• FLY THE MADDOG X


    Chuck_Jodry-VJPL

    Publisher: LEONARDO SOFTWARE HOUSE

    Description:  FLY THE MADDOG X

    Simulator: FSX/P3D

    Reviewed by: Marlon Carter

     

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    INTRODUCTION

     

    Back in 2006, some may recall the moment they first laid their eyes on version 1 of the Maddog developed by Leonardo. When the very first “maddog” MD-82 was released for FS9 and FSX, it was the benchmark that all other developers would strive to achieve from that point onward. Being far ahead of its time, this product contained many advanced features that some developers today are introducing for the very first time. While the first version of the MD-82 was a favorite among users who preferred a high level of realism and immersion, over the years it quickly became obvious that the visual model and other features needed some improvement, in fact, you might say that the maddog was due for a serious overhaul.

     

    As we fast forward to February 2018, it seemed that our desperate cries were heard when Leonardo resurfaced with a new MD-82 product that was specifically geared toward the newly released P3Dv4 while also releasing a version for the dedicated users of FSX. With high expectations to be met from the previous version, it was quite a surprise to see that the new maddog was not only a prettier version of its predecessor, but it was a far more advanced simulation that would later pave the way for expansion packs including the MD-83 and the MD-88 (P3Dv4 Only). As a preview of the features offered in the MD-82 base pack and the MD-83/88 expansion pack, here is a listing from the developer’s website of what you can expect from this product.

     

    Feature/Edition

    MD-82 base pack 32bit

    MD-82 base pack 64bit

    MD-83 & MD-88 variants

    Optional PBR liveries (P3D v.4.4 and above only)

    X

    included

    included

    Wingflex

    X

    included

    included

    7 outstanding MD-82 detailed liveries in 4K resolution: American Airlines (N9405T), Alitalia (I-DAVD), Delta (N904DL), Laser (YV2923), Meridiana (I-SMER), SAS (LN-RMR), and the McDonnell Douglas (N501MD) special livery in which the very first built MD-82 was painted

    included

    included

    included

    Additional 4 detailed liveries in 4K resolution: MD-83: Avianca (EI-CEP), Swiss (HB-ISX). MD-88:  Aviaco (EC-FLN), Iberia (EC-FOF). Those liveries can be installed also as separated free download for the MD-82 base pack

    X

    X

    included

    Highly detailed virtual cockpit and exterior model, fully animated and rendered with 4K highly detailed textures (optional 2K textures set available for download)

    included

    included

    included

    Built in view system for 3D camera views and 2D panels

    included

    included

    included

    Complete CM-1 and CM-2 panels with functional separated instruments

    included

    included

    included

    Advanced icing simulation

    included

    included, with visual effects on the external model

    included, with visual effects on the external model

    Real cockpit sounds, recorded in the real aircraft Every switch has his own sound and all the cockpit environment is reproduced in very high fidelity. A true to life, immersive experience

    included

    included

    included

    Dual/multiple systems simulation (DFGS, FD, CADC, EFIS, AHRS, FMS) with switching between dual systems

    included

    included

    included

    FMS –  Flight Management System with dual independent CDUs

    included

    included

    included

    DFDR – Digital Flight Data Recorder

    included

    included

    included

    TCAS – Traffic Collision Avoidance System

    included

    included

    included

    WAGS – Windshear Alert and Guidance System

    included

    included

    included

    EGPWS – Enhanced Ground proximity Warning System

    included

    included

    included

    ACARS system (requires HiFi ActiveSky 3rd part add-on)

    included

    included

    included

    Weather Radar (requires HiFi ActiveSky or REX Advantage 3rd part add-ons)

    included

    included

    included

    Full electrical system simulation including working overhead circuit breakers

    included

    included

    included

    Full hydraulic system with working engine, auxiliary and transfer pumps

    included

    included

    included

    Full pneumatic system

    included

    included

    included

    Auto/Manual pressurization system and cockpit environment control

    included

    included

    included

    Optimum flap system (dial a flap)

    included

    included

    included

    Antiskid system

    included

    included

    included

    ABS - Autobrake System

    included

    included

    included

    Full dimmable cockpit lightning and backlighting; realistic atmospheric effects on windshield (rain, snow, ice) with TFDi RealLight and TrueGlass technology

    X

    included

    included

    Engine option, with very accurate flight model and engine parameters

    JT8D-217A/C 

    JT8D-217A/C 

    JT8D-219

    Realistic failures and automatic failure generator based on airframe aging

    included

    included

    included

    Management of inoperative systems in accordance with MEL (Minimum Equipment List)

    included

    included

    included

    Load manager and route/fuel planner application

    included

    included

    included

    Customized dynamic lights and effects taken from real footage. From the shape of the light beams to the shape of the touchdown smoke or engine wash and smoke, everything is custom made to reflect the real airplane

    X

    included

    included

     

    Though not mentioned directly in the list of features, the developer also makes it known that this product works along with many popular add-ons and products such as GSX Level 2FS2Crew, MCE: Multi Crew ExperienceActive SkyWX radar AdvantageRemote ServerPRO-ATC/XFSiPanelNavigraph  and NavDataPro AIRAC and fms updates. From its list of features, it’s safe to say that this is not a simulation geared at those who want to fly a default type aircraft. This is a product geared at the serious enthusiast who is not daunted by the need to study numerous manuals in order to understand how this aircraft and its systems function correctly. If you still require more information on this product or you would like to know more about the developers, the following short interview with Stefano Porrà (who is part of the development team) might be very enlightening.

    ASK THE DEVELOPER

    1. For readers who may be unfamiliar with the history of the Leonardo Maddog, can you provide some details on how things got started and why the development has been centered on the Maddog for so many years?

    Leonardo SH was founded in 1987 with its main business being in CAD and GPS integration in software engineering https://www.leonardosoftwarehouse.com/ . The passion for flight is one of company’s founders, Davide Marras. In 2004, this led to the development of the very first Fly the Maddog product, published by Lago. The MD-80 was chosen because Italy, back at that time, had a huge MD-80 fleet with two major carriers being Alitalia and Meridiana. In addition, nearly 80% of domestic/medium range schedules were operated by a Maddog. We were able, thanks to an excellent team that worked behind the scenes, to accomplish a high degree of fidelity and immersion for the time, it was considered far more advanced than any other aircraft simulation and it became a classic. The real Maddog is an amazing meeting point for many old and new elements in aviation, being developed from the DC-9 series but modernized in the avionics with several upgrades that are part of today’s standards. This balance between ‘old’ and ‘new’ is the key point that made us fall in love with this fascinating machine while developing it. Today, modern aircraft tend to rely on systems rather than the pilots, but the Maddog still offers you the challenge to hand fly it and deal with older semi-automated systems keeping you busy while airborne. So a great love and a deep passion is what has driven us focusing on the MD-80 series only, and we hope such love is noticeable considering the amount of small details we have been able to put inside this product.

     

     

    2. Where there any challenges during the development of this new product?

    The code and the 3D model have completely been rewritten from scratch to meet today’s standards It’s been a huge job requiring us more than 2 years development just for the VC/external modeling itself.

     

     

    3. In comparing the previous product to the new MD-82, are there any new features you would like to highlight that may be of special interest?

    From the legacy series there are actually some differences. Obviously, the systems simulation has been further expanded and everything takes advantage from latest SDKs capabilities; we like technology and we can’t wait to add new features whenever we can, as you can see with PBR that’s already finished for the external model (and we are working on the next VC PBR update that we’ll be available in the near future.

    We have added a module called dynamic engine start, basically all needed parameters used during startup are dynamic basing on wx conditions, so you most likely experience different startup (and readout values) situations every single time. We have also added a Maintenance Module, simulating the deterioration of the airframe with the increase of flight hours and cycles: you are in charge of keeping in good shape your aircraft, refill fluids, perform maintenance tasks etc. What’s missing from legacy version (but we want to bring it again) is an instructor station that can trigger all available failures available instead of using the built-in random generator.  

     

    4. As far as the future of this new product is concerned, will we continue to see new features and enhancement based on user requests and feedback? 

    Absolutely yes. We are a small team (just 3) and each one of us has another job and families, so our most critical problem can be our spare time. Despite this fact, we can continue the development adding new features and provide excellent customer support services. Our list of things that we want to add is huge enough to keep us busy for the next few years at least.

     

    5. The previous MD-82 had an option for an analog cockpit and a performance management system. Will these features eventually resurface?

    This is one of the things we would like to bring back. But, as I mentioned before, 3D modeling isn’t our field of expertise and making a new analog VC would require us another 2 years work – being optimistic. So yes, these features could reappear, but we do not have an ETA available.

     

     

    6. Besides the MD-82, are there any other aircraft up for consideration as a future product? Or will your company continue to focus on the MD-80 series?

    Achieving the level of detail you can experience with the Maddog X isn’t an easy task and it required some 15 years of experience to put together all things we’ve learnt in that time. Our standards are quite high and developing any other aircraft with the same degree of fidelity is, also in this case, a matter of time. There are a couple of aircraft we like, but I think you won’t ever see any other product published by Leonardo than the Maddog.

     

    Also, I recalled reading that moving forward you will no longer be using TFDI Real light?

    Because TFDi’s RealLight isn’t compatible with the VC PBR, we decided to discontinue RL for the PBR VC version (but will be always available as today for the non-PBR one) and we developed our own dimming lights for the VC.

     

    We certainly would like to thank Stefano for providing some insight into the development and future of this product. To begin our review, let’s start off with a look at the documentation.

     

    DOCUMENTATION

    With the MD-82 being labelled as a “study level aircraft,” it’s inevitable that the documentation provided would be extensive. The MD-82 base pack for both P3Dv4/FSX comes with a Quick Guide, User Manual, Landing and Takeoff Speeds, Normal Checklist, Operations Manual, Cold Weather Operations Checklist and two volumes which cover each system of the aircraft and procedures. What I appreciated the most about these documents is that they were extremely insightful but never overwhelming. As you read about each system of the aircraft, there is never a dull moment where you are bombarded by information that isn’t applicable or helpful in correctly operating the aircraft.

    As a supplement to the documents provided, users can also benefit from a wealth of information found on the official website and forum of the developer. In addition to this, there is a thriving Facebook group dedicated to this aircraft where you will always find helpful tips, advice, updates and teasers from the developer. While it may be tempting to simply load up the aircraft and start flying, if you have no experience with the MD-82, it is extremely important that you familiarize yourself with this aircraft. While a favorite among many real world pilots, the MD-82 has many quirks that takes some getting used to and you will soon see that the Maddog X is no different.

    As we continue with the review, let’s have a look at the exterior and interior model before we examine the systems during our test flight.

     

     

     

    EXTERIOR MODEL

    The MD-80 series is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful aircraft designs in history. Its sleek lines and sports car like performance has always been a talking point for many aviation enthusiast who can’t get enough of this aircraft. When Leonardo embarked on a new version of the MD-82, there was a bit of nervous anticipation to see whether the exterior model would be given the detail it deserves. To my surprise and much to my relief, the exterior model was absolutely stunning to look at. The details seen are a true representation of the real aircraft with the unique tail section and cockpit windows being 99.9% accurate. For users of P3Dv4, the exterior model takes on a new level of realism with the newly implemented PBR feature. With this feature, the materials of the aircraft have a much more realistic appearance and when coupled with high quality textures, it becomes quite a task to distinguish between P3D and real life. As you glance around the fuselage, you can’t help but to smile in appreciation of the time and effort taken to recreate this aircraft in all its glory. Details such at the landing gears, rear and forward stairs, flap mechanisms and more have all been given the royal treatment as far as modeling is concerned. Here are a few screenshots for your viewing pleasure.

     

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    While on the topic of textures, the base model comes with 7 of the most popular MD-82 liveries and they are all very detailed with no shortcuts taken in areas hard to see. If you would like to access more liveries, the developer’s forum has a host of free downloadable PBR and standard liveries to choose from.

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    Additionally, GLC Textures is offering over 30 liveries for the MD-82 in HD quality for purchase over at simmarket. While the quality of their textures seem to be very good, It would have been best if their liveries were sold in a smaller (more affordable) packages rather than in one large package. If you would like to purchase their liveries, you can do so HERE. In the meanwhile, here are a few examples of their outstanding liveries.

     

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    As a final note on the exterior model, you will also be pleased to know that in addition to the detailed modeling, textures and animations, a new feature that many will enjoy is the ability to see ice accumulation on the wings. This is a feature that many have asked for over the years and it adds to the overall immersion of flying the aircraft in adverse weather conditions. Here are a few more screenshots showcasing this feature.

     

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    VIRTUAL COCKPIT
     

    Making our way into the cockpit, if you are new to the MD-80 series you might find yourself a bit lost. Unlike the Airbus and Boeing family of aircraft, the MD-80 series still resembles the design of the DC-8 and DC-9 before it. In fact, some parts of the MD-80 can be found as far back as the DC-3 and with such a classic design, the developers really had tall task at hand in order to fully capture the look and feel of the cockpit environment. Starting with the cockpit windows, I was quite impressed with the accuracy of the size and positioning of these windows. Getting the size and position of these windows correct was an important part of the design since the view of both the captain and first officer in cockpit is very specific.

    Another important aspect of the design is the modeling of numerous types of switches, levers, handles, wheels, dials and more that make up this unique cockpit. How did the developer do in this regard? Well once again, I couldn’t help but to be in awe as I glanced around the virtual cockpit while admiring the tremendous effort that has gone into its design. Every inch of the virtual cockpit was recreated in stunning detail with special attention paid to the animation of each moving part to ensure an authentic experience. The textures in the virtual cockpit are also quite impressive as they tell the story of a cockpit that is used but well maintained due to the chips and scratches on glass and metal surfaces. After viewing teaser screenshots of the soon to be released PBR virtual cockpit, the virtual cockpit once again blurs the lines between reality and simulation and with the previews thus far being just a taste of things to come, customers will be quite impressed with this feature.

    At night, the cockpit of the 64 bit version comes to life with the ability to fully adjust the cockpit and display lighting intensity. Although this ability is limited with the 32bit version, the end results were impressive nonetheless. With the ability to customize the lighting of the cockpit coupled with the stunning cockpit shadows of P3D, this aircraft provides an immersive atmosphere that is unique and captivating. Ultimately, the developer did an outstanding job with the design of the cockpit in every respect and the following screenshots nicely showcase the beauty of the Maddog cockpit.

     

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    Now that we’ve looked at the exterior and interior model of the aircraft, let’s dig a bit deeper as we review some of the highlights of flying this aircraft. During this flight, we will be making use of a few 3rd part products that are guaranteed to enhance your experience with this aircraft.


     

     

    TEST FLIGHT EXPERIENCE

    PREFLIGHT

     

    As we begin our test flight, there are a myriad of things we need to consider before we hop into the aircraft. First of all, with an aircraft this detailed, we need to first of all load the configuration manager in an effort to ensure that there are no MEL items that will affect our flight plan. This feature of the Maddog X is quite unique in that it takes the level of realism to a place that few developers or virtual pilots can appreciate. For those of you who are new to the concept of MEL, it is short for “Minimum Equipment List” and it basically highlights the required components that allows an aircraft to be legally dispatched.

     

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    While all aircraft systems commonly have a host of redundancies, they are allowed to depart with one or two components being inoperative provided that certain penalties are applied. These penalties can typically be a restricted altitude, more fuel or perhaps a simple adjustment to the way in which a system is operated. With the Maddog X, the MEL penalties aren’t as extensive as you would expect in the real world, but it is quite a nice introduction to this aspect of real world flying. An interesting aspect of this feature, is that when the aircraft is dispatched with an MEL item, the inoperative item will actually have a sticker in the virtual cockpit. This is just one of many examples of where the developers of the Maddog X have gone the extra mile for their customers to deliver a realistic experience. After checking for aircraft faults, it is likely that on your very first flight this section will show no faults. This means that we are free of any operational restrictions while planning our flight.

    For flight planning, I typically use PFPX as my go-to planner due to the level of realism offered by this program. Thereafter, I will transfer the passenger, cargo and fuel detail from PFPX over to the Maddog X configuration manager to calculate the weight and balance. If you do not own PFPX, the configuration manager also allows you to do flight planning but it may not be as detailed as PFPX. Once you’ve completed your configuration of the aircraft and you’ve loaded the aircraft in FSX or P3D, you now have the option of choosing the aircraft state which ranges from cold and dark to ready for engine start or ready for takeoff. If you are a looking for the most realistic experience, it may be beneficial to try the cold and dark option to get use to where all of the aircraft systems are located. If time of not your best friend however, choosing the other two options might get you on your way much faster.

    For the purpose of this review, we will be focused on the ready for engine start option as this may be the one most commonly used. Using this aircraft state, it puts you in the best position to prepare the aircraft for departure by loading the FMC, boarding the passengers and loading the baggage. Either by using the built in PA communication system, or by using the highly recommended GSX level 2, you can begin loading passengers and baggage while you begin all of the necessary steps to setup the cockpit and FMC. Personally, I’ve found that the new GSX Level 2 is by far one of the most innovative features to come along for FSX/P3D. For years we have all wished that it would be possible to see passengers walking in and out of the aircraft. While the first version of GSX satisfied the desire for ground operations, GSX Level 2 takes things to another level with the addition of passengers and gates for every airport. With the Maddog X having an integration option for GSX Level 2, this means that once initiated, the process of loading passengers, baggage and opening various doors will now be fully automated with the number of passengers boarding being the exact number selected in the configuration manager for the Maddog X.


     

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    Whether you are parked at a gate that has a jetway or not, it is quite impressive to see GSX in action. On a small but significant note, after lowering the rear stair to facilitate the boarding of passengers, I noticed that while being lowered, it wasn’t fully extended to the ground. Initially I was a bit baffled by this, but then it suddenly occurred to me that this isn’t a bug. Knowing the level of detail in this aircraft, it became obvious that there was something amiss with the systems of the aircraft and it was all my fault! If the engines of the aircraft are off, the mechanical hydraulic pumps won’t power the left and right hydraulic system.  Since the rear stair is powered by the right hydraulic system, it would require use of the electrically powered auxiliary pump which powers that system. While this is a small detail, it really highlights the depth of the systems of this aircraft and the fact that nothing should be taken for granted. The same is true when it comes to the electrical and the fuel system. If you are starting up this aircraft from a cold and dark state, you will soon realize how vital it is to know exactly how these systems work in order to simply get the APU up and running. Another factor to consider is that on the overhead there is a fully functionally circuit breaker panel and this too should be monitored in the event that a breaker is not in position. While there is much to discuss about the systems of this aircraft, we will cover a few of the systems later in the cruise part of our flight.

    Going back to our preflight, while the passengers are boarding and the baggage is being loaded, this would be the perfect time to load up the FMC. After looking through the various pages of the FMC, it’s easy to see that the developer put quite a bit of effort into fully recreating the FMC functions, even going as far as to ensure that the correct fonts where used.

     

     

    To ease the process of loading flightplans, the FMC is fully capable of loading flightplans created by PFPX and Simbrief. After loading the flightplan and entering the necessary performance information, the process of loading the flightplan is now complete and you will find that while the process is all manual, when compared to the FMC of a 747 you will find the FMC of the Maddog to be quite easy to setup once you’ve read the manuals. During our test flight we will dig a bit deeper into the FMC, but for now, let’s get the engines going and evaluate how the aircraft handles on the ground and in the sky.

     

     

     

     

    START-UP/DEPARTURE

     

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    Starting up the MD-82 follows the basics of starting any turbine aircraft. However, it’s important to note that following the start procedure isn’t something to be taken for granted. With options that allow for realistic failures, you surely won’t want to experience a hot start and an engine fire on your very first flight. Once you’ve successfully completed the startup sequence, you can now experience the high quality of the sound package that comes with this aircraft. While it isn’t realistic to hear too much of the engines sounds from the cockpit, the exterior view allows you to hear the engines in all their glory. For those who are keen on hearing all of the finer details of the engine startup and the engine sounds in general, I would highly recommend that you consider the new Turbine Sound Studios MD-8X JT8D sound pack. This 3rd party sound pack offers two sound configurations that allow you to hear a realistic but more detailed sound of the engines or a much louder version of the engines from the cockpit. Either way, I think that the quality of the TSS package is outstanding and I’ve personally been using this with much satisfaction. Does the quality of the default sounds really require you to purchase a new sound pack? Not at all, in fact, the default engine sound pack is quite good and the cockpit sounds (avionics, electrical hum, switches etc.) are all very immersive.

    Now that the engines have started, we can now begin our taxi to the runway. In the past we’ve all had to deal with the annoying ground friction issues that has resulted in an excessive use of thrust to get the aircraft moving. With the Maddog X, ground friction issues are now a thing of the past with the aircraft (depending on your gross weight) easily moving forward with little to no application of thrust. Overall, the handling on the ground was quite outstanding and it realistically reflected the movement of an aircraft over a hard surface.

    With good handling on the ground, I was eager to experience the feel of this aircraft in the air. However, before we depart there are a few things we need to take into consideration. For example, are we in icing conditions, at a high altitude airport or will a de-rated takeoff be required? With each scenario, there are procedures that need to be followed and it is essential that they be followed correctly. With this aircraft being able to “age” and react to the way you use it, it is important that the systems are used correctly depending on your circumstances. Once all has been taken into consideration and the aircraft is configured for departure, it’s now time to really experience why this aircraft is affectionately called the Maddog.

    After takeoff thrust is applied, you can almost feel the sharp acceleration as the aircraft rockets down the runway. The sound of the JT8 engines aren’t distinctly discernible in the default sounds, but with the TSS pack you can’t help but to feel like you are actually sitting in the aircraft as these powerful engines roar to life. As the aircraft approaches VR and we gently pull back on the yoke, the aircraft effortlessly lifts off the ground where for the first time you will feel the striking difference between the flying characteristics of the Maddog X verses most other aircraft add-ons. While many other modern aircraft may simulate the computerized handling of an aircraft, the developers of the Maddog X were tasked with the challenge of modeling an aircraft that relies heavily on cables and aerodynamics for its flying characteristics. How well did they do? While I’ve never flown an MD-80 before, I have flown aircraft with mechanical controls and I couldn’t help to be to be impressed with the overall feel of the aircraft. When hand flying at slow speeds, it requires a bit more effort to control the aircraft verse higher airspeeds and while this may be true of most aircraft, the MD-80 is somewhat notorious for this due to aerodynamic factors.

    As the autopilot is turned on, I found that its operation was quite smooth during turns and climbs. Speed management is another important part of a reliable autopilot system and the Maddog X proved itself to be very stable during the climb and in level flight. During descents, speed management required a bit of planning and later in this review we will discuss some important points in managing your speed during the descent.

     

    CRUISE/SYSTEMS

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    Once the aircraft has settled into the cruise, it allows you the time to sit back and explore some of the systems of the aircraft more thoroughly. For example, let’s have a closer look at a few amazing features that may easily go unnoticed.

    As you look at the overhead panel, you will see that there is a flight data recorder. While this may easily seem to be a bit of eye candy, you might be surprised to know that this is a fully functioning DFDR. For this unit to work correctly, while on the ground the pilot has to make two entries. First, entering the day, month, flight number and leg followed by the takeoff weight and C.G. When this information is inserted correctly, the DFDR automatically activates when either a fuel shutoff level is opened or when the parking brakes are released. Thereafter, the DFDR will record relevant events and aircraft data in a file that will be saved in your Maddog X Files\DFDR folder which can later be accessed using MS Excel or any other text editor. This feature might seem a bit over the top, but it goes to show the lengths at which the developers have gone to provide a product that offers extreme realism.

    As we continue on the overhead, you will also observe a seemingly insignificant Attendant Call button. This button is linked to a cabin crew simulation that runs automatically once the PA Emergency Test is performed. Thereafter, announcements such as a safety briefing are triggered when you start taxiing. If you are a GSX user, some of the crew tasks are triggered when the respective GSX services are used in the GSX menu. Again, this is another example of how the developers were able to implement features that are important to the overall immersion of airline travel.

    Moving down to the FMC, after examining some of its features, you will notice that it contains an ACARS function. This ACARS function currently allows you to request weather information, provided that you have the weather program ActiveSky in use. While this is obviously a very nice feature, it’s important to note that in a future update of this aircraft (perhaps already available at the time this review was published), the ACARS feature will see added realism with the ability to facilitate two-way communication for delay reports, and free text messaging with airline dispatch and maintenance. This new feature will rely on a generated OFP.txt file that feeds the system data. This file is automatically created by the fuel/route planner and it can also be generated by programs such as PFPX and Simbrief. After seeing previews of this new feature, I can assure you that my description is just a limited preview of the functions it will be able to perform. In addition to this, the overhead panel will also see the addition of an ACARS annunciation light as seen in the real world aircraft. This feature will be exclusive to P3Dv4 users only and it will surely be a welcome addition to those who desire more realism.

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    One more system we will take a closer look at is the Pneumatic system. This is an essential system of the aircraft and one that many of you may already be familiar with. What you may not easily discern, is that this system isn’t simply a static system that works the same way each time it is used. This system was programmed to be very dynamic and reactive to the environment. For example, the pneumatic system is affected by the pressure and outside temperature. If you are parked on the ground with the doors opened, don’t be surprise to see changing values when monitoring this system. This seemingly subtle but important feature once again highlights the stunning level of realism found within the systems of this aircraft and this is just the tip of the iceberg. As a preview of other “hidden” gems, here is what Stefano had to say about the systems of the Maddog.

    “The Maddog is a very complexed add-on and it has many small details from the real world machine that usually go unnoticed. In the real world, the instruments aren't very precise and they do not perform like the ones we are used to seeing inside the simulator, that's why you will see different engine instrument values, (as they age, they build up slight discrepancies) and difference between the altitude shown in the altimeters. Sometimes you switch ON the APU and you don't get any power (the APU generator must be reset), and those aren't "failures" but are part of an intentional list of things that randomly happen. You will also notice, just after takeoff the VSI indicates a vertical speed drop, during rotation. This is because prior liftoff, the airflow hits the static ports and pitot at an angle that creates this typical MD-80 quirk. If anyone notices these kinds of things, they usually report them as a bug, but this is real feature of the aircraft.

     

    Indeed, the systems of this aircraft are quite impressive and during the cruise phase of your flight, you will find that the more you dig, the more you will discover about this amazing aircraft. If you are already impressed by what we’ve covered thus far, just wait until you dive into the autopilot. This system in itself deserved a separate review article of its own!

     

    DESCENT/LANDING

    As the time arrives for our descent, there are a few things we need to keep in mind before we simply allow the autopilot to fully manage the aircraft all the way to the runway. The MD-80 requires a bit of advanced planning when it comes to managing your speed while descending. If you simply allow the autopilot to manage the descent while using real world weather, you might quickly find that the speed can easily stay on the high side, requiring excessive use of the speedbrakes to meet a specific altitude/speed restriction. In the real world, this isn’t the best method of managing the aircraft. What I’ve found to be very helpful however, is to slow the aircraft down just about 10 nm from your T/D in order to maintain a manageable speed throughout the descent.

    For the approach and landing, the autopilot does a good job at managing the lateral navigation of the aircraft and it reacts predictably to turbulent weather conditions. Speaking of weather conditions, if you switch to the exterior view of the aircraft while flying through cold or rainy weather, you might just see the subtle but well executed wing condensation effect. In addition to this beautiful effect, this aircraft also has a stunning airframe icing effect that should be quite pleasing to anyone who loves to fly in cold weather. Of course, seeing ice on your wing might be a nice visual feature, but beware! This also means that your aerodynamic performance will begin to degrade making it necessary to use the ice protection system.

     

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    As we near final approach, another interesting nuance of this aircraft quickly comes to light. Typically, in a modern aircraft, the pilot is able to select an autobrake setting long in advance. With the Maddog however, the autobrake feature can only be armed when the gears are down, spoilers are armed and the required flap setting has been selected. While some may find this a bit of an annoyance, I personally enjoy the active role of the pilot in flying this aircraft. In fact, while this aircraft is capable of completing an autoland, I’ve often found myself forgoing such a luxury for the thrill of hand flying this amazing aircraft.

    After landing, I couldn’t help but to be amazed at the overall handling of the aircraft as the speedbrakes were deployed, thrust reversers were engaged and the autobrake steadily brought the aircraft to a walking pace. During this critical phase after landing, the smooth but realistic handling of an aircraft is critical to the overall impression of realism. Some interesting things about the flight modeling that you will eventually discover, is that while landing on a snow covered or wet runway, braking action and handling is adversely affected. In addition to this, you might want to be about braking excessively since the brakes actually wear out over time and may require replacement! On a final note, another interesting fact about this aircraft is that the airfile has been programmed to ditch perfectly into water instead of crashing (not that you would want this to ever happen, but it’s good to know nonetheless!). These features highlight the level of care and detail that has gone into the flight model of this aircraft and it is impressive to say the least. Ultimately, I think that the developers of the Maddog X earned a 10/10 score with the flight modeling of this aircraft from startup to landing (or ditching).

    After taxiing to the gate, shutting down the aircraft and allowing the GSX synchronization to do its job, the feeling of accomplishment you receive when flying this aircraft is indescribable. Over the years, I’ve flown numerous aircraft add-ons and to date, the Maddog (legacy and version 2) continues to be among my top 5 best aircraft of all time and I think everyone will have a hard time keeping this aircraft out of the virtual skies.

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    CONCLUSION

    As we conclude this review, words can’t express how impressive this product truly is. Even if you are not a fan of the MD-80 series, owning this product is bound to leave a smile on your face as you experience a level of immersion that very few have been able to achieve. The MD-80 series has always stood out among all other aircraft since its origins with the DC-9. Boasting a stunning design and sports car like performance, the MD-80 has become a fan favorite with airline pilots while its many innovations made this aircraft a reliable backbone of numerous airlines.

    To have such an iconic aircraft available for home use with FSX/P3D is not an easy task. Today, we’ve all come to expect a high level of realism from just about any aircraft add-on and with the MD-80 series, most developers would have quite a challenge on their hands to recreate this aircraft in all of its glory. Going back some 10+ years, version 1 of the Maddog series left the flight sim community abuzz with a product that was far ahead of its time. Boasting in-depth systems, working overhead circuit breakers and a host of other features once thought to be impossible, it satisfied the thirst for flying a study level version of the MD-80 for many years. With the newest Maddog X, we are once again left speechless at the level of care and detail that has gone into making a once “perfect” product even better. With a new model, virtual cockpit, stunning visual effects and more systems and features to enjoy, the Maddog X has now officially seated itself (once again) among the top aircraft add-ons ever made with an overall PC performance that is remarkably “light” given all of its features. For this reason, it was an easy decision to award this aircraft an AVSIM GOLD STAR. Even if you are not a fan of the MD-80, I can guarantee that at a price of 50.00 Euros for the 32bit version, 70.00 Euros for the 64bit version and 25.00 Euros for the MD-83/88 expansion, this is one aircraft you will learn to love and have a hard time stepping away from.  

     

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    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND OTHER PRODUCTS USED

    I would like to thank Stefano for assisting with this review and for taking the time to answer numerous question to the benefit of the readers. Additionally, I would also like to thank Stefano and Simeon Richardson for contributing some amazing screenshots.

    PRODUCTS SEEN/USED IN THIS REVIEW

    FSDT GSX/GSX Level 2
    Professional Flight Planner X
    TSS MD-8X JT8D
    LATINVFR – SAN JUAN TJSJ
    LATINVFR – KMIA V4


     

    46.jpg

    Edited by Chuck_Jodry-VJPL

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    Brilliant review and such a good read. Beats reading the news for a cheery start to the day! So pleased that some high end devs are still making products for both these top tier sims. This plane was already on my shortlist of 3 planes for my next purchase and might just have crept into 1st place after this review. 

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    Amazed me to learn there is only three guys on the development team. The sim masterpiece of all time! A fellow could devote his entire allotted sim time to mastering this wonderful aircraft and never run out of new things to learn. Going to be a sad day when the last Maddog is retired.

    Splendid review.

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    Great review of an outstanding addon! One of the best sim airliners out there, if not the best.

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    Sorry, did I read "3D modelling isn't our field of expertise"? I've been blown away by this masterpiece. Its beautiful! I WANT IT!

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    I fell in love with this aircraft and it's realisme way back in 2007.

    The result was a simpit build done with a great help from Leonardo soft, Juan (SIOCServer) and a group of simbulders.

    The sim build still need some details, after 10 years, but I love to fly this mad "puppy"

     

    3HCoWp4mR8SrRVPUr89UFKugrMSrHOvUl83GJ3Uu

    Edited by verticallimit

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    After that comprehensive review, I'm sold. I had no idea what I was missing. I just need some time away from law school (3 weeks to go!), and this bird is as good as bought (GLW). 

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    One of the best VR experiences out of all the tubeliners available. 

    Beautiful 3D cockpit modeling, highly detailed and clear textures.

    Truely an amazing product worth every dollar and then some.

    IM

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