Carenado PC-12 Review
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Pilatus PC-12
For FSX/Prepar3D Published by Carenado
Reviewed by Andrew Godden
November 2014

Introduction

Pilatus Aircraft have been producing STOL utility and trainer aircraft since 1939. With a reputation for designing and producing quality aircraft, Pilatus have had success with a range of models since the late 1950s, all of which are still in current production. The PC-6 'Porter' and PC-7 trainer cemented Pilatus' reputation early, with later success following with the PC-9 and PC-21 trainers. The Pilatus PC-12 was designed for corporate transport and regional airline operators and has become Pilatus Aircraft's most successful aircraft.

Carenado already have in their offering, three aircraft of a comparable role and configuration to the PC-12, they being the Cessna 208B, Piper PA-46T 'Malibu' JetPROP, and Socata TBM 850. It seems fitting then, to add the PC-12 to this "increasingly inaccurately named.....trilogy" of single engine turboprops. With exemplary cruise speed, range / payload characteristics, and STOL capabilities, the PC-12 is a brilliant aircraft.

History

The Pilatus PC-12 is a single engine turboprop passenger and cargo aircraft. Powered by a Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A turboprop engine, the PC-12 is certified for single pilot IFR operations. With seating capacity for up to nine passengers in a standard configuration, four passengers in a passenger / freight combi configuration, and six passengers in a corporate transport configuration (seven passengers with an option bench seat in the rear row), the PC-12 is a very versatile aircraft for regional airline and / or corporate transport operators.

Development of the PC-12 began in 1989, with the first flight taking place on 31 May 1991. After a redesign of the wings, resulting in an increase in the wing span and the addition of winglets to meet performance guarantees, production deliveries commenced in 1994. The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) in Australia was the launch customer for the PC-12 and they continue to be the single largest operator of the type. With over 1300 aircraft produced to date, and plans for future upgrades and variants, the PC-12 will continue to be the mainstay of Pilatus production for years to come.

Availability and Installation

The Carenado Pilatus PC-12 is currently available direct from Carenado and Carenado 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$39.95, or the equivalent on currency cross rates. The download file size is 236MB and it requires 715MB of HDD space for installation. An ‘activation key' is issued on purchase and is used during installation and the installation process is intuitive and seamless.

Model Features

The model features listed by Carenado for the Pilatus PC-12 are typical of models in the Carenado range and include:
        • high definition quality textures (4096 x 4096);
        • original PC-12 EFIS, with EADI and EHSI;
        • Avidyne multifunction display, with weather information;
        • original PC-12 autopilot;
        • Carenado Garmin GNS 530 GPS with Reality XP integration option;
        • original alarm and warning sounds;
        • stall pusher effect;
        • dynamic environment gauges reflections;
        • realistic and separate night light effects for the instruments, panel, pilot, and cockpit flood;
        • customizable panel for controlling aircraft windows transparency, instrument reflections, and static elements;
        • real weight and balance, and realistic behaviour;
        • 3D high quality digital stereo sounds; and
        • full FSX and P3D v2.0 compatibility.

Visual Appearance

General. Pilatus have a reputation for producing efficient and highly functional aircraft. One look at the PC-12 and you can see the practical functionality brimming from this aircraft. Not an attractive aircraft by any stretch of the imagination, the PC-12 looks very apt for the role and capabilities it was designed for. Carenado have modelled the PC-12/45 variant and, as regularly demonstrated by Carenado, their modelling has accurately captured the quintessential, practical design of the PC-12.

Exterior. The design of the Pilatus PC-12 is distinguished by its T-tail, but is also reflective of similar single engine turboprop designs, such as the Piper PA-46T and Socata TBM 850, with the Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A engine being prominent. For quality, attention to detail, and sheer consistency, Carenado have become the yardstick in this aircraft category by which other aircraft developers are measured, and the modelling of the PC-12 displays all of these attributes with the high definition textures and crisp lines. A comparative review of photographs of real world aircraft to Carenado's rendition reveal the exterior shape and dimensions to be very accurate and a true representation of the real world aircraft. There were noted variations in the shape and size of the winglets, however, these are considered to be related to real world production variations.


Practical


Distinctive


The P&W PT6A


Winglet & Weather Radar

Interior. Carenado have modelled the interior on the corporate transport configuration. The cockpit has a highly functional layout and follows the somewhat orthodox layout for EFIS equipped aircraft of this category type. The cockpit layout makes for an easy environment for that 1,500 nm flight. Whilst the quality of the some of the textures, such as the leather on the seats and the wood panelling, display the Carenado trademark, the carpet and, what appeared to be lamb's wool seat covers on the pilots seats, appeared lacklustre in their representation. Additionally, in the cabin, only one foldaway table between the club seating is animated. Nonetheless, a comparative review of photographs of real world aircraft to Carenado's rendition reveal the interior shape and dimensions to be extremely accurate and a true representation of the real world aircraft. Any noted variations were minor are considered to be related to real world production variations or a degree of artistic licence on the part of the developer.


The Cockpit


The Cabin


Sit Back & Enjoy Your G&T

Flight Instruments and Systems. The EFIS cockpit helps make flying the PC-12 a pleasure. Further supplemented with the Avidyne MFD and two Garmin GNS 530 GPS units, they add to the ease of flying this aircraft. All elements of the cockpit are highly accurate and very detailed, and clear and easy to read. Naturally, at lower zoom ranges, some of the clarity is lost on the LCD screens and panel labelling and can be difficult to read, however, various alternative cockpit camera views are available to provide more detailed views. The various features of the EFIS, Avidyne MFD, and Garmin GNS 530 GPS units are fully covered in the supplied manuals and are deserving of a read at some stage. It was noted that the operation of the AV 1 switch, whilst providing electrical power to some instruments, did not provide electrical power to the EFIS, MFD and GPS units. The AV 2 switch, however, seemed to provide electrical power to all instruments. An additional issue was noted with the 'click spots' for changing the frequency on the ADF receiver. These were initially difficult to locate and make tuning the ADF receiver a challenge at low zoom levels.


Instrument Panel


Pilot Position


Avidyne MFD & Switches


Throttle Quadrant


Overhead Panel

Liveries. There are six individual liveries (a selection only shown below) provided with the Carenado Pilatus PC-12, each having a unique aircraft registration number, as well as a blank texture for aircraft painting enthusiasts. The liveries display the usual Carenado high quality. Surface textures, reflections, and shadings give the aircraft a crisp and realistic appearance, with additional dirt, oil, and grease stains providing a very natural appearance.


HB-FCL


D-FESV


D-FCAH


N3486

Animations, Lighting and Sounds

The animations of the primary and secondary control surfaces and other moving elements on Carenado's Pilatus PC-12 are all modelled faithfully and include:
        • primary control surfaces – ailerons, elevator and rudder;
        • secondary control surfaces – flaps;
        • others – retractable gear, trim tabs, rolling wheels, cabin door open / close, baggage door open / close, cockpit window visors, and
           cabin window shades; and
        • various static ground elements.


Parked Up


Shades Down

The lighting and lighting effects on the PC-12 are a good, realistic representation of the real world aircraft. In particular, the interior custom lighting control, which provides detailed night light effects for the instrument panel and the cockpit, are very good. There were noted issues with the separate control of the cockpit and cabin lighting and also the cabin flood and reading light switches not operating the respective lighting correctly. Nonetheless, the lighting in the PC-12 replicates the night lighting seen in photographs of real world aircraft.


Cockpit Lighting


Cabin Flood Lighting


Cabin Reading Lighting

The PC-12 has more bells, whistles, and dings than an out of sync primary school concert band, and all of them are totally functional. The 3D stereo sounds are very effective and are representative of the real world aircraft.

General Characteristics and Performance Specifications

The general characteristics and performance specifications for the Pilatus PC-12 are provided in the table. This is based on data from the official Pilatus PC-12 Pilot Operating Handbook, data provided by Carenado, 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 Carenado.



Flight Performance

A specific Test Flight was conducted from Avalon (YMAV) to Telfer (YTEF) to test the flight performance of Carenado's Pilatus PC-12. 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 FL280 was adopted and the route distance was approximately 1,509 nm. The route was particularly chosen to provide a basis upon which to test the range characteristics of the PC-12. Like most aircraft of this type, adjustments must be made to fuel / pax loading to remain within the MTOW limitations.


In Flight


Long Distance Capability

The aircraft was easy to taxi. With a flaps setting of 'Flaps 1' (15°), aircraft rotation occurred at approximately 70 knots indicated air speed (KIAS) and the aircraft easily maintained a normal climb speed at the specified initial rate of climb of approximately 1,700 ft/min. Even with the PC-12 at MTOW, the STOL characteristics make the take-off roll short, quickly establishing the PC-12 on the climb to cruise. Established at the specified rate of climb, the PC-12 climbs effortlessly, but as altitude increases, it requires the natural adjustments to the rate of climb to maintain an optimum climb speed until the aircraft was established at the cruise altitude.

During cruise, with an NG setting of 95%, a torque setting of 24.8 was established. This cruise setting produced an average speed of approximately 245 KTAS (155 KIAS), a fuel flow rate of approximately 310 lb/h, and an endurance consistent with the range characteristics of the aircraft. This represented a variance in speed and fuel flow performance compared to the Performance Tables provided by Carenado. The Performance Tables indicate the performance settings, as used in the Test Flight, should have produced a cruise speed of 252 KTAS (150 KIAS) and a fuel flow rate of 350 lb/h. The Test Flight confirms the modelling of the aircraft for range performance to be reasonably accurate. The detected variances in the speed and fuel flow rate do not significantly impact the range performance of the aircraft and are not considered significant.


Underbelly


Landing Gear

Configured for landing, with full flaps, and trimmed for a descent rate of approximately 500 ft/min, the aircraft’s approach speed was approximately 75 KIAS and it touched down at approximately 70 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.


Turning for Finals


Final Approach

The performance of Carenado’s Pilatus PC-12 was excellent in flight, displaying the true STOL performance and expected general flight characteristics of this aircraft. The aircraft handles very nicely and is a delight to fly. 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.

Documentation

There are eight manuals / documents provided in Adobe Acrobat format (.pdf) for the Pilatus PC-12:
        • Electronic Flight Information System - this seven page manual details the operating of the EFIS avionics suite;
        • Carenado Multifunction Display - this 13 page manual details the operating of the Avidyne MFD;
        • Carenado GNS 530 Users Guide - this two page document details the operating of the Garmin GNS 530 GPS unit;
        • Normal Procedures - this 26 page manual details the procedures for the normal operation of the aircraft;
        • Emergency Procedures – this 24 page manual details the emergency procedures for the aircraft;
        • Performance Tables – this three page document details the performance tables and specifications for the aircraft;
        • References - this three page document details the airspeed limitations for the aircraft; and
        • FSX Recommended Settings – this two page document detailed recommended FSX settings for display and realism.

An additional document provides information on the integration of the Reality XP GNS 530 GPS unit.

Value for Money

On a value for money assessment, the Carenado Pilatus PC-12 is considered excellent.

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 Carenado Pilatus PC-12 is for FSX / P3D only. Other specified technical requirements are as follows:
        • Windows XP (with SP3 installed), Windows Vista, or Windows 7 (32 or 64bit);
        • Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX with SP1 and SP2 (or Acceleration Pack) or Lockheed Martin Prepar3d Flight Simulator v1.4 or v2.0 installed; and
        • Pentium V, 3GHz or similar, 2GB RAM, 512MB graphics card, and 715MB 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.

Conclusion

Carenado have done an excellent job with the Pilatus PC-12 and it is a fantastic complement to the other single engine turboprops in their repertoire Displaying the hallmark Carenado traits of detail and accuracy, the PC-12 displays an excellent balance of quality and detail at an excellent price. With exemplary cruise speed, range / payload characteristics, and STOL capabilities, the PC-12 is a brilliant aircraft and one you will enjoy flying.


Flying Pleasure

Verdict

Displaying the usual high quality and attention to detail, the Pilatus PC-12 is another fine product from Carenado which represents excellent overall value for money.

Pros:
Quality and attention to detail.
Realistic modelling and performance.
Comprehensive documentation.
Excellent value for money.

Cons:
AV 1 and AV 2 switch operation.
ADF Receiver 'click spots' difficult to locate.
Lighting switch controls.

Scores:
   ● External Model: 10/10
   ● Internal Model: 8.5/10
   ● Sounds: 10/10
   ● Flight Characteristics (does it fly by the numbers): 9.5/10
   ● Flight Dynamics (does it feel like what it looks like): 9.5/10
   ● Documentation: 10/10
   ● Value for Money: 9.5/10

The Carenado Pilatus PC-12 is awarded an overall Mutley’s Hangar score of 9.6/10,
with an "Outstanding" and a Mutley's Hangar Gold Award.


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