Alabeo Cessna 310R II Review

Introduction

While Cessna had been producing aircraft since 1927, they were primarily single engine aircraft. They produced two twin engine models during the war period, the famous T-50 Bobcat and a prototype transport, the Cessna 106 Loadmaster, which never went into production. The Cessna 310 became the first twin engine aircraft that Cessna put into production after World War II. The Cessna 310 was a common charter aircraft for the many air taxi firms that sprang up in the general aviation boom that followed World War II.

Alabeo continue a marvellous focus on producing some iconic aircraft which have since gone out of production. The Cessna 310R II is the latest in the Alabeo stable and an iconic Cessna aircraft for all Cessna and general aviation fans.

History

The Cessna 310 is a six seat, low wing, twin engine, monoplane. Originally powered by two Continental O-470-B, six cylinder, horizontally opposed, air cooled, piston engines, it saw many engine upgrades and options over its production life. The 310 featured sleek modern lines with innovative features, such as engine exhaust thrust augmenter tubes and, in early models, the storage of all fuel in tip tanks. Its advantages over its contemporaries were its speed, operating costs, and after market modifications, such as the Robertson STOL kits which made it popular worldwide for its bush flying characteristics. It could use short runways while carrying a large useful load of 2,000 lb (910 kg), or more, and at high speeds for a twin engine piston aircraft. Consequently, it was popular as a common charter aircraft for the many air taxi firms that sprang up in the general aviation boom that followed World War II.

The Cessna 310 first flew on 3 January, 1953, and with production commencing in 1954, it saw a production run through until 1980 with over 6,100 aircraft produced. Over the course of its production life, the 310 was produced in 32 different model variants, including four variants produced for the military. With each model variant, modifications were made to the 310 to improve the characteristics, features, and/or performance of the aircraft. The Riley Aircraft Company also offered four model conversions which involved the fitting of different engine options.

Availability and Installation

The Alabeo Cessna 310R II is currently available direct from Alabeo and Alabeo resellers as a download only product (some resellers also offer a master back-up CD / DVD service for a minor additional cost). It is normally priced at US$34.95, or the equivalent on currency cross rates. The download file size is 608MB and it requires 1.3GB of HDD/SSD space for installation. A serial number is issued on purchase and is used during the installation process which is intuitive and seamless.

Model Features

The major model features of the Cessna 310R II include:

high quality 3D model and textures;
Alabeo Garmin GNS 530 GPS unit;
Stormscope weather radar (FSX only);
material shines and reflections, and volumetric side view prop effect;
gauge reflections, window scratches, and blades shines;
knob click sounds;
realistic behaviour;
Flight1 GTN 750 integration; and
Reality XP GNS530 (only for FSX).

Visual Appearance

General Overview and Exterior. The Cessna 310R displays the sleek modern lines and innovative features of its design. From the long pointed nose, the aircraft has a streamlined, sporty fuselage, with the wings having the characteristic Cessna tip tanks also seen on later models such as the Cessna 340. These features give the 310R a very recognisable and unmistakable appearance. The high quality of the external model is excellent and Alabeo have done an marvellous job on the external modelling of the 310R, beautifully capturing the sleek, modern lines of the aircraft.

Flight Instruments, Avionics, and Aircraft Systems. The cockpit of the Cessna 310R is characteristic of Cessna aircraft and the production era. Consequently, the cockpit of the 310R, provides a high degree of familiarity for those familiar with Cessna aircraft. The analogue instruments are supplemented with the Alabeo Garmin GNS 530 GPS unit with integration available for the Flight1 GTN 750 and Reality XP GNS 530. However, it should be noted that the integration for the Reality XP GNS 530 is for FSX only. The 310R has a 400B Navomatic autopilot system and this was Cessna's first attempt at a two axis autopilot with altitude hold. No instructions are provided in the Alabeo documentation as to its operation and whilst it is relatively simply to use, the word 'PUSH' above the central mode switch is a SIGNIFICANT hint to how to engage Heading/NAV/Approach mode. The cockpit panel displays a good level of use and provides a less than pristine cockpit environment.

Lighting, Animations, and Sounds. The night lighting effect in the cockpit provides a very good representation of the night lighting in the real world aircraft. It illuminates the instruments effectively and provides a warm, glowing ambience in the rear cabin. The Cessna 310R  includes the typical range of animations and static elements you would expect for such an aircraft from Alabeo. A lovely animated feature is the retraction and deploying of the passenger foot steps with the operation of the landing gear. The engine sounds are a very good representation of the 310R's Continental engines, producing a lovely rumbling sound at idle, which increases to a deep roar as the throttles are advanced. The engine sounds provide very good stereo separation in both the internal and external views.

Models and Liveries.  The Cessna 310R is provided in a single model with five individual liveries (a selection showing below). There is also a blank texture provided for aircraft painting enthusiasts. An additional set of duplicate 'LITE' textures is provided for improved frame rates. Displaying high quality, the surface textures, reflections, and shadings, give each aircraft a very good appearance. Other scuff marks, scrape effects, dirt, exhaust, oil, and grease stains, add to a reasonably natural representation.

Summary, Issues, and Variations. The rendition of the Alabeo Cessna 310R is highly detailed and accurate, the visual quality is excellent, and the texture quality is very good, providing a faithful representation of the real world aircraft. Most major elements of the cockpit are clear and easy to read, with the typical range of various alternative cockpit camera views to provide more detailed clarity. Any other noted visual variations were minor and are considered to be related to real world production variations or a degree of artistic licence on the part of the developer. Any noted issues and variations with cockpit functions and operation were considered minor and / or in the interests of simplifying the function for practical flight simulator use.

General Characteristics and Performance Specifications

The general characteristics and performance specifications for the Cessna 310R II are provided in the table. This is based on data from the official Cessna 310R II Pilot Operating Handbook, data provided by Alabeo, and general research sources. Some of this data varies between sources and also may be an approximation due to variances in data and the specific aircraft modelled by Alabeo.

General Characteristics

Crew One
Passenger Capacity Five
Length 31 ft 11 in (9.74 m)
Wingspan 35 ft 11 in (11.25 m)
Height 10 ft 8 in (3.25 m)
Empty Weight 3,347 lb (1,518 kg)
Fuel Capacity 166 US gal (628 l)
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 5,500 lb (2,495 kg)
Power Plant 2 x Continental IO-520-M, six cylinder, fuel injected, horizontally opposed, air cooled, piston engine, 285 hp (213 kW)

Performance Specifications

Cruise Speed 181 kts (208 mph, 335 km/h)
Stall Speed 70 kts (81 mph, 130 km/h) full flaps, landing gear down, engine at idle
Range 1,511 nm (1,739 mi, 2,798 km)
Service Ceiling 19,750 ft (6,020 m)
Rate of Climb 1,650 ft/min (503 m/min)

Flight Performance

A specific Test Flight was conducted to test the flight performance of Alabeo's Cessna 310R II. The flight was conducted in clear weather with a full fuel load and the aircraft at maximum take-off weight (MTOW). A cruise altitude of 5,000 ft was adopted and the route distance was particularly chosen to provide a basis upon which to test the range characteristics of the aircraft.

The aircraft was very easy to taxi. With no flaps set, aircraft rotation occurred at approximately 85 KIAS. The twin Continental engines provide the 310R with some excellent performance and the take-off and climb out were lively and consistent with what is expected for the aircraft. During cruise, a cruise power setting was established with a manifold pressure setting of 22.0 inHg and an RPM setting of 2200 RPM. With this cruise setting, the aircraft trims out and produces a speed and fuel flow rate reasonably consistent with the characteristics of the aircraft. The Test Flight confirms the modelling of the aircraft for speed performance to be what would reasonably be expected of this aircraft.

Configured for landing, with full flaps, and trimmed for a descent rate of approximately 500 ft/min, the aircraft's approach speed was approximately 95 KIAS and it touched down at approximately 80 KIAS, with a landing roll-out comparable with the specifications for the aircraft.

In testing the accuracy of the instruments, based on the measured Test Flight, the speed indications on the airspeed indicator, were consistent with the averages measured. Additionally, when establishing a set rate of climb on the vertical speed indicator, the respective gain in altitude on the altimeter was achieved within the measured minute, and a standard rate turn was achieved within the measured two minute period using the turn coordinator.

The performance of the Alabeo Cessna 310R II was what could be reasonably expected of this aircraft. The general handling characteristics are excellent, with the aircraft being responsive to control inputs. Overall, the aircraft model displays a very good rendition of the flight characteristics and performance against the aircraft performance data.

Documentation

Seven documents are provided in Adobe Acrobat format (.pdf) for the Alabeo Cessna 310R II:

Alabeo Cessna 310R Normal Procedures,
Alabeo Cessna 310R Emergency Procedures,
Alabeo Cessna 310R Performance Tables,
Alabeo Cessna 310R References,
Alabeo GNS 530 User Guide,
Stormscope User Guide, and
Recommended Settings.

Value for Money

The Alabeo Cessna 310R II continues the trend of price creep in the Alabeo range. Even though the modelling and textures are excellent, the price of US$34.95 is becoming unreasonable from a company whose original business model was based on producing "lower priced" aircraft which "combine the joy, the challenge, and the FUN of flying". Consequently, the Value for Money for the Alabeo Cessna 310R II is only considered fair.

Simulator Performance

The aircraft model performed excellently within the existing settings I have in P3D. I have most of my settings set very high and there was no need to make any adjustments. There was no discernible frame rate impact directly attributable to the Alabeo Cessna 310R II and P3D continued to perform smoothly.

Technical Requirements

This version of the Alabeo Cessna 310R  is for FSX/FSX SE/P3D only. Other specified technical requirements are as follows:

Windows Vista / 7 / 8 (32 or 64bit);
Flight Simulator X with SP1 and SP2 installed (or Acceleration Pack), FSX Steam Edition, or Lockheed Martin P3D Flight Simulator (v2.5 or v3.4 or higher); and
Pentium V, 2GHz or similar, 2GB RAM, 512MB graphics card, and 1.3GB available HDD space.

Review Computer Specifications

The specifications of the computer on which the review was conducted are as follows:

Intel i7 990X Extreme 3.46GHz;
NVidia GTX980 G1 Gaming, 4GB, 1228/1329MHz;
12GB, Kingston DDR3, 2000MHz, XMP T1 CL9 HyperX;
Windows 7, (64bit); and
Lockheed Martin P3D Version 3.4.22.19868.

Additional Major Add-ons. Active Sky 2016, Active Sky Cloud Art, FS Global Ultimate region series, Orbx FTX Global BASE, Orbx FTX Global VECTOR, Orbx FTX Global openLC series, Orbx FTX region series, Orbx FTX airport series, and Orbx FTX Trees HD.

Conclusion

Alabeo have done another marvellous job with the produciton of the Cessna 310R II. It fills another niche in Alabeo's Cessna and general aviation stable and is an excellent aircraft which is good in so many ways. It is a delight to fly and will certainly appeal to Cessna and general aviation fans. If you can overlook the price, the Alabeo Cessna 310R II will provide much enjoyment.


Verdict and Scores

Verdict

The Alabeo Cessna 310R II is a lovely aircraft add-on product albeit with a slightly high price tag.

Scores

For
Against
Category
Score/10
High quality textures. Value for Money is marginal. External Model 9.5
Excellent exterior and interior modelling. Internal Model 9.0
Very good engine sounds. Sounds 9.0
Great flight characteristics. Flight Characteristics (does it fly by the numbers) 9.0
Flight Dynamics (does it feel like what it looks like) 10
    Documentation 8.5
    Value for Money 8.0

Overall Score

The Alabeo Cessna 310R II is awarded an overall Mutley's Hangar score of 9.0/10,
with an"Highly Recommended" and a Mutley's Hangar Silver Award.