Review of Majestic’s Dash 8 – MJC8 Q400 (02/06/2015)
Written by Vetter on February 10, 2015
Final Review Rating is 5 out of 5
As a long time MS Flight Simulator fan, I’ve always enjoyed the variation of the included default planes, but like most folks, eventually you find that there are plenty of freeware planes and liveries out there. I’ve seen my share. Only in the last couple of years have I been looking around at payware versions. I own PMGD, Carenado, JustFlight and CaptainSim planes. I’ve enjoyed all of them. When comparing payware to the simplified default planes, some are easier to learn than others, some are a bit more involved and lean more heavily towards real-life controls and procedures. That is exactly why I enjoy them so much. There is nothing better than feeling that you’re ready for any flight, any approach and any landing. In ANY aircraft.
The Dash 8 has always had different look about it. Well, it has a different feel to it as well! This FSX add-on software is impressive and immersive. From the first look, to the first taxi, to the first takeoff, the adventure keeps getting better. The audio is incredible. I love hearing those multi-paddle props engage and bite the air! This is my first review where I have logged over 50 hours of flight time before writing one word about it. It had a learning curve like all new aircraft do, but this Dash 8 was the most fun once the flight control procedures are understood and the NAV system is mastered. Gosh, I wanna go fly it again right now!
The Dash 8 has some interesting history: “Q” is for Quiet
The Bombardier Dash 8 or Q-Series, previously known as the de Havilland Canada Dash 8 or DHC-8, is a series of twin-engined, medium range, turboprop airliners. Introduced by de Havilland Canada (DHC) in 1984, they are now produced by Bombardier Aerospace. Over 1,000 Dash 8s of all models have been built, with Bombardier forecasting a total production run of 1,192 aircraft of all variants through to 2016.
The Dash 8 was developed from the de Havilland Canada Dash 7, which featured extreme short take-off and landing (STOL) performance. With the Dash 8, DHC focused on improving cruise performance and lowering operational costs. The engine chosen was the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW100. The aircraft has been delivered in four series. The Series 100 has a maximum capacity of 39, the Series 200 has the same capacity but offers more powerful engines, the Series 300 is a stretched, 50-seat version, and the Series 400 is further stretched to 78 passengers. Models delivered after 1997 have cabin noise suppression and are designated with the prefix “Q”. Production of the Series 100 ceased in 2005, and the Q200 and Q300 in 2009. Bombardier is considering launching a stretched version of the Q400. – wiki
The Dash 8 was introduced at a particularly advantageous time; most airlines were in the process of adding new aircraft to their fleets as the airline industry expanded greatly in the 1980s. The older generation of regional airliners from the 1950s and 1960s were nearing retirement, leading to high sales figures. De Havilland Canada was unable to meet the demand with sufficient production.
In 1988, Boeing bought the company in a bid to improve production at DHC’s Downsview Airport plants, as well as better position itself to compete for a new Air Canada order for large intercontinental airliners. Air Canada was a Crown corporation at the time, and both Boeing and Airbus were competing heavily via political channels for the contract. It was eventually won by Airbus, which received an order for 34 A320 aircraft in a highly controversial move. The allegations of bribery are today known as the Airbus affair. Following its failure in the competition, Boeing immediately put de Havilland Canada up for sale. The company was eventually purchased by Bombardier in 1992. – wiki
The Majestic Software MJC8 Q400 installation was simple and the documentaion is thorough. It includes checklists, manuals and full support on their website. There are 3 versions, Pilot, Pro and Training. I will be reviewing the Pilot version (which is the only one currently available) and you can see the features here. It includes 19 liveries and they look fantastic. Animated passenger and cargo doors modeled with the full cabin textures are impressive. Lights and fuselage textures work well together and look great with the landing lights reflecting off the propellers.
Once you’ve chosen your livery, route, flight conditions and FSX is up in cockpit view, you need to open the MJC8 Q400 Control Panel and finish the rest of your loadout. (Under the Flight Controls page I set Ailerons + Mouse to steer the tiller handle during taxi.) On the Weight & Balance page, you fill in your seating, cargo and fuel then press the Calulate button. This will fill in the graph area showing your flight envelope data and you can adjust your load to stay in the safe zone for flight. Once all this is complete, click the Send Data To Flightsim button and the FSX will pause with the loadout values loaded and ready for startup.
I think I read somewhere that this plane’s cockpit is designed for 2 pilots. I would agree. An instructional is beyond the scope of this review, but let’s just say my first few flights were VERY busy inside the cockpit! The Dash 8 has a unique flight system that coordinates the controls slightly different than most turbo props and jets. For example, during taxi, as you steer with the tiller, the 2 throttles actually oppose directions to aid the turning fuselage. Nice.
The dual Flight Management System simulates the Universal 1E FMS and is developed with a high degree of realism. The FMS system is capable of navigation in three dimensions (LNAV+VNAV), RNP-based navigation and Fuel and Performance Management. The up-to-date navigation database, provided by navigation data supplier Navigraph (subject to additional charges – see the website for details) can be used to obtain the latest procedures. In addition, there are custom provisions to control the availability of the ground services and the flow of passenger announcements. – Just Flight
The Virtual Cockpit has mulitple views and the graphics look incredible. Even though it says no 2D panels are included, it does have a view where you can have the main gauges in a larger size. All switches and knobs are authentic and operational. Lighting is dynamic and changes over time. You can save your frequent flight plans in the FMS and even customize the cabin announcements.
Majestic Software has designed this FSX add-on like I’ve seen no other. This is the main reason that I’ve given this Vetter’s 5 Sock Rating! A completely separate Flight Dynamics Engine from FSX provides a realistic flight experience and even accurately models icing effects on leading edges, intakes and windscreens with the resulting loss in performance! Notice the icing effects on the leading edges and on the co-pilot’s side window in the screenies below.
Look at these Just Flight Highlights:
Highly detailed external and cockpit models with HD textures and special effects are included:
•Hundreds of custom animations, all controlled by the aircraft systems
•Unique 3D propeller simulation featuring variable disc thickness
•Smooth gradual lighting in virtual cockpit
•Complete custom lighting system with proper light splashes on the exterior model and ground. All lights are functional in the cockpit
•‘Intelligent’ pilots with behaviour linked to the aircraft state (exterior model)
•Complete multi-stage icing visualisation
•Window mist/demist simulation
•Frame-rate friendly model
Look at the high-quality sound features:
The Majestic Software Dash 8 includes its own sound system, independent of the FSX sound system. The sound system is Direct-X based and uses custom DSP (Digital Signal Processing) effects to simulate the propeller sounds correctly. The system is also 3D-enabled for both external and internal sounds, including the switches and controls sounds as well as voice announcements.
This superlative rendition of the Dash 8 Q400 comes with a host of truly innovative features and is the first aircraft to feature a Flight Dynamics Engine which is completely independent of the FSX FDE!
Fly the Q400 in 19 high resolution liveries with weather radar, TCAS, dual FMS and custom animations and lighting – this is quite simply the best Dash 8 you can fly!
A few interesting side notes. I suspect the special FDE (and maybe my PC) has something to do with these. When I capture a screenshot the view slows to a pause and then slowly returns. So, when a stutter happens (due to screenshot) before touching down, it won’t mess up your landing. I liked that. The other completely wacky thing that happened was when I attempted to land and depart with the scenery, Courchevel X (with the sloping runway). The scenery actually just makes a terrain sloped runway and the Dash 8 bumped around to the point of launching itself into the air vertically with complete hilarity! See the video HERE!
Again, I am fully impressed by what Majestic Software has done with this Dash 8. The loadout, the taxi, the takeoff, the flight, the approach, the landing are all so immersive and unique that I will be logging lots of hours in this incredible FSX Dash 8. My 5 Sock Rating doesn’t get any better than THIS! This is a premium aircraft that is well worth the premium price.
Buy it now for US$59.99
If you have any comments or questions about this review e-mail vetter (at) skyblueradio.com
My PC Specs: Intel i7 930 QuadCore 2.8GHz / 6GB Ram / Radeon HD5870 / 32″1080p Sharp Aquos / Windows7 Pro(x64) / Logitech Extreme 3D Pro / GoFlight MCP Pro, GF-RP-48 Button Panel and GF-166 Radio Panel