Rotate MD-80

2015 ended nicely for X-Plane users, with the release of Flight factor’s Boeing 767 (which I’m hoping to review very soon) and the Embraer E-175 by Marko Mamula and Steve Wilson . We also got the MD-80 developed by a rather unknown company, Rotatesim.
We’ve have been teased for a while with screenshots and now we finally got his highly anticipated aircraft in our virtual hangar. Time to write a review for you guys. First of all my apologies for the delay but I’ve been awfully busy lately. With that being said time to read on .
Some aircraft have a particular characteristic, like the famous humb on the 747, the Third engines on the tail section. So have some twin engine aircraft , like the MD80 2 of here engines are at the tail but on the side. And the horizontal stabilizer has been moved to the top of the rudder. Which make this aircraft quite unique at the time it was revealed.

The MD-80 was very popular aircraft and some airliners still have it in service. The aircraft is a stretched and improved development of the McDonnel Douglas DC-9.
The MD-80 is the result of fitting a standard DC-9 with improved, more efficient, higher bypass ratio JT8D-200 series turbofans.

McDonnell Douglas renamed the DC-90-80 the MD-80 in 1983. Sales were pretty slow at start untill American Airlines placed an initial order of 67 MD-80’s in 1984 with an option of  100 total. That was the Kickstart that was needed and in 1992 the 1000th MD-80 was delivered.

After the merger of Boeing and McDonnell Douglas it was decided to drop the MD-80 & MD-90 once all orderds were fulfilled.

Naamloos
© Rotatesim
Naamloos
© Rotatesim
Naamloos
© Rotatesim

Installation

The aircraft is available for purchase at the X-plane.org store, for 59,95 USS or € 54,8 The download is about 993 MB in size, comes zipped in a RAR file and should be extracted to your X-plane aircraft’s folder. After extracting the size is about 3 GB. When all that is done it’s time to boot up X-Plane 10. After choosing the Rotatesim MD-80 aircraft from the list and chosen an airport, you’re greeted with the activation screen. Your serial should be sent to you by e-mail after purchase and after activation you have to restart X-plane 10.
Back to X-Plane , when choosing the Rotatesim MD-80 from the aircraft menu. The Aircraft comes with 10 High quality liveries; Air Liberté, Alitalia, Allegiant, American Airlines, British Island Airlines Delta Airlines 1, Delta Airlines 2, German Wings, Iberia, Scandinavian Airlines. There are many more to download from the xplane forum.

User guide

Well there is certainly no lack of manuals, the aircraft comes with 4 PDF files which can be found in the manual folder in  the aircraft’s folder of your X-Plane installation. A decent manual is something very rare for X-Plane add ons and it’s nice to see that Rotatesim really put some effort to it. On their site you can even find Youtube video as guide to help you startup the aircraft for the tutorial flight.

  • Rotate-MD-80 Manual: this PDF explains pretty much what are all the different systems do
  • Rotate-MD-80 Pilot Hand Book Checklist: a shortened list of all the checklists, could be useful to printout for reference.
  • Rotate-MD-80 Pilot Hand Book: Contains the aircraft limits and the complete list of checklists
  • Rotate-MD-80 Tutorial Flight: a handy fully well described tutorial flight that takes you from LESO San Sebastian to LEMD Madrid. I highly recommend doing this flight if you are as unfamiliar with this aircraft as I am.

Naamloos Naamloos Naamloos Naamloos

Features

  • Flight characteristics:
  • Precise flight model.
  • Fine tuned engine performance.
  • Developed with the help of two MD-80 pilots.
    Engines:
  • Engine starting and ignition system
  • Thrust reversers
  • Thrust Rating Panel
    Electrical system:
  • APU power system with simulated start-up logic
  • AC/DC two buses generating and distribution system
  • AC/DC loads and x-tie
  • Battery and bus monitor system
  • Emergency power system
  • Ground Power Unit
    Pneumatic system:
  • Ground operation pneumatics
  • In-flight pneumatics
  • X-feed domain logic and pressure indicator
  • AC distribution pressure and temperature indicators
  • AC system with cockpit and cabin temperature controls
  • Cabin pressure control panel
  • Auto and manual modes with take off and landing controls
    Automatic flight, navigation and FMS:
  • IRS alignment rutine, NAV and ATT modes
  • Improved autopilot with specific modes
  • Speed modes: SPD and MACH sel. EPR LIM. FMS OVRD
  • Horizontal Navigation: NAV, VOR/LOC, ILS
  • Vertical navigation: VERT SPD, IAS/MACH, VNAV, ALT HLD
  • Fixed range Weather Radar
  • All autopilot readouts simulated
  • Flight mode annunciator
  • All EPR modes and performance management tuned up
  • Flight planing, navigation, performance management and airplane guidance.
  • FMS pages: IDENT; POS INIT with IRS position; RTE with option for VIA and DIRECT selection and discountinuity detection; LEGS with insertion and deletion capabilities; DIRect TO waypoint;
  • DEPartures and ARRivals pages with SIDs and STARs (third party database included); PERF INIT with fuel loads, cost index and altitude realistic calculations; ECON CLB with estimated times and restrictions; ECON CRZ; ECON PATH and SPD DEScent modes with deviation monitoring and DES NOW option for early descent; TAKEOFF REF and APPROACH REF with automatic Vs calculation
  • HLD and PROG pages are not simulated
  • Custom PFD and ND
  • Accurate navigation instruments and displays
  • TCAS is not simulated
    Controls:
  • Flap handle with original DIAL-A-FLAP selection wheel
  • Vertical trim control with take-off condition computer
  • Hide yoke mode
    Hyperrealistic visuals:
  • Highly detailed 3D cockpit, passenger cabin and exterior model, with accurate animations
  • Precise wing flex animation
  • Thorough 4K texture work
  • Normal maps
  • 10 High quality liveries (Air Liberté, Alitalia, Allegiant, American Airlines, British Island Airlines Delta Airlines 1, Delta Airlines 2, German Wings, Iberia, Scandinavian Airlines)
  • Cockpit crew modelled
  • Paint-Kit 4K
    Lights:
  • Cockpit flood lamps and thunderstorm lights
  • Cockpit instruments, text and digital lights
  • Panel flood lights
  • Overhead panel flood light
  • Wing lights with off, on and deployed positions, and nose lights
  • Nav, strobe and anti-collision lights
  • Exterior flood lights, wing and nacelle lights.
    Sounds:
  • Custom 3D sound engine
  • Custom sounds, including engines, cockpit sounds, “B. Betty” and systems

Repaints

As mentioned earlier the aircraft comes with 10 repaints of popular airliners + 1 default repaint.  The repaints are extremely nicely done with lots of eye on details and the paints feel like they have been on the aircraft for a very long time.

X-Plane 2016-02-01 08-15-26-69
Default Repaint

X-Plane 2016-02-01 08-14-58-18 X-Plane 2016-02-01 08-16-04-73 X-Plane 2016-02-01 08-16-39-24 X-Plane 2016-02-01 08-18-14-79 X-Plane 2016-02-01 08-19-19-52 X-Plane 2016-02-01 08-25-39-47 X-Plane 2016-02-01 08-25-57-44 X-Plane 2016-02-01 08-26-21-11 X-Plane 2016-02-01 08-26-56-25 X-Plane 2016-02-01 08-27-21-36

an additional repaintkit can be downloaded here.

Exterior modeling

The exterior modeling is from an outstanding quality, and has everly little detail on them including realstic dirt and weathering. I love how the surfaces reflect in the correct sunlight as well. It’s amazing they even know to include something what i thought they would obvioulsy forget, like how the front gear doors are not completely shut when at the ground. Another nice detail is how the wing landinglighs behave, they actually drop down which looks very cool to me. the animations of the spoilers reversers and flaps are all very smooth. Overall the modeling is perfect and the textuers are amazing a good start for this review.

X-Plane 2016-02-01 11-21-54-43
notice how the front gear doors aren’t 100% closed
X-Plane 2016-02-01 11-45-13-60
Detail on the Wing landinglights

X-Plane 2016-02-01 09-18-32-68 X-Plane 2016-02-01 11-40-56-96

X-Plane 2016-02-01 11-41-08-31 X-Plane 2016-02-01 11-41-32-90

X-Plane 2016-02-01 11-44-51-71 X-Plane 2016-02-01 09-19-46-58

X-Plane 2016-02-01 09-19-58-16
love the realistic oil stains behind the engine exhaust

Virtual cockpit & interior modeling

Lets’s have a look inside the flightdeck shall we ? Once inside the flightdeck you are greeted with the cold & dark state. The sunlight on the PFD & ND screens reveals how much detail has been  put in this flightdeck. The displays reflect nicely and have realistic dust on them. The flightdeck itself looks very pretty and is extremely well modeled. But it  doesn’t end there the flightdeck windows feel very realistic as well as they have marks of dryed raindrops on them. Finally the Flightdeck at night is realistic illuminated as well . The arm rests can be moved up and the yokes can be hidden, which is very useful otherwise they would be blocking the ND displays the side windows can be opened too. This all  makes the Flightdeck a briliant place to stay on. Make sure to click on the pictures to have a full screen view.

X-Plane 2016-02-01 13-20-53-97

X-Plane 2016-02-01 13-31-38-84
Love the dust , fingerprints and reflections on the screens when in Cold & Dark
X-Plane 2016-02-01 13-22-24-12
Closer look on how realistic the windows are from the inside

X-Plane 2016-02-01 13-21-43-12 X-Plane 2016-02-01 13-21-59-24

X-Plane 2016-02-01 13-22-06-07

X-Plane 2016-02-01 13-38-15-59
The flightdeck illumination at night

Rotatesim also included a virtual cabin, which makes you able to walk around like a real passenger and even enjoy a nice windowview for your videos.

X-Plane 2015-12-07 19-10-29-06 X-Plane 2016-02-01 13-00-50-74

Systems

It’s all very pretty that’s for sure , but does it all work as good as well?
A small note on how to install the latest AIRAC , when just purchased the aircraft comes with an outdated AIRAC installed. To update the Nav Data install the Aerosoft Airbus X Extended v1.10 (and lower) though the manual says Aerosoft Airbus X Extended Standard. Manually download from Navigraph, extract it into some folder, then replace the contents of the Nav Data folder in the MD-80’s aircraft folder. I recommend you to backup the old one, just in case something went wrong.

A very usefull guide from Cold & Dark can be found here, made by the Rotatesim development team

Not all systems are fully operational, for instance the right IRS mode selector can not be moved, call me stupid but I tried moving that switch for minutes with no results before I looked that up. That was a bit odd why only the left but not the right one? I was thinking I kept missing the hidden clickspot or something. Too bad the mousewheel is not supported it would make flipping switches and turning dials so much easier.  Another small glitch was when turning on the fuel pumps the messages didn’t disappear on the annunciator panel unlike on the real aircraft.

The aircraft doesn’t not come with his own load & fuel manager like some other payware add ons do, I dont mind this much as the default load & fuelmanager build in X-Plane works good enough for me. But dont bother looking for an other one.

Now I did some research on the Internet and I came across froogle’s video where he takes a closer look at the aircraft along with a real MD-80 pilot besides him. And he founds a few wrong or strange issues with the aircraft like the EGT for the APU going way too high. Now I can relate to that as several times the EGT even when up to 700 in my case which is very unusual and if it  happends in the real aircraft usually this means something is way off.

If you are familiar with Boeing aircraft then the FMC should feel very familiar. The FMC’s are cloned so they cant work seperately you cant display the PROG page on one FMC and the LEGS on the other. But what am  I saying this aircraft’s FMC doesn’t even  include the FIX, HOLD nor PROG page in the FMC. To me this was a big loss to be honest. I can relate to the people who says this product is not fnishd. The FMC does pick up the weights of the aircraft automatically  when clicking next to it. Same goes for the Vspeeds they are all calculated automatically, at least something is easy in this aircraft 🙂 But hold on we’re not out of the woods (read runway) yet. The performance calculations for the VNAV are completely screwed up and that’s cause of the cost index it seems. The developer responded to this as they had to little on this and this will be fixed in future updates.

X-Plane 2016-02-01 14-24-44-64

The autopilot on the other hand is quite differen from your regular Boeings, There is no APP button but there is an ILS button. The usual LNAV which we usually use for  Lateral navigation in the FMC is just called  NAV button on the autopilot.

X-Plane 2016-02-01 17-07-18-70
NO not MCP But FGCP ( Flight Guidance Control Panel)

Flightdynamics

Okay after biting that bullet it’s time for  the most difficult part for a flightsimmer which is without doubt the flightdynamics how to evaluate that without ever been behind the yoke of a real MD-80. I always wondered why the gave the MD-80 the nickname the Mad dog , know I know this baby can climb like an elevator that’s for sure. I usualy fly manualy after take off untill about 2500 ft. With my first take off started  without setting any flightplan & autopilot or what so ever and that nearly left a big crater in the ground not far from the airport. This is not an aicraft you pick for just a quick flight, you have treat her with respect or she will bite your face straight off. When pushing the throttle form idle to full power it takes a while to spool the engines up. Once you get a hand of it She is a joy to fly manual. The wings have some very nice flex to them as well , it’s nice to see them bounce especially from inside the cabine with the realistic windowview.

X-Plane 2016-02-01 16-10-47-33 X-Plane 2016-02-01 16-13-20-00 X-Plane 2016-02-01 16-13-28-70

Sounds

The sounds are amazing from this bird, I’ve been on the MD-80 only once on a Delta flight from Atlanta to Miami I must say the sound of the engines are very well captured. Ofcourse there are more sounds than from the engines only. From the moment you get in the flightdeck and start flipping  switches and knobs it all feels very natural like it should. Every sound or noise feels very life like from deploying spoiers to reversers and even the warning  sounds. The  radio altimeter sound when passing decision height has a very unique and funny sound.

Performance

This is someting what people ask me alot, how are the FPS with this bird. Well it all depends on how wisely or crazy you have you rendering settings on. Below you’ll find a sceenshot of my settings + my specs.  At major Airports I was still able to get around 30 Fps while on approach in the VC which is pretty good. On top of that I also use SkyMaxx Pro v3.

X-Plane 2015-04-30 20-27-32-06
Although I have quite a powerful sysem i dont max anything out

My specs:
Intel I7 6700K “SKYLAKE” overclocked to 5 Ghz
Asus Z170 Pro Gamer
16 GB DDR4 memory
2x GTX 980 in SLI
windows 10 pro x64

Conclusion

When it comes to looks and eyecandy this aircraft has the whole package , the modeling is briliant the textures look amazing inside and out. The sounds are good as well . The only thing where Rotate sim drops the ball in my opinion is with the system simulations . Now i’ve hearf they are working on updates and fixes and I have good confidence in that. If you’re looking for a decent MD-80 go for it by all means you wont be disappointed. but I would recommend you to wait maybe be longer at least till all the minor glitches and hickups are out of the systems. I’ve flewn this bird close to 100 hours which I do for all my aircraft reviews and I enjoyed it very much. Finally I would like to thank the guys from the X-Plane store for sending us a review sample.

X-Plane 2016-02-01 16-17-37-04 X-Plane 2016-02-01 16-17-32-97 X-Plane 2016-02-01 16-14-51-82 X-Plane 2016-02-01 16-14-28-98

Rotate MD-80

USD59.95
Rotate MD-80
8.5

Model

9/10

    Textures

    10/10

      Flight Model

      8/10

        Interior

        10/10

          Sound

          10/10

            Performance

            9/10

              Systems

              5/10

                Manual

                10/10

                  Value for Money

                  8/10

                    Pros

                    • Amazing modeling
                    • ditto textures
                    • first for X-Plane

                    Cons

                    • SYSTEMS
                    • feels incomplete
                    • buggy

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