Arriving on the scene earlier this year, Aerosoft’s Twin Otter was highly anticipated addition to the huge list of aircraft now available for Microsoft Flight Simulator. Issues with the airplane soon after its released kept me away but it has now gone through six significant version updates. Have all of these updates been enough to make this airplane measure up? Buckle in as I review the Twin Otter for Microsoft Flight Simulator!
A bit of aircraft history
Canadian aviation company, de Havilland Canada, became famous for designing and producing a number of iconic Canadian airplanes in the post war era. Most of these aircraft were designed for operation out of rugged airfields and were among the resurgence of bush-plane designs after World War II. The DHC-6 was a logical follow-on to the DHC-3 Otter retaining the STOL (short takeoff and landing) capabilities while bringing in two engine reliability and performance to a larger aircraft.
The type became renowned for its versatility and capability. Twin Otters have been sold and operate on nearly every continent in the world flying from such extremes as the hot and humid climes of the Solomon Island chain to the cold and harsh Antarctic. It has seen both civil and military service and became popular with skydiver teams.
Different versions have been produced with long noses, short noses, pontoons for water landing, conventional wheels or tundra tires, and skis. This is truly a go anywhere airplane with a long history backing it up.
Production of the Twin Otter initially ended in 1988 after a long history of being produced by de Havilland in its Toronto, Ontario, Canada aircraft factory. Production then resumed with the aircraft type being produced by Viking Air of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Twin Otter production was again suspended in 2020 during the pandemic. In 2022, an announcement was made that the type was being reviewed for production again by newly rejuvenated de Havilland Canada as the company builds a new production facility near Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It’s history may not yet be over!
Aerosoft have given us thirteen different models of the DHC-6 with the -100 and -300 forming the core experience with 3 blade, 4 blade, tundra wheels, floats, and ski versions all fitted into the mix. There’s a cargo and a passenger combination as well as a skydiver version. Practical differences between most of them are small and so learning on one will get you going with all of them.
These are the models:
- DHC6-100 Floats Passenger (Westcoast Air C-FGQH)
- DHC6-100 Wheels Cargo (Norway Airforce MXJ_67-062)
- DHC6-100_Wheels Passenger (Fuerza Aerea de chile 940)
- DHC6-300 Amphibian Passenger (Viking Air N153QS)
- DHC6-300 Floats Passenger (Trans Maldivian 8Q-TJM)
- DHC6-300 Floats Passenger Short Nose (Trans Maldivian 8Q-MAV)
- DHC6-300 Ski Cargo (British Antarctica Survey VP-FBB)
- DHC6-300 Tundra Wheels Cargo (Air Inuit C-GKCJ)
- DHC6-300 Tundra Wheels Passenger (Norlandair TF-NLC)
- DHC6-300 Wheels Cargo 3 Blade Prop (Aklak Air C-CDHC)
- DHC6-300 Wheels Cargo 4 Blade Prop (Aklak Air C-CDHC)
- DHC6-300 Wheels Skydiver (Perris Valley Skydiving N-708PV)
- DHC6-300 Wheels Passenger (Solomons Airline H4-FNT)
Aerosoft have also ensured that the DHC-6 is well equipped with a variety of avionics systems. Those include Garmin 430 and 530, Bendix/King KR-87 ADF Receiver, Bendix/King KT-76C Transponder, and Bendix/King KAP140 Autopilot.
The aircraft of course come with the now standard array of features like a highly detailed 3D exterior model, high resolution PBR textures, support for MSFS features such as visual icing and integrated checklist and a Wwise sound set.
Aerosoft have done a mostly good job with the visuals on Twin Otter. Exterior and interior textures and modelling is generally very good with some areas that feel a little last-gen. It doesn’t quite as sharp as some of the recent aircraft that I’ve reviewed but it is generally consistent and is a good looking airplane in most respects.
There are some rough spots on the exterior texture particularly on the joins between the struts and the fuselage. And a higher res texture might benefit the airplane too. Zoom out a bit and you don’t see them, however, Aerosoft’s competitors are doing a little better on this aspect.
The DHC-6 is expected to fly into some rougher areas and here I think Aerosoft have done their art design reasonably well. It looks clean and well maintained but it also doesn’t look spotless either. These are workhorses and they look the part.
Cockpit dials and gauges are clear and easy to read in most instances and the lighting is also good. Some of the switches do show off their lower poly looks but many others are good. The different versions including cargo, passenger, and skydiving options are all modelled well. The cargo version has twin doors, the passenger has fold out stairs with a nice animation, and the skydive version has its own configuration with a big exit point for skydivers.
Propeller visuals are sometimes lacking under some specific lighting conditions. A solid line sometimes appears right in the middle of the prop ruining the look. It’s not listed in the change log, but it may have been fixed in the most recent update as I’ve not seen the effect since updating.
Sound is an area where I was prepared to give poor marks the Twin Otter, however, Aerosoft has just updated the soundset on the aircraft only a week or two ago and has removed nearly all of my complaints about it.
Frankly, I was a bit surprised that this was a problem area. Aerosoft have done several DHC-6’s for different sims over the years and so I’m surprised that they hadn’t amassed a better collection of authentic sounds to support it. The initial sounds were less than spectacular both in the aural quality but also in how they were implemented.
There were issues with the engine sounds not quite feeling in sync with the throttle movement. Or problems with how sounds were blended into each other such as with the engine starters being quite loud with a harsh cut-off and abrupt changeover to the running sounds for the engines. Those running sounds were also very droning and artificial sounding. This has all been fixed and I have to say that the Twin Otter now really sounds the part.
Every switch, button, and control lever movement has satisfying sounds too. That includes moving sounds on things like the throttle. I love it! I was prepared to call out a bug where a hydraulic sound would play ever several seconds while I was holding the brakes on the aircraft but I have learned that this is actually good modeling instead. The hydraulic pump will cycle periodically while the brakes are held and that is represented here. Kudos for that!
There are a still couple of bugs with the new sounds unfortunately. If I move the prop pitch control to anywhere but 100%, it seems to play a repeating control movement sound. Both on the ground with the engines off and in the air. Almost there but not quite.
The DHC-6 Twin Otter is an interesting airplane to model as it’s a highly useful utility airplane that can fly into and out of some pretty remote places. That means that the handling is especially important. Unfortunately, the feeling of flight with this aircraft is a bit… uninspiring. That is an issue across a good chunk of the sim, however, recent releases of other aircraft have impressed me in a way that the DHC-6 has not.
Roll or turn the DHC-6 and it just kind of glides along. Go hard on the rudder and the nose just snaps back into place with very little yaw or impact to the pitch over the airplane. I’m being fussy but having just flown the Kodiak 100 quite a bit left me wanting more with the Kodiak. The DHC-6 feels like its missing some of the more subtle effects that it could have.
Encounter turbulence in some of the other aircraft I’ve reviewed recently and they seem to convincingly get knocked around. The Twin Otter just seems to wiggle. It feels like you’re flying a wet sponge. That’s the best way I can describe it.
Aerosoft would do well to revisit the DHC-6, make use of the new CFD modeling from Asobo, and really allow this aircraft to come alive. Its a type of airplane that just begs to have that kind of experience given its role.
Water handling is a bit funky in most sims and especially in MSFS, however, the DHC-6 is generally up to par there. Asymmetric thrust gives you a lot of opportunities to power the airplane around into the direction you want and I’ve had a bit of fun flying into some bays and inlets.
A point in Aerosoft’s corner is on performance. While some recent releases have been framerate heavy, the DHC-6 feels light on the frames by comparison. Good performance is mentioned as part of the feature-set and I can confirm that this is something that was delivered on. It’s very smooth and none of the avionics caused my system to have any issues even when I madly clicked the buttons. There is very good optimization here which I love to see.
There’s good systems modelling in most areas too. Most switches, buttons and dials work in the aircraft with very few labelled with that dreaded ‘Inop’ label. Follow the procedures for start-up, takeoff, and landing and you’ll feel like everything is working the way it should. My only critique here is with the autopilot which feels a bit like the autopilots that we were dealing with during the very early days of MSFS. It also sometimes behaves oddly such as rocking back and forth or having the aircraft kind of list to one side or the other.
There are no engine failures, wear modelling, or other advanced systems depth here. A pro version has been mentioned as a possible more expensive option in the future so those features may be forthcoming in some sort of upgrade.
I’m really surprised by this aircraft. It has a kind of split personality displaying some great features and visuals but then it falls short in a few areas. I would expect a veteran developer like Aerosoft would have had sorted out these things a long time ago but they may have struggled a bit more than expected with the newer platform.
It’s not all bad as the Twin Otter does check a lot of boxes. It has good systems depth, plenty of variants, some really nice liveries and if you can get past the lacklustre flight model it is quite a fun plane to take into some interesting airports. The recent sound update takes the airplane up a few more notches taking it from disappointment to reasonably impressive. A few nagging bugs continue to annoy there but the overall effect is good!
This is not a bad aircraft but it’s one that could be among the greats if it can continue to see updates. The recent sound update shortened my list of issues considerably but I think a flight model boost, especially with the new CFD modeling, would take this from just ok to exceptionally fun.
This is an aircraft on the cusp of greatness but not quite reaching it. The DHC-6 is an aircraft that I wanted to really fall in love with but it doesn’t call to me in the same way that some of the others that are currently in my hangar. It’s a pretty good but not quite excellent release with a definite split personality of exceptional detail and missing execution. It’s almost there and it delivers on most of its promise but there’s just something unsatisfying about it and for $35 USD I think I hoped for just a bit more. I can accept some of these bugs from some of the recent $15 USD releases but this is in a similar territory to some other releases that just did it a bit better.
If you love bush planes in all shapes and sizes, having a Twin Otter in your hangar is probably a must and Aerosoft’s DHC-6 is not a bad one. But it does face ever stiffening competition.