MP Design Studio released one of the helicopters closer to my heart for FSX and P3D, so I was very curious to try it out: the Alouette III for FSX and P3D.
The Alouette III is a classic helicopter that has been in service for nearly 60 years. In Portugal, it served for 55 years (it will start being replaced by the AW119MKII Koala later this month) so it’s a helicopter I have seen during all my life.
Being a small country, and not having a lot of aircraft, the Alouette III is one of the few models that I actually have had any contact with – which makes it even more special.
The MP Design Studio Alouette III
As usual with MP Design Studio, the list of features is extensive and impressive. The team really tries to push their development forward and they have made a lot of their stuff standard for all the new releases.
- Cockpit vibrations
- Instrument panel vibrations
- Engine ventilation
- Translating tendency effect
- Transverse flow effect
- Lift effect
- Vortex Ring State
- Retreating Blade Stall
- Realistic sound environment
- Realistic outdoor and indoor sounds
- Blade flapping sound effect
- High number of polygons
- Realistic shape and precise geometry
- Fully animated
- High-quality textures
- Realistic paint schemes
- Includes all labels and marks
- Included liveries
- Marine 1806
- Marine M1
- Yugoslavia Air Force
- Fully clickable
- Precise geometry
- High-quality textures
- Vibration effect
- Gauges glass reflection
- Fully animated
- All labels and marks
- Bendix King COM KY96A-97A
- Bendix King ADF KR87
- Aérospatiale SA316Alouette III Checklist
This is one of the strong points of the team. All their helicopters are beautifully modeled, and they have added a lot of details both inside and out. The panel vibration is very cool, and it makes the machine look a bit more alive and interesting.
One of the cool things that MP Design Studio added to this release was the ability to customize the model through the use of a configuration tool or panel, that you can access via SHIFT+1.
This tool allows you to show or hide a set of different equipment, open doors, insert chocks, etc. It’s a very handy way of customizing or setting your Alouette III up. Considering helicopters are chameleons, adapting to a set of different missions, this lets you set your machine for a varied amount of missions.
I love the detail and the ability to easily set it all up.
This is a very hard area for me to talk about when it comes to the MP Design Studio aircraft.
While the team works really hard to bring a set of features to their aircraft, the truth is that me and other folks from our team struggle to find them to be working the right way. I have no serious issues with the flight model as I did with their Cabri G2, though, which was something I was worried about but I believe that problem was fixed with the Lama already and since the base code should be the same, it doesn’t plague the Alouette III.
The overall flight model is not bad, but I would like to have it a bit twitchier and more responsive. I have a custom flight model for the freeware version [/downloads/fsx/fsx-aircraft/alouette-iii-v1/] made by a community member and I find it more of what I would expect an Alouette III to behave: nimble, agile. There’s a reason why it was used by a few aerobatic teams, after all!
I also tested the aerodynamic effects present on the features list, one by one
Translating tendency effect
This effect is created by the need of pedal to keep the helicopter straight. I didn’t find the Alouette needed that much amount of pedal (a little bit is required but not a lot) so the effect is not present that much.
I also tried to do some tests by adding more pedal, but these tests were inconclusive as without any actual torque, the helicopter tends to rotate so you don’t have the actual conditions required to see this popping up.
Transverse flow effect
TFE on the Alouette III suffers from the same issues as with the Lama, but to a lesser extent. The effect still feels like the fuselage is being “kicked” from the side as if we would yank the cyclic to the left quickly.
It feels a bit odd and it doesn’t require you to be that much on top of it which makes it a bit easier for new pilots.
I’m not sure what MP Design Studio calls “lift effect” so I’ll assume it’s translational lift, which is the extra lift your rotor disc generates as you gain speed.
I did quite a few tests to try this but to no avail. There was no change in my vertical speed at all, so I couldn’t replicate the effect.
Vortex Ring State
Again, I had some weird effects when I tried to enter VRS.
The few times I managed to enter VRS, I had to descend at a rate higher than 1500 feet per minute. When that happened, the helicopter would roll to the left and the RPM needle would go wild.
One of the times I managed to exit VRS using my collective, but I saw myself upside down quickly and crashing.
Retreating Blade Stall
Speed up to around 130kts and you’ll notice the tendency for the helicopter to roll right. That’s Retreating Blade Stall in action. As well as P3D can simulate it, at least, so it’s there all right.
Sound is pretty good, and the blade flap is present as advertised. I would like it to be a bit louder as it’s too subtle but it’s cool to hear it pop up when we give the old lady a run for her money.
There’s something missing that really makes a difference. The Alouette III’s engine has a very characteristic high pitch whine which the model doesn’t replicate. It’s something that those who know the helicopter will notice. Perhaps we’ll get a future update with it?
Everything works great in VR and, just like the Lama, the Alouette III is like a window to the world with unparallel view all around.
If you are considering purchasing the MP Design Studio’s Alouette III just because of the impressive list, don’t. The truth is: you don’t need to get it for that reason.
You should get it because it’s a good FSX/P3D addon. Just don’t expect too much from the flight dynamics (not the flight model but the rest that it’s advertised). You might find them present or not. I know of users that noticed some of them on previous models, others didn’t.
If you are a P3D user, you are used to the flight dynamics of its helicopters and you are probably very happy with them.
Anything that a development team adds to it is an added bonus and I wouldn’t see it as a “major purchasing point”.
I wish MP Design Studio stopped mentioning those as selling points. Especially because we end up to having to test them out and, as is the case, things don’t work that well on everyone’s systems. This tends to hurt the product more than help since we are forced to compare the list with what we test, and the results are not the best…
This Alouette III is a pretty good addon on its own and it does come with a coupe of nice little things that make it a bit more interesting. But you shouldn’t look at it for the impressive features list: you should look at it because it’s a good addon for this sim.
P3D seem to be a bit of a wildcard as we never know the results we are getting with helicopters. That’s a big reason why Dodosim made their own external module – to have full control of the dynamics and the helicopter and why Lockheed Martin keeps on betting on their SDK – or, as they call it, the PDK (Prepar3D Development Kit).
- Great model
- Customization panel that allows you to add/remove accessories or parts to the helicopter
- The advertised flight dynamics still have issues and that eventually hurts our score
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