[FSX - By BaseballPilot] Hello fellow Flight Sim fanatics! For all of you armchair pilots out there who have happened to stumble upon this review, let me take a quick minute to introduce myself since this is the first software review that I have the privilege of writing for AirDailyX!  I go by BaseballPilot here on the website and when I am flying online, and I am a lifelong Microsoft Flight Simulator enthusiast.  I have been soaring the virtual skies since the pixelated release of FS1 all the way until my current simulator of choice, FSX!  I must admit that FS98 is the program that significantly captured my interest and helped cultivate the love for aviation that I now share with so many other real-world and virtual pilots alike!  Along with my love for virtual aviation, I am a real-world student pilot that is a few solo hours and a checkride away from obtaining my Private Pilot's License.  I soloed in the Cessna 172 and I have seat time in the Cessna 152, Cessna 182, Cessna 210 Centurion, and the Cirrus SR-22 GTX.  Aside from my passion of aviation, I have been fortunate enough to be a professional athlete for the last 8 years of my life.  My career in sports has helped me to elevate my flight simulation passion into something much more than that.  Because of the good graces my occupation has afforded me, I have not only been blessed with the ability to finally own a PC built specifically for flight simulation purposes (I can't tell you how much time I spent as a youngster trying to tweak the Dell PC that my parents bought me so that I could have reflective water in FS2002!), but I have met some amazing people in the flight simulation community along the way and have formed some incredible friendships with them!

Now enough about myself and on to our topic of interest, the RealAir Beechcraft Turbine Duke v2.  Before we begin our virtual journey with RealAir's version of the Turbine Duke, let's talk a little bit about the real thing.  The Beechcraft Turbine Duke is a modified version of the original Beechcraft 60 Duke.  Rocket Engineering, a company located in Spokane, Washington, takes the traditional Lycoming piston engines from the original Duke airframe and replaces them with Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-21 or -35 turbine engines to transform it into the Turbine Duke. *The take-off length required is shortened by over 1,500 feet to only 1,000 feet and the landing distance is reduced by over 2,000 feet to only 900. The maximum rate of climb is increased from 1,600 feet per minute to 4,000 feet per minute, reducing the time to climb to 25,000 feet from 25 minutes to 9 minutes. The cruise speed is increased to 290 knots at 29,000 feet. The modification does have some disadvantages as it increases fuel burn from 56 gallons per hour to 66 and lowers the certified ceiling from 30,000 feet to 28,000.*  Let me just say, Rocket Engineering is the right name for the company that does these conversions, because the Beech Turbine Duke is just that, a rocket!

*courtesy of Royal Turbine, http://www.royalturbine.com/*

Today's flight will begin in Lake Tahoe (KTVL by ORBX) so let's hop over to the virtual FBO and start checking out RealAir's rendition of the sleek Turbine Duke, shall we?  Before we head out of the door to the tarmac, lets take a peek at the aircraft configuration manager that RealAir has included for your customization pleasures.  Here you will find menus and subcategories within the menus to fine-tune your RealAir Turbine Duke to your personal liking.  Included in the manager is a home menu, graphics menu, realism menu, panel menu, GPS & radios menu, Realview menu, and a Help menu.  Within each menu you will find pertinent subcategories in which you may select features such as beginning your flight with a cold and dark cockpit, or adjusting the probabiliy that you will have a random engine failure - in case you want to hone your proficiency with emergency procedures.  Let me note that this aircraft is compatible with Reality XP gauges and the Flight 1 GTN series of gauges. (I will be conducting this flight and review with the default GPS 500 option selected unless Reality XP or Flight 1 would be kind enough to have me do it their way......might as well try, right? LOL)

As we head out of the door into the breathtaking, mountainous vista of Lake Tahoe, lets give the Turbine Duke a walk-around and check out it's external modelling.  There isn't much to say here except you are getting a high fidelity external model of a super sleek aircraft with precise, high resolution textures that you would expect from the high quality developer that is RealAir.  The Turbine Duke looks fast even while it's wheels are chalked on the ramp.  I'll let the screenshots do the rest of the talking.

Now let's climb into the virtual cockpit and start prepping our aircraft for today's adventure to the northern end of the Sacramento Valley where we will be arriving at Redding Municipal Airport (KRDD by ORBX).  A quick glance around the VC reveals the attention to detail that RealAir has put into this aircraft.  Custom 3D modeled gauges covered with HD 2048 textures come standard in the cockpit with v2.  A number of preset interior views are available for your driving, or riding experience.  This plane is gorgeous inside and out!  The Turbine Duke v2 is very good on frame rates on my system whether I'm on the inside or the outside.  According to RealAir, the external model and textures have been optimised so that PC performance resembles the original version of the plane despite the new high resolution textures.  

Today's flight plan has us departing straight over Lake Tahoe and then proceeding northward through the Sacramento Valley, all the way up to our final destination of Redding.  Here are the waypoints if you would like to follow along:


Startup Procedure

Some turboprop aircraft have engine start procedures that are rather daunting.  In the case of the Turbine Duke, the startup procedure is straightforward and easy even for the novice turboprop pilot!  

This is one of my favorite, if not my absolute favorite, turboprop aircraft in FSX just because I get to spend more time flying it rather than trying to figure out how to start it! Here is the startup procedure as per the manual provided by RealAir:

Before Startup Checklist:

1. Set parking brakes. Check the condition levers are fully back.
2. Set RPM levers to full forward, power levers to idle and condition levers fully back (cut off).
3. Set fuel tank levers to the ON position.
4. Switch the battery ON. This will make the engine gauges go ‘live’ but the avionics will still be OFF.


the normal operation redline. It is acceptable to briefly exceed the normal operation redline during
startup—the maximum ITT during startup is 1090° C for no longer than 10 seconds (a second,
dashed redline on the ITT gauge indicates the max startup ITT).
6. When the right propellers are turning and stabilised the ITT should drop to normal and the prop
RPM will show around 1200 RPM. The condition lever should remain at the lowest position before
cut off at this point.
7. Set the right starter switch to GEN ON.
8. Set the right ignition switch to AUTO.

And voila! It is just that easy! To start the left engine, just rinse and repeat.

Right Engine Start:

1. Set the right side fuel pump to PUMP 1 or PUMP 2.
2. Set the right side ignition to ON.
3. Push the right starter button down to engage the starter.
4. As the NG reading equals or exceeds 12%, push the RIGHT condition lever smoothly forward to low idle IT IS MOST IMPORTANT that you only push each condition lever just forward of the white marker line between cut off and ON. Push the condition lever forward more than this can result in the props over-revving.                                                                                                                5. Soon after the prop engages and turns the ITT reading will peak somewhere near or slightly above the normal operation redline. It is acceptable to briefly exceed the normal operation redline during startup—the maximum ITT during startup is 1090° C for no longer than 10 seconds (a second, dashed redline on the ITT gauge indicates the max startup ITT).


With both engines cranked up and propellers synced together, it is time to taxi.  At this point it is key to understand just how important engine management and the engine controls are on this Turbine Duke.  The three engine controls are the Power Lever/Throttle, the Propeller Lever, and the Condition Lever.  The pilot uses all three of these controls in conjuction with each other to operate the turbine engines within their limits and to operate them efficiently.  To taxi the Turbine Duke, the power lever should be at zero, the propeller levers in the full forward position, and the condition levers at low idle, just above the "stop" line.  All that is needed to get the Turbine Duke moving from this configuration is a nudge of the condition levers.  Once you begin to roll, simply balance the condition lever with the speed at which you would like to taxi.  Today's departure point is runway 36.

Lights, Camera, Action! That is, landing lights, strobes, transponder, and well...action!  Once on the runway, move the condition lever to the full forward position and ensure that the propeller lever is fully forward also.  Smoothly move the power lever forward until reaching the optimum propeller RPM setting of 2200.  It is important that you do not slam the power lever all the way forward for takeoff. Takeoff power will vary with ambient pressure and temperature, so moving the power lever forward slowly and smoothly will help you seek out the best takeoff power setting without over-stressing the engines.  In most instances, when taking off from a long runway, the Turbine Duke will not require full power for takeoff.  Away we go!

Notice how our initial climbout is around 3,000 feet per minute without full power set!  At this time it is very important to understand proper engine management.  RealAir has not only enabled random engine failures, but engine failures will also occur due to overstressing the engines.  I highly recommend giving the "Flying and Operating the Turbine Duke" section of the included manual a once-over to get familiar with the proper operations of the Duke's turbine engines.  I guarantee that if you hop in and put the pedal to the metal, your first flight in the Turbine Duke will be short lived.  I will let the manual do most of the explaining since I am no turboprop physics expert, but I will note that your main focus will be between the turboprop rotation speed (NG gauge), engine temperature (ITT gauge, which refers to Interstage Turbine Temperature), and propeller RPM (Prop RPM gauge).  Keeping these three crucial engine elements in balance will keep your Turbine Duke soaring through the virtual skies and it will keep your emergency procedures booklet behind the driver's seat where it belongs!

Just a few short minutes after takeoff, the large iced tea that I downed at the FBO in Tahoe caught up to me quicker than expected.  I guess I was just too focused on prepping the Duke to remember to prep myself for the flight!  A peek at the sectional reveals that Blue Canyon-Nyack Airport (KBLU by ORBX) is enroute on our current journey to Redding.  I decide to make a quick diversion to KBLU to borrow their lavatory.  A beautiful approach leads us to a rather convenient airside port-a-potty, so i apply the parking brakes upon exiting the runway and shut down only the left engine for a quick turnaround.

After a relieving visit to scenic Blue Canyon, I am feeling refreshed and ready to make the rest of the journey to Redding.  I crank the left engine as we taxi back to the runway.  We are now ready for our second departure of the day.

As we climb out of Blue Canyon to our cruise altitude of 14,500 feet, another feature of the Turbine Duke that will require your attention is the pressurization control.  Simply turn the knob to your desired cruising altitude on the "ACFT" dial, and the pressurization system will automatically regulate cabin pressure throughout ascent and cruise.  Don't forget to dial the pressurization controls back when you are ready for descent!

Notice that our current cruise power settings are displaying Torque, ITT, and RPM gauges all safely within the green.  Our engines are operating smoothly and efficiently.

With most of our filed plan behind us and inbound to the Red Bluff VOR (RBL 115.70), we start a slow descent to 3,000 feet in preparation for the ILS Runway 34 approach into Redding.  Once crossing Red Bluff, we depart the VOR on a 322 degree heading and tune in the ILS frequency to RWY 34 (108.70) in our Nav 1 radio. Maintain a 322 heading and 3,000 feet until established on the localizer (345 degrees).  Once established, we follow the localizer and the glidepath onto runway 34 at Redding (KRDD by ORBX).

During the approach and landing phase of the flight, engine management remains key.  The Turbine Duke offers a heavy, realistic feel on the controls and when there is a reduction in power, you can definitely feel it.  The nose will begin to drop and descent rate increases.  Slow, controlled power input will keep the Turbine Duke steady as you approach the runway.  It will take some practice to get a good feel on how the Turbine Duke responds to power adjustments in the landing configuration.  Make sure to leave some power in until you cross the fence and confirm that you have made the runway.  At approach and landing speeds,  the Turbine Duke will sink very quickly once the power is pulled all the way out.  I admire this particular aspect of RealAir's Turbine Duke because it lends an accurate feeling of flight when approaching the runway.  The landing experience in this aircraft is immersive and realistic.  A greaser in this plane is very rewarding!

Upon exiting the runway, the landing lights and strobe lights are turned off, and the condition lever is the only engine control lever used to maintain desired taxi speed.  We make our way over to the Redding Jet Center and shut down the aircraft for the day. Mission Accomplished!

Last but not least, the night lighting!  Here are some shots to show off the efforts RealAir has put into bringing this aircraft to life at night.  The lighting is subtle and soft, inside and out, presenting a realistic environment for night flying.  Personally, I find that the interior lighting is just right.  Its not too dim and its not too bright.  It works just as well at dawn and dusk as it does in the darkness of night.  Externally, the landing and taxi lights cast a lifelike beam forward of the aircraft. Overall, the internal and external lighting is very simple in this aircraft compared to other, more complex simulations that are out there, but I like the simplicity of the Turbine Duke's night lighting and I find that it creates a very realistic environment when flying in the dark.


My System and Specs:

 

Software Used For This Review:

FSX + Acceleration
REX 4 Texture Direct + Soft Clouds
Active Sky Next
FTX Global
FTX NCA
ORBX Lake Tahoe KTVL
ORBX Blue Canyon-Nyack KBLU
ORBX Redding Municipal KRDD
ORBX Sedona KSEZ (night lighting shots)
RealAir Beechcraft Turbine Duke v2

Jetline Systems Hellfire Custom PC
Intel Core i7-3770k @ 4.2 Ghz (liquid cooled)
GeForce GTX 670
8GB DDR3 G.Skill Ripjaws RAM

Hardware:

Saitek Cessna Yoke
Saitek Cessna Trim Wheel
Saitek Throttle Quadrant
Saitek Rudder Pedals
TrackIR 5


Conclusion 

In closing, the RealAir Turbine Duke v2 is an aircraft that deserves to be in your virtual hangar.  RealAir's Realview custom animation system (slightly similar in some forms to A2A's Accufeel for those of you familiar with Accufeel and it's custom effects) takes the immersion factor to a whole new level with the Turbine Duke.  The aircraft is a pleasure to hand fly in FSX.  It is heavy, smooth, fast, and realistic on the controls.  The autopilot works smoothly and accurately.  Instrumentation is displayed very clearly and navigation in the Turbine Duke is extremely user friendly.  All of theVC clickspots are well engineered - finicky clickspots are a pet peeve of mine!  Rest assured that tuning radios and interacting with instruments is flawless in this simulation.  I can't stress enough how immersive this aircraft is and I find myself going back to it time and time again.  It is the perfect platform to explore the ORBX world of high quality scenery and airports.  It is a very capable aircraft, which makes it fun to fly in FSX.  You can use it's speed to make long flights to and from executive airports, or you can use it's short field performance to get into those tight, scenic airfields.  Perhaps the best thing about this aircraft is that even with it's high quality modeling and texturing, it is very framerate friendly on my system.  It is hard for me to find anything negative to say about the RealAir Turbine Duke v2.  It is an outstanding product that any flight sim enthusiast can enjoy in FSX, whether you are a casual flyer that just likes to hop into the sim and start flying, or a hardened veteran that reads and follows the aircraft manual front to back.  I give this product a 10/10 for quality and a 10/10 for fun factor in FSX!

Thanks for joining me on this journey aboard the RealAir Turbine Duke v2!

-BaseballPilot