A payware aircraft and another freebie from tdg. What could be better?
Where did Brussels disappear to?
Officially known as Aéroport d’Albert – Picardie, LFAQ is a small facility in NE France and would be of little consequence to our world without Airbus. Located near the site of the original factory for Aéroplanes Henry Potez, the firm was first absorbed by Sud Aviation in 1967, and thence into Airbus. The last significant Potez was the 841, a four engine turboprop that seated 18 passengers and was built in the early 60s:
The airport is located within the industrial heartland of Western Europe, near the Benelux countries and Germany. Primarily an airport used by Airbus, there are also flying clubs on-site and airshows are held there. GA flights to all of Western Europe, including the UK and Ireland, are logistically feasible here.
Airbus’ A300 Beluga variant is a frequent visitor to the airport.
This is also the site of tdg’s latest airport scenery file for Xp11.20+, and you’ll find a reasonable approximation of the real airport, including the Airbus hanger on the airport grounds, as well as the nearby Airbus manufacturing facility – seen in the last image below just above the aft sections of the Dornier’s fuselage.
GA facilities are really quite modest so unless you have a converted Beluga handy you might try an A310 for the heck of it. Beyond that, I’m not sure about the usefulness of the file, but the airport is decently modeled and looks good in practical use.
Alabeo’s Piper PA-32 Saratoga II TC is NOT an Xp11 compliant file, yet I’ll state right off the bat that this acf has one of the best GA panels in X-plane, night or day. Indeed, the entire aircraft file is as visually sharp as a tack and everything works perfectly in Xp 11.26rc2. Flying from LFMT to LFMN, this Piper beat almost every other GA single I have in my hanger in terms of visuals, sounds, and simple enjoyment. If new to Xp and looking to move up from the default Cessna 172 I would look at this file and give it careful consideration. If I was looking for a fast, retractable geared GA single, Carenado’s F33A Bonanza and Cessna 210 would make the cut, and possibly JustFlight’s Arrow III/IV TC as well. None of these has a better executed panel.
Piper’s Piper PA-32 Saratoga was developed in the early 70s and the model line was in continuous production through the 2009 model year, making it one of Piper’s most popular models ever. Developed from the original fixed gear Cherokee Six – which was a popular aircraft in the air taxi/short haul commuter market from the mid-60s on – the various Saratogas were snapped up by air cargo operators as well as short haul carriers looking to modernize their equipment. Many variants were popular in the GA market as well, such as the PA-32 Saratoga II TC Alabeo has brought to X-plane.
This was one of Alabeo’s HD series for Xp10, and it shows. The first set of images below were taken at FranceVFR’s LFMT Montpelier with all graphics settings at MAX and my iMac’s native screen resolution; FPS were generally on the cheerful side of 40+ until I increased screen res to a full 5k (almost 60 inch wide screenshots), then things began to fall apart quickly.
As you can see, this is a “Carenado Class” effort with all the exterior “Bells and Whistles.”
Below, the next three images are at full 5K, resampled down to 9 inch width and 288dpi, so they should appear quite sharp on a 4-5K monitor. First up, the panel in daylight, with no ancillary lighting.
Next, at night now and with panel lighting only (same res).
And now with that cool blue/green overhead dome lighting added at full intensity (two manipulator controls for variable output), still at 5K res.
And the next image I’d like you to study for a moment.
Post lighting is employed on this panel, and there are about ten in the image above. Each post “fixture” employs diffuse light but spreads it’s beam over a fairly narrow area, so think of these posts as “task” lighting – designed to illuminate just one instrument and little else. Now, mindful of that, look at the shadows cast by all these lights. Even several screw-heads cast shadows, and to me this is another simple tour-de-force on Alabeo’s part. These dudes are GOOD!
Below, taking off for LFMN Nice by way of LFML Marseilles, first impression is of good sound quality, though gear and flap retraction sounds were muted by the roaring engine (DAP and good headphones contributing to a healthy case of hearing loss…). Setting altitudes and climb rates is easy and the AP handles the chores faultlessly when required. Flying by hand, the acf trims quickly and easily. The AP is a pop-up unit with no side tab access; you simply click the instrument face just like the Garmin units.
All altitudes and Vspeeds are set on the unit that reads 600 in the image just above. Yes, look at the cabin temp…an unpleasant 46ºF. Turn on the cabin heater (with or without defrost) and the temps climbs nicely…and the fan is easily heard at cruise RPMs.
Below, passing Marseilles then on final at Nice, shooting a coupled ILS approach on 4L (recall that Nice has parallel runways and 4º offsets to increase distance if two aircraft are on approach at the same time).
I cut the AP about 300 AGL and all I can say is the aircraft handled faultlessly, both on approach and throughout the flight.
There’s not a lot left to say here. This acf has no weak spots that I ran across on this flight, and another between Telluride and Aspen. The turbocharger provides headroom to jump over low-lying thunderstorms and speed to outrun frontal passages with ease. The exterior model is pure class, the cabin seating as well, but it’s the panel that will keep you coming back for more.
In the world of GA aircraft in X-plane, this is one of the very best there is. I’m tempted to say it’s the very best, period, but that F33A Bonanza is a tough bird to beat. If into GA singles and you haven’t tried this one yet…well…why not?
Hasta later, and we’ll see you around the campfire –