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Review: CARENADO – B58 BARON FSX (using AREZONE sound pack)


CARENADO – B58 BARON — The Noble or Rouge Review.

Quick Summary: This is the third FSX twin from the Carenado virtual air stables and like its predecessors it was immediately loved by simmers but found initially wanting, so much so, that Carenado issued a patch within days of its release!  It is a lovely looking plane, it handles well, the sounds are excellent, but it is still lacking in some areas of the technical flight details.  I now have around 10 FSX/FS2004 Carenado GA planes in my virtual hangar and make no mistake Carenado makes good solid basic GA planes and the Baron is no exception.  There has been some criticism in the forums about the shortcomings of Carenado planes especially vital technical details that have needed a patch or two to satisfy the punters.  I have said this before and it bears repeating, in that Carenado planes do not have many advanced features, e.g., wearing out/damaged engines, maintenance, etc, such as in the A2A J3 Cub.  However, I will write the review based on the fact that this might be the only Carenado plane that I have purchased and judged solely on its merits.  It is a good looking, but not outstanding GA plane, and it is a quantum leap above the default FSX Baron.  I also added the excellent AREZONE sounds which are just phenomenal.Background: (Courtesy of Wikipedia):
The Beechcraft Baron is a 6 seater light, twin-engine piston aircraft being a variant of the Beechcraft Bonanza, and was first built in 1961 as the “B55”.  The Baron B58 first appeared in 1970 and is usually fitted with two 3 bladed Hartzell constant-speed propellers.  You would classify the Baron as a 4 – 6 seat business, utility & pilot training airplane.

An aside: Propeller Pitch & Constant Speed:
Aircraft propellers may be fixed or variable pitch, i.e. they are classified as to whether the blade pitch is fixed or variable.  A variable pitch propeller is more useful, for example during takeoffs and climbs more power is needed, and this can best be provided by low pitch, but for maintaining  speed at cruising altitude, high pitch is the best option. The propeller blades are usually rotated around their long axis to change their pitch, and if the pitch can be set to negative values this will create reverse thrust for braking, etc.  A fixed-pitch propeller is a little bit of a compromise, and is now outmoded and out-dated.

A constant-speed propeller is another enhancement, and in modern aircraft, it is usually automatic, and its main advantage is that it dramatically increases thrust shortening take-off rolls.  During flight the pitch changes, and there is an automatic mechanism that ensures that the engine and the propeller are rotating at a constant rpm for any given pitch.  In other words, the constant-speed propeller ensures that the pitch is always set at the optimum angle so that the engine can run at a desired constant rpm regardless of altitude or forward speed.  Ref: http://www.pilotfriend.com/training/flight_training/fxd_wing/props.htm

Back to the Baron:
The Baron 58 is fitted with luxurious club seating, double aft doors, and is fitted with a Continental engine (IO-520 or IO-550 300 hp (224 kW)). The Baron 58 can cruise at 200 knots (370 km/h) at 7000 ft, which makes it a fast comfortable tourer.

The Continental IO-520 is a six-cylinder, horizontally-opposed fuel injected, normally aspirated, – direct-drive, air-cooled, engine first built in 1963 with a turbo-charged variant (TIO-520) being produced later.  The IO-550 was developed from the IO-520 series, with an increased stroke and displacement; it has largely superseded the IO-520.

In 1976, the turbocharged Baron 58TC and pressurized Baron 58P appeared, powered by turbocharged Continental TIO-520s  (310—325 hp (230—240 kW)), and are capable of cruising at 220 knots (410 km/h) at 20000 ft (6100 m), due to being pressurised.

The variant modelled by Carenado is the Baron B58 circa 2001 – 2004.  This is what it might look like in real-life:

Courtesy Aerolist.org

Performance Specifications (ref: Wikipedia & Carenado):

  • Engine: Cont IO-520-C or IO 550
  • Maximum Speed: 225 KIAS
  • Range: 1100 nm usual
  • Service Ceiling: 19,000 ft
  • Rate of Climb: 1700 ft/min
  • Best ROC speed 105 KIAS
  • 75% Cruise Speed: 200 KIAS
  • Stall Speed: 75 KIAS
  • Takeoff distance: 1350 ft
  • Landing distance: 1450 ft
  • Useable Fuel Capacity: 136 US gallons

Avionics (typical circa 2001/4):

  • (Many not described/defined by Carenado)
  • KFC – 225 Autopilot x 1
  • KCS55A HSI
  • KI-209 VOR/GS Ind, or KI-256 Flight Command Indicator/Gyro Horizon
  • Garmin 430 GPS x 2
  • Garmin 340 Audio Panel
  • KT76A xpdr or KT-76C Mode A/Mode C Transponder
  • Radio Magnetic Indicator RMI Bendix/King KI-229
  • ADF KR-87 & DME KN-63
  • Radio Altimeter Bendix/King KRA 10A
  • Engine Digital Management JPI — EDM760
  • EDO-Aire Directional Gyroscope usually 4000C,

In the Sim:
Installation was painless with a self extracting “exe” file and there was no memory defying alphanumeric “key” to insert.

Settings:
On my system in the Select aircraft menu in FSX under “Publisher” I was presented with the tab for “Carenado” and this allows the choice of all 4 (1 and 2 pilot variants) +1 (blank) Baron repaints.  My flight control settings are in the middle — which gives good realism.


The Guide: There is no user based manual as such and this does detract slightly from this plane.  Carenado don’t usually supply flight manuals but rather, a series of leaflets/checklists.  In the case of the Baron, you get 5 documents/leaflets:

  1. B58 Normal & Emergency Procedures Booklet, 35pp.
  2. Carenado GNS 430 Users Guide, 3pp.
  3. B58 Reference Sheet, 1 pp.
  4. KC 225 Autopilot Flight System, 3pp.
  5. Copyright leaflet, 1pp
  6. VC Diagram, 1 pp

These are concise but do not convey any “interesting” flight simulation information on the Baron.  The VC diagram has extremely small print in red and this makes it difficult to read, particularly in poor light, with the printout being no better.  The 5 leaflet/booklets do convey, information about the features of the B58, and how to operate this plane in the real world, but having 5 manuals is “messy” and it would have been nice to see them combined into 1 comprehensive document.  The main document, “The Normal & Emergency Procedures” covers every aspect on the Baron from the “Cockpit Pre-Flight Check” to “Spin Recovery”, but there is quite a lot of wasted space and it could have easily been condensed to half its size.  These procedures apply to the real world and there is no indication that the same set of parameters would apply in FSX.

The External and Internal Visuals:
The models are up to the usual Carenado standard being excellent to look at.  As I say above there are 4 paint schemes, plus 1 Blank texture and 2 model variants (one pilot and two pilots).

The 4 repaints may represent the type of paints that you might have seen over the period of 2001 – 2004, also included is a “White” repaint with no markings allowing the simmer to add his/her own repaint scheme.  I like the reflections and the smooth lines with great glass reflectivity.

This is what a new Baron G58 looks like just compare it with the Carenado B58 below: Baron pics courtesy HawkerBeechcraft

The modelling makes the most of the FSX features and the seats, handles, buttons, gauges, wheels all look realistic and are quite clear and any that should work do!.   As I have reported previously, the gauges do not “pop-up” when clicked, so if you need to read a particular gauge (without Track IR, and there are NO 2D panels) you may have to “pan & zoom” in on the gauge to see it clearly.  Fortunately, there is a method of removing the joystick but that is not particularly realistic, I got around the issue by mapping many of the “obscured” switches on my joystick.

The internal cockpit panels/instruments do seem to reflect the instruments that would have been installed in the early part of the millennium, with today’s Barons being fitted with much more modern instrumentation such as the G1000, i.e. glass cockpits. The inner visuals seem the same from one plane to another with minor colour variations between each variant with 2 models having a single pilot and two having a pilot and co-pilot.  The interiors are well done with some excellent detail on the seats which are laid out in a Club seating arrangement, with unfortunately no Executive writing desk finished in Cognac Birdseye Laminate, Ivory stretch knit headliner, Platinum Leather vertical trim panel, Oyster leather on sidewall, armrest, seat insert plus Cognac Birdseye Gloss horizontal trim panels, Fawn seat belts, or Autumn smoke instruments panel just like the real world.  However, the standard of trim is excellent.











The doors open and close, and there is a “footstep” and “tread” strip on the starboard wing allowing access to the plane. There are several doors that open and close, i.e. pilot/co-pilot access, passenger doors (2), forward luggage doors, but inexplicably these are not documented in the literature.  Shift E +1 to 3 opens and closes the doors.  Night lighting in the cockpit looked good and the single landing light seemed to be modelled accurately, but again lighting control is not mentioned in any of the literature.  Once the engine is shut down and the parking brakes set by using shift +3 gives the option of chocks, pitot cover and prop signs.





Pop-ups:
The other pop-ups using Shift + numerals key include:

  • Shift + 1 Toggle GPS GNS 430 x 1
  • Shift + 2 Toggle Manual
  • Shift + 3 Windows settings
    3D Knobs
  • VC Windows
  • Static elements (Pitot cover, chocks, prop sight tags)
  • Tinted or Clear windows (passenger area)
  • Shift + 4 Toggle Autopilot
  • “A” View VC panel
  • “F10” Uninterrupted view forward (2D)

The animations consist of the static elements above, the opening and closing doors, plus the pilots move their heads from side to side as if surveying the world around them.

The Baron is a six seat, low wing, metal constructed aircraft, powered usually by a 300 HP Continental IO-550 engine with 2 x 3 blade constant-speed variable pitch propellers and retractable “tricycle” landing gear.  There is reasonably good forward visibility, but there is some forward vision trade-off mainly due to a combination of the long nose and high dashboard.  Again, I have to say that I am glad that I was using a TrackIR, allowing a more realistic visual experience.


On normal fuel usage (≈35 US gallons/Hr), you can fly for around 6 hours, i.e. around 1250 NM  flying with a pilot and 3 passengers in relative comfort. (Note: From Hawker Beechcraft: Usable fuel of 195 gallons gives the Baron G58 a range of 915 — 1,330 nautical miles, depending on power setting, load and altitude).

I did not see any significant drop in performance (frame rates) in FSX in this plane.

3rd Party Repaints:
I couldn’t find many repaints out there including a search on the AVSIM library.

Instruments in the Interior:
There appears to be only one cockpit layout for the 4 + 1 repaints.  This depicts the usual avionics/navigation instruments plus the usual knobs, switches and other controls.  There is no list of the instruments or how to operate them in any of the supplied literature, other than the VC diagram.  None of the main pilot-side gauges “pop-up” when clicked (as they have on some previous models). The “VC Diagram” Leaflet annotates all 30+ gauges/instruments, plus many of the levers (axes) switches & buttons, etc depicted.  The gauges were reasonably clear and displayed fine at night, and the lighting (not explained) is controlled by a series of switches below the main facia, including the twin landing lights, instrument lights, nav, beacon, flood and taxi lights.  Pressing the “L” key operates all of the light switches in the console.








If you hit F10 there is no 2-D panel but you do get an unrestricted view forward with an on-screen notation stating that Shift + 1 toggles the main instruments, and so on and that “A” returns you to the VC Panel.

The Bendix King KFC225 Auto Pilot:
This incorporates a ‘flight director’ i.e. the autopilot, plus controls for heading, navigation, approach, reverse, pitch command, altitude hold, VSI and yaw damper modes.  The KFC225 is coupled to the heading bug indicator which provides a variable indication of course to be flown.  There is a good 3 page leaflet provided which describes each of the functions and/or modes available.  This is quite a sophisticated autopilot with good functionality.  Apparently there were some teething problems with the AP in the original release but they were apparently fixed in the service release, including a Yaw Damper fix and an increase/decrease pitch feature fix in the autopilot.  Bert Pieke has posted an excellent modification to the autopilot on the AVSIM forums making it easier to use.

Having used this type of AP in the Sim over the years, I found that the autopilot was relatively easy to use.  I filed a FSX flight plan from Greenbrier (KLWB) to Wichita Mid-Continent Airport (KICT), reached a height of 12,000’ set the Altitude Hold and the AP to Nav, and it followed the course without deviation even when I set up my usual obstacle i.e. a 15 KIAS cross wind and a violent thunderstorm.  I did not notice the GPS issue as detailed below as I had installed the Simflyer GNS 430 gauges and they seemed to work accurately.

The Garmin GNS430 GPS Unit:
The Carenado Baron is equipped with 2 x GNS430 GPS units and they come with their own 3 page instruction leaflet.  This is a basic GNS430 modified by Carenado and it has the usual functionality obviously surpassed by using Reality XP gauges, and in my case, the Simflyer gauges.  The Carenado’s version functionality is apparently based on the default GPS500 and Carenado direct the simmer to the default FSX help pages to access the functionality of the gauges.  Before I installed the simflyer gauges, I found that the toggle spots are well illustrated and I had no issues in accessing any of them, and it was an easy unit to use.  Bert Pieke a simmer of some fame has noticed a “bug” in the operation of the GPS and he has reported the following to Carenado:  “I found that the HSI does not correctly, show the course deviation when the GNS430 is in GPS mode.  As a test, I flew the Carenado GPS and indeed, the HSI shows the course deviation to the tuned VOR, not the GPS course, when in GPS mode.  Interestingly, the TO/FROM flag is correct, but the CDI is not.”  Note: The default FSX Baron HSI works correctly.

The Payload:
These are set within the Sim but you cannot load 4 full weight passengers only 2/3, (otherwise the plane is overloaded) and you can also load the front/rear luggage.  One issue that I have is that even in the single pilot versions the co-pilot is still loaded according to the FSX payload setting.  This does need some attention in order to be more realistic, hence my call for a configuration panel.  The fuel allowed by FSX for the Carenado B58 is 136 gallons but now in a real world G58 Baron you can guzzle 195 gallons as the usable fuel load.


In the air:
The engine can be started manually (not documented, but Ctrl + E works well).  I set all my controls in FSX to mid realistic i.e. to the middle.  Taxiing is easy, using engine, rudder and brakes to make turns, and although forward vision is a little restricted you can still taxi from the ramp to the runway without destroying any airport ground level hardware.  The Baron takes some distance to lift off >1300′, so it can’t be considered to be a “true” STOL plane, but it’s fantastic for quick comfortable cross country flying.  I used the technique described in Normal & Emergency checklist using full throttle rich mixture, take-off trim and flaps as appropriate.  Once airborne (lift-off is around 90 KIAS depending on load, flaps, etc) it climbs rapidly and easily 1700’/min and then cruises effortlessly at around 200 KIAS.  It gets to its ceiling of 19,000+’ in around 20 – 25 minutes with full fuel and zero passengers.  I could not detect any handling difference between the 4 +1 repaints.  It feels precise and taught in the air, and I needed only a modicum amount of elevator trim to get it to fly straight and level.  As per usual, I flew a power-off landing (both engines) on final at 1,000’ speed around 115 – 120 KIAS no flaps, (best glide speed) dropping to around 90 – 95 KIAS over the threshold and lowering the gear at the last possible moment to reduce excessive drag, and although the controls felt heavier they were still responsive and I landed OK (after many attempts).  I did not notice any excessive ‘engine prop torque effect’ on take-off (except when attempting a take-off using one engine only!)








The Fuel system:
I did not look closely in detail at the fuel system, which has fuel in both wings as well as the body of the plane.  There has been some discussion about the fuel system with some reviewers reporting that it has problems and in some aspects may not be as good as the default Baron.  All I can say is that it worked for me in the way that I expected it to and I did experience any issues with fuel flow even during a long flight.  There are dual fuel flow meters which seemed to perform accurately plus boost for both wing tanks.  There is also a fuel flow gauge which can give information on fuel left in reserve and how much fuel to your destination, and this seemed to work OK too.

Stalls:
It wasn’t easy to induce a stall because as soon as my airspeed dropped, the nose did so as well and obviated any stall that might have happened.  However, when eventually got it right, inducing a stall was by the book, no flaps, neutral trim, 10.000′, power off, and for recovery I used the typical “spin recovery” technique as detailed in several aeronautical texts.  Recovery wasn’t always successful with the plane diving vertically into the ground and not responding to the elevator or engine, and even when I did regain control I had several minutes of see-sawing through the air until the plane eventually settled down.   I reduced my realism settings and when these were fairly low, it became easier to recover, but not always.  I never did recover from a stall when my realism settings were full right, and tore the wings off during several unsuccessful attempts.  In other planes that I have used the stall procedure there is some shaking as the plane stalls, that effect was not apparent with the Carenado Baron.

Side Slipping:
Side slipping ie using opposite rudder and aileron inputs to decrease altitude without increasing speed significantly was also achievable in this plane.  This is a useful technique in some landing situations, but not so important in a plane equipped with high drag flaps and/or spoilers.

Landing:
This plane approaches an airport (with gear down and with one notch of flaps) at around 150 KIAS i.e. on approach so you come in relatively fast, and you need to carefully bleed off speed to 120 KIAS before applying full flaps and reducing to around 90 – 95 KIAS over the threshold.

One Engine procedures:
I tried a landing using one engine and by keeping the plane level with the yoke (aileron), it was relatively easy to make a safe landing.  The controls became quite heavy and I tended to over compensate, but eventually I did manage some semblance of straight and level flight.  I was not as successful simulating engine failure after lift-off crashing several times because I did not compensate adequately for the failed engine, had too much weight on board, or I had shut both engines off by mistake.


Repairs & Maintenance:
These are not modelled and you have to rely on the default engine, etc faults for seeing what happens when a particular system, gauge, instrument and/or function fails.  It would have been nice to see a configuration manual for this plane.

Sounds plus AREZONE sound-pack:
The sounds are good being based on a “real-life” Baron, the flaps sound realistic, and the gear makes satisfying clunk when retracted.  The sounds are really quite good being deep and sonorous without being repetitive.  I also installed the AREZONE Sound set for the Carenado Baron B58 and these were fantastic sounding extremely realistic during all engine procedures.  The start-up ‘cough’ and subsequent engine firing was extremely well done and in the air, there were little or no repetitive droning like sounds.  Although the Carenado sounds are brilliant I believe that the AREZONE – BEECHCRAFT BARON B58 SOUNDSET add-on makes the simming experience even more of a simming experience.  I’ve now used several of these Aerozone sound sets for various GA aircraft and they are so good well worthwhile installing.  When I crank up the volume on my system, with the ‘subby’ full on – the whole house shakes and the neighbours come out in droves to see where the plane making all that noise is flying!!

Support:
Support is by email and the couple of questions that I posed were answered efficiently and correctly.

Miscellaneous:
Included in the models is a white repaint, for painting your own variants.  Dual flight controls are provided as standard equipment in the “real-world” Baron and these are modelled by Carenado.

Summing Up:  Outside, as with all Carenado planes the Baron is a very good looking plane, nice smooth lines and good reflections, and the inside in terms of seating, etc is also up to a high standard.  The Baron has good flight and ground handling characteristics, great sounds and nice detail, but it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi that would have made it into a great plane.  Inevitably you have to compare it to the Real Air “Dook” and RA Turbo “dook”, the MilViz C310R and  the A2A Accusim planes, and although the Carenado plane may not quite measure up in all aspects to this elite group it is still one fine plane and much better than the default option.  I do feel that there needs to be more input into the manuals, so that the features of the plane are described adequately and annotated appropriately.  In conclusion, this is a very nice twin-engine GA aircraft that only needs a little tweaking to bring it up to a slightly higher plane (pun intended), and I liked it.

WOW Factor: 8/10
Peter Hayes, Australia, April 2011

Table of the Important Bits:

  • Publisher: Carenado
  • Supplier: simMarket
  • Download File Size: 81 MB (zip file)
  • Installation File Size: 234MB simobjects file plus 17 MB Document file.
  • Simulator Requirement: FSX supports SP2 (or Acceleration/Gold) [DX10 not mentioned];
  • OS Requirements: Win XP, Vista and/or Win 7; 32/64-bit
  • Variants: Baron B58 circa 2001 – 2004
  • Paint Schemes 4 Different paint schemes representing the 2001/4 period,
    plus a “white” variant for repainting.
  • Cockpit 3D (VC) only
  • Supplementary: N/A
  • Testing System: Intel i7 860, 8 GB DDR 1600 RAM, Windows 7, nVidia
    GTX560 1GB, 260.99 Driver, nVidia Inspector 1.94;
    FSX SP1 + SP2; 120GB SATA II OCZ Colossus SSD;
    Saitek X52 + Pro Pedals,
    No tweaks all standard and no over-clocking.
  • Scenery: FSX standard, GEXn, UTX, FTX Australia, FTX Cairns.
  • Installation: Installation is simplicity itself being automatic via
    a self extracting exe file.
  • Manuals / Documentation Not as such but includes: Comprehensive checklists and
    reference texts about the procedures VC, GPS and autopilot
  • HOMEPAGE: here
  • SUPPORT: support@carenado.com (email)
  • FORUM/FAQ: here
  • Updates Small Patch now incorporated in the latest downloads to
    correct autopilot, etc issues
  • Uninstallation: No instructions supplied
  • Custom Soundpack used: AREZONE – BEECHCRAFT BARON B58 SOUNDSET
  • Sound: AREZONE – BEECHCRAFT BARON B58 SOUNDSET
  • PUBLISHER: ArezOne-Aviation Soundstudios
  • SUPPORT: farezee@gmx.net

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