Carenado CT182T Skylane G1000 HD Series FSX Review

Carenado, a well known developer of good looking general aviation type add-ons recently introduced their newest product for FSX and Prepar3D: The Cessna T182T Skylane with Garmin 1000 Glass Cockpit. So, let’s see how they did!

The Cessna Aircraft Company introduced the C182 in 1956 as a tricycle gear version of the Cessna 180. In 1957 the name ‘Skylane’ was introduced. Compared to the even more popular 172, the 182 is bigger, faster, flies higher and further, and is considerably more expensive. While the 182 is still a 4-seater aircraft, it does have the option of putting 2 extra child seats in the  baggage area.
Over the years, more than 23,000 Cessna 182’s have been built, in more than 20 variants. While Cessna stopped building the C182 in 1985, they resumed production in 1996 and it continues up to this day. Currently Cessna builds the 182T, naturally aspirated version with a fuel-injected 230hp Lycoming engine, and the T182T, the subject of this review, which has a turbocharged Lycoming delivering 235hp which also uses fuel injection. The Garmin 1000 Glass Cockpit was first offered as an option in 2005, and is now standard equipment. As of February 2012, a basic T182T would set you back $443,500 (US dollar), while a full-option model would cost no less than $564,450. Luckily for us, Carenado’s virtual version comes in considerably cheaper. The price at SimMarket at the moment I write this review is €25.50, or €30.35 with VAT if you live in the EU.

Installations:

As usual from Carenado, installation is easy and trouble-free. I got my copy from SimMarket, which also provides a trouble-free experience. Downloading doesn’t take much time, as the package comes in at only 115.29MB. Both the FSX and P3D versions are bundled in the same installer. The only thing you have to do different to install in either sim is check the right tick box during installation. Apart from that, installation is as usual, accepting the license agreement and checking the installation path.
Upon installation, you get the aircraft in your preferred sim (which is FSX in my case) in 2 models (the only difference being the number of pilots in the model, 1 or 2), with 6 liveries (including one blank one for repainting).

Documentation:

Also, in the Carenado folder in your FS root directory, there are 7 pdf-manuals. There’s a G1000 manual, a normal procedures pdf, an emergency procedures document, one with performance tables, a CT182T reference pdf, a manual for the autopilot, and finally a small document with recommended settings. I applaud Carenado for providing us with all this documentation, but there’s one thing I’m missing here: a normal,  basic manual. A manual with an overview of the product, credits, stuff worthy of note or stuff that needs telling (special features, use of 2D panels, clickspots etc…). Such a manual isn’t there, and much of the provided documentation could easily be fitted in it if it were. Hence, thank you Carenado from providing the docs, but there are better ways to do it than to bury us in separate PDF-files.

Exterior:

Carenado as a developer, and especially their HD-series of products, are well known for good looking exteriors. And the Skylane certainly doesn’t change that. It’s a small plane, so they should be able to get away with putting a lot of detail in it, without affecting frame rates too much, and so they did.
When looking at the model, I can’t help but notice how smooth it all looks. There are no unexpected jagged edges, even on high zoom levels. Combine this with a lot of detail on the model, like the propeller and spinner, ridges on the control surfaces and wingtips and the result is a very good representation of that iconic Cessna shape in FSX. Carenado really did good here.
Of course, it’s not just the model that does it. That model has to be covered in textures, and in that department Carenado did just as good here. The CT182T is covered in very good looking high definition textures. Those textures are very well made, and perfectly balanced. What you get is a very nice working together of diffuse (color), specular (reflection) and bump (depth) textures.
Also noteworthy is that the cabin (the one visible from the exterior) is on par with the actual outside of the plane. As is (are) the pilot(s) in there. The overall look of this products exterior is stunning.
And there’s one last thing I want to talk about here: the lights. Carenado went all-out with ‘Lotus’-style lights, and to great results. ‘Lotus’-style lights, in case you’re wondering, are called that because they were first used by Lotus Simulations, and are special because they light up both scenery and ground (as opposed to only ground in default FSX landing lights) and look very, very good when done right. And Carenado certainly did it right here. And not only with the landing lights. Every light on the exterior of the plane looks very good, and lights up the ground as it would in real life.
All this considered, I think this might just be the best looking aircraft installed on my HDD at the moment. And I have quite a few installed…

Interior:

The interior of the aircraft (Virtual Cockpit, VC) is just as good as the exterior. Very smooth and accurate modeling, covered in sharp and clear textures. While a good looking main panel is an absolute requirement for decent add-ons nowadays, Carenado really raised the bar on the entire cabin. I was pleasantly surprised by how good it all looks when you look over your (virtual) shoulder to the back of the cabin. Everything accurately and cleanly modeled in 3D, and covered in detailed textures. And while most Cessna piston aircraft are usually associated with VFR short hops, the CT182T is capable of flying in IFR-conditions and at night. And this virtual version doesn’t disappoint when  you load it up at night. In the contrary, Carenado put just as much effort in the cabin and panel lighting as it did in the exterior lights. While the flood lights are simple on/off lights, they cover the cabin in a nice orange glow. But the real highlights (no pun intended) here are the panel lights. Instead of the usual on/off that we’re used to in FSX, they are smoothly adjustable over a certain range. So, you can turn them on quite dimly, or very brightly. Again, very good work from Carenado. Another nice feature, although not very unique, is that the yokes can be hidden so they don’t obstruct the view to the knobs and instruments behind them.

Systems:

Alright, this is no tubeliner or military plane meant to be flown by a whole crew of highly trained professionals. It isn’t in real life, and neither is it in FSX. But that doesn’t mean there’s no detail in the systems of this add-on. No, there’s no failure simulation, nor do you get simulated weapons (obviously) or an FMC (equally obvious). But the Carenado CT182T Skylane G1000 does bring something nice: that G1000, or Garmin 1000 Glass Cockpit. Those who own the Deluxe or Gold version of FSX are familiar with the G1000 in default aircraft, but I’ll tell you, this one is in a whole different league. Stuff you won’t find on the default FSX G1000 that the Carenado version has ranges from, among other things, a specific engine page that helps you set the correct fuel mixture, to 3 different map display modes (map, topographical and terrain), more detailed flight planning options, and best of all, checklists! Both normal and emergency checklists are provided, and you can tick the tasks you already performed. Very nice feature…

Now, you might be thinking: all those small buttons, not easy to use in VC view. No, indeed it can be quite a pain, certainly when flying in turbulence, if you’re in a hurry. Especially the rotary knobs can be a real nuisance (4 clickspots on a single knob). And no, there’s no full 2D panel. Luckily, Carenado did provide 2D pop-ups of the most important panels. There’s one for the PFD, one for the right hand MFD, and one for the autopilot panel. This makes using those small buttons a whole lot easier when accuracy matters.

Flight dynamics and sound:

One reason that makes Cessna aircraft so popular is their good handling. Their high wings make them very stable and easy to fly, although it restricts outside view. The Carenado CT182T comes with a convincing flight model that reflects on the classic Cessna merits. It’s easy to fly and quite stable. Typical for the T182 it can fly quite fast and high, but can also fly very slow on approach with those large flaps. And in all flight regimes it retains that predictability and stability.
And the final thing to consider in this review is the sound set. Again, no complaints. Carenado made good use of the possibilities FSX provides. Both inside and out, the sounds are quite good. Outside, you have the engine that emits a nice purring sound, with distinct differences in sound over its power range. Inside, every knob and switch makes some kind of noise when activated. Added to that are sounds for flaps, touchdown, autopilot disconnect etc.

Conclusion:

With the CT182T Skylane G1000 HD Series, Carenado offers us a piece of art. Especially on the looks, this product delivers, and is certainly one of the best products available. But it doesn’t end with the looks. Every piece of this airplane is done with an attention to detail that trumps many other products available. Besides the visuals, I especially like the Garmin 1000 glass cockpit included in this product. The price, too, is quite good for what you get. I’ve seen worse products being sold at higher prices. If you like piston powered GA aircraft, or like using the G1000 that comes with FSX Deluxe, this probably is a plane for you. Good work from Carenado, delivering a nice plane that won’t stay idle in my virtual hangar like so many others.

Links:

CT182T on SimMarket

Carenado Homepage

Carenado on SimMarket
Test System:
Intel Core i5-2500K @ 4x 3.3GHz (stock speed)
8GB RAM
MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II
Windows 7 64 bit
FSX Deluxe + Acceleration

Additional add-ons used in the screenshots:

REX Essentials, Active Sky 2012, Orbx PNW Region, Orbx Airports

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