The Mega Dog
Table of Contents
As with many aircraft, the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 also had a nickname and not one, but more. The Mega Dog is one of them, but others are Mad Dog (not confusing with the MD-80 Series Maddog), Mechanical Disaster 11, More Death 11, MD-911 and so on. Not really good names while the real MD-11 wasn’t that bad and the modeled Rotate MD-11 is actually a beauty.
When you’re familiar with X-Plained.Com reviews, you know that we not only try to write comprehensive reviews, we also want to add additional sections with in-depth information in it. What those sections are, depends on the reviewer. Whatever it is, we – Angelique van Campen and Paul Beckwith – try to do our best, and that’s the same for this Rotate McDonnell MD-11F. I – Angelique – can tell you that it will become a very long, but interesting review. Because of that, we’ve decided to start with a table of contents. So here we go …….
McDonnell Douglas MD-11F by Rotate
– Passenger Need Not Reply
– The MD-11 Takes Flight
– A Medium-to long-range Widebody
– The MD-11 Fails
– 102 Still Fly
Installation and Documentation
– Hardware requirements
– Software requirements
The MD-11F Menu
– First the Numbers
– Walk Around
– A Word on Surface Textures
– Moving Parts and details
– Ground Options
MD-11F Interior Cargo and Galley
– Cargo Decks
– Entry Way / Galley
MD-11F Interior The Flight Deck
– First Impression
– Flight Controls and Panels
Section I – Preparations | Hardware
– Thrustmaster TCA Boeing Pack Yoke Edition
– Honeycomb Bravo Throttle Quadrant
Section II – Preparations | Flight Plan
– Flight Plan Programs
– What kind of Flights
– Creating KLGB – KLGB Flight Plan with Little Navmap
– Creating KLGB – KBOS Flight Plan with simBrief
– Company Route or Saving Rotate Flight Plan
Section III – Preparations | Flight Deck
– The Rotate Menu
– Ground Handling Equipment
– MCDU INIT Cost Index
– MCDU Adding SID and STAR
– WebFMC from Green Arc Studios
Flight 1 – Part I | KLGB – KLGB
– Standard Operating Procedures
– Checklist or JARDesign Co-Pilot
Flight 1 – Part II | KLGB – KLGB
– What Did I Do?
– Engine Start
Flight 1 – Part III | KLGB – KLGB
– Initial Climb till Cruise
Flight 1 – Part VI | KLGB – KLGB
– Descent, Approach, Final Approach and Landing
Flight 2 – KLGB – KBOS
– Dispatches, pushback, engine start, taxi, TO, CL, CR, descent, APPR and LDG
– Dispatch Departure
– Dispatch Approach
– Pushback, engine start, taxi, takeoff, initial climb, climb and cruise
– Descent, Approach, Final Approach and Landing
McDonnell Douglas MD-11F by Rotate
Passenger Need Not Reply
On May 26, 2017, Rotate posted news about the project that would be the follow up to their MD-80 model. The MD-11 has completed the long journey to release and is now available for X-Plane 11 in a cargo version with nine liveries and a white livery for livery painters. This is a complex aircraft with many features and systems that necessitates a long review.
Because of this, X-Plained.com is dedicating two of its reviewers, Angelique van Campen and Paul Beckwith, to fully cover all aspects of the Rotate McDonnell Douglas MD-11. Angelique is your Pilot in Command and will be covering all aspects of the MD-11’s flight characteristics from starting up to shutting down. Paul will be your ground crew manager taking you on a tour of the physical model of the aircraft.
In an effort to “maintain transparency”, Paul, your guide for the external and internals of the MD-11F, is but a humble turboprop bush pilot. This is my first exposure to the widebody world of flying which is why this intrepid reviewer will not subject you, the reader, to his newbie exploits of attempting to fly the MD-11F. (Suffice it to say, they haven’t been pretty.)
While flying these things is not my strong suit, I have been flying GA for many years and have flown over many different scenery packages. I have also developed a few of my own WED airports and have painted more than a few liveries. Thus, in terms of modelling, PBR, and textures, I have a very good idea of what I’m looking for and although I am not a 3D artist by any stretch of the imagination.
The MD-11 Takes Flight
The McDonnell Douglas MD-11 program launched in 1986 and the aircraft flew for the first time out of Long Beach, California on 10 January 1990. On 21 October of that year, it completed a four-leg, around the world, final test flight and set two point-to-point speed records while doing do. (1992 Delta Airlines MD-11 passenger brochure).
The aircraft was FAA certified on 8 November 1990 and on 17 October 1991 it was certified by the JAA. Finnair took delivery of the first MD-11 on 7 December 1990 and complete the first revenue producing flight on 20 December 1990. Delta Airlines completed the inaugural U.S. flight on 5 February 1991.
The Delta Flight Museum (deltamuseum.org) notes the following as technical advances incorporated into the MD-11:
- Engines designed to provide maximum efficiency in their thrust class with fuel burn reductions compared to other engines on wide-body, tri-engine jets in 1991.
- Aerodynamic enhancements included winglets, a new tail cone, streamlined pylon-engine joints and a smaller horizontal stabilizer containing fuel tanks that could be used to trim the aircraft.
- More cargo capability than any other aircraft in 1991.
- Advanced flight deck allowed 2-pilot operations compared to the 3 crewmembers required for earlier tri-jets.
- More interior space per passenger and more carry-on baggage capacity than any other wide-body aircraft in 1991.
A Medium-to long-range Widebody
There was a time when two-engine jets were not certified for flights across the ocean. That mission required a four-engine jet because of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) “60 minute rule” predecessor to “Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards” (ETOPS). The rule required all twin-jet aircraft to fly routes where the nearest airport would be no further than sixty-minutes away. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recommended ninety-minutes for diversion time. Many regulatory authorities outside of the US adopted the ICAO recommendation.
The sixty-minute regulation was waived for three-engine jets by the FAA in 1964 and that aircraft format became very popular. The three-engine jet was favored by the airlines because of its higher range, increased maximum payload, and increased capacity accomplished with a substantial fuel savings over the four-engine jet.
The Hawker Siddeley HS-121 Trident and the Boeing 727 were two of the first tri-engine jets in production and it seems that their performance (mostly the 727) had some influence on the retraction of the sixty-minute rule for tri-jets. With that retraction, larger tri-jets came onto the market. The MD-11 is one of them.
McDonnell Douglas conceived of the MD-11 as a derivative of the DC-10 and planned on developing it as a stretched version of that aircraft. The project was renamed to the MD-11 in 1984 when accidents began to erode the DC-10’s reputation. This new aircraft needed to be an improvement over the DC-10 and McDonnell Douglas focused on publicizing the new features.
The most notable improvements were the publicized range and the introduction of a two-person glass cockpit that eliminated the need for a flight engineer. The MD-11 was also fitted with winglets following the results of joint research with NASA. The maximum take-off weight (MTOW) had a fourteen percent increase over the DC-10 and the fuselage was eleven percent longer. The vertical stabilizer above the third engine was smaller and the GE CF6-80-C2D1F engine was a major improvement over the DC-10’s engines. One-hundred-nineteen out of two-hundred aircraft were equipped with the GE engine which is the engine utilized in the fabrication of the Rotate model based on specification notations in both the limitations and engines documents included in the manual folder as well as the physical appearance of the pointed cone fairing not found on the Pratt & Whitney engine.
The MD-11 Fails
One of the most impressive changes was the aircrafts publicized range of 6,725 NM up to 7,000 NM with a 61,000 lb. payload. Unfortunately, the reality ended up being that the aircraft could only achieve this with a reduced payload of 48,500 pounds. With a full payload, the range maximum ended up at 6,493 NM. McDonnell Douglas also touted an improvement in fuel burn over that of the DC-10.
Both claims proved to be a large part of the MD-11’s limited production of 200 units over a short twelve-year span since American Airlines quickly voiced their dissatisfaction with their nineteen units, claiming issues with the airframe and engines. Singapore Airlines cited the inability of the MD-11 to reach its published range as a reason for cancelling their order of twenty MD-11’s. The reduced range would prevent the aircraft from being useful for their long-haul routes.
McDonnell Douglas started a Performance Improvement Program (PIP) with GE and Pratt and Whitney in 1990. The PIP lasted until 1995 and resulted in the MD-11 being able to meet its published range but it was likely too little, too late, as sales of the MD-11 had already been impacted. Even with the PIP successfully increasing the range by 8% and the fuel burn by 3%, the Md-11 was unable to fly the DFW-Hong Kong route for American Airlines. American sold their nineteen MD-11’s to Federal Express in 1995. FedEx converted them for freight transport.
The attractiveness of the MD-11 waned as a result of these issues and changes in ETOPs created a market condition where economics in conjunction with the issues of the MD-11 brought about the end of its production. When ETOPS-180 allowed twin jets to fly routes as far as 180 minutes from the nearest airport evolved from ETOPS-120, manufacturers began shifting development to long range twin-jets since these would be more cost-efficient than the tri-jet performing the same mission. As twin-jets’ flight range increased, the newer jets became more attractive to the airlines and the tri-jet fell out of favor.
102 Still Fly
The last passenger MD-11 was delivered in 1998 and the last freight variants were delivered to Lufthansa Cargo in 2001. The very last passenger MD-11 made its last flight bearing the KLM livery on 11 November 2014 with a low altitude sight-seeing tour of the Netherlands. The last European registered MD-11F flew its final flight on 17 October 2021.
FedEx (57 aircraft), UPS (42 aircraft), and Western Global (17 aircraft) continue to use the freight variant and converted passenger variant for cargo transport. (Information compiled from Wikipedia, Lufthansa, Aeroreport, and Simple Flying)
Installation and Documentation
It is recommended that you review the published requirements for the model before purchasing it. For your convenience, they are listed here:
The following hardware and system characteristics are the recommended minimal setup to run this product at the expected frame-rate (well above 30fps). The software will run in systems with lower settings, but the frame-rate could be compromised.
Processor: Intel Core i5 or i7 3.4GHz, or AMD equivalent.
System RAM: 8 GB.
Hard Disk Usage: 2.0 GB.
Graphics: Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti / Radeon RX 470 (VRAM 4GB or more recommended).
An Internet connection is required for license activation and management (not for playing).
The Rotate MD-11 has been designed to optimize performance and to achieve an optimal CPU/GPU balance. However, it makes intensive use of CPU and graphics card, so make sure to adjust X-Plane settings according to your hardware and the addons that you use in combination with this aircraft. Remember that in X-Plane you can tune parameters like “Number of World Objects”, “Reflection Detail” and “Shadows” that will affect your CPU usage. Additionally, we provide a set of 2k textures that you can download from the store.
You can get more info about hot to tune X-Plane settings here.
This software is an aircraft add-on for X-Plane Flight Simulator by Laminar Research. It is meant to be run in X-Plane 11, for Windows, OSX and Linux platforms. It will run on X Plane 64-bit architecture only. 32-bit systems are not supported.
Attention attention : In OSX systems you will need to authorize execution of the software. For that before running the Rotate MD-11 the first time, open the Terminal app in your OSX, type this line substituting the path to your Rotate MD-11 installation (without the [ ]) and press “enter”:
xattr -dr com.apple.quarantine [Rotate-MD-11 folder full path]
You will also need for all platforms:
● 64-bit Operative system.
● Laminar Research X Plane 64b v11.55.
● Microsoft Windows 8, 10 64b.
● Microsoft Visual C++ 2015 (x64) Redistributable.
● OSX 10.11 and up.
● OpenGL Framework.
● GLIBC v2.27 (Ubuntu 18.04).
Once you have obtained the model in a .zip compressed file, you simply decompress it and place the Rotate-MD-11 into your X-Plane aircraft folder. On your first flight, you will need to activate the aircraft by entering your serial number. The process only took seconds when I did it.
Within the MD-11 folder, after you install it, you will find a folder called “manuals”. In that folder are eighteen separate documents: one document for each modeled system. If you are not familiar with the MD-11, these manuals will be very important to you. I was unable to make my first flight without referring to them in order to find items in the cockpit that are mentioned in the tutorial.
It would be useful to have references in the tutorial that would point the user to the relevant manual. I had to go through several of them because I did not know what system some things belonged to so I could get an explanation on how to use them. Once I found what I was looking for, the explanations were clear and helpful. By the way, here’s a helpful tip in case you need it: to be able to hear what you tuned in on a radio, you not only have to turn up the volume, but you also have to pull up on that volume switch until it lights up.
We are now ready to take our first look at the MD-11.
The MD-11F Menu
Once the MD-11 is installed and you have loaded it into X-Plane, you will find a Rotate MD-11 option under the X-Plane plugin menu. Selecting that option will present you with a submenu from which you can open the aircraft menu. The aircraft menu has four sections that will allow you to configure different features of the MD-11.
While Rotate’s documentation about the menus states that they are pretty much self-explanatory except for the Load Manager, the “use hardware controller tiller” option offered me a little confusion (a bit more than that since I had no idea what a nosewheel tiller is – we don’t have such things in turboprops) before getting it sorted. Ivan at Rotate was quite patient with me and has indicated a plan to improve the documentation regarding the tiller. In the meantime, I can share what I learned with you.
The hardware tiller option is effective if you set your axis to nosewheel tiller. Check the box and it will work. Deselect it and the axis will do nothing. Now, assign yaw to that same axis and the hardware tiller checkbox does not apply to you. Yaw will control the rudder and the nosewheel tiller simultaneously. The rudder pedal selection acts exactly as you would expect it to and is documented in the manual.
One important thing to be aware of: selecting ready to start, taxi, or depart does not set the cargo and fuel values on the load manager screen. (I don’t know how it starts with zero fuel on board.)
The ground options could also benefit from some explanation since the fuel service and load aircraft options are initially not selectable. In order to make these options available, you must first enter values in the load manager and click the “apply load configuration to aircraft and FMS” button on that screen. I must admit this took me more than a few seconds to sort out.
For the load manager screen, Rotate offers this information in section nine of the Introduction and Product Information document found in the manual folder: “The graphic shows the Zero Fuel Weight Center of Gravity (ZF-CG) and the Take Off Weight Center of Gravity (TO-CG) for a given weight. Y axis represents weight (units are set in the options tab) and X axis represents the deviation of CG as a percentage of the MAC (Mean Aerodynamic Chord). The lines represent the ZF-CG and TO-CG limits. TO-CG and ZF-CG values are shown below the graphic, along with the Take Off Weight (TOW), the Zero Fuel Weight (ZFW) and the Landing Weight (LW). For the Landing Weight to be calculated, the pilot must enter the estimated Trip Fuel. The Payload CG must also be entered manually. For further explanation on how to load the aircraft, see the Tutorial Flight.”
You can adjust your weights by using the mouse and the sliders or you can type your entries directly into each box. The advanced button extends the screen to allow you to manually distribute your cargo as you wish.
If you use the “apply load” button, it will take these entries and enter them into the FMS where applicable. You can also choose to go to the Ground Options and use the fuel and loading services from there to get loaded up. In this case, you will need to manually enter your numbers into the FMS.
The final section of the menu allows you to control various failure options for the aircraft without having to leave your flight to use the native X-Plane failures menu. Each section is expandable and lists the individual items that can be set to fail. I had no need to try this out since failure is something I did well enough on my own.
First the Numbers
The MD-11 with the GE engines measures about 202 feet in length with a wingspan of about 170 feet. It stands about 59 feet in height. The maximum payload is 202,733 lbs. according to Wikipedia but the FedEx website puts it at 180,000 lbs. Both Wikipedia and FedEx report the payload range to be about 4,000 statute miles. Cruising speed is 479 – 507 knots with a ceiling of 43,000 feet. The MD-11 fuel capacity is 38,615 US gallons with a weight of about 260,000 lbs.
The modelled MD-11F has three General Electric CF6-80C2D1F engines that produce 61,500 lbf maximum thrust. Indicative performance data from skybrary.aero states a takeoff distance of 10,170 feet. The MD-11 airplane characteristics for airport planning guide includes multiple performance charts to determine actual distance incorporating standard day variables. You can find that guide here.
FedEx MD-11F aircraft have door sizes of 102” x 140” for the main door, either 66” x 104” or 66” x 70” for the forward lower deck, and either 66” x 104” or 66” x 70” for the aft lower deck. The main deck can carry 26 larger, or 34 smaller, pallets.
(Please note that the following X-Plane settings were used for the screenshots in this review and are also the basis for my observations. The texture quality is set at maximum, antialiasing at 4x SSAA, anisotropic filtering is 4x, and reflection detail is at maximum. Draw shadows on scenery is selected.)
The inspiration for this walk around comes from a brilliant video of a Lufthansa Cargo MD-11 and its three-member crew on a flight from Germany to New York. Check out the following video.
Our walk around will start at the nose of the fuselage where the first thing that stands out is the light effects on the model. As would be expected, the texture is mostly obscured in bright sun and takes on more definition in the shade. The shade also allows us to observe the quality of the reflective surface created for this aircraft.
We can look up and see through the glass at one angle and see light reflect off the glass at another. Note the windshield wipers are in a vertical position. This is one of the changes that came out of the PIP and tells us that this model should be of an MD-11 produced after 1995. Here is an interesting overview of the many external changes made to the DC-10 and MD-11 during their productions.
Our next stop is the front landing gear assembly. There are many parts and details here that are quite well made. The variety of textures employed are very good with crenulated surfaces, accurate reflectivity, and material characteristics differentiated for each part. If you look close enough, you can read the print on the tires (yes, they are Goodyear).
I must commend the modelers here because every part is connected to another. You may think that a strange comment, but I have seen several instances of detailed areas like this featuring parts that are floating in position and not connected to the surrounding structure.
Departing this area and heading back out from under the fuselage on the copilot side, we can look up and see the temperature probe and the angle of attack gauge. If the wind is blowing and you take the time, you can watch the AOA gauge move up and down in response to that wind. The cockpit door frame is well defined. Other details abound as we look over the surface to make sure the static ports are clear, and the cargo door is secure. The very clear and legible signs on the aircraft tell us what to look for to make sure the door is locked but the door locks are not present.
Our next stop is a relatively complex area on the model since many different larger parts with defined surfaces come together and join others. This is deftly accomplished, and I was unable to find any gaps between the wing fairing and the fuselage or between the wing and the engine pylon or any other join in this area. While we are here, we get our first look at the engine nacelle.
The nacelle, like the front landing gear, exhibits well defined characteristics and sections. The intake surround of the housing has a nice, brushed finish that responds accurately to changing lighting conditions. At the rear of the nacelle, we find the outer bypass and the cone fairing. Here there are a couple of things that caught my attention. When in shadow, both parts appear to have a proper reflectivity for the material. However, in the direct light, they seem to have a much higher metallic gloss than what I observed in several online photographs.
The coloring of the bypass is correct, but I was not able to find a cone fairing that had such a copper appearance. I did see several that had a dark brown appearance as opposed to black. Lastly, the very detailed pylons are accurately modeled with the pylon fairings that were a later addition to the MD-11.
We now look upwards to the leading edge of the wing where the slats are nicely tucked in. The join between the wing and the slat is smooth and the parts fit well together. The material characteristics are a little difficult for me to figure out. At what seems to be like most viewing angles, my perception of them is that they have no reflectivity and look rather plastic.
Alter the viewing angle and get it just right and they have the brushed finish reflection I was expecting after studying available photos. Get the slats into direct sunlight and the amount of reflection reminds me of highly polished bare metal. Admittedly, reflections are a matter of perception, and I am not astute enough with material property definitions to determine if this might be an X-Plane lighting limitation although the brushed look works on the engine intake surrounds.
The slats do have a realistic animation as they extend from the leading edge. Once extended, the hydraulic piston is visible as is the support arms. Here is more top-notch modeling and texture work. The piston is convincingly dirty to indicate use without indicating a leak.
Turning towards the trailing edge of the wing, we encounter the flap hinges. These hinges are the same style used on the DC-10 and were the last external change made to the MD-11. In December,1997, the outboard hinges were replaced with hinges that had fairings protruding beyond the flap edge.
That change came after our MD-11 was produced so, between the windshield wipers and the flap hinges, we can determine our MD-11 to be representative of one produced between 1995 and 1997. The modelling of the hinges is accurate and well crafted. All parts fit together nicely, and they meet the wing surface perfectly. The animation is excellent and favorably compares to what I’ve observed on video. We also have a heavy dose of dirt to accentuate the part.
The flaps are well represented in terms of fit, form, and function. The MD-11 is one of few aircraft that can deploy flaps to fifty degrees. This model does just that with aplomb although it is my understanding it is something that will never get used. All the moving parts remain in the same relationship to each other through the complete animation cycle. This is noteworthy to me since I have seen plenty of instances involving less animation where this did not happen.
The flaperons work in conjunction with the flaps as would be expected. The wing surface features and texture are very nicely done. Here is one spot that can change very dramatically as the ambient light changes so don’t write them off if your first view is in direct and bright daylight where, like everything else, they appear washed out, flat, and lifeless.
Walking the length of the wing takes us to the split scimitar wing tip where we see the large upper and small lower winglets canted outward. The winglets are added to the end of the wing as a means for reducing drag. The large winglet should have the trailing edge curving outward mimicking the airfoil design of a wing, but the ones here do not have the edge curve. Does this effect the performance of the aircraft? That I’ll have to leave to the engineers and mathematicians in the audience.
Heading back in under the aircraft, we see the three heavy main gear assemblies. From what I’ve read, the middle gear is used to increase the weight the MD-11 can carry on the ground and to support the aircraft on landing. Apparently, the aircraft can be landed with this middle gear retracted in what is called the “female configuration” but the aircraft will likely need to head into service after doing so.
The middle gear also distributes the weight across more points than two thereby making it less damaging to the runways and taxiways. This gear has also been criticized as one of the things that makes the MD-11 so unforgiving on landing.
The gear modeling quality is high quality work with fine details and textures consistent with the work we’ve already seen when looking at the front assembly. The retraction and extension animation cycle is quite smooth and coordinated.
Ducking out from under the plane, we look up and see the aft cargo door, the horizontal stabilizer fairing, and the empennage. This is another area where several surfaces and shapes join and, again, I have not been able to find any issues with the construction. My observations about engines 1 and 3 apply to engine 2 with the one notable difference being the wear and dirt on the intake surround.
The nacelle is bugle shaped with the intake end featuring the newer design where the top is canted aft and aligns with the forward banjo band. This change was made for the last 72 MD-11s produced. This feature being modelled here is consistent with the production dates noted above for our MD-11.
After a walk under the empennage where we pass by the APU exhaust (that flap does open and close) over our heads, we come out to where the rear cabin and cargo doors are located. This is as good a place as any to stop for a moment and comment on some of the effects Rotate has included for the exterior of the aircraft. The wear and tear on an aircraft seems to be something of a regular debate in the X-Plane world.
Some folks like their aircraft show room new and others like them as dirty and beat up as they can be. The argument tends to always devolve into how much “damage” is too much. One developer solved this conundrum by creating a feature whereby the amount of dirt and scratches can be adjusted to the user’s satisfaction.
With that in mind, we look up at the painted area of the FedEx livery and find that it is very scratched. Is it too much? That is up to each user to decide for themselves. My comment about this is it is very well done with the scrapes being much more prominent on raised areas which are the areas one would expect to take damage first. They are very difficult to notice on white surfaces but if the light is at the correct angle, the difference in reflectivity from the surrounding area reveals their presence.
Moving from scratches to dirt we notice the developers have included plenty of it. The dirt has invaded many cracks, crevices, and joins and looks like it has been building for years. It also looks like it will be a permanent feature of the aircraft. If something is allowed to get this dirty, one would expect it to look ground in and it does. The dirt is prevalent enough to be visible on both painted and white surfaces.
The larger areas of dirt are not as clearly defined given they are smudged areas and not deposits. They look brilliant from a distance but compromise the appearance of the airplanes texture the closer you get. I suspect the deterioration of the texture has something to do with the smudges being included in the file that controls the reflectivity and definition of the surface. I have never seen this done before since the dirt is usually confined to the files used to cover and color the 3D surface.
The flip side of using this procedure is the dirt areas do not maintain the reflective areas of the surrounding surface. This is a much more realistic appearance for the distance view of the aircraft when the texture wouldn’t be visible anyway.
A Word on Surface Textures
While we are on the subject of surface appearance, it seems prudent to discuss the appearance of what, in some places, looks like low resolution, blurry textures. In order to truly appreciate the work done on the various surfaces of the model, it needs to be viewed from many different angles and in several different lighting conditions. The files used for the surface of the aircraft are 4K resolution files and three are used to cover the fuselage.
The wings are covered by one 4K file. The files responsible for the depiction of surface properties are also 4K resolution files. This should produce a pretty detailed exterior for the MD-11 and, in the right light, it is pretty dramatic. It also holds up well at a distance. It is only when the point of view is close to the aircraft, or the aircraft is in very direct and bright lighting, that it begins to degrade. This phenomenon is not unique to the MD-11 aircraft. Contributing to the perception that the surface texture is not well defined is the developer’s situational use of painted surface features instead of modeled ones. I have no doubt that this last decision is based on a need to balance appearance with performance.
Moving Parts and details
Now that we’ve walked about, let’s test a few systems for proper operation and see how things look. The first thing we’ll take care of is the lights inspection. Once we are inside the cockpit, you will see that light switches abound. The switches for the ones outside include the beacon, nav, high intensity, taxi, landing, wing, runway turnoff, and logo lights.
As we walk around the aircraft at dusk, we can see the accuracy of the light fixtures in terms of location, size, brilliance, and area coverage. The taxi lights and landing lights on the nosewheel pedestal are the same fixtures but the brightness intensifies when the switch is thrown from taxi to landing. There are also two swing-out landing lights mounted to both sides of the fuselage.
The wing tip light fixtures are skillfully crafted. The lens translucency is spot on, and the fixtures are located perfectly behind the lens. When illuminated, both the upper and lower high intensity lights are active in an alternating pattern. The remaining fixtures are not as detailed in their modelling, most notably when it comes to the lenses. The beacons are modelled as solid white fixtures. None of the lights penetrate the surrounding solid surfaces when they are turned on.
As long as we are outside looking at light effects, let’s turn on the inside lights and see how they appear from this point of view. Simultaneously, we’ll get a look at what exterior doors are operational. All operational doors are controlled via the airplane menu.
Interior lighting as viewed from outside is quite effective at creating a realistic effect with one exception. The cargo area does not appear to use individual light sources so, when the lights are turned on, the interior of the main cargo door illuminates even if it is open. The interior lights also do not create any illumination spillage on the ground, nor do they illuminate the cargo pods being loaded. That said, they still make cargo operations at night feel that much more immersive.
The cockpit lights are true lights and what is turned on inside is what is visible from the outside including control panel lights. We’ll see these more closely once we venture inside.
Door animations are true to the style of door in use. Smaller doors take less time to open than larger doors. The cockpit doors pop in and out of place as they are opening or closing in a very realistic manner. If you start the engines and step outside, you can watch the turbine fans start rotating and build up speed as the engine comes up. Considering these animations along with the flap and gear movements we’ve already seen, it is safe to say there is nothing slip-shod about Rotate’s use of animation on the exterior features.
In addition to opening and closing doors, the ground options section of the menu is also where you’ll find the controls for the interior lights. There are no controls on the model itself. The ground options menu also provides for access to ground services without having to access the X-Plane ground services control. This menu also allows for a specific service selection.
Stairs and chocks are self-explanatory. Selecting these options will pop those items into place with no animations. After you set up your cargo and fuel options on the load manager screen, you can select fuel service and load airplane options.
The fuel service option only works if the airport has an active X-Plane fuel truck. If it has a custom truck or no truck, the menu will indicate refueling but nothing happens other than ground service informing you that “service is not available” or “try a bigger airport” or something to that effect. It was a little surprising to get the “try a bigger airport” when I requested fuel at Boston’s Logan Airport. Apparently, this custom scenery does not have default fuel trucks in service.
Load aircraft results in a hi-loader rolling in from the side, a cargo train pulling up with four containers, and an entertaining animation of the containers transferring from the train to the loader, being elevated to the main cargo door, and then being rolled into the hold and moved into position.
If you do not open the cargo door first, it will open just after the hi-loader arrives. In either case, the cargo door closes independently at the completion of the loading animation. You can also position yourself in the cargo deck and watch the containers come through the door and roll to the back of the deck. Don’t be surprised when they simply vanish after the cargo door closes!
MD-11F Interior Cargo and Galley
In the next section of this review, Angelique will take you through getting set up for your flight. My focus here is to look at the modeling of the interior of the MD-11F from the cargo bays to the flight deck.
We’re going to walk about the cargo decks before heading for the flight deck for the very simple reason that there is less to evaluate, and we can move along in short order.
My first comment regarding this area of the model is that I think Rotate has found a very nice balance between providing something visually aesthetic without costing us a lot of frame rate for an area that most people will not spend very much time in. To see how they did this, we will make our first stop the lower cargo deck.
The lower deck is comprised of a forward and an aft section. The view from the exterior through the open doors is exactly what you see if you step inside. The walls, ceiling, and floor are all well executed photo quality surfaces that require very few resources to draw and are yet very convincing. From a distance, it is difficult to tell that the space between the wall panels is not modeled construction. Lighting appears to be lit textures rather than actual lights since no shadows are cast and light paths are not defined.
The main cargo deck features a few modeled components for the major features including the light fixtures and the overhead piping, and cargo rails. These few models are surrounded by more excellent photorealistic panels that pull everything together into a cohesive whole.
Entry Way / Galley
Climbing the stairs to the open door, we step through into the galley. Immediately noticeable is Rotate’s expectation that the virtual pilot isn’t going to make much use of this, so this is another area depicted in a way to not use much in the way of frame rate. The entry curtain, seats, and cabinets are modelled but everything is covered with very low-resolution textures. Interactivity in this area is limited to opening the door to the flight deck or watching the doors open after selecting that option from the aircraft menu.
Entering the cargo area from here involves going through the retaining net. Perhaps the most notable thing about this area is it is a great angle for viewing the high quality of the stair platform and looking around the airport.
MD-11F Interior The Flight Deck
At long last, we finally arrive at Rotate’s main reason for developing this aircraft: the multiple panels, controls, and electronics that make this aircraft a true “pilot’s aircraft”. Let’s begin with a general look around to see what we’ll be focusing on.
We are going to begin not from the captain’s chair where you find yourself on start-up, but with the viewpoint of walking through the cockpit door. When you open the door from the galley and step up, you are presented with a panoramic view that can be overwhelming in its detail, especially for a bush pilot like yours truly.
So, let’s begin with the simple things like turning around and checking out the door. That mirror on the door is an active reflection of what is in front of the aircraft. Turn to the right and you will find the safety inspection checklist stuck to the door frame. This is very clear and legible, thereby making it useful.
Looking further to the right, as well as overhead, we can see banks of circuit breakers. The breakers are not functional, but they are incredibly well made. The text is clear and sharp so you can identify what each one does. Right below the circuit panels is the jump seat. This seat, like the Captain’s and First Officer’s, has large, clearly printed instruction and warning signs on it.
None of the seats have any interactive or animated features. The seat cushions are worth a look only for the success Rotate accomplished in rendering a fur texture. The texture is at its best when there is indirect light on it that enhances the depth by illuminating highlights and deepening shadows.
Moving on, we can take a look at the other features that add to the flight deck ambiance. These are, of course, anything that is not a flight control of one sort or another. What Rotate did not put into the cargo areas or the galley, they have included in the cockpit in abundance. Textures are crisp, thorough, and well defined with the details going right down to the screws holding things together.
They stand up to the close views necessitated by being in such a small space. Shadows and highlights are responsive to lighting conditions, and everything is pieced together perfectly. Various places show differing amounts of wear and dirt that seems to fit the different levels of usage. The windows have some dirt on them, and they are operational by clicking on the lever marked with a caution notice.
Speaking of the caution notice, the sun visors are functional and, by default are at the back of the side window. You can drag them all the way around to the front and adjust them to any angle. What is there not to like about this cockpit? The only thing missing is the bobble-head dashboard statue!
Flight Controls and Panels
Rotate identifies the following as modeled areas in the cockpit: The forward and aft pedestal, the forward and aft overhead panel, the glareshield, and instrument, light, and auxiliary panels for both the Captain and First Officer. Then, of course, there are the two flight yokes.
Taking a seat in the Captain’s chair, the most obvious thing is, of course, the flight yoke. Of all the places showing wear, not much shows more than these scraped and dirty yokes and the floor and rudder pedals behind. The checklist is clear and easy to read. To the left are the source input select and light control panels. On the pilot’s left side, below the light control panel, is the nosewheel tiller. I won’t tell you how embarrassingly long it took this bush pilot who never heard of a nosewheel tiller to figure out this black handle is what controls it.
Immediately ahead of the overhead panel is a standby compass that folds down. There is a switch labelled STBY COMP to control the light for it at the front of the overhead panel. May you never need this.
Directly in front is the instrument panel. This panel features six display units. Panels 1 and 6 are the primary flight displays (PFD). Panels 2 and 5 are the navigation displays (ND). Panel 3 is the engine and alert display (EAD), and panel 4 is the system display (SD). Every one of these displays show signs of wear and tear, but the displayed information is bright, clear, and easy to read. The only drawback to the instrument panel, and the FMCs on the pedestal is they do not have a pop-up feature.
This makes using them during your flight a bit difficult since zooming in on the FMC removes many other things from sight. There are several situations where you might want the FMC and the EAD in one view. Additionally, there are switches on the pedestal that effect what is displayed on the EAD and it is difficult to get the switches, FMC, and EAD all in the same view and still have the FMC keypad at a usable size.
The other difficulty I’ve run into in the cockpit is some controls are not accessible if your point of view has another in front of the one you want to use. As an example, if you are looking at the pilot’s FMC from behind the pedestal, it can be difficult to access the buttons on the ride side if the slat control lever is in the way. That lever has a rather large activation area around the handle and attempts to click on the FMC result in the lever receiving the action.
Another is the bank angle selector. To access this, which is behind the heading button, you have to have an angle view and get your mouse behind the heading activation area. If you want to move the bank indicator in the opposite direction, you have to arrange an angle view from the other side of the button.
Other than that, every button and switch is clearly marked leaving little doubt what they are for. The clarity remains, if not improves, once the panels are lit. The lighting in the cockpit is terrific from having a dim personal flood light (what I think of as a map light) over your head to lighting it up like a city block. Speaking of the map light, this is turned on by clicking directly on it. There is one for each seat in the cockpit. They can swivel to some degree when you get a four-arrow cursor upon placing your mouse over the base of the light.
Well, the exterior of the plane has been inspected, the safety inspection in the cockpit has been completed, and all switches and operational features have been checked. The ground crew will now turn over the MD-11 to Angelique van Campen, your Pilot in Command for the systems and flight reviews. That said, Angelique will explain more about the flight systems during her short and medium long flights.
One last note before my departure. If you would like to see an excellent video about setting up the cockpit for flight, you can find one at this dedicated YouTube video youtu.be/iXuqFbVzDeI. The presenter is an instructor at Western Global.
The Rotate MD-11 features several different sounds. The first one you are likely to hear occurs when you either connect and activate external power or fire up the APU. The cockpit fills with a resounding and deep rumble. When you activate the air conditioning, you will hear it as another layer of sound. The other cockpit sounds include accurate switch clicks and aural alerts. The sounds inside certainly add to the immersion of the experience.
Outside the aircraft, engine sounds are realistic including the APU. Once the main engines are started, the range of sound for the engines gradually progresses from idle to full throttle. If you are a pilot that enjoys popping outside the aircraft while cruising on autopilot, you will not be disappointed by the in flight audio environment as your craft cruises above the clouds.
Section I – Preparations | Hardware
Angelique will first take you on a short tour related to the connected hardware. Of course, she can’t discuss all different types or hardware since she may own a lot, but she doesn’t have it all.
Thrustmaster TCA Boeing Pack Yoke Edition
I checked the X-Plane.Org forum for any hardware questions from simmers and I checked the included manuals. I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t find much information about this and therefore I asked myself the question if and which hardware will work with the MD11. Since I’m also reviewing the latest Thrustmaster TCA hardware namely the TCA Boeing Yoke and throttle quadrant, I decided to test this also with the MD-11F and see if it all works and if I can assign every switch or button to the MD-11F.
I’m in the lucky position – yes yes, I know – that Thrustmaster offered me to review their TCA Boeing Yoke Pack Edition with an additional throttle quadrant. Since I have now two throttle quadrants, I can assign the SPEEDBRAKE, throttle engines 1, 2 and 3 as well as the FLAP/SLAT. And then one slot is left over. But let’s be honest, I could also test the Honeycomb Bravo with the MD-11F, which, when I write it down, will do. The only problem right now is with both the TCA Boeing throttle quadrant and the Honeycomb Bravo that the Auto Pilot additions aren’t functional as well as no lights on the Honeycomb Bravo. For the latter I really need a dedicated json file, but I’ll first start with the Thrustmaster TCA Boeing hardware.
First of all before I forget it. Since I use two TCA Boeing quadrants, you need to select the ENG switches on the front as follows.
On the left-hand TCA Boeing quadrant you set the switch to ENG 1&2 while on the other quadrant you set the switch to ENG 3&4. Depending if you’re a Mac simmer or Windows simmer; on Mac you need to connect each throttle quadrant separately to your Mac or USB hub while on Windows you can interconnect one quadrant to the other and the last quadrant is then connected to your PC or USB hub, but hold on, what about the TCA Boeing Yoke?
The advantage of the TCA Boeing yoke is that there are no complicated selectors or rotary knobs on it. The yoke is only equipped with the roll and pitch channels, lots of buttons, two sliders at the mid front, a HAT switch, a mini stick and for trim pitch, roll and yaw switches. All are just basic X-Plane assignments. No special lua file or whatsoever is needed.
Worth to mention; suppose you own only the Thrustmaster TCA Boeing yoke, but not the TCA Boeing throttle quadrant, you can always use the yoke device with another throttle device. That can be the Honeycomb Bravo, but e.g. also the Saitek X52 Pro throttle quadrant or the X56 throttle unit.
Honeycomb Bravo Throttle Quadrant
First this; I can start right away with that there’s not yet a dedicated Rotate MD-11F json file available – as per April 10th 2022 – that makes it possible for you to assign the Auto Pilot switches, rotary knob and increase/decrease knob as well as no assignments for all the lights. Perhaps during the writing of this review, a dedicated json file pops up at the Aerosoft forum. I’ll see, but right now I can tell you that all other assignments for the speedbrake, throttles and flap will be working with the Bravo quadrant.
And yes, you can use if you want or if you own, the Honeycomb Bravo together with the Thrustmaster TCA Boeing yoke, or the Honeycomb Alpha Flight Controls with the TCA Boeing throttle quadrant. Any combination is possible as I already wrote before. It depends on what flight sim hardware you have or what your preferences are and how big your wallet is. Or if you have non of these above yokes, then you can also use a joystick although that’s less realistic.
And when you have no rudder pedal set like me, then a joystick is a bit more relaxed since the YAW channel also controls the nose wheel steering system. Using a separate knob on a hardware device for the nose wheel tiller is of course realistic, as long as the neutral point of the knob can be clearly felt else it will be dramatic takeoff run.
Section II – Preparations | Flight Plan
Flight Plan Programs
As Paul mentioned in the introduction, your personal reporter Angelique van Campen picks up all the items that are related to flying the modeled MD-11F. While typing these first sentences on March 26th 2022, I have no clue yet what kind of flight I will do and since Paul is doing all the other chapters, it will cost me some time to explore the modeled aircraft.
And no, we’re not in a hurry, we’re not writing a review in a couple of days since that’s impossible. First I always respect the developers, in this case the Rotate team, in a way that it took for them years to create this gorgeous aircraft, and second, when we hurry up writing an average quality review, it’s in my humble opinion also an insult towards the Rotate team. They deserve as team and this aircraft too, an in-depth quality review!
For my flight I need to make a flight plan, logically. I can do that either by entering all the waypoints in the MCDU (Multi Purpose Control Display Unit) or I use an external program and load that flight plan via the MCDU. Lets see what options there are. While creating a flight plan you’ve got the choice out on many online and offline programs. Let me highlight a couple of these online websites.
Starting with the online website of Routefinder that offers you the possibility to quickly create a flight plan with the txt extension that is needed for the Rotate MD-11F.
Another interesting option is simBrief. Although you need an account to get access which is by the way free to register, it comes with a wealth flight planning information. When you decide to go for simBrief, then you use this URL since it offers all aircraft type with data including of course the MD-11F. In combination with SimBrief you need an account with Navigraph because you need updated AIRAC cycles.
But your simBrief account can also be used in combination with SkyVector, and then you’ve got a lot of interesting features too. SkyVector needs when you use it as a stand-alone flight programming software the online program X-PlaneTools to convert the SkyVector file format to txt. The txt extension is needed for the Rotate MD-11F.
And finally, another interesting planning tool that I’m already using for many years is the offline freeware program LittleNavMap. (https://albar965.github.io/littlenavmap.html) I can tell you that it can do much more then just flight planning. It does basically the same as SkyVector, but offers more flexibility. Perhaps most important is that it’s a program that can be downloaded and installed on your Windows PC, Mac computer or Linux computer. It offers many “save as” options including the fms extension from X-Plane 11. One thing to keep in mind is that Little Navmap needs it’s own AIRAC cycle and take care that the AIRAC cycle is the same as the one used in X-Plane.
But it must be said that the combination with simBrief and Navigraph gives you the highest realistic factor you can imagine. Once more, the only thing you need it an account with Navigraph and the minimum you can buy from Navigraph is the FMS/AIRAC cycles per month or better to buy a yearly package. Looking to my first flight plan I’m aware that this isn’t a real flight plan, but I try to compile a route that is realistic enough.
What kind of Flights
While starting with this section, I wonder which or what test flights I will do. I could use the included tutorial, but I can also include two flights.
The first flight will be a local flight near KLGB. For those who are a bit familiar with the McDonnell Douglas aircraft, the company had a large factory for Douglas and McDonnell Douglas aircraft at Long Beach Airport, a couple of miles northeast of downtown Long Beach, in Los Angeles County, California. It is also called Daugherty Field, named after local aviator Earl Daugherty. According to Wikipedia “The Boeing Company (formerly McDonnell Douglas) maintains maintenance facilities for Boeing and McDonnell Douglas/Douglas aircraft (including the historic DC-9 and DC-10 aircraft) near the Long Beach Airport, and produced the C-17 through 2015.”
This give me also the possibility to fly the aircraft without going on a long trip. Not only that, it’s a bit harder working, but it’s the best way to understand how everything works and what to expect. Even for me as long time reviewer and being an ex-ground engineer with test run license on the MD-80 Series, the MD-11F does have a lot more to offer then the MD-80 although I recognize a lot of systems in the way they are build.
The second flight will be as follows. I think it will be a good idea to use the Rotate tutorial as a guide, but creating my own FedEx flight plan from, logically, KLGB to KBOS (Boston Logan International Airport) with an alternate for KJFK (John F. Kennedy International Airport). For this flight I use simBrief, and after I entered the necessary data, simBrief came up with the following flight plan, including the SID and STAR : KLGB FRITR3 AVRRY LANCY J78 DRK J96 GUP J8 BGD MMB PER SGF J98 FAM J78 PXV RID ROD KLYNE Q29 JHW Q82 PONCT JFUND2 KBOS.
Creating KLGB – KLGB Flight Plan with Little Navmap
As mentioned before, Little Navmap is a free offline program that’s free of charge although a donation for them is always welcome. It’s a program for Windows, macOS and I think also for Linux. It comes with an detailed online manual, but many videos are available too to make it easier for you to understand Little Navmap.
It’s not my intention to tell you all the ins and outs of this program, but only to tell you that I created my own KLGB flight plan. The intention is to takeoff from runway 30, then a left-hand turn, crossing California and at Palm Spring VORTAC PSP I’ve planned a holding and depending on the practices I want to do, I finally fly from this holding back to KLGB. It’s a trip of almost 240NM, so not the longest first test flight, but perhaps long enough. The planned route looks like this : KLGB SID WILMA DCT FERMY DCT MIDDS DCT WOKRO DCT PDZ DCT SCBBY DCT DEWAY DCT MCHNE DCT PSP DCT JLI DCT PASME DCT KARVR DCT BALBO STAR KLGB.
Creating the KLGB – KBOS Flight Plan with simBrief
This flight plan was made for the second longer US flight from the West coast to the Northeast coast. What said, the flight plan was made with simBrief and will be as follows : KLGB FRITR3 AVRRY LANCY J78 DRK J96 GUP J8 BGD MMB PER SGF J98 FAM J78 PXV RID ROD KLYNE Q29 JHW Q82 PONCT JFUND2 KBOS.
But now the question, how to save it in simBrief and in which format. A format or file extension that can be read by the Rotate MD-11F FMS MCDU. First of all, the Rotate MD-11F only uses “txt” file formats and not the known “fms” for default X-Plane aircraft and also used by other developers. One thing to keep in mind; take care that the AIRAC you use with simBrief or Little Navmap are always the same as the one used in X-Plane. Next, in simBrief you can save the flight plan as txt by using the Rotate MD-11. The simBrief flight plan name is KLGBKBOS.txt as is written at the same line. Keep this in mind since you need to enter the exact name – KLGBKBOS – in the MCDU. But you can of course always change the name to something else like LGBBOSFEX or LGBBOSUPS1 and so on.
Hold on, you can also as Rotate did with their sample flights, rename it to ROTKLGBKBOS.txt. Copy the txt flight plan file now to Rotate sub folder /user-data/saved-routes. While you’re here, check out the following. There’s also a folder named nav-data. In this folder you copy the AIRAC cycle content from GNS430.
OK, let me check. Nothing forgotten?
No, except that I could also, as I mentioned before, enter waypoint by waypoint in the left- or right-hand MCDU. Interesting to mention that the modeled MD-11F has a master and slave MCDU or actually, the modeled FMS (Flight Management System) is as in the real aircraft a dual FMS. The third MCDU is not really integrated in the DUAL FMS system. It can be used for example for RAD NAV.
Company Route or Saving Rotate Flight Plan
It is not possible, as it is with some developers, to create a flight plan within the FMS. What do I mean with it and is it a problem? As explained before, you either create via simBrief or Little Navmap your flight plan, save it with a txt extension and copy and paste it as a company route in the MD-11F aircraft sub folder /user-data/saved-routes. The other option is and also explained in the tutorial is inserting waypoint by waypoint in the MCDU. But the Rotate MD-11F doesn’t offer the option to enter only the departure and arrival airports and let the MCDU create a flight plan itself. This is another option available with other developers. Is that then a missing issue? In my humble opinion it isn’t since in the real MD-11F it wasn’t possible either.
Section III – Preparations | Flight Deck
Attention attention ….. this section with sub chapters Rotate Menu, Ground Handling Equipment, MCDU INIT Cost Index, MCDU Adding SID and STAR, AviTab and WebFMC will be applicable to both planned test flights.
Although the first flight from KLGB to Palm Springs and then back to KLGB isn’t really a long one, I can divert and do whatever I want. I added a holding at Palm Springs and from there it’s a bit up to me what I want to do else to practice and master the modeled MD-11F.
The Rotate Menu
Paul discussed the Rotate MD11 menu already in detail, so there’s no need for me to do that again for my flights, but I will highlight the things I need for the two flights I plan to do. And yes, I will need the Rotate menu for entering my payload and fuel.
Ground Handling Equipment
The MD-11F offers some ground equipment, but as expected, it’s not a full set. There’s a FWD passenger door stair, a hi-loader with in total four LD4 containers, a GPU, a fuel truck I believe, but that’s it more or less. It isn’t a problem for me at all, but when you want ground equipment around the aircraft, then you need to seek for a solution. One of the possibilities is to go for the JARDesign Ground Handling Deluxe add-on. You can buy this add-on package at the dedicated X-Plane.Org webpage. Via the JARDesign Ground Handling Deluxe website you can download the dedicated Rotate MD-11F set via this link.
Another option when you don’t own the JARDesign GHD is the freeware Simple Ground Service (based on SNLE). It can be found at the dedicated X-Plane.Org forum page, but I need to add immediately to this that in the available aircraft list you won’t find yet the Rotate MD-11F. As it is possible with both packages, you can also create your own set or own profile for the Rotate MD-11F.
MCDU INIT Cost Index
A small note regarding the Cost Index (CI) that needs to be entered on page 1 of the INIT MCDU page. In the tutorial page 13 you’ll find the following about the CI “This variable goes from 0 to 999 and affects fuel consumption and performance of the aircraft. Basically, the higher the number, the speed will be higher and more fuel will be consumed. We will enter a CI of 50.”
Although being an old Airbus Industries document, “getting to grips with the cost index”, this article is basically valid for all aircraft manufactures and models knowing that it goes back to May 1998. Yes, I’m aware that the manual was written many years ago, but it still gives useful background on the Cost Index. For those who are interested, just follow this link.
MCDU Adding SID and STAR
As it is in the reality too, the flight plan has no SID (Standard Instrument Departure) and no STAR (Standard Terminal Arrival Route), so I/we still need to enter a SID and STAR. The following screenshots shows you both flight plans. One of the requirements for the txt flight plan file format for Rotate is the presence of the words SID and STAR although these aren’t the actual SID and STAR to take or to choose from.
What I wrote before, real company routes that are loaded in all FMS CDU/MCDUs do never have a SID and STAR. That said, when the pilot loads a company route, he/she will need to add a SID and TRANS(ition) if applicable. A STAR can be added later during the flight since it depends on the environmental airport conditions and therefore which runway is in use, but after checking with a DLH (Lufthansa) pilot, it turned out that these days a SID and STAR are already entered during the departure preparations. Of course, different procedures can exist.
The above screenshots taken in the Rotate MD-11F are just an example on how to check first the installed AIRAC cycle. As of this writing, I’m in the middle of AIRAC cycle 2203 which can be seen on the right side of the MCDU screen, opposite of LSK 3R (Line Select Key). I know that the company route for my first flight plan is named KLGBKLGB, so I enter in the scratchpad KLGBKLGB and select LSK 1L.
Then, continuing on the last screenshot, I click MCDU keyboard key F-PLN. The flight plan with all waypoints shows up – ignore for the moment the F-PLN DISCONTINUITY – but select LSK 1L KLGB. This brings us to the LAT(eral) REV page of KLGB. Next select LSK 1L SID. On the SID page I select runway 30 and choose as SID TOPMM4.
When you’re familiar with Little NavMap, you can check which or what each SID and TRANS does. In this particular example, SID TOPMM4 is enough. There’s no reason to add a TRANS too it. I could have chosen also for SID FRITR3, and again, when I had chosen this SID, no TRANS is needed. I go for SID TOPMM4, but need to remove the F-PLN DISCONTINUITY to connect the SIDF to the first waypoint WILMA. What said in the beginning of this sub section, it is just an example for a typical flight although you could get the impression that it is for my second West East US flight …. which is of course partly true, but it can be used for any flight.
I forgot to mention one thing which is for some simmers very important to have and that’s the AviTab (Aviation Tablet). I write on purpose “for some simmers” since the real MD-11F didn’t had initially a tablet, but it was possible to build in a real tablet on both sides of the sliding windows. As of this writing, Rotate didn’t include the AviTab yet, but I believe it’s on their bucket list, soon to be implemented.
When the AviTab is implemented, it has a direct link with Navigraph provided you’ve got an account, and then you can download charts directly on your AviTab and you can even add your MD-11F documents in the respective AviTab folder and then you’ve got access to these Rotate look alike FCOM too.
WebFMC from Green Arc Studios
In case you’re the proud owner of the X-Plane plugin Green Arc Studios WebFMC, then with the release of version 1.9.0, the Rotate MD-11F is supported too, but why would you that?
Good question, easy answer.
As Paul highlighted already during his cockpit adventure, none of the DU (Display Units) or the MCDUs have 2D popup windows, at least, not with the Rotate MD-11F version we reviewed as per April 2022. Having a popup MCDU is very handy since you use it quite often for your ground preparations as well as in flight. With this plugin you can quickly configure a MCDU or CDU on either another screen or in my case, on an iOS or iPad device. Logically, I use my iPad for this due to the larger screen. Installation and the configuration is straightforward.
Copy the WebFMC plugin to your X-Plane Resources/plugins folder including the license text file. Then startup X-Plane, and when up and running and loaded the Rotate MD-11F, check which IP address your X-Plane PC or Mac is. Remember this unique IP address and enter it in the Safari browser of your iOS or iPad. Your iOS or iPad will make contact with your X-Plane computer and you’ve got a remote MCDU.
Just to highlight for you in case you didn’t know or you’re interested in this add-on. See for this the above screenshot. When you have connected your tablet or smartphone to WebFMC, you can select on tablet – in my case – between the different Rotate MD-11F MCDU’s. As you can see on the above screenshot that the active iPad MCDU has on top one or two white arrow(s). Click the arrow and the tablet display shows you shortly to which MCDU you’re looking. Very handy and a great add-on worth the money. In case you missed it, on your tablet you can switch forward and backwards to all MCDUs.
Flight 1 – Part I | KLGB – KLGB
Standard Operating Procedures
Right now, there’s not much more then a basic checklist and of course the tutorial. What I actually miss are the Normal Operating Procedure papers, which normally also comes with the Abnormal Procedures. I’m aware that developers can add this and not all simmers really use it and besides that, it’s not always possible to include these kind of papers because of private property or legal issues. But what can you and I do about it since the included checklist is a bit limited unless we want to rely only on the tutorial, right?
As a community leader for X-Plane.Org I see a lot of posts coming by and noticed recently that Org user MaxThePilot23 has posited his Normal Operating Procedures and Checklists for MD-11 1.0.0 document. According to MaxThePilot23 it can be used for the PMDG and Rotate MD-11F aircraft. That said, I will use this document for my preparations for the planned test flights.
Checklist or JARDesign Co-Pilot
As of today, April 7th 2022, I’m pleased to say that X-Plane.Org user <a href=”https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/80253-rotate-md-11-xchecklist/” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>McDonne11 has publish his version of the XChecklist (clist.txt) based on the Normal Procedures lists from Delta Airlines. To use this clist, you need the XChecklist plugin from X-Plane.Org user sparker. Or – whenever available – JARDesign will create a Co-Pilot plugin for the Rotate MD-11F. I contacted Ivan from the Rotate team and asked him if there is/was a special reason not to include the Normal Procedures papers. According to Ivan “As for now, normal procedures are not included in the package. We may revisit this in the future.”
As you could read in the previous paragraph, I’ll use the handy and comprehensive Normal Operating Procedures and Checklists from MaxThePilot23. Some additional words about the JARDesign Co-Pilot plugin.
When you’re not familiar with this add-on, I invite you to check out two reviews we wrote. One review is dedicated to the JARDesign Co-Pilot for the ToLiss A319, written by Andy Clarke. In the other in-depth review of the JD340-500, your personal reporter Angelique van Campen discussed the JARDesign 340, but also highlight the functionality of the Co-Pilot. When something pops up during the writing of our review, I’ll include that in this section. To be continued as we say!
Flight 1 – Part II | KLGB – KLGB
What Did I Do?
Before moving on to the pushback, you will ask me what I all did with the Normal Operating Procedures papers. I used first the Rotate tutorial, but found out quickly that several steps of items to perform aren’t mentioned. Not that I can guess what steps to expect or what to do, but therefore not a complete tutorial as I had hoped for. As previously said, I decided to use the downloaded Standard Operating Procedures papers from MaxThe Pilot23, but found much more on the Internet.
Like this, a document written and compiled by Wolfgang Liehr. First the link and although some minor parts are in German, the majority of the procedures is English. In combination with the pictures and references as well as what the captain and first officer does, a helpful document. And then I’ve got for myself – sorry boys and girls, I can’t share this video – an ITT video from a Martinair Holland flight to Palma de Mallorca where I can double check what I do is also done by real Martinair MD-11C pilots.
At the end I’ve got several documents that allow me to do all the cockpit preparations as indicated in the Standard Operation Procedures and the checklists. I’m happy to say that all what I expected to see as system behavior is also in that same way modeled. That said, when I used the above tutorial or papers, I am happy to see how all the systems are working and realistically modeled. I’m not a 100 percent expert on the MD-11F thus I need to ask Rotate for some more background.
According to Ivan “the AFS (Auto Flight System) is modeled from scratch following the original, with a few simplifications of course. The FMS simulates the two FMCs, but for performance issues only one instance is processing. In the original MD-11 both FMCs work in sync anyway. We have tried to mimic the original functionality and the look and feel, but not all pages are simulated, and of course internals have been simplified. Three MCDUs are modeled and can be operated independently however, only MCDU number 1 and 2 are actually connected to the FMCs. The third is not used for navigation except for STBY RADIO functions. In our case the third is mostly for aesthetics, and has no real functionality implemented. And finally, Auto Slat Extend in case of stall is fully simulated.”
The above tutorial link from Wolfgang Liehr worked for me very well and I’m quite sure it will for you too. I did mention in the previous sections already about the MCDU and for that you and I can use the Rotate tutorial. Although my first flight from KLGB to KLGB is different, many steps are the same however, I’m wondering how to figure out the takeoff speeds?
As you’ve read already in the Rotate tutorial, VSPDs (takeoff speeds) are automatically calculated for you. You only need to confirm them. For sure this is different then the reality. During my days we had special books where pilots had to look it up by themselves. Modern aircraft like Airbus use Octopus. No no, not that animal, but a software program where depending on pilot inputs. The software calculates the takeoff speeds and pilots enter them in the MCDU. I tried to find at the WWW for an online takeoff calculator dedicated to the MD-11F, but I couldn’t find anything.
With all the work done so far, it’s time for the pushback. If I decide to ask for a pushback from my parked position, there’s a lot to choose from which or what pushback function to use. First of all, the Rotate MD-11F comes with a build-in pushback function. It depends a bit on what you want. When you decide to stay in the flight deck while the aircraft is push backed, then it doesn’t make sense nor that it is important to see how the pushback truck is modeled. In this case, the Rotate MD-11F doesn’t include a pushback truck object. Is it a pity? No, not to me since there’s the BetterPushback plugin in case you want to see something outside.
When you find it important that the external pushback truck looks are real as it gets, then you should consider downloading the freeware BetterPushback plugin. Besides that it is a beautiful truck, it comes with a nice controlling tool that allows you to visualizes how and where to pushback too.
The BetterPushback truck plugin decides what truck needs to be connected. According to BetterPushback “When a tug is called, BetterPushback asks X-Plane what the currently nearest airport is to the aircraft (presumably that’s the one we’re located at) and determines its four-letter ICAO identifier. It then proceeds to select a tug. The exact details of the tug selection algorithm are beyond the scope of this short writeup. Once a tug is selected, BP selects a livery for the tug.”
I could have started the engines during pushback which is quite common, but I need to keep in mind that I’m alone in the flight deck and need to monitor many things, even for the engine start. It may be a much more modern engine that the General Electric CF6-50 which was fitted on the Boeing 747 Classic or the DC-10 Series, to me it’s still an old fashioned CF6-80C2. I knew the CF6-80A1/A3 on the Martinair Holland A310-200 and yes, the CF6-80A which slightly older then this CF6-80C2, it’s still an old engine. Oh yes, we call it a FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control) controlled and monitored engine, but this is way older then the modern full digital controlled engines on the A330, A340-500 and -600, the A350, 787, 777, 747-8 etc.
So I decided to start all three engines the moment the pushback is completed. Once the pushback truck has been disconnected, it’s time to check the papers and believe me, the start procedure of each engine is not that difficult, but you need to check more then with the previous mentioned ultra modern engines. That said, start sequence is as far as I know for all DC-10 and MD-11 aircraft 3 – 1 – 2 whereas number 2 is the tail engine. For starting the engines 3 and 1, you need maintenance crew down to monitor the start sequence and act in case of abnormalities. Engine 2, no need for maintenance personal since you can’t see the actual inlet of the fan. It’s way far the the back of the inlet.
Ok, let’s start and see what’s happening. I’m impressed by the way the Rotate team modeled the almost exact speed increases in which the N2, N1, EGT and other OIL parameters respond. Although it sounds so logic, it isn’t. In real the engine parameters responds on the fuel flow, temperature, pressure, internal friction of the components and many other items that will influence the responsiveness of the parameters. In the Rotate MD-11F model all these parameters and their responsiveness are simulated.
So yes, I’m happy to see how realistic this is modeled. Only small remark for now is that none of the EIS DUs (Electronic Instrument System Display Unit) have 2D popups. Ok, for the engine start it would be much easier when we had a large popup of the EAD (Engine and Alert Display) and SD (System Display). It’s all a bit small from this distance to see what’s going on at the DUs, but OK, I can live with that.
For those who are more familiar with Boeing and Airbus aircraft. For these two displays I just mentioned (EAD and SD belonging to the EIS), Boeing named it the EICAS (Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System) while Airbus calls it ECAM (Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitoring). Although starting these engines is not fully automatic like on the Airbus A350, it’s still easy to do and what I mentioned before, FADEC is taking care for some tasks, but not all.
Before taxiing to the runway, I check what steps I need to do including the TAXI checklist and when all done, time to taxi to runway 30. From my spot at gate 4 – I just call it apron spot 4 but OK, that’s me – I need to taxi to taxiway L, then all the way down to L2 or L1 holding points. While taxiing, have you noticed when you make sharp turns, that one nose wheel lifts from the ground?
When you look to the position of the nose landing gear versus the fuselage, you’ll see that the strut is positioned with a couple of degrees forward. This leads to it, that when you make a sharp turn with the nose wheel tiller, one nose wheel lifts from the ground. In emergency conditions, I repeat under emergency conditions when no ground equipment is available, maintenance staff can replace a nose wheel when they have no jack available. Check it out yourself when you make a sharp turn with the nose-wheel tiller!
Next, you need to taxi the MD-11F, but it was already the same with the DC-10, at slow taxi speeds else the nose wheels are slipping. It is mentioned in the Rotate manuals as well as known by Rotate and discussed at the X-Plane.Org forum, that must assign hardware for the toe brakes and the nose-wheel tiller. When you use a joystick, then the NWS (Nose Wheel Steering) is done via the control wheel ROLL, but quite limited unless a knob isa assigned for the nose wheel tiller.
That said, I suggest that you assign a slider or whatever you prefer to the nose-wheel tiller and tick it in the Rotate window and don’t forget to save it. When you don’t use or don’t have a joystick, but the Honeycomb Alpha or the Thrustmaster TCA Boeing Yoke, then you need to assign a slider to the nose-wheel tiller and tick it in the Rotate window as previously explained by Paul. Anyway, taxiing the MD-11 is not complicated as long as you keep in mind that the NLG is far behind the cockpit and thus making turns while keeping on the centerline need some practices.
When I reach my designated holding point L2, I set the parking brake and check the items on the BEFORE TAKEOFF checklist. One of the items to rehearse for myself is the takeoff / departure briefing. One thing not to forget is if the VSPDS on the PFD are still magenta. If they have turned white, then go to the MCDU TO/APP page, CLR all speeds and the moment you clear them, new speeds are calculated. Confirm these new speeds by clicking the respective LSKs. When you’ve completed this, click on the FCP the NAV button and, although not mentioned in the tutorial, you can also select or arm the PROF (ile) pushbutton. You actually ARM these modes.
Oops, one thing before I start with the takeoff. When aligned with runway 30, and all set, you slide the throttle levers to 60 percent position TLA or easier to understand 70 percent N1 RPM – remember that N1 is only applicable to General Electric CF6 engines while a Pratt and Whitney uses as thrust parameter EPR – and press the AUTO FLIGHT button in the middle of the FCP (Flight Control Panel). This is the first time you push it which engages the ATS (Auto Throttle System). In flight above 400 feet when NAV mode armed, we click the AUTO FLIGHT button again, but this time we engage the AP (Auto Pilot). You can also press the AUTO FLIGHT button before you advance the throttles.
Ok, are you ready to join me?
Flight 1 – Part III | KLGB – KLGB
During each takeoff there’s a lot to do and since I’m sitting alone in the cockpit, you and I need to check all the indications and after lift off, we need to do all the steps from the checklist. Ok, we have the luck that we can engage the Auto Pilot via the AutoFlight button on the FCP (flight Control Panel) from 400 feet and up, provided we plan to fly in NAV mode. A couple of words about the AUTO FLIGHT button on the FCP. According to the Rotate manual page 25 “when ready for takeoff, advance the throttles to approximately 60 degrees and autothrottles will engage, if selected, and will automatically advance to takeoff THRUST.”
In the tutorial you will see that at about a throttle positioned of 60 degrees – how do you know – or as I found in other tutorials at about 70 percent N1 RPM which makes to me a bit more sense, you should see that the Auto Throttle System drives mechanically the throttles forward. You will also see that the N1 goes up to the derated/FLEX N1 belonging by the temperature. It takes a couple of seconds before I noticed it, but it works. First when you press the AUTO FLIGHT button on the FCP, the ATS OFF and box disappear, then when you advance the throttles to roughly 70 percent N1, the FMA (Flight Mode Annunciator) on the top of the PFD shows T/O Thrust, throttles are moved by ATS forward till they reach their position and at 80 knots, the FMA reverts to T/O CLAMP.
I re-checked what all I can expect according to the tutorials and then, after being aligned at the runway, parking brake OFF and release your brakes, then I push the throttles forward, and of the MD-11F goes. I select as just described the AUTO FLIGHT button which engages the ATS. Just as a side note; some airliners have different procedures where pilots select this AUTO FLIGHT button while waiting for the lineup on the runway, others do it far before this. Anyway, during the takeoff run there’s no aural sound that announces 80 knots, or V1 or VR implemented (yet), so you have to check that yourself while also monitoring the PFD speed tape.
At VR, I pull the yoke by following the FD (Flight Director) PITCH bar. I need to keep in mind that I need to watch out that I don’t pull to enthusiastic else it can cause a tail strike. With a positive climb started, I select the gear UP, and monitor the PFD SPD scale when I can select the FLAPS and SLATS in steps in. But more important is the 400 feet for now. I’m allowed to select the AUTO FLIGHT button once more which engages the AP. You can also decide to leave the AUTO FLIGHT OIFF, and continue to fly manually, but I felt it very difficult to fly this aircraft manually, but Ok, that could be me.
I wrote already before that I selected the NAV and PROF buttons on the FCP. I actually ARMED these modes. These NAV and PROF actions are a bit airliner policy after I checked several videos of different airliners. By pressing the AUTO FLIGHT button for the second time, I now engage the Auto Pilot. As with other X-Plane aircraft, this will give you and me a huge relief since, again, we’re sitting all alone in the flight deck. While the MD-11F is now engaged in the PROFILE mode – meaning that the FMS is connected to the Auto Flight system – I can relax a bit although I need to monitor the FLAP and SLAT speeds markings on the speed tape that tells me when to retract.
Initial Climb till Cruise
I’ve started my initial climb. I first need the perform the AFTER TAKEOFF checklist and see which items I need to do else. Depending on the guides you use – I believe I’m using right now for this flight 4 different tutorials/checklists and procedures papers – I notice that the MD-11F smoothly climbs out towards my first initial set altitude. Although the following depends a bit on the airliner, and what you prefer, when passing thru FL100, the exterior lights have to be switched OFF and, if applicable, the SEAT BELT signs of our load masters staff in the front of the UDC (Upper Deck Cargo) compartment.
I keep it simple on this initial, so I don’t plan to do any complicated things, but playing around with V/S (Vertical Speed) or HDG SEL/HLD (Heading Select and Hold) is always possible, but let me do that when we’ve reached our cruizing flight level of FL220 and else during our longer US flight. As I just said, the MD-11F approaches its first altitude. I’ve got two options; or I select before reaching this altitude the new and final cruizing level or I wait till the AP has leveled off and then I enter the new altitude. For now I’ve decided to enter before reaching the new altitude. I turn the ALT knob and dial 22000 and since nothing has changed in the ALT PROF mode, the MD-11F continues as if nothing has happen. I need to remind you that when you enter a new altitude, don’t, I repeat don’t PUSH/PULL the ALT knob. If you accidentally do it, then click the PROF button again.
While the climb continues, I look a bit around in the modeled 3D flight deck. Paul has done that part already, so there’s no need for me to do it once more, but some words about how realistic the flight deck is made is always worth to mention it again. There are some animations like the sliding windows and the green sun visors and of course, the cockpit door, but that’s it. As for now, the armrests are not operative as well as that the pilot seats can’t be operated. The more animations you’ll find, the more polygons where needed to simulate this and this means in most cases it will impact your FPS (Frames Per Second). So to me it’s OK that the current animations are well done and then I’m not even speaking about the rest of the very well modeled, no gorgeous modeled 3D flight deck.
Internally, but also externally, you can clearly see that this is an used aircraft and my goodness, this is done with so much love. Since I don’t know who from the Rotate team has done this “weathered look”, but it looks awesome!
Besides that there are not yet – I really hope it will be implemented – any 2D popup windows for the PFD, ND, EAD and SD DU’s (Primary Flight Display, Navigation Display, Engine and Alert Display and System Display), the rest of the instruments, switches, sub-panels and so on, are very well modeled. Clearly a weathered look and feel is implemented and yes, I’m aware you like this or not, but I think, keeping the age of the MD-11F in mind, it’s as realistic as it can be.
Besides that and as usual with every release of an aircraft, simmers who love the modeled Rotate MD-11F always like to add/upload their own improvements. For example, I did see at the X-Plane.Org forum already some suggested cockpit modifications like lighter grey panels textures or a different colored PFD tape. This is all a personal taste and has nothing to do with the modeled and weathered looking flight deck.
The same way that this is a MD-11F and it comes with blinded windows which is by the way correct. McDonnell Douglas made passenger models, and it made of course also dedicated freighter aircraft with no windows at all. But it is also correct that you had MD-11C (convertable) and MD-11 passenger models transferred to full freighters. In particular these modified passenger to freighter models have blinded windows, so, yes, it is possible that you see these as is the Rotate model.
In the mean time I’ve reached my cruizing altitude near the city of Palm Springs. Oops, that’s wrong. I have been already for a while at FL220, far before I reached Palm Springs. I could relax a bit, I can look around in the cockpit, but I can also have a look in the FWD PAX area before the cargo crash net, although that’s already covered by Paul.
Ok then, a view screenshots then.
Ok, I could add a holding starting at waypoint or actually VORTAC PSP (Palm Springs). The following screenshot shows you the steps to perform. This time I didn’t change the holding parameters, but you can change for example the way the holding goes, so a L (left) or R (right) holding or how much time it takes to complete a holding.
But there’s something else I need to do on this short flight and that is doing the necessary preparations for the approach at KLGB. The reason that I bring this up is because I see at the ND (Navigation Display) and MCDU the T/D (Top of Descent) magenta arrow. I need to check if it’s useful to add a STAR and/or a TRANS (ition) or that the flight plan is in such away that there’s no need to add anything except then the runway to land at.
The following screenshots shows you that I go for- again – runway 30 KLGB and select therefore I30 which means it’s the ILS for runway 30. The moment I select I30, a transition pops up namely MIDDS which was also one of the waypoints when departing. I leave it only with the TRANS, and finally click LSK 6L to insert the changes. The last screenshot shows you that we need to be at 4000 feet at waypoint MIDDS, then descending to 3000 feet for waypoint LUCIG. Because of that, I enter at the FCP ALT window 4000 feet BUT don’t do anything yet. This means then that the MD-11F keeps on flying at it’s cruising level of FL220.
Flight 1 – Part VI | KLGB – KLGB
Descent, Approach, Final Approach and Landing
With all the preparations done so far, and entered the 4000 feet in the ALT window which can be seen in the last two previous screenshots, it’s now waiting till the T/D is reached and then at that moment, the MD-11F will start its descent, if it all works fine. And yes, it does exactly what I expected. At the T/D the MD-11F starts to descent, but not only that, it starts to calculate at each waypoint at what altitude it has to be including all constraints if applicable. That’s very nice to see how this VNAV (Vertical Navigation by the FMS) works.
Another thing I didn’t mention yet is, the moment I entered the ILS runway 30 in the MCDU for our landing, it also included the correct ILS frequency of the runway. You can see on the PFD in the lower left-hand corner ILGB which is the identification of the ILS. Further on you and I can see that since there’s not yet any ILS signal received, the PFD shows in cyan NO LOC and NO GS.
As prove is that the ILS for runway 30 is entered by the MCDU, can also be seen on the MCDU by clicking the NAV RAD keyboard key. Along LSK 4L you and I can read ILGB/CRS 110.30 with a course of 301. So, I don’t have to do anything. It’s all done by the FMS. So actually you don’t have to do much. The correct altitudes for each waypoint are calculated as well as the speeds, but we still need to do a couple of things and that are extending the SLATS and FLAPS according to the indications on the PFD speed scale, lowering the landing gear, select AUTOBRAKE, arming the ground spoilers, external lights and a couple of more items, BUT that’s all in the descent and approach procedures as well as the checklists.
When I’m approaching MIDDS2, I see on the MCDU that the next waypoint I need to be at 3000 feet, so before reaching 4000 feet, I dial with the ALT knob 3000 feet. This is then also the last thing I need to do on the FCP except for the APPROACH/LAND pushbutton. The moment I click the button, and the ILS signal is already available, the PFD FMA shows on top LOC (Localizer) and G/S (Glide Slope) and LAND ARMED, all in white. The moment the G/S is captured, I select the landing gear handle DOWN. In the mean time, the Auto Flight system follows the LOC and G/S nicely.
Oops, there’s only one thing missing in the above last screenshot and that are the hydraulic actuators that operate the FLAPS. OK, I can imagine that the Rotate 3D modeler didn’t include that for the simple reason, hydraulic actuators are made up of polygons and more unnecessary polygons means less available FPS. But for me it looks a bit weird since I know there should be large hydraulic actuators with the hydraulic lines. Anyway, that’s just me!
The MD-11F slowly follows the G/S path, below I’m passing the Walter (stadium ) pyramid, with on my right Disneyland Anaheim and before I know, I almost down at runway 30. As you can see in one of the previous screenshots, I selected the APPR MAP view – pretty basic to be honest – with the CDI (Course Deviation Needle) on the ND and hopefully it aligns with the ILS signal but that works OK. As you can see on the screenshots, initially the LOC and G/S are white which means these ILS modes are captured while at around 1400 feet the LOC and G/s turn green as well as DUAL LAND.
When at 50 feet AGL (Above Ground Level) LOC is replaced by ALIGN, while G/S will become FLARE and the ATS RETARDS the throttles. The Auto Flight is equipped with ROLL OUT as is also applicable with other modern aircraft. At touch down, I select the engine reverse thrust and hopefully I stop in time. Welcome back at KLGB, home of the Douglas Corporation!
It worked! It was a pleasant and short flight. And no, I didn’t cover yet all what’s possible, but therefore I’ve planned a second longer flight. And although it looks perhaps to some of you a tutorial, it’s not. I think that’s up to Rotate to re-write a more in-depth tutorial, but perhaps some of you do find interesting items in this first test flight. I had a couple of issues, at least, I thought I had, but with the help of a real Lufthansa pilot and Ivan, I managed to experience and write down this test.
I made it so far, but there’s still another flight waiting for me. Normally I would say that it’s enough right now, but I haven’t discuss all the items I want and I think it’s also fair towards Rotate since they put a tremendous amount of effort, time and energy into this MD-11 project. That said, I need to relax a day or two before moving on to my next ferry flight. Again from KLGB, but this time to the USA East coast KBOS.
Flight 2 – KLGB – KBOS
Dispatches, pushback, engine start, taxi, TO, CL, CR, descent, APPR and LDG
This means there’s a lot to discuss at the X-Plane Dispatch Office. Oops, that’s no longer in an office, but in the aircraft. Anyway, we’re parked the aircraft at KLGB, and at the same gate 4, but this time we’re flying to KBOS with a FedEx MD-11F. The idea of this second and longer flight is to check a couple of other Auto Flight features, and to check once more the modeled cockpit as well as the simulated systems, as far as my knowledge goes and the manuals allows me to check it out.
I have not found yet the AMM (Aircraft Maintenance Manual) or LAMM Schematics. That said, I can’t confirm all what I see. It also means that parts of the previous flight aren’t repeated again unless I find something new to share with you.
Are you ready to join me on a new exiting trip?
The first preparations are not done in the aircraft, at least, I thought that was done at the Dispatch office, but these days most of the dispatch items are electronically provided. They are not done at the dispatch office, but actually, in my flight sim office.
This time I completely rely on what simBrief tells me. That tells me what I mentioned before, simBrief offers dedicated data for the MD-11F being used as reference. No no, I’m not talking about saving the flight plan file that is also dedicated in the list for the Rotate MD-11F. For the moment I need to rely on the MD-11F data given in simBrief since I don ‘t have the official papers and therefore I can’t check it.
The idea is to climb to FL330, I think I can do that straightaway without a step climb. I don’t think there’s a need to level off at for example and suggested by simBrief FL250 to burn first enough fuel before I’m able to climb any further. We will do that later on if there’s a need for.
OK, a bit more about the flight plan and the necessary data for the FMS. The flight plan without SID and STAR is as follows : KLGB SID AVRRY DCT LANCY J78 DRK J96 GUP J8 BGD DCT MMB DCT PER DCT SGF J98 FAM J78 PXV DCT RID DCT ROD DCT KLYNE Q29 JHW Q82 PONCT STAR KBOS.
Then we need according to simBrief the following payload values and fuel:
– TRIP fuel : 71039
– TAXI fuel : 2000
– BLOCK fuel : 93346 lbs
– CI : 145
– PAYLOAD : 102500 lbs
– Cruizing Flight level FL33000
When you check the above screenshots which are a couple of papers from simBrief you’ll notice that a slightly different flight plan is proposed as well as that for that moment (time and date) a SID and STAR are added, while in my flight plan I left the SID and STAR out because I don’t know yet when I will make the flight, what the weather is, which runway at KLGB is in use and what the situation it at KBOS.
Then some additional information that I found at the Web, the takeoff. I know, I discussed this already during the previous flight, but that was more based on the different tutorials. For this second flight I use some papers I found at the Web. They are from the MD-11 FCOM and identified as Normal Takeoff (ICAO A). Not that I’m totally new to this, the advantage of these two pages is that these explain step by step what the PF (Pilot Flying) and PNF (Pilot Not Flying) each doing during the takeoff run and the initial climb.
Under normal conditions you should also check the weather at KLGB, which runway is in use, and consequently how to taxi to the runway as well as which SID I need to use. Then we need when flying online, the weather on the route and of course, at our approach in KBOS and for this the TRANS and STAR. Since I’m not flying online, I’m a bit free in which or what I do.
Lets first concentrate on the SID FRITR3. When we can depart from runway 12 then the description for the initial climb will be “Climb heading 121 to 600 feet, then on heading 121 or assigned by ATC for vectors to cross FRITR at or above 5000 feet, then on track 076 to DOTSS.”
Or when we takeoff from runway 30 then “Climb heading 301 to 1500 feet, then LEFT turn heading 180 or assigned by ATC for vectors to cross FRITR at or above 5000 feet, then on track 076 to DOTSS.” Keep in mind that simBrief and while I write FRITR3, but when you read this review after a while, that the number 3 can be number 4 or 5, depending if changes have applied to this SID.
Oops, is this correct or shouldn’t this section not be somewhere in flight during the descent preparations. I thought indeed that this was done during flight as I also did during the first test flight, but after consulting a real pilot, it turns out that the whole flight plan with departure runway SID – STAR – arrival runway are entered at the departing airport.
As was explained to me “the data for the runway plus SID at KLGB is more or less straight forward since we’re there so the chance that the runway and SID changes is minimum, but for the approach and landing at KBOS there’s always a chance that this can change for some reason, but for FMS calculations it’s better when all data for the flight plan including SID and STAR as well as runways are entered. Then it can make the correct calculations.”
Our simBrief dispatch form tells me that I can expect for landing runway 33L via STAR JFUND2. Assuming this stays like this, then we can select in the MCDU from KBOS the STAR, but let us first have a quick look to the following screenshots.
The above screenshots are also taken from my Navigraph account. One of the great features is that you can overlay a STAR, SID, ILS APPROACH semi-transparent over the map. Very handy! Ok, from top to bottom regarding the screenshots you see first the STAR with with the red dotted line our last part of the flight plan namely HI/LOW ENROUTE charts Q82 to waypoint PONCT. From PONCT our STAR starts and for clarity, I inserted the second screenshot that shows the overview of the whole STAR JFUND2.
Although the FMS will calculate the speeds and altitudes, the second screenshot shows in the left-hand lower corner what tracks and altitudes must be followed for an intended approach for “a” runway. We have entered runway 33L, but suppose the wind changes completely, and we have to use 15R, then the STAR stays the same except a different route toward 15R. And if it all changes, and we need to select another STAR, then we can do it then. In other words, not unusual to change MCDU inputs while enroute.
The third screenshot shows you and me the ILS for 33L KBOS – 110.70 – 330 with identify ILIP. At waypoint BENNN we have to be at 4000 feet, then descending in steps to 3000 feet (COHAS) where the LOC should be picked up, and then to 1500 feet NIMOY. At NIMOY the G/S signal should also be picked up.
Are you ready and join me on my second MD-11F flight adventure?
This is not a sub title that’s in the list for my second flight, right?
The reason that I didn’t highlight this subtitle during my first test flight and this flight to Boston is because Paul did already all the external work. So no need to me to tell you my experience how the model is made. Perhaps I highlighted it already in a short sentence before, it looks gorgeous, it looks realistic with all the dirt and weathering, and the landing gears with wheels are top notch quality. If you like weathering is a matter of taste, I agree with you, but it reflects something that can be quickly seen in real unless the aircraft is just brand new from the factory.
Pushback, engine start, taxi, takeoff, initial climb, climb and cruise
From gate position 4 I need again a pushback however this time in the other direction since we takeoff from runway 12, which is the opposite direction of our previous flight. The pushback isn’t really different as well as the engine start. The taxi is a bit longer and this time I faced a bit more problems with the NWS (Nose wheel Steering) and the aircraft. I don’t know why, but the NWS angle was large enough, but the aircraft didn’t respond as I wanted.
Anyway, from the apron I go via taxiway K – D to D5 and line up and wait. In the same way as during the previous flight; I arm before NAV and PROF which can be seen as magenta text at the FMA. I can click the AUTO FLIGHT button before I line up with runway 12, but I can also do it on the runway.
Then I advance the throttles to approximately 70 percent, and give it some seconds, you will see that the FMA will show T/O THRUST and at 80 knots it will change to T/O CLAMP which means the thrust is locked and the throttles won’t move anymore during the run thus they are clamped. Further on, I’ve selected the runway heading and my initial altitude is set to FL120 or 12000 feet (under ISA conditions). Just to clarify in case you think “isn’t she all the procedures and checklist items not forgotten”? Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten them, but I’ll try to concentrate myself on things I wan to show you what I haven’t show you on my first flight.
Some words about the ATS and the Auto Thrust on for example Airbus aircraft. The MD80 Series, the 747 Classics, the DC-10 Series and the MD-11 have an Auto Throttle System that drives via an electric motor the throttles to any position calculated by the ATS. Even the old airbus A310 and A300-600 had this ATS. Modern Airbus aircraft are using the Auto Thrust system whereas the throttles or thrust levers are placed as fixed positions on the pedestal. The computers calculate in conjunction with the FMGS (Flight Management and Guidance System) the required thrust but the throttles are no longer driven mechanically to their positions.
As you can remember from the previous section, we had selected SID FRITR3 which means that our initial climb will be on a heading of 121 to 600 feet, then on heading 121 or assigned by ATC for vectors to cross FRITR at or above 5000 feet, then on track 076 to DOTSS. Since this is programmed in the FMS, we can only check if the FMS and thus the Auto Flight is doing what it supposed to do.
And believe me, it does a perfect job. It may sound all familiar, but I should not forget to ask for the AFTER TAKEOFF checklist, not to forget to retract the landing gear and monitor the PFD with the FLAP and SLAT speed indications. While the MD-11F continues with its climb, I switch off the TAXI and LANDING lights, after a while I set the BARO to STANDARD, grasp the checklist to see if I’ve forgotten nothing. If not, I can relax a bit for the moment.
Before reaching FL120 which was my initial cruizing level, I enter already my final cruizing level FL330 and before I know, the MD-11F levels off at FL330. Later on I will show you that you can set the OPTIMUM altitude which safes fuel thus money, right? So what’s the plan since it will be a long trip to KBOS. Time to do some practices with tuning for VOR or VORTAC stations or settings HDG HLD or HDG SEL.
Ok, let’s start with using a VOR or VORTAC beacon for reference or for navigation. First question that pops up is where can you select your preferred VOR or VORTAC (VHF Omni-directional Range or VHF Omni-directional Range and Tactical Air Navigation) beacon? Not a strange question since I don’t see anything on the FCP nor that I can find something on the pedestal so where and how is this possible. Let me start with where can you see something and how does it look like.
At the following screenshot I combined the X-Plane map view with the MD-11F ND MAP mode view. And, I selected on the Captains ECP (EIS Control Panel where EIS is the abbreviation for Electronic Instrument System) VOR1. I tuned manually for BLH VORTAC Blythe (117.40). Ok, nice, but where did I enter this? Hold on, one more example of another VORTAC beacon at VOR1. On the second screenshot I tuned VOR1 for EED VORTAC Needles (115.20)
On the above third screenshot I selected on the MCDU the NAV RAD keyboard key. I typed in the scratchpad 115.20/176 and clicked LSK 1L as is shown in the screenshot. The moment I clicked LSK 1L, it will be visible on the ND as can be seen on the second screenshot. When I also click on the ECP VOR1, then I also see the magenta line towards the selected beacon. Till now nothing happens. And nothing happens means that I only tune for a specific VOR or VORTAC beacon along the route provided I can receive it, so it’s only for reference, but I can do more. When you look closely to the third screenshot you see at LSK 2L starting with a star VOR ARM. When you click LSK 2L then you will change from NAV mode to VOR mode. No actions are required at the FCP.
I think it makes sense when I say to you that the MD-11 is normally flown via the FMS or if ATC orders you to follow radar vectors via HDG SEL. Flying specific VORs via this method is not really handy, but it is still possible, just in case.
Ok, one more.
When you understood the above description and could interpret the screenshots, then the following example goes one step further. It is namely adding a second VOR. In the following screenshot I tuned for VOR 1 EED and for VOR 2 BXK. And yes, I clicked on the ECP both VOR1 and VOR2 buttons that shows me on the ND VOR1 (cyan) and VOR2 (green) and again, in magenta dotted lines that points towards the selected VOR. Ideal for crosschecking your PPOS (Present Position). The same as we had in the past with the RMI (Radio Magnetic Indicator) we see now on the ND MAP mode. The cyan VOR1 single pointer and the green VOR2 double pointer!
Now I want to show you how to change to the HDG mode and if we can select HDG HOLD and/or HDG SEL(elect). As I did and how it works in real, normally you fly the MD-11 via the FMS, but it is always possible and realistic that ATC (Air Traffic Control) directs you to follow this or that heading while either climbing out or approaching an airport, thus the so known “radar vectors”. Knowing that, I tried how easy or not this HDG mode works in the modeled MD-11F. I can tell you, very easy although you need to know how and what to do since, when you’re also an Airbus simmer, it works slightly different on the ND (Navigation display numbers 2 and 5).
When flying in NAV mode, the HDG/TRACK window shows – – – . To show the current heading you can first look to the ND where it shows you the current heading on top of the arc (in MAP mode), but for the FCP you need to position the mouse pointer at the middle of the HDG knob (arrow up) and click once. The FCP HDG window shows now the current heading and on the ND you see the white filled HDG bug. Due to this action, the NAV mode is disengaged, and the HDG HOLD mode is active. At the PFD FMA, the NAV mode is replaced by HEADING with the value as can be see on the FCP HDG window. Although you won’t see the word HDG HLD, it is actually the heading hold mode. Verify this with the first screenshot below.
So then the question pops up how to change to the HDG SEL mode. Ok, here we go. Next we turn the heading knob on the FCP. In the example I turned the heading knob to 45, but hold on, nothing happens or does it? When you check the HDG bug on the ND, you still see the white HDG bug and with a dotted line a second HDG bug at 45 degrees position.
So I actually set a new heading of 45 degrees, but since we’re still in HDG HLD mode, nothing happens. However, when I place my mouse pointer again at the middle of HDG knob, but now with the arrow pointing downwards, and click, the MD-11F changes from HDG HLD to HDG SEL. This means, the MD-11F will turn towards a heading of 45 degrees and the white HDG bug changes from the 61 to the 45 position on the ND. Check again for yourself at the second and third screenshots.
When you want to return to NAV mode, you simple click the NAV button on the FCP and HEADING on the PFD FMA is replaced by NAV in magenta and the LNAV (lateral navigation) mode is engaged again and controlling the MD-11F.
Another item I want to share with you and myself while the MD-11F is in CRUISE and I don’t have to do much, is checking the System Display or the 4th display. Actually, the pages you select to show the AIR, FUEL, HYD etc. are so called synoptics. A synoptic is a simplified representation of the actual system that is shown. Sounds logic, right?
Some of the pages you’ve seen already when you followed the Rotate tutorial or you started studying the systems or you used another tutorial with pictures. Whatever you used for tutorial, you’ve seen already the ENG (ine) page with the secondary engine parameters. But you’ve also seen the CONFIG page during your flight control deflection test and I hope you also noticed the HYD page when you did the hydraulic test from the overhead panel.
There are a couple more system pages : ELECTRICAL system, AIR and FUEL. Actually, the ELECTRICAL SD page shows you the MD-11F AC (Alternate Current) and DC (Direct Current) buses. The AIR pages shows you the air conditioning of the cockpit, UDC (Upper Deck Cargo) and lower deck cargo areas as well as the cabin pressurization system. And finally, the FUEL page shows you the whole LO PRESSURE fuel system including all the fuel tanks and the FU (Fuel Used) and total fuel.
Ok, quickly then the other pages, the HYD system page shows the hydraulic tanks including their quantities and fluid temperature, the pumps, the ISOL(ation) valves and the output pressure. The CONFIG page is a combination of flight controls and their deflections as well as the landing gear positions, brake temperatures and tire pressure.
Another item I would like to bring to your attention is the PFD priority. When you’re familiar with modern avionics systems you know this, but when you’re new to these systems then this paragraph is for you. Whatever happens, the PFD has always the highest priority in a way that when for example DU number 1 fails which is the captains PFD, the PFD image is automatically transferred to DU 2.
Takes over means that the captains ND is transferred to the 3rd display and at the ND the PFD is presented. Even when DU 2 fails, there’s still a priority for the PFD which means that the captains PFD will then be projected at the third DU from the left. For the alert simmer; I simulated the DU failures by switching them OFF with the rheostat. These six rheostats can be found below the throttle levers.
Although I mentioned it before and knowing that the manuals say it too, it’s always worth to highlight the dual or split FMS and EIS. As you can see at the following screenshot, I selected on the captains and first officers panels different data to be shown on the NDs. On the captains ND the MAP is presented while on the first officers ND I selected the PLAN mode, but I did more. As you can see, additional data for traffic (TRFC) and flight plan data is on the left ND and not on the right hand ND. Besides that, the RANGE is also different. So lots of possibilities when it comes to what you want to see on the NDs. This is just one example of the many to show how the programming is done.
A general note to saving certain situations.
Right now, the Rotate MD-11F comes with a couple of situation which are pre-programmed for us, but I didn’t see any option to save for example a flight situation completely with flight plan, fuel used, aircraft status and so on. I sincerely hope this feature as known from Toliss aircraft, will be implemented at a later time too.
You might know it already, but it won’t hurt when I repeat it again. And not only highlighting this, but hopefully you also find a way to assign this either to your keyboard or to a switch on your hardware. I’m talking about the AP, ATS and Auto Flight system disconnections. So here we go:
– AP (Auto Pilot) disconnect switches on each control wheel horn
– ATS (Auto Throttle System) outboard side switch on throttles engine 1 and 3
– OVRD AFS (override Auto Flight System) on the FCP
– GO AROUND activation switch on the front on throttle engine 2
I can tell you that this is a long stretch from the West US coast to the northeast of Boston. Ok, it’s not a transatlantic flight, but sitting in the flight deck for hours doing nothing, that’s not easy. On the other hand, while at cruise I added already lots of subjects to entertain you and I hope you liked it. One other thing I would like to highlight is that I climbed further to FL375 since it was suggested by the FMS, as it is in real too. The FMS is clever, very clever and knows everything including that for fuel saving it is better to climb to the OPT(imum) flight level. You can finds this OPT and MAX flight level at the PERF MCDU page. Besides that it shows you the OPT/MAXFL, it also shows you the Nautical Miles to go, the expected time to arrive and the economical cruise speed in Mach. In the following screenshot that’s 0.823.
As the flight progresses, I check if all goes well, I double check my STAR and runway 33L KBOS, and then finally I reach the moment where the T/D indicator on the MCDU shows up and of course, the magenta arrow pointing downwards. As I explained before in the dispatch approach section, at waypoint PONCT the STAR and TRANSITION starts, so somewhere there we should see the T/D, calculated by the FMS. And I can tell you, that the FMS does a nice job or actually, Rotate did a nice job since they had to program this.
As you can see on the following screenshots I think it’s a good idea to enter the final ILS altitude which is for KBOS 33L level off at 1500 feet for waypoint NIMOY, but I could also level off at 3000 feet which is the altitude where the localizer signal starts becoming available. I decided to enter 1500 feet and the idea is, in case you’re new, that the FMS calculates for all the waypoints in between the altitude it has to do and yes, this can be found in the STAR JFUND 2 ARRIVAL.
As you can see on the last screenshot, everything is ready and I’m waiting if the MD-11F starts with the descent at the T/D. And yes, it does start with the descent to the next waypoint which is JFUND.
Descent, Approach, Final Approach and Landing
In this case on this particular flight, the system ask me to ADD DRAG and the only way to add drag is to extend the spoilers. It doesn’t surprise me since the VS is quite high and the higher it is, the quicker the IAS (Indicated Air Speed) increases as can be seen on the PFD speed tape. It’s easy to know when no more DRAG is needed. The magenta message at the ND disappears and the actual aircraft speed is in-line with the magenta dot at the speed tape.
With the STAR JFUND in front of me, it’s nice to see how accurate the FMS has calculated all different altitude constraints that can be seen on the paper, but also at the ND and of course, in the MCDU. Smoothly I passes the waypoints AUTUM at 10.000 feet, so according to the checklist I need to switch on the external lights, then WINTA, HRRIS, SPYSD, BRODI where the MD-11F levels off at 6000 feet. I thought everything should go right, but when I check the RADNAV page, I found something disturbing. Most likely this is an error in the Navigraph DB. OK, what’s the issue?
I’ve planned for a landing on runway 33L. the LOC(alizer) frequency is 110.70 with a approach course of 330, right? It turns out that when I checked the RADNAV page it showed my for the ILS 33L a frequency of 110.70, but with a course of 148? Oops, that’s wrong, that’s totally wrong, but as long as I don’t touch the APPROACH button on the FCP, everything goes fine. I was lucky to see this in time, but my advice is, check it before, for sure before you click the APPROACH button.
After making my final turn to BENNN, I press the APPROACH button, LOC and LAND ARMED should appear which does, and the moment we reach waypoint NIMOY, G/S should be picked up too, and the MD-11F will start its descent along the glide slope. This will be replaced by green and DUAL LAND, while close to touchdown we see FLARE and ALIGN in the FMA. I didn’t do nothing. I wanted to see how well the modeled Auto Flight can handle this and must say, I’m impressed. Once the MLG (Main Landing Gear) has touch the ground, the PFD FMA shows RETARD for the throttle levers, ROLLOUT in green whereas the Auto Pilot keeps the MD-11F at the runway center line. And at the right hand of the FMA, FLARE and DUAL LAND, but OK, that was already there.
All together a long, but successful flight. Keep in min my note that you double check when you’ve entered an ILS, that not only the frequency is correct, but also the approach course is in accordance with the papers.
macOS Monterey FPS
Your personal reporter Angelique van Campen would like to add some information in this review related to FPS (Frames Per Second) although she knows that this is very difficult to compare … yes, compare to what?
Do you have a Windows, Linux or Mac flight simulator system? And, what kind of monitor do you have as well as what are your hardware specifications of your PC or Mac? But there’s much more that can and will influence the available frame rates like the X-Plane GPU and CPU Rendering Settings, but lets not forget what airport scenery you use or do you have environmental packages installed like SkyMAXX Pro, xEnviro or many others add-ons that can influence the available frame rates.
The following screenshots where made on my iMac Pro (macOS Monterey) with the following X-Plane rendering settings. The screenshots are made at different locations and different circumstances. Some as taken at Orbx KFAT, others at KLGB with Orbx TrueEarth US California and some at the freeware airport KBOS from MisterX. And almost forgotten, Just Flight Traffic Global for Mac is always active.
I didn’t use any dedicated environmental packages, but do have installed FlyWithLua and several scripts. It doesn’t surprising that the FPS are not 40-50, but depending on the ground area between 25-30, and in flight higher but that depends then on the cloud formation.
Windows 11 (or 10) FPS
Ok, that was for macOS, but how does it all perform an a native Windows 10 or Windows 11 PC. Angelique does have on her iMac Pro via Apple Bootcamp also a native Windows installation, but this will never perform the same as a real Windows PC, so the following screenshots from made by Paul on his Windows PC.
According to Paul “I am using Skymaxx Pro, the airport is SFD’s KBOS which is fps intense, and I am using Alpilotx’s HD Mesh which, for some reason, puts on a real hit to the west of Boston which is the direction the camera is facing for most of the ground shots. ZL 17 orthos don’t cause as much pain as HD Mesh does. Lastly, SFD Global is loaded which is more fps intense than default ground / autogen. You will also notice the cloud coverage is quite heavy and it covers 30,000 sq. miles.” With all that in mind, the FPS are pity good. Judge yourself.
Just in case you like this review, just in case you’re curious which add-ons we used, right? Therefore this overview what Angelique for add-on products used for this MD-11F test flights :
– Payware | Orbx TrueEarth US North and South California (Orbx / Aerosoft)
– Payware | Skyline Simulations KLGB | Long Beach Daugherty Airfield (X-Plane.Org)
– Payware | Stairport Airport Vehicles (Aerosoft / X-Plane.Org)
– Payware | GreenArc Studios WebFMC (X-Plane.Org)
– Payware | Just Flight Traffic Global (Just Flight / X-Plane.Org)
– Payware | JARDesign GHD (Ground Handling Deluxe (Aerosoft / X-Plane.Org)
– Freeware | MisterX KBOS Airport Scenery (X-Plained.Com / X-Plane.Org)
– Freeware | Better Pushback plugin (GitHub)
– Freeware | SlewMode plugin (X-Plane.Org)
There’s then always the end of a review. Not often a product is tested and written by two reviewers. Due to the complexity of the modeled Rotate MD-11F, Angelique van Campen asked Paul Beckwith if he was interested in helping her with testing and writing. That the review will be a long one, that was something she expected already, but again, it’s a massive in-depth high quality review. Yes yes, I know, only our readers and the developer can tell us if the review is of a good and honest quality. Still Angelique thinks that the overall review written by Paul and Angelique is one of passion, passion in the same way the Rotate team tried to modeled this McDonnell Douglas MD11-F.
Since Paul started with the first chapters, I’ll give my digital pencil to Paul and let him tell how he experienced this commercial McDonnell Douglas model. According to Paul ; what a journey this has been. The Rotate MD-11 is not a small aircraft and details worthy of mention are many, as we’ve seen. From an external perspective, there is little fault to find anywhere on this aircraft. People will likely debate the clarity of textures, but I think that is something akin to every single piece of anything that is made as an add-on to the X-Plane world. Rotate has created sharp and clear textures where they are needed and have found healthy compromises to preserve frame rates as is a necessity on a model this large and complex. The only thing I could not find visual support for is the very shiny copper-like cone fairing, especially on an aircraft with so much sign of wear elsewhere.
The interior of the modeled MD-11F is pretty much without blemish or complaint in this reviewer’s opinion. The one place that could really benefit from a touch-up is the galley. The low-definition textures really do detract from the fine structural work in this small area. Once we stepped into the cockpit, the galley is quickly forgotten. Perhaps, in a future revision, Rotate might revisit the operation circuit breaker question, but that is something only they know. Once past those panels, everything else just looks incredible. If appearance alone was the basis for purchasing a model, then this would have to be a must buy. However, the nuts and bolts of an aircraft model is how it operates. Here, once again, I will turn the rest of this section over to your pilot-in-command and Angelique can wrap up her comments on the real reason we buy add-on aircraft.
According to Angelique ; that was quite a job and believe it or not, I had the same feeling as always with reviews, did I not forget anything? And again the same answer; myself and Paul did what we could, we tried to cover everything, but we also know that this is never possible. You always forget to look to this or that or it slipped thru your mind or whatever you and I can think of.
I think I can speak for Paul too that we covered many details, I also added some tutorial item in my part, and Paul did it in the same way with his sections. I can only say, I was and I still am besides Airbus aircraft, a big fan of Douglas aircraft. The Rotate MD-88 is a great model, and that’s for sure also applicable to this MD-11F. Although I haven’t heard it yet from Rotate, but I guess that later an official passenger model will be added. I write on purpose “official” since unofficially, printers have painted already passenger MD-11 liveries.
Anyway, it was the long waiting worth it!
Angelique van Campen and Paul Beckwith
|Add-on:||Payware Rotate McDonnell Douglas MDF-11F|
|Publisher | Developer:||X-Plane.Org | Rotate|
|Description:||Realistic rendition of the McDonnell Douglas MDF-11F|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / Approximately 1.3GB (unzipped)|
|Reviewed by:||Angelique van Campen and Paul Beckwith|
|Published:||April 20th 2022|
|Hardware specifications:||Angelique van Campen
- iMac Pro
- Intel 3GHz Intel Xeon W / 4.5Ghz
- Radeon Pro Vega 64 16368 MB
- 64 GB 2666 MHz DDR4
- 1 internal shared 1TB SSD (Big Sur 11.x)
- 1 internal shared 1TB SSD (Bootcamp Windows 10)
- 1 external 2TB LaCie Rugged Pro SSD (Big Sur 11.x)
- Saitek Pro Flight System X-52 Pro and X-56 Rhino
- Honeycomb Alpha Flight Controls
- Honeycomb Bravo Throttle Quadrant
- Ryzen 9 5950X CPU @ 3.40GHz
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 10 GB GDDR6X
- 64 GB DDR4 3200MHz RAM
- CH Products Fighterstick
- Dual Saitek Throttle Quadrants
- CH Products Pedals
|Software specifications:||Angelique van Campen
- macOS Big Sur (10.15.x)
- X-Plane 11.5x
- Windows 11
- X-Plane 11.55 (64 Bit)