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    Majestic Software DASH 8 Q-400 For FSX


    Gaiiden

    Introduction

     

    Review by Werner Gillespie. The Dash 8 built by Bombardier is obviously a twin engine turboprop airliner built for short to medium range hops for the regional airlines. They were actually introduced by De Havilland Canada, but are now being produced by Bombardier Aerospace, the same company that roles out the legendary Lear Jets.

     

    The Dash 8 was developed from the Dash 7, but being optimized with extremely short take off and landing performance (STOL). It was also intended to have improved cruise performance and to reduce operating costs. It utilizes the Pratt & Whitney PW 100 series engine. The -400 is obviously the fourth variant in the Dash 8 line.

    (Wikipedia)

     

    This has also been one of the most widely anticipated releases this year. Let us dive right into it and look at what Majestic Software pulled out of the hat on this one!

     

    Installation and documentation

     

    Right, so the package is 372 MB large, and is contained in a single installer that you double click to get it going. You will be required to provide Majestic with your registration information which was provided to you by Majestic upon completion of the purchase which also entails product validation and activation via internet - nothing new in this day and age then.

     

    Installation is quick and painless with no vices that I can report. Once the installation is complete, you can find the following documents inside your SimObjects\Airplanes\mjc8q400\doc folder:-

    • A cockpit preparation card, which lists all the steps needed to prepare the aircraft for the first and subsequent flights of the day and also to prepare either an air start or an APU start, 2 pages and colour coded making it easy to follow;
    • Control panel guide, 12 pages long, giving you the low down on how to work the control panel, which is a very nice addition to the aircraft, but more on that a little later;
    • FMS quick reference chart, a 1 page read, explaining in short and concise language how you would achieve a certain function on the FMS, and believe me, as you will see later, this FMS is very different from Boeings and Airbuses, so you will spend a bit of time studying it;
    • A supplement about how to get the latest navigation data for the FMS from Navigraph;
    • A normal checklist card, 2 pages and also colour coded taking you through a normal flight cycle, both for normal flights, a first flight and also which sections should be read aloud and responded to by the other crew member;
    • A 3 pages long special features supplement for you to see what Majestic has added to the package;
    • A speed card in imperial units containing the information required to plan the various take off speeds for your weight and flap settings, and also another 2 pages long card in metric units containing the same information, but in metric units; and
    • A systems description, which is nothing more than a 126 page main operating manual for the aircraft.

    All the documents are of very high quality, they read very well, and they have been compiled to exceptionally high standards. I would really recommend you spend a bit of time in the manual and the other documentation to get you going in the right direction, especially if you don't have too much experience in flying turbo props!

     

    The documentation is represented in a thoroughly professional manner, and they are easily understood. The documents are also presented in a graphically very attractive way which is very easy on the eye!

    Full marks!

     

    Preliminary

     

    Now first of all, please take note of the fact that there is MORE THAN ONE package to choose from! What package you choose will eventually be governed by the amount of depth that you want and the amount of money that you will be willing to spend.

     

    There are no less than THREE packages to choose from:-

    • The Pilot package, which is what this review utilizes and is also the most basic of the three packages. This will set you back E 49.95
    • The Pro package, which has slightly more features and will set you back E 74.95
    • Finally there is the Training edition which has the full set of features but is almost double the price of the Pro package at E 149.95

    Before you make your decision, have a look at the product page to see what you want.

    One of the other brilliant little things that come with the aircraft is that it has a CPAN (Control Panel) which does several things for you:-

    • It allows you to set your EFIS to imperial or metric units and to pick how fast your VC updates as opposed to the instrumentation for varying the juice it requires from your hardware;
    • You can set the timing source and select if you want the FDE to sync with FSX or not, depending on your frame limit inside FSX, whether you have it limited or unlimited. This is important, follow the instructions or your experience may become a bit choppy!
    • You can calibrate your flight controls and engine controls, but FSX must be running and the Dash 8 must be the active aircraft. Thereafter you must restart the simulation;

    • Sound options, although only in the more expensive packages; and

    • Finally, and most importantly, a loading utility for loading passengers and cargo into the aircraft. You will soon discover that this portion of the CPAN is quite complex actually, and you need to go to the manual to explain some of the more complex issues surrounding the loading utility.

    The CPAN works immaculately and greatly adds to the immersion and realism of loading up the aircraft. You can also see from this that there is an immensely complicated system running underneath that you cannot see!

     

    You will also notice that there is no direct way of selecting a cold and dark state for the VC, but it starts by default in the way that you would find it after the engineers have set it up for you. Lovely!

     

    Exterior

     

    The exterior of the aircraft looks really good, not the best I have ever seen, but it is really well modeled! You get two moving pilots upfront, looking as if they are performing their duties. The propeller blades are all angled correctly.

     

    The tyres, the wheel wells and the braking and other systems making up the wheel and gear assemblies are done to a very high standard. Particularly noteworthy is the riveting at the back of the aircraft near the rear pressure bulkhead. Very nice!

     

    There isn't anything to indicate that the aircraft has been in service and it looks like it just left the showroom to be honest. If you connect the ground power unit (which we will get to a little later), the ground power unit shows up after a while and gets physically connected via the correct apertures, again, very nice!

     

    All in all, a job well done, and there is not much if anything that I can really gripe about, very well done! As usual here are a few screen shots for you:

     

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    Interior

     

    At the business end you will find a beautifully modeled VC, truly a work of art; it cannot be described with any other phrase! Although there are no signs that the aircraft has seen at least some service, the displays have a glint of dust on them as you would expect and it is clearly visible at the right angles with the lighting from the outside falling in at the right angles.

     

    Everything from the circuit breakers behind the pilots to the main panel and in particular, the overhead, has been modeled to a level of detail that one will find in the likes of the PMDG B737NGX. It really is exquisite!

     

    The Pilot package does not come with a 2D panel so I cannot comment on what that would look like. If you want that, you have to cough up so more dough, however, this also goes to show why some developers have said outright that they do not want to model the 2D stuff anymore since it pushes up the price of the package in the end and this is a very clear example of that statement!

     

    Every switch, every dial, every light every display, they all reflect the real aircraft to an immensely high level of accuracy. The proportions in the cockpit look about right from my vigorous YouTube search for cockpit videos.

     

    Now, this obviously means that you may have to zoom into certain areas of the VC from time to time, especially in the overhead panel, but you can also switch views by simply pressing the A key on the keyboard too.

     

    When turning the aircraft, the reflections play over the instruments and displays to increase the sense of photorealism that you have in the cockpit. Marvelous! When switching the CDU's on, the display gets change in colour in it before anything is displayed, clearly indicating that the display is now lighting up.

    The pedestal is done equally well, and here you can see about the only signs of wear and tear on the aircraft, the throttle levers.

     

    Below that are your radios which are digital units that can be switched on or off. They can also be tuned with the CDU's.

     

    The AFCS also looks the part and certainly acts the part as we shall see later. So as can clearly be seen, keen attention to detail has been paid in the compilation of the VC. It is extremely flyable, and although some of the systems are not modeled (remember this is the Pilot package), all the switches can be flipped, pushed, pulled, turned or whatever they need to do. When you are sitting in the VC flying this aircraft, you will truly feel as though you are in fact sitting inside and at the controls of a Dash 8.

     

    This is a masterpiece of VC design and I really cannot fault it, simply amazing job!

     

    Again, some screen shots for you to show you what I am talking about:

     

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    Sound

     

    The sound package that comes with the aircraft is magnificent! It has the rolling sounds on takeoff and landing, it has the sounds for the switches and dials, and it really has some beautiful sounds for starting up and shutting down those turbines!

     

    What I also like is the straining sounds made as the aircraft turns during the various phases of flight which I found quite delightful, since I have hardly ever come across this! There are also announcements that are made by the cabin crew and the pilots during the different phases of ground operations and there are aural push back dialogues. These are automatic and you do not need to activate them manually, the computer handles that for you. Excellent!

     

    Last but not least, it has some excellent soundtracks for when the aircraft is boarding, varying from Bach to more modern compilations. This I found particularly intriguing and pleasantly surprising.

    All in all, wonderful sound pack and one that really seems to capture the feel of the aircraft.

     

    Flight Dynamics Engine (FDE)

     

    Okay then, the business end. Now, what I will do is explain to you how you COULD fly the airplane and then how I am GOING to fly the airplane. As I explained to you a little earlier, the full procedures are available for you to run through should you wish, and yes you can in fact make full use of these procedures.

     

    However, since is a slightly lighter version of the aircraft, I will follow an abbreviated version of the checklist which you can find in the sample flight folder inside your Majestic aircraft folder. It is a simple text document which can be easily printed out or used on a tablet or iPad which is what I will be doing.

     

    So let us start...

     

    On the abbreviated checklist, my preflight consists of just checking that the DC panel on the top left hand side has the batteries switched to on, the main bus tie switched on and if you are using the external power, we switch that on as well. This is done by working through the FMC options and selecting the GPU (ground power unit) to be connected to the aircraft via the "SERVICES"menu inside the FMC. Neat!

     

    For the air conditioning we switch on the bleed air on the top right hand side of the overhead and that is followed by the recirculating fan switches that are turned on.

     

    Next we set the parking brakes to on, we open the doors and we switch on the FMC. This is done by clicking on the power button on the FMC. Then follows a very well modeled effect - it looks like the FMC screen changes colour for a moment before it switches on and the diagnostics start to run to check out the FMC unit to make sure that all is in good working order, which we find that it is today.

     

    Again, an excellent bit of realism, since these screens do warm up a little before the unit fires up and I can start using it. Full marks to the developers in that regard! Once this is done, we press the large button to the top left of the FMC to align the navigation system.

     

    Once this is going, the PFD and ND will go blank for a while, giving the usual warning signs that you would receive once the process is in progress. To align takes about ten seconds or so, so a bit of realism has flown out the window there, however, given that the entire preflight takes about 2 minutes, this is not a bad idea by the developer!

     

    Okay so now the aircraft is powered. We can now proceed to our before start items. And yes, I could have followed the full checklist; it does work, although some of the items are not modeled as I indicated above, so I do not bother with that.

     

    Right, so our passengers are aboard and we are ready to get started and get underway. Yes it is time for the before start checklist. We simply close the doors, turn the passenger signs on in the lower center part of the overhead, switch on the anti collision beacons to red, and since we are using the external power today, we don't bother with the APU bleed section of the checklist.

     

    The controls have to be locked on the pedestal by flicking the lever over the throttle quadrant downwards. We can then proceed to call for the pushback, which is also an option that can be access through the "SERVICES" section of the FMC. Again, exceptionally neat! We turn off the parking brakes when instructed to do so by the ground crew and set our speed bugs.

     

    Now a little bit more on the speed bugs...

     

    Right next to the PFD (primary flight display), there are a little row of knobs. On this set of knobs, there is a knob to let you select the V-speed you want to set, which will then change the colour of that speed indication on the PFD and we turn the knob to set the value. These values we have to be obtained from the documentation that came with the aircraft.

     

    How accurate are these speeds? Well, I will tell you when we get to that part of the flight! As soon as the one value is set, we select the next speed to be entered. Today my V1 speed is calculated at 105 KIAS. Once this has been done, the V1 value turns back from a blue colour to a normal indicated colour on the PFD. This is repeated for the VR and V2 values. The system performs without any glitches.

     

    We now move to our engine start portion of the checklist...

     

    We are instructed to ensure that the power levers are at the DISC position and provided we did not tamper with the power levers during the preflight phase, it should be there. We are now instructed to place the condition lever into the Start & Feather position, so we do that. We start the engine now by selecting that we want to start engine number one in the overhead and then following that by the start switch in the overhead.

     

    So how does the engine "feel" and look during the startup process? The answer is that I was blessed with what I believe is a very accurate startup! The engine takes time to spool up and none of the FSX native runaway can be detected, it is absolutely believable. Excellent so far, no vices or surprises, except for the pleasant ones that I have mentioned!

     

    We now repeat the process for the other engine, and presto, we are done. Now all that is left is to set the lights and the anti-ice systems. A quick word on the anti-ice - make sure that if you have the option on for icing, you have to manage the icing systems and your exposure to ice very carefully!

     

    What the developers have done, or claimed they had done, is that they have modeled the icing effects very carefully with all the nasty little things that can go wrong, like the balance of the propeller being disturbed and propeller runaway etc. Take my word for it, this does in fact happen!

     

    It is very well modeled and gives you quite a sense of urgency when you encounter such a situation. I was once again pleasantly surprised by yet another substantiated claim. I think it should be clear at this point that this quite a deep simulation, despite it being the lightest one in the lineup!

     

    Once we have done all this and we are ready, we can begin taxiing to the runway. At this point I follow the taxi checklist. I push both condition levers to 1020 RPM, which is a smooth process as we set the levers into that detent on the throttle quadrant. We switch the autofeather on, we hit the auxiliary fuel pumps to on, and then we check that the flight controls operate correctly.

     

    We also ensure that the nose wheel steering is engaged, the TCAS is switched on and we hit two notches of flaps to push them to 10 degrees extended. Right so let us get moving to the runway then.

     

    Time to feel what it is like taxiing the aircraft around the runway. Now, before I go there, I just need to fill the reader in on my turbo prop experience. Just about the only one that I have spent considerable time on, is the Flight 1 ATR 72-500, which in my opinion is one of the finest add-ons ever produced for the flight simulator platform. My logbook reveals hundreds of flights and roughly 1 800 flying hours with the aircraft. So I am fairly familiar with what such an aircraft feels like when it is on the move, both on the ground and in the air.

     

    Now, the ATR used to be a bit of a mission in the sense that as soon as I apply the smallest amount of power, the propellers would "bite" into the air immediately and I would have to be on and off the throttles the whole time to keep the aircraft under meaningful control and to keep the ground speed in check, and I got used to dropping the RPM on the props for the taxi, and then push them to the take off power setting when I reach the runway.

     

    So how does this one feel? The answer is just brilliant! None of that excessive "bite" of the propellers are present! I can apply a fair amount of power and taxi in a very relaxed style. The aircraft has a tendency to "lean" a little around the corners and the general feel is very realistic. Based on my real world experience of taxiing aircraft like C-172's and smaller light sport aircraft around the aerodrome, the feeling is very accurate.

     

    Oh, and another thing - the nose wheel steering in this aircraft is connected to the ailerons, not the rudder pedals, so you have to move your joystick as you would the ailerons to go left or right. I rather liked this! The braking is effective and what you would expect for an aircraft this size.

     

    Right, we are at the runway and we begin our take off checks. We turn our anti collision lights to white, switch on our landing lights and our bleeds to minimum. We turn the anti-skid switches to on, we switch our pitot heaters on, and check that our caution panel is black which it is, apart from the parking brake light that I have on since I always do my checks with the parking brake set so that I won't discover I have inadvertently started rolling down the runway, or as can sometimes happen with the Dash, backwards!

    Another quick word on the caution panel - the quality is just beautiful! It is crisp and clear, a little small, so you might have to zoom in occasionally, but an amazingly well done piece of equipment in this aircraft!

     

    We now lift the control lock off of our throttle quadrant by pushing it forward. We make sure that our steering tiller for the nose wheel is at zero degrees, and we are done. We can now advance the power levers to RATING, which will then give us our take off setting.

     

    The rolling rate and acceleration of the aircraft is what you would expect from this type of aircraft. It just feels right! At this stage you will also discover the remarkable STOL capabilities of this aircraft! Before you know it you are airborne. As the aircraft does not have contra-rotating propellers, a healthy amount of opposite rudder is required to keep her going straight down the runway. That said however, you will be quite surprised at how stable it is and how easy it is to find the right balance here.

     

    So about those V-speeds... They are as accurate as you will get them for any atmospheric, weight and runway length condition - another fine example of the accuracy of the flight dynamics engine of this bird!

     

    On rotation the aircraft is a joy to fly straight away! The controls are smooth, not overly sensitive and again, what you would expect from an aircraft this size - remember, this aircraft does not have direct control links like a C-172 for example, it has a full set of hydraulics, so if you put your mind to it, you can sort of predict what it should feel like and it certainly meets those standards!

     

    Right so we are airborne, what next? Now we retract the gear, and we switch the autopilot on. As long as we ensure that the navigation source is set to FMS1, we will follow our flight plan. Yes, the aircraft is fully capable in the lateral navigation. How about vertical navigation? The answer is yes. The autopilot operation is smooth, no surprises. You can select the navigation to on at any intercept angle and it will intercept the flight track without any hitches.

     

    We now manually work the pitch of the aircraft (or you can use the vertical speed option if you wish) until you have it nicely trimmed at the speed that you want and then you engage the IAS (indicated air speed) option on the autopilot which will then fly the airspeed that you selected that autopilot option on. So if I am flying at 180 KIAS and I am in VS mode, and I proceed to engage the IAS mode, the aircraft will keep the thrust setting, but will automatically adjust the pitch to maintain 180 KIAS. Nice!

    We are now instructed to reduce our propeller RPM to the CL 900 detent, which goes smoothly and easily. Again, the engine response is wonderful! You really get the sense of flying a turboprop aircraft here. We then switch the bleeds to normal.

     

    Up to this point the aircraft has performed absolutely flawlessly and I am extremely impressed. We now climb to FL250, 25 000 feet AMSL. We do not touch the power settings, which means the condition levers and the thrust levers again until we reach the cruise altitude. For speed settings for different weights and what speed you want to climb at for what weight is determined from studying the tables in the documentation. The climb is actually surprisingly efficient! The performance was much better than I expected.

     

    In the climb we further switch the PTU switch and the standby hydraulics off, which is on the center pedestal just below the engine indicating instruments. Yeah I know, took me a while to find those too, don't feel bad!

     

    So now that we have done all of this we sit back and relax and take in the scenery, just occasionally monitoring that the autopilot is doing what it is programmed to do and that the engines are operating normally. A word of caution here - please DO check the engine RPM etc. I have had the occasional situation where the one engine did have much higher RPM's and temperatures. I had to play around with the bleed and power settings to eventually stabilize it. You really need to watch the aircraft and the systems very carefully folks!

     

    I love that about this aircraft, in the big iron we sometimes become complacent, especially when flying the PMDG 747 for example when we have all the failures turned off and we are 99.999999% certain that the autopilot will keep it going as it should, but this aircraft requires you to be a little more vigilant than on the Queen with 100% reliability enabled. You have been warned, don't abuse the systems and the engines and monitor them properly.

     

    As we reach our cruising altitude, the aircraft gently eases into the cruise, flawless transition between the climb and cruise phases. Marvelous! At this point we set the cruise power by reducing the cruise condition levers to CL 850, and we make sure that we do not exceed 265 KIAS. If we do, we have to reduce the power levers a touch. If we don't need to, we do not move the power levers at all during the climb and the cruise.

     

    We then perform the more mundane functions, like switching off the seatbelt signs. Now we relax, sit back and enjoy the flight until shortly before the descent point. During cruise the autopilot does the flying and does so magnificently! The automated systems on this little gem is really a joy to operate and will have no vices provided that you operate them like they are intended. Even when you encounter more adverse conditions, the automated systems will handle the job perfectly. It is clear that an enormous amount of time was spent to get the automation working properly.

     

    Once we are about 40 odd nautical miles out from our descent point, we make sure that we set the aircraft up for the descent and landing. We have to feed the FMC a target initial descent rate (which I usually set for about 1800 feet per minute based on my ATR experiences) and then, if all the other parameters, like the STAR and ILS approach is properly calculated with the right height restrictions set, the VNAV will FLY THE DESCENT FOR YOU! That's right, unlike the ATR the VNAV is directly linked to the automated systems and it flies the descent and approach for you, and not just give you recommended vertical speeds to follow like the ATR would.

     

    So this is Boeing or Airbus in a bottle if you will! Unlike the Airbus of the Boeing though, there are two modes in which you can do this:

    • VNAV TO, which according to the manual is the simpler of the two; and
    • VNAV ENROUTE.

    Now, how the FMC is programmed for the approach will depend on which of the two you choose. The VNAV TO will allow you to set a waypoint with an altitude and descend directly from your current point to that waypoint. When using VNAV ENROUTE, you will have a flight plan that looks similar to what you would see in the A or B team's FMC, and this is what you require to fly a proper descent and approach. So this is also what I would use. Now how does this work?

     

    Well it is really simple...

     

    Well first we have to make sure that all the waypoints have the right altitudes assigned to them. Just run through them on the legs page and have a look at them. In my case, on my test flight they aren't so I have to set them up properly. When using the ENROUTE function, I find that the vertical speed is now automatically calculated. This means that I don't have to go and set the desired target vertical speed in the FMC. Neat!

     

    We reduce our power levers (for the first time since take off) to 5% torque, tune our radios as required (no, the Dash does not auto tune it for you like the Boeing 747 for example), and that is it! Now we monitor speeds and descent rates etc, making sure that we stay on course with the profile planned. During the descent, the aircraft performed marvelously well, with nothing that I did not expect, BUT...

    Please note that this is a very different aircraft from what you are used to when flying other turbo prop aircraft or the big jets. Get to know the systems. When you know the systems and are comfortable with them, they won't surprise you. Still getting to know them? Well, there may be a thing or two that catches you out! Please take the time and read the manuals.

     

    Before we know it, we are about to intercept the ILS approach for the runway that we will be using today. We run through the before landing checklist...

     

    We ensure that the landing lights are on, that the ILS frequency is tuned, and VERY importantly make sure that the autopilot source for the navigation is set to ILS1. If you don't do this, well... Do I need to even say this? You won't intercept the localizer or the glide slope for the approach!

     

    Next we have to tell the autopilot that we want to intercept the ILS. How do we do this? Simple, we engage the APPR mode on the autopilot. We then set our decision altitude (I already did this before departure) and increase the prop levers to CL 1020. There is a bit of a response from the aircraft when doing this, which is obvious since the props are spinning much faster than they had previously done.

     

    We now switch the auxiliary fuel pumps on again, and head down to the panel just above the throttle quadrant. Here we set the standby hydraulics and PTU on, which is announced with a green light. Furthermore, we ensure the passenger signs are on and once we start to reach 200 KIAS we can get ready for the deceleration and flap extension.

     

    Now, according to the checklist once we start to drop our speed below 200 KIAS, we can select our flaps to 5 degrees. I usually wait until the nose is around 4 degrees up before extending the next notch of flaps, so at around 185 KIAS, I extend flaps to 5 degrees. The effect of the flaps is noticeable too!

     

    I stay in this configuration decelerating now to 180 KIAS and keeping it there. The localizer intercept is very smooth. At one dot below the glide slope, I extend my landing gear; I slow to 160 KIAS and set flaps to 15 degrees. We are also instructed to set the bleeds to minimum, so that we can extract maximum power from the engines if we need to do a go-around.

     

    Today we have selected our flaps 15 degrees for landing, so this pretty much completes our landing checklist. The interception of the glide slope is just as wonderfully smooth and occurs with no drama. The approach down the glide slope is smooth and goes without any surprises.

     

    At around 500 feet above the ground, I disengage the autopilot, and start to fly the aircraft to the runway. The controls are again smooth and precise. They are not oversensitive and they do not surprise me in anyway. Even with the relatively strong wind that I am flying this approach into, the aircraft is stable, and although I have to work the rudder a bit as you might expect, the approach is smooth and coordinated.

     

    Now for the difficult part. The flare of the aircraft is a relatively difficult maneuver. Should you overdo this, you will stall and crash, you have been warned. I had to practice a few landings in this aircraft from the circuit to actually get it right. I always add a bit of landing speed to compensate and use the ground effect to land the aircraft. I mean that I float for a bit sometimes, but makes sure that the actual touchdown is safe and acceptable! Once you have the feel for it though, you relish the challenge to land the aircraft and it becomes second nature really.

     

    The aircraft has a nice sense of inertia and you have to work the rudder a bit to get it leveled out and going down the center of the runway once you are down. Remember that the propellers are also pulling to their own direction and it makes the landing rather interesting! That said, it is actually surprisingly easy to do this and you get the hang of it very quickly.

     

    Slowing the aircraft is not a problem either. Once we clear of the runway we engage the control lock again, toggle the anti-collision lights again, pull the flaps up, switch the auxiliary fuel pumps off, switch the landing lights off and the taxi lights on. Done!

     

    Taxiing the girl in is just as easy as getting it to the runway. Although, this time around, power changes are a little more sensitive since the aircraft is of course much, much lighter and therefore less thrust is required. After the mandatory temperature stabilizing period has passed, I usually reduce the prop RPM to a nice low setting for the taxi in to reduce workload a little.

     

    When we reach the gate, we shut the aircraft down by engaging the parking brake, switching the PTU and auxiliary hydraulics off, retarding the power levers to DISC and the condition levers to the START & FEATHER position. We then disengage the steering tiller, request the GPU to be connected again via the FMC, and after waiting 30 seconds for another temperature stabilizing period, we shut the fuel off and we open the doors. Done!

     

    My experience from flying the Dash 8 was one of immense satisfaction and immersion. This is a study sim, and even though it is a lighter version of the most complex version offered by Majestic, this is one majestic simulation!

     

    When I take a look at the amount of hours spent testing this little gem, my logbook recounts 56 hours of flying time over about five weeks. During this time in the cockpit I have completely fallen in love with this simulation and will continue to fly it on active commuter service.

     

    The final verdict on the FDE is that it is remarkably accurate, very stable and really captures, for me anyway, the feel of the Dash 8. This is not just my opinion either. If you have a look at the forums you will find an abundance of very satisfied customers all flying the Dash 8.

     

    So will this satisfy the Dash 8 real-world pilot? Don't know, I am not a real Dash 8 pilot and I would love to get some comments on this by the folks who fly this for real. Will this satisfy the simulation diehard? An absolute yes - it has completely won me over!

     

    Performance

     

    I tested this on my Q9550 Core2Quad system with the GeForce 480 GTX with 768 MB RAM and 6 GB system RAM. The performance was smooth as you like! Even in denser, more complicated scenery the aircraft performed remarkably well, never dipping below 30 fps, even on the ground when ready to taxi. Just make sure that you do observe the little note about the CPAN settings I outlined above or your experience may be a little undesirable.

     

    Conclusion

     

    So what then remains to be said about this one? I love the three different versions that you can choose from, depending on your simulation and budget requirements and restraints. I love the overall package, it really comes together tremendously well. It really captures the feel and the immersion that we have come to expect and sort of take for granted these days!

     

    In terms of systems simulation, the full package will no doubt have the PMDG touch on it. It is a tremendously deep simulation. Eye candy, the cockpit textures come very close to the NGX for me as well. So in short, this is the NGX in turboprop aircraft if you are looking for one.

     

    Flying it is a joy, whether it is done by hand or by autopilot, you are going to love it. Overall, this is a 10/10 for me, I love it.

     

    So, the obvious question would be as to whether putting down your hard earned cash for this is worth it. A resounding yes from me! The full package is remarkably pricey I must add, especially comparing it to the PMDG add-ons, but they are well worth the money in the end.

     

    If the Dash 8 is your niche, get this one, you won't regret it one little bit!

     

    What I liked about the Majestic Software DASH 8 Q-400

    • Beautifully modeled exterior
    • Lovely interior and VC
    • Amazing systems accuracy
    • Realistic FDE
    • The three packages you can choose from
    • Monthly updates on the navigation cycle for the FMC
    • All the little extras like the soundtracks played upon boarding, the ground services, etc
    • The CPAN utility
    • Highly customizable with a loading utility

    What I didn't like about the Majestic Software DASH 8 Q-400

    • A touch pricey!
    • Not much else really!


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