Bronco review continued. Systems – how good they are? Electrical power system, hydraulics and fuel.
Contents of this review:
Electrical power system
This is one of the most advertised features of Bronco X – electrical system in this aircraft is excellent. Not only does it work as it should (to a level rarely found in FSX / P3D aircraft), but it is also explained with a clear scheme in a 2d panel. Red and blue lines show which wires and buses are connected (red) and which are isolated (blue).
I am so impressed mainly because tools like this 2d panel help me understand how an aircraft is wired and consequently – why something will (or will not) work when I flip the switches. So it is not only a good plane but also a great learning tool.
The electrical system does not include fuses.
Hydraulic power system
When I compared the plane that Aerosoft created with the manual I noticed that the pressure of hydraulic system is within the range specified in the manual. No matter how hard I tested it – it always stayed in the correct range and behaved as it should. +1
The way this system works in FSX deserves another point. The real world Bronco hydraulics are pressurized to 1550psi (around 100 bars). A pump starts up when pilot operates flaps or gear. And this is exactly how it works in this plane by Aerosoft. Try to extend flaps – a sound will appear and the green light will turn on. The same happens when you extend (or retract) gear.
Without electrical power the flaps will still work – thanks to the pressure of hydraulic system. But only up to the point when the pressure drops too low. Another point for Bronco.
Now I need to be very careful not to make a wrong impression. I will criticize some features of Bronco but I would like you to first understand that I am criticizing features that are rarely simulated in FSX or P3D. This are not flaws of this plane – only things that could work better.
Ok – so what is wrong? The first thing that is incorrect is the time of simultaneous flaps and gear extension. They should go down (or up) slower when operated simultaneously. The second thing is how the hydraulic pump is engaged. In Aerosoft’s Bronco – only the gear and flaps engage the pump. It should also start when the nose wheel steering is enabled.
You may ask why should we need to engage the pump? The pressure in hydraulic system drops with time. It is a very slow process but it happens. Another +1!
One more thing I noticed about the hydraulic pump – it hardly takes any power to operate. You can use it with battery power only for a long time and there is no significant drop in battery voltage. There should be. Also – the pump does not overheat or brake. The manual suggests putting it to rest for several minutes after it is used for some time. But this are the nuances for which I can (and would) check only the best add-on aircraft. Most payware planes do not come even close to this level.
It is complicated.
First I need to acknowledge that thanks to a custom programming a complicated fuel tank system of a military aircraft is simulated to the degree that it can be used in FSX almost like in real world. This is an achievement. Normally FSX prevents such operations.
Unfortunately – there are some limitations of this custom system. And there are also some problems. And the explanation in the manual is limited.
The first thing I noticed is the inverted flight ability (it also applies to prolonged negative G flight). In the real world OV-10 has a limited ability to fly inverted. It is caused by the way the fuel tanks are arranged – the feeder sump from which the fuel is drawn to engines can only be supplied by gravity so the inverted flight time is limited by the (small) amount of fuel in the feeder. Not in this plane – I tested it for a couple of minutes and the fuel flow was uninterrupted. If you read my review of Aerosoft’s F-14 – you may remember how delighted I was that this worked correctly in that plane. Just to make this clear – most FSX add-on aircraft does not simulate this.
What I do not like about this fuel system is that its limitations are not explained in the manual. Let me start with how it works – you have 5 internat fuel tanks in OV-10 – the center, two wing tanks and two tip tanks. The fuel flows from outer tanks towards the center and both engines are fed through the center tank. Consider this – if you half-fill all the tanks – you will find the central tank full (or almost full) and outer (tip) tanks drained after some time. This will not happen in this add-on. The manual should explain that the correct way to fill the tanks is – fill the center tank first, then fill wing tanks and if you need more fuel – then fill the tip tanks. Otherwise you can find yourself flying with FUEL LOW warning when there is plenty of fuel in wing and tip tanks – only because the center tank is half full.
How exactly the custom fuel system works in Aerosoft’s OV-10? It takes the fuel from the first tank that should be drained (tip tanks) and when there is almost no fuel in this tank it automatically switches to the next one. It works. Actually – it is almost the same solution that L-39 by Lotus Sim uses. The other thing missing in the manual is a warning. You should not mess with the fuel in tanks once the aircraft and flight are loaded because you can screw the logic of tank switching.
Similarly the external tanks are modified to work within the limitations of FSX. In the real world a fuel pump transfers fuel from external tanks to internal tanks. If the internal tanks are full – the excess fuel is vented out.
In Aerosoft’s Bronco when you turn the external fuel transfer pump – you in fact switch the fuel supply from the internal to external tank. Nothing else happens (no fuel is being transferred). It’s ok apart from one bug that I will mention later.
Up to this point I may sound harsh but my intention is to show you how complicated this aircraft is and how some of this complications were successfully recreated in FSX. Some were not, but still – this places the Bronco in front of the most add-on planes in FSX. But it also leaves something to be desired.
At the end of this section I need to complain about a serious bug. Switching to external tanks means that you fly on the fuel that is stored in this tanks. When the tank or tanks are empty… engines will quit. This is an unrealistic nonsense since the engines of the real aircraft are always supplied from the internal tank. I do not understand why the same “tank-switching” logic could not be used for switching almost empty external tanks. This is a serious cause for concern as there is no fuel gauge for the external tank.
I am not happy. For some reason flaps in Bronco can be set in only three positions (retracted, small flaps, landing flaps). This is totally wrong since flaps in (real world) Bronco can be set in any position between retracted and fully extended. I know that FSX by default does not accept such flaps, but limiting the choice to 3 position? What sense does it make? Why there are no combat flaps or any other positions between these provided here? I would be quite happy with several positions but the choice between small (take-off) and full (landing) flaps is simply too narrow.
About the limitations of FSX – some very old add-ons like B-17 and P-47 by A2A and fairly recent F-86 by Milviz have no problem with custom flap settings.
I am a little ambivalent about the systems in Bronco. This plane can be GREAT! Yes – I meant it. In bold, in capital letters and with the exclamation mark. On the other hand… it sucks when I am flying a long ferry flight over ocean and both engines quit at the same time because my external tank is empty (and there is no fuel gauge for this tank!). This should not happen. And the flaps…
In cases like this I try to learn what works and which actions I should avoid to stay out of trouble (and to stay happy). I also learned which systems and tools to use to get most of this plane. And you can get a lot! So when I had to decide on the reviewers rating – I had no doubts whether should it be a 6-star of a 5-star review. But nothing less ever came to my mind.
Contents of this review: