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A2A Piper PA-24 Comanche 250 Review

Last updated Mon, 17 Oct 2016 14:05:50 GMT
Originally posted on Mon, 21 Sep 2015 12:54:58 GMT

A2A Simulations have been around for some time, creating engaging and exciting aircraft modifications that manage to really capture the little things that make simulation such a fun thing to be a part of. Having been built between 1957 and 1972 regularly, this aircraft carries a lot of history and a lot of nostalgia for older pilots, but also remains an interesting choice for those of a newer generation who want to try out a real classic of the skies. The low wings and the monocoque construction ensures that the aircraft flies quite different to smaller aircraft you may be more used to.

This alone makes it a great thing to jump into, giving you access to the Comanche 250 in a way that it’s never really been taken on before. We spent many hours in the cockpit of this mod, trying it out and testing all of its features to the very limit, ensuring that it really was able to take the strength and the condition of the aircraft to a whole new level. What we found was a sturdy, capable remake of the original that was more than able to take on the various tasks that we set it.

But, how did it feel in comparison to the real thing? It flies great and it feels really comfortable to use, but the most important thing when using something like this is finding out just how effective it feels when you pair it off against the real Piper aircraft. How does this stack up? Can it carry the same commanding presence of the real thing, or is it a pale imitation?

Comanche in flight

Compatibility

First off, this mod can be used with both FSX and P3D although you do need to buy a separate version for each; simply trying to stick this into P3D will give you all manner of problems and issues so don’t even try and do it. Other than that, though, each model has been extensively worked on to make sure that it works perfectly with the simulator. Today, we’ll be looking much closer at the FSX version exclusively.

Exterior Design

In general, we were massively impressed by the exterior design. It captures a lot of the real attributes and with accurate scale and detail, things here look more or less as you would have expected.

The first thing that you will notice about the aircraft upon loading it up – or even looking at the pictures – is just how connected everything is. Some models tend to look a bit bleak at points and disjointed with detail, but this manages to really grab hold of every feature.

From the little lines in the metal where it all pieces together to the rivets and bolts on show, you’ll have everything that is on the real thing made visible.

Wing view

Each part of the model also comes with a rather accurate set of materials being used on each section. The right kind of rubber, metal and plastic is attributed to each section so that the aircraft carries the correct textures and the correct look and feel. When put up alongside the real thing, this actually looks pretty much spot on!

Huge resolution models come to life here with this mod, giving you a great level of detail on things like the hinges and handles of the aircraft. Even the antenna and other minor works are made to look great on the exterior, really making it come to life in the right fashion.

The exterior also uses the correct lighting to make it really come to life, as shadows and light reflections will be made to fit perfectly with what the real thing will eventually manage.

Interior Design

Following on in the same vein from the exterior, the interior manages to get all of the little things right whilst managing to paint the correct picture of the whole thing. A2A themselves refer to the interior as being “gorgeously constructed” and this would be more or less how we would have put it, too! Without taking the words from their mouths, though, we were thoroughly impressed by the depth and detail within the interior. The seats and the cockpit itself are well-spaced and feel realistic, whilst the right materials are used on each and every section.


Virtual cockpit

Indeed, the cockpit looks spot on in terms of the instruments that are on show in front of you. Take a look at the photos of the real cockpit and you should more or less instantly be able to spot the quite obvious similarities.

This makes the whole thing much easier to manage and fly for those who have taken on the real thing, but this user-friendly aircraft is constructed just right so that it can maintain all of the features of the real thing without becoming any less user-friendly than it is.

Effects

One of the most impressive factors of the design that was included in here, though, was the quality of the animations and effects that have been included. As a rather flashy aircraft to start with, it always helps to have an aircraft simulation that can carry that over into the real thing and with this, you get a really strong looking product that includes;

Excellent ground physics detailing and precision ensures that hard-pavement and soft-grass models are made to look realistic and to capture the differences throughout when compared to the way it works in the vanilla FSX engine.

Features such as the systems condition, the temperatures the aircraft runs at and even the corrosion and damage done will carry over into the next flight. It’s a really nice touch and whilst you’ll need to use the aircraft for quite some time to see the long-term wear and tear effects, when you do see them it’s an incredibly nice addition to the simulator.

Aircraft on stands with landing gear retracted

Engine vibrations are included to follow the real way that the aircraft would feel when you are flying around in it. This ensures that the aircraft is providing realistic vibrations which are attuned to its speed and the RPM of the engine, enhancing the speed it runs at and the way that it tends to work.

Four passengers have been made up as well, with nice detail on the models and more than enough to make the aircraft feel nice and lively. It’s a small touch but those extra little effects can be the catalyst needed to make the aircraft feel a little bit more interesting than before, with various passenger placements capable of being chosen.

Instruments & Controls

Given that most modern aircraft tend to get the balance “right” by having the instruments spread out differently, this has everything in the middle. Instruments and avionics are on your right and left, respectively. This means that you need to sit on the left seat, really, to make sure you can reach the electronic as you fly.

Other than that, though, the level of performance from the instruments is very important. Most of the designs are 3D for a start, and this makes them really easy to spot, understand and then use. Just get used to the airspeed being MPH instead of knots, though!

This comes loaded with things like a KMA 26 audio panel, a duo of KX 155A navigation radios, a KT 76C transponder, KR 87 automatic direction finder, and even a KAP 140 two-axis autopilot system that pre-selects an altitude. This is all relatively easy to use but, in terms of realism, it’s not actually quite right; most of these aircraft are listed as Bendix King but in reality it’s a Narco set, the same as the real-life editions of this aircraft.

Garmin navigation

You’ll have access to a map inside the cockpit to give you easy navigation aid, as well as making sure that you can look around and see just about everything that you are trying to deal with. The various layers of data that are stacked on top might seem a bit overkill at first, but they really will be of use to you.

The controls are quite impressive, too. You’ll have a lot of animated levers and buttons to enjoy using and the whole thing is quite accommodating and easy to use, so you should be able to get to grips with how it works relatively quickly with everything controlled via mouse & hotkeys.

Operation & Power

The aircraft naturally performs very well and makes sure it follows all of the real sources out there with regards to its energy and its power. It also uses a brilliant Lycoming O-540, six-cylinder engine. This makes sure that you have the right, realistic engine in there that provides plenty of zip throughout the flight.

The engine runs using a battery capacity that is linked to temperature, so if you are trying to get your aircraft to last longer fly in the winter! With the help of the brilliant ACCU-SIM feature being included, you can more or less dictate to  the aircraft how things are going to go as it monitors the fuel levels being injected throughout to make sure the engine runs as full capacity and effectiveness. 

However, the most impressive part is the fact that the engine will start to get affected by various conditions and issues. Temperature, the weather, overheating, over usage and even just poor maintenance during the flight can lead to engine and other operational problems that require a lot of fixing and planning to get around!

Things like the spark plugs can also clog up and take the whole thing rather difficult to fly; this occurs when the engine sits idle for too long. Simply throttle the engine to fix this but even then it’s such a nice title touch that adds another little bout of realism to the proceedings, improving the overall level of enjoyment that you can get from this.

Performance

The one thing we always look for when trying to fly an aircraft in a simulator is a depth of detail in the way that it flies, by that we mean we always want to feel like it has more personality and layers to it than just some generic aircraft skin and engine. With this mod, the levels of performance were incredibly impressive as they managed to make it really easy to fly – in the documentation provided they tell you it’s “by the book” and this is easy to see in the way that it handles just about everything you’ll do!

Depending on the configuration that you decide to go with, you will find that the weight and a the balance can be adjusted depending on things like how many people are onboard and if you added fuel tanks to the wing tips. 

Things like start-up, taxiing and take-off are simple. For starting up you will find that the provided step-by-step list within the manual is just what you need, making it easy to get off the ground without issue. However, we did have battery problems a few times so if you are worried about this you should probably consider re-charging the battery in the hanger. Taxiing around is the same as it always is with a small aircraft, but you just need to watch out for the pronounced yaw as it needs you to be on the ball and making adjustments rapidly. The takeoff procedure is simple, too, taking very little deviation from the standard 18 degrees takeoff procedure listed.

Flying over water

When you do take off, though, the real charm of the aircraft kicks in massively. The normal climbing power of 2,400 RPM @ 24” of manifold pressure is the way to go, so just stick with this and you’ll notice that it allows you to start climbing. The aircraft can climb with relative ease until about 10,000ft when it stars to struggle a little bit. Struggling to keep your height when taking off? Then try adjusting your payload so that you have less weight to carry up into the sky.

The turning of the aircraft is fine, too, you won’t find any of the adjustments needed with less accurate or solidly calibrated models out there. 

The cruising speed of the aircraft is very impressive, you can basically keep the pace that you were hoping for whilst you just cut through the skies. The cruising average RPM on this is between 2000-2400, by the way. This allows you to keep yourself relatively steady whilst also maintaining a fair balance in your power rankings as you fly, ensuring you’ll have enough juice to actually get to the end of the flights journey!

Stalling in the aircraft is something that happens semi-regularly, though. Stalling at 71, 64 and 61MPH are quite common if you are flying in clean, landing and “gross eight” configurations, respectively. You need to watch out for this as although the stalls are quite gentle they can be very annoying!

The autopilot is alright, but I personally feel it was not very useful due to the lack of altitude pre-selection being available. This means that the autopilot can do as you ask but its’ not exactly the 'King of the Hill', making autopilot on this a little bit awkward sometimes.

When I decided to really up the ante with this aircraft in terms of the speed, I was quite impressed. Just make sure that you deploy the flaps at a fair speed as you can find yourself hitting a bit of a problem during the flight if you are too fast! The aircraft becomes really challenging to handle afterwards and this will make the rest of your flight a whole lot less enjoyable!

It’s an aircraft built for flying rather than tricks so we never really tested the waters with regards to the aerobatics, so can’t particularly comment on whether or not it would work – we wager it would be a bit of an uphill challenge to do so, however.

When going through the approach we found that it was relatively comfortable on the way in, and going by the manuals guidance of 95 MPH with flaps up, we done just that. The best glide speed for coming in is apparently 90 MPH, so we just stuck to what the manual suggested and found that we had next to no problems on the approach itself.

Landing is fairly easy, too, and this makes it nice and simple to get down and make the landing itself. We followed the 27” degree flags and 90 MPH airspeed as the manual suggested, and we were able to land the aircraft with next to no problems. However, we perceived you might have issues on a longer runway when decelerating as the aircraft just seems to keep going on! 90 MPH, on reflection, is maybe a bit too quick to be coming in at so we would recommend adjusting that.

Overall, though, we were really impressed with the fight performance and the overall comfort of the dynamics within the aircraft; it’s a very secure, accurate model. 

Detail

The little extras to try and grab detail such as the depth of the sound is very impressive. The sounds have been included in various WAV files that manage to sound very realistic when compared to various other files out there on the web that let you clearly hear the Comanche 250 burn into action. 

Whilst we cannot say from personal flying experience what it sounds like from the cockpit, if you listen to the sounds compared to the real thing from the exterior it sounds very much like what you would have expected, making the sounds seem very impressive.


Door open

The overall depth of detail included in the package is very impressive to us, with the cockpit and the overall presentation being matched by the level of performance. Add in the caliber of the sounds, too, and you have a very impressive recreation of this model that ticks every box. 

Extras

Various new features have been included in here, such as;

A maintenance hanger that manages repairs and allows you to modify and improve the aircraft in various ways throughout. This includes fixing old bits of damage and even removing things such as the wing-tip fuel tanks. You can even swap out the old propellers for something new, allowing you to totally manage and prepare the aircraft as you would expect.

Pre-flight inspections can be carried out, too, which are a lot of fun. They let you inspect the aircraft like a pro and make sure that everything is working as it should along the way – it was designed by pilots who actually used the Comanche 250 themselves so it’s accurate to the very touch. 

A map in the old-school style is included in your cockpit so that you can get help with flying and navigating properly, ensuring that things can be looked after in the right fashion as you fly and that the aircraft will stay on the right course throughout.

Your flaps can jam up and break at points if they are used too heavily or too much force is being exerted onto them, putting you in a rather dangerous position; it causes a lot of issues with the rest of the flight, so be careful!

The real-time load manager is great, too, giving you plenty of choice in helping you get the aircraft off the ground in the first place carrying the load that you wanted to fly with.

Preview Video

Summary

The main thing to learn from using this recreation of the Comanche 250 is that realism tends to rule the roost here. It flies just as you would expect the real thing to, capturing the elegance and the charm of the real thing in every possible way. In terms of the flight capacity and how it compares with the real thing, they’ve included as many little details as they possibly could.

We’d recommend this model to anyone who likes the Comanche 250 and wants to see how they would look flying it, as it does give you a truly realistic recreation that is worth your time and money.

Our Verdict: A definite purchase. 

You can grab your copy over at SimShack.

Ian Stephens

About Ian Stephens

Ian Stephens is a Flight Simulation enthusiast with a keen interest in aviation and technology. He has been writing for Fly Away Simulation for over 9 years.

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1 comments

Leave a Response
PIERRE dUPUISWed, 30 Mar 2016 03:22:50 GMT

Ian I will like to know when you buy the Commanche 250, the cockpit is black and white or black and green. Can you change from green to white.

Pierre

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