It all starts with the Coolsky – producer of the Super 80 aircraft – user manual;
“ What is the name of this aircraft? There seems to be a bit of confusion about the name of the DC-9-80/MD-80 series of aircraft. Up through the years, different marketing names, series names and Type Certificate names have been used. And the fact that operators sometimes decorate their aircraft with an identification anomaly only adds to the confusion. Let’s try to sort this out.
The MD-80 was not an entirely new aircraft. It was, in effect, an extension of the DC-9 line of aircraft. Therefore the Type Certificate of the first aircraft appeared as DC-9-81, DC-9-82 and DC-9-83. The names Super 80 and DC-9 Super 80 were simply marketing names used to sell the aircraft. The name DC-9-80 was used to describe the whole series of DC-9-8x aircraft.
In 1983, the McDonnell Douglas Corporation decided that the DC-9-80 series would be designated MD-80. Again, the name MD-80 is used to describe the whole series of MD-8x aircraft. No aircraft has ever been certificated as DC-9-80 or MD-80. The Type Certificates were amended with the new MD designator in parenthesis, appearing as DC-9-81 (MD-81). Now you had aircraft of the same type with name plates stamped as DC-9-81 and others as DC-9-81 (MD-81). The DC-9-81 (MD-81), DC-9-82 (MD-82) and DC-9-83 (MD-83) were now marketed as the MD-81, MD-82 and MD-83 respectively.”
A long story but generally the DC-9-80 Series was also known as the MD80 Series, they're not different unless we look into the cockpit layout. The Coolsky cockpit is the first generation fitted with old fashioned instruments. That means with an ADI (Attitude Direction Indicator) and the HSI (Horizontal Situation Indicator) and normal engine instruments.
The second-generation cockpit, like the Maddog 2006 as the only competitor on the FSX platform, is equipped with electronic flight instruments (EFIS) and electronic engine indication and many other differences, like it was with the real airplanes.
Since the Super 80 was already available for the FS2004 platform, Coolsky – the designer – informs us about the following: “This upgrade is more than a simple port over from FS9. For the model and textures, it is a complete rebuild utilizing the latest export tools and FSX materials. This Super 80 has all the features that a native FSX aircraft should have. The Virtual Cockpit also has the very latest FSX materials applied throughout, and was re-built and re-textured.”
In other words, it seems that this product is so far modified that it’s not only compatible with FSX, but it uses all the benefits of FSX.
Ok, that’s clear so far and what about competitors? There is currently only one available and that’s the Maddog 2006 from Leonardo SH. This MD80 Series comes with a highly detailed, photorealistic 2D cockpit but currently still without a VC and unlike the Super 80 from Coolsky, with no Integrated Cockpit Training System. More about that later including which choice you should make.
FSX Installation, documentation and additional material
The installation from the Flight1 CD-ROM is so simple and straightforward, that I’ve decided not to add any screenshots of it. The CD cover tells me that this product is also Windows Vista Ready. Unfortunately, I don’t have this installed on my PC, so I cannot judge whether everything works fine under Vista. I’ve tested it under Windows XP with SP2 without any problems. If you bought the downloadable FS2004 version, you can download the FSX upgrade for free.
One important thing to keep in mind: The CD-ROM version doesn’t ask for a key code but on the first page of the booklet you will find a “Proof of Purchase” certification number. Never throw this booklet away since this number is needed to register to the secured Flight1/Coolsky support forum.
With the installation, Flight1/Coolsky offers you some standard liveries like Spanair, Alitalia, SAS, Continental Airlines and Spirit Airlines, as can be seen below.
The house painter is currently very busy painting many requests, which can be found on AVSIM. Not only is the house painter is busy, also others are creating there own realistic paintings, like the ones from McPhat Studios.
There’s a lot of documentation, which comes with this product. First, you will find on the inside of the CD cover a Cockpit Training Handbook and a foldable Super 80 Panel Familiarization Sheet.
First to the small booklet: it contains the most important parts needed to start the installation, how the handle the aircraft, what it all offers and a description of the aircraft itself. In general, it contains all the necessary information of the sub-panels and how you call them up. The foldable paper shows you the main cockpit panel including all its sub-panels and what every switch, light, selector etc. does.
That’s not all. After the installation process, it installs the following Acrobat manuals:
• Super 80 Operating Manual.pdf
• Super 80 User Manual.pdf
I can already say that the manual quality is of a high standard. All you want to know about this Super 80 is there.
it or not, much more material/information is available via the Coolsky website.
You will find there additionally documentation, free
So, don’t worry that you don’t have any material or paperwork on this baby. There's more than enough real documentation to spend hours or even days to go through.
The Super 80 Center Window with the Integrated Cockpit Training System
Before we start with the Super 80 model itself, I would like to first explain the Super 80 Center Window. Generally, we can retrieve this window via the window select menu and then choose the last icon (at the bottom).
This will bring up a screen with three possible options. First the Options window.
The next window is the Super 80 Cockpit Integrated Training Center
The last window is the Super 80 Dispatch Center
My impression of this Super 80 Center Window feature is that everything is there, so I have no complaints about it. Special attention and glory goes to the Integrated Cockpit Training Device/System. For beginners, it is a great tool to learn how the aircraft works through visual checklist steps but even for experienced users it is still useful, unless you are a real Super 80 pilot, although you never know!
The Super 80 Model itself
2D Cockpit configuration.
Normally, additional or sub-panels are small sized except for the overhead panel. With this product, most of the sub-panels are huge, which makes them clear and very easy to read. The only panel that is missing in the 2D version is the First Officer’s side. If that’s important or not, I leave that up to everybody’s own opinion. Since most flight simmers want to fly in the VC mode, this problem is then not applicable. Personally, I missed a First Officer’s main cockpit panel.
Let’s have a look at these 2D screenshots. All the instruments, switches, knobs, handles etc. are well created and simulated. The fact that the aircraft doesn’t have a FMS is simply because this first series of the Super 80 did not have one. For navigation purposes, it was equipped with an ONS or in normal English, the Litton LTN-311 Omega/VLF Navigation System. Flight plans were downloaded via the onboard ACARS. This means regular flight plans where not stored in the Omega system, but were retrieved via the company’s database. Apart from this, the Super 80 did have a PMS (Performance Management System), which calculated optimum speeds, altitudes etc. Ok, enough about these technical items, let’s look in detail at the panels.
Starting at the LH top picture, the windows select menu allows us to call–up all additional sub-panels.
I personally found it a shame that the panels where not of a photo realistic quality, but I think that has to do with the fact that the cockpit is not fully redesigned for FSX, so basically the same bitmaps are used. The panels are definitely not bad and they are as sharp as all the text on the panels, but when I compare this with the Maddog 2006, then Maddog gets an extra point for reality.
Virtual Cockpit configuration.
I don’t know why, but virtual cockpits are generally not my favorite. Either the cockpit looks like cartoon pictures or it looks so realistic that my FPS drop so dramatically, that flying in VC is horrible, full of tears of frustration.
Switching to this Coolsky Super 80 VC layout gives you an unfortunate drop in FPS but that is limited to 2-3 FPS and that also depends on so many other things. I think it’s because the VC in FSX depends on all of your settings and they can never be set too high, as in FS2004. At least, in my case there’s still a difference!
When you lower some sliders under FSX Settings, you can still have FPS of around 20 or even higher. A VC in combination with, for example my CH Flightsim yoke, gives you every spot and angle in the cockpit but this Super 80 also comes with different pre-settings for those who don’t have this option activated.
Just a few free virtual cockpit examples. The sharpness of the instruments on the main panels is excellent and even on the overhead panel switches, knobs, indicators and others is sharp, so easy to read.
I’m satisfied when I see the quality of the VC. Ok, it is not fully photorealistic but it offers good FPS and so it is OK for me.
It's important to mention that all the instruments, text, switches and knobs are well designed and are very readable. There is no cartoon effect at all. OK, some parts not related to the pilot’s controls could be better, like the side window-opening handle or the seats, but for the latter, that always seems to be a big problem in getting the seats a little more realistic. Also, the foot area with the rudder pedals doesn’t look very realistic, which can be seen on the first VC picture. Both areas of the side panel from the cockpit seats are missing a lot of details. Here the cartoon effect is definite visible.
Final conclusion about the cockpit appearance.
If you want, you can find always something better, if there is something else. For the Coolsky Super 80, the only available FSX model is the one from Maddog 2006. Personally, I like those photo realistic images in the 2D version very much but FPS drop is automatically a result. The Coolsky VC is, apart from a few things, good and great to fly. One of the FSX features, which is used here, is the cockpit window reflections. This reflection is also visible towards the sides and behind the eye view of the pilots. The rest of the cockpit seems to be exactly the same as it was under FS2004.
Since we don’t have many FSX MD80 models to compare, except the Maddog 2006, the discussion of the external model is – of course - mainly based on the Coolsky model. Looking back to the good old FS2004, we had the wonderful JCA (Jet City Aircraft) models. I have to be honest, the JCA models where super, although some details where also horrible; like the passenger windows and other details like wheel, gear etc. but JCA was the only one who had the correct AFT stair.
In all the MD80 series, the AFT stair consisted of two parts, the large stair and a small foldable part, otherwise it doesn’t fit into the aft fuselage. This is something that’s completely missing on the Coolsky and Maddog models. Is it a big deal? Only when you know the real aircraft, otherwise you would never notice it. On the other hand, we may expect from those add-on airplanes that they look as real as possible. Ok, let us look at the Coolsky MD81 models.
My conclusion of the external look; I am very satisfied about the renewed Super 80, especially for FSX. Unfortunately, only the stairs and FWD passenger door can be opened and nothing else. Some add-on manufacturers have these features but you can also ask yourself if that is all necessary. I left the settings of any ground equipment or baggage cars, disabled on purpose.
Flight dynamics or how does it fly?
This is always a difficult point, judging the flight dynamics or air file since I am not a Super 80 pilot. I do not have any FFS (Full Flight Simulator) training. Ok, I’ve got a PPL license but that doesn’t reach any further than flight experience on a Cessna 150, 152 and 172. This airplane is definitely not the same, but you know that already.
However, due to my previous profession as a licensed MD80 Ground Engineer and engine test runner, I have had the opportunity to fly several times in the third cockpit seat with the DC-9-82 from Martinair Holland. This means, I can remember something about TO, climb performance, cruise conditions and of course, the descent, approach and landing phase. So, I’ll try to do my best to give you a good flight impression.
I have tested the flight dynamics (F1_MD80.air) or in normal English, how the aircraft really flies, with the help of the Coolsky FS2004 flight tutorial. Before you think “FS2004”, no, this flight tutorial is also applicable for FSX. You can download it via the Coolsky website. Via this link, you are guided to the download page and then look for tutorial.
I have placed the Spanair Super 80 somewhere on the airport of Madrid Barajas (LEMB). I will bypass all tiny details, but when it becomes important, I let you know.
At VR, I gentle pull back on the stick and as expected, the aircraft starts to raise its nose. Not like a GA airplane, but with some resistance. Over steering is possible, the same as in the real aircraft but when following the FD (Flight Director), nothing happens.
During climb, we maintain V2+10 and at 1500 feet we connect the AP and select the NAV and PERF pushbuttons ON. I know what you're thinking “that's a simple solution” but let us first bring the aircraft to higher altitudes in one piece before doing manual flight tricks with it. By the way, the AT (Auto Throttle) was already connected before we started the T/O. Ok, back to the AP.
The whole aircraft is now flown by the DFGS (Digital Flight Guidance System), but not so interesting to get an idea about the flight dynamics, except for the T/O and initial climb. At a safe altitude, I disconnect the AP but leave the AT connected. Any airplane of this size takes time before any disturbance is measured, even for the AP.
It needs to measure a difference from the planned path, and then it takes action. For us, it takes a little longer before we notice any difference. Its best not to look outside but to look at the ADI (Attitude Direction Indicator) and then specifically the FD. Just follow along and keep them in line with the airplane symbol.
As in real life, it is very difficult to keep the FD in the correct position since when it gets a distortion, we need to see something before we naturally start doing anything. As mentioned, its behavior feels very natural and then keeping in mind that we fly on the PC without any motion. On a real FFS (Full Flight Simulators), pilots get their training with motion, so they really feel how the aircraft flies but that’s a little too expensive.
Now it is time to see what happens when large banks (roll angles) are introduced and pitching towards a STALL condition.
Once the Super 80 is in a stable condition, I added some elevator before bringing the aircraft into a bank of 45 degrees. As expected, it is not that difficult to keep it in this bank position but pitch is really needed. While the bank is uncontrolled, I will take that into account.
From a stable
flight condition we start pulling the elevator to a pitch of 20 to 25
degrees. Although the AT is still connecting
the selected IAS/Mach, this is too much and the IAS/Mach starts
dropping. At the same time, I notice that the aileron channel is not
so controlling must be done via the rudder, but slowly. Sounds
all very reasonable to me but more important, it is all as expected.
During the descent near Mallorca (airport LEPA), we need to use some speed brake. First noticed is the created turbulence due to the extension of the panels and so the sounds belonging with that are heard and, of course, the effect of the speed brakes.
I make the approach to LEPA very easy and select the ILS frequency for runway 06. First the LOC is captured, followed by the G/S. The capturing of the LOC is easy and accurate but with the necessary corrections, as in real life as far as I can remember. This is the same for the G/S. Once on the ILS path; I disconnect the AP to make a manual landing. But more important, to have some feeling during the approach.
Finally taxiing on the ground is a pleasure. Since I only have rudder pedals and no nose wheel steering tiller, I still think that when making large or small turns, the Super 80 moves smoothly on the ground. Conclusion, I’ve got a good impression of the Super 80 simulated flight dynamics.
Real Super 80 sound?
As far as I can remember from my ground engineer days, the recorded and produced sound are very similar to the real MD80. This means the internal cockpit sounds like inverter, gyro, switching on the BAT are there. However, what is missing is when I switch ON the APU BUS switches, you should hear the sound of the electrical busses become energized.
I think what is also missing, is when you select the second APU BUS switch ON, you should get an aural message “AUTOPILOT”. I know, these are just minor remarks but it should be not that difficult to implement them.
Sometimes when starting up the Super 80, you hear a loud sound in the cockpit and also outside. It sounds like it's from the APU or external ground power unit but when looking outside on the runway, there is no ground power available and the APU is not running at all. What is it then? … I have no idea.
APU and engine sound (starting from idle until TO) sounds like the real Pratt & Whitney JT8D-200 Series. Other sounds related to mismatch of cockpit controls and the aural warning, engine fire bell, altitude alerts, APU start/stop etc., are well made The only thing that sounds not 100% in my opinion is the TO thrust. Either it’s a wrong FSX setting but it doesn’t sound familiar to me.
Apart of some small personal sound remarks, the overall sounds of the Super 80 are well produced via your PC speakers.
Summary / Closing Remarks
I’m impressed with this FSX Flight1/Coolsky model, although I know that the Maddog 2006 is a huge competitor. By the way, currently there is no other add-on modeler who makes the Super 80/MD80 Series.
Under FS2004, we had the JCA models, which had very accurate external models. We had an individual MD80 cockpit designer - Eaglesoft/Flight Deck - but these DC9-80 or the modern MD80 cockpits are far below the Coolsky and Maddog levels.
Then the question becomes, which one is better or more suitable for you? That’s not that easy to answer. Let's make a comparison between what Coolsky Super 80 and Maddog 2006 offer.
This asks do you like the old fashioned cockpit with the original Omega navigation system or do you want the newer MD80 look with EFIS and FMS installed. This is something you need to answer yourself since it is a personal feeling.
To be honest, the 2D cockpit panels of the Maddog are more photo realistic but this costs you in FPS (3 tol 5). Further, the Maddog doesn’t have a VC and no Integrated Cockpit Training System, which I like very much since you really learn the aircraft and there’s no need to play around by not knowing what you’re doing. The external model is more or less the same. One has got something while the other is lacking and vice versa.
Conclusion, I loved the FS2004 Coolsky Super 80 already because of its old-fashioned ADI and HSI including the operational Omega, the good frames, and the realistic external model including the air file. The latter is, in my opinion, always difficult to judge. What was applicable in the FS2004 version is also applicable for the FSX version. Last but not least, my compliments go to the Coolsky Support/forum and to the Coolsky designer himself, Espen Øijordsbakken, who helped in answering my questions.
What I Like About The Super 80
What I Don't Like About The Super 80
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