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Citation X – The Review by By Rob Scott
The Citation X is a medium sized business jet aircraft, and is currently the fastest flying civilian aircraft in the world, reaching speeds of up to Mach 0.92 (700 mph). It is powered by 2 Rolls Royce turbofan engines and so far around 250 have been built since production began in 1996. Now, Wilco Publishing and FeelThere give you the chance to fly this speeding jet in Flight Simulator.
Production was scheduled to begin in 1995 but the development process hit several delays along the way. The first customer was the golfer Arnold Palmer, who in September 1997 set a speed record in the Citation X of 473 knots. In October 2000 Cessna announced that as of January 1st 2002, all new Citation X’s would have a 5% increase in thrust, a 400lb increase in MTOW and improved avionics.
The Citation X has a service ceiling of 51,000 ft and a range of 3250 nm (6020 km). The aircraft can perform a number of Trans-Atlantic routes (New York-Paris) and most Trans-Pacific routes. It can also fly between any 2 airports in mainland USA, which makes it the ideal aircraft for the business tycoon on the move.
This offering from Wilco Publishing (developed by FeelThere) is part of their ‘Luxury Aircraft Collection’ and has been Pilot-In-Command approved, so there is quite a lot to live up to. This package is compatible with both FSX and FS2004 and comes as a download for US$39 or a boxed version for US$43 (these prices are taken from the Wilco website so they may vary from retailer to retailer). For the purposes of this review I will be looking at the boxed version for FSX.
Some of the features of this package include a luxury VIP interior which includes a camera view from inside the VIP cabin. The cabin itself looks realistic and has a monitor displayed next to the pilot’s door which gives the passengers important flight information such as speed, altitude and ETA. The package boasts that the flight dynamics have been tested by an active Citation X pilot, so you can be sure you are purchasing a realistic simulation. Testing by active pilots is becoming more and more common amongst add-ons, but telling you about it on the box serves to reassure you a little bit more that your money will be well spent. There is also a working fight attendant which moves around the cabin carrying out different duties at each stage of flight. I’ve not seen this before in an add-on package, so it was something a little different and it didn’t seem to kill my frame rates either. The Citation X comes with a full glass cockpit with an advanced digital avionics suite, all indicators that this is quite an advanced aircraft. At four major airports around the world (Paris Le Bourget, Frankfurt Main, London Heathrow and JFK) and at Santa Monica airport when you park in designated areas (shown in the manual) and tune NAV 2 into 117.50 you are given a VIP welcome of limos and red carpets, although this was a little tricky at times to get the aircraft lined up properly. This feature isn’t just specific to the Citation X either, you can use it with any aircraft as long as you park in the correct area. The boxed version also comes with a printed 66-page manual written in English and French which includes a full tutorial. Although the manual does its job, it wasn’t to my liking. I prefer manuals to be written in a ‘We are flying from A-B, this is how you do it’ format. This manual doesn’t seem to be laid out in a methodical manner. Normally the tutorials would be at the end of the manual, but this one is in the middle between the information about how to operate the plane. The tutorial is laid out in much the same way in that it guides you through all the start up procedures and taxi to the active, and then it goes on to tell you where you are flying from and to, and how much fuel you need. Surely that should have been at the beginning? I strongly suggest that before you attempt to fly the aircraft you should read the manual through a couple of times. I didn’t do this to start with and it got frustrating trying to find something when it wasn’t where I though it should be.
Complaints aside, the tutorial is good and helps you to get to know the aircraft well. I didn’t like the way the tutorial came across. Rather than it being written down ‘to get the engine’s started do this…’ it’s written like your best mate is explaining something to you. For simmers that aren’t used to using more complex aircraft the tutorial would come across quite well, but personally I didn’t like it. As I mentioned before though, it does do its job in showing you how to operate the aircraft.
So how does the Citation X perform? Very well is the answer.
Once you have read the manual through and understand how to operate the aircraft, it’s a lot of fun. The advantage of this biz-jet
is that it can land on most runways, so you can fly between major airports or in-between the municipals and it’ll be right at home doing either. Taxing around the airport is easy, the Citation X will move around quickly at idle thrust. During the turns just make sure you slow right down or you may end up digging the wing into the ground! After takeoff, which comes very quickly, she climbs like a rocket and you will need to trim down quite a bit just to maintain a rate of climb that won’t alert NASA. Achieving the service ceiling of FL510 is very easy, no need to step climb. Flying by hand is very rewarding and fun to do because the model is so stable at all phases of flight, and for some approaches it’s a lot more fun than allowing the autopilot to do it.
Using the autopilot is fairly self-explanatory, but on this aircraft the controls for the heading and altitude are not on the panel, but on the pedestal. I’m more used to them being on the panel, so when the atc is giving instructions, it became a bit annoying have to constantly switch to the pedestal to change direction or flight level. This just seems to over complicate things a little, especially when in the real world there are two pilots flying the aircraft. Maybe a compromise between realism and simplicity would have been good here.
When you are flying the Citation X by hand, you certainly get the impression that you are flying a fast and powerful jet, maybe even a little over powered, but it’s still lots of fun to fly. No matter what stage of flight you are in, there is always something to do.
There isn’t an auto-throttle so you need to monitor that constantly to make sure you don’t over speed because this aircraft likes to go fast. The throttle is a kind of hybrid between Boeing and Airbus; like Airbus there are detents (CRU, CLB, TO/MC and MAX, but like Boeing there is an area of free play to enable you to manage the speeds more accurately.
When you are set up correctly for the cruise, it’s time to head to spot view and have a look at the exterior of the aircraft, which doesn’t disappoint. You can tell straight away the amount of hard work that has gone into this aircraft to make it look as good as it
does. The lines are very smooth and the liveries that come with the package are simple yet make the Citation X look so much better. If you want to try creating your own paint-job there is a paint kit available for free download from the Wilco website.
Inside the aircraft both the 2D and virtual cockpits are nice, but didn’t bowl me over compared to the cockpits from other add-ons I own. A plus point for the cockpits is that they don’t hog resources and my frame rates remained at a good level throughout all phases of flight. When in the VC however, some of the gauges were difficult to read which meant I had to go back to the 2D panel to check them. The main gauges though were easy to read so switching cockpits doesn’t happen too often. On my version I noticed that the ADI didn’t work, it was always lop-sided. I re-installed a couple of times and still no joy. Another problem I encountered with the cockpit was that when I selected ‘cold and dark start-up’ from the configuration utility the right EICAS display
never loaded up, but when I selected the other start-up options it did. Also when trying to start the aircraft as described in the manual, it would never fire into life for me. Every time I loaded the aircraft I tried to start the engines the correct way, but each time I had to resort to Ctrl+E to get them going. During flight for some reason this package caused FSX to freeze for long periods of time (10-15 minutes) and then just fire back into life again as though nothing had happened. This doesn’t happen with any other aircraft I have so maybe it’s just specific to this package. Then when I’ve finished a flight and I try to exit back to the FSX main menu FSX will crash every time without fail. Again, this didn’t happen before I installed this aircraft and only happens with the Citation X so might be a specific problem to the package? Might be battery related issues too?
So would I recommend the Citation X to other simmers? Although I may seem to have done nothing but moaned about the bad points of the package, the good points outweigh them by a long way. If you can see past the niggles of FSX freezing up, the EICAS not loading from cold and dark, and having to resort to Ctrl+E to start the engines you will have a lot of fun with this add-on. I feel that the price is a good reflection of the quality you get with this add-on, despite all its little problems (which can be fixed by an update if one comes). The money you will pay for this is money well spent, and if you like flying the default Lear or CRJ in FSX, then buying the Citation X would be a good choice. Available at all good flight sim retailers.
* Article published under Computer Pilot license. © 2008, Gene Davis and Computer Pilot
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