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Review: Cera Simaircraft Bell 412EP for FSX

bell412-review-logoWanting to try something different for my next review I took on a recent offering from Cera Simaircraft; their Bell 412EP for FSX SP2 v1.4 helicopter.

The BELL 412EP (Enhanced performance) is a medium sized civilian helicopter that can trace it’s heritage back to the Bell Hueys originally designed in the mid 1950s. This modern helicopter is power by twinned Pratt Whitney PT6T-3D turboshaft engines with a cruising speed of approximately 140 mph. It can be configured to seat up to 13 passengers or converted to carry cargo by removing the passenger seating.

Installation
The installer is simple to use, click on the executable and follow the prompts. The only input required is your registration number.

Configuration and set up
There is no set up needed. The next time you start up FSX and open up the aircraft selection menu you will be presented with your choice of 6 repaints under the heading Bell and Cera Simaircraft.

Documentation
The only document included is a Pilot Operating Handbook. It gives some technical specs, a breakdown of the switches, indicators, controls and instrumentation for each panel as well as checklists that take you from prestart to shutdown. A word of caution, Ctrl+E does not work to start the engines sufficiently for take off. My suggestion to those unfamiliar with helicopters is to read the manual before you find yourself wondering why you can never get off the ground. The manual can be found in the \Cera_Simaircraft directory created in the root of FSX

Visuals
First impressions were very positive. Both inside and out you can tell that a lot of work has gone into this helicopter. Throughout the cockpit and passenger compartment you can see that they have taken the time to add lots of little extra details, the hydraulic lines in the bulkheads and foot pedal linkages stood out for me. The panel instruments are easy to read and needle movement is fluid, for the most part all of the clickable buttons and switches are functional. Zooming in close from the outside it was possible to read the instruments through the glass.

As much care has been taken on the exterior as the interior, panning around the exterior you see the detailed riveting and weathering effects. Exterior lights are realistic and not overwhelming in there brightness. Moving my foot pedals I watched how those movements were realistically mimicked. Other animations include working wiper blades and windows that can be raised and lowered. All of these small touches add to the general appeal of this package.

There are is a separate animation panel that lets you access some added features such as opening and closing various doors, hatches and covers, removing the passenger seats to convert to a cargo carrying configuration and enabling a GPU while on the ground. Again all of this adds to the overall immersive factor of this product.

Sounds
All sounds seem very realistic and of a high quality, especially the exterior engine sounds. As you pull up on the collective and the main rotor starts to dig into the air and you begin to take off it is as if you can feel the power.

Flying
Now on to flying the 412EP. Not being a pilot I cannot comment on how the handling and flight characteristics of this package compare to the real world equivalent. I will assume that the authors have strived to reproduce them as best they could within the constraints of FSX.

Flying this helicopter must done from the virtual cockpit as there is no 2D cockpit. It should also be noted that the autopilot system and moving weather map have not been modelled. I found that reading the labels for the switches on the overhead console to be difficult because of the angle when sitting in the pilot’s seat; however once I went through the checklists a few times and was familiar with them it was no longer an issue. I will mention again that to start the engines you need to follow a set procedure and it is very well detailed in the included manual. Certain aspects of flying helicopters are difficult. The art of hovering or landing softly on target are two that come to mind and this helicopter is no different. Practice, practice, practice in my opinion is the key here if you want to master them. With this helicopter once you get her off the ground you have to do the work keeping her straight and level in flight. There is no autopilot so it is up to you to fly this helicopter to where ever it is you want to go. That is what made this so much fun, the challenge presented to me to do exactly that.

Final Thoughts
This Bell 412EP is a joy to fly. You can’t help but love this bird; the graphics, sounds and handling are all first-rate. Anyone interested in flying helicopters would not be disappointed. This will make a wonderful addition to any pilot’s hanger.

My Ratings:

  • Installer: Very good
  • Documentation: Good, includes checklists
  • Modelling: Excellent detailing and textures. Bitmaps were not optimized
  • Extras: Paint Kit included and found in the \Cera_Simaircraft\Paint_kit directory
  • Download Size: 89 Mb
  • Price: EUR 21.99
  • Link: http://secure.simmarket.com/cera-bell-412ep-fsx-sp2.phtml



Test System: Intel i7 920 @ 2.66Ghz, 6 Gb RAM, 8800 GT 512Mb video card, Win XP x64 SP2, FSX SP2

Richard Desjardins





About Miguel Blaufuks

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