I’ve only just briefly touched on the depth, complexity and accuracy of the Aeroworx B200 avionics and systems modeling but suffice it to say I was floored with the level of detail that went into this package. Not only am I impressed by the simulated aircraft, but the documentation is topnotch, something I honestly didn’t fully realize until I started writing the review since I was already intimately familiar with the King Air systems. Now that I’ve delved into the POH, performance charts and checklists I’m stunned at the depth that the developers have delivered with this add-on. They didn’t just throw together a pretty 3D model and some avionics, they really released a polished product.
The POH and performance specifications are freely downloadable at the Aeroworx web-site if you’d like to see for yourself here!
Blah, blah, blah… ok… can we finally get to the question?? How does she fly??! In a word: outstanding!
With the engines running, all the systems up and the avionics set we are ready to take to the air. Taxi response is great, with heavy rudder use required to both displace the nose-wheel and return it to center. The B200 has a spring assisted nose-wheel steering but I can tell you that a good amount of rudder pressure and differential braking is required to get this aircraft turning tightly. Some pilots use a bit of asymmetric power to turn but except in extreme cases I rarely see the need to use that technique in day-to-day operations. On unprepared fields it is recommended (temperature permitting) to taxi with the ice vanes extended to prevent foreign object damage to the engine from ingested materials kicked up by the props.
For review and demonstration purposes I’ll be hop-scotching around a bit; this won’t be a structured point-to-point flight. I’ll start off on a cold winter morning at an airport we frequent quite often, Chapel Hill, NC (IGX). The runway at IGX is about 4,000 ft. long, plenty of room for the B200. The sun is just rising as a few snow flurries sprinkle down. All the anti-ice systems are on and the ice vanes get extended for this takeoff.
Pushing the throttles forward slowly until the props are on the governor is a sign of good B200 pilot technique. Once the props reach 2000 RPM the rest of the power application can be done fairly rapidly. If one prop gets on the governor first the result is an embarrassing and uncomfortable (for the passengers especially) “King Air waggle” as the tail whips back and forth and you dance on the rudders to compensate. At around 95 knots easing back on the yoke pulls her free of the ground and around 10 degrees of pitch (go-around attitude on the flight director) will have you climbing away smoothly.
With a positive rate the gear comes up and the landing lights go out. Aeroworx did a great job on the gear extension and retraction sounds. Around 400 feet the flaps come up, yaw-damper goes on and the climb continues while the props are reduced to 1900 RPM, prop-synch comes on and auto-feather is turned off. During the climb the after takeoff checklist should be accomplished.
Flight control response is spot on. Roll and pitch rates feel very good and a bit of tweaking on my trim repeat mapping got the trim in-line with what I would expect. Glancing around the cockpit at normal indications I honestly feel right at home in this B200.
The external 3D model on the Aeroworx B200 is simply jaw dropping. I am running FS2004 on a mid-level (some would say low) graphics card: a GeForce 4-460 Go, which is a mobility chip for laptops (64MB) based on the MX iteration of the GeForce 4 line-up, so it certainly won’t win any benchmarks. That said, with FS2004 on medium settings and 1280 x 1024 resolution, everything ran very smooth. There is a bit of a frame-rate hit which is noticeable, but totally acceptable, when flying with the 3D pit. Discussing this with Henning he noted that FS2004 has a bit of a performance bug regarding 3D pits in that they somehow stay loaded in memory even when you cycle out of them back to the 2D pit.
The specular highlights, shadows, glare effects and paint effects are really outstanding. This is another airplane that I can spend hours just panning around looking at (LOMAC is another sim that distracts me that way!)
The Honeywell TCAS display showing traffic at 12 o’clock, 800 feet below at around 5 miles (at right).
Heading over to Asheville, NC (KAVL) I decide to try out the autopilot and flight director systems. Asheville is a frequent destination of ours and often, since the airport is located in a mountainous valley, the weather can be pretty miserable. Arriving in the terminal area low clouds shroud the peaks and a few light rain showers move through the area.