Flight 1 is renowned for their quality add-ons for FS9/FSX and the Cessna T182T Skylane is no exception; it certainly emulates the quality that we have seen with the F1 Cessna Citation Mustang. It is a beautifully crafted model with great handling characteristics and will be a great addition to any simmer's virtual hangar.
Well what's so special about this Cessna both in the real world and in FSX? Basically it is that Turbo option which gives the plane just that bit more oomph so that it can carry more and fly a little faster. Flight 1 put it succinctly, "The T182T combines speed, elegance, safety, and range in an aircraft that is easy to fly, yet have the capability to perform like most twins with a maximum operating altitude of 20,000 feet while cruising up to 176 knots."
Descriptive wise the T182T is a four seat light (GA) aircraft with fixed landing gear, powered by a single turbocharged and fuel-injected piston engine, built with an aluminum metal skin. It has excellent visibility and stability is enhanced by the high wing design with externally braced dual-spar wings plus conical camber wing tips.
The turbo-charged Lycoming fuel-injected engine delivers the horsepower to climb at a nimble 1,040 fpm (317 mpm). From the Cessna catalogue, "The advanced slope-controlled turbocharger enables this hard-charger to ascend up and over unfriendly weather, terrain and traffic, as well as take advantage of more favorable winds. The Turbo Skylane carries full-rated power all the way to a max operating altitude of 20,000 feet (6,096 m). There, you’ll cruise the clear, smooth air at speeds of up to 176 knots (326 km/h)."
The interior in real life and by Flight 1 is sumptuous and is equipped with advanced avionics embodied in the shape of the Garmin G1000® glass cockpit which features the integrated Synthetic Vision Technology (SVT™). From the Cessna catalogue, "The avionics suite integrates all primary flight, engine and sensor data with the SVT’s three-dimensional terrain display for at-a-glance situational awareness. The G1000 also incorporates a fully integrated transponder and dual Nav/Comm/WAAS/GPS equipment. Two large, colorful, 10.4-inch high-resolution active-matrix LCDs gather and present real-time flight-critical data, including traffic information, digital altitude, heading data, and topographic and relative terrain mapping. It also features subscription-based XM WX Satellite Weather™ with XM Satellite Radio®. The avionics suite includes autopilot controls, engine indication, crew alerting and a digital audio panel, all of which bring new levels of safety, confidence and just plain fun to the Cessna single-engine line." Most of these features, the really important ones anyway, are modeled by Flight1 as seen in this table:
Flight 1 has done a superb job with this plane, so let's now turn our attention to the rest of the review features.
Installation and Documentation
The download package consists of a 136 MB "exe" i.e. a self installing file which installs automatically via the well tried and well proven Flight 1 wrapper system into the SimObjects\Airplanes of your FSX installation. On my system the installation was quick and easy once I was able to download a copy that would actually install.
On several occasions I got so far into the installation only to receive an unexplained error which stopped the installation process. In my case, this was due to the fact that some 3rd party software (possibly Internet speed up apps) had inserted an incorrect value for the TcpWindowSize parameter by inserting the following line, "TcpWindowSize - any value" into my registry at the "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters" registry key. Removing this line and restarting windows (which then uses the correct default value) allowed me to download an exe file that worked.
The latest version that you download is Version 1.1, which fixes the following from the Flight 1 web page:
Once installed into FSX it creates a folder named F1_T82 Skylane which has 8 subfolders, documents, model, panel, sound, texture plus the cfg and air files with a total installed size of around 150MB.
The documentation is very comprehensive and includes the revision history as I have detailed above, plus the version you are installing and finally the 85 page Pilot's Guide. The latter describes every feature of this aircraft, including installation/re-installation of the software and an excellent 20 odd page section on how to use the G1000 Avionics system, i.e. PFD, MFD, Flight director and Autopilot, etc.
The Pilot's Guide is easy to read and understand and in my opinion is the way that all manuals of this type should be published. One thing that I liked about this plane is that the instruments are sufficiently sophisticated so that you really do not need to add any 3rd party instruments to increase your simming pleasure.
In the Select aircraft menu in FSX under “Publisher” was a tab for “Flight One Software" and this allows the choice of all 3 liveries (remember to tick "show all variations" in the FSX Select Aircraft Menu). The details appended to the thumbnails of the repaints are basic and all seem to have (not surprisingly) the same information.
The liveries included are, Red Black & Gray, Blue & Gray, and White, Tan & Light Blue and there are now several repaints or liveries added to the Flight1 File Library System and the last time that I visited, there were nearly a dozen user supplied repaints/liveries. I loaded a couple and they looked excellent to my untrained eye.
As per usual I modified my settings from my usual (now thought by many to be unrealistic) full realism to a reasonable middle of the road one and at these settings the F1 T182T was a joy to fly and I did not experience any difficulties with the sliders full right.
Again, I reiterate my usual standard statement: I assigned the majority of the FSX controls (axes/buttons/keys) to my Saitek X-52, TQ and rudder pedals, (and assigned some (gear up/down, elevator trim, et) and calibrated all in FSUIPC4) and they worked without issue.
The various buttons and switches are also very easy to apply on your controller, and using FSUIPC4's plane specific options I was able to apply all assignments just to the F1 Cessna Skylane. I did not utilize the Saitek SST software or the drivers. Once calibrated the plane responded to the controls as one would expect within the limitations of the flight model. I also mapped the elevator trim wheel to my GoFlight module, setting the sensitivity in FSUIPC4 which made it extremely controllable.
Starting FSX with the Cessna T182T Skylane TC as the default plane/flight
Flight 1 supply a flight called, 'The FSX Safe Startup for Complex Aircraft flight' which is displayed Flights menu in FSX (after installing the exe file that you can download from Flight 1 : http://www.flight1software.com/files/FSXSafeStartup.exe). This flight can be used for any aircraft and you can re-save the flight in a new location, with different weather and start up times, etc.
Once this flight opens you can choose a new airport, and load the Flight 1 Cessna with no issues. Thoughtful!! However, I have to say that I had no issues selecting the plane variants in FSX from the starting screen, and subsequently opening them directly in FSX, but it's always better to be safe than sorry.
No significant lowering of the dreaded fps that I could see and all textures were sharp during flight, no stuttering or OOM errors.
The Skylane is fitted with 2 fuel tanks holding 92 gallons total and you use the fuel selector handle in the "BOTH" position and leave it that way unless you are in level flight in which case you can choose the left or right tanks. I left it in the "BOTH" position as it seemed less complicated. The amount of fuel is changed using the default FSX Fuel and payload settings. There is also a fuel pump and switching this on provides a typical pumping sound. Fuel can also be loaded at selected airports by using the auxiliary panel and summoning a fuel truck, I did not use this feature as my testing was based mainly in rural type airports/fields.
Maintenance and Payload:
There are no engine/airframe maintenance, repair or failure options in the Flight 1 models. Payload is via the default FSX payload and fuel, and the default payload settings show both the pilot and co-pilot being present at Station 1 and 2 @ 170lbs respectively, two 1 pounders (Big Macs?) in Stations 3 and 4 and a large 195 pounds (luggage ?) at Station 5. It's nice to see the COG icon changing as you fiddle with the various payload options. To me the fuel and payload options are the only items not truly realistic in this otherwise superlative plane.
Specifications of the Cessna T182T Skylane TC (Courtesy Cessna)
1 Skylane: 45 minute Fuel Reserves, 55% Power @ 12,000 ft.
Avionics & Powerplant
The External View
From prop to tail this is a lovely plane to look at; it is so full of detail. I particularly liked the high-wing design that in the real world would offer numerous benefits, including functional stability, unrivalled visibility, sun blocking and inclement weather protection (shelter from the rain). This high-wing design also results in a simplified preflight inspection and easy access to the pilot, passenger and cargo doors.
These are all realistically designed into the Flight 1 model and every rivet shows in outstanding detail. There is even a realistic depiction of the rugged, shock-absorbing main landing gear (it flexes as you touch down) and the steerable nose-wheel design makes for great taxiing maneuvers. The brakes work well but I couldn't ascertain if they were disk brakes as in the real variant as I couldn't remove the wheel pants to check.
In the real world plane, they sport "High-intensity discharge (HID) lamps" providing five times the intensity, lasting a lot longer and drawing less power than traditional landing lights. Well, I can tell you the lights on this Flight 1 Skylane are indeed bright (and excellent) and look like high intensity jobs. Whatever you do, don't switch on the landing and taxi lights together as from the VC you will get a huge white-out of the foreground. On their own both illuminate correctly from any viewpoint.
The exterior - a visual feast indeed with beautifully smooth textures, great shadow and lighting effects, and having said that I've probably missed many other features that are modeled.
The usual animations include gear knobs, rudder, the prop, elevators, flaps ailerons, etc are all well modeled. The doors open and close and there are tread steps on the undercarriage struts to allow the easy access as I detail above. The rear cargo (mini) door is also operational with a nice view of the back of the rear view seat and the baggage space.
The pilot and "student", which can be added via an auxiliary pop-up panel, move up and down and from left to right and their eyes blink - but I just could not get a screen shot to show this happening. The pilot is a lot more stoic in appearance and I swear that he doesn't blink as much as his co-pilot.
The sun visors can be raised or lowered, the doors open as detailed above and random bug splats appear on the windshield during flight. Unfortunately there are no windscreen washers and wipers to clear them away.
The Interior and Instruments
There is one and only one (3D) cockpit layout for the 3 liveries/repaints and there are no 2D panels and the mini panel that pops up via the F10 key plus the "W" key is the default FSX mini panel. The VC depicts the revolutionary "Glass Cockpit" avionics/navigation instruments plus supplementary 'stand by' analogue instruments. Most of the instruments are fully clickable with either the left mouse button or the rotary switch, this includes multi-position switches, rotary knobs and levers, even simulated icing is modeled.
The "S" and "A" keys cycle through the views as usual, and I did not try this with EZDOK so I cannot comment on the different views that EZDOK can create. The gauges were very clear and displayed without issues. Night lighting is good with 2 ceiling mounted floodlights providing cabin light and there are 4 dimmer switches that control the lighting in the various instruments, and these were quite effective in dimming the lights for unobtrusive night flying. The Nav, beacon, taxi, landing lights are all controlled by rocker switches in the cabin which are easily accessible especially when you "remove" the yoke. Looking at a real world variant, the lights appear all to be in the correct positions.
The Garmin Glass cockpit is also worth a mention as it is quite a sophisticated unit (similar to the G1000 modeled in the F1 Mustang) and it incorporates a transponder and dual Nav/Comm/WAAS/GPS equipment. In the sim the 2 large, colorful, 10.4-inch high-resolution active-matrix LCDs are well represented and can gather comprehensive flight and terrain data. The 2 main units display a PFD in front of the pilot and an MFD which is adjacent i.e. in the centre panel. The pilot also sees the various electrical/electronic functions of the plane, including the various lights and magnetos. The right panel is much less cluttered, but you also get an excellent view of the MFD in the centre panel.
Make no mistake there is a steep learning curve to set up all of the instruments correctly but once achieved it certainly enhances the simming experience. The gauges are all very clear (easy to read) and if you have a Track IR you can zoom in and out during flight to see what's going on.
I particularly liked the autopilot which is excellent for those long, low scenic viewing flights that I like to do. The autopilot is quite comprehensive and fully functional - superb for an aircraft of this size. All the operational details are explained in the manual.
The manual is also excellent with regards to G1000 in that it explains simply and clearly what the various graphical instruments in the MFD/PFD mean and do. Both the PFD and MFD have intuitive click spots which you can operate with the mouse and I did map a few functions to an add-on num pad that I used for this review, and that made life much easier. Unfortunately my iPad 2 died during the review so I couldn't check if it could be used with this glass cockpit.
It took me around 2 hours to thoroughly digest the G1000 part of the manual but it was well worth it in subsequent flights. There is also a very good flight planning function in this plane where you can create and load flight plans which will then be displayed on the G1000. I tried a very overcast flight between two points with a flight plan I had previously saved in FSX, and as I approached my destination and as I broke out of the cloud there was the airport dead ahead.
The flight planning function also covers SIDS and STARS and it's great to load the flight plan and turn on the AP and watch it following the various approach procedures.
There are a lot of features on the instruments that I was not able to test as thoroughly as I would have wanted to. (Due to the constraints of the review process), but all the ones that I encountered I found that they were similar to the controls found in a real plane. For instance there is a supplemental Oxygen supply system which is for flying at altitudes above 12,500' - cool. Hence as I said earlier, the manual is the place to go for any information about any part of this plane and there is even a quick reference pop-up built into the plane (see below).
The rest of the interior seats, seat belts, seat parts, trim, visors, etc are just great and there is a lot of attention to detail that has gone into the Flight 1 Skylane. Although in the real world the Skylane (all 4 seats) comes equipped with "AMSAFE Aviation Inflatable Restraints – a seat belt system that deploys an airbag within milliseconds of detecting a 16 G-force impact", I didn't get the opportunity to see if this was modeled in the Flight 1 Skylane.
I'm afraid that my screenshots don't really do the interior justice. I also include a shot of a real world plane interior and I would like to thank Eric Patrick and airliners.net for their kind permission in allowing me to use the photo in this review.
Shift + Number Key Options
Pressing the Shift key plus a number gave the following pop-up options
These "pop-up" choices also allow access to the other animations such as the pilot/co-pilot shades, chocks, pitot cover, engine inlet covers and a cockpit front window sunshade.
On the Ground - Taxiing
With excellent side and forward vision this is an easy plane to taxi and maneuver on the ground. I liked the fact that I could use the nose steering to make subtle smooth movements around corners, etc and on my CH Eclipse Yoke I could map this to the tiller function which 'turned of' when the plane reached around 40 - 50 KIAS. The brakes are excellent and progressive with no hint of grabbing.
Starting the Engine
This can be achieved with the FSX cheat, CTRL + E and/or manually, the latter being eminently more satisfying if subsequently time-consuming. There is the lovely sound of the starter engaging followed by the ubiquitous puff of smoke as the Lycoming engine growls and splutters into life. My manual starting procedure followed the detail checklist in the normal procedures section in the pilot guide. Follow this and you can't go wrong!
This is not a difficult plane to fly especially at my modified settings, there is very little or no prop torque effect and it is quite easy to lift off. Again I followed the checklist detailed in the manual. Using the elevator trim in the take-off position, 20⁰ flaps lift off occurred around 65 - 75 KIAS (80 KIAS no flaps), I had pulled the stick back somewhat at around 50-60 KIAS to lift the nose wheel and this technique worked quite well. After lift-off I climbed at 90 - 100 KIAS using appropriate propeller and throttle control, raising the flaps at a safe height. Climbing was smooth and steady reaching 20,000' in around 20 - 25 minutes give or take a few minutes.
In level flight, I adjusted the controls (propeller, elevator trim, throttle, mixture, etc) to achieve a cruise speed of around 160 - 165 KIAS slightly slower than the indicated cruising speed given in the manual, but this is still a brisk speed to cover the miles. In level cruise flight the plane can be kept at a constant altitude by tweaking the elevator trim or by using the auto-pilot.
The basic maneuvers, i.e. climbs, cruise flight, straight and level flight (and slow) flight, turns, descents, recovery (e.g. from stalls spins, etc) and general handling were achieved without any dramas. At lower speeds around the 100 - 110 KIAS mark the plane was still very responsive and this is a great speed to view the scenery above and below. All in all lovely flight characteristics with very nice handling.
Descending & Landing
Descending from altitude was smooth, and again I used the check list in the manual by reducing speed and descending smoothly without gaining too much speed. Reducing speed from say 165 KIAS down to a landing speed of around 80 KIAS (no Flaps) was fairly difficult and needed careful planning and again judicious use of the throttle, flaps, etc can help here as well. For me the best landing speed (handling wise) was around 75 - 80 KIAS. For short field landings I used full flaps at around 60 - 65 KIAS before cutting power for the flare.
Again an easy plane to land with no vices even in a cross wind. I've never felt that crosswind landings in FSX are realistically modeled, but again with this lovely plane setting a 20 knot crosswind did mean I had to turn into the wind flying almost crab wise in an attempt to hit that elusive centre line.
This was reasonably easy to achieve at a sink rate of ≈700 - 1000' pm with no flaps. It didn't always work and many times I didn't actually make it to the chosen airfield as I had allowed the plane to descend too rapidly in the early stages of the procedure. On some occasions when I started the descent at higher altitudes it meant that the plane came in over the threshold at around 100 KIAS and it took a considerable time to actually land on terra firma and come to a halt.
Stalls and Spins
On a normal flight after reaching around 10,000' level flight, the throttle was set to zero and the elevator adjusted in an attempt to maintain level flight and hence reducing speed to the documented stall speed at around 50 KIAS. Again I had difficulty in initiating a stall because as the speed dropped the nose dropped correspondingly (even with the stick/yoke pulled back) and maintained the aircraft just above the stall speed.
Eventually I did experience a stall at amazingly 49 - 50 KIAS (like it says in the manual) and recovery was the same as you would from a typical stall, progressive and by the book. There is a stall horn installed and this worked exactly as it should. Spins were recovered using traditional methods and one warning you get is a female voice repeating sink rate many times until you correct the situation. During spin recovery due to my inexperience I did experience the audible and visual 'overspeed' warnings. To me the plane handled realistically in these procedures.
The sounds are original to the Flight 1 T182T Skylane and they are very realistic inside (suitably muted) and outside a throaty roar! The engine sounds very similar to a real world Skylane Turbo that I saw and heard on YouTube. In fact all of the sounds including the instruments, engine, control surfaces and warnings seem to be very realistic and unique to this plane. The startup sound is particularly well done as are the clicks of the various switches and knobs. I did not detect any sound looping during the review.
By support forum Flight One Licensed Product Forum (registration required)
I could not find a method for uninstalling the plane in the manual but there is a method to reinstall the software if necessary. As per usual I uninstalled the Skylane using REVO uninstaller and this uninstalled the software seamlessly with nothing left behind on my computer. Reinstallation then proceeded without incident. (My thanks to Drew Sikora for prompting my aged synapses to include this section)
Summary / Closing Remarks
Another excellent FSX plane from the Flight 1 stables. To me this is the GA variant of the Flight 1 Cessna Mustang and is up there with the A2A Accusim, Eaglesoft, and Real Air renditions of similar types of planes. It is a great GA plane and it can be used for fast touring as well as lazy speed grand touring.
This is an excellent plane and one that you would want to include in the premium part of your virtual hangar.
What I Like About The Cessna T182T Skylane
What I Don't Like About The Cessna T182T Skylane
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