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Dash-8 Q400 Pilot Edition
For FSX/P3D Published by Majestic Software
Reviewed by Rob Scott
July 2013

In my opinion there hasn’t been a good Dash-8 available for FS since the PSS Dash-8 300, which was years and years ago, which could be seen as a massive mistake on the developers’ part as most simmers only fly for the short amount of time that a regional flight in the Dash-8 takes.

Step forward Majestic Software and their Dash-8 Q400. There have been quite a few great add-ons released this year, but this is the one that had me most excited. The add-on comes in three different packages: Pilot (reviewed here), Pro and Training. All have different price tags ranging from around £40 for the pilot version, £65 for the pro version and £125 for the training version!

The Dash-8

The Dash-8 is a direct descendent of the Dash-7, although with 2 of the engines removed. It entered service in 1984 and the airlines favoured the operational costs of the Dash-8 versus the STOL performance of the Dash-7. The Q400 entered service in the year 2000 and seats between 70-78 passengers. It has a fast cruise speed of 360kts which means that it can cover the short inter-city routes only marginally slower than the airliners, and can also keep pace with them in the crowded airspaces above major airports.

Because it is so quiet the Q400 can land into airports with strict noise restrictions, such as London City. This is a major plus point for the airline and passengers as they can be flown right into the heart of the city without the need for lengthy transfers from the major airports. I was passing London City on the DLR last year when a Dash-8 was coming in to land, the angle of descent was comical with the aircraft looking like it was going to plunge nose first into the runway.

Installation & Features

The installation process is fairly easy, although I had a few problems because Majestic didn’t receive notification that I was a genuine user – I put this down to my copy being a review/press copy and that they were overwhelmed with orders during the first couple of weeks. Incidentally, whilst this was a little frustrating it’s a great way to combat piracy.

Every livery is expertly done

The download is only 373mb and shouldn’t take too long to download with a reasonable broadband connection. The final installation size weighs in at 2.5gb, for this hefty installation size you get:

    ● Custom flight dynamics engine – the only aircraft who’s FDE is totally independent of the FSX FDE
    ● Working weather radar
    ● TCAS
    ● FMS Navigation & fuel management
    ● Extensive documentation
    ● Highly detailed VC and external model
    ● 19 High resolution liveries
    ● Passenger announcements
    ● Custom sound system
    ● Add-on control panel to allow you to modify the aircraft – weight, balance etc…

FSX Livery Selection

Majestic really have put a lot of work into this add-on, and this is only the entry level version. The system requirements seem fairly modest, but you should be looking to have a far more powerful set-up to get the most from this aircraft, otherwise your flight may be reduced to a slide show.

System Requirements

    ● Flight Simulator X (Acceleration, Gold or SP2 required)
    ● 2.0GHz or any Dual Core
    ● 2.0GB RAM
    ● 512MB graphics card
    ● Windows 8 / 7 / XP (32-bit or 64-bit) / Vista
    ● 2.5GB hard drive space


There are several pieces of documentation included, which are:
    ● Checklists
    ● Sample flight guide
    ● Tutorial
    ● Control Panel Guide
    ● Announcements Flow
    ● Speed Cards (metric and imperial)
    ● FMS Quick Card
    ● Nav Data Updates
    ● Special Features

hilst reading the manuals should be a pre-requisite for anyone flying an in-depth aircraft simulation, you could skip most of the info and just go straight to the tutorial flight which walks you through the whole process. Once you have completed the tutorial there is another tutorial flight available for download from the Majestic website, which has been written by a real world Q400 pilot. Both are a fantastic way to get to grips with this aircraft.

Ready and Waiting
In Flight

It took me quite a while to get my first flight out of the way – mainly because FSX kept crashing. In order to operate the Q400 you need to switch between several different views, which seemed to be the cause of the problem – after a while FSX would just crash when I switched view. This seems to be a problem with Windows 7 and after installing the ‘uiautomationcore.dll’ fix the problem went away (more info can be found here Note: AVSIM membership required)

Climbing Away
Whilst this aircraft is complex, it is relatively simple to operate at the same time as long as you follow the procedures. Some people have reported problems getting the Q400 started, which seems odd as it is literally flicking a few switches. I did plan to create a video showing the start-up procedure, but Froogle has already done the job for me with this 36 minute video from a cold and dark panel state -  – if you are struggling following the manual/checklist watch this video.

The FMS took a little time for me to get used to as I normally fly Boeing or Airbus, but like the rest of the aircraft it is fairly simple to operate once you have an understanding of how it works. The FMC is nowhere near as complex as that of a Boeing or Airbus, but it does its job well. I struggled for quite a while to get the VNAV function working correctly, and it does seem to be a little hit and miss, but I’ll put that down to pilot error.

When you fly the Q400 you’ll probably be surprised at how powerful it is. Even the smallest changes in power setting can result in big changes in airspeed. On most approaches I was flying with the throttles practically at idle and still able to maintain airspeed – this is one bird that likes to go fast.

Looks fast, is fast

Stunning from Any Angle

One thing I did find out after a few hard landings is that the Q400 needs to be flown onto the runway with the power still applied. If you chop the power just before touchdown, as you would an airliner, the aircraft literally drops like a stone. Flying her onto the runway and then cutting the power made for much smoother landings. Whether you are flying by hand or with the auto-pilot this aircraft handles brilliantly and is a joy to fly. Although the phrase ‘slow down then go down’ is very much apparent when planning the descent.

The Q-400 does come with its own sound-set which is exactly how I expected it to be for this aircraft – quiet. Even on take-off the cabin is a very quiet place, to enjoy the sound I switched to spot view and panned around during flight.

Internal & External Model

Wow! There is only a VC included but what a VC it is. Each panel is expertly done and the frame rates from within the VC were great – even in built up areas with high auto-gen. A minor criticism is that some of the display read-outs can be a little hard to read, but popping the display up as a 2D panel solves that. The operation of the knobs and levers is very smooth, some will require you to right click or left click if they have more than one setting.

2D Pop Up Panels

Control Pedestal

Pilot's Side of the Cockpit

Co-Pilot's Side of the Cockpit

Gorgeous VC

VC Overhead Panel

Overhead Panel

The Circuit Breakers Don't Work....Yet

Like the internal model there has been lots of attention to detail given to the external model and the Q-400 looks fantastic and exactly like the real thing – as I hoped it would for £40. The animations are superb – the props will even turn slightly in the wind whilst at the gate in a cold & dark state. I hope that the included screenshots can get across how superb the external and internal models are.

Control Panel

This should be your first stop before even loading FSX if you want to fly the Dash-8. The control panel has lots of set-up options to improve your sim experience from changing the EFIS refresh rates to help improve system performance all the way through to your weight and load balance for the flight. You can even modify how the different positions of your joystick/yoke and throttle affect the aircraft i.e max power, idle, reverse. Once you have loaded FSX and the Dash-8 press the ‘send data to flightsim’ button and your fuel, payload and any other changes will be instantly sent to the aircraft.

Control Panel Home

EFIS Options

System Options

Flight Controls Options

Engine Controls Options

Weight Balance Options


As you will have no doubt already heard, and judged by my review, this is a fantastic add-on for FSX. It is a complex and in depth add-on without being confusing for someone new to this type of simulation. The price for the pilot version (reviewed here) is bang on the money for what you are getting, I’ll reserve judgment for the other two versions but I think £125 (approx.) is a little high for the desktop simmer. After installing the uiautomationcore.dll fix the performance within FSX was fantastic and frame rates stayed around the 15-20 mark in built up areas with lots of AI, during cruise and in quieter airspace frame rates were much higher.

Now that Majestic have produced a superb payware Dash-8 for FSX a huge hole has been plugged in the market. I have no hesitation in awarding this add-on the Mutley’s Hangar Gold Award and the status of "Outstanding"

 Verdict:   silver
• External Model: 10/10
• Internal Model: 10/10
• Flight Characteristics: 10/10
• Flight Dynamics: 10/10
• Documentation: 10/10
• Value for money: 10/10
Mutley’s Hangar score of 10/10, with an "Outstanding" and a Mutley's Hangar Gold Award!

Rob Scott
Review machine Spec:
Intel i7 2600k @3.40GHz | 8GB DDR3 RAM 1600MHz |NVidia GTX570 1280MB GFX Card |Windows 7 64bit Home Premium