights later, you realize just how much useful knowledge you actually retained from that earlier tutorial. Thanks Kurt.
So How Does it Fly?
As usual, I don’t like to get into how a $60 FSX add on compares to a $3- 4 Million dollar real airplane or how it ‘feels’ on my desktop setup as compared to a dozen or more totally different setups around the world.
I will state that as a real world multi-engine rated commercial pilot I do not have a better modelled, better flying aircraft in my FSX virtual hangar. This Flight1 B200 has more realistic and comprehensive systems than anything I have with props on the wings. It is a joy to own, a joy to maintain, and a joy to fly.
I will suggest you read what Chris Frishmuth, a flight sim reviewer with 17 years real-world flight experience in B200 King Airs had to say in his review of the Flight1 B200 prior to the SP1 being released. You can find his review in the current PC Pilot magazine starting on page 40. Interestingly enough, his company took delivery of a G1000 upgraded B200 King Air the very same week that Flight1 released this one. Hint – He loves it and gave it their highest award – the PC Pilot Platinum Award.
The download for the Flight1 B200 comes with four repaints. A HD paint kit is available and we already have a dozen or more additional repaints available for downloading.
These original four are all outstanding as you can see, but, if you have something personal or specific in mind be sure to have a look around.
The OZX site has several air ambulance choices, a couple of nice Navy colors, and a few typical charter operators. Of course the Flight1 site should be your first stop for downloading repaints. One of my favorites is a B250 paint scheme adapted to our Flight1 B200. This one uses the Beechcraft/Hawker tan colors with the big B on the tail. Jim Hodkinson painted this one and I asked that he add my personal choice of registration numbers – N2RM. I then asked Soya to go back and add a few more screenshots using my personal repaint. Outstanding work guys!
| || || |
| || || |
| || || |
Here is a typical scene at any busy general aviation airport. Several King Airs mixed with a couple of corporate jets. This one could be named a ‘gathering of Kings’. Taken at the West Yellowstone airport, an Orbx title.
The cabin appointments are thoroughly modern and plush. The view out the multiple cabin windows is outstanding.
| || || |
| || || |
| || || |
The exterior taxi and runway lighting simulation is also excellent. Very realistic.
| || |
| || |
Even with all the neat features that Flight1 has included in the Blackhawk B200 flight model improvements are still being added to the real world model that could eventually work its way into the FSX model. For instance, Raisbeck has just recently started promoting their swept blade props modification for the B200 that allows for a larger diameter propeller without increasing the sound level in the airplane or on the ground.
This larger diameter propeller provides more takeoff, climb and cruise thrust that adds a few more precious knots of cruise speed. These have to be on the ‘most wanted’ list.
Well, that wraps up the review, time for me to go fly. I asked Yoda about any future tutorials that he might be thinking about or working on and he says as soon as he finds the time to build an orignal Weight and Balance worksheet he will give us the Flight1 B200 specific W & B tutorial. Somewhere down the road we may talk him into some sort of ‘advanced features or techniqes’ type of flight tutorial. I suppose the scope of that one will depend on the subject matter that we post at the forums.
Flight1 recently published the SP3 update to correct a few niggles and included the SEL ALT ADC feature for the G1000 navigation and flight monitoring. This banana arc was requested by one user, yep, only one. The team rearranged their priorites and in a matter a days we had this valuable addition in our hands. Wow, what supprt!
SP1, SP1.1A , SP2 & SP3 corrected or fixed a long list of oversights and gremlins and added some extra features. Some to do with sounds, disappearing click spots, warning horns, coordinated turns, missing camera views, glass textures type things. Last night the team was working on getting some 3rd party hardware quadrants working with this new beta feature in FSX.
It has been said before, even by me, that it just doesn’t get any better than this. That is as true today as it was the last time I wrote it but, hey, time moves on. I am absolutely astounded at the amazing progress a select few of our top tier developers are making with this trend of available maintenance and failures and other facets of flying other than takeoffs, cruising and landings. I know, a majority of the developers are still knocking out the routine stuff that looks great and flies like a dodo bird with minimal documentation. But, a handful, actually only four, of our developers are making general aviation add-ons that are worthy of our hard earned money. And only two have chosen to go that extra mile and include these ancillary functions that add so very much more to our flying simulation.
With the Flight1 team being one of the two, and the only one with a high performance, turbine powered, fast moving Super King Air, they are to be congratulated. I can’t think of a better way to express your approval than to purchase this fantastic B200 and start experiencing some of these new sensations. With their world renowned 30 money back guarantee, how can you go wrong?
In summary, when I look at the aircraft exterior, the interior, the flight characteristics, the newly added maintenance features, my choice of wear, tear and failure rate, the latest edition of the G1000 control system, and of course, the choice of the Blackhawk B200 Super King Air as a total package for FSX, I humbly mumble – it just doesn’t get any better than this.
Buy this one just as soon as you can. Commit to thoroughly learning the systems and the piloting techniques necessary to fly it properly and you too will agree with me.
This is the easiest recommendation for the coveted AVSIM Gold Star that I have ever made. The award goes to the entire Flight1 B200 Development Team. Thanks Guys.
The Flight1 Development team. A special thanks to Jim Rhoads, Kurt Kalbfleisch, and Jeff Smith for assistance with the review.
Patrick Van Der Nat, aka Soya, for all the wonderful custom screen shots. They just seem to get better and better.
Simeon Richardson, aka Crosswind, for permission to use some of his screenshots posted at the forum and on Flickr.
Jim Hodkinson, aka Hodge001, for making his repaints available for download, and for the special N2RM repaint. Thanks Jim.
Elliott Aviation’s G1000 retrofit on a KingAir 350. Photo not copyrighted, used as general media use, image capture from web site advertising. (Mark Wilkin, Director of Avionics Sales)
Beechcraft Blockbuster Announcement – Flying Magazine eNewsletter, sent to my email. Stephen Pope, Author.
- Intel i7 2700 OC to 4.5 GHz
- 8GB RAM
- Dual Dell WS Monitors, 27 IN and 24 IN
- nVidia GTX580 1.5 GB
- Crucial M4 256 GB SSD
- Intel 330 180 GB SSD
- Seagate 3TB HDD
- WD Black 1TB HDD
- WD My Passport 750 GB Ext. USB3
- Windows 7 x64
- FSX Acceleration
- Saitek x52 Controller, Combat Flight Pedals, Bose Companion 20 Speakers
Download: 362 MB (SP3)
Platform: FSX only, SP2 or Acceleration