Carenado B1900D for X-Plane
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Beechcraft B1900D
For X-Plane Published by Carenado
Reviewed by Jessica Bannister-Pearce
May 2015

Introduction

There are aircraft in the world which define beauty. Concorde springs to mind, or the Boeing 727, beautiful to look at and oozing style. Then there is the bland, boring aircraft. Nothing wrong with them but they are, more or less, workhorses, built for doing the job, not looks – think the Airbus A320. Then there are the ugly ducklings, the aircraft which scream, “What were they thinking?” or “Why?”. The Beechcraft 1900D falls into the latter for me. In essence, the B1900 is nothing more than a stretched B200 King Air, and the B1900C was rather pretty. It was small though, and passengers had to bend to move through the cabin. So, in an effort to make a more comfortable little commuter plane, Beechcraft widened the cabin and lifted the ceiling making room for all but the tallest of passengers to walk upright, and ruining the looks of the B1900D forever. Looks are not everything though, and the B1900D is first and foremost an aircraft. So lets see how it flies!

New Features

The B1900D features a few new features not found in previous X-Plane aircraft. For starters, and available since X-Plane 10.30, we finally have the option to use the mouse wheel to turn dials and knobs. It is no exaggeration to say this has been one of the most requested features for X-Plane. Now, rather than needing to drag the cursor to the left or right to tune radios and so on, just holding the mouse over the appropriate area, and the cursor changes to green disc with up and down arrows printed on it. It is easy to see and not intrusive. It is also not just limited to dials and knobs though. The throttles, prop pitch handles, and mixture controls can all be adjusted with the mouse wheel.

If the little mouse wheel can bring a small revolution, then the GPS becomes a coup d'etat. Also introduced with 10.30, the old GPS has been reworked, rebuilt, and upgraded from the old Garmin 430 unit. The old unit was basic, to say the least. It was not even possible to use it to plan a route with more than one waypoint. Laminar have finally reworked the unit and now the GPS has more in common with Reality XP's GPS units for FSX than the old default. Now you can enter SIDs, STARs, and plan multiple leg routes. The B1900D is the first new aircraft to use the GPS, though some of the previous Carenado aircraft are having the new unit added via an update. More advanced users can add the unit via Plane Maker.


The new mouse wheel option in action. The levers light up blue and a
small disk shows the direction of travel.


The new GPS system is a huge improvement on the old 430 unit.


Exterior Model

Carenado have been busy working on aircraft for both FSX and X-Plane 10, and the B1900D made its FSX debut back in early 2014. The arrival of the B1900D for X-Plane 10 though caused a flurry of excitement. Carenado's X-Plane 10 aircraft have, at least in my opinion, been better quality than their FSX counterparts. Some of this is due to the different rendering engines used, with X-Plane 10's models looking better in some areas. The B1900D follows on in this way, with the exterior model, ugly as it is, a joy to behold. The 'wide mouthed' fuselage, the wondrously silly aerodynamic bits that hang off the fuselage, wing, and tail plane, and even the engine exhausts are rendered beautifully. The only annoying thing I see, and this is common in all X-Plane 10 aircraft, is the surfaces of the fuselage can look a little plastic like.


The Beechcraft B1900D isn't what you'd call 'pretty'.


Options for switching things on or off are found on the left.

Away from the aircraft skin, another place the B1900D excels is in the lighting. X-Plane 10's lighting is simply beautiful, and come evening time, seeing the strobes, nav lights, and the taxi and landing lights illuminating the airframe, is stunning. Not forgetting the heat haze from the exhausts either. So for now, despite the looks, the exterior model is great.


The static elements on the ground add to the ambiance.


The liveries are all expertly produced.


Though, marked 'SwissAir' this livery isn't exactly what I expected.


It's hard to see, but there's heat haze coming from that exhaust.

Moving Inside

Starting with the cockpit, pilots of the B200 will feel almost at home. The layout is fairly similar to the B200, though there are a few differences. Most notably is the inclusion of the co pilots EFIS and EDHI unit. This is an aircraft which is really meant to be dual crewed. Looking around, it is clear this is a 'special' place to work. B1900Ds can differ from each other in terms of cockpit equipment, but this one is a more 'top of the line' cockpit, complete with GPS (a real luxury for some B1900D pilots in the USA) and terrain radar. I have already mentioned the major improvements and functionality of the GPS.


The night lighting is simply superb.

The cockpit feels rather cramped, because it is. To the captain's left is the fuel panel, containing controls for various pumps, fuel gauges, and bits and pieces. Indeed, to start the engines or switch the lights on, you need to get behind and below the yoke to really get at the necessary switches. Fortunately, you can just click on the yoke to remove it from the screen. Switches are everywhere. There are switches for the cabin heat and ventilation, switches for the rudder boosts, and the radio panel is a work of art all in itself.


Space up front is at a premium, so the fuel gauges sit on
the captains left.


The radio panel is both beautiful and scary at the same time.


Moving to the overhead panel, there are the lighting controls, lots of lighting controls in fact. Add to that the AC electric gauges and the overhead panel just adds to that 'compact and bijou' feel. Even the copilot has to deal with the circuit breakers under his right arm.

As confining as the cockpit is, it is clear that Carenado have done a great job in rendering the whole thing in detail. Animations wise, gauges move smoothly and switches switch nicely. All in all, the cockpit is a nice place to be. The cockpit is not the only area seeing the love. Moving back into the cabin, you will find it to be an equally cramped, but nicely recreated section, and well worth a visit on a long flight.


The cabin is beautifully modelled, if a little snug. Still, you can wear a top hat in here.

Flying

So, aside from her looks, what is the B1900D like to fly? Starting the engines is fairly simple, and familiar to most GA pilots. The sound of the turbines starting is rather nice and my speakers are filled with a lovely deep rumble as the props settle into idle. Remember to switch the EHSI on. The cockpit is an odd mix of steam and glass. With the engines running, avionics on, and the aircraft set, I release the parking brake. Without the props feathered, the B1900D begins to creep forward at idle. Taxiing should be attempted rather gingerly as the aircraft feels quite loose and flighty. It is rather like trying to steer a rabid otter that has been dipped in grease.

With all that power, runway length is not an issue. The B1900D needs very little room to get airborne, even with flaps up. I set flaps to takeoff and advance the throttles. Immediately I need to hit the rudder pedals. The aircraft torque steers to the right, and it takes a lot of left rudder to correct it. It seems vastly over done. Takeoff comes quickly, and with the flaps set and the trim set to neutral, she lifts herself off without input from me. With the wheels up, the torque steer stops and the aircraft continues without so much as a hiccup. I do find the B1900D to be a little sensitive to pitch, but the real thing you have to watch is your speed. Despite its ugly looks, the B1900D is something of a speed demon. She can climb rather impressively and I can easily max out the speed in level flight with little effort. You really need to monitor your engine torque settings here, not just to keep your speed under control, but to ensure your engines remain intact. It is fantastically easy to firewall the throttles and burn out the turbines in very little time. So be warned.


A mix of steam gauges and modern tech the B1900D is a bit of an
odd bird up front.


Away from the torque steer on the runway, the B1900D will
climb like a scalded cat.


Engine fires are a major problem if you don't watch your gauges.

For longer flights, there is, of course, the autopilot, which is found on the pedestal panel. It is a bit basic but you can tie it to the new GPS unit and enjoy a nice cup of tea as George follows your route. The autopilot, in common with other Carenado releases for X-Plane, has a nice 2D panel you can call up. Just click on the letter ‘A’ on the far left of your screen. Here you can also call up other camera positions and make changes to the cockpit environment, like switching on or off window and instrument reflections. You can also open doors and set the static objects once your on the ground and parked up.


The 2D autopilot panel is welcome.


Clicking on the GPS will open a 2D panel.

Landing the B1900D can be a bit tricky. Speed control is paramount and it is all too easy to let the throttles 'get away' from you if you are not careful. The aircraft's pitchy nature also makes subtle control changes essential for a smooth landing. Once down, watch out for the torque steer. Bringing the throttles into reverse will bring you to a rapid halt, so be prepared to pick your teeth out of the tarmac if you slam the brakes on as well.

Conclusion

Carenado’s B1900D is probably one of the nicest large GA aircraft for X-plane at the minute. Filling that role between large GA and small RJ airliner, the B1900D offers enough range to travel to most places in Europe and the USA. There are things I do not like though. My main issue is the autopilot. Far from offering me a smooth experience, when tied to the GPS, the autopilot will happily throw you into a 30+ degree turn to reach the next leg of the flight plan. It is far from the smooth turn out and wander back onto your route you would expect from an autopilot. Then there is the ground handling. As mentioned, steering the aircraft is like trying to steer a rabid Otter that has been dipped in grease, especially on your takeoff run, where the torque steer is quite severe. I have looked at several B1900D takeoffs to see if I can spot a lot of left rudder, but I cannot.

These things are small things though compared to the whole. Indeed, the Carenado B1900D is a real pleasurable aircraft to fly. Fitted out with the new features, X-Plane has enabled the bar to be raised yet again for add-on aircraft, offering users plenty of options included in the base sim. The B1900D is the first to use these new features and it will not be the last.


The autopilot can have you turning at frightening angles.

Verdict

A great addition to any X-Plane set-up, the Carenado B1900D is a 'must have' aircraft which displays high quality and attention to detail and represents exceptional overall value for money.

Pros:
Quality and attention to detail.
Excellent internal model.
Exceptional value for money.

Cons:
No major issues detected.

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

The Carenado B1900D for X-Plane is awarded an overall Mutley's Hangar score of 9.5/10, with an “Outstanding” and a Mutley's Hangar Gold Award..


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