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Aircraft Update Review : McDonnell Douglas MD-11 v1.08 by Rotate


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Rotate-MD-11 XP12 v108 Header.jpg


Aircraft Update Review : McDonnell Douglas MD-11 v1.08 by Rotate


Up at dawn, time to load the freight...  we are at Leipzig/Halle Airport EDDP, for a routine flight to the UPS Facility at Philadelphia, US, KPHL.


God it's a "Beast" of an aircraft is the McDonnell Douglas MD-11, but Airhaulers love the "Diva". Those ghost pilots that fly at night, unseen, unknown, but moving tons cargo around the world for your livelihoods or self-indulgence.


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You start the centre positioned No.2 Engine first to provide power and air-conditioning and other AUX systems, then pushback on time (note the BetterPushback issues have now already been fixed). Then once out of the bay, you can start the other two General Electric CF6-80C2D1F high-bypass turbofan engines, rated at 52,200–61,960 lbf each.


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I'm not going to shy away from the reality. To get the DC-11 ready for flight, there is a lot of filling in of data and setting up of the route. There are a few helpers in the menu. But overall the developers approach is to make this aircraft as realistic and authentic as possible, that is good obviously, but a bit daunting if you are not familiar with these machines and their complex Honeywell Pegasus MCDUs. The instrument panel and DU (Display Units) have very different layouts as well, their operation are also different from most other flightdecks. But these aspects are also the attraction to the aircraft, you are flying and mastering something entirely different, that is also the seduction of the MD-11.


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The focus with the release of X-Plane 12 in it's beta phase...  a Version 1.05 beta (September 26th 2022) allowed the Rotate MD-11 aircraft to function in the new Simulator version. Then two updates followed with v1.05 (October) and v1.06 (December) and both were focused on X-Plane 12. The final DC-11 (official) release for X-Plane 12 was the v1.07 update in March 2023.


For a comprehensive look at the aircraft, here is the X-PlaneReviews review of the XP11 release; Aircraft Review : McDonnell Douglas MD-11 by Rotate


If you are a "hauler" in these "Heavy, Heavy" aircraft, say a B744F, B748F and the MD-11F. The critical phase is just after you leave the runway. You need to climb (obviously), but with a really heavy aircraft, brimmed with Cargo and Fuel, then you need to coax the machine into the air, then have the skill to keep it up there. You pitch is critical, too low and you lose height, too high and you stall, badly and literally fall out of the sky. Between the two barrier zones to a perfect climb-out, and you usually do it very carefully and slowly... the MD-11 is totally like this.


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Once settled in at 12,000ft you, then have more flexibility on setting speed (usually for me around 295 knts) and an altitude climb-rate (1800 fpm), down to 1,000 fpm from 26,000 ft up. You would never go to full cruise altitude either, usually say 32,000 ft for the first 500 nm to burn off weight in fuel, then step up 2,000 ft at a time to your cruise altitude, here 36,000 ft, you step the speed as well, from m.76, to the cruise speed of m.82. I learnt these tricks/skills well on an underpowered Boeing 747-200 F with 46,300–54,750 lbf of thrust, compared to the 66,500 lbf thrust of the latest GEnx-2B67 on the B748F and the 52,200–61,960 lbf available here.


Before we get into the update... In doing reviews you are also evaluating the current situation of the Simulator as well (X-Plane12.07r1), and how it interacts with your flying. There has been a lot of development around the weather this year in X-Plane 12 by Laminar Research, some changes were really bad very early in the year, but with lots of improvements of reading GRIB forecasts which are based on the National Weather Service (NOAA) since v12.06.


But real world simulations are getting very good in X-Plane...  Here I was approaching the European Coast and the weather was getting quite nasty. Navigraph have this year added a weather component to there excellent "Charts" application, and you can see the weather topographic mappings, look outside of the MD-11 and I have the same precipitation areas around me... I needed to climb, but instead stayed at FL320 until I saw a gap (shown on the topographic) to finally climb from below the weather, to be on the top (FL360)...  I was impressed with not only the exact weather mirrored on the Application, to the weather situation around me, and to take advantage of that...  it also shows how X-Plane in this area is also getting very close to the real weather situations we crave, admittedly there is still more development needed for upper level Cirrus clouds and shading, but the improvements are there to not only see, but to feel as well.


  Rotate-MD-11 - Navigraph.jpgRotate-MD-11 - Navigraph 1.jpgRotate-MD-11 - Navigraph 2.jpgRotate-MD-11 - Navigraph 3.jpgRotate-MD-11 - Navigraph 4.jpg


Update v1.08

But to the business at hand, the latest v1.08 update. There is again a massive list of fixed and improved areas on the XP12 MD-11 in this update, but first three new additions.


Added into the MD-11 cockpit are two EFB (Electronic Flight Bags) or tablets, one positioned each side of the pilots. 


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You can adjust the angle of the EFBs to your personal preference, but you can't hide them.


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Power switch is lower left corner.


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There are eleven tabs to select from. They are an amalgamation of the MD-11 Menu, and AviTab (Plugin Required). The list is HOME, W&B, GndOps, Fails, Man, Chart, Maps, Apts, Rtes, Data and Notes.


All HOME (Options), W&B (Weight & Balance), GndOps (Ground Operations) and Fails (Failures) are all direct copies of the same Menu items found in the Plugins/Rotate MD-11/Aircraft Menu.


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Basically they have been repositioned there in the tablets for convenience. The other seven tabs are the various AviTab tools set differently.


MAN - Manuals

This MAN option allows you to navigate folders to find Manuals or Tutorials within the Computer's file system, here set in Windows, and you can display pdfs on the screen. Its clever, handy but pretty basic as well.


Rotate-MD-11 - v108 EFB Man 3.jpgRotate-MD-11 - v108 EFB Man 2.jpg


Chart - AviTab

You can insert a navigation chart or other document in the AviTab "charts" folder (X-Plane 12/Resources/plugins/AviTab/charts) and have it appear in this tab...   It will also show pdf files, ideal for loading in SimBrief "Briefings".  Basically this option would be used if you didn't have a Navigraph or another chart account.


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Is the standard AviTab Maps function.


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Apts - Airports

Airports is the standard AviTab function to get airport information, and if you have a Navigraph account and access to their charts


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Rtes - Routes

This is the "Route Wizard", A tool to compute a route for you to enter into the aircraft's FMC. First you add in your Departure Airport, then your Arrival Airport and it creates a route for you.


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You use the "Data" tab to authorise accounts, like for Navigraph and ChartFox, both charts can be viewed in the "Apts" (Airports) tab when selected.


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This tab uses the AviTab "Notes" Function...  Honestly I can't get it to work, there are no manual notes and the Rotate Developer doesn't know either...  but the idea is to write down notes, but how do you save them? it is supposed to be for VR (Virtual Reality) users.


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Basically most users are very familiar with AviTab functions and tools, and having it built in well in here is obviously a bonus to the pilot.


The last two additions to the v1.08 update, are both for those long distance pilots that move away from the Simulation. There are two options now to pause the Simulator...  the first is to pause the Simulation on a "Master" warning alert, the second is again to pause the Simulation before T/D or Top of Descent.


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The list is split between "Improved" Areas and general fixes. In the improved focus there has been a lot of attention on the ATS (AutoThrottle) in the Servos behavior, in the AFS (AutoFlight) there is improved altitude capture, speed on pitch guidance and better system stability and accuracy. There is also better lateral guidance for NAV/VOR/LOC modes and improved LAND sequence guidance.


For engines there is better N1 trim and thrust precision and and engine drag near idle. The VNAV descent prediction has also had attention, drag prediction for non-clean configurations, and finally there are Improved navigation lights textures.


Rotate-MD-11 - v108 EFB Nav 1.jpgRotate-MD-11 - v108 EFB Nav 2.jpg


I do really like the nice strobe effect, not one strobe but two in sequence.


Rotate is always very serious about bugs, finding those nasties in there and improving the Simulation. The list here is very long...  35 fixes that covers a lot of areas, we can't cover every item here, that would drive you nuts, so we will take only the important items.


There was a radio bug in the VHF2 Channel, in that it could receive but not transmit, it's been fixed. Flight Mode Annunciations (FMA) has had attention as well, in Altitude mode blinking during capture, and PROF TO (Profile) reading during climb. There was some negative values in the altimeter tapes that have been corrected, a bug in the PERF page predictions. Finally a rounding error in some lat/lon readings (mostly Oceanic coords).


 There was a discrepancy between active and shown flight plans... fixed. And a problem with direct bearing to AT/B restriction during descent calculation. Also speed used for flight path prediction below speed transition altitude was not working properly. speed tape logic has been refined, and a bug in Vspeeds boxes color codes has also been rectified.


On hardware, there was a bug in the start lever sounds, and intermittent repose of TCA hardware handles, toe-brakes didn't work either without a joystick plugged in. The wingflex has also been refined a little better, and for XP11, the wingtip glass (floating) has also been fixed.


My thoughts with the UPS flight are actually few, but worth noting. The LWR Cargo TEMP LO warning (yellow) is still (very) persistent, even though Rotate acknowledged the bug very early in the release phase. My other thoughts are with a lot of current classes of complex aircraft, as there is no SAVE feature for the aircraft. Using the default "Situation" save creates a not very realistic return to the cockpit, and a major reset to make the aircraft flyable again. So you are restricted to do a flight from block to block in one go to get a smooth Simulation. Biggest offender is the non-working ATS (AutoThrottle), that refuses to reset, and the gymnastics when you restart the Simulation... it can be reset to fly correctly, but you will need patience and skill to do so. My point is this is very long-haul flying, and sometimes for ten hours in the left seat, and sometimes you have to break up the simulation, of which you can't do here, it also hates the replay and the X8-X16 speed changes with the complexity... And I loath the ghost throttle simulation, there should be an option to hide the distracting animation.


Rotate-MD-11 - v108 Mid.jpg


The rear rest cabin still has extremely low-res textures and a non-working toilet, and the cargo loading feature, while well done, is still restricted to 4 containers that disappear when loaded, you need better here if you are a serious cargo hauler.


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MD-11 is a seriously nice machine in the air, one of the best simulations in X-Plane 12. Internally it is a very nice environment, again with the long hours you have to have change from the left seat options, like a snooze in the third rear seat, or a break in the rear...


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Great to watch is the excellent fuel management system on the MD-11. It has a fully automatic aircraft balance system, like Concorde it pumps fuel forward after takeoff to keep the CG (Centre of Gravity) within limits, shown upper left on the Fuel page display. 


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In flight the pumps are always switching on or off, you don't just have a Tail Tank, but an Auxiliary tank as well. All fuel tanks are simulated here, including the separate outboard and inboard wing compartments, 18 fuel pumps, 16 valves, 5 manifolds and the 4 fuel feed valves...  The full system is modeled for as a physical model for fuel flow and thermal behavior. There are also Automatic and manual modes.


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Quantity, pressure and temperature for each of the fuel tanks are computed separately. All this data is processed in the custom Fuel System Controller, where logic for most of the sub-systems have been written to simulate most of the system’s functions, including fuel scheduling, cross-feed, CG management, ballast fuel management, anti-ice re-circulation, tip transfer, fuel dump, and abnormal operation. Manual mode, failures and electrical dependencies are also simulated. It's altogether very authentic and realistic.


Rotate-MD-11 - v108 Mid 11.jpg


Interesting on the MD-11, is that you can only set your departure Takeoff details, but not the Arrival/Approach settings. This is done as you reach your TOD (Top of Descent) phase by pressing the TO/APPR button. Then you set your Flap position and speeds. Secondary is setting your Arrival Radio Approach Frequency, here at Philadelphia, KPHL, Rwy 27L... the Freq is 109.30 IGLC, but you have to wait until it is available from the list to insert. So you insert the ILS Freq 109.30, then you are taken to selection page to select the correct frequency, here LK6 as it has just shown up on the list, selecting the correct frequency will then insert it into the ILS/CRS box, adding in the Course º degree and the ILS name "IGLC. This is a change in selecting from the list, instead of just earlier inserting the ILS Freq late into the the flight.


Rotate-MD-11 - v108 Radio 1.jpgRotate-MD-11 - v108 Radio 2.jpgRotate-MD-11 - v108 Radio 3.jpgRotate-MD-11 - v108 Radio 4.jpg


I'm now over Pennsylvania, tracking into JIIMS4 STAR, but I had to make an adjustment to the flightplan with an extra way point VC177 to make a cleaner rounded turn to finals on Rwy 27L.


Rotate-MD-11 - v108 KPHL 1.jpgRotate-MD-11 - v108 KPHL 2.jpg


Going into the final turn it's time to drop the gear! "Chunk, Clunk,Clunk" and its down and we are ready for landing.


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You press the upper large centre APPR/LAND button centre FGCP to ARM the approach phase (as noted this also arms only the LOC if you selected that option)


If you have activated the ILS Frequency correctly it will show lower left in the PFD with the set Flap degree, you can also now set the APPR screen in the ECP, for better approaches. Notable is the auto selection of "Single" or "Dual" landing (Land) selections (green banner top right PFD) , it will flash the selection it will use then LOC it in.


I'm sitting at 175 knts, but in reality the MD-11 is certainly a gut sort of aircraft in this phase like I found in the release review, the throttle response is very slow on resetting the speed, so you have to be ahead of the aircraft, sometimes by a long way, to get the right speed in the approach phase, same with the ILS landing phase in resetting the approach speed to the descent angle.


Rotate-MD-11 - v108 KPHL 10.jpgRotate-MD-11 - v108 KPHL 8.jpgRotate-MD-11 - v108 KPHL 9.jpg


Yes your always nervous, it's a tricky approach to get right, with a very heavy and fast aircraft rushing towards the ground. MD-11 as we were told, had the fastest VAPP of any civilian airliner. At MGLW (Maximum Gross Landing Weight), it was usually known to be landing at around 168kts.... and you are aware of that aspect and all that weight in the back.


In landing again the MD-11 is very much like the Airbus, as there are landing modes, certainly the callouts are very good, with also "LAND and FLARE on the PFD...  I was however seriously again very impressed on how I could just pitch the nose up nicely in the flare to touch the main gear down first.


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I'm on the runway, so you activate everything you can, in reversers, airbrakes and stand on the toe-brakes to stop the momentum of a landing weight of 204,331 kg, thankfully it all works...


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...  it's a real substantial beast of an aircraft, so mastering it with skill and ambition is certainly a challenge, but also the MD-11 gives back huge rewards for all the effort...


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If we are looking at substantial Simulations then the Rotate MD-11 is certainly it, not for the absolute novice, but certainly for the brigade of users that have Long-Haul experience and want a "Heavy, heavy" aircraft to master.


Rotate-MD-11 - v108 KPHL 19.jpg



The release of X-Plane 12 in it's beta phase...  a Version 1.05 beta (September 26th 2022) allowed the Rotate MD-11 aircraft to function in the new Simulator version. Then two updates followed with v1.05 (October) and v1.06 (December) and both were focused on X-Plane 12. The final DC-11 (official) release for X-Plane 12 was the v1.07 update in March 2023.


This is the v1.08, with three new features and along with another long bug and fix update. Biggest addition is two EFB (Electronic Flight Bags) or tablets for each pilot. They have four tabs that mirror the Rotate MD11 Menu in... HOME, W&B (Weight & Balance), GndOps, Fails (Failures), the rest of the; Man, Chart, Maps, Apts, Rtes, Data and Notes tabs are the same tools as in the AviTab plugin (required). Other additions are to pause the Simulation on a "Master" warning alert, and the second is again to pause the Simulation before T/D or Top of Descent.


There are thirteen improvements to systems, and 35 fixes that covers again systems and hardware intergration, it is a very extensive upgrade here in the fix department. But there are still a few areas that need attention, a warning light for the cargo hold is beyond annoying, the ghost throttle that requires a hide option is another annoyance. But most of all the MD11 needs a SAVE option as it is difficult (not impossible) to restart mid-flight, or if you have a CTD, it is simply too complex to rebuild the systems to work effectively from the standard X-Plane Situation save.


I will again state if you are going to think if purchasing the aircraft,  is it just too far in it's complexity? I'm not going to waver from the fact that this is noted as a "Study" aircraft, yes you need a skills and heavy aircraft skills to fly it. But once you understand the systems and preferences, it is simply a brilliant aircraft to fly, and a very good simulation, if one of the best currently in X-Plane 12 (also available for XP11).


Being a Long Hauler, I obviously really love this aircraft, and with any chance or free time it is one of my prime simulations to fly. The images in this review highlight the the brilliant look and feel the aircraft delivers in X-Plane 12, a top simulation, and a prime simulation for those serious Cargo Jockeys out there.



X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg


Yes! the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 v1.08 by Rotate is currently available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

Rotate MD-11

Price is US$83.95


The feature list is HUGE, so if you want to read it, then open the text file.

Feature List.txt 5.83 kB · 147 downloads

X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11
Windows 8 or  Mac OSX 10.12 or newer (using Rosetta for ARM Processors) , Linux Ubuntu 64b 18.04 or newer
4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM recommended
Current version: 1.08 (November 1st 2023)

You can download this updated v3.0 Updater free here; SkunkCrafts Updater Standalone client


AviTab Plugin is now required.



Subscription only on a monthly or yearly basis or EUR 9.05 / mo or EUR 81.64 / year


Designed by Rotate
Support Forum at X-Plane.org or http://support.rotatesim.com/


Full v1.08 changelog is here;


Changelog v1.08.txt



Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton

7th November 2023

Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews


Review System Specifications: 

Windows  - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD

Software:   - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane Version 12.07r1 (This is a release review).

Plugins: JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 : Skunkcrafts Updater


Scenery or Aircraft

- EDDP - Leipzig/Halle International Airport by JustSim/Digital Design (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$20.00

- KPHL - Philadelphia International Airport by StarSim (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$24.00 - Full review available here: Scenery Review : KPHL - Philadelphia International Airport by StarSim


(Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved


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