When talking about the general aviation category, it is all too easy to focus on the big names, often referred to as the “Big Three”, Cessna, Piper, and Beechcraft. Even though these three companies have long, rich traditions in the aviation industry, they are, by far, nowhere near the oldest. We have to look to Europe to broaden our perspective of general aviation manufacturers and to find some of the earliest manufacturers which were founded over 15 years before any of the “Big Three”. One such company is the French company, Morane-Saulnier, founded in October 1911, and more commonly known today as SOCATA, an acronym for Societe de Construction d’Avions de Tourisme et d’Affaires. From 1980 through to 2006, SOCATA produced the TB series of aircraft, with the TB-10 Tobago and TB-20 Trinidad undoubtedly being the most popular variants in the series.
In recent years at Just Flight, we have seen a return to the “in house” development of aircraft add-ons. Personally, I think this has been a positive move for Just Flight and the products produced since that decision, speak for themselves. The SOCATA TB-10 Tobago and TB-20 Trinidad continue this trend and at first glance, they appear to be a great little package for the general aviation flight simming enthusiast.
The SOCATA TB series is a single engine, low wing monoplane, in the general aviation aircraft category. The series shares a common basic fuselage and interior with the major differences being engine size, fixed or retractable landing gear, and propeller. Powered by a Lycoming O-360 series and IO-540 series engine, respectively, the TB-10 and TB-20 have seating for up to four passengers.
Design and development of the SOCATA TB series began in the mid-1970s as a replacement to SOCATA’s successful Rallye series of aircraft. The aircraft’s design is characterised by a superior and contemporary fit and finish, and interior size. When compared with their competitors, the TB-10 and TB-20 are very roomy, partly due to the pronounced “round out” above the wing. This spaciousness is further enhanced by the large side windows which extend above the roof line, providing the aircraft with a very open and airy feeling. This comes at a price though, with the larger fuselage and relatively heavy weights of the TB series having an impact on performance in comparison to their coevals. Indeed, the smaller engined TB-10 is somewhat maligned in the category for its lack of power. Nonetheless, the TB-10 and TB-20 have become widely used as training and touring aircraft, and owners often cite the interior comfort and space as being a trade-off for speed and performance. Interestingly, it was the TB-20 which was the first in the series to be certified, this occurred on 18 December 1980, with the first delivery occurring in March 1981. Production of the TB series ceased in 2006.
The Just Flight SOCATA TB-10 Tobago and TB-20 Trinidad is currently available direct from Just Flight and Just Flight 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 £27.99, or the equivalent on currency cross rates. The download file size is 677MB and it requires 2GB of HDD space for installation. The installation process requires you to log in to your Just Flight account to verify the product and the installation process is intuitive and seamless.
The Just Flight SOCATA TB-10 Tobago and TB-20 Trinidad are certainly rich with model features. A stand out feature is the detail in the aircraft systems and this will provide a little more attention for the general aviation flyer who is looking for something more than just an aircraft to jump into and fly. The aircraft have all the usual features expected of add-ons today and a full list of these is available on the Just Flight product page.
The major features listed include:high quality 3D model with 4096 x 4096 high definition textures;
General Overview. With the TB series, SOCATA set out to design an aircraft with a contemporary finish. Visually, the aircraft lives up to this objective and the large side windows are a feature which certainly accentuates this. Its external appearance gives the impression of it being large for its type and certainly suggests a spacious interior. If nothing else, the TB-10 and TB-20 have all the hallmarks of being a great touring aircraft. Overall, Just Flight appears to have modelled the aircraft on early production models of the TB-10 and TB-20 and they have nicely captured the SOCATA design philosophy in their modelling.
Exterior. The SOCATA TB-10 and TB-20 have a very pronounced box shape to the cabin area of the fuselage, the feature which gives the aircraft its spacious interior. The overly large windows are very obvious, as is a rather pronounced wing dihedral. The gull wing cabin doors give the aircraft a distinctive look as does the design of the horizontal stabiliser, which is positioned well to the rear of the vertical stabiliser. This gives the empennage a rather odd appearance.
Interior. Just Flight has modelled the interior on a standard passenger configuration for the variant with a cabin layout of two/three passenger bench seat and a luggage storage space behind this seat. The large windows afford excellent views and the normal range of textured seating, carpet, and panels adorn the interior.
Flight Instruments and Avionics. The cockpit of the SOCATA TB-10 and TB-20 represent the typical layout for the SOCATA TB series. It is simple and functional, with standard analogue flight instruments. The standard flight instruments are supplemented with the Garmin GNS 430 GPS unit and L-3 WX-1000 Stormscope. Again, SOCATA set out to achieve a contemporary fit and finish in the design and this is most evident in Just Flight's modelling of the cockpit. Press button switches replace the more standard toggle type switches for the lights. The various fingerprint smudges around the cockpit panel add a nice touch of realism to the look and feel of the cockpit.
Aircraft Systems. The aircraft systems feature is excellent and adds that extra level of realism to the flying experience. The flight computer, interactive check-lists, and flight logbook really enhance this add-on, with the flight computer being a very handy tool on those long cross country flights. The oils and lubricants feature dictates some extra attention to the operation of your aircraft or it could result in embarrassing consequences and it will have you physically checking that dipstick before each flight. Seriously consider reading the manual or you might find yourself missing the added benefit of these features or simply getting frustrated.
The SOCATA TB-10 and TB-20 are provided in a single model with five individual liveries for each variant. Each aircraft has a unique aircraft registration number and there is an additional blank texture for aircraft painting enthusiasts. Displaying high quality, the surface textures, reflections, and shadings, along with additional scuff marks, scrape effects, dirt, oil, and grease stains, give each aircraft a realistic appearance.
Just Flight’s rendition of the SOCATA TB-10 and TB-20 is highly detailed and accurate, the visual quality is excellent, and it provides a faithful representation of the real world aircraft. The modelling of the aircraft systems and additional features, such as the interactive check-lists, are excellent and provide an additional level of realism. Most 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. The one exception to this was the Garmin GNS 430 GPS unit in the virtual cockpit view which loses clarity unless viewed at high zoom levels. With the TEXTURE_MAX_LOAD set at 4096 in the fsx.cfg file, the texture quality was very good, as expected. However, I did find that some lesser cockpit fixtures had a less refined quality to the modelling of them. This was rather distracting, not to mention disappointing. Any 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.
The animations of the primary and secondary control surfaces and other moving elements on the SOCATA TB-10 and TB-20 are all modelled faithfully and include:
primary control surfaces - ailerons, elevator, and rudder;
secondary control surfaces - flaps;
others – retractable landing gear (TB-20 only), elevator and rudder trim tabs, cockpit, cabin, and baggage compartment doors, oil and lubricant inspection doors, cockpit windows, and visors.
The lighting and lighting effects on the TB-10 and TB-20 are reasonable. The cockpit and panel lighting appeared rather dull and washed out. The engine sounds are a good representation, with differentiation for the two aircraft engine types, though I did find the volume of the engine sounds did not really capture the true nature of the engines through the range of their operation. Each displayed reasonable stereo separation with view movement in the Virtual Cockpit view and external views.
The general characteristics and performance specifications for the SOCATA TB-10 and TB-20 are provided in the table. This is based on data from the official SOCATA TB-10 and TB-20 Pilot Operating Handbook, data provided by Just Flight, 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 Just Flight.
A series of specific Test Flights were conducted to test the flight performance of Just Flight’s SOCATA TB-10 and TB-20. The flights were conducted in clear weather with a full fuel load and the aircraft at maximum take-off weights (MTOW). A cruise altitude of 6,500 ft was adopted and the route distance was particularly chosen to provide a basis upon which to test the range characteristics of the aircraft.
Each aircraft was easy to taxi. With flaps set for take-off, aircraft rotation in both instances occurred at approximately 65 KIAS and effortlessly lifted off the runway, with a climb out which was expected for each respective aircraft. As previously mentioned, the TB-10 and TB-20 are maligned for their speed and performance and there were no surprises during the climb to cruise which can simply be described as sedate.
During cruise, a power setting was established for cruise as per the performance tables for the respective aircraft. These cruise settings produced an average speed, fuel flow rate and endurance reasonably consistent with the performance tables and the characteristics of each aircraft. Any noted variances in performance were minor and had negligible impact on the operation of the aircraft. The Test Flights confirms the modelling of the aircraft for speed and range performance to be reasonably accurate.
Configured for landing, with full flaps, and trimmed for a descent rate of approximately 500 ft/min, the aircraft approach speed ranges from approximately 80 to 85 KIAS, depending on aircraft variant.
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 Just Flight’s SOCATA TB-10 and TB-20 were excellent in flight. They both displayed the expected general flight characteristics of each aircraft. The handling characteristics are very good, reflecting the touring nature of these aircraft. Whilst sedate and easy to fly, they are responsive to control inputs and also very steady once trimmed for level flight or established on approach. The large side windows afford excellent views, and are particularly appreciated during VFR navigation and circuits. Overall, each respective aircraft display a reasonably accurate rendition of the flight characteristics and performance expected of this type of aircraft.
A comprehensive 113 page document is provided in Adobe Acrobat format (.pdf) for the SOCATA TB-10 and TB-20 and covers all necessary aspects for their operation including:
panel guides for all instruments,
a guide to all aircraft systems,
performance tables for each aircraft variant,
normal procedures, and
Whilst I initially had reservations about the price, even taking into account that you are getting two aircraft in the package, these reservations were soon dispelled. Just Flight have packed this aircraft add-on with a range of additional features which extend the flying experience well beyond just jumping into the cockpit and flying. Consequently, the value for money for the Just Flight SOCATA TB-10 Tobago and TB-20 Trinidad is considered very good.
The aircraft model performed excellently within the existing settings I have in FSX. 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 Just Flight SOCATA TB-10 Tobago and TB-20 Trinidad and FSX continued to perform smoothly.
This version of the Just Flight SOCATA TB-10 Tobago and TB-20 Trinidad is for FSX / FSX SE / P3D only. Other specified technical requirements are as follows:Windows 10 / 8 / 7 / Vista / XP (32 or 64bit);
The specifications of the computer on which the review was conducted are as follows:Intel i7 990X Extreme 3.46GHz;
The SOCATA TB-10 Tobago and TB-20 Trinidad are two aircraft which are perfect for touring and the general aviation flight simmer. Just Flight has done an excellent job with the attention to detail, and the quality and accuracy of these models and the overall performance characteristics of the TB-10 and TB-20 are reasonably typical of what you would expect of these aircraft. You could be easily mistaken in thinking this is just another simple general aviation aircraft add-on, however, the additional aircraft system features and custom coding which Just Flight have put into this package make this much more than that.