Sunday, November 1, 2009

Various Citation X flights

I've been flying several of my Citations all over the place. N7929A has received quite a workout, in particular. Over the past few days, I've flown it from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back several times, plus a flight to Phoenix from LAX.

One of my flights from SFO to LAX had to be aborted and restarted endless times, because of a bug in the latest hotfix of Eaglesoft's Citation X. After checking it out on Eaglesoft's so-called support forum (thank goodness there was a thread on it), I learned of a workaround. Essentially, the pressurization system fails to activate if the current barometric pressure is above 29.92 inHg. As a result, the cabin pressure drops with the outside pressure and eventually you get a CABIN ALTITUDE warning, followed by an EMERGENCY DESCENT warning. Obviously, that's no way to fly. Fortunately, the workaround is easy: just set the altimeter to 29.92 until the cabin starts to pressurize (a few seconds), and then set it back to the local altimeter setting.

I don't know if Eaglesoft will fix this; we'll see. Usually add-on developers lose interest in their products after releasing them and making a couple fixes. They move on to other products, because it's more fun to write new code than it is to debug and fix existing code, and because there's no financial incentive to fix a product once people have already paid for it. Unfortunately just about all the add-on developers (and indeed, just about all small software companies) are this way. For similar reasons, support is often spotty, and Eaglesoft is no exception in that respect.

Nevertheless, the aircraft itself is a joy to fly, apart from that pesky pressurization problem, but that's easy enough to work around. Everything else seems to work pretty much as advertised. The FMS works very well, as do the other systems on board. It's a pity that things like ground power don't seem to be simulated, but you can't have everything, and the competition (Wilco) is certainly no better. I prefer Eaglesoft right now, despite their poor attitude (other add-on companies have poor attitudes, too).

Anyway … lots of flights in the Citation. It's such a fast aircraft that it's fun to fly. You can actually get somewhere in a reasonable amount of time in a Citation. I usually configure the FMS for maximum performance, so speeds of 525 knots over the ground are not unusual, and with favorable tailwinds, I can do a lot better. For some reason, there are often jet streams blasting their way down from SFO to LAX and then east, so if I fly in those directions, flights are short and sweet.

At any given time, I usually have one or two Citations resting at several of my favorite airports, including LAX, SFO, SAN, PHX, LAS, and so on.