Carenado C90B Rewview
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C90B 'King Air' HD Series
For X-Plane Published by Carenado
Reviewed by Jessica Bannister-Pearce
 April 2014

Introduction

I am often found to be daydreaming when it comes to aviation. Questions which cross my mind frequently are about large general aviation aircraft. Where is the line that defines a 'run of the mill, spam can' from a small airliner? At what point does an aircraft cross over from a simple, general aviation machine to a 'wannabe' airliner? It is a tough thing to define. The 'King Air' series by Beechcraft presents just such a quandary. The baby 'King Air', the C90B, is just a bit bigger than the smaller Beechcraft Model 60 'Duke' but, somehow, you wonder if the line has been crossed. With room for two crew, seven passengers, and a service ceiling of around 30,000 ft, the C90B 'King Air' is definitely knocking on the door of the 'big boys'.

The Model C90B is a variant in a model range for which the production run started in 1963. This particular variant is much more modern, being produced from 1992. However, the pedigree of this baby 'King Air' shines through. The question is, how well does the Carenado X-Plane version do?

Brothers in Arms


The Side Profile is a Thing of Beauty

The Beechcraft Model C90B is not new to X-Plane users. There is a C90B included as a default aircraft and it is not too bad either. The Carenado version differs from the default aircraft by not having an FMC.

The Carenado C90B 'King Air' HD Series for X-Plane is available direct from Carenado and Carenado resellers as a 'download only' product and is priced at US$34.95 or the equivalent on currency cross rates.

Installation of the Carenado C90B is, as always, painless. You simply extract the aircraft directly into your X-Plane aircraft folder. As is common with other Carenado X-Plane aircraft, you get a choice of files for X-Plane 9 and X-Plane X. There is the usual five liveries, including a blank base as a template for repainters.


HD Textures Make a Big Difference

One of the More Interesting Liveries

Documents


Like all Carenado aircraft, the C90B comes with several documents in Adobe Acrobat format (.pdf). These include everything from checklists and performance tables through to X-Plane settings. The lack of a 'getting started' manual is a mystery as the C90B's cockpit is complex, to say the least.

Airline Pilot Light?

With the aircraft loaded, it is time to look around. The aircraft looks beautiful, both inside and out. The level of detail on the exterior looks great and high definition paint jobs help the Carenado C90B shine. Zooming in, you can even see the texture of the paint sprayed on the fuselage. Truly, I am impressed. Carenado's X-Plane aircraft range always seem to look nicer than their FSX counterparts. Inside the cockpit it is equally impressive with high definition textures making the cockpit look brand new.


More Switches Than You Can Poke a Stick At

The Interior is Stunning

Speaking of the cockpit, I am struck by the amount of switches covering the panel. The layout is very clean, and despite the size of the panel, I notice the fuel panel off to the pilot's left. So, this is a complex beast it seems. I will save the rest for later and move into the cabin for a look around. Like the rest of the aircraft, the cabin is a nice place to be and is well rendered.

Getting Started - The In's and Out's

Settling in, I get down to business and start to take in my surroundings in detail. As mentioned above, there is a bewildering amount of switches and knobs on display. Many of them have to do with the radio panel. The set up is neat, with the four different radios surrounding an Avidyne display, which is all Carenado say about the unit. With no manual provided, I am left scratching my head over it. From what I can work out, it is a custom GPS unit with built in traffic display and weather radar. It also seems to have a 'Terrain Display' option, but it seems it cannot read the default terrain and, therefore, it is inoperative. The weather radar function works nicely though. Below the Avidyne unit is the standard Garmin GNS 430 GPS, which is limited by the sim. At least when X-Plane Version 10.3 arrives, a newer, reworked model will be available based around the Garmin GNS 530 GPS unit.


The Avidyne GPS System Works Great in Places

But Not in Others

Moving away from the communications panel, the main flight instruments come in two flavours, the pilot's side features a full EFIS display, the co-pilot though, has to make do with the old 'standard six' style analogue gauges. This causes me another issue. Flying VOR to VOR, there is no OBS knob on the pilot side. Instead, it is hidden down on the pedestal along with the autopilot controls. Carenado have helped by providing a nice 2D panel, but it is not the same. As a compromise, you can use the co-pilot's old unit which features both course and heading knobs. I am not sure the two pilots instruments are tied in the real aircraft but adjusting the co-pilot's gauge also adjusts the pilot's EFIS display.


Centre Console is Nicely Modeled if a Little Inconvenient

Fuel Panel Seems Crammed

As mentioned above, the autopilot panel is found on the lower pedestal and is a bit difficult to access in the sim. So the 2D panel can be accessed via Carenado's side menu offerings. You get three little buttons found on the bottom left of your screen marked 'C', 'O', and 'A'. 'C' offers you quick view options which are similar in a way to the EZdok Camera add-on for FSX. 'O' gives the various model options, such as, window reflections, passenger door, and various other static elements for the C90B, and 'A' brings up the autopilot panel. This little selection option on the left is a great addition and one I miss in FSX.


Overhead - Lighting Controls & Electrical Gauges


The 2D Autopilot Panel Should Help Find Your VOR


The Cockpit at Night


Who Said the Dark Couldn't be Beautiful


The Ice Lighting Sweeping Across the Leading Edge is Dynamic
A Dream to Fly

Armed with the checklist and a basic understanding of where everything is on the aircraft, I start the engines. Now, X-Plane's sound engine is not great, but the sound of the turbine whine as the engines start is great. The noise must be deafening in the real aircraft. With the engines running, I bring the props forward and immediately have to hit the brakes. I have read the 'King Air' will creep with the props at full and the throttles at idle, but this seems excessive. Getting to the runway, you constantly have to ride the brakes and watch your speed. It makes taxiing a real handful.

For take-off though, that power is not wasted. Even weighed down, the C90B takes very little runway to get up to speed and into the air. All take-offs are with zero flap, so that should tell you a lot about the 'King Air'. A big problem I have found though is the take-off trim, as set, when you enter the sim - this is way off. Getting the nose down after take-off takes a hell of a lot of trim movement. I also did not like the way the controls felt, the aircraft felt jerky and twitchy. Carenado do provide a recommended control settings for X-Plane X, with a 25% increase in your X-Plane X joystick settings towards the stability end of the setting. Setting my yoke accordingly, did help with the twitchiness.

Once you get on top of the trim, the aircraft becomes a dream to fly. She is certainly fast. Keep an eye on your engines though, as pushing them too hard will cause an engine fire and flame out (I did this to both engines on my very first flight). Keep your torque settings below the red and the rest falls into place. For landing, one notch of flap should be fine, although you will need to work the trim to stop her nose diving as the speed lowers.


The Sun Visor is Fully Articulated - Put it Anywhere You Like

Carenado's Optional Extras are Great.

Conclusion

Carenado have been producing some of the best general aviation aircraft for X-Plane ever. A lot of this has to do with Daniel Klaue, who reworks all of the flight models for X-Plane X, in delivering aircraft which fly much nicer than their FSX counterparts. With that said, there are a few things I really do not like about the Carenado C90B.

Firstly, the Avidyne GPS. Whilst I am sure the real aircraft has it fitted, many of its functions here simply do not work yet. I suspect this has more to do with the X-Plane SDK than Carenado, however, when you select 'Terrain' and get a warning which says it is not available, it is just a shame. The weather radar function works well, and the display of airports, waypoints, and VORs is much better than the default Garmin GNS 430 GPS unit. However, as many of the functions do not work, it feels unfinished. Next, the OBS / Heading indicator knob. I can accept the knob is found on the autopilot panel, but linking both the pilot and co-pilot instruments together seems wrong. The ground handling of the aircraft causes me some concerns and I really do not like it. It constantly feels like it is going to snap the reins and wander off by itself. This may be in the aircraft's nature, but somehow it feels a little overdone in the sim. Finally, with such a complex cockpit, the lack of a 'getting started' manual which introduces each switch is a mystery and one would be most helpful.

It is not all doom and gloom though. The finish of the model is simply stunning. The HD textures, once again, eclipse its FSX brethren and, as expected, the night lighting is superb. If you have the HDR Lighting active in the sim, check out the Ice detection light along the leading edge of the wing. Its dynamic lighting adds a level of realism not found in FSX. In flight, the C90B is a pussycat, once you get the trim sorted that is. Treat her with respect, and you will find this is one of the finest general aviation aircraft available for X-Plane right now. Ignore her and she will whip her claws out and get you.

Verdict

The Carenado C90B 'King Air' HD Series for X-Plane is another great general aviation aircraft but is disappointing in noted areas.

Pros:
Quality external model.
Good flight characteristics.
Good documentation.

Cons:
Avionics and GPS switches.
Lack of a cockpit layout description.


 Verdict:   silver
• External Model: 9.5/10
• Internal Model: 6.5/10
• Flight Characteristics (does it fly by the numbers): 8.0/10
• Flight Dynamics (does it feel like what it looks like): 8.5/10
• Sounds: 7.0/10
• Documentation:   8.0/10
• Value for money: 8.0/10
Mutley’s Hangar score of 7.9/10, "Recommended" and a Mutley's Hangar Bronze Award.