Cessna T182T Review
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Cessna T182T Skylane
For FSX Published by Flight1
Reviewed by Tim Arnot
October 2011


The 182T is a light aircraft addon for Microsoft Flight Simulator X. It is available from Flight1 as a download for $49.95 (£32-ish at today’s exchange rate). This is quite a high price for what is essentially a simple four-seat light GA tourer, so what do you get for your money?

External
* Detailed aircraft exterior
* Three paint schemes
* Opening cabin and cargo doors
* Additional external camera views
* Random Bug splats on the windscreen
* Visible icing effects on wings and windows

VC and Avionics
* Virtual Cockpit with fully working gauges, clickable switches, fuses etc
* Sun visor, window and door animations
* Custom Skylane-specific G1000
* 2D undockable popups for G1000 PFD and MFD
* Overhead panel for oxygen system
* VC only (there is no 2D panel)

Garmin G1000
* Functionality specific to T182T Skylane
* Multi-page UI for both PFD and MFD
* PFD has inset mini-map
* Autopilot with ROL, HDG, VOR, LOC, GPS (lateral) and ALT HOLD, ALTS, PIT, VS, FLC (vertical) modes
* G1000 flight plan operates independently of FS, but also imports some FS flight plans
* WAAS approaches for supported airports in the US
* Navigraph updatable data

There is also an extensive 85 page full colour illustrated manual in pdf format.

The Plane
The Cessna 182 Skylane is a high-wing single-engine piston powered aeroplane. The original plane was introduced in 1956, and the ‘A’ variant in 1957. The ‘T’ variant was introduced in 2001 and is still in production with both turbo (T182T) and normally aspirated (182T) engines. The turbo 182 has a slightly reduced range and load capacity compared to the non-turbo version, due to the heavier engine. The plane is powered by a 235hp Lycoming TIO-540 engine, and a metal 3 blade constant speed McCauley prop.

Current production aircraft all come with Garmin G1000 avionics.

Performance:
Max cruise speed: 176KTAS
Ceiling: 20,000ft
Max Climb rate (ISA, sea level): 1350 ft/minute
Range: 915nm (55% power, at 20,000ft, with 45 mins reserve, nil wind)
Take off to 50ft: 422m (1385ft)
take off ground roll: 236m (775ft)
Landing distance: 411m (1350ft)
Landing ground Roll: 180m (590ft)
Vne: 175KIAS
Vs: 45KCAS
Max takeoff weight: 1406kg (3100lb)
Max landing weight: 1388kg (2950lb)
Usable fuel:237Kg / 522lb / 329l / 87usg
Useful load: 467kg (1030lb)
Full fuel payload: 230kg (508lb)

Typical price for a real one: $US 432,800

The Package
As with pretty much all Flight1 addons, the download consists of a self-installing EXE file. Running it launches the Flight1 Wrapper, which encompasses their extremely well tried and tested payment and registration system. If you’ve ever installed a Flight1 addon, you’ll know the drill. The download is 143.8MB on disc.
  All Flight1 products are protected by their 30-day no quibble money back guarantee, so if you don’t like it for any reason, you can return it.

Once installed, the plane appears in your Select Aircraft panel under the title Cessna T182T Skylane. There are three variations, one for each livery: N282ES (Red, Black & Grey), N2010S (Blue & Grey), N11414 (White, Tan & Light Blue). Additional liveries are available from FS download sites.

Support is for the T182T is handled via a dedicated Cessna 182 Turbo Skylane forum (separate registration required).

Outside
A look around the plane shows a highly detailed aircraft, as you would expect from Flight1. The control surfaces are all animated (and operate in the correct sense too - always a good sign, and something every RW pilot double checks on their preflight). The pilot and copilot side doors open and shut, as do the windows and small baggage door.

There is an ‘auxiliary control panel’, which is always available from the FS View menu (or shift-4 on the keyboard), and which controls a number of visual details. It’s split into four tabs; tab 1 controls the pilot and copilot figures, tab 2 controls exterior details - doors open, bug splats on the window (they are persistent between FS sessions, but can be cleaned off from this panel (although not while the engine is running. Well, you wouldn’t get your bucket and sponge out and get to work mere inches from an 80” meat slicer spinning at over 1000RPM would you? Would you?)

Pitot covers, inlet vent bungs and chocks are also controlled from here. The remove before flight tags sway nicely in the breeze, and don’t forget to do so, as you’ll feel like a right twit taking off with them still attached... (again, you can’t remove them with the engine running). Tab 3 deals with fuel, load and GPWS avionic functions, and tab 4 is a quick reference chart.

The prop blades themselves are not animated. By which I mean they don’t twist when you move the prop lever in or out.

Inside
The interior of the cabin is fully modelled in the virtual cockpit. The panel itself is dominated by the two 10.4” LCD panels of the Garmin G1000. Below the G1000 are twin yokes, which can be hidden by clicking on the shaft, standby instruments (Airspeed indicator, Attitude indicator, and Altimeter), switch and breaker panels. T-P-M levers, trim wheel, flaps, brakes etc are all where you’d expect to find them.

As I mentioned, the major part of the panel is taken up with the G1000.

This is a sophisticated implementation of the Garmin, which is customised specifically for the T182T, and as such is much closer to its Flight1 big brother, the Citation Mustang than to the simplistic default device. Indeed it’s the fidelity and depth of the G1000 in this plane that really stands out.

The downside to simulating a glass panel within a virtual cockpit is that the display is very difficult to read (compared to traditional ‘steam’ gauges). To combat this, clicking in either panel will cause it to pop up into its own window. These windows can be resized to give a 1:1 representation of the original panel, and also undocked, so that if you have a multiple monitor setup you can have a full size G1000 and still see out the windows. Bonus!

I’d also like to draw attention to the circuit breakers. These are very rarely modelled in GA aircraft, and usually they will just be either a picture or simple static models. but in this aircraft you can pop the breakers for fuel pump, flap motors, pitot heater, avionics bus, beacon/landing/taxi/cabin/strobe/nav & panel lights.

I didn’t discover whether generating a failure in these systems would automatically pop the breaker; maybe that can be an exercise for the reader. Checking the integrity of the circuit breakers is an ingrained thing in RW pilots, not because these things tend to go wrong (because they don’t), but mostly because flight instructors take an evil delight in messing with stuff whenever they notice you are looking the other way...

Controls
I have the following control addons which I use with my sim:
CH Yoke and rudder pedals
Dual Saitek throttle-prop-mixture quadrants (Piper style) in twin-engine configuration
Various Go Flight modules including SECM, GF-166, GF-46

The T182T was able to be controlled from these devices with no additional setup or calibration required. This included radio & nav tuning as well as autopilot operation.

In Operation
Ok, so down to the nitty gritty.

Loading and starting
Loading the aircraft is simply a matter of picking it from the aircraft selection dialog. Some complex aircraft require that you load one of the default planes first, so that all the parameters are correctly initialised, but I experienced no issues loading this plane, and for most of the review period it was set as my default aircraft.

The plane is very easy to start. You can either use the Ctrl-E shortcut (I’ll admit I quite often do), or follow the checklist procedure. I have an abbreviated start procedure, which works with pretty much any light GA aircraft, and it works fine here.
- Mixture to ICO (Idle Cut Off)
- Prop fully forward
- Crack open the throttle a tad
- Battery on - check volts
- Beacon on
- Check area and call Clear Prop
- Mixture full rich
- fuel pump on for 5 seconds then off
- Mags start & release when engine catches
- Alternator on - check amps
- Avionics on - check & set
I normally do this from my GF panel (which also saves memorising switch positions for each aircraft!)

Engine start was pretty much instantaneous.

Flight planning
Flight plans can be loaded into the FMS of the Garmin G1000. This can either be done from the Flight Planning page (press FPL on the PFD), or to a limited extent from the FS built-in flight planner. If you are using plans from FS, some things need to be borne in mind: There is a minimum limitation of four waypoints (departure, destination and two enroute points). Shorter plans are simply not displayed. Bear in mind too that the G1000 is using recent Navigraph data, and some navaids and airports now have different identifiers compared with FSX. Finally plans that go ‘off-piste’ (typically created by dragging the plan line in FSX to an arbitary point, or by using third-party flight planners like Plan-G) shouldn’t be used, since they can cause the G1000 to go absolutely bananas.

Once you have a basic flight plan in place, you can augment it with IFR Departure Procedures, STARs and approaches, all of which use current up to date Navigraph data, and which can of course be flown by the autopilot.

Taxi and take-off
Release the parking brake, apply a little bit of throttle and off you go. Steering on the ground is via the nose wheel, using the rudder pedals, and, unusually this aircraft has a realistically tight turning circle (the vast majority of FS aircraft can barely manage a 180 degree turn using the width of a typical runway; this plane can practically turn around within its own wingspan, and that’s much closer to the real aircraft than most achieve.

For a normal take off, one stage (10º) of flaps is recommended (20º for short-field). On applying throttle, acceleration is swift and the ASI quickly comes to life. The 182 has always had excellent short-field performance, and the take off run required is only 236m, and 422m to 50ft (for obstacle clearance). The V ref speeds are clearly annotated on the G1000’s speed tape, and so rotating and climbing at the correct speeds is a cinch.

Once you’ve completed your after takeoff checks and trimmed the aircraft, you can settle into an appropriate climb regime. A Maximum Performance climb (84kts, 32” / 2400rpm, 24usg/hr) can--and does--get you to 20,000ft in about 25 minutes, while a Normal climb (90kts, 25” / 2400rpm, 16usg/hr) will take a bit longer.

Enroute

In my view, the primary role of the T182T is as an IFR trainer or tourer. It’ll happily blat along at 170kts in the high teens for four or five hours on the autopilot, but you can still hand fly it VFR at 2-3000ft following roads. In fact, it’s a delight to hand fly. It’s both stable and responsive, and its handling is a testament to the skill of the Flight1 devs.

But the heart of this plane is in IFR, and that’s driven by the G1000 that dominates the panel.

Glass panels can be difficult to read in a virtual cockpit, the speed and altitude tapes in particular are key important items, and all the textual data around around the edges of the displays tends to be less important. But if you’re flying VFR and mainly looking out the window, with occasional glances at the panel, all this information effectively disappears.

Personally I get around this by using the standby instruments. They are much easier to read at a quick glance than numerical tapes. And that works well in this plane too. At least, below 10,000ft - there is a bug in the standby altimeter whereby the thousands hand stops working when it reaches 10,000ft. Not really a big deal though, since if you’re over 10,000ft you probably more likely to be flying IFR.

For IFR flying, I find the best way to use the G1000 is to open the popup windows. By default these will open up at half the width of your screen (so that the pair will completely fill the width of your display). This will give a system that’s closer to the real size of the unit (subject to the size of your monitor), which is much easier to read and doesn’t suffer from bouncing fiddly click spot syndrome.

Did I mention the fiddly click spots? I *hate* tiny little left-right-top-bottom click spots. They are really bad design and hard to use, especially on a virtual panel that is bouncing around. There are much better ways to handle user input for knobs and switches - just look at any RealAir plane for a good example.

Ok, enough of the general whinging. The G1000 implemented in the T182T is very good. While it doesn’t claim to be 100% complete, you really won’t find better outside of a real aircraft. It doesn’t do XM Weather, but then the weather simulation in FSX is not good or consistent enough to warrant it. There are 26 pages in the manual devoted to the G1000, and I really do recommend that you spend a couple or more hours reading them - this is not a system you can easily bluff your way through on, particularly in a high-stress situation where (say) you are approaching an unfamiliar airport, you’re 500ft off your assigned altitude and have been given an approach that you hadn’t previously briefed to a runway that you didn’t expect...

One nice aspect of the G1000 is that since it generates its own map for the MFD and not the FS GPS map, you can fly in the UK using Horizon’s GenX scenery and not lose the terrain shading. This is a bonus that’s almost worth the asking price on its own!

Air Work
The 182 is not aerobatic, and is not designed to be spun or otherwise thrown around, but there are still a number of manoeuvres that you can legitimately engage in. Steep turns (bank angles from 45º to 60º) are a doddle. You can almost park the aeroplane at 45º and leave it there just  going in circles. Even 60º is not too big a strain (well, other than the 2gs that you’re pulling), with some top rudder to keep the nose up.

Stalls are about as benign as you can get. In fact, you have to work quite hard to stall the aeroplane, and you end up pulling back as hard as you can on the yoke. Eventually the nose will drop, and the plane will pretty much recover itself; all you really need to do is let go of the controls and then reapply throttle.

Spins are prohibited, and I couldn’t really get the plane to spin satisfactorily - it would tend to go into a spiral dive, as most FS planes do. This will result in the airspeed hitting Vne within a matter of seconds, and trip the overspeed warning. As with the stall, recovering from the spiral dive was simply a matter of releasing the controls, and then pulling back on the yoke to regain straight and level flight. In real life this would certainly result in bits coming off the plane (significant bits too, like... wings); a spiral dive is the one manoeuvre that can seriously break any aeroplane ever built. Fortunately, in FS, we are charmed...

Approach and landing
This is a surprisingly slippery aircraft, by which I mean it’s difficult to slow down. You really do need to plan your approach and stay one step ahead of the aircraft. If you find yourself on the approach at 140kts when you really need to be at 90, losing that extra speed is going to prove difficult.

Losing height is not such a problem, and the plane will side slip quite satisfactorily with the VSI hitting the end stop. You do have to contend with moaning minnie at this point “Sink Rate... Pull Up...” but it gets the job done.

Once you get the aircraft correctly configured, you can put it down pretty much anywhere. There’s a nice preconfigured over-the-coaming view, which is ideal for landing, and I was able to land at Orbx’s short & narrow Israel’s Farm strip with no trouble at all.

Night Ops
The T182T has the usual configuration of interior and exterior lights. Inside the cabin, the panel is backlit, with glowing labels for all the dials and switches. There’s a floodlight in the ceiling console that gives general illumination (RW, you’d never use this because it would destroy your night vision, but in FS, lighting the cabin doesn’t really affect your ability to see outside).

Outside the plane, you have beacon, nav/running lights, strobes, taxi and landing lights. The taxi and landing lights deserve particular attention, since they are not the usual ‘stark triangles’. Back in the ‘old days’ of just a few years ago, aircraft used ordinary filament and halogen bulbs. These didn’t give a lot of light (or used an awful lot of power), and were pretty short-lived - a landing light typically had to be replaced after 20-25 hours! Then came HID (xenon) arc lamps, which gave a very bright, much bluer light and could be used continuously without fear of failure, but were phenomenally expensive. And now we have LED lighting, which is equally as good and long lasting as the HIDs, but at a fraction of the cost. All new 182s leave the factory with LED lighting.

So what does that mean for the Flight1 182? Well, they’ve produced a set of landing and taxi lights that mimic the brighter, bluer LEDs of the modern aircraft - somewhat reminiscent of the Shockwave addon lights available from A2A. These don’t have the stark triangle outlines of the default lights, and also have an interesting angle in that they actually illuminate objects in their path. I parked the plane in front of the terminal at Cardiff, so that you can see the effect with no, one and two lamps on. Unfortunately you do get a stark hard cutoff line rather than the nice feathering that you see on the ground, and although it illuminates buildings, it doesn’t light up everything (the fuel truck that tried to run me down wasn’t lit, for example). But it’s a good effort.





Here’s a little YouTube video illustrating the difference between the three lamp technologies:

You may wonder what the difference is between landing and taxi lights. Essentially it’s beam width and angle. Taxi lights are wide beams, angled down (much like car fog lights), whereas landing lights are narrow beams pointed ahead (like a car high beam). This doesn’t really come out in FS, where the lights are not actually focussed, and pretty much do the same thing.

Performance and Frame Rates
I did not detect any impact on frame rates using this plane. My PC is a 1st-gen i7 with 6GB Ram. It has a fairly old GTX 280 1GB graphics card, and is limited to 25fps. It stayed at 25fps throughout The sim was stable (at least as stable as it ever is on my PC) and although I had a couple of crashes to desktop, they couldn’t be attributed to this plane.


Summing Up
If you want to learn modern glass cockpit IFR flying, this is a great platform to do it on. The plane itself is fast and agile, with great handling characteristics and superbly detailed modelling. Add to that the highly detailed G1000, and you have a GA IFR pilot’s dream. It’s still pretty good if you are a VFR pilot, and the working terrain map over the UK is a bonus worth having. If you already have Flight1‘s Citation Mustang (which also features a very detailed G1000), this makes a very good light aircraft complement.

On the minus side, there were a couple of niggles with the standby altimeter and handling of some FS flight plans. It’s a little on the expensive side, but that’s probably thanks to the extra complexity of the G1000 and the Navigraph licensing, and for such a detailed simulation it’s hard to begrudge that.



Verdict


This is a nice aeroplane, regardless of whether you fly VFR or IFR. It’s a joy to fly, and looks good on the ground too!

Overall, I award this a Mutley's Hangar score of 9/10


Tim Arnot
Review machine Spec:
Core i7-965 O/C to 3.8GHz | 6Gb Tri-Channel DDR3 Ram |GTX280 1GB into a TripleHead2Go @ 5040 x 1050 |
Windows 7 64bit


        
       System Requirements
  • Flight Simulator X (Acceleration or FSX SP2 required)
  • Windows XP / Vista / Windows7 with the latest Service Packs
  • 2.65 Quad Core or Higher
  • 3 Gb RAM
  • 512Mb graphic card
  • 133Mb Download size


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