by Andrew Clements
Date Added: Thursday 30 July, 2015
After much umming and ahhing, I finally got the X-Aviation Saab340, after all I do like this size aircraft and I know Leading Edge are pretty passionate about getting things right.
My first little surprise was the installer, which for me was a Windows exe. I'm not a big fan of downloading windows exe files and running them on my "precious" system, especially when Avast AV quaratined it! It turned out to be a false-positive, so I went ahead and run the installer, and I have to say it ran perfectly, gave me sensible and useful options, and really left me with nothing to do but start X-Plane and start flying. First star!
After getting X-Plane 10 started and the Saab 340 loaded, I was immediately impressed (and that may be understating it) with the the cockpit textures and the amazing realism. These are some of the best textures I have seen - especially the cockpit panels. Everything is highly readable and useable, which just makes the immersion experience even better. Second star!
Now I have to confess I'm not big on going through all the gory detail of startup procedures, so I was REALLY happy to find Leading Edge have thoughtfully provided a utility in their Gizmo toolbar that automates the process of starting the aircraft systems to the point where engines are started and instruments are up and running. The Quick Start guide quickly gets you to the point where you are ready to taxi, and start the fun. Even when you use the automated startup utility, it is a joy to watch - and listen to - the aircraft going through the startup sequences. Third star!
The thing you really notice when you set off to taxi to the runway is the sound as you push the condition lever forward and you can almost feel the props trying to drag the aircraft forward. Taxiing about is a breeze, and about what you expect from an aircraft this size (I imagine). The one thing I'd add to the Quick Start manual is setting the CTOT, because if there's one thing you can't do on your first go at this, is monitor stuff like torque levels. I have enough trouble monitoring the usual stuff, and the CTOT seems to make a massive difference in getting up to speed and altitude as you would hope to on your first or second take off. Now of course one likes to Shift-F8 to look around outside as the gear is retracting, and again it looks and sound really impressive. Fourth star!
As for the actual flight characteristics, I can't really say how close they are to reality, but it cetainly feels like what I imagine a real Saab340 would fly like. It's not overly forgiving and it's not really difficult to fly, and importantly, I was even able to land very safely on my first attempt! Some very clever modelling and programming there I suspect.
I reckon the X-Aviation Saab340 is easily worth the money you pay for it, but now at a very user-friendly price that even I can afford :D Fifth Star! Well done to Leading Edge for producing a really great piece of work.