AVSIM Commercial Aircraft Package Review

Classic Liners Volume 2

Product Information

Publishers:  Aerosim

Description: A package of 3 classic jetliners.

Download Size:
130 MB

Format:
Download or CD-ROM
Simulation Type:
FS9
Reviewed by: Benjamin van Soldt AVSIM Staff Reviewer - September 3, 2009

Introduction

Ah, nostalgia. Back in the day when everything was better, as grandpa would have said. Back in the day is the era of the L-1011 Tristar, the DC-10 and DC-8, as apposed to the Boeing 747-400, 737NG, Airbus A320 and the list goes on and on.

Maybe not so surprisingly, the aircraft you see produced the most for Flight Simulator end up being the modern airliners, most notably the Airbus A320 family and Boeing 737 series. Also, of the Boeing 737 series, most produced are the modern day variants, the 600 through 900 models. They have greater power, greater range, more advanced instruments and are basically superior in just about every way compared to the older models.

However, don’t you ever stop and look back and think: “Ah, these old tin cans, the steam-driven heavies, I wish I could fly them now.”? I know I do. The Boeing 707, Boeing 727, Boeing 737-200, Boeing 747-100, DC-8, L-1011 Tristar, DC-10 and many more legacy jetliners have always enthralled me. I can’t explain why, but it probably has to do with their endless charm: get yourself seated in their cockpit, and see all the analog gauges, the ticking of the dials, the heavy operation of the control yoke… I love the older aircraft and I have always been disappointed that they have remained neglected by developers. Captain Sim, for example, is the only developer out there I can think of that made a high quality model of the Boeing 707.

Concerning these previously mentioned aircraft (apart from the Boeing 707), they share a curious feature: all of these models have at one time been developed for Flight Simulator by a rather unknown Japanese company: Aerosim. In this review, I’ll be looking at the Classic Liners Volume 2 package, the second part of a series of classic jetliner packages, started with the Volume 1 package that I had already reviewed several months ago (if you want to read it, you can find it in the reviews section of AVSIM).

The volume 1 package included the Boeing 737-200, Boeing 727 series, and the classic Boeing 747 models (100 through 300). The volume 2 package includes the L-1011 Tristar (L-1011-1, L-1011-500 and L-1011 ADV 500), DC-10 (DC-10-30 and -40) and DC-8 (DC-8-53 and -61): another great lineup that the flight simming community has needed for a very long time.

In all honesty, the Tristar and DC-10 have been made before, by Perfect Flight and CLS respectively. The Perfect Flight model isn’t very realistic (one look at screenshots from its VC should say enough), but the CLS DC-10 is a hefty opponent. A DC-8 has never been seen in the payware market, though. In the course of this review, we’ll see how good this package is, and if the Aerosim DC-10 can hold its own.

A history lesson

L-1011 Tristar

The Tristar story started in the sixties, with American approaching both Douglas and Lockheed with the request for them to make an aircraft smaller than the Boeing 747, but large enough to be able to do transatlantic flights. Lockheed was keen on the idea, and proceeded designing the L-1011: a three-engine, wide-body airliner, with (for that time) great efficiency and noise reduction. 400 passengers could be seated in this great plane.

The production was not without trouble, though. First of all, American eventually opted for the DC-10. Lockheed continued production without American’s support, selling their plane to both TWA and Eastern Airlines. That was not all though: the Tristar used the Rolls-Royce made RB211 engines, since they were the best engines for the needed purpose, but the delivery of these engines was all but trouble free. Rolls-Royce ended up needing money, which greatly delayed the Tristar’s production. In the end, the US and UK governments teamed up to blow new life into Rolls-Royce, with the agreement that the UK government would subsidize Rolls-Royce, and the US government would help Lockheed with the bank loans needed to finish the Tristar.

The prototype flew on 1970, was certified for passenger flights in 1972, and only two weeks after that, entered service at Eastern Airlines. Production stopped in 1984, and at that point Lockheed withdrew for good from the civilian aircraft market, instead teaming up with Martin to form Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the famous F-16 fighter aircraft.

This aircraft was the first aircraft to get FAA certification for a cat IIIc automated landing, meaning it could do a blind landing: zero visibility. It indeed was a technologically very advanced aircraft; more so than the DC-10 for it had probably one of the first CDUs, instead of only the INS as present on the DC-10 and classic Boeing 747 series. Because of these technological advancements, TWA did not hesitate to name it one of the safest airliners flying in the day, but a great accident with this plane taught all pilots that whatever happens, the computer needs you to supervise the goings-on in the plane. A valuable lesson indeed.

DC-10

As stated earlier, the DC-10 came out of a direct competition with Lockheed, who produced the L-1011 Tristar. The design is pretty similar and specifications are therefore quite the same. The only thing which is really different from the Tristar is the way engine 2 is mounted on the tail: instead of a design like the Tristar has (an S-shaped tunnel leading to the actual engine, mounted in the hind of the aircraft’s fuselage), the complete engine is positioned “in” the vertical stabilizer. While this last design gives you more power, it’s also a lot noisier.

A great amount of models have been produced, ranging from the -10 series to the -40 series, a lot of them having various versions including CF, F and ER versions. Plus, the aircraft was adapted for military service as a tanker and for firefighting by adding great water tanks to the middle sections of the fuselage.

All in all, the DC-10, despite some great initial problems and rather delicate and difficult maintenance procedures, was a very successful plane that continued its service first as the MD-10 (which is the DC-10 but with an updated cockpit) and later as the MD-11, which is still in service to this day.

DC-8

A DC-8-53, one of the models in the Aerosim package, though what you see in the photograph is a freight model. Photograph by Tony Rogers.

After a succession of notable piston engine driven aircraft (DC2, 3, 4, 6 and 7), the DC-8 was the first aircraft by Douglas to be pure-jet, meaning it uses jet engines instead of the earlier piston engines. Now hard to imagine, in the fifties people weren’t so keen on jet engines because of the crashes with the Comet, the world’s first pure-jet aircraft.

Competition by Boeing, however, showed that for military purposes, jet engines were already gaining great territory with their big bombers, such as the B-47 and B-52. It was also Boeing that took the bold step of launching another jet-driven airliner, namely the Dash-80, what would become the Boeing 707.

A year after the launch of the 707, Douglas released their competition: the DC-8, and it proved to be a successful aircraft. In 1955, the DC-8 was first announced but it was only in 1958 that the first DC-8 rolled out of the hangar for its first flight, and it was only a year later, in 1959, that it got FAA certification and entered airline service.

The DC-8 seems similar to the Boeing 707 in many respects: a four JT3C-6 engined aircraft with room for approximately 170 passengers and three crew members in the cockpit. Seating was 6 abreast (3 chairs on either side of the plane with the aisle in the middle). A lot of versions have been produced, from -10 through super 70s, and various freighter models.

It proved to be a successful plane and the model is still in use with various operators across the world, most notably in South America and Africa. Whereas of the more than 1000 Boeing 707s, only 80 were in service in 2002. Of the DC-8s, about 200 were in use whereas only 556 were manufactured. To this day, only about 80 survive, mainly in the super 70 configuration, which is basically a super 60 with refitted engines.

Installation and Documentation

After downloading the main package of 130MB and unzipping it, you are presented with various files: the installer, the folder containing the data, the manual and some pictures and other files. Installation itself couldn’t be easier: simply click the install button and follow the onscreen directions, of which some I have shown below. The first thing that happens, though, is a small bar appearing signifying that it is searching for your FS2004 installation. While convenient, it can take a long time for the installer to find the entry in the registry.

When the installer found your installation, it notifies you with this dialog box. Next is this screen, showing you what you are installing
If everything is okay, the detection of your FS2004 installation will have resulted in the correct installation path in the box below. Installing CL2.

I should mention the rather ancient look of the installer program. Don’t be fooled by looks though: it works well and I have no complaints whatsoever.

After installation, you can find all the planes and flights installed in the correct folders. To my surprise, there doesn’t seem to be any folder in the program folder of the start menu, which is something that I’d grown accustomed to from payware packages. Apparently, there was no need for this and Aerosim is right: you can uninstall the package by simply using the same installer you used to install the package; the manual is included in the download.

Concerning the manual: it is quite concise (63 pages covering everything necessary, including flights, airport charts, tutorials etc.), and from a first look my first impression of the aircraft is that they are probably quite simplistic. I mean, the panel is rather simple. The most complicated piece of equipment seems to be the INS and FMS, and these have indeed been explained in detail within the tutorials. There is also a summary of aircraft specifications, but only for the DC-8-53 and -61, DC-10-30 and Tristar L-1011-1. I guess that’s because the other models aren’t that different, while the DC-8-53 and -61 have very different engines.

For the rest, there isn‘t that much to say. In summary, the manual looks clean and well taken care of (although there are some grammatical errors), and all the necessary information seems to be in it. Whether that’s true, only time will tell as we’ll be discovering in the paragraphs about the aircraft’s panel.

Exterior model

From this point on I’ll be breaking some of these sections down into three parts for every aircraft type. As an aside, since I reviewed the Volume 1 package too, I’m rather curious how this package compares to volume 1. Will the detail be greater? Will texturing be neater? For those that took the time to read the Volume 1 review, you now know my opinion on the looks of the Volume 1 modeling (exterior good, interior varying from lacking to pretty nice). In this and the next section I’ll be comparing against the Volume 1 package.

L-1011 Tristar

I personally think the Tristar is one of the weirder looking planes out there. Sure, Russian aircraft are the weirdest looking of all, and by those standards the L-1011 could have easily been a Russian plane. However, just like Russian planes, something in its weirdness is very charming.

The nose, with the weirdly low-positioned, big cockpit windows and the interesting way of mounting engine number 2 (not unlike the Boeing 727, but clearly this looks different in ways), is, in its weirdness, inherently beautiful. It’s these unique exterior features I’ll be looking at now. Most of the screenshots you see are from the L-1011-1 model, but I included some of the -500 and ADV500 too, although the differences really aren’t that big.

Front of the plane. Back of the plane.

The above screenshots show the Lockheed Tristar L-1011-1 in its 1970 rollout livery. Everything looks good from this distance: nice modeling, nice overall detail, nice reflections, and a good looking livery. Let’s zoom in on some of the parts of this plane and give it a closer look.

Main landing gear. Notice the details: you can see some electricity wires running down to the wheels. Nose wheel. Nice detailing, but texturing is noticeably blurry.
Fan-side of the engine: the fan blades are a spinning 2D disc. A pity, but no major gripe. Back side of the engine. I’m not sure what the grey thing with spots is, in there, but ultimately this too is but a minor gripe.

First up is everything below the wings and the fuselage: the gear and engines. As you can see in the first two screenshots, the gear is very nicely detailed. It goes as far as individual electrical wires being modeled. The texturing of the gear itself isn’t something to write home about, since it’s quite blurry, but besides that there is hardly anything to complain about. I think the detail here is very good and you don’t normally see this amount of detail. I must add concerning the texturing, this isn’t such a big point, since you won’t normally be looking at the gear from that close anyway. From farther away, this all looks perfectly fine.

When we turn our attention now to the engines (shut down), it appears the fan blades are 2D. It is a simple, spinning disc. The Volume 1 pack of the Classic Liners also had spinning 2D discs for engine fans in most aircraft, except for the Boeing 747-100. While I would have liked to have seen actual 3D fan blades, as it looks far nicer, I don’t regard this as something big.

Continuing with the engine, the rest of it seems well shaped. The reflection is quite nice, too. The back of the engine, however, has something that I find strange. There is this grey disc inside with black spots of which I’m not too sure what it’s supposed to be, but I’ve seen the exact same thing in the Boeing 747-200 and -300 models of the Volume 1 package. It’s a bit ugly, although to see it I admit you have to take a close look at the engine. The rest the texturing seems quite all right.

Wings: all out. Wings/engine: all out. Notice the reverse thrusters opened. Wings all-out, from the front, with a nice view of that magnificent tail.

Next up is the wing. I deployed the flaps, speed brakes and activated the thrust reversers, so you can get a good view of what this all looks like when everything is all-out. To me it all looks quite all right, although texturing is, again, blurry.

Animations are pretty smooth and very nice to look at. From the back of the wing you can see some textured wiring running in the wing. Generally, I think this looks pretty nifty, and you should probably again understand that I’m looking at this from far closer than you’d normally do.

Going to the leading edge of the wing, we can now see the thrust reversers activated. While I have no idea if this really is the way the engine should look on the inside, the texturing does seem right to me. It may be slightly simplistic, but then again, how often will you be looking at this? Indeed, only 5 seconds on one flight. For the rest, the slats look pretty nice to me. All animations here are smooth, too.

It’s now time to start looking at the fuselage itself. We’ll go from the back to the front, meaning we’ll first take a look at that big tail, with an engine mounted in it. The third image above shows you a nice view from the wing with the spoilers activated, which looks quite pretty. Below you can see the tail close up.

Tail from the front. Tail from the back.

I think the modeling here is, again, pretty good (Aerosim has a talent here, in my opinion), but the texturing leaves a bit to be desired. It’s all blurry, albeit it ever so slightly. The registration is pretty clear on that one, although the orange piece of the tail doesn’t seem blurry at all. Also, notice the tiny details in the model in the screenshot of the back of the engine: on the bottom side of the fuselage is a tiny “stick”, which should prevent tail strikes on takeoff. Also, some other tiny 3D parts have been added that make this a joy to see.

Some nice chaps in there. I like the blue carpet…
…but I’m not so fond of the green curtains. The modeling is nice, though. The cargo hold. It’s quite blurry, which is a pity. But then again, are we going to sit in there during our flights? I don’t think so.

Now moving to the front of the plane, most of the middle section of the fuselage is entirely uninteresting to look at in more detail. You can look at it in the first two screenshots of this section. The very front has some nice little things that I will be looking at, such as the cockpit. Looking inside, it seems pretty well modeled (I like how the pilots look) and the texturing is surprisingly good. While some things in this aircraft could have had sharper texturing, the cockpit has texturing of a level of detail that is pretty darn fine.

Moving slightly aft, we open the cabin door and peek into the cabin, and I like I see. There are nicely textured chairs modeled and a nicely done curtain has been hung. It all feels like you are peeking into a doll’s house, but I like that. In all honesty, isn’t that what we are doing?

Anyway, the final place to explore is the cargo hold. As suspected, it is totally uninteresting. The textures are a bit blurry, but I wasn’t hoping to spend my entire flight in there, so that’s no problem with me. It’s only when it’s not textured at all that I start complaining. Since that is not the case here, I’ll refrain from making comments.

Finally, here are some quick overview screenshots of the L-1011-500 and ADV 500. The plane really isn’t that different from the L-1011-1, shown in the other screenshots. But still, you might want to see it:

L-1011-500:

L-1011-ADV500

DC-10

The next aircraft on our list is the DC-10. It shares many features with the Tristar, so don’t be surprised when many of the screenshots are taken from similar positions as with the Tristar. Note that I’m looking at the DC-10-30 model here only. The -40 model is very similar, making extra screenshots of that aircraft redundant.

The DC-10 from the front. The DC-10 from the back.

At a glance, the modeling seems to be good, the texturing okay, and generally everything just looks fine. The detailing is nice, but there’s not too much of it but where you expect it, you see some little modeled extras. It gives the aircraft a sober but full look. From this distance the texturing, too, looks very good but I fear that from closer up it’ll appear very blurry. So without further ado, let us do just that: get ourselves closer to that plane.

Nose wheel. Quite alike the Tristar, no? Hind landing gear, wing side. I hate to say it, but I think this is almost the same hind landing gear as with the Tristar! Hind landing gear, middle wheel.
Engine, again a 2D disc for fan blades. Engine, from the back. I like how that looks, but the pylon is a bit blurry.

First, let us look again at what’s below the wings: the gear and engines. While the detail is pretty good (I like how the gear is hardly blocky. It’s noticeable a tiny bit, but not enough to spoil any enjoyment of looking at the gear), right from the start it’s pretty obvious this is the same landing gear as we found under the Tristar’s model. There are one or two changes, like the fact that at the hind landing gear the three electrical wires have moved to the front of the wheel instead of the back. Besides that, I’m fairly disappointed that these parts have been recycled.

The recycled gear prompted me to look up photographs on www.airliners.net that could show me the gear of both the DC-10 and the Tristar, and to my great surprise, while the gear of these planes are not completely similar; they actually are almost the same. So, I think I owe Aerosim an apology on that one.

Moving on to the engines, the texturing of the engine itself is rather good, with nice reflections. The fan blades are again a spinning 2D disc, but I didn’t expect it to be otherwise. If we turn around the camera and look at the engine from the back, we can now see the pylon a lot better, and while I’m sure its texturing looks fine from far away, from close up it looks blurry and not so nice. The modeling of the engine, on the other hand, is pretty good.

Wings: going all out. Wings: all out, from the front.

It’s time to go up a bit and see how the wings fare. While going all out, the animations appear good. The overall texturing of the wing is good, although you can clearly see blurriness of textures on and under the flaps and spoilers. Moving to the leading edge of the wing, we can give the thrust reversers of the engine a look. Quite unsurprisingly, the texturing of the thrust reverser of the engine is the same as on the Tristar. For the rest, the spoiler and slats look okay to me, and overall texturing is a tad blurry, but otherwise good. Since we can look at the tail from this last screenshot, we’ll focus our attention on that now.

The vertical stabilizer with engine mounted in it: front. The vertical stabilizer with engine mounted in it: back.

It is immediately obvious how radically different this design is from the Tristar’s way of mounting the engine in the tail. As you can see, the entire engine is placed between the vertical stabilizer’s top end and the tail part of the fuselage. This should supposedly give the aircraft more power, but also increases noise. The modeling of this entire construction on the Aerosim DC-10 is pretty good. Compared to real aircraft pictures, I can’t spot any differences or modeling mishaps. The texturing appears good and pretty sharp overall, even from this close by. I especially like the reflections of the silver/metal part of the engine, which can be best seen on the second screenshot.

The final part of this exterior examination will be concentrated on the fuselage, in particular the front. Starting with the cargo hold, it again is totally uninteresting and appears very decent once again. Moving up, we peek inside the cockpit. Textured details of the panels look pretty good, but the pilots seem to have an unusually pointy heads. Looks a bit weird, but it’s only a minor qualm.

Upon opening the cabin door, we can look inside and find a similar view as with the Tristar. Again, everything just looks good in there, but since we are not spending much of our time in this modeled cabin, perfection is not really what we need to see in there. What we see here is more than sufficient in my opinion.

DC-8

We have arrived at the final plane of this package: the DC-8, forerunner of the DC-10 and direct competitor of the Boeing 707. Let us look how well it fairs against the other two planes in this package. Do remember that during this part and the rest of the review that this is, for now, the only DC-8 offered as payware, and is quite possibly the only DC-8 around with a VC! It therefore is, at least to me, of some importance that this plane represents its real counterpart and I’ll be keeping an eye out for details, especially when I’m examining its VC. For now, time to go look at the exterior model.

DC-8-53: Front of the plane. DC-8-53: Back of the plane.

Overall, the plane looks like it should. I compared the two screenshots you see just above to some photographs and everything looked good. I couldn’t spot any real inconsistencies. The overall detail looks fine and the texturing is pleasant to look at, although I should add that the repaint you see in these screenshots is the only repaint supplied.

Unfortunately, Aerosim is rather unknown and the amount of third party repaints is rather low. I checked to see how many were available, and sadly most of the repaints that are to be found are for the Classic Freighter volume 2 package, which also includes a DC-8. For this particular model, there are hardly any repaints for the DC-8 from this package.

Nose wheel. Hind landing gear.
Engines: front. Engines: back.

Next up, the gear and engines. The nose wheel looks pretty good. The detail is okay but texturing could be better. I do like the fact that the wheel is round, instead of blocky as with a lot of other add-ons. The rear gear is of much the same level of detail. For as far as I can see, the detail is perhaps a bit better with more parts, but the texturing is equally blurry, except for the actual wheels. The texturing there is pretty nice. The wheels are ever so slightly blocky but not enough to notice from afar, same goes for the blurriness of the texturing.

Moving on to the engines, it looks as if there are 3D fan blades here with a spinning 2D disc behind it. That’s not the case though, for this is just the way the engine looks. These are the JT3C-6 engines as used on the older DC-8 models. Later DC-8 models moved on to bigger, more modern, more powerful and less noisy engines. The engines you see here have been made with a good eye for detail, and the texturing is pretty nice.

The back of these engines look pretty good as can be seen on the last of the four screenshots. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the texture you see at the back of the engines is the one also used for the JT8D engines found on the Boeing 737-200 and 727 series from the Volume 1 package. I say unsurprisingly, because in effect, these engines are by the same manufacturer. Recycling of these textures therefore is understandable since they are related anyway.

When going all out, a first hint of slight disappointment started slipping into my mixture of otherwise quite positive feelings concerning this model. Something about how the flaps and spoilers look rather unfinished, and the texturing of wirings and the like is nowhere to be found.

So perhaps that’s simply the DC-8, and you shouldn’t be seeing it but at least the leading edge of the flaps could have been textured in such a way that it would have looked at least a bit worn out. As it is now, it looks brand new and unfinished. On the other hand, the thrust reversers of the engines look very good, and the animation of all that moves on these wings is good.

The tail of the DC-8. Cockpit.
Peeking into the cabin.

The last part of this examination of the exterior model will focus on the fuselage. Most of it can be seen on the first two DC-8 screenshots, but concerning some parts I’ll go into a bit more detail. The tail, for example, is sufficiently detailed and the texturing looks okay and is pretty detailed. Also, the antennae on the trailing edge and the sides of the small horizontal stabilizers look quite nice. Animations on this part of the plane (rudder and elevator) are rather slick.

Moving to the front, the first thing that surprised me was the absence of a cargo hold. That’s a pity, but it’s not that important. The cockpit and passenger cabin are there, though, and they look nice. The detail of the cockpit, as can be seen on the above shot, is good but you might have noticed that for some reason the frame around some parts of the windshield is slightly blue-ish.

I suppose it should be grey, like in the lower right corner of the most right cockpit window. As an aside, from this distance it’s all too apparent how the texturing of the blue line is very blurry. The cabin is nice, as always. The modeling and texturing of the chairs is pretty nifty and I like how that was done. There is even a galley modeled in there with decent texturing.

In summary, the DC-8 model is pretty nice, but it’s less detailed than the DC-10 and Tristar modeled in this package. This disappoints me, to say the least. Ultimately though, let’s hope the VC is of better quality. As far as I’m concerned that’s of greater importance at the moment, since it’s the only DC-8 model around with a VC.

Interior model

On to the interior model. Those that read my review of Volume 1 will know that the VCs of those planes usually left stuff to be desired. You might remember how the Boeing 737-200 and 727 series cockpits were quite bare, with not so well textured overhead panels. The 747 series was a lot better in that respect. Therefore, you might understand how curious I have become about this package. It is newer than Volume 1, and thus it might have improved VCs. To make the tension a bit less though, I’ll give you a hint: it’s better.

L-1011 Tristar

Like every aircraft from that era, everything is analog except for some tiny displays here and there, such as the INS which has a digital readout. I love that sight: everywhere needles moving, lights flashing… It’s almost like James Bond in a way, where we see the great evil scientist’s laboratory. Anyway, enough of that for now; let’s concentrate on what we see here.

As I already said earlier, the Tristar’s cockpit is unusually advanced for its time. In the following screenshots, you can already see some of the systems that might look quite similar to systems we now currently know as weather radar and an FMS’s CDU.

Pilot’s view: left. The great black circle is supposedly a weather radar or perhaps a TCAS screen, but it only turns on when in flight. For the rest it doesn’t do anything except act like a sonar screen. Pilot’s view: right. Notice the CDU just above the INS, on the pedestal.

On first inspection, this looks pretty good. Lots of 3D buttons, pretty well detailed with nice texturing. Now let’s look around and see what we come across.

1) Overview of the main panel. 2) Looking back into the cockpit. 3) Overview of entire cockpit, from the back.
4) Overview of the overhead, looking up from the pedestal. 5) Again the main panel, but now you can see how just about everything is 3D. 6) Engineer’s panel. Though most of it doesn’t work, some things are 3D and those things actually do work.

If we work our way from the back to the front, let’s first look at the second screenshot. I personally think this looks great. I love the texturing of the wood. The details are also quite nice, like the air vent at the bottom of the door. I’m quite impressed with this, especially after having looked at the VCs in the volume 1 package, this is an extraordinary improvement.

Next is the engineer’s panel, which can be seen on the sixth and last screenshot. To my surprise the texture is rather sharp, and as a nice added touch, you see some 3D gauges here and there. What makes it even nicer is the fact that they are actually functional, meaning that when you want to look at some of the engine related gauges in this VC, you can actually go sit at the engineer’s panel and find the information you are looking for.

Let’s turn our view upwards and give the overhead a look. From what we can see here, the textures are again nice and sharp, although you should remember that from the pilot’s viewpoint, you are closer and therefore the texturing might appear less sharp than on this shot. For the rest we can see some 3D switches, all nicely textured.

And now comes the big thing: the main instrument panel and pedestal, which you can see in screenshots 1, 3 and 5 from different angles. Amazingly, a great portion of what we see here is 3D, something which even the main panel of the Level-D 767 doesn’t have. The texturing, too, is rather sharp and it is generally nice to look at. The gauges look clean and are rather easy to read.

I should mention that the speed gauge seems a bit wonky to me and it requires a bit of getting used to. As far as I know, most types of these gauges give you both a needle and rolling numbers in one type of unit (knots, most of the time). The rolling numbers on this gauge, however, give you the speed in Mach! You can understand my surprise when I was landing and got into a stall when the rolling numbers gave me a speed of 280. It was not soon after I looked more closely at the speed gauge and noticed it said “Mach” in tiny letters.

As an aside, some of these gauges are taken directly from the Volume 1 (and possibly earlier) packages. This is just plain recycling and therefore it doesn’t always give an accurate representation of the aircraft’s instruments. I say not always, because some gauges can be found across multiple aircraft types.

On the pedestal we see everything that should be there, including the rather nifty looking FMS/INS CDU combination and throttle quadrant. Here, too, texturing is good and a lot of the buttons appear 3D. For example, every button on the INS/FMS CDU is 3D. I think that’s rather amazing when you think of the amount of work it has probably cost to make it all. I should mention that the radios you see on the pedestal appear widely across some of the Aerosim aircraft and are not wholly realistic, especially since they have the default 737 texturing.

I still have no idea what the black, round thing is that you see stuck on the very left side of each of the main flight instruments’ portion of the main instrument panel. What’s more interesting though, is that it doesn’t seem to come on every Tristar. If you take a look at www.airliners.net and search for the Tristar with the keyword “cockpit”, you get eight pages of which only two have the aforementioned “black thing”.

Most of them have a rectangle with two switches, and the entire thing is positioned slightly differently. The rectangular screen looks a lot more like the weather radar as used on the Boeing 727, so I’m still inclined to think the black circle is a weather radar of sorts. As an aside, these round, black gauges only start working when you are in the air and they function in a way that’s similar to a weather radar, although they are not functional. You see a moving image, sure, but it’s not what you see out of your cockpit windows.

The rest of the cockpit layout is very good. Compared to an actual Tristar cockpit, most gauges and switches seem well placed. In short: a very nice VC, with good texturing. Looking good and a great improvement so far compared to Volume 1!

I’ve included a screenshot from the VC, but with tape gauges.

VC with tape gauges instead of the normal ones.

DC-10

Pilot’s view: left. Pilot’s view: right.

What’s probably apparent from the beginning is the amount of 3D parts. Literally every part, every button, switch, lever and gauge I could spot on the main panel is 3D. This is a great contrast from the Volume 1 planes VCs, for only the 747 had 3D parts in the cockpit, and even there the main panel didn’t have as many 3D parts as we see here. For now it sure looks like the planes of Volume 2 have an equally good level of detail. We still have to go look at the DC-8’s VC though, so let’s not get our hopes up too much.

Overview of the front side of the cockpit. Overview of the back side of the cockpit.

Though there is a certain degree of blockiness, the overall detail both in the modeling and texturing is pretty good. Most details seem to have been taken care of, and although the texturing isn’t as sharp as you might have wanted it to be, it does the job just fine. No qualms here.

Engineer’s panel: A bit blurry and sadly no moving gauges, as was the case with the Tristar. Overhead panel: texturing looks good and there are some 3D switches. If you go look at the CLS model though, there is far more detail here.
Overview of our working space. I like the amount of 3D detail you see here. Not every button has been done, but the great majority has, and it looks great.

The engineer’s panel is textured okay. The sharpness however, is not great. But since it doesn’t have an actual function, this is but a minor qualm. Anyway, most add-ons I have seen to date have this level of overall texture sharpness for things like engineer’s panels and the like, so in that respect this engineer’s panel isn’t any different from other panels you come across.

The overhead panel has the same amount of detail, although there are some 3D switches here, most of them are not moveable. While that’s a pity, it was to be expected. The switches that actually have a function can be moved, those that don’t have a function can’t. I should mention that the great “block” you see in the middle of the overhead panel with the three red handles, actually is 3D. This particular thing is like half a circle coming out of the ceiling. I’m quite impressed with how it’s been done, for it’s not blocky at all. It’s been modeled perfectly fine.

The next shot gives you an impression of the workspace you will be sitting in most of the time. The overall level of detail is pretty good, and from here you can also see the perfect roundness of the overhead “block” with the handles I mentioned earlier. I do wish the instrument panel itself would have had some nicer texturing as this bare grey makes the entire panel look a bit unfinished, despite the great amount of 3D detail.

It’s this 3D detail I want to show you from yet another angle: the last and final screenshot of the DC-10’s VC shows you a view from the copilot’s seat. I just love the 3D detail here. The throttle quadrant has been nicely done, despite a degree of blockiness and the texturing is equally nice, although I still dislike the bland dark grey of the main instrument panel.

Finally, I compared this model’s cockpit to a picture of a DC-10-30 cockpit and came to the conclusion that, while there are some small inconsistencies here and there, the overall feel and layout of Aerosim’s DC-10 VC is quite precise and generally good. Most of the lights and buttons are where they should be, they’re the right size and have the right colors. Good job!

With that, I conclude the part about the DC-10’s VC. I quite like what I’ve seen here, although I think CLS’s modeled VC is better. It has more detail and the overall texturing is better. That said, this VC is far from bad and I’m quite sure I’ll be flying this plane more often.

DC-8

Now comes the VC I’ve been most curious about. Sure, the Tristar was also a plane that I had wanted for a long time to see done well, but since this DC-8 is ultimately unique in the FS ecosystem, I really want it to look nice.

Our workspace. Texturing is rather bland, but there’s a lot of 3D detail. What a pity… There’s a hole in this VC!

At a glance, the VC looks detailed yet bland at the same time. There is the very nice 3D detail, because a multitude of buttons and gauges have been modeled and are clickable or moveable on the main instrument panel, but at the same time, the texturing of the main panel is just this drab dark grey. It makes everything looks bland and uncared for, which draws the VC’s overall quality down. I’m quite sure that if the texturing here would have been better, a la Tristar, this part of the VC would have surely looked ten times better.

However, there is something here which is a great disappointment, something that I find wholly unacceptable. Look at the second screenshot: there’s a hole in the VC! You can also spot it in the first screenshot, to the left of the autopilot panel. After moving the camera a bit, I discovered that the entire main instrument panel seems strangely detached from the window frames. This definitely is something that should be fixed. This can’t be left as it is.

Now let’s move our attention to other parts of the cockpit. In the back of the cockpit we see a slightly blurry texture, the engineer’s panel and various seats that are, incidentally, exactly the same as the seats in the Boeing 737-200 and 727 series of the Volume 1 package. After looking at some screenshots it’s entirely obvious the DC-8 seats are quite different and the seats in this model were placed here probably out of laziness or a will to finish the project so it can be sold.

Anyway, it’s a bit sloppy. The more I go deeper into this cockpit the more it seems this model is the “rush job” of the package. Added to give the package more value, and although it looks alright, many shortcuts have been taken.

The second screenshot shows us the engineer’s panel in full glory. Because it seemed somewhat small, I decided to check it out with some screenshots and this is just the way it looks. The texture is an exact match with the photographs I looked at. Nothing of course is moveable, but I sort of expected that after the DC-10. This spot does feel a little cramped though, and judging from the photographs I looked at, the dimensions are not quite right. It should have been a bit roomier.

Now let’s turn our attention back to the main panel. The third shot shows you the main instrument panel in its entirety.

Main panel: nice 3D detail, bland texturing. Pedestal view. The entire cockpit.

Again, as you can see, the 3D detail is pretty nice although it only goes as far as the main instrument panel and the pedestal and some of the surrounding areas. The overhead panel is all flat, sadly. Turning our attention now to the pedestal, I fear that while the instrument panel is relatively accurate, the pedestal is not so accurate. The communication radios you see look an awful lot like the radios of the default 737, and that’s because that’s just what they are. For the rest, though, it’s relatively accurate.

The last shot shows you a complete view of the entire cockpit. The weird yellow/red stripes you see on the ceiling are lamps, and I’m afraid that’s just the way it looks in the real plane. For the rest, the cockpit in general looks a bit bare and it would have been nice if the texturing of the main instrument panel and the bulkhead and ceiling would have been better. This dark, drab grey is rather ugly in my opinion. In summary, this could have been a very nice VC, but the texture blandness drags it down a fair bit.

In general

Now that all planes have been looked at both outside and in, it’s clear to me that the L-1011 Tristar is the “star” of the package, with the DC-10 being a good second and the DC-8 lacking in several respects. While I’m extremely pleased with the looks and feel of the Tristar and DC-10, I’m disappointed about the sloppiness in some areas of the DC-8.

Seeing as how unique the DC-8 model is in our FS world, it’s a pity that such big faults like a hole in VC are present and that the overall detail is less than the other planes. I’d have eagerly swapped the DC-8 with the DC-10 (leaving the DC-10 out of the package) if that would have given us a better looking DC-8 model, since for the DC-10 we have the excellent CLS model.

On the other hand, I’m very pleased that even though the DC-8 is the rush job of the package, the overall detail is of the same level as the Boeing 747 of the Volume 1 package. With that said, I’m excited to say that the Tristar’s level of detail is a lot higher than Volume 1’s Boeing 747, with overall better, sharper and nicer texturing and more 3D buttons, switches and levers.

Panel

Those that read the review of Volume 1, will know that the simulated systems of the Volume 1 package were generally nothing more than what the default planes give you, the only exception being the advanced INS system. In short, the Volume 2 package’s systems are not that different. Engine start, for example, is nothing more than switching the fuel control switches to “run” and press (and hold, on the DC-10 and DC-8) the ignition button. Pressurization, fuel and all of that which you generally don’t find in the default planes are absent here too. So, all in all, there is not a lot to talk about I’m afraid, since everything is so simplistic. Except for one system.

The DC-10 and DC-8 both have the INS that also featured in the Volume 1 package, so there’s nothing new. However, I found that the Tristar has a fully working FMS with VNAV and LNAV capabilities. The autopilot is simulated in a good way too, in that two autopilots (A and B, like on the real thing) are simulated and can be switched on independently. So, it’s mainly the INS and FMS systems I’m going to discuss here. Ultimately I’ll show you their workings and their performance in the “Taking them for a flight” section.

Starting with the INS, in comparison to the modern day FMS systems, it is a rather dismal piece of equipment. All it basically can do is direct the autopilot to a specific location and that’s it. It’s a very primitive form of LNAV. To make it sadder, it only holds ten slots (0 – 9), so if your flight plan contains more than nine waypoints, you’ll have to reenter coordinated for following waypoints by hand. The INS will then cycle back to waypoint 0 once the plane has reached waypoint 9. Ultimately the system works, and it works well, but it’s far from perfect. Back in the day, the system was a marvel and helped to navigate the land tremendously. Now, we know better.

The Aerosim INS works as you’d expect, and an easy to understand tutorial covers its entire operation on a flight from Tokyo to Osaka. It tells you how to input the coordinates of the waypoints, how to track flight progress, and everything seems to be working correctly. The plane flies to wherever you want it to fly, as long as you don’t forget to reenter the waypoints if you have more than 9 waypoints in your flight plan.

My final word on the INS is that it’s a well-simulated and well-explained piece of equipment that everybody should be able to get his head around without too much trouble. As long as you read the tutorial and fly the tutorial flight at least twice. (I found I understood it better after doing it twice). After that you can do your own flights with the INS. Aerosim thoughtfully provides a look-up database for waypoints and airports on their website, so you can search for the latitude and longitude of the waypoints you will be passing. Of course, if you have an advanced flight planner that offers this information, it’s even easier. Just put in the numbers your flight planner gave you and you are ready to go. I included screenshots from the INS panels of the DC-10 and DC-8 below. While the appearance is different, they function in exactly the same way.

DC-10 INS. DC-8 INS.

Of the included three planes, the Tristar is the only one to have a FMS. Quite possibly the first plane to have such a thing, and it was a success, for a FMS has become standard on all modern day airliners. The Tristar’s FMS, though simpler, is by no means inferior to modern day FMS systems, and through the CDU you can put in all necessary data to accurately make the plane climb, descend and follow pre-programmed routes: VNAV and LNAV navigation, in other words. In conjunction with the autopilot, this makes the Tristar, of the three included planes, an exceptionally nice and easy to fly airplane.

Don’t be mistaken: while modern day airliner simulations, like the PMDG 747-400, also have a FMS, they are considerably less easy to fly. Aerosim says in the manual that while they made the FMS as true-to-life as possible, they still wanted everybody to enjoy it and therefore made it so that everybody indeed can. This then might account for the overall simplicity of the included FMS without it being actually simplistic. I know this is a rather hard to understand paradox, and since I’m no Tristar pilot I can’t accurately say whether the FMS simulated here really is as realistic as claimed. I do know that all the pages available to you work, and they work well. There even are some features I can’t remember seeing in modern day FMS systems, like an automatic calculation of the time/distance to the top or end of descend, which I found particularly helpful. For the rest, you can manipulate a lot of parameters regarding aircraft performance.

The autopilot does what you ask it to do, and the general operation of the FMS is just plain simple. For me it required not a lot of learning. I think therefore, that those of you who are still with the default airplanes or who want to learn how to use a full-fledged PMDG Boeing 747-400 FMS, this package with the Tristar FMS will provide an excellent platform to understand the basics, plus you get a very fun flying experience. I included some screenshots of some of the pages on the CDU, so you can get an impression for the feel of this rather nice bit of apparatus. Besides that, there are also screenshots from the 2D panel, two for each plane: one depicting the main instrument panel and one depicting as many other 2D panels as I could fit on my screen.

The main FMS page. This is what you see when you call up the FMS for the first time on each flight. By pressing the tiny “nav” button just under the FMS screen, you get to this page. From here you can manage all that is related to your flight plan, of which I’ll show you some examples on the flight we will do in a few moments.
On this page, where you can get by pressing the button left of “WPT LIST” on the page on previous the screenshot, you can look at the waypoints you will be flying to. By pressing any of the index buttons (the buttons to the left of the FMS screen) you can look at waypoint information. From the NAV SELECT page, you can get to this page by pressing the index button next to “NAV DATA”. This page shows you information about the leg to the next waypoint.

 

DC-8 main instrument panel. DC-10 main instrument panel. L-1011 main instrument panel.
DC-8 subpanels. DC-10 subpanels. L-1011 subpanels.
The alternative: a panel with tape gauges.

Sounds

The aircraft in this package all have sounds that should be quite distinctive. The Tristar, for example, has this peculiar spool-up sound that you don’t really hear with other engines when it erupts in this mighty roar. However, since there aren’t a lot of examples out there and because I never actually flew with any of the included aircraft, I find myself in a rather difficult position for I can’t judge the included sounds very well.

After plowing through YouTube videos, it is my opinion that while the Aerosim sounds are good, they are not as realistic or true to life as one might want. Take the Tristar sounds for example, while they do sound like a heavy airliner, they really don’t sound similar to the Tristar engine sounds I heard on various YouTube videos. Same goes for the DC-10 and DC-8 engine sounds: although the sound themselves are not bad, they are just not very true-to-life.

That said, I still like these sounds, and it’s only the DC-10 sound I have complaints about. It just doesn’t do it for me. Both inside and outside, the sound is too soft. This especially true when you cut down the throttle to idle, you have to increase the volume of your computer just to hear the DC-10’s engines. While the DC-8 and Tristar sounds don’t suffer from this problem (The DC-8’s sounds are very loud), they still remain “generic”.

So what about the GPWS? I’m not sure what these ought to sound like, since there is no alternate FS model, or even a YouTube video out there that can accurately demonstrate those. I only know that in each aircraft the various GPWS callouts are very distinct, and while I’m not sure that they are entirely correct (they weren’t in the Volume 1 package), at least for every aircraft a different sound is used. To me, they sound authentic enough but there’s no way I can say for sure that they are. I don’t have enough information for that.

Something about the GPWS I can tell you though, is that it plays in a rather annoying way. This same problem also occurred in the Volume 1 package, which is basically an unrealistic play back of the sound at moments you’d actually not expect it to play back at all. During landing for example, you don’t expect “Pull up” commands to be played in the constant frequency I heard, at least not when you’re on the glide slope and doing fine. Maybe it was something I did wrong because when I engaged the autopilot on another test flight, there was no problem. It stayed silent in the cockpit.

Taking them for a flight

For this section, I did several flights with all the aircraft types included (not all subtypes included!). First, I should mention that while the manual contains a tutorial about the FMS and the INS, I opted to only show you the FMS tutorial. The FMS tutorial required you to fly the Tristar, and I saw this as the perfect opportunity to show you the Tristar flying and tell you a bit more about the inner workings of the FMS.

As I said, the manual also contains an INS related tutorial, but I won’t discuss this in this review. I’m not even going to discuss the INS itself, because after reading through the INS tutorial, it became apparent that the INS included in this package is exactly the same as the one included in the Volume 1 package on the Boeing 747 model. So, if you want more information than “the INS works great”, I ask you to read the review I wrote about the Classic Liners Volume 1 package.

However, the fact that I don’t discuss the INS in this review doesn’t mean I’m not discussing the two planes that use the INS, namely the DC-8 and DC-10. With these two planes I did touch and goes at Chicago Midway to test their autopilot’s capabilities and their handling, both in the air and on the ground. Before I get to these aircraft, let me walk you through the FMS tutorial and the wonderful L-1011 Tristar aircraft.

L-1011 Tristar

The tutorial wants us to park our aircraft at gate 5 at Tokyo Haneda airport, which is the old international airport of Tokyo, Japan. It would have been easier, probably, if a pre-made flights would have been included, but admittedly it’s just as easy to make your own flight.

Step 1: programming the FMS At the gate. Step 2: starting the engines.

The first thing the tutorial asks is to shut down the engines and put the parking brake on. I suppose this has to do with correct initialization of the FMS, but I’m not too sure. It might just be for “cosmetic” purposes. Since the first thing we will do is program the FMS, we are going to select a pre-stored route. To do that, you open the FMS by pressing shift-6, then pressing the tiny “nav” button below the screen, and choosing “NAV START” from the screen you will then be seeing.

What you get is a screen asking for your confirmation. When you confirm that’s what you want to do, you get to choose a pre-stored route, and basically the entire flight plan is then set. It is not possible to program your route on the spot, and I’m not sure if this is like the actual Tristar FMS, or just a simplification of the Aerosim rendition.

This does not mean you can’t make new routes at all. You can make them, albeit with a bit of a detour. The manual gives a description of how to do it and it involves going into a program like Notepad and making a file with all the waypoint information needed. That file should then be put in a special folder within the Tristar folder in your FS9 install, and after some more tinkering you should be ready to go. It’s a rather simple procedure actually, but I’m all but certain this is the way it went in reality. I’m afraid I won’t be able to verify this, though. Point is, it works.

Next, the tutorial walks us through all options available to us, all concerning VNAV operations. When everything is set, we can start our engines and taxi to runway 34R. I must say the tutorial is very quiet through these procedures and this is where I think the tutorial fails. This is because it really is only about the operation of the FMS, and not a full fledged flight. So yes, we are doing a flight here from Tokyo Haneda to Fukuoka, but all that is really discussed is the FMS. I think this could have been expanded on without a lot of extra work.

Taxiing to runway 34R. Ready for takeoff.
Lift off! Turning to a heading of 100 degrees, as per the used SID.

Now that we are in the air, it appears a fourth page has appeared to the NAV DATA screen, accessible via the NAV SELECT screen. The NAV DATA screen, as explained in the panel section earlier on, contains information about the next waypoint in your flight plan. In total, three pages of information are available before takeoff, and after takeoff there are four pages.

These pages hold information like Total Air Speed, Ground Speed, various temperatures and a god-awful amount of other stuff you might want to know during your trip. It goes without saying these are usually the pages kept open during the flight. The screenshots below show you some of the NAV DATA pages, before and after enabling VNAV. Because soon the tutorial tells us to enable VNAV, and as soon as you we do that, we can see a “CLIMB ARMED” message appear on the FMS, telling us the airplane is now climbing per our earlier inputted instructions.

On our way to waypoint KZE. After enabling VNAV, CLIMB ARMED appears on the FMS.
Still climbing, turning towards our next waypoint. Turning to waypoint CAN.

While our Tristar is faithfully turning towards the next waypoint and climbing per our earlier instructions, the tutorial goes on to tell us how to alter our route on the fly (sorry for the pun). You can do this by going to the CHG RTE page on the FMS, where you are presented with various options. The tutorial instructs us to choose the “GO DIRECT?” option, after which we should choose waypoint GUJ. As soon as we do that and press the EXECUTE button, the plane starts turning towards the next waypoint.

The CHG RTE screen. We will be choosing the “GO DIRECT?” option. Now choose your waypoint…
… and give confirmation. Plane turns towards GUJ. And so we continue our flight.

Now that we have turned towards our next waypoint, the plane does the last bit of climbing until we reach our cruise altitude at FL310. When we do so, we see a new mode has been activated on the FMS: “cruise”, whereas it was on “climb”. With this new mode activated, the second part of our flight has officially started. It’s in this part where we get to know more about the functions of our FMS. Two points, for example, that are discussed are the newly added entry of ETE TO T*D, which is the time to the Top of Descent, from where we will start our slow descent and change our cruise speed.

Changing cruise speed is a simple procedure which I recommend doing while pausing the sim. If you don’t do that, the throttle setting will be reset to 0, effectively making the autopilot spool down the engines and slowing down the aircraft, which will be exactly the opposite of what we want it to do because now we are flying at Mach 0.80 and we will want to increase that speed to Mach 0.85. I’m not sure whether this spooling down thing is a bug, or that it was so on the real plane too, though I can hardly imagine that.

Anyway, the way to change this preconfigured speed is rather straight forward. We open the CRUSE OPTION page in the FMS, where we see four options, of which the lower two enable you to set a new cruise speed: one in IAS, and one in Mach. The result will be the same, but it gives you the possibility to change speed in two ways, depending on the numbers you prefer to work with. The tutorial wants us to use the Mach option, and so we do. On the next page we type “85” and press the insert button just under the small keypad right of the FMS screen.

A new line has appeared: ETE TO T*D. It gives the time to the top of decent, which is 42 minutes in this example. The CRUSE OPTION screen. From here you can change cruise speed settings.
We change the speed in Mach, and enter 85 using the keypad. After pressing insert, which has lighten up as soon as we entered our new speed, we return to the NAV DATA screen and see our newly inputted value starring on the front page. Now a trifle faster, our journey continues.

The flight continues unchanged for another 35 minutes (or, in my version, another 8.75 minutes. I sped up the flight with a factor 4). By then the timer on ETE TO T*D will have reached 0, which is the signal to us that the final stage of our flight has started: the descent.

Now that the descent has started, various changes have occurred on the FMS’s NAV DATA page. All information now displayed, are our goals for when descent has ended. This means we want to end up at 8000ft with a speed of 240kts, and all of this 10nautical miles after waypoint TTE. Our plane is descending now, as you can see.
With our altitude goal of 8000ft inputted and VNAV enabled, the Mach value has changed into a preset value of 300kts on the FMS. The descent will be fully automatic. Descending with VNAV enabled.

The above four screenshots give you a quite complete picture of what we will be doing next. First we input the goal altitude of our descent, which is 8000ft, as the just changed FMS page shows. We will enable ALT ARM on the autopilot panel which will then rapidly start it’s descent (as shown on the first of the four screenshots). After that, to make sure the airplane descends as per our inputted instructions (we did all that before we took off), we re-enable VNAV. After which the airplane noticeably changes the pitch angle.

One thing of note, is that the DIST TO E*D (Distance to End of Descent) gives a value in nautical miles instead of the time that was given for top of descent. I’m not sure why we suddenly are confronted with a distance instead of a time, but it must have its reasons.

Still descending after E*D reached. Contacting Fukuoka tower.

I did this flight twice, and twice the aircraft was not able to reach it goal by the time we arrived at 10NM past waypoint TTE. This is now a problem as the aircraft will just continue descending. When 8000ft is reached, VNAV again automatically ceases operation. From this point on, we will not re-enable it anymore. Instead, we will descent, climb and turn on our own accord by giving the autopilot direct instructions via the autopilot’s control panel. We will also shut down the Throttle Management (TM). Doing this makes the plane lose control over the FMS designated throttle settings so we can use auto throttle to reach the speeds we need for landing. Doing all that, we fly on for a bit and contact Fukuoka tower. It’s time to start our approach.

Turning the plane to make intercepting the localizer easier. The plane has captured the localizer signal and is now turning on its own accord. As you can see, I enabled the LOC option on the A/P panel.
Flaps down to 18 degrees, and the A/P has got me lined up perfectly. I will be engaging the APR (Approach) mode shortly. Weather has gotten a bit iffy. Lots of clouds, bit of haze. Autoland has been activated on the A/P panel.

Now that we contacted Fukuoka tower and we are nearing our destination, I turn the plane in such a direction that the A/P will have an easier time capturing the localizer signal. First though, I tune the NAV1 radios to 111.70 and adjust the course to 157 degrees. I enable LOC mode instead of what we previously used, which was the NAV setting (which is the same as LNAV). Soon the plane starts turning and it managed to line me up perfectly with the localizer, at which point I enable Approach (APR) mode. Flaps are coming down slowly and when the plane seems to have captured the glide slope, it’s time to engage autopilot B and with that the Autoland (A/L) mode, as shown on the fourth screenshot above.

Flaps down to 33 degrees, and gear is in position and locked. Weather has gotten quite bad, with quite a bit of haze close to the ground.
Almost there… Touchdown! Thrust reversers maxed; spoiler enabled and flaps to 42 degrees.

The way down is rather exciting, in a way. The plane is capable of doing a complete auto land sequence it appears, and it does it well. The plane follows the glide slope all the way down, meanwhile staying perfectly aligned with the runway. The aircraft even does a flare of sorts and softly touches down on the runway, at which point most autopilot functions, such as auto throttle, are automatically switched off so I can apply full reverse thrust.

When below the 60kts, the autopilot’s functions switch off including auto land mode, enabling me to safely taxi off the runway. Handed off to Fukuoka ground, I get a gate assigned and make my way over there, where I shut down the engines.

Taxiing off the runway. Taxiing to the stand.
There’s my parking spot. We hope you enjoyed your flight with us and hope to see you back the next time!

All in all, this was a very enjoyable flight, and I’m quite impressed with the flawless implementation of the auto land which set me down on the ground perfectly. The handling of the aircraft both on the ground and in the air is very good, although I think the engines are overpowered. Upon doing touch and goes with this plane at Chicago Midway airport, for example, the auto land was a bit less consistent in that it did a massive flare (probably almost stalling the plane), and touch down was much later than I had wanted it to be. Still, even though there was almost no runway left, I got the Tristar to a stop well before the end of the runway. That to me seems a little weird and a clear sign of overpowered engines. That said, it remains a lovely plane to fly!

DC-10

Our next candidate is a much more widely used plane: the DC-10. With this plane, as I stated earlier, I only did touch and goes around Chicago Midway airport, since the IN had proved to be working well already when I tested the Volume 1 package. In this section, I’ll take you on one such touch and go.

Everything starts by taking off, and so does this flight. With the A/P set correctly, I maximize the throttle and barely manage to escape the ground before skimming over the roof of one of the houses. Either the plane is very slow at accelerating or the runway is too short for this kind of plane. I choose the latter explanation, although the Tristar and DC-8 both didn’t have problems taking off from this runway. Anyway, when at a reasonable height, I contact Midway tower and ask for a touch and go, after which I turn my plane and head back parallel to runway 4R, where I will be performing the touch and go.

Turning around to a heading of 220 degrees. Turning still. Flying parallel to runway 4R, deploying some flap.

It may be worthwhile to mention how completely different the layout of this autopilot is. For the rest, the autopilot is pretty similar to the Tristar’s, but you have to get used to the placement of the screen and buttons. Function wise, the DC-10’s A/P is just about the same, although it doesn’t seem to have separate approach and localizer modes, rather just a LNAV (based on the INS) and an ILS mode. Apart from these simple facts, there is no FMS in this plane making the autopilot of the DC-10 quite primitive when compared to the Tristar’s autopilot. That said, the DC-10 autopilot remains faithful and does what you ask it to do, but after flying the Tristar, you might want to spend a bit of time familiarizing yourself with its autopilot.

Do note that some of the differences in autopilot complexity is due to the simulation that Aerosim made. For example, while in the Tristar you could independently engage A/P A and B, here you can engage only one.

Turning the plane to get it lined with ILS. The A/P captured the ILS signal and is lining me up.

After flying along the runway heading of 220 degrees, it’s time to turn the plane around, drop some more flap, slow down the plane and get it lined up. To that end I tune the NAV1 radio, enter the desired course of 45 degrees, make the plane fly to a heading of 100 degrees and enable ILS mode. Soon the DC-10 starts turning and lines me up with the runway. Some more flap goes down, and as we are nearing the runway, I decelerate and drop the gear.

Runway in view, gear down, flaps down. We are getting there, ever so slowly now…
Still going down… Just a nice shot. Touch down!

I should add I disabled the autopilot at around 200ft. I did three touch and goes, and already at my first try it was apparent the airplane didn’t like that I left the autopilot on until the end. It started misbehaving and doing everything wrong. I’m not sure if that’s my fault or that you genuinely have to shut down the autopilot before touch down, but that’s the way I eventually did it, and since it all worked okay, that’s what I stayed with.

Overall, I’m happy with how this plane handles. Both on the ground and in the air, it’s a charm to fly and I’m quite sure I’ll be flying this plane more often, once I have more liveries for it.

DC-8

The last plane is the DC-8. This plane is ancient in comparison to the other two, and it took me at least one touch and go sequence to understand where all the autopilot commands were. Contrary to modern airliners, the autopilot functions of the early aircraft (Boeing 707, 727 and 737-200 have it too) are scattered all over the cockpit. So, some functions are where you’d expect them on the MCP (as it’s called on Boeing aircraft), but the indicators of set heading, for example, will be on the HSI itself, like the set airspeed will be found on the speed gauge.

Also, the throttle engage/disengage handle is found on the throttle quadrant. Basically, its one mumbo-jumbo of autopilot controls all scattered around the cockpit and it requires some searching before you find everything. Luckily, the manual describes all the panels so you can find everything that you need by looking it up in the manual.

The flight that we are going to do now is the same as the one I did with the DC-10, so you won’t be seeing anything new in that respect.

Takeoff. Turning towards 220 degrees. The same turn from the VC. The most important autopilot panel is opened here. From here you set various parameters, as you can see yourself.

After takeoff and turning towards 220 degrees, I badly needed to get myself familiar with this autopilot, since everything was so scattered around the cockpit. I soon found everything, as you can see on the below screenshot.

All panels with autopilot related functions are now open: the throttle quadrant houses the auto throttle. The panel in the up right corner has the most important functions as detailed earlier, and the tiny panel on the main instrument panel has some other functions, like altitude hold. The one that came up with this mess should be punished severely. Flying level now and still messing around with the autopilot, it’s almost time to start turning the plane.

As the flight progresses, it’s time to dial in the ILS frequency in the NAV1 radio and set the required course. Auto landing the DC-8 will soon appear to be more of a hassle than I previously thought, since names are not standardized by this time. There are various functions I’d never heard of before, which didn’t make handling the A/P’s auto land capabilities very easy.

Turning to a heading of 100 degrees, like with the DC-10 flight. Flaps to 25 degrees, and aligned with the runway.
Now from the VC (That hole there just under the window frame keeps irritating me) Nearing the runway, everything works okay.

The last of the screenshots above shows you the 2D panel close up before touchdown. Here you can also see rather well how the autopilot is supposed to be set for landing. At inbound, you set the NAV selector to LOC, for localizer, but after that you switch it over to ILS. You’re not done yet though, because with that it will only align itself with the runway.

To make sure the plane also captured the glide slope, you are supposed to change the pitch selector to G/P EXT, which will make sure the plane actually goes down instead of remaining in level flight. I wasn’t too sure about all of this on my first touch and go, and so I messed up quite a bit. If you want the plane to do exactly what you tell it to do, you have to start far out from the airport and not go to fast, so the plane has ample time to adjust itself. I noticed, though, that even this approach is not foolproof. The auto land works, but it’s a bit sensitive.

Almost there. Touchdown! Reverse thrust and spoilers up.

All in all, the DC-8 is a nice plane to fly, but it’s autopilot is a pain to operate because of the fact that it is scattered all around the plane. This is hardly Aerosim’s fault though, and the only one to be blamed for that is Douglas who made this aircraft in the first place.

A word about the included adventures

With this package, you get 9 adventured to play with, 3 for each aircraft. These adventured are fun to do and very helpful. They basically are an extra to the tutorials in the manual that only show you the workings of the FMS and the INS, and nothing about other procedures. The adventures give you the option of learning how to successfully land each of these aircraft, which is extremely helpful, especially for those that have no idea how to do an IFR approach.

The setup of each of the adventures is the same: first you choose whether you want the approach landing to be normal or difficult, and after that you can choose whether you want it to be the PF (Pilot Flying) or an observer. If you are an observer, you simply sit around and watch how the plane is landed.

I recommend using the 2D cockpit first, to see what buttons are pressed, and when you know how this all works, you can try and be the PF. I did one of these adventures to see how the DC-8 is supposed to be landed, and it proved a great way to learn it. You can first see others do it, and when you are sure you understand it, you can try the exact same flight yourself, upping the difficulty when you get better.

The same sort of adventure was also available in the Volume 1 package, and there too, it proved an invaluable asset. This truly is a great way to learn to land these and other planes.

A warning concerning liveries

Aerosim is a relatively unknown company, and it shows in the amount of liveries available for their aircraft. Now, the amount of liveries for this package is greater than the Volume 1 package, but it’s still not as much as you’d probably like.

The Tristar seems quite popular, as there are ample liveries available (remember that the Tristar wasn’t used by a lot of airline companies, so there is a limit to the liveries you can find, too). The DC-10 also has some liveries, but fewer, and for some reason the DC-8 has hardly any liveries for it. If you do find DC-8 liveries, you’ll soon discover that most of these are meant for the freighter version included in the Classic Freighter Volume 2 package.

I should mention that even though there are not a lot of liveries available, you can download the required paint kit and paint these aircraft yourself. So if you are willing to pour in some time and patience, you can easily make your own repaints.

Test System

Macbook Pro with:
Intel Cure Duo2 @ 2,4 gHz
Geforce 8600GT
4GB DDR2 RAM
Windows Vista Ultimate 32bit

Flying Time:
11 hours

Summary / Closing Remarks

After dissecting each of these planes, I will start this summary with some general comments and a description of this product. Because what we are dealing with here in the end, is a package mostly concerned with the beginning simmer. The adventures provide an excellent way to learn how to do approaches and landings, and the FMS on the Tristar is an excellent way to learn how to use the more advanced, modern day FMS systems as present on the PMDG 747, or Level-D 767 for example. So, to characterize this package I’ll go with this description: a package mostly for the beginning simmer, who wants to learn more and understand how to use more advanced systems and procedures but which the more experienced simmer may find considerable fun too.

I myself am finding this package a good value for your money ($35, without VAT), much more so than the Volume 1 package was. You get three more detailed aircraft. I especially like the Tristar. In almost everything, interior and exterior modeling, and flight dynamics, it’s a very good plane and I’ll be flying it more often. The DC-10 is also rather good, and though it’s not as good as the CLS version in terms of visuals, I dare say that in some systems it’s probably as good and with it’s working INS, a competitor (look at the price difference here!).

The DC-8 has become a small disappointment, because I hoped it’d be more than it is. I hope Aerosim will be fixing the hole in VC since that’s a rather sloppy mistake that should not occur on a payware model. For the rest, the sounds of all the planes are nice, but not realistic. As with the Volume 1 package, the engines are overpowered.

In the end, you have to make up your own mind on this one. There is no clear yes or no that I can give you. I know I have been greatly enjoying reviewing this package of classic airliners and I’ll be recommending it to anybody interested in flying aircraft from the sixties and seventies. The only thing you ought to remember, is that the systems are not very detailed, and apart from the INS and FMS systems (which are pretty great) you don’t get a lot more than what the default planes already have.

If that’s of no great concern to you then you’ll be very happy with the great FMS and INS systems included, and I’d say you should buy this package. Also if you are relatively inexperienced and want to learn more, this package is a great way of learning basic FMS operations, learning the basics of VNAV and LNAV in particular and understanding approach and landing techniques in a pre-recorded environment which gives you more than the standard ATC.

As a side note, the relative simplicity of these aircraft is great in that you can easily manipulate them by adding third party panels and sounds. I have found good Tristar engine sounds and I’ll be including those with the Aerosim aircraft. Supposedly there is also a good freeware panel by Omwings, but I have found myself unable to download it, since it’s provider seems to be down. In the meantime, I’ll be fiddling around with the great FMS and I’ll be happy with what I got.

 

What I Like About Classic Liners Volume 2

  • Good lineup of classic airliners;
  • Good overall detail of the VC, exterior model;
  • Well-simulated INS system in the DC-10 and DC-8;
  • Well-simulated and easy to understand FMS system in the Tristar;
  • Documentation is concise, but includes everything you need to know and instructions are generally good and easy to understand;
  • Aircraft are easy to handle without feeling simplistic;
  • Aircraft are easy to manipulate (by adding third party stuff) because of their simplicity.

 

What I Don't Like About Classic Liners Volume 2

  • DC-8 has a hole in the VC, major flaw!
  • Overall system simulation is very basic, except for INS and FMS systems;
  • Hardly any liveries available for the DC-8, but DC-10 and Tristar have a lot more available liveries.

 

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