The Embraer EMB-120 “Brasilia” turbo-prop airliner is one of my favorite commercial aircraft. Living near an airport serviced by one of the largest operators of the Brasilia, SkyWest Airlines, and you can see why. It is such a common sight at Santa Barbara that there are usually two or three on the ramp bound for LAX, San Jose, or San Francisco.
There have been a few models of the EMB-120 available at different times for various versions of Microsoft flight simulator. The first, by Nick Botamer for FS2002, set a new compromise between detail and frame rates. I found this model to be quite fun to fly, but I always found the cockpit windows to be of strange configuration. Also, repaints were limited. Still, I spent many happy hours flying it.
Then Erick Cantu released his Brasilia for FS2004 (FS9). For those of us that weren’t already drooling by Erick’s other models, the Brasilia release set a very high standard for small aircraft freeware quality. Granted, his model lacked a virtual cockpit, but the extreme detail and flight dynamics made up for 2d panel experience.
And then FSX came out and we found ourselves without our brilliant favorite. Granted the FS9 version would work in FSX, but there were issues with the flight dynamics, challenges with the prop animation and it was unable to take advantage of new FSX features like dynamic self shadowing. If you overlooked these issues, you could be content flying, but for me, I always had a voice in the back of my mind saying “look at those prop animations, this isn’t a TRUE FSX model!”
Not any more. Thanks to Eagle Rotorcraft Simulations, Erick’s Brasilia has an entirely new life FSX. Completely rebuilt in GMAX to take full advantage of FSX advancements, this really comes alive. I took it on a test flight from Santa Barbara (KSBA) to Los Angeles (KLAX), a flight I’ve taken many times on SkyWest (who is the largest operator of the Brasilia). The model is beautiful, the shadowing adds an intense sense of realism, and the props animations no longer disappear in the clouds. Woohoo!
Since this was a GMAX rebuild only, the missing virtual cockpit was not added. In addition, the model uses the default KingAir panel and sounds. While virtual cockpits are a huge part of the FSX experience, the detailed external model makes up, somewhat, for this. While you can setup an alias to the KingAir 350, it isn’t a true Brasilia virtual cockpit.
Bottom line, no matter how much you want to complain about the missing virtual cockpit, you can’t. The aircraft is such a joy to fly with plenty of eye candy that it makes up for it. We also have to give a resounding “Thank you!” to Eagle Rotorcraft Simulations for rebuilding this model and bringing it to a new level in FSX for us.