Commercial Aircraft Review



FlyJSim Dash 8 Q400




Publisher / Developer: X-Plane.Org / FlyJSim
Description: Real presentation of the Dash 8 Q400
Software Source / Size: Download / 900mb (installation size 450MB)
Flight Simulator: X-Plane 9.7 and 10.21+
Reviewed by: Wycliffe Barrett
Published: June 2nd, 2013


Computer / Software Specifications
Computer System: - Asus SandyBridge r1 Mobo
- Intel i5 2500k Sandy Bridge CPU
- 8gig 3ddr ram
- Asus GeForce GTX 660TI Direct CU II 2048MB GDDR5 PCI-Express Graphics Card
- 2x300gig HDD
- 1x2TBHDD
Software: - Windows 7 64bit
- X-Plane 10
- Multiple Add-ons
























Introduction

My name is Wycliffe Barrett, I live in Cardiff, Wales, U.K. and I've been a simmer for the past 20 years. At first, flying military sims and then moving on to civilian flight simulation with FS95. I'd say I'm an enthusiastic simmer and since joining VATSIM have further developed my flying skills and controlling skills. I hold a C3 rating, which means I can control all positions from GRD up to Enroute control. Since buying X-Plane last year I've also become a 3rd party scenery developer and wish to continue developing my skills in this area.

I've always believed in giving back as much as possible to the community and so with this, my first review for Aerosoft News, I hope it will be the first of many. I'll continue my intention of helping this great community of ours. This first review will be quite a challenge as I normally fly Airliners not turboprops. I believe this past experience will give me a unique perspective in reviewing this aircraft. First of all though let’s see what the developers are saying about their Dash 8 Q400.


Product Description

The latest version of the Bombardier Q series is now ready for boarding in X-Plane. The Dash-8 Q400 provides enough space for 70 to 78 passengers and is featured with the latest avionics. It also has one of the quietest engines in contrast to previous versions. The Dash 8 Q400 has max range of 2.900 kilometers/1,802 miles and is used for regional flights by Air Berlin, Austria Arrows, Horizon and many more.

The FlyJSim [comes wit the following Features.

Accurate Flight Characteristics
Created from over 60 hours of flight tests with information from real world data and backed by actual Q400 pilots.
Detailed exterior Model
Created using thousands of images and references. Everything from the airfoils used on the wings to actual tire sizes modeled with detail in mind. Includes a full set of high resolution textures including normal image maps, specular maps and night lighting.
Highly Accurate 3D cockpit
Fly happy knowing what you are looking at really is to scale. 3D cockpit modeled from thousands of measurements taken from our real world Q400 pilots. Textures created from thousands of images taken of the interior.
High resolution EFIS displays
Fly looking at just what the real Q400 pilots look at and in detail. Each display has a pixel resolution of 512 x 691, which won’t leave you guessing what your altimeter setting is because you can read it.
Detailed interior and exterior night light
Flying at night won’t be a nuisance anymore. Be able to see the aircraft at night along with strobe and beacon lights that light up the fuselage. Cockpit lighting as well allows you to still see everything and enjoy flying in the dark.
Custom Sounds
Hear what the real Q400 sounds like. We've recorded the Q400 sounds including cockpit call outs. The sounds alone add so much to the experience.
Plugins
We use Plugins to add more systems and features that would otherwise be impossible to be implemented if left to the default X-Plane logic.
Load and Balance manager
A first in X-plane, the load and balance manager is a pop up screen which allows you to change the load out and balance in real time. Pick from thousands of combinations of seating arrangements, cargo hold weights, and fuel amounts. See the center of gravity change as you load the aircraft differently and burn fuel in flight.


The Real Aircraft

The Bombardier Dash 8 or Q-Series, previously known as the de Havilland Canada Dash 8 or DHC-8, is a series of twin-engine, medium range, turboprop airliners. Introduced by de Havilland Canada (DHC) in 1984, they are now produced by Bombardier Aerospace. Over 1,000 Dash 8s of all models have been built, with Bombardier forecasting a total production run of 1,192 aircraft of all variants through 2016.

The Dash 8 was developed from the four engine de Havilland Canada Dash 7, which featured extreme short take-off and landing (STOL) performance. With the Dash 8, DHC focused on improving cruise performance and lowering operational costs. The engine chosen was the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW100. The aircraft has been delivered in four series. The Series 100 has a maximum capacity of 39, the Series 200 has the same capacity but offers more powerful engines, the Series 300 is a stretched, 50-seat version, and the Series 400 is further stretched to 70 to 78 passengers.

Models delivered after 1997 have cabin noise suppression and are designated with the prefix "Q". Production of the Series 100 ceased in 2005, and the Q200 and Q300 in 2009. Bombardier is considering launching a stretched version of the Q400 featuring a 90 seat layout.


Installation and Documentation

I feel the download and installation process of any software is possibly the most important element of the product you’re purchasing and as long as that goes right, for many, everything else will just fall into place. Downloading the Dash 8 from Aerosoft’s site, like all of their other products, could not be simpler. If you don’t have an account it’s a simple case of creating one and whatever you purchase from them via the site will always appear in your own personal download account section. I’m not sure whether Aerosoft put a limit on the number of times you can download your software but I have some packages going back a few years. This is how it should be, unlike some online shops that make it very difficult and confusing to re-download items you've purchased.

The download on my internet connection was only a matter of a few minutes and then it was a simple case of unzipping the Installer to my designated download folder and double click the install .exe file. Aerosoft's installer is simplicity itself and what seemed like only a few seconds later, the Dash was installed into my X-Plane folder with all folders and files in the right place. You can, if you wish, install the aircraft into the default heavy Aircraft folder, or as I've done, create a separate folder such as commercial Airliners within the Aircraft folder and place it in there. I would suggest that you always create a back up of your downloaded zip. If you have an external hard drive then place a copy there for double redundancy.

Looking inside the Dash 8 folder you have the regular folders such as liveries and you'll also find within the Dash folder the manuals. I tend to install all my manuals onto my ipad for obvious reasons. Curiously I found two manuals, one being the FlyJSim manual and the other the Aerosoft manual, both identical apart from front covers.

The manuals, as usual, are of excellent quality and at 95 pages long, more than enough to give you a working knowledge of the aircraft that you are now probably sitting in waiting to get in the air. Aerosoft once again has used their method of using images from different parts of the cockpit with a simple color coding system which allows you to find relevant knobs, buttons and switches easily and quickly when going through the First Start up guide. The first start up guide is comprehensive and very well written, with very good, clear and well drawn images to guide you through the cockpit and multitude of switches.

This will help you go from a cold and dark situation to starting the engines, a first flight and shutdown. There are a few areas that need fuller explanation but these can be found in the full manual which once again is laid out in a clear manner explaining the use of every switch with color images and a simple numbering guide which allows you to find the exact place on the panel in the aircraft.

All in all, the manual is clear, concise and the images and vector line drawings are sharp enough for anyone to read. It's full of useful information such as fuel loads, speed cards and v speed references which will be a boon to the person who likes all the facts and figures close to hand about the aircraft they are flying.


Walk around and cockpit

The main panel of the aircraft is very well done with an excellent 3d VC and when one scrolls around the cockpit, the quality of the 3d modeling is some of the best I have seen in an aircraft of this cost. All of the gauges and flight displays are clear and crisp at almost every zoom level, which is what we have come to expect of aircraft in the X-Plane environment. I zoomed in to the main engine display so that it filled my 22" wide screen monitor and there was no blurring or loss of sharpness whatsoever, and of course all the needles and numerical readouts move smoothly without any stutter or jumping.

The overhead panel is one of the best I've seen in any aircraft. Not so much for its complexity but the reality. I found four switches that were INOP and the fire test panel was INOP as well but that's all and once again they don't detract from the overall quality of the aircraft at all.



Something you notice when in the cockpit view are two little tabs on the side of the screen with W and O on them. This is a feature that we're seeing more and more with 3rd party aircraft and is possibly one of the simplest but most useful innovations of late. Click on W and it opens the Weight Balance Configurator. This handy utility allows you to load your aircraft with fuel, passengers and baggage from three presets or loads of your choosing. It also produces all the figures you require for ZFW, Gross weight and Cof G.

Clicking on the O tab brings up the options screen and from this you can select whether to have Cold and Dark state, Engine running, alter the Field of View, Hide the yoke, Select millibars and finally to open the doors. These innovative design features further enhance the simming environment by providing easy control of systems.



Just one final thing about the configuration tabs is that they are so unobtrusive that one quickly forgets about them when in the sim.

Looking at the aircraft from the outside, you get a sense of the level of work that's gone into producing the 3d model which, in my opinion, is very good indeed. I don't know how many polygons are used in the external model but when you look at the tail section you can almost see the undulations of the aircraft skin. All of the individual rivets, the APU inlet vent and hinges on the tail section are really good. The sensors around the nose of the aircraft, wipers and the rivets around the windows are all stand out features that you wouldn't notice unless, of course, you're doing your walk around.



The landing gear struts and wheels are very well done. I particularly like the intricate design of the wheel covers and if you look closely, you can even see the tire valve. Not that I think you need a foot pump to blow the tires up. The hydraulic lines on the landing strut are modeled and when you have a close look, it really appears to have weight and mass. The wings are well modeled and the way the main spar structure is molded to the fuselage once again makes you try to figure out how many polygons have been used. The engine nacelles are a work of art with really smooth and curved lines.



Some of the interior lights are not working but this is a consequence and limitation of X-Plane in as much as the developer tells me that he changed the lighting arrangements around from his X-Plane version 9.x Dash 8. I hope in the near future he will provide an update to rectify this.




Test Flight

Including the plain white default livery you have twelve liveries to choose from which is a good number and will keep you happy for quite sometime before the urge to go and find some more becomes too much.

I have flown the Dash 8 Q400 several times now and it handles really well. It realistically depicts the engine torque which will pull you over to the left as you run down the runway and as you climb out, forcing you to make corrections or adjust your aileron trim settings to compensate. The default X-Plane FMC within the aircraft has been modified a little to make it look more like the FMC in the Dash-8 Q400. The flight plan creation is the same as in default X-Plane aircraft, so one will need to read the section on flight plan creation in the X-Plane manual. The 3rd party FMC's, XFMC and UFMC work well with the aircraft and once you get used to the different way of flying a turbo prop it all becomes second nature.

I have recently bought a Goflight MCP Pro which, with the help of XGoflight by Chris Strosser, can be configured to be used with the Dash as well.

One thing I have found with the Dash is that it's a totally different way of flying compared to the larger airliners, in as much as the Flight Guidance Control Panel requires some new learning and for me it wasn't a simple case of jumping in and flying. It's logically laid out and with only a little reading I soon had the aircraft under autopilot control. As you can see, there are several flight modes:
- IAS
- VS Mode
- Vnav Mode
- Alt Mode
- Alt Sel Mode
- HDG Mode
- Nav Mode
- Appr Mode
- BC Mode
- STBY Mode
- AP Push Button
- YD PushButton
- Pitch Thumbwheel
- Nav Source Selection
- HDG Selection Knob
- Altitude Selection Knob
- Course Selection Knob

All of which are explained once again in the manual.

Flying the Dash manually is a real treat as it handles well. I'm sure all the Cessna pilots will be right at home flying this. In the Dash VFR, I did find descending a new experience since one needs to manage your pitch control and it can take some getting used to flying the aircraft to the runway under power. Advice from real world Dash pilots suggest that rather than trying to flare the aircraft on landing is to add more power which will flare the aircraft for your touch down. This does take a little bit of practice but is well modeled.



Overall I found the flight model very good and the sense of weight and mass has been conveyed very well. This aircraft is ideal for the short runways one can fine in the more remote parts of the world but it's also at home in the large International airports and is able to descend on the glide slope at a reasonable speed ahead of any of the large airliners.


Summary

I mentioned the interior cockpit lights issue earlier which while not a major issue, it does detract a little from the overall excellence of the cockpit when flying at night. This would not stop me from buying this aircraft.

This aircraft has a lot going for it. The superb exterior modeling with all those lovely rivets and ripples in the skin, the sound set, which is really very good and the flight model when manually flying is a treat. Also on the plus side, on my machine I was achieving 40fps on the ground at EGFF and in the air I was seeing fps over 70, which was very impressive. A very good aircraft that I would highly recommend to anyone who is interested in piloting a Turboprop!

More information can be found at the dedicated Aerosoft web page. And of course, you can find the necessary information at the FlyJSim website.

With Greetings,
Wycliffe Barrett


This review is written for Aerosoft Sim News and published via the Aerosoft website. While the reviewer has complete journalistic freedom, we ask the reader to keep in mind where the review is posted.

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