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Third-party developer Aerosoft recently released its rendition of the de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter for Microsoft Flight Simulator.
The add-on is currently available for PC on the publisher’s own store, priced at €29.95 plus applicable VAT, which means that it can be installed and updated painlessly via the Aerosoft One app.
It will also be released on the official marketplace and on Xbox down the line.
If you’d like to see it in action, you can check out the three videos below. The first is a full walk-around to appreciate the 3D model and textures, the second is a quick startup and take-off from Reykjavík airport, and the third is an ILS approach and landing on runway 19 at Akureyri airport.
The Icelandic location isn’t random, as the Twin Otter is the king of light passenger and cargo transport in extreme conditions, which means that it’s the perfect aircraft if you want to explore the less-traveled areas of the world without having to resort to general aviation.
Speaking of what you get out of the box, the package is particularly rich, including several variations of the DHC6-100 and 300, including passenger, cargo, standard wheels, tundra wheels, skis, floats, and amphibian floats.
Each of the 13 variations comes with its own livery, creating one of the most flexible add-ons that you can purchase at the moment of this writing for Microsoft Flight Simulator.
The 3D modeling is extremely good almost across the board, with just a few places that feel a little rougher, likely to keep the polygon count reasonable. That being said, both the external models and the flight deck are very, very pretty to look at. Even the cabin is modeled in different variants (passenger, cargo, and skydiving with functional doors and lights), and its quality isn’t bad at all. This is handy considering that there is no real door separating it from the flight deck.
The quality of the liveries is also high, and there is plenty of variety to pick from, including a few military models. The only issue I have is in common with the CRJ: Aerosoft insists that the extensive use of decals makes higher-resolution base texture files obsolete, allowing considerable savings in terms of hardware resources.
I agree with this to a point, as the 2048 x 2048 pixels textures do a good job as long as logos aren’t painted on them. When they are, things start not to hold as well when observed from up close.
I completely understand why Aerosoft wants to keep the pixel count low to focus on performance, but I really wish they provided 4096 x 4096 textures, at least as an optional download for those of us who have rigs that can handle them.
That being said, decals are used generously all over the model, and they certainly add a very fetching level of detail. Occasional logo aside, the Twin Otter really looks beautiful inside and out.
Lighting is another high point, and the Twin Otter looks great when flying it in the dark.
Animations are generally fluid and well done, with the only exception being the propellers, which could likely use is a bit more gradual in their transition between startup and high RPM.
The audio compartment is adequate but will need another mixing pass in future updates. Some of the volumes feel rather strange (generally on the “too loud” side of the spectrum). The sounds themselves seem fine, but they would probably be more enjoyable if they were better integrated. An example is opening the cabin door pretty much unleashes a hurricane within the cabin itself, even when the engines aren’t yet started.
I won’t say much about the flight model, as I’ve never flown a real Twin Otter (at least not as a pilot, since I’m obviously not one. I did fly on a couple as a passenger, but that’s hardly helpful here). Regardless, it is an extremely pleasant and forgiving aircraft to hand-fly, which seems to match with comments I’ve heard from actual pilots. It also handles very well on the ground, which is still a rarity among Microsoft Flight Simulator add-ons.
One thing is for sure: if you’re looking for an aircraft that is very enjoyable to fly without touching the autopilot from take-off to landing, this is probably a very strong contender.
On the other hand, the Twin Otter appears to use the default autopilot, which does have its share of quirks. It’s certainly usable, but it requires some baby-sitting in areas like tight turns and final ILS approach, where you’ll have to be very careful on the throttles to hold the glideslope reasonably steady.
It’s true that the Twin Otter is mostly hand-flown in the real world as well, and many tend to have obsolete and unreliable autopilots, but if you like taking off, flicking the GPS navigation on, and staying basically hands-off until just before touchdown, you’re probably in for some frustration.
The depth of the systems is adequate for a product in this price range, with almost every switch in the flight deck workable with the exclusion of the circuit breakers and a few others. Failures are not simulated, but Aerosoft never promised them.
Performance appears to be quite close to the tables included in the manual, so the aircraft generally flies as it should, at least on paper.
One of the elements that I really wish was included is the EFB (Electronic Flight Bag, basically, the tablet that many pilots nowadays install in the cockpit). A lot of third-party aircraft use it for easy configuration changes, weights and balances, options, throttle calibration, and so forth. Aerosoft spoiled us with a very good EFV in its CRJ add-ons, but it’s missing here, and that’s a pity.
Speaking of the manual, I have to give credit to Aerosoft for including high-quality documentation. It’s a 160-page booklet (in PDF) that doesn’t just explain the features and mechanics of the aircraft but also includes an extensive overview on how to fly it and even anecdotes from pilots. It’s good enough that I actually printed it, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading it all.
To be fair, you’ll need the manual at least to find out where all the controls are. While Aerosoft did make an effort to include in-sim checklists, not all of the switches you need to operate are highlighted when you press on the “eye” icon, which I guess might be an oversight and can be disorienting for those who aren’t familiar with the aircraft.
A very positive note is the overall performance. On my PC (RTX 3070, Ryzen 9 3900x, 32 GB RAM) at 1440p resolution and ultra detail settings, the aircraft flies like a dream with stable frame rates hovering around 45-50 FPS at airports (depending on location), over 60 FPS in the air, and hardly any stutter.
Ultimately, while the Twin Otter has its share of snags here and there (some small, some a bit more cumbersome), the value it offers is undeniable. It’s a beautiful aircraft that flies like a dream and comes with pretty much all the variations it needs out of the box, for a price that is absolutely reasonable for a product of this scope and quality.
We could likely say that considering all the add-ons available for Microsoft Flight Simulator, this aircraft probably offers the best value or very close.
The CRJ was supported very well, and most of its issues were cleared over a relatively short period, so we can likely expect this package to improve further down the line.
That being said, it’s already a very enjoyable aircraft that has a lot to offer and can fly pretty much anywhere. If you like exploring the world without giving up airline operations and you’re willing to be patient with a few leftover issues, the Twin Otter is an easy recommendation.
Reviewer: Giuseppe Nelva | Award: Editor’s Choice | Copy provided by Publisher.
- Arguably unbeatable value for the price. Lots of variations and content.
- It’s really beautiful inside and out.
- Modeled cabin with different variants.
- It’s handles really well both in the air and on the ground.
- Fantastic manual.
- It’s basically the perfect aircraft for exploring MSFS’s beautiful rendition of the world.
- Good system depth for the price range.
- Great performance.
- The audio features an adequate base but needs better mixing and integrating.
- The default autopilot can be unreliable.
- No EFB.
- Some liveries feature slightly low-resolution logos.
January 19, 2022
PC, Xbox Series X|S