Friday, January 1, 2010

FSX Eurocopter Super Puma AS332L2 by Dirk Fassbender Review

I will start this review saying that this is probably the best freeware helicopter made so far for Flight Simulator X.
During the last couple of days I flew the Eurocopter Super Puma AS332L2 by Dirk Fassbender that has been recently launched for FSX Acceleration on Christmas Eve 2009. The helicopter is available for free download at Avsim and Hovercontrol. It works only in Acceleration and not in SP2 or earlier versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator X.

I have to say the quality of this helicopter and the complex level it was model is better than some payware models on the market. Even if the helicopter uses quite a few of FSX default gauges this is hardly noticed as they are perfectly integrated to make the cockpit look like the real thing. Besides this the cockpit has all the gauges you may want at a helicopter from the default GPS to an working autopilot modeled after the real unit. Systems are also very close to reality as far as I could tell from the material I have read about the helicopter.

The 3d model contains quite a few eye candies, including working windshield whipers that actually clean rain, realistic icing effects, multiple animations (wipers, visors, dors, survivors, search light, flir pods ...), external payload model and emergency flotation system.

This is the first helicopter I flew with an trimmer system that makes flying the helicopter very convenient and gives you some time to relax your hands from the control. Although this is good it is far from the stability that an airplane has so you still have to make adjustments to the joystick from time to time. This is where the autopilot unit comes in handy; you can use it to make a complete automatic flight from hover to instrument approach and landing. I have tested most of the features and it works quite well. The system doesn't like when you pause the game. I also had some issues when I was engaging the diferent functions, the helicopter takes some time to transition to the selected mode, during which it makes quite drastic movements. You can see below some images from a full automatic ILS approach and a hover flight using the autopilot.

When it comes to flying manually, the helicopter responds very well even to the slightest joystick movements especially during hover and low speeds. I have not flew the real thing, but the dynamics of this helicopter look very good. I took it to the extremes and it responded as I expected in each case.

The helicopter comes equipped with the default FSX GPS which is good, although I would have loved to see the real flight computer, but taking into account payware models don't have it either or have even worst implementations of the FSX GPS I would say this is something you can leave with. I could navigate very easily using the GPS unit and it did not bother me much.

What I like:
- Realistic autopilot;
- Very good VC and external model;
- Animations;
- The way it flyes;
- Trimmer gauge;
- Internal lighting of the VC;
- Wipers and icing effects.

What I don't like:
- nothing  ;)

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