Good old workhorse, the DC-9-30 Series
Back to the good old days, the Douglas DC-9-30 Series. Oh, I’ve worked so many hours on this aircraft as a mechanic and later as a ground engineer. I’ve seen during my Martinair Holland technical period so many of these DC-9 types, but also the short and longer version.
I’ve worked mainly on the DC-9-32 and -33RC. I believe the RC stands for Rapid Chance. And Rapid Chance stands for a DC-9 with a large upper cargo door. With this model you could slide out all the passenger seats which where mounted on pallets. I believe one pallet holds 4 to 6 seat rows. Anyway, later Martinair moved to the Douglas Super 80 or also known as the DC-9-80 Series. Later, when McDonnell joined Douglas, it became the MD 80 Series.
The moment I saw from X-Plane.Org user “Roger2009” his Douglas DC-90-30, I thought; “that could be perhaps an interesting review/impression”. Within no time many liveries are painted and Roger2009 decided to improve his Dc-9 even further. Right now, while writing this review/impression on February 21st, 2014, I decided to start already with this review and I’m looking forward to all his improvements and remember, it’s freeware and is does have a 3D cockpit. The review/impression is based version 0.13, uploaded on February 24th, 2014.
For those who aren’t familiar with the old fashioned DC-9-30 Series, let me introduce to you some history.
Diesel-9, Dirty-Niner, Greasy 9 ?????
These are a few of the worldwide nicknames for the DC-9. The McDonnell Douglas DC-9 (initially known as the Douglas DC-9) is a twin-engine, single-aisle jet airliner. It was first manufactured in 1965 with its maiden flight later that year. The DC-9 was designed for frequent, short flights. The final DC-9 was delivered in October 1982.
During the 1950s Douglas Aircraft studied a short- to medium-range airliner to complement their higher capacity, long range DC-8. (DC stands for Douglas Commercial). A medium-range four-engine Model 2067 was studied but it did not receive enough interest from airlines and it was abandoned. In 1960, Douglas signed a two-year contract with Sud Aviation for technical cooperation. Douglas would market and support the Sud Aviation Caravelle and produce a licensed version if airlines ordered large numbers. None were ordered and Douglas returned to its design studies after the cooperation deal expired. The first screenshot below is courtesy of Airliners.Net, the second one is courtesy of airchive.com, part of the Chris Sloan Collection.
The DC-9 was designed for short to medium routes, often to smaller airports with shorter runways and less ground infrastructure than the major airports being served by larger designs like the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8. Accessibility and short field characteristics were called for. The tail-mounted engine design facilitated a clean wing without engine pods, which had numerous advantages. For example, flaps could be longer, unimpeded by pods on the leading edge and engine blast concerns on the trailing edge. This simplified design improved airflow at low speeds and enabled lower takeoff and approach speeds, thus lowering field length requirements and keeping wing structure light.
The second advantage of the tail-mounted engines was the reduction in foreign object damage from ingested debris from runways and aprons. Third, the absence of engines in underslung pods allowed a reduction in ground clearance, making the aircraft more accessible to baggage handlers and passengers. Turnarounds were simplified by built-in airstairs, including one in the tail, which shortened boarding and deplaning times. The problem of deep stalling, revealed by the loss of the BAC One-Eleven prototype in 1963, was overcome through various changes, including the introduction of vortilons, small surfaces beneath the wing’s leading edge used to control airflow and increase low speed lift.
The first DC-9, a production model, flew on February 25, 1965. The second DC-9 flew a few weeks later, with a test fleet of five aircraft flying by July. This allowed the initial Series 10 to gain airworthiness certification on November 23, 1965, and to enter service with Delta Air Lines on December 8. The DC-9 was always intended to be available in multiple versions to suit customer requirements. The first stretched version, the Series 30, with a longer fuselage and extended wing tips, flew on August 1, 1966, entering service with Eastern Air Lines in 1967. The initial Series 10 would be followed by the improved -20, -30, and -40 variants. The final DC-9 series was the -50, which first flew in 1974.
The Series 30 was produced to counter Boeing’s 737 twinjet; 662 were built, about 60% of the total. The -30 entered service with Eastern Airlines in February 1967 with a fuselage stretch, wingspan increased and full-span leading edge slats, improving takeoff and landing performance. Maximum takeoff weight was typically 110,000 lbs (50,000 kg). Engines for Models -31, -32, -33, and -34 included the P&W JT8D-7 and JT8D-9 rated at 14,500 lbf of thrust, or JT8D-11 with 15,000 lbf.
Unlike the -10, the Series 30 had leading edge devices to reduce the landing speeds at higher landing weights; full-span slats reduced approach speeds by 6 knots despite 5000 lbs greater weight. The slats were lighter than slotted Krueger flaps, since the structure associated with the slat is a more efficient torque box than the structure associated with the slotted Krueger. The wing had a six percent increase in chord, all ahead of the front spar, allowing the 15 percent chord slat to be incorporated.
You had the following -30 Series models:
– 32LWF (Light Weight Freight)
– 32CF (Convertible Freighter)
– 32AF (All Freight), a windowless all-cargo aircraft.
A passenger/cargo or all-cargo use. Only 22 were built, as All Freight (AF), Convertible Freight (CF) and Rapid Change (RC) aircraft.
The DC-9-34CF (Convertible Freighter) was certificated April 20, 1976, while the passenger followed on November 3, 1976. The aircraft has the more powerful JT8D-9s with the -15 and -17 engines as an option.
I think this is enough. The above is courtesy of WikipediA, but only a small part of the whole DC-9 history. You can read it all at this WikipediA link (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_DC-9).
Roger2009 DC-9-30 Package
The package (version 0.13) is, after you’ve downloaded it via this link from X-Plane.Org and unzipped it, easy to install under any sub folder of Aircraft. I made for all my commercial aircraft a sub-folder “Commercial Aviation” and placed it in here. When you take a look into the DC-9-32 folder, you’ll see a sub folder “Tips and tricks”. Although you won’t find a manual, you will find a couple of jpg files that each explain something of a panel or instrument. Right, it comes with the following jpg’s:
– DC9 Overhead panel.jpg
– EPR-RAT (Engine Pressure Ratio-Ram Air Temperature) gauge
What is included in model version 0.13?
Looking at the dedicated X-Plane.Org web page, I found the following additions:
– Including a virtual cabin, FWD door, FWD stairs and AFT stairs
– New fight model (need further improvement)
– Pressurization panel
– Remapped textures + new paintkit
– Some objects added like moving wipers, pitot, etc.
– Fixed and tuned sound pack (thanks Rolf)
According to ORG user Roger2009 “I have been working on this DC9 for many years now, but I’ve never been able to finish it, till now! But do not expect too much from it. This plane is plugin free, unfortunately, due to the absence of a dedicated plugin, I couldn’t replicate most of the systems. You can find a basic paint kit into the “objects” folder of the DC-9-30.”
That was it. Let’s have a look to the external DC-9 model.
My Daily Inspection
One of my daily jobs in these days as ground engineer MD80/DC-9 Series was doing a “first of the day” walk-around check. It was actually not more then a normal daily check after a flight, but you had most of the time a little more time to check systems more thorough then during the short go-arounds. The advantage of a DC-9 walk-around inspection is or actually was for me, that everything can be reached without a stair unless you need to check the top of the fuselage. For example for the upper anti-collision red cover glass. For an anti-collision white bulb replacement, this was done via the cabin ceiling. As far as I can remember, you could even open/close the engine oil filling panel or the CSD (Constant Speed Drive) panel without the need of a stair. When it was a MD80 or in my case the Super 80 of Martinair Holland, therefore you needed for the engines a stair since it was way too high to reach from the ground.
Oh, I’m drifting away from my DC-9-32 walk-around inspection. I start at the nose of the aircraft and thus also the nose landing gear. What makes his DC-9 worth to download? One of the things that makes me happy is the very well realistic external 3D model. Let me give you a few examples; the nose of the aircraft with all the screws around the cockpit windows are clearly visible, as you will see on a real DC-9 too. Another very characteristic DC-9 item is when you look along the fuselage nose to the tail of the aircraft. You should see the typical two halves of the upper and lower fuselage part, let say the “8” shape. I wrote “you should see” but actually you will see this too thus the model is well modeled.
Although the fuselage and wing textures aren’t crispy, the modeling is very good. That’s perhaps the only issue that a nice shiny lining on the fuselage and wings is a little missing. The NLG (Nose Landing gear) and MLGs (Main Landing Gear) aren’t modeled. That said, these are just straight struts without any details. Another part of the fuselage that looks very realistic is the tail with horizontal and vertical stabilizers and engines. When I look to the engine cowling, tail cone, rudder and elevators, it looks as real as it gets. A small detail or at least what’s not modeled are the aerodynamic elevators. These elevators, when the aircraft stays on the ground and no aerodynamic forces act on the aircraft, are hanging down, but not necessary at the same angle. In fact, but then the aircraft should be in the hanger or you need a very high stair, you could push one elevator UP and the other DOWN. In these conditions, the elevators are not connected to each other. Back to the modeled DC-9: it seems to me that the engine inlet cowling, and thrust reverser buckets are covered with photo-real material. It gives the engine “the” finishing touch!
I’m also pleased with the external lighting, in particular the landing lights mounted in the wingtips bottom. Very nicely modeled and when illuminated, a correctly aligned light beam. Another interesting item I would like to bring forward is the simulated FWD left and passenger door, the FWD stair and the AFT (tail) stair.
I tried a couple of liveries, and many others are uploaded while typing this, I must say that I’m impressed and the way the DC-9-32 looks like. And yes, the fuselage textures could be more crispy, but don’t forget, we’re talking about a freeware add-on aircraft and although there’s always something to improve, the first impression is always the best and that’s for sure with this Roger2009 DC-9-32 version 0.13.
And what about the Cockpit and Virtual Cabin?
The Virtual Cabin
Via the opened FWD passenger door and lowered FWD stair, which are by the way really gorgeous, I enter the FWD pantry. In the pantry are modeled the two attendant seats situated against the cockpit wall and the Service Door on the right hand side for the catering services. In between this service door and the cockpit entrance door, you can find the trolleys , ovens and coffee makers. Although these are mainly based on pictures, it completes this FWD pantry.
Looking to the right thus to the AFT of the aircraft, you have now, from version 0.13 and up, access to the virtual cabin. The virtual cabin is not one of my priorities, but it’s nice to see that it’s completely modeled with seats. Two rows over three rows with a single aisle. The wall panel and ceiling panels are al there as well as the baggage bins although I can’t remember that the old DC-9 really had bins. I believe it was no more then just an open area for storing your hand luggage. When you walk to the back of the cabin, I see the same as I can remember in the real DC-9; the AFT cabin pressurization door with the AFT stair. This looks really great but there’s a small but. It seems to me that the handrail, stair mechanism and sidewall textures are just grey so it seems a texture is missing. For sure this will be added in the next free update of this freeware DC-9 package. But besides this small issue, I’m very happy to see that this is possible with a freeware aircraft package.
Via the AFT stair, I reach the tail of the aircraft and walk back to the FWD stair to get myself access to the 3D cockpit.
The 3D Cockpit
More and more freeware aircraft offer standard a 3D cockpit or Virtual Cockpit which is great news. Knowing the amount of work to create a 3D cockpit and the skills you need to have, I’m more then pleased to say that this DC-9-30 comes with a 3D cockpit too but there’s still a lot of work to do. Looking from the cockpit door in a forward direction, the cockpit looks like as it was in those days. The green/blue panel color is very close to the real color I never liked, but this has nothing to do with the way it’s made. It’s always difficult for me to write that something could be better since I don’t have the skills to make a 3D cockpit, but certain panels seems not to fit completely to each other. One thing is for sure, the cockpit AFT wall seems to me not covered with a texture. It’s dark to medium grey without anything on it. Anyway, looking forward, I recognize all the instruments as well as the pedestal, overhead panel and the glare shield although some of these sub panels aren’t familiar to me and I miss the external lighting panel except for the taxi and landing lights. Those two are mounted at the overhead panel lower side. You can say what you want of the actual 3D cockpit modeling with sidewall and ceiling textures, the instruments, switches, knobs and others look very realistic. I’m not sure if the modeled DC-9 has standard instruments, but I notice the presence of many DC-9 instruments. And those instruments look good from a distance and even when you zoom in. Looking from an angle to the main instrument panel you can clearly see the 3D effect of for example the engine instruments, but I also notice at the same time the 3D effect of the attachment screws and those seems to have a little too much 3D effect. The pedestal looks nice too although I’ve got the idea that the speedbrake handle isn’t covered with a texture material. And finally, you’ve got the overhead panel. Some of the instruments look really realistic and weathered, while others need some additional work.
Not everything is modeled at the overhead panel, but that doesn’t disappoint me. When I look to this 3D cockpit then, yes, there’s still some work to do, but the start is impressive for a freeware package.
The DC-9 didn’t had and therefore doesn’t have an INS (Inertial Navigation System), IRS (Inertial Reference System) or FMS. It had only two NAV control panels and a basic Auto Pilot. You can’t miss the large AUTOMATIC PILOT panel on the pedestal. You will notice that when you try several switches and knobs, that some are not doing anything, so not modeled. But as Roger2009 mentioned at the dedicated ORG web page “This airplane is plugin free, unfortunately, due to the absence of a dedicated plugin, I couldn’t replicate most of the systems.” That said, it is to expect that several systems don’t function. Either this can or will be modeled later or we just have to accept it.
Another thing I would like to bring forward are the sound files. The old DC-9 has, with electrical power connected to the aircraft, a typical sound of synchro’s and gyros. An instrument synchro isn’t something you see often in modern aircraft, but in these old-fashioned aircraft you had many of these installed in the indicator and a synchro in the measuring part. For those who have no idea where I’m talking about, a synchro is in fact no more then a transformer. You can read a lot about synchro’s at this dedicated WikipediA web page.
You can of course decide that XP10 start your engines (XP menu Settings – Operations & Warning) or you do it yourself. In that case, place the ENG start selector on the overhead panel in BOTH and select and HOLD with your mouse the engine 2 START VALVE switch in ON. With the mouse button still press, move down and check for the N2 RPM indicator. At 20-25% N2, you can place the FUEL CONTROL LEVER in ON. The engine will accelerate, the EGT goes up (I noticed a little too enthusiastic since the needle moves over the red line) and finally the N1 and N2 are stabilizing at roughly 25-30 percent N1 and 60 percent N2. Officially, these N1 and N2 depend on environmental conditions, but for now it’s OK. On the top of these instruments you find the EPR (Engine Pressure Ratio) indicators. Once the engine are up and running, they should always give a value above 1.00 so normally somewhere between 1.05 and .1.1 EPR.
I think it’s time to make a test flight or not?
In The Sky with KLM Retro!
Since DAI Media airport LSRB (Sibiu International) is one my airport review list, I decided to use this airport for my departure. After my virtual walk-around inspection, I closed the FWD and AFT stairs and closed the FWD passenger too.
As mentioned before, keep in mind that certain systems aren’t simulated and can’t operated. On the other hand, you never know what the future will bring for this freeware aircraft. When you like to fly old-fashioned aircraft like this Douglas DC-9-30 Series, then you don’t need to perform too many preparations before you can fly with it. Once your engines are running, it’s time to taxi. What I can remember of this short DC-9 version is that taxiing is much easier then the MD80 series. With this short version it isn’t difficult to make the right turns, even when you decide to stay in the 3D cockpit. Of course, you have the advantage to place yourself on a spot outside the aircraft and follow it while taxiing, either with keyboard combination “Shift+4” or “Shift+6”. Anyway, arriving at runway 09, I check once more my tuned VOR frequencies. Yes, for those who like to fly with FMS, sorry, in this aircraft you could only use VOR stations, but the good news is, they work well! You’ll find on the pedestal also two ADF control panels but I’m not so sure how the work and where I can see the output. I checked all the instruments, but no ADF indicator.
Check everything? Yes, then it’s time to apply full throttle and of you go. It turns out that it’s a very easy aircraft to fly and as long as you haven’t reached a deep stall, it will be a nice aircraft to fly. How real the flight characteristics are is something I don’t know, but what I do know is that the Roger2009’s father is a real ATPL Douglas DC-9 pilot. Perhaps he has flown on this type and now on the longer MD80, but the feeling of how it should fly is there. I worked in my younger years on DC-9‘s and MD80’s, but I never flew them myself. That said, Roger2009’s DC-9 handles quite easy and flying the aircraft manually is therefore no problem. I assume that when you fly it manually, you’ve assigned pitch and roll trim to one of the buttons of your joystick or yoke. But there’s always a moment where even real pilots, decide to select the AP in a mode and leave the flying over to the electronics. I mentioned this before, the AP panel can be found at the pedestal which is a different location then todays mounted Auto Flight panels on the glare shield.
To get the AP active or engaged, you need to select the SERVOS lever on the pedestal AP panel to ENGAGED. By default, the PITCH SELECTOR on the left hand side stays in PITCH HOLD or altitude hold. On the right hand side of this panel you see a NAV SELECTOR. This selector stays by default in the 12 o’clock position what means HDG HOLD mode. Changing to HDG SEL can be done with the HDG SEL switch. When you want from an altitude hold mode to a vertical speed mode, set the left hand selector to the 12 o’clock position – VERT SPEED – and use the thumbwheel next of it to a certain pitch UP or DOWN. How much? You can see the actual vertical speed on the IVSI (Instantaneous Vertical Speed Indicator). And finally, in the middle of the pedestal panel you’ll see a huge black knob with TURN written on it. Officially, this control is used to manually command changes in the aircraft’s bank angle, but it’s not functional in this modeled aircraft.
Since there’s no manual included, I advice you to check the LIMIT SPEEDS chart on the left hand instrument panel just below the RADIO ALT indicator. Then at least you’ve a guide for making your approach and landing. What can I say? Although the 3D cockpit isn’t finished and certain instruments, switches and knobs aren’t working, it’s still a nice freeware aircraft. And believe m, I’m enthusiastic else I won’t write a long review/impression!
It shouldn’t be difficult to make a nice and controlled descent, approach and landing. I did several approaches and because the DC-9 is easy to fly by hand, it’s also easy to make controlled landings. That said, I decided to go for a manual landing at EDDM which was very easy. No AP servos engaged, however, I decided to tune for the ILS frequency. Although the weather was OK, it’s always handy to have the ADI (Attitude direction Indicator) showing you with the FDs (Flight Director bars) your position in relation to the localizer and glide slope signal. And even the rising runway was modeled. All together an easy landing!
As Roger2009 is already saying on ORG, it’s an “unfinished” product. That means, correct me if I’m wrong, many improvements can be expected and perhaps others are willing to help Roger2009 with simulating certain instruments, AP warning indications, the annunciator panel, knobs and switches. On the other hand we should also keep in mind that Roger2009 DC-9-30 is a freeware product. That said, we don’t pay for it so you can’t complain as you can do with pay ware products. But I’ve had via ORG many times contact with Roger2009 and I’ve got the feeling as long as time permits, he’s interested in improving his product.
I would say; worth a try and worth to download. The current version 0.13 as per end of February 2014, can be downloaded via this dedicated X-Plane.Org link.
This wasn’t just an impression of a freeware product. No, the length made it almost like a payware product. But when I’m enthusiastic, I can’t stop writing. That should say enough or not? I had several talks with Roger2009 and found out that he has a lot of plans for his DC-9-30 aircraft, but his first priority is the upgrade and further implementation of the 3D cockpit.
And even with this impression, I’m quite sure I’ve forgotten things or not highlighted enough. And yes, I’ve seen things that should be improved, but who am I to say that. I can only hope that Roger2009 has the time to fulfill all our DC-9 wishes! Did I cover every tiny part?
For sure not! But I think with the review/impression I’ve written you should have an idea if it’s something for you to download or not. And, worth telling you are the liveries from different painters including ORG user “WillSans”. He painted many liveries for version 0.12, and also for the updated 0.13 thus the DC-9-30 that is reviewed. The complete livery list of WillSans can be found at this X-Plane.Org link. And then there’s also X-Plane.Org user “Irjtcaptain”. He also painted a couple liveries for the DC-9-30 v0.13 and those can be found by checking his Org page. Keep in mind that some of his paintings are not for the v0.13 model. You can easily see the differences in the wings.png. The png file that show you both the left and right hand wings is the right texture package for the DC-9-30 v0.13!
And finally, I used for this freeware review/impression the following add-on packages:
– Freeware | Aerosoft Sky Tools (registration required)
– Freeware | Alpilotx.net HD Mesh v2
– Payware | DAI Media LRSB Sibiu International
Feel free to contact me if you’ve got additional questions related to this impression. You can reach me via email Angelique.van.Campen@gmail.com.
Angelique van Campen
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