The Guimbal Cabri G2 is a relative new product that entered the market less than 10 years ago and it's already making a difference as a training aircraft.
A lot of flight schools already use this as their platform for students to get their feet wet.
It was designed by Bruno Guimbal, a former Eurocopter engineer, that used all his knowledge and experience to develop his own product. The project started in the 1980s and it first flew on 1992 to later enter service (in 2008).
It's a light 2-seat piston helicopter that's been using by private pilots, flight schools, like I mentioned and even as a base for UAVs.
The design is very different from other helicopters that fall into the same category, such as the R22 and the S-300. The most noticeable feature being the fenestron. The whole shape of the helicopter is highly recognizable though, and it feels very modern.
MP Design Studio is usually very thorough regarding the list of features and the G2 is no exception.
- Translating tendency effect
- Transverse flow effect
- Lift effect
- VORTEX RING STATE
- Realistic sound environment
- Realistic outdoor and indoor sounds
- Blade flapping sound effect
- EPM warning sound
- Main rotor speed warning sound
- Two models available
- Wide Instrument Panel
- Narrow Instrument Panel
- Hook equiped
- High number of polygons
- Realistic shape and precise geometry
- Fully animated
- Hoist available
- High quality textures
- Realistic paint schemes
- Includes all labels and marks
- Include liveries:
- Air Technology
- Gudinace Aviation
- Helicentre Aviation
- Heli Lausanne
- Heli Trans
- Heli Transair
- Northern Helicopters
- Swiss Helicopter
- Texas Rotorwing Academy
- United Kingdom
- Fully clickable
- Precise geometry
- High quality textures
- Vibration effect
- Gauges glass reflection
- Fully animated
- All labels and marks
- EPM with Metric or Imperial unit system
- GNS430 fully interfaced with Garmin GI106 Indicator
- GTX330 Transponder
- Sony Xperia Tablet with ability to add charts or notes
The aerodynamics part of their products is always what usually raises eyebrows. Considering the platform being used being FSX/P3D, saying that you have things such as translating tendency effect, transverse flow effect or vortex ring state, as exciting as that may be, is something you don't expect to find except if the helicopter comes with an external module like Dodosim does (or by using Fred Naar's HTR).
We've had mixed results in the past and some of the features presented are usually not that well represented, mostly because the platform (FSX/P3D) is flawed. Some developers have came up with very smart solutions and the guys at MP Design Studio have always been trying to break the boundaries the platform forces on devs.
We were provided a press copy which consisted only of the files to be copied to the FSX/P3D folder but when you buy it you should have a nice installer, which should be similar to the ones MP Design Studio used before so, nothing weird or hard here.
MP Design Studio has got us used to great modelling and texturing. The Cabri G2 is no exception, with a nicely shaped fuselage and cosy, nicely built cockpit.
I feel like the cockpit textures could have been a bit more worked upon as they look a bit washed away and blank (especially on the sides and back panel) but they work fine, I guess.
The G2 is not a very complex aircraft so there aren't a ton of details but the few there are, MP Design Studio seem to have captured them.
This is an FSX/P3D helicopter so we know we're talking about a system that has its issues. Rating helicopters in this platform is not easy because you'll have to do one of two things: you'll either compare it to other sims, such as X-Plane and DCS (and, therefore you'll have to rate it rather low) or ignore those and do your review based on the world of these two sims. It's not an easy task.
The Cabri G2 was a bit disappointing to me, to be honest. I have found quite a few issues with the flight model that, although the MP Design Team offered to help with them (especially the yaw problem I will mention later), I decided that I shouldn't solely rely on their support. After all, I need to work with what I'm given. I want to review a product that's out there for all of us, not something that's been tweaked just for me. This is was a conscious decision I made so that I can be truthful to our readers.
First things first: the yaw control is a mess. I found it sluggish, I was forced to use the full length of the pedals constantly and I had to be constantly battling with the helicopter until it picked up some speed. I felt like a pendulum trying to control it, going left and right. Up to a point when I simply started rotating on the yaw axis uncontrollably. I have no idea why. It just happened and I had to reset my flight.
I felt like I had to try some tweaking, which is something I normally don't do on my reviews. The MP Design Studio team had already said to me that some tweaking on the yaw axis could be necessary. I would have to open the aircraft.cgf file and fiddle with the yaw_damp_cf setting. The default value is 0.1 and I should increase it.
I tried 0.2 up to 0.5 and I had even more weird behaviors. At a given time the helicopter started spinning on the ground. There had to be something else wrong.
The team told me that some joysticks may provide some bad input. I'm using the Pro Flight Trainer Puma which is not a standard piece of hardware at all -- although I have never had problems with it in FSX. To be fair to the team and the product, I disconnected and connected my old, trustworthy Saitek X-45 only to find that I got the same results. I then plugged my Saitek Combat Rudder pedals. Still the same result.
Finally I tried my Thrustmaster joystick and rudder pedals and had the same issues. I couldn't get the G2 to work properly with the anti-torque pedals. I put back the setting value to 0.1 and kept on using it that way.
Another thing that I noticed -- and that's pretty much standard on all the helicopters in this platform, is that the cyclic was also rather sluggish. This is something that's way less noticeable in the Gazelle, for example but very much present on the G2. I even noticed some weird behavior where I would have no feedback from the helicopter until perhaps half a second or more, which felt a bit strange. I am assuming it has to do with the fact that, honestly, I'm not very used to the FSX platform anymore.
I decided to give the Gazelle and the Alouette III a go just to make sure that everything was fine and the difference was there. The Gazelle and the Alouette (for which I have a modified FDE file) were, indeed, more responsive than the G2. Weird.
The announced features
It was time to replicate translating tendency effect, transverse flow effect or vortex ring state starting with VRS. If you are not familiar with what vortex ring state (or VRS) is, you can check it out here. I climbed to 2000 feet, decreased speed, lowered the collective and the helicopter started shaking. That was very promising and it delivered what it promised: I started falling from the sky without any way to recover from it except by getting out of the vortex ring. +1 for the team and the G2.
As for translating tendency effect and transverse flow effect, I honestly could not notice anything in particular. The helicopter translated from stopped to moving to stop without any drifting or other effects that I could notice off -- except the yaw issues mentioned above.
I have been in contact with a real Cabri G2 pilot with whom I have been exchanging notes and he confirmed he wasn't being able to replicate it as well. He emphasized the translating tendency that is very noticeable in the real G2. Yet, on this addon, he couldn't replicate it either, just like I couldn't.
Something that I also noticed was that it's possible to climb at 2.000+ FPM which is not something normal. Not a big deal but something you need to take into consideration if you are to fly the model realistically.
This is also a subject that helicopter simmers usually want to learn about and a lot of folks consider it to be a very focal point of how good the flight model is. This is mostly because it is, in fact, a good demonstration of physics and people like to practice them.
Autorotations in the Cabri are your standard autos, at least in FSX. You need to keep a bit of collective up to keep the RPM under control or you'll eventually fall from the sky. The rest, is pretty normal in this platform, which is to say: not very realistic. But, again, that's FSX's fault.
Systems are quite nicely modeled although the carburetor heat light is always on the yellow which shouldn't happen. The startup is quite even if not exactly as in the real aircraft. Some changes probably had to be made because of limitations of the platform.
There are also a couple of things that were noted by the real pilot that helped me with some input. One of them being the fact that we cannot reach 100% power on MLI even pulling full collective. and the other thing being that the rotor RPM changes a lot. In real life, it's more stable.
I need to talk about this. This is a very cool feature that I wish we had on other aircraft as well.
Next to the panel you have a tablet that you can use
One of the cool things about it is that you can actually add 6 charts of your own (or anything else you may need in that format). The operation is pretty simple and explained in the quick manual. All you need to so is to create your own 1080px x 1920px, name them Chart0.bmp to Chart5.bmp and copy them to the [YOUR_SIM_FOLDER]\gauges\GuimbalCabriG2\ folder. You are limited to 6 charts (although MP Design Studio is open to increase that number if you need so).
I love the ability to customize the charts and to have your own stuff in there.
Whenever MP Design Studio releases a new aircraft the FSX/P3D community gains a new helicopter that goes a bit beyond what is normally out there. Unfortunately, at least with our tests, things don't go too well for us regarding the features they mention. I'm not saying it's not there but we could not replicate and enjoy them. The exception being VRS which seems to be working -- the best possible in FSX/P3D without an external module.
The team is passionate about their helicopters and they are trying to push the envelope of what the FSX/P3D platform is capable. Unfortunately, I think that the limitations of these sims is seriously hindering their products.
The Guimbal Cabri G2 has the potential to be a fun little helicopter for the FSX/P3D rotorheads out there. Right now, at least for me (and a real Cabri G2 I have exchanged notes with), the yaw plague is something that ruining the experience a bit and I don't see myself using it a lot for my FSX flights. I would rather stick with the Gazelle or my favorite, FranceVFR's Alouette III.
All in all is a nice addition for your virtual hangar. But you do need to realize that FSX and P3D are not exactly the best simulators for helicopters, and that's pretty noticeable in the G2 as well.
Credit and thank you
I would like to thank Thomas Hildebrandt-Strobl for his help and consultancy on this review. Thomas is a real world Cabri G2 pilot and was an invaluable help.
- Nice 3D model with great details
- I love the fact that you can add your own charts to the tablet
- VRS is modelled
- The yaw axis has a lot of issues, being very unresponsive
- The overall handling feels a bit sluggish
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