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    REVIEW – Alabeo's Cessna 207


    Jordan1995

    ALABEO CESSNA 207

    A review by Mike Cameron

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    Introduction

     

      The information below was gathered from the product documentation, http://www.airliners.net and www.aopa.org . In the early 1980’s, minivan automobiles became very popular because they could carry several people at once or a large amount of cargo. Long before the Detroit automakers designed this popular utility vehicle, aircraft manufacturers developed the aerial version of the minivan in the 1960’s. They were six to eight seat aircraft and were roomier then the four seat aircraft that they evolved from. Cessna’s Skywagon 207 and the Stationair 207 have performed many of the same tasks that make the minivan so popular today. The 207 Skywagon, high wing, single engine aircraft equipped with two main wheels and a steerable nose wheel also featured an increased fuselage length of 3 feet, 6 inches from the Cessna 206 model to allow seating for seven people was introduced in 1969.  The name was changed to the Stationair 7 in 1978 only to be replaced by the 207A Stationair 8 in 1979 which added a seat for an 8th occupant.   Production ended in 1984 but a few more were built by Reims in France and was known as the F207.   Several Cessna 206 and 207 aircraft have been converted to turbine power by Soloy as the Turbine 206 and 207.

      

    What made the Cessna 207’s so practical was the ability to pack so many people and their possessions in a light aircraft and fly them to their destination in reasonable comfort and modest expense. The 207 is basically a simple aircraft, with rugged proven systems. With average equipment, the empty weight is about 2100 pounds and the gross weight is about 3600 pounds. The useful load is about 1500 pounds and the center of gravity envelope is generously wide at maximum gross weight. The flight handling characteristics are similar to the Skyhawk or Skylane so if you have piloted those aircraft, you should not have any problem handling the Cessna 207.   In some ways the 207 is easier to fly then the Skyhawk, the 207’s larger size made it a bit more immune to turbulence.   This aircraft has highly effective flaps and its slow speed handling is even better than the smaller models.   According to my research, for landing, lower the flaps, trim a little nose up and let the 207 “chirp, chirp” onto the runway. I will see about this during my review. The Cessna 207 also has very impressive short field landing characteristics, it can land at just about any unobstructed 1000 foot length of airstrip.

    • Specifications
    • Powerplant: Single 300HP Continental IO-520-F fuel injected flat six engine driving a three blade constant speed McCauley propeller.
    • Maximum Speed: 150 Knots
    • Maximum Cruising Speed: 144 Knots
    • Long Range Cruising Speed: 118 Knots
    • Initial Rate of Climb: 810 Feet per Minute
    • Service Ceiling: 13,300 Feet
    • Range with Standard Fuel & Reserves: 470NM
    • With Optional Fuel & Reserves: 690NM
    • Empty Weight: 2095 Pounds
    • Max Takeoff Weight: 3612 Pounds
    • Wingspan: 35 FT 10 IN
    • Length: 32 FT 9 IN
    • Height: 9 Ft 7 IN
    • Capacity: 7 or 8
    • Production: 790 Through 1984

     

    Installation

      

    Alabeo products are very easy to activate and install. After purchase you will be emailed a link for the download along with your User Name (email) and a Serial Number.   The Serial Number is very long, so I recommend copying it and pasting this number when requested by the install routine. Start the installer, read the License Agreement, enter your User Name and Serial Number and press the “Next” button.   If you typed everything correctly, the simulator selection screen will open and Alabeo includes FSX, P3DV1 and P3DV2 options.   I like when simulator aircraft companies include support for the latest Prepar3D without forcing the customer to purchase another license.  I will be reviewing the FSX version of the Cessna 207. After selecting your simulator, the program should automatically find the simulator location but if it does not, click on the “Browse” to locate.   Press “Finish” to complete the installation.   If you own other Alabeo or Carenado aircraft, you should know by now that they do not provide single comprehensive manual but rather individual documents and for this aircraft and these are located in the Alabeo C_207_Skywagon folder in your FSX Aircraft directory. These documents are the Alabeo Copyrights, GNS530 User Guide, C207 Emergency Procedures, Normal Procedures, Performance Tables and a C207 Reference Document. There is also a RealityXP Readme for RXP GPS integration. For most people that have piloted other Cessna general aviation aircraft in the simulator, these should suffice. The first time that you load the Cessna 207 into FSX, you will be asked by the Microsoft Security Alert System to verify the ALSound_C207.dll file, select “Run” and “Yes” to designate this file as trusted. Repeat for the ALC207.dll and the Radio_C207.dll files.

     

    Interior Features

      

    As I have come to expect from Alabeo, the interior features of the Alabeo Cessna 207 Skywagon are outstanding. If you like clean interior textures with your new simulated aircraft, you will be disappointed because both the Bush and Regular models of the Alabeo Cessna 207 have plenty of stains and other signs of a well-used aircraft.   I personally like simulated aircraft that have been out of production for several years to have “wear” textures included as part of the model but it would have been nice to have one of the included aircraft have clean interior textures. I also like that there are textures that indicate that there have been upgrades performed at some time in the past.   On the ceiling is what looks like a large speaker and in front of it are three covered holes that probably housed some previous components.   As you would expect from a quality premium aircraft, all of the interior features are three dimensional and very realistic looking including the textures of the seats.  The passenger compartment also has very impressive textures, but all of the included aircraft have the same color scheme.   If this is a Cessna characteristic then I can live with. Another missing feature that would have added to the overall experience is some static passengers especially when viewed from the exterior view. This aircraft is used for passenger transport and I cannot believe that there would be that much of a performance penalty.   Also, it would have been nice to have at least one of the bush models have a cargo interior. There are two alternate interior views and the features displayed with these views are just as impressive as the VC views. Interior signage is very readable and is another small feature that I look for with premium aircraft.   I could not open the rear door using the handle and apparently this door does not open because the only doors that open with the handles are the left and right cockpit doors.   Not a big deal but it would be nice to have the rear door open also to add to the experience.   The “Control Windows” 2D window also has an option to open/close the right cockpit door.   Both of the front widows can be opened with their handles, which is another nice feature.   The animations associated with operating these doors and windows are also excellent. The sun visors are also animated but there are only two positions, fully retracted or the full opposite direction, it would have been nice if there had been a middle position.  Again, this is a very minor nitpick and does not take away from my enjoyment of this wonderful aircraft.   The interior lighting is also very good and can only be controlled from the instrument panel.

     

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    Exterior Features

      

    There are six aircraft each for both the Regular & Bush models including an all-white paint for each model. The bush aircraft have textures that reflect aircraft that have operated in a bush environment with more stains than the non-bush models. There are several alternate views that allow you to simulate the preflight exterior walk around. I will include screen grabs from both models for some of these views and will zoom in close if needed to examine the exterior features. Before capturing the various exterior screen grabs, I first want to comment about an exterior feature that is not included with this package, secured aircraft ground static objects. I have come to expect these ground objects in some form to be included with premium aircraft either placed automatically with the engine off & parking brake set or manually with a cockpit option.   This is another small cosmetic issue that does not affect the overall quality of the Alabeo C207; it just would have added to the overall experience and increased the realism factor. All of the exterior details are three-dimensional and look fantastic.   As you can see from my first set of screen grabs, the bush aircraft have the wheel fairings removed, which is what I would expect. The pilot and passenger look very good from the external views and have nice animations especially when viewed in flight. I like the amount of detail of the front wheel assembly and the small decals on the propeller blades also have some detail, which is nice. For angle view three of the bush aircraft (screen grab #6 in this section), I zoomed in close to see all of the scratches and other marks that are part of the bush textures.   After the fourth angle view (rear, left), I am going to alternate between the Regular and Bush models. I used the Nearest Tower view to provide a close up look of the left gas cap and I like that Alabeo has included signs of corrosion which is another indication that this aircraft has been operated instead of being new from the factory floor.   This screen grab was from a bush aircraft but the regular aircraft also had these textures.   The final screen grab is an exterior view with all of the exterior lights turned on and the effect is very nice without being overly bright, in fact it was almost not bright enough.   Also the Taxi/Landing lights use the same switch and they are both either on or off.   I think this is supposed to be a three way light switch, taxi, off or landing but Alabeo only modeled a two way switch, which takes away from the realism level.   If this is how the real C207 Taxi & Landing lights operate than I can certainly live with this.

     

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    Instrument Panel

     

     The default VC view is much too close for my preference. The first thing that I do is adjust my eye point and the zoom level so that I can see more of the instrument panel.   If I adjust it just right, all of the panel instruments are clearly visible from the default VC view.   The Bush model adds hand hold bars to the cockpit.   Similar to the Cessna 206, the 207 is nose high when looking forward so I may adjust the seat height as well. Window & Instrument reflections are activated by default and if you like clear textures; open the Control Windows 2D window to load the transparent windshield and to disable instrument reflections. I personally like clear textures so I disable these as part of my preflight routine.  I love that the GPS is close enough that you can operate it from this view. All of the instruments are large enough to be very easy to read.   The Control Yoke does obstruct the Pitot Heat and lighting switches but you have a few options for viewing & operating these. First, you can hide the yoke using the click spot and from this view I can see that the switch labels are very tiny and hard to read. This is not a complex instrument panel so most people should be able to memorize the locations without issue. From the Right Seat view, only the Pitot Heat switch is obstructed from the yoke but there is still a click spot for operating it. The last option is the Switch view and from this view the zoom level is so close that you can easily read the small labeling. The other included alternate panel view is the Power Knobs. I like the overall look of the instrument panel with some wood looking trim that gives the C207 more of an appearance of a luxury aircraft instead of single engine Cessna workhorse.  All of the switches have a nice sound effect associated with their operation. A switch that is missing is the master avionics switch.  This is another one of those things that if the real C207 does not have an avionics switch, then I can certainly live with. When I first turn on the master Battery & Alternator switches, all of the avionics also were on, which is not good until after engine start, so I had to turn each radio off before engine start.   The FSX master avionics keyboard entry is still modeled with this aircraft and I have it mapped to a joystick button so I simply use this button to turn the avionics off and on.  The Alabeo C207 does not include a secondary COM/NAV radio and I consider this a pretty serious omission for a simulated aircraft used for IFR operations and air transport.   Below the GPS is the ADF radio and I would rather have the secondary COM/NAV radio instead of the ADF radio. Of course in the real world the panel would be fully customizable for the customer.   This aircraft includes RealityXP VC integration but requires you to run the “RXP530C207” program from the Alabeo C207 Skywagon folder from your FSX aircraft directory to add the RealityXP GNS 530 to both the Regular and Bush models.   If you would like to return to the default GPS, simply run the “ALA530C207” file from this same folder. This is an easy process and works well but hopefully on future aircraft, Alabeo will figure out a way to be able to switch to the RXP unit from within the VC. This is not a big deal and I am thankful for the RXP VC integration without having to do any manual panel.cfg editing. The Alabeo Piper Saratoga II TC which was released during the writing of this review also includes support for the Flight1 GTN 650 & 750 and the Mindstar GNS 430 & 530 GPS units so the future is looking bright for owners with alternate GPS units.    Another small issue that I had when using FSX flight plans with the default GPS, the flight plans are not linked to the CDI, only radio navigation frequencies and headings.  Flight plans created with the RealityXP GPS worked correctly though.   Since I will primarily be using the RXP GPS, I can live with this and if this is a bug, hopefully Alabeo will fix it with an update.   Finally, all of the instruments had fluid movement and the instrument panel lighting is also very good especially when combined with the dome lights.

     

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    Flight Model

       

    I always like to approach my aircraft flight model reviews from an average flight simulator enthusiast point of view, rather than how realistic the flight dynamics are.   I am not going to compare the airspeeds with the included performance tables but rather how the aircraft handles and how easy or hard it is to fly in the simulator. I do like to follow the checklists to review the accuracy of the startup procedures and I will comment on the sound and animation effects along the way. If you own other Cessna single engine aircraft for FSX, most virtual pilots should not have a problem memorizing the engine start procedures. The first thing that I notice when performing the Before Start checklist is that the fuel tank selector only has three positions, “Left, Right and Off”, instead of also having the “All” position featured on some other Cessna single engine aircraft. So on long distance flights, I need to remember to switch tanks when needed. I did not have any issues with the Before Start checklist and starting the engine.  The procedures are very easy and I love the vibration effect when the engine is starting. I could not find anything that said that Alabeo recorded custom sound effects with this aircraft so I have no idea how accurate these engine sounds are. I think the sounds are very good with a nice amount of deep bass sounds.   When I first installed this aircraft I thought the engine sounds were too quiet than I discovered that I had my speaker controls turned down and when I adjusted this, all was good.  This may be a coincidence but at the same time that this aircraft was released, Syncho-Soft also released a sound package of Cessna 207 sounds. This is a very easy aircraft to taxi but because of the nose high attitude mentioned earlier, you may want to adjust your eye point to see over the cowling.  All of the instruments responded correctly during the Before Take-Off checklist and like the audible sound change when performing the propeller check. I also did not have any issues performing a normal take-off.  The screen grabs for this section were taken at the new free Yosemite scenery for the Orbx Northern California regional scenery product. I flew at some high altitudes on this trip and you need to realistically lean the aircraft in order to maintain altitude. From what I have read on the Alabeo Forum here on Avsim, this is accurate and some users have said that the overall flight model of the Alabeo C207 is very good which is nice to hear. I enjoyed hand flying this aircraft and it is also very easy to trim for all phases of flight. Climb performance is excellent; I was able to maintain 500fpm and 115 Knots when passing through 10,000 feet. Cruise performance is also very good, at 12,500 feet with a manifold pressure at 17 inches, 2300 RPM; I was able to cruise at 130 Knots. I did not have any issues descending and setting up an approach. It slows down nicely and I can see why it is used for bush operations. When I setup the approach correctly, I was able to practice a short field landing with ease. I practiced with a long runway and I look forward to the challenge of approaching a remote airstrip somewhere. The sound effect of flap operation is very nice and it is loud enough to be able to hear over the engine which is something that is not always modeled with simulated aircraft.  Short field take-off performance is also very good. The autopilot is a pretty standard FSX autopilot and is very easy to use.   I did practice some ILS approaches and the autopilot captured and followed the glide slope without issue.   To summarize, the Alabeo Cessna 207 is a very fun aircraft to fly in FSX, I love the performance and most simulator pilots both experienced and new to the hobby should not have any issues piloting this aircraft in the simulator.

     

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    Conclusion

     

     Accessibility: The Alabeo Cessna 207 package is very accessible because it is available from all major flight simulator web stores.   The download size is only 277MB so everybody should not have any issues downloading this product.

     

    Affordability: The price of Alabeo aircraft has been increasing with their latest releases but these aircraft are also more complex with a greater amount of features than some of the earlier Alabeo aircraft. For $29.95, I still consider this product to be a good value because you get two models of the C207, the Regular and the Bush.  The package also includes the P3D 2.x installation so a separate purchase is not required if you have box FSX and P3D installed on your system.   This alone is probably worth the purchase price because most simulator aircraft developers are marketing their aircraft as two separate products for FSX and P3D.

     

    Ease of Installation: Alabeo products are very easy to install but do have a very long Serial Number to enter.   The keys are hidden when you type this number so I recommend copying this number from your purchase email and pasting it when asked as part of the installation.

     

    Compatibility with Other Products: Excellent, as mentioned previously, FSX, P3Dv1 and P3Dv2 installation options are all included, no additional purchase is required. I do not know if the P3Dv2 installation adds any new features or functionality to this aircraft.

     

    Features & System Performance: As with all Alabeo products, the interior & exterior textures and features are outstanding. Lighting, sound and animation effects are also very good. The Alabeo C207 is a wonderful aircraft to hand fly with all phases of flight and the autopilot also does a good job. This package includes RealityXP GPS VC integration which I consider a must have with all general aviation simulated premium aircraft. Because this has analog instrumentation, my system performance was excellent and I did not have any issues smoothly panning around the cockpit.   I do wish that Alabeo would have included a couple of small cosmetic features. First, I would like to see some passengers displayed in the passenger compartment from the external views.   They do not need to be animated and with the powerful computer systems available today, I do not think this would cause that much of a performance issue.   I would also like to see an option to be able to display cargo in the rear compartment, especially with the Bush aircraft.   It would also be nice to be able to open the rear door.   All of the above would greatly add to the visual experience.   A bigger issue that I have with this aircraft is that it does not include a secondary COM/NAV radio, only the one on the GPS. I know panel space could be an issue but I would gladly trade the ADF radio for the secondary COM/NAV radio. Even with all of the above issues, they are more personal preferences than actual problems; I still highly recommend the Alabeo Cessna 207 package to flight simulator pilots at all skill levels.

       I want to thank Alabeo for providing me with the review copy of this aircraft.   If you would like to learn more about this product, the C207 product page is located here: http://www.alabeo.com/index.php and the Avsim unofficial support forum is located here: http://forum.avsim.net/forum/664-the-unofficial-alabeo-support-forum/ .

     

     

     

     

    Computer Specs:

    • Intel Desktop Computer
    • Intel i5 4670K 3.4Ghz Non OC Processor
    • 8GB DDR3 1833 Memory
    • 2TB SATA HD (7200 RPM)
    • NVIDIA GeForce GTX550Ti Video Card with 1GB GDDR5 Memory
    • Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick

    Software:

    • FSX with Acceleration, Windows 7 – 64 Bit
    • REX 4 Texture Direct
    • DX10 Scenery Fixer
    • FSX Fair Weather Theme

    Flight Test Time:

    • 25 hours

     



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