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P_7878

PMDG MD-11 in KLM Royal Dutch Airlines colors...

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[Note: To start off, I must say, this post is one of my most ambitious ever...in terms of flight planning and preparation, and aircraft complexity, and its historical content. In my mind since years, it took me now a couple of full days of toil and, of course, great fun, too, to prepare it...(after all, it's July 4th weekend here, with some extra time in hand)...! Please take your time with this post (hopefully enjoying both the write-up and the images)...!]

This post is about the world's oldest Airline and the world's last MD-11 passenger service. KLM is the airline, that has long fascinated me...first of all, because, I was fortunate to have got a chance, a long while ago, to travel in a KLM MD-11 (my only flight, in an MD-11). I still recall that MD-11 flight vividly, outbound from Chicago. At that time, I was already considering myself a seasoned long-distance flyer (with already one (~18.0) hrs non-stop (pax) flight, on my resume...🙂...), here, of relevance, in the sense that, minor or moderate turbulence, in flight, would not unsettle me that much...i.e. if e.g. I were reading a book, I would probably continue reading, and if I happened to be sipping a drink, I might just curl my fingers around the glass to keep it steady within that circular depression on the tray-table...but this flight was different...! At cruise altitude, over mid-Atlantic, after night had fallen, we experienced severe turbulence....(severe as based on my own personal experience, so far, and I've not experienced that kind of turbulence in any flight ever after that)....what was worrisome was that, the turbulence did not let up in intensity, for a (very) a long time....it was not violent, but persistent and very rough, as if someone ("nature" it must be) is (constantly) jabbing our metallic contraption, from all sides, up/down/left/right! The Pilots while making comforting announcements, climbed up and down, in stages, by thousands of feet, each time, (duly and calmly pre-announcing their such intentions), to get a break from it all...but, there was no respite. I kept thinking about those Pilots, up front, at the nose end of the plane, bearing the brunt of whatever that was causing this turbulence. The MD-11 kept fighting and kept punching its way through this invisible disturbance...(there was no thunderstorm or any such thing, that I could detect, in the dark sky..., but, I was well-aware that we were high above mid-Atlantic...Greenland to the (far) north, also came to my mind...).

As we flew on, through this, in stunned (and frightened) silence, meanwhile, my admiration, gradually grew, for the tough plane and its equally tough Crew. After what seemed to be an interminable period, the turbulence finally (and thankfully) subsided as fast as it had started. Then in a few more hours, I would catch the first light of day, with the glorious rays of the orange sun outlining the distant horizon to the east (western Europe, actually)...with the plane soon about to start its long descent to Amsterdam....(please see a couple of close-up shots, below, of ND, where "my" MD-11's FMS, too, magically, initiates the descent, and perfectly adheres to the altitude constraints, starting from the (magenta) T/D marker, all the way to the fix constraint...)

And, the other reason for my fascination with KLM is due to the fact that KLM, founded on October 7, 1919, is the world’s oldest airline continually operating under the same name (it is now part of the Air France–KLM group). Of course, not having many "Royals" around here, I am bit of a fan of "Royalty", and, therefore, it must be noted that, in September 1919, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, had awarded the yet-to-be-founded KLM its "Royal" predicate. So, KLM was "Royal" even before it made its first (official) flight...! KLM made its first scheduled flight between London and Amsterdam in 1920 with an Airco DH.16, a British four-seater commercial biplane of the 1910s, designed by (I'll let you guess who...)...

Here is another interesting fact about KLM. KLM had been loyal to Douglas to the (bitter) end...! Excluding the prototype airliner DC-1 (only 1 built), KLM is the only airline, in the world, to have operated all Douglas "DC" models (2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10 - please note I did not even include the MDs, here...). The last MD-11 commercial/civilian flight, in the world, was by KLM's MD-11. KLM had operated ten MD-11s (I was on board one of those 10...) and KLM was the last passenger airline to fly an MD-11. Six years ago, in 2014, on the morning of Oct. 26, KLM had welcomed its last MD-11 passenger flight as it touched down at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The flight, which had arrived from Montreal, not only marked the end of KLM’s MD-11 operations worldwide, but also the end of a remarkable era in civil aviation. The partnership between KLM and (McDonnell) Douglas lasted more than 80 years, which is truly unique, and a remarkable display of (Airline-Airliner) trust and loyalty...! KLM had received its first of ten MD-11s in July of 1993. Unfortunately, the elegant trijet (with its characteristic third engine in the tail and the distinctive winglets) was not a commercial success. The more fuel-efficient twin-engined aircraft such as the B777 and the A330, sealed the fate of MD-11, McDonnell Douglas’ ultimate widebody (and the "last civilian hurrah" for MD, so to speak)...!

So, here, in this fantasy world of ours, please join yours truly virtual pilot, operating PMDG's classic (and wonderful) MD-11 SIM...on a flight from Montréal–Trudeau International Airport (CYUL) to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (EHAM), a distance of exactly 3000 nm. (BTW, with utmost respect for (and in spite of) the modern 737/747/777 marvels from PMDG, their SIM duo (JS41 and MD11), remain (will remain), personally, for me, two perennial favorites, so, I (with many others, too, here, included, I presume) hope, these two aircraft will re-appear, one day, (in re-vitalized forms), on our SIMs, to enjoy (again). There is something about the MD-11's avionics, anyway, replicated, faithfully, in this SIM, that appeals to me greatly as a non-pilot Simmer....let's just say MD-11's avionics suite, while, underneath, same as that of any other modern jetliner, appears off-normal (layman speaking, here)...e.g. among many things, those curious-looking [AUTOFLIGHT] and [PROF] buttons on the MCP and that "PROF To 3000" (=VNAV) annunciation (see below), on the ND, along with its magical flashing and characteristic announcements, at T/D, just before descent starts, make it all feel, a bit, special and different...(this plane was a Pioneer, for sure)...! Plus, I love its colorful PFD/ND - please see a few close-up shots, below, (lots of Magenta, here, which is my favorite color...🙂...)

While being on this (virtual) flight (actually two flights), today, deliberately chosen to be in daylight and calm conditions, I was all the time remembering, from decades ago, that KLM MD-11, struggling through the turbulent (and dark) sky, over the middle of North Atlantic, and, of course, those (Dutch) Pilots, who kept their cool, and kept this (large) Airliner in their control, and might have saved the passengers (me included) from serious consequences, I speculate,...

For this post, I've used two different KLM liveries: (1) PH-KCH Late Livery (2) PH-KCC Old Livery (honoring Marie Curie), in two separate flights. [Side Note: Marie Curie was a remarkable woman and scientist. Consider this: She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person to win "two" Nobel Prizes, and the only person to win in multiple sciences (physics and chemistry)]. You may search for "KLM 'Marie Curie' McDonnell Douglas MD-11 [PH-KCC] Landing and CLOSE UP Taxi" for a 2.5 min video with wonderful close-up shots of the (RW) PH-KCC MD-11.

My flight, for the sampled images, below, is broken at Liverpool Airport (EGGP) - you will not notice it, here, though, but otherwise utilizes the same SimBrief (RW) flightplan for (CYUL-EHAM), easily uploaded into the MD-11's FMS. I've (diligently) done two separate (full) Cold & Dark engine-start-ups for each MD-11 livery before each flight...(it was surely a bit challenging and time-taking, for the non-pilot simmer, here...🙂...having not flown this SIM in >6 months...). Anyway, I hope you enjoy these images of this unforgettable plane, that will (likely) be not seen much longer, once the cargo versions are retired by the major MD-11 operators. Our SIM world will then be the only recourse to enjoy any sightings of this magnificent machine...from the past...!

[Happy Independence Day to the folks in U.S. and a good weekend to all...!!]

[PMDG(MD-11)/REX]

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personally .... i would love to see a cathay L1011 by PMDG 😃

but hey.... i'm dreaming of maybe's as i did for real.

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for now, cheers

john martin

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Wonderful write-up, P_7878. I have never flown in a DC 10 or MD 11, but quite a lot in Cathay's L1011. That is why I would also love to see it done by PMDG. KLM is indeed a great airline, I have only flown with them once, but it was a nice experience. I had asked the purser during that flight to refill my champagne glass, which he prompty did. But then he took my glass away, telling me, that he thought the champange was a bit too warm. When he retunred with my glass, I saw that he hap put an ice cube into my glass. I remarked that you never put an ice cube into a champagne glass, you better chill the champagne properly. He had to smile and walked away with my glass. When he returned, I had my glass refilled from a freshly opened bottle and he gave me a whole bottle to take home with the compliments of KLM.😀 

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Any attempt to stretch fuel is guaranteed to increase headwinds

My specs: Intel Core i7-4790 @ 3.6 Ghz, NVidia GeForce GTX970, 32GB RAM, screen resolution: 2560x1080

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Ah, the beautiful three-holer!  :cool: I don't have PMDG's legacy product, but of course Sky Simulations' rendition which I enjoy. If only they would get the main gear door animations working in FSX:SE then I really would be a happy camper (they cannot see it at their end, but I wonder if they are actually firing up FSX:SE rather than their P3D version which does animate correctly??!).

In images 10 and 14 I think - the 3/4 front side view: Is she in cruise flight or ascending/descending? The reason I ask is that you can see the slight nose up attitude, which is a real thing, they do not fly perfectly horizontal in the cruise - there's an article about KLM's MD-11 retirement in which a flight attendant reminisces about her having to push the trolley uphill from the aft galley! (In the "Fan-favourite aeroplane section of the article)

https://airwaysmag.com/best-of-airways/twilight-md-11/

Both developers got that right it seems! :cool:

  • Like 1

Mark Robinson

"What's it doing now?"

Author of FLIGHT: A near-future short story (ebook available on amazon)

I made the baby cry - A2A Simulations L-049 Constellation

Sky Simulations MD-11 V2.2 Pilot. The best "lite" MD-11 money can buy (well, it's not freeware!)

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John M:

"...as i did for real..."... 🙂..Yes, wouldn't it be wonderful to have such a SIM from those folks...?

A while ago, I had posted, here, my own experiences with both my possessions of (legacy) CS/JF L-1011s...Just now, I looked over their websites, a bit,...there seem to have been, at least, some upgrades, in both products...but, of course, a brand new, L-1011 SIM, from scratch, on the newer platform(s), will be fantastic, indeed...!

L-1011 is such an iconic aircraft..!!

 

Bernd:

Thanks for the kind words...!!

I never had  chance to fly on the L-1011, but, my closest encounter with a Tristar, was during my visit to the Airline History Museum (AHM) in Kansas City, MO. The day I arrived there (to actually see their TWA Constellation), they were in the process of towing a former TWA L-1011 into the front parking lot of the Museum...

I read today, on their website:
"...Following lengthy negotiations, FAA granted a ferry permit allowing movement of the aircraft from Roswell, NM (ROW) to Kansas City, MO (MKC). The aircraft arrived on January 30, 2010..."

So, that was the day/date, I'd visited the Museum....a decade has passed already....!

Regarding KLM, I might have travelled once in KLM's 747 too, cannot be sure, but, for MD-11, that was it, I'm quite certain...And, that's quite an interesting anecdote of your travel experience with KLM,...."I remarked that you never put an ice cube into a champagne glass..." ...Yes, in those days, most Airlines were especially attentive to customers....Now, in recent years, I forget, if "champagne" is even served in the Economy...so, yours, Bernd, must have been Business or First Class...🙂...Anyway, myself, being mostly a LH traveler, I usually go for a taste of (your) German Beer, on the offer...and, sometimes, for those "tiny" bottles of wine, they give in the Economy, but, I've never been offered a full-size bottle to take home...🙂...Anyway, it's nice to reminisce, a bit, here, with the current state of affairs...and the new normal, in practice, now....

 

Mark:

Thanks for the comments...! I've heard about Sky Simulations (MD-11)'s gear-door issue...hope they fix it soon for you...otherwise, your world-wide freight delivery schedule will be impacted......🙂....although, if I recall correctly, that has not deterred you from making flights....

Regarding the pics (#10/#14), Mark, you know, because of snapshot and camera angle, I/we can, probably, create some pleasing (but mis-leading) perceptions on the external view...so, it's probably best to go by the "attitude indication" on the PFD, which I've not shown for those specific shots...The #10 could be during climb (or cruise)...I forget now...please note that, on the very next shot (#11), I'm already at cruise...but, that could be at a later point than #10...However, for #14, Marie Curie, I think, it's at cruise, because, I recall, after taking off from Liverpool (EGGP), I tracked direct to my next (FPLN) waypoint, but did not take any pictures, until after reaching cruise...

Anyway, your point is probably well-taken, but, I'm not knowledgeable enough...you know why...🙂....

And, great reference to the article, btw,....Yes, KLM, had actually arranged an elaborate "Farewell Tour" for its MD-11s, following the last official (pax) flight, I've mentioned in my post...

It says there, in the article, "It is a very strong and elegant aircraft. It’s very robust,...”, what I felt during my turbulence encounter aboard KLM's MD-11...somehow it did feel "solid" to me...too...

 

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Sad to say, it's a good job that the autopilot was dealing with the turbulence in all probability... The MD-11 apparently is rather sensitive in pitch at cruise altitudes and speeds and accidents have occurred due to PIO's in cruise flight when the autopilot has decided to disconnect... or when the crew accidentally deployed the slats.

http://airlinesafety.com/faq/faq9.htm

Quote

The FAA did not require pilots to “…receive hands-on training that demonstrated the light control forces encountered when manually flying at high altitudes and at high speeds in the MD-11.”

Interesting and sobering reading from an airline pilot with 33 years experience in various airliners (not the MD-11), so as a layman I myself cannot say he's wrong. He does have a rather strong opinion at odds with pilots who have flown it and liked it...

  • Like 1

Mark Robinson

"What's it doing now?"

Author of FLIGHT: A near-future short story (ebook available on amazon)

I made the baby cry - A2A Simulations L-049 Constellation

Sky Simulations MD-11 V2.2 Pilot. The best "lite" MD-11 money can buy (well, it's not freeware!)

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TFDI's MD-11 can't come soon enough!!! I miss the MD-11 in Prepar3D!!!

Thanks for sharing 🙂

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Enrique Vaamonde

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Mark:

I cannot tell...but, you're jogging my memory...whatever the Pilots did (or were doing) worked...we note that the oceanic jetliners continuously show the track and altitude in the main cabin (now-a-days it's all integrated into the individual seat's IFE system), but my memory is failing here, what altitude (or altitudes) we ended up with, when we (finally) got clear of the turbulence...(all I recall they changed altitudes for sure...a couple of times at least...)

 

Enrique:

Thanks for the note...!!

I share your excitement for MD-11 (and TFDi's plan for it) ...! Today, I looked around a bit there...it all sounds good (and the team looks determined, making progress...),...they do have good track record...also, they natively (and rightly so) want to do it for P3D, first...

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***Fantastic Expose'*** 

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Patrick

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