Carrying around 30 passengers the regional carrier here in New Zealand, Air Nelson, flew the Saab 340a as part of a ‘Link’ service. They pulled them for the Dash 8 in about 2007 but the Link livery caught my eye and I’m pretty sure I flew in one at least a couple of times. It’s a good sized aircraft for me but the power of those twin turbo props stuck with me after the pilot gunned it onto the runway back in the early 2000’s.
The 340a is a study sim, meaning that you’ll be flying something that you better get enjoyment out of ‘studying’ as it will take a while to learn, just like the real thing. However, unlike the DCS A-10C or Ka-50, it’s actually really easy to jump into and fly! I’ve never had to use the auto start feature or cheat in any way. How you ask? There’s a few GIZMO integrated checklists with snap views showing you exactly what you need to manipulate. It won’t tell you everything you need to know but with a bit of reading and a little guess work you’ll be flying this thing in no time.
One thing you will need to know about the Saab 340a is that it’s a little dated by today’s standards. There’s no Flight Management system giving you exact postions via GPS. This means you can’t easily programme a flight plan with imaginary fix points leading to your destination. You still have a very good autopilot with speed controls and a NAV mode but you’ll be relying on NAVAIDs like the good old days. This shouldn’t put you off, if anything it actually gives you something to do enroute. The only part I’ve struggled with slightly is generating a flight plan online without including FIX points, so if you’re interested, I’ve setup a free account on http://www.xflightplanner.net. On there I simply right click the navaids together and note down the frequencies and magnetic headings to take.
To help get you off the ground, or keep you on the ground and reading more like, there’s a wide selection of manuals bundled with the 340a, these include systems manuals and reference charts, but the one that jumps out is the tutorial flight. This tells you everything you need to know to plan and execute a flight from KBOS (Boston) to KJFK (New York). That coupled with the integrated checklists is as good as any training system I’ve seen.
Let’s talk about the visuals. The modelling is fantastic, I couldn’t find anything to complain about both in the model or the textures. If I had to split hairs, I’d say that altitude cancel alert button seems a little fuzzy, but really it’s as good as you’d need at any zoom level or resolution. The textures show age and grime really well. The animations are complete with almost anything you’d want to manipulate being available for manipulation, including the sliding sun visor. Typical to X-Plane you can click or click and drag to change buttons, switches and knobs. If you find this to be unwieldy, it’s an X-Plane thing. Outside the aircraft I noticed that the prop animations are the best I’ve seen yet in X-Plane. You’ll be keeping an eye on them every now and then and liking what you see.
Regarding the sound, you’ll hear all sorts of angry whines and growls and the soul shaking reverberation of the engines as they spin up to max power. You’ll want to fly with a healthy in game volume as the sound is amazing.
Issues? Apparently there was a frame rate issue originally but I’ve purchased v1.1 and didn’t see this. I’ve had one problem where the right wheel wouldn’t spin when it came to taxiiing. I’ve also had SkyMaxx PRO + Saab 340a related issues where the framerate would go to about 1FPS either when using the outside view or looking in a certain direction. I’ve not narrowed this down as it might be a mod conflict. It’s not a simple system resources issue though.
So, if you’re looking for a small regional airliner that is incredibly fun to fly, sounds great, has the depth of a study sim and still easy to learn then this is quite possibly the model for you.
Categories: Flight Simulation