A big surprise came from Premier Aircraft Design (PAD) this week when they released their McDonnell-Douglas/Boeing MD-11P for FS9 and FSX. When I think of PAD, I think of smaller planes such as the Twin Otter, Turbo Beaver and the Socata singles. The “biggest” release to date in their EMB-190 jet, but I was not expecting an MD-11!
I took this baby out for a flight in FSX. The model is pretty good, but for some reason I can’t get used to it. There is something just not quite right with the proportions. The cockpit windows don’t look quite right and the fuselage seems to be out or proportion to the rest of the model. However, comparing it to photos at airliners.net it is pretty good, but reminds me more of a FS2002 model than FSX. I would have liked to see a little more detail and eye candy, especially for FSX. The virtual cockpit also supports this with pixel-ated bitmaps for textures. A far cry from the awesome 737-800 vc, but functional and pleasant and better than anything I could do. The advantage of this simpler model is that it is much easier on the frame rates compared to other heavy iron that I have in my hangar.
The jury is still out on the flight dynamics. I am not a specialist on how an MD-11 flies, but I felt found this model to be a bit challenging. I expected the leisurely take-off roll, but didn’t expect the rocket like acceleration once airborne. At 2,000 feet AGL, I broke the 300knt barrier and soon received an overspeed warning. Despite moving the throttles back to idle, the bird continued to accelerate. Now, I know jet engines take a few seconds or so to respond, but this bird didn’t really respond at all. I eventually deployed the spoilers to slow down. With all of that power, the climb to FL340 was quick and uneventful. Descent presented the same problem with slowing the aircraft down, but banking was definitely more pleasant as I intercepted the ILS without any fuss. I found myself crossing the threshold of the runway at Schipol/Amsterdam at about 180knts. Since the runway was 11,000+ feet, I had plenty of room to slow the aircraft down. I really wonder if the MD-11 is supposed to be so overpowered. I will have to do some research before coming to any conclusions about this model’s dynamics.
Once at the gate, the model looked great amongst the other FSX critters awaiting departure. Once again, I really wished for more eye candy. With only opening exit doors and cargo doors, I would have liked to see some mobile stairs and baggage belts.
Overall, I think this one is definitely a keeper. I hope we will eventually see some additional liveries such as American Airlines, World, UPS, Delta, and maybe even HZ-AFAS (Saudi Govt VIP).
Update 7/30/08 – PAD released an MD-11F in FedEx livery. It looks pretty sweet, so go grab it from their website!