Wilco Tecnam P2006T
FSX. I’ve made no secret that I’m a fan of flying light twins in the simulator, and I’d been looking forward to the release of the Tecnam twin since reading the announcement of its pending release here on ADX.
Before I flew in my own copy of the aircraft, I watched the hour and a half recording of the live steam D’Andre had uploaded to share his maiden flight. There were a few pros and cons he mentioned, both of which I wanted to explore for myself and will address in further detail below.
First things first, a little background on the real world aircraft. Tecnam are an Italian aeronautical manufacturer, and designate their airframe productions with a P, for Professor Luigi Pascalle, one of their company founders and chief designer, along with the year of the design inception, in this case, being 2006, followed by –T for Twin (not Turbo!). Powered by 2x lightweight 100HP Rotax 912 engines, and seating only 4 passengers (including the pilot), the P2006 aircraft weighs in at a mere MCTOW of 2600 lbs, just 150 lbs more than a Cessna 172! The twin Rotax’s can run off MoGas, and burn an average of 20 litres per hour making them an extremely economical choice for this category of aircraft. I’ve flown three other models of Tecnam powered by this same engine, and found them all easy to operate and as reliable as the older four cylinder Conti or Lycomings.
[Note: For format purposes, some images are cropped. Click each image for full size resolution preview.]
Whilst a direct comparison shouldn't be made between the P2006T and the recently discussed Seneca V- with one accepted as being a ‘cheap’ four place student pilot training airframe, and the other a more luxurious charter machine for up to five businessman (plus pilot)- the great quality and overall feel of the Carenado product was certainly fresh in my mind when writing this review.
Before we jump into the play by play flight analysis, I’m going to mention the three key points Mr Newman bought up on his Prepar3D simcast:
- The cockpit windows appear completely transparent from both the exterior view and VC view.
- The appearance of the panel and its instruments looked flat and two dimensional.
- The exterior textures are overly bright, as are all the exterior light options once illuminated. Unfortunately, I have to say, I agree with him on all three points after installing the addon in FSX.
Now I haven't owned any products from Wilco Publishing prior to the P2006T arrival in my virtual hanger, but I'm going to get this off my chest before we go any further: It was disappointing upon first glance. The series of teaser screenshots made publicly available in early August showed a competitive looking addon for the platform it is pitched to. However these mentioned images were less than 1000 pixels wide and didn’t show any particular areas of interest at a high level of zoom. On my full screen 1920x1080 display, the first impression I got wasn't a pretty one.
Wilco promised “Amazing high resolution reflective and chrome textures, extremely realistic lighting results and beautiful visuals”, supposedly created with the very latest modelling and texturing techniques, yet I couldn't help but frown at their final result. What I was looking at on my monitor may have ticked all these boxes if it had been released this time in 2012 perhaps, but to me appeared more like something that would pass as a top of the line freeware light twin rather than a purchase worthy of my hard earned dollars.
There were several factors that jumped out at me for making this criticism, which I'll detail one by one.
The windows, or lack of them. Panning around the exterior module didn't generate any sheen or light bounce from the plexiglas windshield. A basic feature that I'm sure most simmers in 2014 have come to expect from payware aircraft. The tinting of these windows is subtle at best, and almost looks 100% transparent. Hopping to the VC interior provides an equally unrealistic forward view, although hitting shift+1 brings up a menu with a clickable ‘VC Glass’ radio button. There is slight but noticeable difference when auctioning this button, darkening the window area by what I'd estimate to be 10% at the most although it appears the code to display the green light next to this option on the windowed menu is actually reversed and only shows up when clicked off! The same applies for hiding the yoke/seatbelts, with its green light showing off when selected. These mistakes should have been easy for a Beta tester to notice!
As for the panel, whilst the full glass Garmin 950 is a popular purchase option with other P2006’s, Wilco have gone with the more simplified analogue six pack layout, which I’m familiar and a fan of flying with. However, no effort has been made to include a partially reflective translucent layer atop the instrument faces. They each appear flat and have that obviously simulated computer game feel to them. The annunciator sub panel is the worst to my eye and has compressed .JPEG written all over it!
The yoke- a primary focal point in the VC, fire extinguisher bottle as well as the metallic ring air vent surrounds appear pixelated and torn, and detract from remainder of the modern looking well spaced out and easy to understand layout. Looking out the side windows left or right reveals a rather unnatural looking reflection on the propeller spinners whilst in motion and could do with an enhancement if a service pack gets brought out in the future.
I’m not sure if the radio panel was produced by a different person than the rest of the panel, but for some reason, all the rotary knobs are click and drag style, whilst the heading bug, course indicator, ADF and OBS selectors are all mouse wheel scrollable types. None of these pop up with the gauge name whilst mousing over, yet labels are displayed for each changeable input selection on the S-TEC autopilot, G430 GPS, SL30 comms, the KR87 ADF and GTX328 transponder boxes. Some consistency would have been nice, with scrollable selections on everything that rotates, and the mouse over labels for each gauge. The G430 also features dimmer, less saturated background, text and menu colours when powered on, that don’t match the authentic Garmin unit. Out of all the recreations of this GPS in FSX, Wilco are the first publisher that I know of to change this for some reason?
As for the autopilot, the scrolling on the vertical speed selector (the only mouse scrollable selection on the centre console) seems to be inverted. In my mind, scrolling up matches clockwise rotation, and scrolling down matches anticlockwise rotation. Instead, with the S-TEC knob, you have to scroll down to make the feet per minute value go up- to me this seems counter intuitive. Mousing over the black ‘VS’ button on the box always displays the text “Vertical Speed Hold Switch (off)” regardless of whether it’s turned on or off, another bug left undetected, or unfixed by the Wilco team. To get the aircraft to actually climb and descend using the AP, it seems both ALT and VS need to be clicked, with the desired ROC scrolled in. Once you are near your intended flight level, reduce the VS to 0 and hope that the AP can level off somewhere near the altitude you hope for, with an absence of a way to bug it exactly.
Both the throttle and propeller level set have mouse over labels which indicate a percentage of 100 that the level is travelled. However, the yellow carburettor heat levels located between them don’t include this feature, and there is no way of telling whether they should sit at the top of bottom of the travel to close the heat off for takeoff and landing. (FYI, they should sit at the bottom/lower end of the range, and moving them forwards increases carb heat in icing conditions)
The mixture levers for each engine are found close to the floor below the throttle/carb heat/pitches stack, and are only reachable by manually shifting the VC camera viewpoint backwards (holding down CTRL+ENTER by default), however, the only reference to the mixture in the included checklist .PDF’s are that they should be full down (rich) for each side upon starting.
A rudder trim indicator is located below the HSI on the left side of the panel, controlled by scrolling the button on the yoke with the mouse wheel, although for some reason, this isn't animated. If you click to hide the yoke, you'll need to remember the CTRL+NUMPAD 0 and CTRL+NUMPAD ENTER to trim the rudder left and right. The elevator (or all moving ‘stabilator’ on the Tecnam) is located between the front two seats, although is animated in the reverse direction whereby trimming the nose down sees the wheel turn backwards, and trimming the nose up sees the wheel turn forwards! The amount of bugs like this are really unacceptable for a payware product!
The magnetos and starters for both engines, found on the cabin ceiling are difficult to view from the default left hand seating position and require camera position adjustment aft to read correctly. Two seemingly clickable cabin lights above the rear seats have no function or animation associated with their hot spot.
Back to the outside view again, and overall the aircraft retains its aerodynamic shape that makes it appealing to look out. The paint job that lets it down however, even on a full overcast day with low sunlight in the sim, the reflective white surfaces are overly gleaming and bright, giving the impression of a shiny plastic toy.
All the lights look like they have been scaled up 150% of their intended brightness and are completely distracting when flying the aircraft from spot view. The three included aircraft views are limited to Left Wing, Right Wing and Tail. No creative or interesting perspectives included unlike other payware developers. The three quarter front views screenshoted in the accompanying .PDF documentation don’t show up in FSX.
Now the good points- the 3D pilots in the cockpit look up realistic enough not to wince at their inclusion. Not quite Carenado standard, but much more believable that the Flysimware C402 captain for example. One viewer of D’Andre’s live stream mentioned a similarity between the female in the right hand seat and Global Girl (aka Nadia Marcinko), the famous former model and well followed Gulfstream V pilot on social media!
The winglets and retractable landing gear, which are styled uniquely to the P2006 are both modeled well, with the latter featuring clean animation as the wheels are raised and lowered.
I also like the roll of the model, with the left hand yaw and bank motion modeled well on the takeoff roll, if the torque isn’t countered with some right rudder input. The VC viewpoint vertical bounce is also well replicated, without being over the top, when operating from rough non asphalt runway surfaces.
And yep, that’s about all the noteworthy features I can think of to comment on. Sorry for the apparent crucifixion here, but I’m not going to fluff up a product unnecessarily and believe credit is only deserved where credit is due!
Anyhow, on to the test flight itself. I planned a short IFR sector, Whakatane (NZWK) to Gisborne (NZGS) with a solid cloud base of 1500 feet. Taxing as D’Andre mentioned requires about three times the amount of power you would expect, almost as if the parking break is stuck on, although I made sure to confirm it was indeed off.
Following the numbers from the flight manual, VR was 64 knots with a recommended climb speed of 80 knots. Maximum power of 5800rpm is limited to 5 minutes, with a continuous maximum of 5500rpm permitted according to page 7 of the Pilot’s Guide. Strangely, the VYSE of 84 knots (best rate of climb on a single engine, aka the Blue Line) wasn’t marked on the ASI. Not sure if this is a Wilco or Tecnam decision? VMCA or 62 knots (minimum control speed airborne, aka the Red Line) is also missing, which I find very strange as both are hugely important to be aware of in event of an engine failure.
Initially I set +1000 on the autopilot and flew the runway centreline to 2000 feet on the PAROA2 departure. Even with this set and activated, the aircraft was climbing like a rocket at 140 knots indicated- which I can confirm isn’t standard ops having followed the local P2006T’s out of my home airfield many a time!
With VLOC/GPS set to GPS, and NAV replacing HDG, I established myself on track and the aircraft settled down at a more believable 90 something knots, still holding 1000fpm skywards with just 2POB and 50% fuel. This eventually reduced to the flight manual 84 knots passing 5000 for 8000, as I bought the mixtures back to 80% and set +700 then +500 on the autopilot. Regardless of the ample airflow through the air intakes, the CHT’s sat stuck at the top of their range for the duration of the flight and didn’t budge until powered off. I observed this on my first quick sortie after installing the aircraft, and would be interested to hear if others have experienced this issue.
I was pleased to see a Kiwi repaint for my home country included with the base installer, or though the particular registration of ZK–TZY has was actually exported overseas two years ago under a different paint scheme. At top of climb, I jumped to the exterior view and snapped away screenshots of the various exterior angles, still not able to bring myself to really enjoy what I was looking at.
The exterior soundset to my ear sound like stock FSX Skyhawk, and was disappointing in contrast to the cabin soundest which mimics the Rotax spot on, and according to Wilco, are recorded from inside a real aircraft. Cruising above the cloud yielded a solid 30fps in spot view, with the cabin somewhat lower, bouncing between 14 – 16 fps throughout the duration of the flight.
Nearing my top of descent point, I started running through the numbers at the top of my keyboard whilst holding down the shift key, looking for a separate window of the G430 to pop up in to load my approach. There was no such window to be found, nor any enlargement of any instrument of sub panel from the VC. For a payware aircraft this is shocking!
Anyhow, I had managed to achieve 122 knots IAS, with a GS of 143 in the cruise, so halved that value and added a zero to give myself a ROD of 700fpm to descend into Gisborne. I’d be joining the 10 mile arc for the VOR/DME runway 14, and had to bring the power back to 20” to stay below the yellow line descending through the cloud.
The first stage of flap can be lowered below 119 knots, with gear and the remaining flap available from 93 knots onwards. I’d really hate to be flying an ILS in this thing, down the glideslope at that speed. I don’t think ATC would be best pleased trying to squeeze you in amongst scheduled airliner traffic either.
Landing was non eventful, even with an evident crosswind. The touchdown suspension effect was surprisingly realistic actually, but all in all, I was glad the flight was over.
This would usually be the time where I’d fast forward the sim time to late evening, and check out the ambience created with the night lighting textures. However, flying this aircraft had left me more annoyed than anything, and ALT+f4’ed my way back to the desktop without looking back. If anything, this summarizes my opinion of Wilco’s effort more than anything. I’d been keenly anticipating the release of the P2006T up until today, had routes in my head planned that I would zip all over the country in, but after just one sector, enough for enough.
Instead, D’Andre has provided the following night captures himself, just for those who haven’t been deterred up until this point. Whilst I’m very opinionated about the product, this review still needs to be a complete one.
Internal lighting is basically all on or all off. No gauge backlighting. And the panel switches remain lit even when the battery is switched off. They do not extinguish. External lighting speaks for itself and can be seen this way from the VC as well.
A quick note from D'Andre
When I first saw the initial previews of Wilco's Tecnam, I was extremely excited. But this excitement came with a great deal of skepticism. Wilco products not only come with a reputation of sub-par quality dating back several years, I have personally have had issues with Wilco products too numerous of which to mention here. Issues that somehow got past their quality control. Past their beta testing teams assuming they exist. But what's worse is the lack of appropriate customer service I have received leading me to make the determination never to purchase another Wilco product again.
Being a huge fan of Tecnam, I made the decision to purchase the P2006T with the notion of giving Wilco yet another chance. Wilco had announced a price reduction several weeks prior to release and it's my contention this decision was made based on the thought that Wilco's marketing team was aware the level of quality they were planning to release and could not justify the price. I am glad for that at least.
That said, I brought the issues I encountered with the Tecnam to Wilco's attention via a response on their Facebook page noting my hopes that they would release an update to correct the visual shortfalls (they are doing one hell of a social media campaign including the real Tecnam Facebook page as well as getting the Prepar3D team behind it) the response I received: "Hi, we're not aware of any problem. If you have any, please fill in the Support form available from our site. Thank you." So I guess that explains it. They don't see any issues with the product. And that also explains how they earned their aforementioned reputation. The fact that the FSX and P3D versions comes as separate installers but included in the same package as opposed to a triple installer leads me to believe the developers had intended to sell separate versions for both platforms but abandoned that idea once the final quality result became apparent. Better to drop the price and offer all for one.
That said, if they do decide to convince the developer to make the needed changes, I believe this can still be a quite enjoyable aircraft. I'll leave you with Andy's final words.
Putting aside all the negatives, the P2006 isn’t the greatest of light twins regardless of whether Wilco published it or not. Performance at max weight with four pax isn’t flattering to say the least, and the aircraft really only intended as a student pilots’ basic introduction into the world of CSU’s, retractable undercarriage and non centreline thrust. From what I’ve read, the organisations who purchase and fly the real P2006’s praise the aircraft because they are cheap. The Wilco model matches this factor at least, at only $21 USD off their website. The newer Carenado light twins are between $35 - $40 USD each for example, and this rings true the old saying: you only get what you pay for!
Final thoughts: Save your money for something better.