We flew the freshly revised Leading Edge Saab 340 from Lugano to Zurich while trying out a few of the latest features, then we looked at a few airport/city files that came out over the last few days using the Carenado Beech 1900D, and a few things stand out when comparing the two. Anyway, lets dive in and see what’s up…
A few of the notes in the documentation for the Leading Edge Saab 340 seem to imply that v1.51 marks a developmental plateau of sorts…in other words…the developers feel they’ve ironed out all the bugs. We didn’t find anything sticking out during this trip so who knows…maybe they’re correct. We’d still like to see a means of deploying the door and air-stairs from the Gizmo console, perhaps with all the other ground items and the GPU, because as is it’s still a pain in the keister. Other than that the aircraft is still a semi-cold and dark start aircraft, and most people like it that way, too. There is a quick start option but it’s more a learning aid and we recommend using it a few times to learn your way around the cockpit – then doing it all on your own.
Most noticeable this time out was the revised nose wheel steering, which seemed much more sure-footed – and reliable, too. Taxiing out to the end of the runway and doing a 180º turn out there was painlessly easy, and directional control on takeoff felt rock-solid. We flew VOR to LSZH as it’s only an 80 nmi trip, however the profile is awkward. After taking off and departing the pattern, it’s a nonstop climb to 14,000 to clear the Alps, then a brief cruise to URNAS (see STARS south), followed by an easy descent to your approach at Zurich. It’s an easy flight in the 340, too – one that takes less than an hour from block to block so a great practice flight. There’s a Garmin on the panel now but we didn’t use it. Anyway, let’s take a look:
It’s quite easy to get the light just right on this panel, and the results are beautiful. Instrument legibility is excellent, equally as good as the IXEG 733. Exterior textures are simply stunning, and in low light all surfaces pick up surrounding light sources. As mentioned, taxiing is a breeze now (just don’t forget to program your stick to enable nose-wheel steering) and make sure you read and understand where the throttle and condition levers need to be for all flight regimes. Handling is satisfyingly soft at low speed, so easy turns are a must close to stall. Sounds seem much improved (and good headphones are a must unless you really want to annoy your neighbors – or freak out your dog). Getting up to 14,000 was sedate, and it’s easy to pick up too much speed on your descent if your FPS get out of hand.
Landing was uneventful, and speed management comes with practice in this aircraft, while braking after touchdown seems more solid than I recall. Once parked in daylight a brief look around confirmed this is still one of the most attractive models in X-plane.
Do consider that X-Aviation has the file on sale this Labor Day Weekend, marked from 50 USD down to 35, so if you don’t have this one onboard now’s the time to move on it. If you feel you’re ready to move on up to something more exacting (and rewarding) than a Baron – this is the file you’ve been looking for. There just aren’t many files in X-plane as rewarding to learn as this one.
A new VFR City File came out this week for the Newark Port Authority Terminal , and this file coexists nicely with either the DD or gateway version of Newark Liberty. Beyond that, it fills in a large area with needed detail on the other side of Interstate-95 (most noticeable on your rollout or during take off).
(see below) 1. Coming in over the Hudson, flying over DDs version of the Newark waterfront. 2. Approaching Bayonne and Staten Island. 3. Coming up on the Bayonne Bridge (cockpit view, with port detail now visible extreme right). 4. Bayonne under the aircraft, Staten Island to the left and port detail visible extreme right. 5. Past the bridge. 6. On roll-out, the massive port facilities now visible above the aircraft, just beyond Interstate Highway 95.
The file (by StevePHL, of Philadelphia International/City fame), is well executed and frame rate friendly, and this Must Have file is available right here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/46900-kewr-port-newark–elizabeth-marine-terminal-and-bridges/
Make sure your scenery libraries are up to date, and be sure to read the installation notes so you’ll have all the required library files.
Here’s the latest revision to the Louisville, Kentucky VFR file (and that’s KSDF Louisville (Standiford) International, a Gateway Airport file, airlines and destinations here). This is a medium sized airport, with a major UPS air cargo facility on-site. The VFR file includes downtown buildings, sports stadia, major bridges and some detail surrounding the airport, all nicely done.
There’s been a new LXGB Gibraltar file out for a while, under constant revision, and it’s beginning to look decent enough to pass along. There are still a few glitches (to wit: most apartment towers don’t have window lighting so a few areas look more like black holes at night), but the airport is useable. Incidentally, “the Rock” as drawn by Xp just looks dreadful. This location really needs a custom feature to set it off, yet that shouldn’t keep you from using this one. Interesting list of airlines and destinations, too (right here).
Now, concerning the Beech 1900 vs the Saab 340 files…
Normally the Carenado 1900D file sells in the mid-30s and the Saab for almost 50, but this weekend the Saab is on sale so the price advantage is moot (again – this is for the 1 Sept ’18 Labor Day weekend). The Saab is a much larger aircraft and handling is different simply for that reason, i.e., the Saab feels ponderously heavy near stall (a good thing) while the Beech feels comparatively benign (or more forgiving, if you will) on approach. Systems depth is decent on the Beech, while the Saab is really a study-level Sim that will tax your brain on a good day. With v 1.51 onboard, the on-ground handling of the Saab is now easy to tame, while the Garmin units on the Beech are easier to use (if you like that sort of thing). Both panels look great at night, with the edge going to the Saab. Ditto exterior textures. Sounds? Saab wins. Documentation? Saab wins by a mile. Overall satisfaction is a tougher thing to quantify, but let me just say that the amount of reading and practice required to get comfortable in the Saab leads, I think, to a greater overall feeling of accomplishment. The Saab’s only fault remains a cantankerous door/airstair that really should be relegated to the side-panel menu with the GPU. As the JarDesign Ground Handling package now has a file for the Saab, perhaps someday we’ll find working cargo/baggage doors, too.
In the end both are better than good files, yet both (real) aircraft are nearing the end of their service life, so in-effect these two represent the last of a dying breed. For Xp, the 1900D was my favorite until I got my hands on the Saab, but in truth…if I just need a light turboprop to make a few images for the blog I tend to reach for the Carenado Beech, if only because the Saab requires more time-consuming set-up. For a flight from Lugano to Zurich, on the other hand, the Saab is tough to beat.
See you next time, and happy trails –