by Ray Marshall
The first Beechcraft Duke was delivered in August of 1968. The Duke (BE60) quickly proved to be a superior performer with 2 380 hpLycoming TIO-541 Direct Drive engines, a six place cabin pressurized for high altitude comfort. The A and B model were subsequently produced with minor improvements. The last Duke was produced in 1982 after a run of 596 airplanes. There are some 411 still flying. The Duke is fast, comfortable, quiet, and extremely stable. The Duke performs as well or better than any other aircraft in its class.
The Model 60 design concept evolved from a need for a new medium twin. The airplane was to offer a new profile with swept-back styling of the empennage, luxurious interiors, cabin pressurization, turbocharged engines and optional air conditioning. The Lycoming engines selected for the Duke were designed with turbochargers as an integral part (rather than a bolt-on accessory) to provide high altitude performance and maximum engine reliability. The same proven landing gear used on the Bonanza and Baron airplanes was strengthened and incorporated into the Model 60 design.
The production airplane utilized such modern engineering and construction method as chemical milling of skins to remove weight without reducing strength, metal bonding and honeycomb stiffening for light weight strength in areas of high stress, magnesium skins used in the empennage, and extensive use of flush riveting to provide an aerodynamically "clean" airplane.
The production flight tests began In December of 1966 and the first Duke 60 was delivered in August of 1968. The Duke soon proved to be the best performing, lowest priced, IFR equipped, pressurized twin available for the times.
The Duke Model A60 was introduced in March of 1970 at airplane serial number P-127. New interiors, cabin and cockpit appointments and exterior changes were added. Effective P-144, new turbocharger assemblies and exhaust ducting were added to improve efficiency and service life. Approximately 246 production model 60/A60 airplanes were delivered to customers.
The Duke B60 was introduced in October at 1973 at airplane serial P-247. This third generation of the Duke series aircraft incorporates the following changes: new exterior paint stripe, replacement of the cabin sidewall panel consoles and moving the third and fourth seats outboard to provide more width in cabin aisle. The instrument panel glare shield was mounted in a lower position to provide greater visibility. The pilot and copilot seat tracks were lengthened to provide, 1 to 1 1/2 inches additional aft travel of the seats. The cabin floorboards were lowered approximately 2 inches in the area directly in front of the fifth and sixth seats. This flatter floor provided improved ease of entry. The pressurization valves were relocated to the aft side of the pressure bulkhead. New interior appointments included a flush mounted cabin table and choice of interior carpets and upholstery fabrics.
The popular Duke B60 took on new dimensions of performance and a new look in October of 1975. The new developments in air pressurization systems and controllers Identical to the C90 King Air were incorporated in the Duke. Effective at P-385 and after the 1976 B60 featured a second optional fuel system increasing the total usable fuel capacity to 232 gallons and the range of the Duke by 20% at 68% power at FL 250.
In 1976 one of the Duke's direct operating costs was decreased 25%. This was achieved by increasing the TBO for the Lycoming TIO-541-E1C4 engine by 400 hours. Extensive testing with Dukes in the field and over 20 significant engine improvements since its first flight in 1966 gave Lycoming the proven confidence to increase the recommended TBO to 1600 hours.
In 1917, new developments included fuel sight gages with the long range fuel option, new cruise performance charts and the Collins Micro-line computerized avionics package, now standard equipment in the Duke.
The 1978 line included the quietest cabin sound level ever offered due to redesigned pressurization airflow and totally new soundproofing material used on the aft bulkheads and enclosures. Added comfort in the Duke was assured by the redesigned armrests and larger seats. The new wider aisle space provides better accessibility to the cockpit areas as well as convenience to passengers. Further ease of maintenance was provided for by the addition of two economical (12 volt batteries for longer life and lower maintenance cost.
A two-place couch replaced the fifth and sixth seats in 1980 and added 7 inches to the width of the rear seat area. Sidewalls were scooped out to provide an additional 2 Inches more elbow room and the armrests include a hydraulic lock so each seat back may be infinitely adjusted. A storage area was provided under each seat.
For 1981 the process of selective refinement of the Duke was continued with the addition of two fresh air/air conditioning vents in the cockpit. A King Air expansion valve with greater capacity was added to the air conditioner system which greatly reduces the temperature of the air. Also, the thermostat was placed higher up on the cabin sidewall to allow for more accurate temperature.
The Beech Duke is a great owner flown airplane with good speed (230 - 240 mph @ 21,000) and most are fully certified for flight into known icing conditions. It is as stable as a rock on instruments with adequate knee room for passengers in the cabin. The nose baggage compartment is more than ample.
Now you can throw all these standard Duke specs out the window because a Turbine Duke is a whole new ballgame.
There are three basic models:
Serial Numbers / Total Production
P4 - P126 except P123 (123 Total)
P123, P127 - P246 (120 Total)
P247 - P596 (350 Total)
• Originally had 1200 hr engines, most now converted to 1600 TBO.
• Short exhaust stacks which cause flap corrosion. 202 gallons fuel.
• Originally had 1200 hr engines, most now converted to 1600 TBO.
• Longer exhaust stacks but still some flap corrosion. 202 gallons fuel.
• Engines 1600 TBO. Longer yet exhaust stacks.
• New and simpler cabin pressurization controller.
• Redesigned aft cabin for more room and passenger comfort.
• 232 gallons fuel.
This last Model B60 is the only model that the STC owned by Northwest Turbine and modified by Rocket Engineering is allowed to become the Royal Turbine Duke. Only 18 have been built to date. You are in a very cozy group when you own and fly a Turbine Duke.
Q. Can you modify any Duke airframe?
A. Regrettably, no. The STC was issued only for the B60 airframe.
Q. Tell me about the Duke and this conversion.
A. The stiletto shape of the Beechcraft Duke is one of the best looking, and most distinguished, twin engine aircraft designs flying today. The Duke first flew on December 29, 1966, and featured a pressurized, six place, all weather cabin. The cockpit layout is well designed for single pilot operations.
Until now, a pair of 380 HP Lycoming piston engines have powered all Dukes. The subsequent additions of better turbocharging, enhanced pressurization and new interior arrangements have improved performance and cabin comfort.
The final answer is an upgrade to Pratt & Whitney turbine power. The PT6A is the most reliable and dependable engine in the world today with over 290 million flight hours on over 10,000 aircraft.
The Royal Turbine Duke from Northwest Turbine, LLC and Modified by Rocket Engineering combines the luxury cabin of the Duke, with the legendary Pratt & Whitney PT6A turbine engine to make a truly high performance, personal airliners.
The Real World Turbine Dukes
Here are a couple of photos of the first and latest modifications by Rocket Engineering.
Here are some shop snapshots of work in progress on N820B
The Flight Simulation editions.
RealAir seems to own the ‘simulated’ STC for the Beech Dukes. Rather than copy from previous reviews or research and write it all over again, how about, I simply give you a link and when you have the time or desire you can read about the RealAir Duke Turbine v2 predecessors.
http://mutleyshangar.com/reviews/joe/rtd/rtd.htm The Mutley’s Hangar review of the RealAir Turbine Duke is written by Joe ‘Mutley” Lawford himself and Joe rated it a ‘10’, the same score Hollywood gave Bo Derek. The difference is the Turbine Duke walked away with the highly coveted Award of Excellence. May 2011
http://www.avsim.com/pages/0711/RealAir/Duke.html The Avsim FSX review by Bert Pieke& Zane Gard awarded the Avsim Gold Star. Zane has a section where he talks about flying the real Turbine Duke. This should be required reading by owners of anyRealAirDuke. There was actually a RealAir Turbine Duke v1.5 that was a mid-course release of sorts.
http://airdailyx.blogspot.com/2013/09/duke-v20-exclusive-shots.html for lots of great screenshots of the RealAir Duke B60 v2.
Pricing options – It is not complicated but, actually it is sortacomplicated. You will need to know not only which RealAir products that you already own, and the version number to qualify for an discounted upgrade price. RealAir has built a ‘smart spreadsheet’ that will compute your eligibility for a discount based on the answers you provide to a few questions.
Even without any discount for previous purchases the full version price is outrageously low when compared to recent competitor’s pricing.
The FSX version of the Turbine Duke V2 will not work in P3D2.
One key item that you should be aware of is that the P3dv2 version is not the FSX version ported over to run in P3D. The FSX version was first available on January 1, 2015 and the P3D version followed with first availability on February 26, 2015. This special note is posted immediately below the Buy Button.
This may be in part due to the numerous changes made to P3Dv2 with each incremental update. It seems that P3D v2.2 was fairly stable but v2.3, v2.4 and v2.5 all had hot fixes rushed out a few days after the general release and the fallout of having to reinstall a lot of 3rd party addons put a bit of a sour taste in a few mouths.
RealAir had gone on record to state their intent was to have the Duke flying in P3dv2 but from day one it was not going to be a simple port over from FSX. The timing of P3dV2.3 wasn’t the one, because it was not one of the more well -received updates. It left several important items on the wish list for a later revision. P3Dv2.4 seems to be a temporary fix while v2.5 was being made ready.
I kept asking Rob and he kept stating “We are seeking a somewhat stable version of P3Dv2 for introduction of our Duke. The B60 Duke v2 for FSX was so loaded with customized coding and work-arounds to overcome the FSX limitations for TurboProps that most of the sounds and a few other key features would not operate in P3D as they had in FSX.”
Finally, somewhere along the way with the current P2Dv2.4 on most machines and v2.5 just around the corner, RealAir released the long awaited Turbine Duke v2 for P3Dv2.
About RealAir Simulations
RealAir Simulations have been creating quality flight simulation software since 2001. In that time they have developed a reputation for creating the finest quality and most innovative add-on simulation software in the industry.
A few of the innovations that RealAir introduced to the Microsoft Flight Simulator world are the first aircraft with accurate stall and spin behavior; the first aircraft with realistic side-slip behavior; their exclusive ‘Smooth Gauge Technology’ which brings extraordinary smoothness and clarity to virtual cockpit gauges; their ‘RealView System, that simulates the forces experienced by a pilot in flight as well as simulating the buffet felt during a stall; realistically simulated engine failures; user-configurable VC panel layouts, and much more.
As well as being known for innovation, they have developed a strong reputation for producing products of the highest quality. It is not uncommon to read words like meticulous, flawless, fabulous, and short phrases like ‘most enjoyable flight simming aircraft ever’, ‘the feel of quality’, ‘definitely worth the money’. One that I am especially fond of is ‘I wish Avsim had a slightly higher award than the Avsim Gold Star.’
These comments were all from previous Turbine Duke reviews. Now, somehow, I have to convey to the readers that the RealAir Duke Turbine v2 is not an incremental update or an evolutionary step forward, v2 is a whole new ball game.
Sure, versions 1, 1.5 and 2 do indeed look like the same airplane, even the paint schemes are similar, as well they should. But, like the newest Lotus racecar, it is what is under the hood that counts and how it responds to your commands, and how it feels in the curves, and, and, and.
Let’s look at some of the changes.
TurbineDukeV2 - New Features
If you own our Duke B60 V2, you may be wondering how the Turbine Duke differs. Aside from having turbine engines in place of the B60's piston engines, the Turbine Duke V2 differs in a number of significant ways. The following is a brief rundown of the main differences.
The piston engines of the Duke B60 have been replaced with powerful Pratt and Whitney PT6A turbine engines. These new engines lift the performance of the Duke to a whole new level and give the Turbine Duke a very different character. It is now possible to exceed Vne in level flight! Sustained climb rates of over 4000 fpm are now possible, max cruise speed is now up around 300kt TAS at altitude. A climb from sea level to 25,000ft can be done in as little as 9 to 12 minutes. In addition to the extra performance, take-off and landing distances have both been cut dramatically - takeoff runway required has gone from 2660 ft in the piston Duke down to 1000 ft in the Turbine Duke. Landing distance has been cut from 3000 ft in the piston Duke down to 900 ft in the Turbine Duke. This makes the Turbine Duke not just a faster aircraft, but a much more versatile aircraft that can operate from short runways the piston powered Duke can't touch.
The VC panels feature many updated instruments and switches necessary for the operation of the turbine engines, as well as a revised panel layout. New Moritz digital engine gauges have been faithfully recreated in three dimensions. There are now more radio stack layouts to choose from in the new Turbine Duke V2 Config Panel.
The Turbine Duke V2 features a complex engine failure simulation. It is possible for one or both engines to fail in-flight. There are two types of failure modelled - 'preventable' failures, caused by the pilot over-stressing an engine, and 'unprovoked' (random) failures.
The Turbine Duke's flight dynamics have been completely reworked to simulate the new turbine power plants as closely as possible. Aside from performance changes, subtleties such as handling changes and slightly lower stall speeds have been modelled. Engine handling, correct engine instrument behavior, as well as startup and shutdown sequences all came under close scrutiny. Turbine engines are very tricky to model accurately within FSX but we feel we came as close as we could on this release.
New Engine Sounds
The engine sounds have been completely reworked to match the new engines. The turbine engines sound smooth and powerful and dynamic, and are a pleasure to listen to while flying.
Improved RealView Sounds
Our custom RealView sounds which react to aircraft control input, attitude, speed and many other factors have all been greatly improved so that they now react more smoothly and fluidly. For example, the wind sound that accompanies side-slipping now reacts smoothly to yaw angle, so that small angles of yaw produce a subtle wind noise, while large angles of yaw produce a louder sound, and the intensity of the sound varies in response to airspeed changes. Other aerodynamics sounds that react smoothly to speed and control input changes include:
High yaw angle sounds.
High angle of attack sounds.
High roll-rate sounds.
Landing gear wind sounds when gear extended.
Flap flutter sounds when flying above flap operating speeds.
Aileron flutter sounds when flying above Vne.
G overload sounds.
Rushing wind sound when cabin door is opened on the move.
Flight1 GTN 750 and 650 Integration
The Turbine Duke V2 now includes full VC integration for the Flight1 GTN 750 and GTN 650. You also have the option to integrate the Reality XP GNS 530/430, or the standard FSX GPS 500. Installing any of these gauges is as simple as clicking a couple of buttons on the Turbine Duke V2 Config Panel.
New Liveries and Cabin Colours
The Turbine Duke V2 features seven new HD liveries, with each livery including a unique panel and cabin color combination that give each livery a unique character both inside and out.
New and Improved Config Panel
The Turbine Duke V2 features a new, easier to use config panel with a number of new features and more easily accessible help information.
User Configurable Radio Panel Layouts
Using the newly updated Config Panel, you can position the radios exactly how you like. The Config Panel includes a new easy to use drag and drop interface for rearranging the radios and GPS gauges. For example, if you would like the autopilot to be at the top of the radio stack, you can quickly and easily do that. You could also move the GPS from the left side of the radio panel to the right, or vice versa, or any other combination you can think of. When using Flight1 GTN or Reality XP GNS gauges, you choose whether or not to include extra nav/com and transponder radios. You can also choose to have no GPS installed in the panel for authentic radio navigation only IFR.
Version 2 Update List
The Turbine Duke V2 is a major update over our original, much-loved Version 1 Turbine Duke. Every aspect of this aircraft has been improved - graphics, flight modelling, systems modelling, sounds, animations, panel, gauges, GPS options, radio options and the Config Panel have all undergone major updates.
High definition 2048 pixel textures.
Exterior 3D model and texture enhancements.
A major update to the virtual cockpit modelling and textures, including a more detailed cabin and higher resolution textures on the panels, providing improved detail and clearer panel labels.
More character and ambience in the cockpit textures, including dust and minor wear marks.
Subtle details are revealed as sunlight moves across the cockpit.
Custom sounds on all cockpit switches, table, doors, armrests, and more.
Extensive custom camera animations simulating engine and ground vibration, overspeed and stall buffet, propeller torque reaction, landing forces, plus more.
Extensive custom sounds designed to enhance the custom camera effects.
Many more custom sounds and animations all designed to breathe life and character into the Duke.
Seven all-new panel and cabin color schemes.
3D model and texture performance optimization to ensure similar performance to the previous version, despite the much higher texture resolution.
Multiplayer performance optimization to allow for good performance, and trouble-free flying in multiplayer.
Extensive flight model improvements.
New more realistic engine sounds with improved separation between the turbine and prop sounds.
Improved, more realistically sized gauges with dust, dirt and finger marks on gauge glass (with the option of hiding these dust and dirt marks if that is your preference).
Improved gauge lighting.
3D lights in exterior and VC views.
3D landing lights with custom runway light splash.
Completely reworked VC night lighting.
Improved click spots and the option to disable them for EZDOK camera and Track IR users.
Flight1 GTN 750 and GTN 650 virtual cockpit integration.
Improved Reality XP GNS 530 and GNS 430 integration - RXP Unlimited installations are now supported, for example 2 x GNS 530 or 2 x GNS 430 with cross-fill.
User configurable radio and GPS panel layouts.
A new, easier to use config panel with a number of new features and more easily accessible help information.
An option to keep the VC textures in memory for a smoother and faster transition between cockpit and exterior views.
Turn coordinator bug fixed (turn coordinator allows for perfect rate-one turns).
Improved VC glass texturing.
Screws added to the panel face.
Optional suspension and touchdown sounds for both hard and soft FSX runway surfaces.
More complex generator load modelling.
Engine icing improvements.
Custom pressurization code with more realistic operation and extra controls when compared to standard FSX pressurization.
More realistic audio panel functionality.
Control surfaces and yokes move realistically in response to trim commands.
Control yokes and control surfaces move fluidly in response to autopilot commands.
ADF dip simulated (user selectable).
Three dimensional blurred propellers - the blurred propellers are not just a flat, two dimensional plate - they have depth when viewed from the side, and the propeller twist is visible even when blurred.
Flap buffet animation (flaps gently vibrate when lowered).
Optional flap failure when safe flap operating speeds are exceeded.
Improved cockpit door animation. The door closes with speed, and gently buffets if not properly latched. Wind roar can be heard when the door is open and the engines are running, even while parked.
Overspeed flutter animations on the ailerons and yoke, with accompanying sounds.
All switches and knobs can be operated by the mouse wheel in addition to our other interaction methods.
What all of the above boils down to is the best flying, best sounding, most realistic high performance twin available for FSX and now P3Dv2. We can make list of changes all day long, but if at all interested then by all means get it and go flying. Just make sure you pick the correct flight sim model or maybe both. Remember, the FSX and P3Dv2 models are not interchangeable.
All those RealAir Duke models.
RealAir B60 Duke, RealAirDuke B60 v2, RealAir Turbine Duke, RealAir Turbine Duke v2, and the Duke Turbine v2 for P3Dv2.
Recommended Good Reading – Avsim review of the RealAir Piston Duke v2
http://forum.avsim.net/page/index.html/_/reviews/aircraft/v2-piston-duke-from-realair-simulations-r1867 This is the Avsim review of the RealAir Piston Duke v2 (Dec 2013). I was looking back to see what I did not need to repeat and decided it was good enough reading to make available to those that may have missed it about 16 months ago.
If nothing else, be sure to watch and listen to the two bears discussing ‘I would look cool in a Duke’ and the age old ‘Single vs Twin’ debate on about the 3rd page or here Hilarious cartoon video for Duke lovers. Single vs. twin engine debate.
This is no different than BMW or Lexus owners anxiously waiting for that next new upgrade or model number change. To the crowd on the sidewalk looking at a new Lexus or BMW drive by it is just another pretty car. But, to the owner of that 2, 3 or 4 year old Lexus, it is a big deal indeed. The Turbine Duke owners will instantly notice some of the smallest things like screw heads added to the panel, more depth and detail to the gauges, the new digital readout on each engine instrument, and especially that big new up-to-date NAV unit in the center of the panel.
This same Turbine Duke owner that is now sitting in the new TDv2 will instantly start with the oohs and aahs when he or she start clicking to move around in the cockpit. Just wait ‘til you witness the super slick method of moving the radios around. This was not even thought possible a few years ago. And back then, the F1 GTNs not only weren’t available, heck we didn’t even consider they would ever be available in FSX and P3D didn’t exist.
The onboard checklists are also a welcome addition, as is the newly revamped startup switch panel. New annunciators, new . . . . well, you get the idea.
About the numbers
I thought it would be a good idea to bring everyone up to date on the various models and editions of RealAir Simulations Dukes. It is hard to believe the original RealAIr Duke was introduced 6 years ago. Yep, early 2009. This was way back when Orbx was still in Australia and Tasmania was the free demo package and the Pacific NorthWest was yet to be discovered by King Orbx.
Due to the inaccuracies of any given Internet search, I quickly stopped trying to figure out the RealAir release dates and fired off an email to Rob at RealAirSimualtions and simply asked for assistance. He responded in short order with more than I asked, which you will find is SOP for him.
In 2007 we were looking around for a twin prop aircraft to develop that was a little unusual and somewhat out of the mainstream. The Duke kept coming up as an aeroplane that had been lovingly cared for by many owners who were not put off by the expense of running it, or the fact that it was built many years ago. We felt it had both presence and character, so we started development in late 2007 and were ready to release in 2009.
We were quite surprised by its popularity, and then we started to hear about the Royal Turbine conversion which in performance terms could not have been more different. We were aware of the flaws in FSX's turbo prop implementation but felt we could improve the recognised problems with the hard coded turbo prop modelling.
Both Dukes could spin if provoked and were the first twin props for FSX that could do so.
The Turbine Duke was released in 2010 and proved not quite so popular at first, so we went back to the piston B60 Duke and started experimenting with Doug Dawson's sound gauge, which a customer of ours had also used to release some freeware addon sounds.
The result was the Duke B60 V2 which added to our already established animation and camera effects relating to stalls and other flight characteristics, with the addition of a comprehensive set of custom effects related to all sorts of reactions to various aerodynamic phenomena.
The B60 V2 was release in 2013 and was an immediate success with our customers. We then started applying similar but now vastly extended sound and animation coding so that every nuance of flight was included, from angle of attack, to roll rates, side slipping wind sounds, dynamic gear down airstream sounds and animations to cover everything from gear down to flap failure and aileron vibration. These custom effects, together with a much improved config app which had a large number of options including for the first time a point and drag panel layout utility were then implemented in our Turbine Duke V2 which was released in December 2014. This was soon followed up with our P3d conversion which now includes GTN gauge integration as well as the older GNS integration.
In the next few weeks and months we will be updating our Lancair Legacy with a similar spec, followed by the piston Duke which will probably be named version 2.5, both of which will also be released for P3d.
Summary release dates:
Duke Piston B60 V1 and Service Pack 1.5 –Early 2009
Duke Turbine V1 and Service pack 1.2 –Mid 2010
Duke Piston B60 V2 – Nov 2103
Duke Turbine V2 –Dec 2014
Duke Turbine V2 for P3d –Feb 2015
I would like to get to the point we can start talking about the performance of the RealAir Turbine Duke in P3D and the sister product for FSX. But first, I find it amazing that the last real world Beech B60 Duke rolled off the assembly line in 1983 just short of a ten year production run and that only 350 were built. More amazing is that only 18, yes 18, have received the Northwest Royal Turbine upgrade by Rocket Engineering.
Maybe even more amazing is the turbine engine of choice for the upgrade is the PT-A -35 or -21 Pratt & Whitney PT6A. This is the most reliable and dependable turbine engine in the world today with over 290 million flight hours on over 10,000 aircraft. And yet only 18 Turbines Dukes have been delivered.
This could very well be the doings of one Cessna Citation Jet Marketing Department that keeps pulling the turboprop owners over to the higher, faster, smoother, and less expensive to operate pure jets. Let me review those numbers again, 10,000 turbine powered aircraft flying with the PT6A engine, less than a score are Turbine Dukes, and yet there are almost 7,000 Cessna Citations flying around the world every day. Hmm, there could be a connection.
Just a little more info on the Turbine Duke.
The ramp presence of a Turbine Duke puts it head and shoulders above most general aviation twins with propellers. These are not just any propellers, but those big, fat, four-bladed Hartzell’s with the enormous side exhausts the size of smokestacks, well not literally, but really large. Like practically all executive transport airplanes, don’t expect to fill the tanks, and fill the seats on the same day.
The takeoff and landing specs usually get a double take from almost everyone. Fully loaded at 7,000 pounds, takeoff roll is 1,000 feet and landing is 900 feet. You can fine tune your flight sim throttles to get the reversers working just right or use a third hand to press F1 F2 F1 and ride the brakes to achieve the 900 feet landing distance.
As great as these specifications are, it is also just about as enjoyable to not try to eek the last ounce of takeoff thrust or to be level at FL250, 9 minutes after takeoff and cruising at a needle width or two short of 300 kTAS.
It might be a smoother and better learning curve to learn to fly the RealAir Turbine Duke at 90% of its capabilities rather than at 99.9%. After landing in 900 feet, it makes for a long taxi to fill up those tanks for the next leg.
Remember, this airplane, like the real world Turbine Duke, requires some nifty engine and prop management. Get sloppy and it gets ugly very quickly. Meaning watch those red lines. It is so easy to keep an eye on things with the RealAir click spots for moving around the VC. Nothing works better. It works with the TIR5 even better now than before.
Now it’s time to Start Your Engines.
I was truly blown away with all the new sounds and flight dynamics when I got the B60 Piston Duke v2 a little over a year ago. It is not just the sounds to the ear, it is what those sounds represent to you sitting in the pilot’s seat. Depending on the airplane configuration, speed, and whether you are climbing, turning or descending or some combination similar sounds will have a vastly different impact.
And it is not just wind or motion sounds, but engine and propeller sounds and the blending and interaction of the two. I feel safe stating that no other complex general aviation addon comes close to this new Turbine Duke v2 in realism. I think I read that RealAir has created more than 50 unique sounds that fall into the category of those sounds that react to control input, attitude, speed and all the other dynamic factors. It will be obvious as you add thrust, (no power levers in turbine powered aircraft).
Once you get past the startup phase and are lined up for your first takeoff run, you will immediately, says, ahh, now I am beginning to see what all these folks are talking about. It is not only the perceived acceleration, or the panel shakes and needle vibrations or the flap deployment sounds it is so much more than all of that.
It is hard to describe but quite easy to witness what I am trying to convey. It is a sort of perceived realism that comes from making a lot of real world takeoffs where the airplane is reacting to a little side motion as a gust of wind hits the props at a slightly different angle and the panel shaking becomes a shimmy but, is not some sort of canned motion but, more of a reaction to what is happening.
It is almost like the Turbine Duke is surging forward with that last ounce of thrust to get airborne one foot sooner than the last time. The period of time from ‘airspeed alive’ to ‘rotate’ is a very short duration indeed. The change in angle of attack and the transition from high-speed runway sounds to the symphony of sounds that accompany the gear up and locked sequence will have you shaking your head and talking to yourself. You will swear that you can actually ‘feel’ the landing gear ‘seating’ and the doors closing.
The almost final, then the near final, then the one last thump and bump of the heavy duty landing gear being retracted, twisted and turned to fit into the wells is a true piece of artwork. If nothing else does it, these sounds and motions will bring a smile to any flight simmers face.
“The sounds in this T-Duke V2.0 are quite simply the most amazing engine sounds I've ever heard in the sim. The combination (and integration) of engine and prop sounds is staggeringly good. It sounds great on the ground, great in the air, and is a dream to land.”
The cherry on the cake is the integration of the GTN750. Stick one of these babies in this aircraft and it's "flightsim nirvana". I love the way this plane acts on approach and landing, very solid and the final flare is completely controllable and believable. Congratulations Rob Young and all the folks at RealAir, you have once again outdone yourselves.
Staying with my normal hodgepodge approach to the layout of the review. I want to make sure I tell you about the autopilot so I don’t get on some tangent and run out of pages. It is not only how easy and how functional it is but also how the hidden click spots contribute to the practical use while flying in the flight simulator.
There is a separate pdf operating manual for the KFC-225 Autopilot and you really need to make sure you know how to use the many features. From the pilot’s normal VC view, one mouse click just about anyplace near the radios or GTN will have you looking at the AP and ready to perform some presets. When complete one simple right click will instantly return you to your VC view.
Several aircraft have altitude preselect, some also have VS preselect, and a few also let you preselect and ARM the NAV or HDG modes. Very few do all of these as well as this KFC-225 with the full 3D in VC. A little practice with sliding the mouse cursor up and down or left and right and any altitude or climb rate can be easily selected. A press of the ARM key and all is ready and waiting for the one press of the AP Engage button at the proper altitude on climbout.
This is a great work reliever for the turbine engine pilot who will have his hands full balancing the ITT, NG, Torque, Props, and oil temps during these high performance takeoffs and climbouts. It is really hard not to show off a little when you have so much power at your fingertips, oops, so much thrust.
Frame Rate Hits
Practically no FPS hit at all. This is a case of some highly efficient coding and paying attention to every detail, large and small. I have a new high end PC and graphic card with fast memory so I don’t see any drop to speak of. I have my i4790k 4.4 Ghz w/ 970 4 GB card locked at 31 FPS and I seldom see any drop worth noting.
Steve, over in the UK, has a modest system, and he is elated that the FPS stays near the top with his ‘My Traffic Pro’.
Here is a quote from Steve: “My PC is nothing particularly special, although I can run P3D on high to ultra with a plethora of add ons using the Turbine Duke v2 with a respectable 30 - 40fps.”
Steve is running an AMD Phenom X4, 8 GB RAM, 9770 (2GB), SSD and 42 IN monitor.
I would not expect anyone, even those with modest systems, to have any problems running the Turbine Duke v2 with a properly tuned system and modest weather and traffic.
This may be the most efficient add on I have on my system and I have some really good ones. Of course, I have some very recent frame rate hogs also, which make it especially nice to load up the Turbine Duke v2 after struggling with some of these other high flyers.
FSX vs P3Dv2
As Lockheed Martin continues to hone and improve their Prepar3d flight sim with near continuous versions being released, usually quickly followed by a hot fix or two, it seems to me that each version widens the gap between FSX and P3D.
Two of the major 3rd party addons for the RealAir Turbine Duke are the old time favorite of many – the Reality XP GNS units and the recent newcomer and probably eventual replacement – the Flight1 GTN units.
Most everyone is aware that none of the Reality XP units will work in P3D and Flight1 makes unique GTN units for either FSX or P3Dv2 and the two cannot be interchanged.
Just a few days ago, Flight1 issued a major update for all the GTN units. They all now use the Garmin Trainer v5 and loads of new and very useful features. Go to the Flight1.com website for FSX info or the Flight1Tech.com site for P3D units.
Updates, Updates, and more Updates.
One of the few downsides of the Flight1 GTN units are that they must be tweaked and a fix or update issued to remain compatible with each new version of P3D. A hot fix by Lockheed Martin will require several days delay while the Flight1 team scrambles to maintain compatibility with whatever updates are required. This necessitates a new installer download for each GTN 650 or 750 and updated files for compatibility. These are coming out quicker lately, but is still a pain to have to wait and update each time.
FTX Orbx add on airports seem to be the most recent ones to take the hit on compatibility. Although only about half of my existing premium Orbx airports have P3Dv2 installers, none of them will work at the moment with P3Dv2.5. This is due to a Lockheed Martin’s decision to change their approach to certain file structures and folder locations.
Most thought this would be a matter of days before being resolved but, it is evidently not that easily untangled.
Most of us are expecting to have to experience a total reload and reinstall of all Orbx files for P3Dv2.5. This may or may not be the case.
The RealAir Turbine Duke for P3Dv2
None of these growing pains will directly affect installing the Turbine Duke v2 in P3Dv2.5 but might restrict the use of the GTN units if additional hot fixes pop up.
RealAir Website is Loaded with Detailed Information
For those customers that are new to RealAir products, you are in for a real treat. Rob has loaded up their website with tons of information related to the new Turbine Duke v2. I chose not to copy and paste and repeat the same information in the review.
Keep in mind that those of us that have been flying RealAir aircraft for the past few years hold them in the highest regard. RealAir Simulations is not just near the top of the preferred developers for general aviation add ons it is at the top for most flight simmers.
An occasional bug might slip through from time to time, but they are usually fixed or explained in a matter of days, sometime hours. One thing that I have never seen following a new RealAir release is a ‘bug list’ that seems to be so common with other developers. Their attitude of ‘Zero Defects’ is a very high standard but, is evidently achievable with proper dedication and smart hard work.
Although it is probably never a good idea to show comparison screenshots of developers add ons, I would like to show what can be accomplished using 2048 textures when compared to current 4096 textures. These are both products released at about the same time and are, of course, different products, and different developers, but the clarity of the Duke Turbine panel is overwhelmingly superior with lower resolution.
Sorry, I decided it was not a good idea to compare images from two developers in a review. You can make your own comparisons and post them in the screenshot forums.
7 Liveries with Matching Interiors.
With some special care any interior can be matched to any exterior. The way they come out of the box should please about 98% of the population. You just have to make sure all the files are configured properly and placed in the correct folder.
Making the new RealAir Turbine Duke v2 your own.
Realair has gone to great lengths to make subtle changes in the flight characteristics, or the sounds, and especially how we use switches, knobs, and move around the VC. All these changes can be enabled, partially enabled, or not enabled. You will want to spend some serious time exploring your choices in the Configuration Panel. You can find the link using your Start button for windows. Look for the Blue Triangle icon.
Starting at the Home tab you will find the 92 page Flying Guide, Pilot’s Checklists, FAQ, a manual for the KFC-225 Autopilot and a link to the RealAir website.
You will be doing yourself a favor if you read the manual at least once, just to see what it there for you. You can come back later and seek specific answers or more detailed information.
Moving along the row of tabs along the top you can click on each one to see the level of changes you can select or make.
This is where you will find the Custom 3d Landing Lights, VC quickload or maybe Quick reload, and you can choose to either display or show dust, reflections, grime, and choose types of gauge backlighting.
Don’t forget to click on the Save button at the bottom right should you make any changes to any of these tabs.
This is where you can select and change from Forgiving to Realistic. A slider lets you set the level of random engine failures or to not ever have failures. You can also decide if you want to be able to have Flap damage or not and pick Grass or Hard Service runways, and a few other key choices.
This is where you decide your preference for ‘Click and Drag’ for knobs and dials and how you would like the Panel Lights to work at startup and during flights.
GPS & RADIOS
Using Drop Down box you can pick and choose your choice of GPS. Of course, if you wish to use add on 3rd party GPS or GTN units you must own them and have them installed. You can also select the power on condition and auto CRS.
This is where the ‘I can’t believe this is even possible’ mumbling started for me. On the right side of this tab you will see your choices of radios, GPS, and autopilot. You can simple click and drag anything you see to a different stack and then rearrange the stacks. Absolutely amazing.
These are instant changes, btw. Just that simple.
This is where you select the level of custom animations they you prefer. This is the Accu-Sim of Realview except it is not Accu-sim, it is RealView Animations. Just a note for the newcomers. RealView existed long before the term Accu-sim term was coined by the other developer.
As before, don’t forget to press the Save button if you change the slider setting.
The final tab is where you will find help.
There is a single popup text message that explains a few important items. It can be disabled at the Graphics Tab by selecting ‘Disable Startup Message’.
Taking Realism to the Next Level.
One of the small things that most flight sim pilots don’t seem to notice is that practically all the add ons have a frozen yoke when using the autopilot. What I mean by this is that if you are in level flight with the autopilot engaged and you change your heading, say 30 degrees and engage the HDG button, what do you notice?
I notice that the airplane immediately banks in the direction of choice and maybe the trim wheel has some movement, but the yoke just sits there. Totally oblivious to the fact that the ailerons may be fully defected for the turn and the nose is a tad higher than it was in level flight. Go ahead, give it a try and ask yourself, why don’t the yoke move like in a real airplane? It does in the RealairTurbine Duke v2.
I think this may have been borrowed from the normally aspirated Realair Duke v2. That is where I first noticed this enhanced feature. But, in the other Duke, I seem to remember that the rudder pedals also moved. Hmm.
As far as I know, only one other developer has made any headway at coding this interesting feature into FSX and P3D and that is only a partial implementation.
Just one more example of Realair Simulations going the extra mile to bring us a little more realism.
If this is your first Realair Duke
Then you are in for a long series of oohs and ahhhs and ‘I can’t believe how realistic it flies, how smooth the controls act and react, those beautiful sounds", and on and on.
Do make sure you spend some time with the Emergency Procedures because if you didn’t change the Configuration Tab to eliminate engine failures, then you will have some and it is a real shocker when it happens unexpectedly. This is just a friendly warning to be on your toes, and know now to quickly and positively identify the dead engine and know how to things cleaned up and get that prop into feather mode.
I love these expanded realism features.
The Completion Level of the RealAir Turbine Duke v2
The difference between the typical Flight Sim developer’s idea of “Ready for Release” and any RealAir model that is announced as ready for purchase is like night and day.
I have been struggling with one developer that has been constantly increasing the complexity of models and is now knee-deep in twin turbines with in-house FMS designs and complex autopilot functions. These models could easily be labelled ‘First Public Alpha’ models, not even Beta with the number of non-working functions or things not working properly or as expected when compared to the real world models.
This is not the case with the RealAir models. Everything seems to be tested, retested, and marked as correct and ready for flight simmers. This is not just the flight model, which could be considered perfect, but the very sophisticated config package and the ease of adding and moving the panel locations of radios, avionics, and 3rd party avionics, like the F1 GTN units.
The number of choices available in the config panel to the flight simmer are mind boggling. One could spend several days exploring the choices that can be added, changed, or deleted with a click or two. This is where you make the RealAir Turbine Duke v2 your very own personal plane.
The same for the Flight Guide or Flight Manual - a true masterpiece. Not just here it is and how it works or what it does, there is a lot of why and why not and background information that may have influenced some of the choices made by RealAir. I get the feeling when reading a RealAir Flight Guide that it is just one big tutorial.
One final point. The RealAir models seem to work perfectly with 3rd party hardware, such as Saitek and GoFlight panels, when most of the other developer’s models either work somewhat correctly, or only work sometime – except for those few switches or functions that never seem to work, etc.
Nothing is more frustrating to me that when a developer blames the 3rd party for the incompatibility or they both are pointing fingers at each other, with us poor flight simmer left in the middle with gear that will not work quite right. Or even worse, they blame Microsoft for not coding FSX properly. Duh.
I keep coming back to one of our really great developers that chose to recode the airspeed indicator and when I fly his airplanes using my Saitek cockpit I have no idea which of the two indicated airspeeds are correct. When asked WHY? Their answer is Microsoft didn’t do it right. Duh? But why don’t any of all the other FSX developers have a problem with the Microsoft Aces airspeed? Sorry about the rant.
Obviously, I think all the developers should spend more time testing their models with what is widely used in the marketplace for 3rd party add ons. As with other things, RealAir is at the top of heap in this category also. Kudos to RealAir.
Additional Information on how to fly the Turbine Duke v2.
Here is where I get to say, I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that you will probably not find any additional information on flying the Turbine Duke. I didn’t find any additional information. None. Nada, Zilch.
The good news is that you will not need anything more than is included in the RealAir Flight Guide. This is just another example of those nice RealAirprovided items. The flight data is closely guarded by the owners of the STC and the owners of the modified aircraft. Remember, there are only 18 in the world.
Conclusion and Recommendation
You really can’t do any better than RealAir Simulations and the fast moving, high flying turbine powered Duke v2 with all the bells and whistles. This is truly a dream come true for many flight simmers. I spent most of my time with the Turbine Duke v2 in P3Dv2.4 and 2.5 with dual Flight1 GTN750s. What an absolute pleasure to fly. To listen. To feel! Well, maybe I only thought I could feel the sensations.
The only weakness I could find is the absence of the kerosene smell and the grease under my fingernails. My wife appreciates the absence of both.
This is a serious add on for serious flight simmers that appreciate the finer things in life. The RealAir Turbine Duke v2 gets my highest recommendation along with a recommendation for the well-deserved Avsim Gold Star Award.
Bert Pieke for providing some of the FSX screenshots. Steve, located in the UK, provided the P3D screenshots.
Rob and Sean at RealAir for answering my questions and providing the add on.