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    REVIEW - CARENADO PA46 Malibu Mirage FSX/P3D


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    CARENADO PA46 Malibu Mirage FSX/P3D

    A review by William Reynolds

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    Introduction

     

    Designed in the 1970s, the Malibu Mirage is the third pressurized single engine piston aircraft ever built. First prototype flew in late 1979, but production did not start until 1988 (Mirage).

    Piper had decided to enter a fast growing market and offer a pressurized single engine aircraft that could cruise at medium altitude and had excellent performance.

     

    The Malibu Mirage came equipped with a Textron Lycoming TIO-540-AE2A 350hp engine, which gave it a good amount of power and comfort. Designed to carry 6 occupants, it features a full capability IFR cockpit with good operating costs. The aircraft was unfortunate enough to suffer 7 fatal accidents, and was the focus of intense scrutiny.

    During re-certification, the aircraft demonstrated very good tolerance to flutter and g-loads so after several recommendations regarding the use of the autopilot, the aircraft was once again cleared to take to the skies, and has not looked back since.

     

    Installation and Documentation

     

    Single ZIP download of 176Mb. This file expands to show 3 sub-files: An Executable (the installation application itself), an "Installation" text document which details very simple steps to take for successful installation of the model, and finally a README file with information specific for P3D users.

    Regarding P3D installation, the installer asks if you would like an FSX or P3D installation, and simply lets you specify the location of the SIM of your choice.

     

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    The installer will place the required manuals in a "Carenado" folder inside the Flight Simulator of your choice. And this package comes well equipped in this regard:

     

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    As you may notice, the developer gives you the tools to integrate the payware RealityXP GNS530 and/or GNS430. Note, they do NOT come in this package, Carenado simply gives you an "integrator" to use them in the Mirage if you already own them:

     

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    Once you have decided on the options above (and read the manuals!), we are ready to look at the aircraft.

     

    What comes in the pack? You get the following repaints:

     

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    Panel

     

    Fully expected a Carenado job, and it is what I got. The textures are very good indeed, it feels almost claustrophobic when you first load it, the windscreen is shallow and protrudes to the front, and the effect is definitely there.

     

    Worth nothing this aircraft comes with a Virtual Cockpit only. There are pop up views available for the GNX530 and GNS430 units but aside from that, the VC is your home.

     

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    Carenado also gives you a tool to set Panel state for the aircraft....with one important caveat...if you choose the ready to Taxi panel state, double check your cockpit, it does not set all switches, you are still expected to perform your checks and ensure the aircraft is indeed ready to go. The interface is simple enough:

     

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    Let's take a closer look at the "office":

     

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    Instrumentation is a faithful replica of the real aircraft, and most gauges are fully functional to one degree or another. In the above view towards the middle of the panel, you can see the twin array of dials for MAP, RPM, Temps, etc whilst in the row next to them we see the warning light panel, Radio controls, Autopilot, and the GNS units. Further to the right is the Weather Radar.

     

    The screenshot below shows instruments that are of note to this aircraft: On the Left we see the AVSS (Altitude and Vertical Speed Selector) which allows to set Barometric Pressure, Desired altitude, Decision Height and desired Vertical Speed. Immediately below the AVSS is the Transicoil EMIS (Electronic Module instrument System), this has 5 modes: Instrument Mode on Ground, Instrument Mode on Air, Percent Power Mode, Fuel Posting Mode and Fuel Load Mode. This tool allows you to set fuel load, power settings, check endurance, fuel flown RPM etc. I found this very useful as a visual indicator, although I could not load fuel into the aircraft.

     

    In the middle section we see the Warning Panel, followed by the Radio control panel (partly functional) and below we see the Autopilot function control panel.

     

    On the right shows miscellaneous controls like pitot heat, prop heat, de ice, blowers, wipers, etc. Immediately below is the transponder.

     

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    The two Garmin Units plus the Wx Radar.

     

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    Overhead panel is very well represented.

     

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    Below Screenshot on the Left shows the Circuit Breakers located on the Bottom Left of the PF Panel, none of them work. Screenshot on the Right shows the Pressurization dial (it works well, but you need to do some research into its operation), Dimming switches (only the Panel switch works, provides interior light), Fuel Selector (works well), CHT Cycle knob (rotate knob to select any Cylinder and check its temperature, although it works as in the selector cycles the Cylinders, the temp remains the same for all CH), and finally Gear Indicator Lights and Lever.

     

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    A good look at the pilot's seat in the day:

     

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    And night:

     

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    Interior:

     

    Pop up views for controls are activated by pressing Shift+(N) where "N" is a number between 1 and 6. Where Shift+1 brings a pop-up of the GNS530, +2 brings the GNS430, Shift+3 brings this handy little screen:

     

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    As you can see above, aside from being able to toggle VC Windows, Reflections and Ground ancillaries (pitot covers, chocks, etc), you have control over passenger and cargo doors. Very detailed graphics, equally smooth textures. The other popup view screens provide pane state and overview of options.

     

    Cabin is well done, but nothing over the top, the real aircraft itself is a very simple high performer:

     

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    Exterior:

     

    Two thumbs up here, good work. Textures are well done, love the shine and reflection, even in my modest rig

     

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    Sounds:

     

    Personally, don't like them. I believe they missed the mark. You have a nice big juicy piston at the front and the sounds attached to it make it feel miles away. Again, it is personal opinion, I just wish there was a little more "grunt from that beautiful engine at the front.  Other sounds included are the overhead buttons, the flap lever, the gear lever.                      

     

    The Flying:

     

    So after it is all said and done....how does it fly?  At its core it does the job well. Developer stated this  is a fairly simple aircraft, with a good engine, good performance, pressurized and a few interesting instruments.

     

    On my very first flight, I managed to depart the runway to the right....rudder trim, my good friends, is a very handy thing to use. So this simulation has modeled the prop effect on the rudder....very good so far!

     

    Instruments do the necessary job, but don't expect dynamic work here. You can turn the engine off and back on again and the temps will not show you a hot start. Fuel management needs more work, both on my side and the developer's. The EMIS tool is great for showing fuel burn, etc but it does not show current fuel, appears to show full tanks all the time. Also noticed that even though I selected Left fuel Tank, it draws fuel from both tanks.

     

    So anyway, on with the show! Starting the aircraft is a breeze, be sure to pay close attention to the documents given to you, the Procedures documents are quite good. Taxiing must be done with small inputs of rudder, don't over correct or you will be sorry. Take off is fairly easy, don't exceed 42 in. of Manifold Pressure and you should be airborne around the 85 - 90 knot mark. I elected to climb initially at around 100kts, keep 2500rpm and adjust the mixture.

     

    Carenado recommends cruise around 2400-2500 RPM with about 30" Hg and 18Gph at 20,000ft. I had a fun time on climb testing different setups, and several test Stall climbs were performed. I am pleased with how the aircraft responded, as different speeds and altitudes brought about different times of deceleration and handling.

     

    The approach and landing were a bit of a guess. I followed  the Normal Procedure's document and was a little too generic. 80-85kts flap down...hardly much help if you are looking for precise speeds depending on profile, wx, etc but I took a punt on 80kts and touchdown around the 70-65kt mark. Aircraft settles nicely and is very responsive.

     

    Summary / Closing Remarks

     

    This was fun. My initial impression, after my very first flight was .."whoa, I definitely need to read some more about this!". But having said that, it is not an in-depth simulator and neither does it claim to be. But it has some instruments and features that you need to know how to use, as simple as that.

     

    My verdict? This is a simple aircraft, fun to fly, doesn't have any nasty surprises. It would be nice if the developer addressed some of the issues still present but they won't stop you from enjoying this pressurized piston single.

     

    What I Like About the Review Title

     

    • Textures are the usual quality Carenado standard, nicely done
    • 6 Repaints as default
    • Good effort simulating AVSS and EMIS.
    • Good quantity of documents, but their depth could be better.
    • It handles well. This aircraft could do for you what it does in the real world, a good performing pressurized single piston with good range and capabilities.
    • Easy integration with RealityXP 530 and 430 units
    • Easy to control pop-up menus.
    • Good frame rates.

     

    What I Don't Like About the Review Title

     

    • Sounds - Personal preference but I believe they add to the immersion of a sim.
    • Could not find a working ADF needle or DME. For DME I had to use the GPS, not sure if this is the case in the real aircraft?
    • Fuel indicator and Fuel management issues as described above.

     

    Computer Specs

     

    • Intel i5 3470 CPU at 3.2Ghz
    • Nvidia GTX660Ti OC GPU
    • 3.5 Barracuda 7200RPM HDD
    • Flight Test Time:
    • 8.4 hours


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