Cessna 177 'Cardinal II'
For FSX / Prepar3D Published by Alabeo
Reviewed by Andrew Godden
August 2014


The aviation world is full of successes and failures, in many areas, and many ways. For aircraft manufacturers, they spend a great deal of effort, resources, and finances on the design and development of new models, and the success of these new models is never without risk. Cessna has not been immune to this, and for all the success they have enjoyed with models such as the 172 'Skyhawk', they have also been beset by failures. The development concept behind the 177 'Cardinal' was solid, however, by comparison, its sales success was an abject failure.

Over the years, there have only been a few models of the Cessna 177 'Cardinal', both payware and freeware, developed for Microsoft Flight Simulator. Alabeo have demonstrated a penchant for developing the less common aircraft and the Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' continues this development philosophy. This aircraft displays all the appeal of its futuristic 1970s design concept. With its stylish lines, the 177 'Cardinal II' presents as a beautiful alternative for your flying adventures.


The Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' is a four seat, single engine, general aviation aircraft. It has a strut less, high mounted, cantilever wing, and a tricycle undercarriage, with variants produced in both fixed and retractable gear configurations.

Designed in the mid 1960s, the Cessna engineers were given a design brief to create a "...futuristic 1970s successor to the Cessna 172...". The resulting aircraft featured newer technology, such as, a cantilever wing with a laminar flow air foil, improved upward visibility due to the steeply raked windshield and more aft mounted wing, larger doors offering easier entry, and reasonable performance for the power. The Cessna 177 is also the only production, high wing, single engined Cessna since the Cessna 190 and 195 series to have both fixed landing gear and a strut less cantilever wing.

With the 177 design being intended as a replacement for the 172, the Cessna 172 was to be discontinued after the introduction of the new aircraft. The new design was originally to be called the 172J (to follow the 1968 model 172I). However, as the time came to make the transition, there was considerable resistance to the replacement of the 172 from Cessna's Marketing Division. Consequently, the 1969 172 model jumped to the designator, 172K, and there is no 172J. Soon after delivery of the first Cardinals, there were reported incidents of pilot induced oscillation (PIO), resulting in Cessna initiating a priority program to eliminate the problem.

In the end, the popularity of the Cessna 172 held firm and production of the 177 'Cardinal' ran from 1968 to 1978 with 4,295 units being produced.

Availability and Installation

The Alabeo Cessna 177 'Cardinal 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 priced at US$28.95, or the equivalent on currency cross rates. The file size of 258MB is reasonable for an aircraft of this type and quality and it requires 628MB of HDD space for installation. Depending on where it was purchased, an ‘activation key' may be issued to be used during installation.

Model Features

The Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' is a fantastic general aviation aircraft, and with the exception of the Garmin GNS 530 GPS unit, it has a traditional, analogue avionics suite.

The model features listed by Alabeo for the Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' are typical of models in the Alabeo range and include:
    ● HD quality textures;
    ● high quality 3D model and textures;
    ● Alabeo Garmin GNS 530 GPS unit;
    ● Reality XP GNS 530 integration;
    ● material shines and reflections;
    ● gauge reflections;
    ● windows scratches (crazing) and blade shines; and
    ● realistic behaviour.

There are two 177 'Cardinal II' variants provided, 177B (fixed gear) and 177RG (retractable gear), with the 177RG being supplied with two models (one pilot and two pilots). Eight HD paint schemes, five fixed gear and three retractable gear, are provided, and a blank texture of each model for aircraft painting enthusiasts.

General Visual Appearance

Exterior. The Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' has very different lines to similar models in the Cessna range. The steeply raked windshield and more aft mounted wing are quite discernible and the 177 'Cardinal' has a sleeker profile, giving it the characteristic futuristic appearance. Alabeo's modelling of the Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' is very accurate in representing these unique characteristics and it also displays the high level of attention to accuracy and detail Alabeo have become renowned for. A comparative review of photographs of real world aircraft to Alabeo's rendition reveal the exterior shape and dimensions to be extremely accurate and a true representation of the real world aircraft. Any noted differences are considered to be related to real world production variations.

Interior. Consistent with the exterior, the general appearance of the cockpit and the panel layout are also modelled to a high degree of detail. However, with so many avionics fit out options available, the avionics layout and fit out of Alabeo's Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' naturally varies from the layout of researched real world aircraft. Nonetheless, when compared to real world photographs of similar layouts, the cockpit and panel layout are modelled to a high degree of accuracy.

Paint Schemes. There are eight individual paint schemes (a selection only shown below) provided with the Alabeo Cessna 177 'Cardinal II', with each having a unique aircraft registration number. The surface textures, reflections, and shadings give the aircraft a crisp and realistic appearance, providing for a very natural appearance.

Paint Scheme 1

Paint Scheme 2

Paint Scheme 3

Paint Scheme 4


The exterior modelling accuracy of the Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' is excellent. It displays a very high level of detail which includes wheel fairings, individual fuselage panels and panel rivets, access panels, aerials and antenna, fuel tank caps, tie down points, and exhaust and oil stains on the underside of the fuselage, which add to the overall realistic appearance.

External General View

External Top View

Great Detail

Meticulous - Note the Cardinal Logo


Alabeo’s rendering of the cockpit of the Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' is very good and reasonably realistic when compared to real world layouts. The first thing you will notice, compared to other Cessna models of a similar design, is the totally different and much improved perspective afforded by the steeply raked windshield and more aft mounted wing.

Virtual Cockpit View

Pilot Panel

Instrument Panel Layout. All primary flight instruments in the Cessna 177 'Cardinal II', are on the left side (pilot side) with the engine, fuel, and electrical system management instrumentation immediately below the primary flight instruments. All electrical system, light, and ignition switches are located on the panel, immediately below the aforementioned instruments. The Garmin GNS 530 GPS unit, Bendix / King KY 96A COM2 radio, Bendix / King KR 87 ADF receiver, and Garmin GTX 327 digital transponder unit are all located centrally. The GNS 530 also provides for tuning of the COM1 and NAV radios. The throttle controls are all located centrally on the panel below the transponder unit, with the trim controls located immediately below the throttle controls, and the fuel tank selector is located centrally on the floor. The primary flight instruments are laid out in the standard “T” and "six pack" arrangement and all the flight instruments are extremely clear and easy to read and have the option for instrument glass reflections to be enabled or disabled. The removal of both yokes can be toggled to provide an unobstructed view of the panel, particularly of the ignition and light switches located on the lower panel. Various alternative cockpit camera views are available to provide more detailed views of the instruments, however, there are no checklists or aircraft reference data provided on the 'Kneeboard'.

Centre Panel

Panel Switches

Cockpit Layout. The cockpit layout of the Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' generally follows the standard arrangement for this type of Cessna, however, it is somewhat unique in that the rear seating is a bench seat which is capable of comfortably seating two passengers. Both door and window levers open and close these features respectively. As with other Alabeo models, the attention to detail and small features differentiate the quality. In the case of the 177 'Cardinal II', the window crazing provides a good effect, the sun visors can be lowered into place, and various cabin conditioning and temperature controls are operable, all these being for effect only. Again, the detail in the textures of the seating, seatbelt webbing, and floor carpet provide a good and reasonably realistic appearance with paint chip and scratch marks on the panel giving the impression of a less than new aircraft.

Overall, the attention to detail on the interior is, again, of a reasonably high quality.


The animations of the primary and secondary control surfaces and other moving elements on Alabeo's Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' are all modelled faithfully. On the 177RG variant, the retractable main landing gear displays the peculiar operation involving a multi stage retraction and deployment where it initially moves to a ‘dangling’ position and pauses before it begins a rearward movement to retract into the gear wells and the reverse during deployment.

Doors & Windows


Animations include:
    ● primary control surfaces – ailerons, elevators and rudder;
    ● secondary control surfaces – flaps;
    ● others – retractable gear, stabilator and rudder trim tabs, rolling wheels, pilot and passenger door open / close,
       baggage access door open / close, windows open / close, sun visors; and
    ● pilot head movement.

Retracting Gear 1

Retracting Gear 2


Alabeo have done a credible job on the lighting and lighting effects on the Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' and they provide a good, realistic representation of the real world aircraft. There is the usual navigation lights, rotating beacon, strobe lights, taxi and landing light, and panel and cabin interior lighting. Other than the taxi, and landing lights illuminating the ground effectively, the strobe lights also provide this illuminating effect. The detailed night light effects for the instrument panel and the cockpit, generally, are very good and replicate the night lighting seen in photographs of real world aircraft and all interior lighting effects can be seen when viewing the aircraft from an external view.

Instrument Lighting 1

Instrument Lighting 2


The sounds on Alabeo's Cessna 177 'Cardinal II', are reasonably realistic and representative of the real world aircraft. The engine exhibits a throaty rumble on start up before settling into a steady burble sound during idle. As the throttle is increased for take-off, the engine quickly adopts a strong steady 'thrum' which then settles to a 'humming' sound as the aircraft is configured at cruise. The engine sounds are not as pronounced on the 177B variant, however, this is considered due to the less powerful engine.

The sounds associated with the gear and flaps during their respective deployment and retraction phases are also realistic. Other generic sounds include switch sounds and sounds associated with the doors opening and closing.

General Characteristics and Performance Specifications

The general characteristics and performance specifications for the Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' are provided in the table. This is based on data from the respective, official Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' variant Pilot Operating Handbooks, 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. It was noted that the fuel capacity for the 177RG variant, as per the Cessna Pilot Operating Handbook, is 60 US gal, whereas Alabeo have only modelled 50 US gal.

Flight Performance

A specific series of Test Flights were conducted from Avalon (YMAV) to Grafton (YGFN) to test the flight performance of both variants of Alabeo's Cessna 177 'Cardinal II'. The flights were conducted in clear weather with a full fuel load and the respective aircraft at their maximum take-off weight (MTOW). A cruise altitude of 7,500 ft was adopted and the route distance was approximately 650 nm. The route was particularly chosen to provide a basis upon which to test the range characteristics of the 177 'Cardinal II'. Like most aircraft of this type, adjustments must be made to fuel / pax loading to remain within the MTOW limitations.

In Flight 1

In Flight 2

For the 177B, as per the Flight Performance tables, during cruise, a 75% power setting was established with a manifold pressure setting of 22.0 inHg and an rpm setting of 2500 rpm. The mixture setting was leaned out to produce a fuel flow rate of approximately 10.0 gph. These cruise settings produced an average speed of approximately 129 knots true air speed (KTAS). This represented a significant variance in speed performance compared to the Flight Performance tables provided by Alabeo. The Flight Performance tables indicate the performance settings, as used in the Test Flight, should have produced a cruise speed of 147 KTAS and a range of approximately 620 nm. The performance of the 177B on this Test Flight was more reflective of figures specified in the Cessna Pilot Operating Handbook for the 177B.

For the 177RG, and again as per the Flight Performance tables, during cruise, a 75% power setting was established with a manifold pressure setting of 22.0 inHg and an rpm setting of 2500 rpm. The mixture setting was leaned out to produce a fuel flow rate of approximately 10.0 gph. These cruise settings produced an average speed of approximately 149 KTAS and an endurance consistent with the range characteristics of the aircraft. The Test Flight confirms the modelling of the 177RG for cruise speed and range performance to be reasonably accurate.

The Test Flights confirm the modelling of both aircraft variants for range performance to be reasonably accurate. The detected variance in the speed on the 177B variant, whilst significant, does not significantly impact the range performance of the aircraft. Based on the Test Flights and data from the official Cessna 177 'Cardinal' Pilot Operating Handbooks, it appears the data in the Alabeo Flight Performance tables for the 177B variant is incorrect.

Dirt & Grime

In Flight 3

The aircraft was easy to taxi. Taking into account the minor performance variations between the variants, with 0° flaps, aircraft rotation occurred at approximately 55 knots indicated air speed (KIAS) and the aircraft easily maintained a normal climb speed of between 75 (177B) to 90 (177RG) KIAS at a rate of climb of 500 ft/min. Even at MTOW, the Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' climbed effortlessly within the specified rate of climb and speed performance parameters for the aircraft. When climbing to the service ceiling altitude, with the obviously required adjustments to the rate of climb, the aircraft was able to climb to this altitude. Configured for landing, with full flaps and trimmed for a descent rate of approximately 500 ft/min, the aircraft’s approach speed was approximately 65 KIAS and it touched down at approximately 60 KIAS, with a landing roll out comparable with the specifications for the aircraft. Note. Care must be taken with the Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' on take off as an over rotation situation can easily occur, resulting in a tail strike.

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.

In Flight 4

Landing Roll Out

In all, the performance of Alabeo’s Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' was excellent in flight, displaying the typical flight characteristics of this aircraft. The aircraft is a delight to fly and it handles beautifully. Once established at cruise, and trimmed accordingly, the Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' flies steady, requiring only occasional, minor trim adjustments to maintain altitude and course. Overall, the aircraft model displays a very accurate rendition of the flight characteristics and a reasonably accurate rendition of performance of the real world aircraft, with the noted exceptions.


There are four manuals / documents provided in Adobe Acrobat format (.pdf) for each variant of the Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' (eight in total):
    ● Normal Procedures – this manual provides the procedures for the normal operation of the aircraft;
    ● Emergency Procedures – this manual provides the emergency procedures for the aircraft;
    ● Performance Tables – this document details the operating cruise performance specifications of the aircraft; and
    ● Reference – this document details the performance specifications of the aircraft.

Value for Money

On a value for money assessment, the Alabeo Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' is considered exceptional. With two variants included, it is very detailed in its modelling and is a fantastic general aviation aircraft to fly.

Simulator Performance

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. FSX continued to perform smoothly and as it would with any default aircraft.

Technical Requirements

This version of the Alabeo Cruz PiperSport is for FSX / P3D only. Other specified technical requirements are as follows:
    ● Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8 (32 or 64bit);
    ● Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX with SP1 and SP2 (or Acceleration Pack) or Lockheed Martin Prepar3d Flight Simulator installed; and
    ● Pentium V, 2GHz or similar, 2GB RAM, 512MB graphics card, and 435MB 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 GTX580, 1536MB graphics;
    ● 12GB Kingston DDR3 2000MHz;
    ● Windows 7, (64bit);
    ● Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX Acceleration; and
    ● additional major add-ons include: Active Sky Next, REX Essential Plus Overdrive; Ultimate Traffic 2; Orbx FTX Global BASE;
       Orbx FTX Global VECTOR; Orbx FTX Global openLC EU; Orbx FTX region series; and Orbx FTX airport series.


The Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' is another great general aviation aircraft from the Cessna and Alabeo stables. This review has involved over 25 hours of specific flight testing flying hours and it is evident Alabeo have delivered an aircraft in the Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' which is rich in detail and accuracy and is a pleasure to fly. The Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' displays an excellent balance of quality and detail at an exceptional price. If you are a general aviation and / or Cessna fan in particular, you will enjoy the Alabeo Cessna 177 'Cardinal II'.

A Delight to Fly

Verdict & Rating

The Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' is an excellent product from Alabeo which displays a high quality and attention to detail and represents exceptional overall value for money.

Quality and attention to detail.
Realistic modelling and performance.
Excellent documentation.
Exceptional value for money.

A variance in speed flight performance on the 177B.

Scores: gold
   ● External Model: 9.5/10
   ● Internal Model: 9.5/10
   ● Sounds: 9.5/10
   ● Flight Characteristics (does it fly by the numbers): 9.0/10
   ● Flight Dynamics (does it feel like what it looks like): 10/10
   ● Documentation: 9.5/10
   ● Value for Money: 10/10

The Alabeo Cessna 177 'Cardinal II' is awarded an overall Mutley’s Hangar score of 9.6/10,
with an "Outstanding" and a Mutley's Hangar Gold Award.