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Aircraft Update : McDonnell Douglas MD-88 Pro v1.30 by Rotate


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 Aircraft Update : McDonnell Douglas MD-88 Pro v1.30 by Rotate   


The McDonnell Douglas MD-88 has been upgraded to v1.30 and now comes with the added Pro moniker. The better news is that this version by Rotate is also compatible or "flyable" in X-Plane11. It is to be noted that the update v1.30 is for X-Plane 10.51, but changes have been accommodated so it will fly in the current X-Plane11 beta and a final X-Plane11 version of this aircraft will be released when X-Plane11 goes final.


There are a few quirks in flying the MD-88 in X-Plane11 of which are to be expected, but nothing that gets in the way of flying this excellent airliner in the new version of the X-Plane simulator.


The v1.30 update is also very significant because it covers a lot of areas that brings the aircraft up to the almost a more complete systems coverage, and that is where this release is basically aimed in the focus on systems and the switchgear that are now active.


The changelog for v1.30 is quite extensive (bottom), and visually there isn't much difference as everything is mostly in the aircraft's operations than new features. However that doesn't mean this upgrade doesn't make a big difference to the aircraft because it does.


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Although this v1.30 update is aimed at X-Plane 10.51, this overview of the update is in X-Plane11(beta15) as if any aircraft that was made for the new features of X-Plane11 it is this MD-88, it always looked sensational before, but now it looks and feels like it is from another world again in X-Plane11.


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The added PBR (Physically Based Rendering) shininess and harder shadows gives the aircraft a very different definition.


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The aircraft being from another era looks sublime in the right light as many areas give off that great metallic feel that is created by PBR in metalness. Metal and shininess was one of the real challenges before PBR, but not now and you can see the real advances in X-Plane11 in this area on the MD-88. The leading edge is just beautiful, as are the paneled wings.


Rotate-MD-80_v1.30 detail 5.jpgRotate-MD-80_v1.30 detail 6.jpg



The engines which are also upgraded here in v1.30 to JT8D-219's (21,000 lbf) look very authentic and note the worn metal detailing with the thrust reverser doors in the open position.


v1.30 Focus

The Rotate MD-88 has had a lot of comments since it's debut in that externally it is extremely very good with those huge dense textures, but very light on systems and switchgear. Over the last year and through the recent updates there has been a lot of attention to these minute items but in v1.30 this area has been the update's main focus.


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So now almost every switch and dial is active, everything now has a job to do. That also means a lot of time setting up the aircraft from cold and you will need your checklists to get it all done. To help you out the sounds have been upgraded as well to reflect the use of these smaller items. But to note that the sounds are at this point only relevant to the X-Plane10 version and not the X-Plane11 version as X-Plane11 has a completely new FMOD-based sound system. This system has been noted as complete in beta15, but developers have not yet being given access as the tools are not yet compete, but the intergation of the FMOD-based sound will be certainly extensive and the new sounds will certainly come very quickly to this v1.30 in a very short time.


The menu system in X-Plane11 makes it easier to activate the GPU and the doors, than the older (but still there) way of on the FMS. This feature is handy for starting up the APU without ant power to the aircraft and you can now also watch the doors in action as you select them. This menu selection was in X-Plane10 earlier, but it was more difficult to use.


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With PBR you get a reflection on the dials and they look like they are actually lit but they are not, but there is a difference when you turn up the backlighting.


With the panel power up, the Avionics are not lit. To save you an hour or so looking for the Avionics power switch it is because there isn't one?

The displays only have to have their brightness turned up, via the two knobs on the panel and the FMS knob on the FMS panel.


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It is also now important you get the IRS "Align" mode correct as well in v1.30. It has to be done in the correct order on the FMS, if not it won't align or work.


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On the now aligned flight displays note the two alerts in "G/S Fail" and "LOC Fail", These alerts are now on most of the time unless the G/S and the VOR frequencies are active.


FMS (Flight Management System) is comprehensive and on the surface looks the same as the earlier versions. Fixes also include for ARINC424 instructions and the changes for the missing X-Plane10 Avionics in X-Plane11.


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But the system has had a big overhaul in the internal code, we will see more later of these features in the review.

Overhead (OVHD) panel is now highly active. Small items like resetting the Flight-Recorder Voice-Recorder and testing the volume are workable as are overhead tests for Fire, GPWS, Windshear, CSD, IRS-2, Ground Service Bus, Audio panel and Fuel Heat.


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More significant in v1.30 is the new long system list in that that far more areas are now represented. Fuel Heat is simulated, CrossFeed valve works, Pump logic improved, All fuel burn logic now accounts for APU, AC and Anti-Ice bleed use.

More includes complete engine fire detection and extinguishing is simulated, Hydraulic system improved, flight surfaces hydraulic dependencies and Rudder Travel functionality, Airfoil and Tail heat logic and Annunciators, the Brake Temperature indicator and testing, and so are the Brakes and reverser hydraulic dependencies with Custom Auto Brake Systems, and most the of the accumulators now including the Brakes and Reversers accumulators are also simulated.


Ditto the aircraft environmental systems when the engines are running, they are all now also adjustable and switchable.


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It is a big long list, but it brings the "Mad Dog" alive like nothing else did before.



My usual service route is between South Florida and Atlanta, and that is the service I am flying today.


There is a lot of small differences between the X-Plane10 version and the X-Plane11. Not large but significant. One is the very different engine thrust parameters that has thrown a lot of developers out into the deep end. It also mean almost all the original thrust calculations are now not valid. You fly very differently in X-Plane11 than you do in X-Plane10, that is made more aware when you go back to the older X-Plane version on how quite simplistic it was.


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From a cold startup, or even on a service turnaround there is a large amount of setting up to now to do. In the manual there is the full sequence to start up and to make sure all the buttons and switches are all in the right positions, there is simplistic checklist as well. But nothing here beats time in the seat and learning with your own notes to over and over again to get it all right.


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You can set a lot of the flying parameters ready on the ground like Speed, NAV (FMS navigation), Altitude and Vertical Speed (V/S). The knobs are very authentic, but the speed setting can take time to adjust as you need many mouse moves to get to the higher speed settings, once there though it is not an issue in flight. Everything armed ready should be visible in the FMA (Flight Mode Annunciator).


DC bus electrics need to be set right and running correctly, loads generated are now very authentic. A nice touch is the power to the panel is temporary lost as the electrics switch over from one bus to the other.


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Setting the "Trim" computer has always been a bit of a minefield for newcomers on this aircraft. But there is a set of tables to get the right selection and nothing beats just a little bit of practise and learning to get it right. This aircraft is full of alerts. So your aim is to do a full fight without sending them off and that is harder than it looks. Two in particular are a pain "On Ramp" and "Altitude". Get a setting wrong like your flap position and off it blares "On Ramp, On Ramp...  " but gradually you keep it quiet. The other in "Altitude" is actually not as big an issue. It goes off if the aircraft is below the set altitude, and just sitting on the ramp can set it off if the airport is set below sea level. Just make sure the altitude is set above your current altitude and it won't go off, of course a none set altitude can set it off but that is what the alert is actually there for.


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The newly adjusted thrust feel is brought to your attention straight away from the moment you get rolling....  or try too?


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All brake work has to be manual by pushing the button to release or lock with the brake on the tiller. You do still get the regular braking action, but the aircraft won't operate correctly unless to set the position to off from the pilot's seat... this is another X-Plane11 characteristic.


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Now you can feel the thrust differences as you taxi to your departure runway (RWY06). The MD88 is nice aircraft to taxi, lots of feel and adjustment through the throttle to get the right movement speed.


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Rotate around 162Knts + 10 and up comes the gear.


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You now have a decision to make? In v1.30 the FMS now controls the bank speeds, so if you select the NAV option the aircraft is restricted to only turn at 10º bank if the wheels are up and your flaps are stowed away, and this is to make sure the aircraft does not stall at slow speeds.


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The problem with this is that if you have a tight 90º turn after departure, then the small bank angle can take you seriously off your flightplan, and then give you a lot of adjustment in resetting the aircraft back into the right flightplan heading (banking this way and then that way). So your choices are to keep the flap down (and your speed) or do the turn manually before setting the NAV into operation.


From the first moment I saw the features in X-Plane11. There was no aircraft I wanted more to fly in the new version of X-Plane than this Rotate MD-88. And when I did, I wanted nothing more then than want everyone else to fly it in X-Plane11 as well. If any aircraft was created to fly in X-Plane11 it was this one.


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With those mega massive HD 4K 4096 x 4096 and 350 pixels/meter texture sizes (livery size is 190mb on average) and so the quality is overwhelming, but it is the way the aircraft interacts with the new PBR lighting that is also stunning.


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You feel almost every panel and every rivet, it is a totally beautiful thing.


Internally the X-Plane11 detailing is superb...


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Light and haze bounces off everywhere, but to focus on detail then you only have to look at the FMS body, totally authentic and beautifully reproduced. This sort of detail was a only dream a few years ago but now we are using and living in it.


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But back to the v1.30 update systems...


The data in the aircraft's performance has been completely rewritten in v1.30. 


This is reflected into the PROG (Progress) pages on the FMS. Most of the changes have been on page 2 with a burn SCHED for N or A and the calculated remaining fuel. Other items are now highly detailed as well with VNAV predictions, time, fuel, ToC (Top of Climb), ToD (Top of Descent).


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Also economy (ECOM) target speeds allow you to set the best climb, cruise and descend speeds to get the best performance out of the flight


Rotate-MD-80_v1.30 ECOM CLB.jpgRotate-MD-80_v1.30 ECOM DEC.jpg


The ToC and ToD targets are now also shown on the Navigation Display and a new and far better feature is the target altitude marker.


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The altitude marker is an extremely handy tool to set your altitude position at a certain place or fix on the flightplan via the vertical speed, mostly it is used to target the arrival altitude from your cruise level, but here it is a great companion to hit your ToC and ToD targets as well. This is an invaluable tool and one I use in collaboration with all my altitude changes to hit position targets...  In other words I love it.


Detail in the Navigation Display is now very detailed, but very adjustable in allowing what you want to see and what you don't, but the DATA detail is excellent.


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Excellent cabin is not changed in v1.30, so maybe a little adjustable lighting would be nice...


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Window view is one of the best in the business, you can select both forward or rear of the wing and still get an excellent view. I personally like rear of the wing to look at the flap animations.


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Let us be clear, the MD-88 is not called the "Mad Dog" for nothing. This is a very physical aircraft to fly, watch a few online videos of pilot's wrestling with the Yoke and Rudders would make to think they wouldn't climb in there ever again. But the opposite is true, in that it is the physical nature of the aircraft that makes it one of the most enduring machines to fly and why it was and still is one of the most loved aircraft ever produced.


Speed select is a quirk on these older MD's. The actual speed change selection from IAS to .Mach or the other way round is done via pressing the actual knob. But you have to select the actual speed zone you want to use with the autothrust via the two speed selection buttons in "SPD SEL" or "MACH SEL". Another quirk is that on pressing the speed knob it doesn't do a straight speed swap, so you have to change the speed zone, adjust the speed and then press the selection button. If you think that simply pressing the actual the "SPD" or "MACH" button to change zones then it doesn't work that way.


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KATL (Atlanta) is up and front, time to prepare for landing on RWY27R...  but first.


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...    an small annoyance with the "AutoThrust" disconnect on the FMA (Flight Mode Annunciator) panel.


Rotate-MD-80_v1.30 ATH Alert 1.jpgRotate-MD-80_v1.30 ATH Alert 2.jpg


Disconnect the ATH or Autothrust to take over the manual speed control for landing (working the throttles) and the "Throttle" disconnect warning comes on, fair enough...   But you can't silence it? There are datarefs to simulate the reselection on and off (cycle) the autothrottle that duplicates the system on the real aircraft to silence the alert, but here it doesn't work, then disconnect the AP or Autopilot to land manually and then you have two blaring alerts in your face all the way to the gate? There is a "Reset" button right on the panel but it is not allowed to work and so it is an annoying and distracting quirk?


Throttle response is quite different in X-Plane11, although this is officially still the beta stage. You can feel the smaller throttle inputs more as the MD Series is very light on the pitch with the CoG (Center of Gravity) point set so far behind you.


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I don't think there is any aircraft that demands as much throttle input,speed, balance and concentration on landing as the MD-88, put a crosswind in there and the "Dog" can make you seriously sweat. But Atlanta is clear today with only a light breeze.


Rotate-MD-80_v1.30 KRSW - KATL 30LG.jpg




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...  and keep that light nose pitch under control, it is far too easy to have a nose high landing.


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Reverse thrust and full power and control your line down the runway, then you are at taxi speed and a taxi to the gate is all that now has to be done.


Rotate-MD-80_v1.30 KRSW - KATL 39.jpgRotate-MD-80_v1.30 KRSW - KATL 37.jpg


Job done.



Up front I am not going to deny my love for this aircraft, as I have mentioned the same in the past. Would that mean a biased review? In fact it is the completely opposite situation here as I have hounded the developers on even the smallest details to get the aircraft to be the best it could be for X-Plane. That is not for my own worth here, but because this aircraft contributes so much to the X-Plane experience and one that can deliver the sort of experience that makes X-Plane such a great simulator. The aircraft is not totally absolutely perfect, but then no aircraft is, as there is always another system, tweak or feature that could be added into the design.


When Rotate's MD-88 was released it was the only DC-9/MD quality payware aircraft in X-Plane. But since there has been the new default X-Plane11 MD-82 and A.T.S. are releasing their MD-80 Series aircraft soon as well. So there is competition now although the default MD-82 is very basic.


With this v1.30 though the Rotate MD-88 is certainly pushing well up now in its class, if not leading in the area. In X-Plane11 the aircraft is astounding, but you now have the working systems to back it up as well. Certainly not absolutely perfect as a few things would be nice to have like a "Weight, Fuel & Balance" page, or built in checklists or the nice to have cabin announcements that are standard on aircraft from the likes of FlightFactor or FlyJSim. Not for the novice now, but the is a great overall design and to a point reaching a sort of level of completion that would allow the developer to move on to say another variant (Freighter!) or a newly designed aircraft.


I had a choice over the last Christmas/New Year break, as flying time was restricted to having a break from the computer, but there was the odd day to fly, and my own choice to only pick one and one aircraft to use...  The choice was overwhelmingly this MD-88. It didn't disappoint, now available in X-Plane11 and with this added system deep v1.30 in my off reviewing flying time, it is still the only choice.


Positives: Looks Brilliant and now has the systems to match the looks, "Just look at it", an overall personal favorite.


Negatives: Still a few quirks, Sounds currently not same in X-Plane11 as X-Plane10, Not for the novice any more, tricky to fly as all "Mad Dogs" are.




X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg


Yes! the v1.30 McDonnell Douglas MD-88 Pro by Rotate is NOW available from the new X-Plane.Org Store


here : McDonnell Douglas MD-88 Pro


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 v1.30 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. But ALSO important to update both plugins for use in X-Plane11 as the older versions crash the aircraft.




-> 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\
  • 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




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: 1.30 (last updated March 20th, 2017)
File Download is huge 960.40mb
CoG Table jepg: CoG Table.jpg.zip


Version v1.30 full changelog:


- Custom LNAV guidance.
- Compatibility with ARINC424 instructions.
- CDU HOLD page with PPOS capability.
- Complete HOLD functionality with entry pattern calculation.
- Improved ND with curved transitions.
- Improved VNAV predictions, time, fuel, ToC, ToD.
- More accurate, wp to wp VNAV.
- CDU PROG pages with pilot selectable waypoint.
- Improved FGCP ALT logic.
- Navigation Display marker for FGCP ALT.
- Navigation Display and CDU MAG/TRU operation.
- CDU RTE DATA page added.
- New fuel burn logic, now accounting for APU, AC and Anti-Ice bleed.
- Improved PERF page, now BURN SCHED N or A and calculated remaining fuel.
- Sound set reworked.
- Added CLB DIR functionality.
- Added DES DIR functionality.
- Added commands to FGCP ALT knob.
- Fuel heat is now simulated.
- Improved fuel pump logic, with feed by gravity at low altitude.
- Fuel crossfeed valve is now operative.
- Updated engines to JT8D-219.
- Bank limit is now FMS driven in NAV mode.
- CLR key timer for scratchpad clear function.
- Pitch FD indication bar corrected in TO and GA.
- Solved bug related to CDU paging.
- Airfoil and Tail heat logic and annunciators now working as expected.
- Complete engine fire detection and extinguishing simulation.
- Brake Temperature indicator and test.
- Custom Auto Brake System.
- Overhead tests: Fire, GPWS, Windshear, Flight Recorder, Voice recorder.
- Other overhead systems: CSD, IRS-2, Ground Service Bus, Audio panel, Fuel Heat ...
- EOAP new alerts. The messages are now ordered correctly as they are triggered.
- Added OAP annunciators.
- Hydraulic system improved.
- Flight surfaces's hydraulic dependencies and Rudder Travel functionality.
- Brakes and reversers hydraulic dependencies. Accumulators are now simulated.
- Other texture and light improvements.
- Mousewheel support for X-Plane 10.50+





Review by Stephen Dutton
17th March 2017
Copyright©2017: X-PlaneReviews
(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)

Review System Specifications:

Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - GeForce GTX 980/SSE2 - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11b15 and also used in X-Plane v10.52 and checked with current flight route and details

Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini : Headshake by Simcoders : JARDesign Ground Handling Deluxe plugin

Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90


Scenery or Aircraft

- KRSW - Southwest Florida International by Aerosoft  (X-PlaneStore) - US$24.95

- KATL - Atlanta International by Nimbus (X-PlaneStore) - US$23.95




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Hi Stephen,


I love the 757 by default in the "after-the-737-classic-jet-era", but I didn't  (yet) bought the FF757.

As I like to use the default MD from v11, on a pure procedure/system point of view, do you prefer to use the FF757 or the Rotate bird ?


Thanks !



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The MD-88 from Rotate is still my preference at this point as the B757 is not up to total X-Plane11 usability. The B757 is a very complex aircraft, it needs the rules to be steady to be adjusted correctly, it flies fine and is perfect in XP10, but X-Plane11 beta is just too flexible at the moment to get the best out of the aircraft in detail.



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