Sim Works Studio’s Kodiak 100 for MSFS full review

Modern construction, a glass cockpit, and a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboprop engine combined with short field performance, multi-role versatility, and a really cool name. Daher’s Kodiak 100 is a modern day bushplane with power and attitude. Sim Works Studios sought to bring that aircraft to life in Microsoft Flight Simulator and after several months of being on the market I’m finally catching up to writing my full review. This aircraft has gone through more than a few updates and that means that its well past time for me to review this aircraft. What’s it like? How does it handle? Should you buy this for your MSFS hangar? Read on!

A bit of history

Making its maiden flight on October 16, 2004, the type received FAA certification in 2007. Quest, the company behind it, intended the airplane to be used on rough airstrips and in tough to get into locations with an eye towards some of the missionary work that interested customers were after.

In 2019, Daher, a French company best known for their TBM series of turboprops, bought Quest and has since made their two aircraft line-up a centerpiece of their aviation operations. The TBM offered to customers who need a fast airplane and the Kodiak available for those wanting something that can get into rougher airstrips and locations.

The type is powered by a P&W Canada PT6A-34 turboprop making 750 shp takeoff power. It can cruise at 183 knots, stalls at just 60 knots, and has a range of 1,132 nautical miles. Impressively, it can takeoff in just 934 feet and lands in 705 feet.

Features

Sim Works Studios have recreated the Kodiak 100 for Microsoft Flight Simulator with a large number of features. Chief among them are its highly detailed 3D model, animated doors, available cargo pod and no cargo pod versions, standard and tundra tyers, support for the still work in progress Working Title Garmin G1000 NXi plugin that Asobo is supporting, high quality sounds, a PDF manual, realistic lighting, flexing landing gear, wheel chocks, and so forth.

The cabin is also configurable with options for a cargo interior, mixed, tundra passenger version, an executive interior, and skydiving interior too! Adding weight to the cargo area will also visibly show packaged gear. Adding weight to the passenger configuration will similarly load it up with passengers.

A cargo pod is also an option affecting appearance, weight and performance.

SWS have added 36 factory liveries and 4 custom liveries included in the package and they are available on all four versions of the aircraft and with each of the different interior packages too.

Flying the Kodiak 100

This is a really fun aircraft for me to fly and it starts with the short field takeoff and landing. The Kodiak is designed to be able to fly into and out of some very remote locations so that means that you can take this airplane into virtually any airport and any situation you can imagine. Small field in the middle of nowhere? It can do that. Throw in some bad weather and you have the makings of, at least in the sim world, is a very fun and challenging flying experience.

This aircraft feels very much at home flying in places like Alaska (it was named the Kodiak after all) or New Guinea. But it could be flown anywhere and it doesn’t feel out of place landing at Toronto Island Airport as it does landing on the uphill slopes of Couchevel or Gustaff III.

Taxiing is easy. The aircraft handles better and feels more “real” on the ground than most MSFS aircraft although I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. How SWS made that happen is a bit of a mystery but this does feel really good.

Takeoff happens very quickly at full power even with a relatively full load. Counter rudder is essential as there is a pronounced pull to the left. The aircraft lifts itself off the runway with minimal back pressure when trimmed properly and continues to climb quickly and competently. The power of the P&W turboprop are evident immediately and that power, properly controlled, makes it ideal to climb out of some tight spaces.

Cruise is easy. The aircraft needs only minimal corrections to trim when adjusting power or making big transitions from climb to level flight. It has a powered trim system that prevents overtrimming by allowing the trim to be changed in 1-second increments while holding the button. You appreciate the system over time but at first it can take a bit of time to get used to.

Generally speaking, flying this airplane is a blast. It has just enough power to get out of a tight spot like a hill rising rapidly ahead of you. Aircraft control is simple and predictable but it will get out of sorts if you mishandle it too much. Most of the time, however, it feels great cruising along, cutting through valleys, and around obstacles. It’s pure fun!

Landing the Kodiak is a similarly straightforward affair for the most part. The airplane itself is easy to land and its low stall speed, STOL capabilities, and ample power make landing straight forward if you have good technique. But it can breed overconfidence and the aircraft stalls convincingly below 60 knots at full flaps. It also doesn’t love a high angle of attack so it can stall in those situations too. Recovery is quick but requires quick work on the rudder.

I do want to talk a bit about the throttle controls and beta. MSFS has a key bind for a reverser, however, it appears to be tied not to the throttle but instead to the propeller pitch control directly. That has the effect of feathering the propeller rather than getting the added braking that you get in beta. I haven’t been able to figure this part out despite reading several different comments online.

Also, if you overdo the beta it seems to cause the aircraft to roll back on its tailwheels. This happens with other turboprop aircraft in MSFS so be warned. Beta mode is to be used carefully!

Systems and engine

Engine management is very important with SWS’ Kodiak 100. There’s a detailed simulation of the PT6 turboprop engine going on behind the scenes at levels not typical for MSFS. Overdo things with the engine for too long and you will break it and the engine will stop. You also need to exactly follow the start-up procedure with regards to managing the engine or it won’t get started properly. It took me a couple of tries and watching a tutorial or two before I got the hang of it.

I should also mention that the Cntrl+E start-up shortcut starts but never appears to finish. So, if you’re one of those MSFS pilots who likes to do the shortcut, this aircraft may not be ideal. As it goes, its not a super complicated start-up but it is one that requires some practice and nuance. I’m still making mistakes starting it up.

The avionics are a typical Garmin affair with the G1000 system. This aircraft has some unique warnings specific to it but nothing too out of the ordinary. Support is there for the Working Title NXi system which is expected to replace the base G1000 system in the next Sim Update.

There is a quirk that I’ve noticed. If you start on the runway with the engines already started, the displays appear quite dim with no way to bring them up to full brightness. Start cold and dark and you’ll be fine. Definitely a quirk and not one that I’ve tested with the supported G1000NXi which is due to be made the default system in the next update.

This also has at least a partial simulation of the electrical systems in place. The fuse panel works for example with systems shut on or off depending on the fuse state. Although this isn’t a needed feature in my mind, it is a nice bonus that shows the level of detail put in on this airplane.

Art and sound

Sim Works Studios has done an incredible job on the visuals for this aircraft. The 3D model was based on the original CAD files for the airplane thanks to a relationship with Daher.

As near as I can tell this is beautiful and accurate rendition of the airplane in essentially every detail. Get up close or look at it from afar, this aircraft looks every bit the part with every tube, system, sensor, fin, antenna, and bolt modeled accurately.

Asobo default pilot and co-pilot fill in the front seats. The back seats include passengers and cargo depending on the configuration of the aircraft. They are modeled and textured very well.

Texture work is similarly top notch with beautiful textures. Get in close and you can see some impressive bump-mapping work on even the tiniest of details. If I were to find a complaint it would be that this airplane always looks crisp and clean. A couple of MSFS aircraft makers have started to add a dynamic dirt layer and the Kodiak could really benefit from such an experience – seeing as this is an airplane flying into some remote regions.

Animations are also great with the doors, flaps, buttons, switches and yes even the fuse panel all being beautifully animated. The prop disk does do a bit of a weird looking thing when the engine is starting up but that’s most noticeable from outside. Inside the cockpit it looks fine.

Minor gripes aside, this is an aircraft that appears to be crisp and clean with no detail too small to replicate. I love the way it looks and I applaud SWS on their impressive work here.

Sound is also well done. Although it can be a little subdued, that feels like the character of a P&W turboprop and here the aircraft definitely sounds the part. A little more feedback when the aircraft goes into beta or does a rough field landing would be nice. Again, I feel that these are minor gripes when most of the sound work here is excellent.

Final thoughts

SimWorks Studios has done a tremendous job with the Kodiak 100. From the impressive art, 3D and texture design to the interactive cargo/passenger elements, to the very detailed flight model that feels like its a cut above most other aircraft in this sim, there’s very little for me to not like with this aircraft.

I do have complaints but they are minor. The couple of bugs I ran into including the dim G1000 displays, the throttle quadrant and beta mode issues along with the lack of a quick start option are all that stuck out to me. A couple of those may prove yet to be user error. My suggestion to SWS? Add a simple Carenado-style EFB to the mix with some added features and give us the ability to do a quick start or at the very least ensure that the default Ctrl+E is fully functional. That would give this a near perfect rating.

If you want a high performing single engine turboprop bushplane with the ability to get in and out of a huge variety of airports, this might be the aircraft for you. A few bugs don’t diminish my opinion that this is one of the best simulated GA-types in MSFS right now.

The SWS Kodiak 100 is available from several stores including SimWorks Studio’s own web store and OrbxDirect. Also look for their soon to be released amphibious version.

Screenshots

3 Comments Add yours

  1. t5s_blanco says:

    Nice review – thorough as always! This plane has definitely become one of my favorites in MSFS. It has sophistication and is a good quality product, and also plays really well into the MSFS strengths.

    One tip – reverse is bound to TOGGLE THROTTLE REVERSE THRUST while the prop feather appears bound to TOGGLE PROPELLER REVERSE THRUST. It’s an issue or a feature depending on how you choose to look at it. I assume the SWS choice was tied to it being the throttle you are pulling down to engage reverse. It does seem counterintuitive in a sense as of course there isn’t a “thrust reverser” in the jet airplane sense. Regardless, if you bind a key on a throttle (I use a Winwing Orion in DCS/FS/XP – ring finger button on the backside personally) to the TOGGLE THROTTLE REVERSE THRUST, you will get what you seek. You CANNOT bind both to the same key and get function. I made that mistake and blew an otherwise wonderful landing at St Barts when my prop feathered at the same time I tried to throw it into reverse.

    Note that according to the developer, the Kodiak does not support beta in flight / beta descent. This was posted to their discord by a dev recently. Also note, the actual POH for the Kodiak advises against using reverse on grass/dirt/gravel runways as well due to the probability of FOD getting into the engine.

    Lastly, we are due a nice update to the wheeled Kodiak shortly. SWS posted a large update over the weekend I believe on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Thanks for the tip! I will have to check that out and adjust my control configuration.

      Looking forward to the updates to the Kodiak! This is an airplane I will continue to fly for quite some time!

      Like

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