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  1. Aircraft Update : McDonnell Douglas MD-88 v1.1 by Rotate As long as I have been in X-Plane, I can think of no aircraft release as dividing as Rotate's McDonnell Douglas MD-88. You were either in one camp that absolutely adored it which was most of the users, but the 10% in the other camp absolutely hated it. Both reasoning's were by and large... reasonable, some however were totally out of the ball park and plain stupid. I think the real objective points was somewhere in the middle. I will state my position as in the "I really love" the 90% MD-88 aircraft camp, but I am not going to be compromised or blinded on the facts of where the aircraft was not totally developed, hence this worthy v1.1 update from Rotate. First as I have repeated in various areas is that the MD-88 is a first release by Rotate as a developer. Second is the fact the misguided notion that any aircraft in X-Plane is released done and completed. If you want that then I suggest hanging up your yoke and rudder pedals and find another hobby like golf. I don't know where for some reason lately users suddenly want completed perfect aircraft on release? Yes the $US60 price tag for the MD-88 may be a big part of the argument in that what you pay for you should receive and yes I agree you want your dollars worth of aircraft or scenery. But in simulation it does not work like that. I hate to break the bad news to you all but you are all actually being used as testers, just like Apple do with their iPhones, iWatchimacallits and iPaddys, and you have to pay to test as well. Developing great aircraft in X-Plane is a constant process, no aircraft is actually ever complete, just updated or fixed or patched, and with a lot of finger crossing that the damn thing will actually work on thousands of totally different computer and X-Plane configurations. Your point that the aircraft though has to be certainly authentic in its systems and flying dynamics and that is a valid claim. In that area the MD-88 was compromised, but not as compromised as it was totally wrong, again the truth is somewhere in the middle. If you look back through the reviews on X-PlaneReviews you won't find one for Rotate's aircraft. I did a release preview on the MD-88 but not a full comprehensive review. The DC-9/MD Series of aircraft are very interesting aircraft in both to operate and to fly. You are on that crux of time between the old dial and gauge era (sometimes know as steam-gauge) and the new modern glass cockpit that we fly with today. But the MD series goes up one or more levels in the setting up the balance of the aircraft and its amazing flying control systems in operation. This is a very manual and laborious aircraft to operate, and you have to work extremely hard to fly the aircraft really well. I think this was also part and parcel of why users couldn't quickly connect with it, personally I couldn't do an objective review because I needed to fly the aircraft really well to actually give you one. To give you a review and not understand the aircraft completely I thought was pointless, as you need an objective and full understanding of the aircraft. As a note was the aircraft in that position as well? well no, so a review would have been wrong and off the mark. No doubt a few of you would note that a review should have been done to note the current state of the aircraft. Yes I could done that, but as noted I didn't feel I understood the aircraft enough that early in the release period to give a balanced report. One thing that important is that a quick update was not done by Rotate. They were very good in receiving and even welcoming the comments of what was good with the aircraft where it was under-developed. So this v1.1 update has been and is a though and a well tested release. The many items and the list here in this update is very long and all comments have mostly been addressed or fixed. There is a video from Frooglesim with a current MD-80 captain taking a look around the aircraft and flying it. They as noted in the video created a list of issues that was forwarded and addressed by Rotate in this v1.1 update, but the ineptitude of the way sometimes they interacted with the X-Plane interface was certainly nonsensical in many areas and certainly not a good indication of how the aircraft is actually flown in X-Plane and was not a good indication of the current situation of the aircraft. But there was some very good informative information in there on the operation of the aircraft from a professional MD-80 Series user. A lot of negative comments were of the performance and pitch, drag and lift where way off. They have all been tuned in this update as has the airfoil data been changed. But I didn't find it that way off the mark, and the tuning is minor. Getting to understand the MD-88 is to understand its balance and Center of Gravity (CoG) limitations and finding the absolutely correct performance to fly the aircraft. Get this wrong and you were way off everywhere else. The devil was deep in the details and time to understand the details would find you flying a vastly different aircraft. Nothing made me more mad in the fact that users (I won't call then pilots) were sprouting the aircraft was unflyable and blah, blah, blah only hours after its release. I have spent eight weeks and well over forty flights in the MD-88 and only now getting down to the performance of flying the aircraft correctly and I am good at this, and I still think there is a bit more fine tuning from both Rotate and myself to come. Hence the users that love the aircraft is because they are willing to understand it and learn its unique capabilities. I am not saying it is perfect, as it is not, but it is far better than you imagine with the right perspective and flying abilities. MD-88 Cockpit Mostly tuning in the update is noted on fixing small errors. Areas like Altimeter light logic, Altitude warning corrected (more on this below), Baro knob adjustment, gear door open logic, TAS indicator values reset, APU and GPU logic (and lights) corrected, TAT and RAT readings are now correct, tuned N1, N2 and EGT readings, tuned engine fuel consumption, tuned CI ranges and Economy SPD/MACH calculations. Not major adjustments overall but fine tuning. Another area that brought out the venom was that a lot of the switches didn't work. Many have been addressed in the update with Galley power switch is now operative, source selection switches (overhead panel) and corresponding annunciators are now interactive, CSD Temp indicators now also simulated, Added GS reading to PFD (when IRS is in NAV and above 10000ft), Empty view now available and GPU toggle is now available through the plugin menu. A lot but I still think a few (okay a lot) more switches can be activated, but the aircraft is now nothing worse or better than say a FlyJSIm Q400, B727 or B737 in this panel area. There is now an aircraft management page that has been added to plugin menu. Basic operations that are on the FMC are now available via the menu and include the APU toggle, front, rear, cargo doors and lbs to kgs weights toggle. A newly added menu item is the front stairs. Now you have the choice to have only the front left door to open if standing at an airbridge gate or with the combo built in stairs as well. A great change that will be appreciated with now no stairs protruding from out of the lower parts of the airbridges. A note that the Frooglesim notes were taken seriously by Rotate was that the missing static discharges commented upon in the video on the tailplanes have been fixed, they are all present now, MD-88 FMC One of the annoying quirks has been addressed in the setting of your standing position Lat/Lon in the FMC. A lot of switching on the OVHD panel with the (one working) IRS switch was a real hit and miss affair of trying to get the GPS coordinates to appear on the FMS POS INIT page to lock in the co-ords. Now it works correctly and you can now spend far less time aligning up the IRS on the main panel PFD/Nav displays. Shame the other IRS switch is still a dud... Like most FMC's (Flight Management Computers) the one in the MD-88 has had a lot of attention in this first v1.1 update. FMC's are tricky buggers to get right and work correctly in an X-Plane environment. The points of entering in a flightplan are usually straight forward, the difficulties are created in the editing and fine tuning of the flightplan or changing it when it is actually completed. I found the FMC in the MD-88 when it was released in the top grade in usability. Very high quality compared to a lot of units out there with minimal input failures, but it still required a bit of fine tuning and you get that in this update. - FMS route sequencer improved and compatibility issue solved. - CDU crash in route edition has been fixed. - DIR TO routine is now operative. - CDU function keys delete functionality added ("pick and move up"). - CDU ERASE option added, and corrected EXECute's logic. - CDU RTE activation logic functionality added. - CDU Candidates pages ordered by nearest to current position. - CDU altitude XXX format (without FL) now supported for input. - FMS route altitude and speed restrictions now available in all waypoints. - T/D calculation improved and available with DISCs in the route. - FMS route now support airports as waypoints. - DEP and ARR pages rebuilt and selection logic improved. - Missing STARs and SIDs issue has been solved. - Vector and unsupported terminator legs in SID and STAR procedures are shown as DISCs. As noted I found the input and editing of the flightplan quite good, but now it is very good, and a great FMC to use. You can save your completed routes as well into a folder in the aircraft's root folder called "saved-routes". Only the centre route section is saved so you will still have to complete the flightplan with your route required SID and STARS. As noted the SID and STAR logic has had a big overhaul and it is excellent, but you will need as usual to do a little waypoint editing to get the perfect approach route. DIR TO (Direct to) function is a great addition and needed when you are editing in flight your route. It is listed under the ROUTE menu page and you can call up as many DIR-TO's in the sequenced right menu pages. The DIR-TO is also available for quick access on the flightplan LEGS page at the bottom of the FMC display. Only annoyance is still a missing PROG (Progress) page on the FMC, badly required it is noted as in production for the next update. Aircraft PERF (performance) data in very good and comprehensive. Covers Main Initial (INIT) page in weights, wind and temperatures. TAKEOFF-REF and APPROACH-REF. Special care is needed on checking the fuel and weights and measures are correct. These can be set via the X-Plane Weight and Fuel menus. But a lot of care with the CoG is required on light or very heavy loads. In other words, do your home-work and get it right. Takeoff Trim One of the most crucial aspects of flying the MD-88 is making sure you get the "Takeoff Trim" correct. There is a built in computer system to get this right, or set correctly as it is called "Setting the long Trim". By inputting the correct CoG and Flap selection the computer will give you a number on the "long Trim" window on the forward pedestal. You set the trim via the huge white grab handle which you pull to adjust the negative or positive stabilizer position. You can also adjust the small pitch value by using the "ALT Long" Trim handles on the lower centre section of the pedestal. Rotate in the v1.1 update provides an Excel trim conversion sheet (I have attached a image of the sheet below) to allow you to find the correct CoG trim of the current fuel, cargo and aircraft weight. Payload weight is connected to the CoG, which is obvious really in the way the aircraft is loaded will affect the balance of the machine. It is critical you get this right, and get it wrong it will mean a poor takeoff and an annoying "stabilizer" alert in your face. And it is not easy to get right. But that is one of the quirks and challenges in flying this MD-88 correctly and well. Flying the MD-88 APU and the aircraft start up process sounds are very good. In the DC-9/MD series you are a long way forward of the engine noise. But from the cabin or external areas those two 93.4kN (21,000lb) JT8D-219s are louder and sound wonderful. Overall the noises are really good. All lighting has been adjusted from those horrible blobs to almost perfect in v1.1. Taxi, beacon, wing lighting is now excellent and so are those drop down wingtip landing lights. If you watch a lot of MD Series cockpit videos on YouTube or whatever. You will know the aircraft is quite a handful on takeoff and landing (don't get me started on bad crosswind landings) and so it is here. This is one aircraft set up the A/P and AutoThrottle ready before flight. If you have correctly set up the A/P and AutoThrottle the realistic FMA (Flight Mode Annunciator) will be set up correctly with from left to right T: AUTOTHROTTLE MODE ANNUNCIATION. A: ARMED MODE ANNUNCIATION. R: ROLL MODE ANNUNCIATION. P: PITCH MODE ANNUNCIATION. In my case Speed 250knts SPD250, ALT 4500 (speed transition altitude), NAV TRK Armed (FMC) and VERT/SPD or V/S is set at 1800fpm In the update TO (TakeOff-Go Around) button now selects the necessary modes automatically when activated, and the FMS OVRD behaviour has been fixed with the SPD mode now only allowed. The takeoff alarm (there is a lot of alarms on the MD-88!) has been made less sensitive as is the flap handle positions that are now easier to use. You will do a lot of yoke and rudder movement to track the aircraft cleanly and rotate at the set 160 knt Vr (15 flap) on the PFD. These are now newly tuned up Vspeeds calculations and considered Temp/Alt corrections. You will still get that distracting "stabilizer adjustment" alert but that is normal and that has even been thankfully toned down a little, more annoying for me is that it sounds exactly like my door bell buzzer? It sounds like some idiot pressing my bell every moment or so and I keep getting up to check which one (door or aircraft) it actually is? So did you get that "stabilizer" alert on takeoff, not the "stabilizer adjustment" buzzer but the incorrect TO trim warning... not easy is it. It is very manual high work load aircraft to fly, but that is good thing in the higher satisfaction rating. In a strange contradiction, the MD-88 is also an olde school style aircraft to fly... you just have to fly it very well. There is great route detailing on the NAV (Navigation Display) in N-AID (Navaids), APRT (Airport), DATA (Data) and WPT (Waypoint) selected on the left wall panel. The data selection will give you great information on to all the waypoints shown (tight in this small screen) including distance and time to arrival. Fine adjustments have been made inv1.1 to the glareshield A/P and FGCP Flight Guidance Control Panel. This includes when selecting ALT HLD from VNAV mode the system will now enter SPD/MACH select A/T (AutoThrust) mode automatically, VNAV is only available if A/T and HNAV are engaged and SPD readout now shows FMS SPD while VNAV is in operation. If you have an add-on throttle system like I do (Saitek x52PRO the black version), then now the throttle handles are over-ridden when A/T is engaged, to avoid hardware controller glitches. In other words the throttle position now works as it should in the real aircraft. Flying m75 at cruise speed at an altitude of 31,000ft you cannot but help to love your surroundings as you power your way through the air. You can feel why the DC-9/MD Series was the perfect medium range regional airliner as it is supreme in that point to point role. If you have set up the FMC data correctly the ToD (Top of Descent) is shown on the NAV display, and it is absolutely correct to the point I calculated my own descent point (-2000fpm). On the FMC you get ECON (Economy) CLB (Climb), CRZ (Cruise) and DES (Descend) path information to give you the in this case the best DES descent speed, Vertical Speed, and target points for the best economy descent profile. The G/S (Glideslope) warning (alarm) has been adjusted not to activate above 1000ft (AGL), so that orange alarm should not now go off, but it still does in my earlier version. Like on takeoff in the MD-88, it is extremely important to get the CoG calculated correctly and the trim set to land on the landing weight. Get it wrong and you will get a very light nose and find it very hard to keep the nosewheel on contact with the hard stuff. Anyone who has studied the MD Series aircraft on live cockpit videos will note how very physical this aircraft is, you have to work really hard to keep this aircraft running smoothly on that takeoff or final run in to the runway phases but that also the major attraction of flying the "Mad Dog", it is a handful of an aircraft, but a rewarding handful of fun. Yoke full forward is always a certainty on takeoff or when landed to control that light nose. I certainly also recommend an add-on throttle to get the full experience, this is one aircraft that you just can't land well with the AutoThrottle (A/T) connected (For one it does not disconnect on landing!). Another MD Series quirk that is important and to avoid an annoying alarm is the setting of the "Altitude" when collecting the ILS beam. If you don't reset the ALT the alarm will go off as to note you are under the set altitude on the A/P panel. So the set procedure is to reset the Altitude to the Go-Around altitude (here 3000ft) and that will cancel out the alarm, watch the videos to see the correct time to do this action on the real flightdeck and burn it into your brain to avoid the warning noise. Getting the lowest possible landing speed is also an important point, here I am at around 140knts as noted by the FMC set landing bugs. Flap performance is very good, but slightly too low a speed and the stall point is sharp, and you will easily not recover from this height. A crosswind can make the MD-88 a handful on a manual throttle and yoke and pedal approach, the sweat will form, but get it right and a yelp of satisfaction will be your reward. Sounds are again very good, full reverse and the rumbling give you good and that I am hard down and losing speed feeling is great. Transition to taxi speed is good. Cornering manoeuvres sometimes need a quick push and then back off the power to keep the taxi speed constant, and you have to remember how far forward you are of the main bogies when turning and aligning up with the gate line. Shutdown and you start to prepare for the next sector and it starts all over again. String many sectors together and you will put in a pretty hard day's flying, but you will be one very contented soul at the end of it. Summary This v1.1 is a huge update and a very though one as well. Yes there are still things to be addressed as there is on any aircraft of this size and nature, but this release pushes the barrow a lot further down the road. For the price there are still too many blank buttons, but you now have the basics of what you need. The PROG page on the FMC is one I miss and use a lot when flying so I hope it comes in the next update. Other external features would be nice, but if one aircraft requires a dedicated "weights and Fuel" menu then the MD-88 is it. This setting up the aircraft is crucial to flying it well and you need a better visual guidance feature to achieve that correctly, that feature would be certainly the top of my most desired list. If you do a point to point flight in the MD-88 and don't get any alarms except the "stabilizer adjustment" alert then you can progress to masterclass or add your wings on to your uniform. A lot of route homework is needed to get the very best performance out of the machine and you work hard in the cockpit to get your results, even after months after the release this is still one of the most challenging aircraft I have had to process in X-Plane, but hugely rewarding and addictive as well. Externally there has never been any questions about the sheer quality of those huge texture liveries. The aircraft is excellent in its design and the overwhelming quality of the sheer amount of detail on the interior and exterior designs. The biggest surprise that I still can't believe is that how light the aircraft is with all these extremely heavy textures, certainly not light, light but more than usable with even my computer's modest performance. Overall with the wide arc of positive and negative comments on this aircraft there is no doubt it has shifted far more now to the positive point position than the negative with this update. My point is that if you struggle to get performance out of Rotate's MD-88 then you need to study the details and understand that the real MD Series aircraft was not an easy aircraft to fly really well either, but that flying challenge was why the aircraft was so well loved by pilots and why the aircraft is still working well past its replacement date in the real world operations.... It is a true icon of a machine by its enormous well earned reputation. I will not hide the fact I am a huge fan of this aircraft, of the MD Series in general. This aircraft is one of the best additions to X-Plane that could have happened in the last few years, I note it is not perfect, but then nothing is. Overall nothing else will give you such a huge sense of satisfaction when you perform well in delivering the skills required to understand it and fly it to its extreme performance preferences, and it is for that experience is why we love simulation for what it delivers to our desktops, an excellent immersion of flying one of the greatest aviation icons of all time. Yes! the McDonnell Douglas MD-88 by Rotate is NOW available from the new X-Plane.Org Store here : McDonnell Douglas MD-88 Price is US$59.95 If you already have purchased the McDonnell Douglas MD-88 by Rotate, then go to your X-Plane.OrgStore account and download the free v1.1 update. Developer Rotate - Rotate.Com Developer Support - MD80 - X-Plane.Org Note: included in the update review is JARDesign's excellent TugMaster Deluxe and Ground Handling Deluxe plugins, these add-ons are not included with Rotate's MD-88 aircraft package. _____________________________________________________________________________________ Features: -> Precise flight model and fine tuned engine performance -> Developed with the advice and counseling from MD-80 licensed pilots -> Works great on all three platforms: Windows, Mac and Linux Custom Flight Management System (FMS) and Automatic Flight Route, departures and arrivals procedures (SIDs and STARs) Save and load route to/from text file Performance management, cost index and optimal altitude and speed calculation Custom VNAV. Climb, cruise and descend management with altitude and speed restrictions Takeoff and approach speed management Custom Navigation Display Improved autopilot with specific horizontal and vertical modes All EPR performance modes Flight Mode Annunciator Aerosoft NavDataPro (2014) included (for updated database third party subscription is needed) Detailed simulation of systems Power plant Electrical Pneumatic and pressurization Slat/flap controls with dial-a-flap feature Takeoff trim computer Customized alert and failures Hyper-realistic visuals Highly detailed 3D cockpit, passenger cabin and exterior model Normal and specular maps for enhanced detail Thorough HD day and night textures Accurate animations, including wing flex animation All external and internal lights\ Liveries: A set of ten ultra-high resolution liveries, including a paintkit Custom sounds 3D sound engine with stereo and doppler effects High quality multi-layered engine sounds Cockpit ambient and custom alerts _____________________________________________________________________________________ Requirements 64 bit operating system Windows Vista/7/8/10, OSX 10.8 and up, Linux Ubuntu 14.04 (or compatible) and up X-Plane 10.31+ (any edition) running in 64bit mode Processor: Multi-core Processor 3.3GHz 8 GB RAM -Hard Disk: 3.3 GB Graphics: 2GB VRAM (3 GB VRAM or more for best performance) Current version: 1.1 (last updated February 27, 2016) File Download is huge 960.40mb CoG Table jepg: CoG _____________________________________________________________________________________ Full v1.1 Changelog Fixed and New in Rotate MD-80v1.1 - Beacons are now red, and ligh sizes adjusted to X Plane 10.42. - FMS route sequencer improved and compatibility issue solved. - CDU crash in route edition has been fixed. - DIR TO routine is now operative. - CDU function keys delete functionality added ("pick and move up"). - CDU ERASE option added, and corrected EXECute's logic. - CDU RTE activation logic functionality added. - CDU Candidates pages ordered by nearest to current position. - Transition altitude and transition speed restriction logic fixed. - Transition altitude and cruise altitude selectable from 1000 to 37000. - CDU altitude XXX format (without FL) now supported for input. - FMS route altitude and speed restrictions now available in all waypoints. - T/D calculation improved and available with DISCs in the route. - FMS route now support airports as waypoints. - DEP and ARR pages rebuilt and selection logic improved. - Missing STARs and SIDs issue has been solved. - Vector and unsupported terminator legs in SID and STAR procedures are shown as DISCs. - Baro knob manipulator more sensitive. - Altimeter light logic corrected. - APU and GPU lights logic corrected. - TO button now selects the necessary modes automatically. - Selecting ALT HLD from VNAV mode will enter SPD/MACH sel AT mode automatically. - VNAV is only available if A/T and HNAV are engaged. - SPD readout shows FMS SPD while in VNAV operation. - Corrected FMS OVRD behaviour. Only SPD mode is allowed. - Capturing ILS enters SPD SEL mode automatically. - VSPEED mode is automatically selected when wheel is adjusted. - Gear Door Open annunciator's logic corrected. - Throttle handles are overriden when A/T is engaged, to avoid harware controller glitches. - TAS indicator minimum value set. - Nose light is now off when gear is retracted. - TAT and RAT now show the correct readings. - Added GS reading to PFD (when IRS is in NAV and abouve 10000ft). - Altitude's warning logic corrected. - Altitude's FMA annunciator reading correctly. - Tuned up Vspeeds calculation considering Temp/Alt corrections. - Tuned up CI ranges and Economy SPD/MACH calculation. - Adjusted drag. - Customized airfoil data. - Tuned up pitch/lift/speed for CLB CRZ DES. - Corrected speed/attitude in final approach. - Below G/S annunciator logic corrected. - APU start up and EGT logic corrected. - Tuned up engine's N1, N2 and EGT readings. - Tuned up engine's fuel consumption. - CSD Temp indicators now simulated. - Changes in OAP annunciators related to start up and fuel. - Empty view now available. - Takeoff flap alarm is now less sensitive. - Aircraft management page added to plugin menu. - Adjusted flap handle positions. - Source selection switches (overhead panel) and corresponding annunciators now interactive. - Galley power switch now operative. - GPU toggle is now available through the plugin menu. NOTE: The command "Rotate/md80/electrical/GPU_power_request_toggle" will not work when assigned to keys or buttons. The access to this and other internal commands will be subject to a general solution in future updates. _____________________________________________________________________________________ Update Review by Stephen Dutton 28th February 2016 Copyright©2016: X-PlaneReviews