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    REVIEW - L-1011 by Captainsim


    Chase

    L-1011 by CaptainSim

    A review by Marlon Carter

    Introduction

     

    The L1011 is an unmistakable aircraft and although the L1011 was designed in the 1960/70s, the features and design of the aircraft was nothing short of being revolutionary. Even today, the L1011 is still regarded as one of the most advanced airliners of its class. Many pilots who have flown the L1011 can easily say that it was one of the most enjoyable aircraft they have ever flown.

     

    One of the features that made the L1011 unique was the Direct Lift Control. This ingenious system was a first in aviation and it wasn’t until much later that other airliners implements similar systems. Another interesting fact about the L1011 was that while the wings were primarily responsible for creating lift, the fuselage itself also created lift! The effect of the fuselage creating lift was clearly discernible from the fact that the aircraft had a 3-5 degree pitch up while in level flight.

     

    For many years, the FS community has lacked an in-depth simulation of the L1011 and Captain Sim has stepped up to the challenge of recreating this unique aircraft for all to enjoy. Captain Sim products have always been top notch from a visual perspective, but how will they do this time on the systems? Well we will soon find out. I had the opportunity to ask Captain Sim a few questions about the L1011-100 and I think you will enjoy their insightful responses.

     

    1. Customers seem to know very little about the development team at Captain Sim. Can you tell us a little about yourselves?

     

    We are an international team based in Ukraine, Russia and Canada. Many of our employees are former pilots.

     

    2. Can you tell us why Captain Sim chose to develop the L1011?

     

    We like older classic aircraft and this one is legendary indeed.

     

    3. Can you tell us whether or not we will see any expansion packs for versions such as the 500 series and the Freighter series?

     

    We will see :)

     

    4. What were some of the challenges you faced in the development of this aircraft?

     

    There were many. The aircraft is rather complex and developing all of the systems in an aircraft like this is challenging. Here are some of the challenges we faced.

     

    Autopilot is custom developed from scratch because there are numerous modes which logic does not use default FSX code.  

    Flight controls are also custom developed. Each control surface is controlled separately - even each spoiler and aileron (there are 4 ailerons in L1011). If one of ailerons is disabled in VC, it won’t move in exterior model and this will influence the aircraft behavior. And of course, servos of each control surface are taken into account, each of them is connected with different hydraulic system and each of them can have different pressure. Also RAT, ATM, electrically driven pumps and engine wind milling is also taken into account.

    Pneumatics and pressurization. For the average user, the functioning of these systems is almost unnoticeable, but making these systems realistic was the second challenging task after the autopilot.  All these systems are extremely close to reality (e.g. pressure is calculated basing on numerous inputs - pneumatic sources state, devices state, numerous valves and many other factors).

     

    5. Can you tell us how you were able to ensure the accuracy of the systems that were simulated?

     

    Hundreds of real life aircraft manuals, DVD videos and some real life L1011 pilots helped us.

     

    6. Since only a handful of L1011s are flying currently, can you tell us how you were able to create a balances simulation of the handling and performance of the aircraft?

     

    We spent hundreds of hours with the manuals. And as we have already said some of our developers are former pilots so they know how this kind of aircraft should perform.

     

    7. Is the L1011 targeted at hardcore simmers or average enthusiast?

     

    Let’s put it this way - it is targeted to average, experienced enthusiasts who knows how to read and follow manuals and get the best of a well-simulated aircraft. The "1011 Captain" is not the kind of “Ctrl+E” type aircraft. Anyone who wants to fly it properly will have to study the aircraft.

     

    8. What features of the L1011 do you think is most unique and will attract the attention of customers?

     

    Tough choice. It is really hard to narrow the long list of all features.

    Advanced autopilot with L1011 specific modes, e.g. Approach/Land и ALPHA, this makes flying the aircraft very realistic and challenging.

    DLC (Direct Lift Control) - an L1011 peculiar feature.

    Advanced Flight Controls logic.

    FPS.

     

    9. Some customers have complained in the past about product support. Can you tell us about the type of support Captain Sim offers for their products including the L1011?

     

    We have a Technical Support System which is aimed only for our customers and is working very well.

     

    10. Finally, is there anything else you would like to share with potential customers about Captain Sim or the L1011?

     

    You all are welcome to visit our site for more information about our products; the website will tell you more than we can do in this brief interview.

     

    What we would like to do is thank our customers for their support!

     

    Thank you Tanya for taking the time to answer these questions. It seems like the L1011 is quite a unique aircraft in the CS lineup and it is certainly not a product that is limited by FSX coding.

     

    As far are features are concerned, here is a list of what the L1011 has to offer which was taken from the Captain Sim website.  

                                          

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    • Captain Sim quality and realism
    • 4X** high resolution textures of 11 popular liveries
    • Animation control panel
    • Transparent 3D windows
    • Passengers
    • Stewardess model (various airline uniforms)
    • Wing flex
    • Wing vortices
    • Self-shade
    • Pre-saved views
    • Repaint Kit (coming soon)
    • DirectX 9/10 compatible
    • FPS friendly

    Hundreds of realistic animations:

     

    - Aft cargo door

    - Engine reversers (L-R)

    - Aft cargo door

    - Wing slats (4 sections)

    - Passenger doors (4)

    - Forward cargo door

    - Engine intake covers (2)

    - Engine cowling

    - Engine cowlings (L-R)

    - Wheel chocks (6)

    - Plugs (4)

    - Compressor blades

    - Pilots (visible-invisible)

    - Service access doors

    - Escape slides (8)

    - Engine reverser

    - Right outflow valve - Left outflow valves (2)

    - Outboard ailerons (2)

    - Inboard ailerons (2)

    - Nose wheel steering

    - Nose landing gear

    - Landing gear doors (10)

    - Landing gears (2)

    - Spoilers (8 sections)

    - Wing flaps (4 sections)

    - Service doors (8)

    - Elevators (2)

    - Rudder

    - Emergency exit

    - Radome

    - Radar antenna

    - Stewardess

    - Stabilizer

     

    Liveries:

     

    - British Airways G-BBAH

    - Trans World Airlines N81026/31026

    - Delta Air Lines N721DA

    - Cathay Pacific Airways VR-HOD

    - Eastern Air Lines N335EA

    - Air Canada 80-s C-FTNL/512       - Air Canada 90-s C-FTNL/512

    - All Nippon Airways JA8522

    - LTU D-AERE

    - Air Transat C-FTNL

    - Saudia Airlines HZ-AHF

    ** - 4X means the textures are in four times higher resolution than Captain Sim regular high resolution textures.

     

    Interior:

     

    • Highly detailed and functional Flight deck
    • Weather Radar (CS exclusive)
    • Extensive systems programming
    • Authentic sound set
    • Custom lighting control
    • Self-shade
    • Pre-saved views
    • DirectX 9/10 compatible
    • FPS friendly
    • Several hundreds of custom animations:

    - Wipers (2)

    - Control wheels and columns (2)

    - Emergency exit

    - Seat arm rests (5)

    - Pedals (4)

    - Pilot's seats up-down adjustment (2)

    - Nose wheel tillers (2)

    - Pedals position adjustment handles (2)

    - Switches (180)

    - Guarded Switches (39)

    - Buttons (298)

    - Selectors (46)

    - Knobs (80)

    - Levers (9)

    • Misc Features:

    Authentic sound set

    ACE - Aircraft Configuration Editor

    Realistic flight model

    Manuals

    Repaint kit

    FPS friendly

    Pre-saved flights

     

    Systems

     

    • Weather Radar (CS exclusive)
    • C-IVA INS
    • Air Conditioning, Pressurization Systems
    • Autoflight
    • APU
    • Communication
    • Electrical System
    • Emergency Equipment
    • Fire Protection
    • Flight Controls
    • Flight Instruments/Clock
    • Fuel System
    • Hydraulics
    • Ice/Rain Protection
    • Landing Gear System
    • Navigation
    • Oxygen System
    • Pneumatics System
    • Protective Systems
    • Powerplant
    • Water/Waste System
    • Warning System

     

    From this list of features it is clear to see that the CS L1011 is not a “lite” simulation. If you would like to learn more about these systems, you can simply have a look at the manuals that you are free to access HERE

     

    As far as the manuals are concerned, one would expect to be absorbed in 500+ pages of aircraft information given the complexity of the L1011. In reality, CaptainSim has taken a simplistic approach to the manuals as they have previously done on nearly all of their products. In general, the manuals cover only the basic description of each system and how they function. Operational procedures are not always mentioned and for this I would encourage you to find an alternative source of information that can be easily found online.

     

    Two features of this aircraft that will require most of your attention is the Direct Lift Control and the custom INS unit that was created by CaptainSim. During our review of the systems we will discuss these features in greater detail, but having an understanding of these systems in addition to the intimidating FE panel is essential to flying this aircraft correctly. While I thought that the manuals could have been more detailed and performance data should have been added, it is the perfect introduction to the L1011 for newcomers. Should you desire more information, there are a host of real world manuals floating around online that can be referenced for you avid simmers who enjoy going knee deep into aircraft systems.

     

    Exterior & Interior Model

     

    There is no questioning the fact that Captain Sim are masters at creating to true to life rendition of nearly any aircraft model. The level of detail that goes into CS products goes far beyond what we may readily see on the surface. Take for example the engines of the L1011. While the other products boast of a high fidelity exterior model, not many can also lay claim to having an accurately modeled “engine” itself! With the ability to look under the cowling, you will see that attention to detail was the order of the day when it came to modeling these famous RR engines.

     

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    Moving further around the exterior, we can easily see that the cargo doors, wheel wells, nose & main gears and the APU access doors were also modeled to the highest level of detail. As you would also expect, CS has also included the ability to add static covers, engine covers to your aircraft while it is parked in your virtual hangar. Another interesting detail that shows attention to detail is the ability to deploy emergency slides in the event of situation to require passengers to quickly exit the aircraft. While some of these features may seem over the top, I can’t help but be amazed at the level of detail that went into creating this aircraft model.

     

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    As we move on to the interior of the aircraft, you will immediately notice that as was the norm on most CS model, the virtual cabin is missing and I can’t say I am disappointed since this will undoubtedly save on FPS. The virtual interior of the L1011 focuses on the main station of every user which is the virtual cockpit. From the moment I glanced at the virtual cockpit I was immediately blown away by the accuracy of its design and the textures that make it quite difficult to distinguish a virtual environment to the real thing! The cockpit textures give the appearance of an aircraft that has been used, but not abused over a period of years. The light scratches and worn out floor and panel paint truly is convincing and instills a nostalgic feeling for the glory days of flying.

     

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    The flight engineer’s panel is also quite a work of art in that it’s a fully 3D replica of the real thing. Each button, switch and dial has been recreated in stunning detail and it makes you wish you could sit here rather than in the captain’s seat (well almost…) In addition to the amazing visuals of the flight deck, there are also a few hidden features. For example, by using certain click-spots you can have charts and maps added to the left table area for the captain, sun visor on the overhead and you can also adjust the height and position of each seat in the cockpit!

     

    Another amazing feature of this aircraft is the lighting effects. Unlike previous releases, the lighting options of the L1011 are a little more independent. The lighting effect also makes good use to the FSX light boom effect for the flood lights on each panel and it truly adds to the realism. While I applaud the effort to bring more lighting options, Captain Sim can still improve in this area by offering the ability to control the intensity of each interior lighting option. Also, the panel text back lighting could have also been kept separate to the flood light. Many other developers have done this with very little impact on frame rates and it is something that CS should give consideration to in an update.

     

    Well there isn’t too much more to say about the exterior and interior so it’s best that you see it for yourself!

     

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    Systems

     

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    In the past, many of us had grown fond of the Simufly INS which was a rock solid simulation of the real CIVA INS. Learning how to use this unit was a challenge in the beginning, but it was extremely rewarding once you got the mastery of it. Sadly though, CS wasn’t able to properly include this feature in the L1011. While the Simufly INS can be added manually to the L1011, the virtual cockpit environment suffered due to an empty/nonfunctioning INS unit.

     

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    In the wake of that challenge, CS quickly created their own INS unit that mirrored a significant percentage of the real unit. Some aspects of the INS that were not modelled were the lighting options and the DME update. I must admit that I was a little disappointed in the fact that DME updating was no longer available, but at the same time I was very happy with the conveniences that were offered. For example, creating flight plans have become much easier and there are now “cheats” that allow you to have automatic loading of all waypoints. With the previously mentioned unit, after the final waypoint was passed, the next flight plan card in sequence will have to be loaded manually. While this made flying very interesting and challenging, it also was an inconvenience on very long flights having to constantly load DME and Flight plan cards.

     

    The CS INS unit allows you to load your waypoints both manually and via the FSX flight planner. If you use products such as PFPX, things can get much more interesting if you create a flight plan complete with SIDs and STARs, save it in the FSX format and load it to your INS. There is also a page that displays the waypoint names and the distance between each waypoint and your present position. This feature was extremely useful when manually calculating your TOD and managing your arrival if there are any altitude restrictions.

     

    As far as INS updating is concerned, the CS INS unit uses a different method. Rather than using the usual DME update with help from the ADC cards, the procedure to update you INS involves pushing the hold button while passing over a specific waypoint, entering those coordinates into the starting position (waypoint 0) and after this is done the PI number should decrease in order to increase the accuracy of navigating through your route. The procedure is simple and I doubt anyone will have any issues with this. Overall, the INS is rock solid and it makes flying long routes an exciting experience. While I do miss using the DME update features of the previously mentioned INS, the features of the CS INS are definitely a good compromise.

     

    Direct Lift Control (DLC)

     

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    One of the most significant features of the L1011 is the Direct Lift Control System. At the time of its development, the DLC was nothing short of revolutionary. Its development in the place of aviation is almost as significant as the introduction of Fly By Wire. While the DLC is nothing like FBW, its roll on controlling the aircraft during the approach and landing phase was crucial to the success and economic benefits of flying the L1011.

     

    How does it work? Well to fully understand this we will have to take a brief theory of flight lesson. Whenever the pitch of an aircraft it adjusted, the power also has to be adjusted based on your phase of flight. During landings, a change in pitch may result in a pilot constantly adjusting his power to maintain a comfortable descent and to keep the aircraft on the glideslope.

     

    It was noted that the constant adjusting of engine thrust was not only uncomfortable for the passengers, but it was also uneconomical. The DLC offered a simple but effective solution where instead of adjusting the power while on approach, the wing spoilers were used to either increase or decrease the descent rate. When the autopilot the pilot himself required a steeper descent rate, pushing forward on the yoke would raise the spoilers thus decreasing the airflow over the wings and decreasing the lift that is generated. With less pitch changes during the approach, this meant that passenger comfort would be greater and with a constant thrust setting, the economic benefits to an airline would be realized.

     

    The DLC operated only under specific circumstances and the spoilers operation was slightly different to its use after landings. When the flaps were selected into the landing range, spoilers 1-4 would deploy to a null zone of 7 degrees with a maximum deployment of 14 degrees. To observe its operation, the DLC is linked to the spoiler lever in the cockpit and the pilot can observe the DLC in action by the automatic movement of the spoiler lever back and forth (quite impressive to see this).

     

    In order for the DLC to work correctly, there are a few other conditions that must be met. For example, the aircraft must not be in G/A mode, 2 engines must be below MCT, Hydraulics that controls the spoilers must be operational and the flap setting has to be greater than 28 degrees. While the DLC system may seem a bit complicated in its operation, it really is a simple solution that had tremendous benefits to passenger comfort and an economic operation. The DLC was regarded as such a successful that NASA used this feature on their space shuttles! It honestly boggles my mind as to why other airliners since then have not utilized this technology.

     

    While I am sure you enjoyed learning about the DLC, (you can find out more information in the manuals or a great tutorial written by Aaron Graham which can be found on the AVSIM library) I am sure you must be wondering whether this system actually works correctly on the Captain Sim L1011. Well brace yourselves boys and girls because it actually works! It isn’t that CS doesn’t have the ability to program this correctly, but I believe that this is the first time in FSX that this system has been modelled. All of the conditions that are required in real life are also required within FSX for this system to work correctly. While in the VC, you can actually see the spoiler lever moving while landing. If you also look at the wing view, you will also see the spoilers moving up and down based on your change in pitch. This system is nothing short of amazing and it makes flying the L1011 both a challenge and a thrilling experience! Captain Sim did a fantastic job on this system and it sets the tone for what you can expect from this aircraft. Let’s have a look at a few more systems and how they function.

     

    Other Systems

     

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    When to comes to other important systems such as the Hydraulics, Electrical, Pneumatic and Fuel systems, Captain Sim was able to simulate these system to a high level of accuracy. After sourcing some additional information on how these systems function, I was impressed that Captain Sim was able to do justice to these systems. In the past, their Pneumatic systems had always needed some additional work, but the performance of the Pneumatic system on the L1011 is a welcome improvement in comparison to the 727.

     

    As far as the electrical system is concerned, there are options to use either external power or the APU to power up the aircraft. If electrical power is not correctly applied to the aircraft, various systems will not work and this in itself shows that the L1011 is not a simple aircraft. The operation of the electrical system comes complete with accurate sequencing of events. For example, when the APU start switch is turned on, various indicators such as the low oil pressure light and DOOR IN TRANSIT lights work as they should although I am not 100% sure that the timing of the APU startup may be accurate.

     

    In addition to this, the Fuel and Hydraulic systems have all been modelled to a high degree of accuracy. One of the fun aspects of flying older aircraft such as the L1011 is the manual management of the Hydraulic and Fuel systems. In order to start the aircraft, the Hydraulic system of the L1011 has to be properly configured (more on this in the flight report). As far as the Fuel system is concerned, a proper understanding of the loading and management of fuel is a MUST if you are to successfully complete any flight. Also included is the ability to jettison fuel for an emergency landing which is visible from the exterior view.

     

    As mentioned before, the systems of the L1011 are very good but not 100% perfect. Apart from the systems that were previously mentioned, there is much more to the L1011 worth mentioning. One of the systems that required extensive programming on the part of CS was the autopilot system. Let’s have a look at this system in greater detail.

     

    Auto Pilot

     

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    For an aircraft that was designed in the late 60s, the autopilot of the L1011 is fairly complex. Rather than going into a lengthy discussion on each aspect of the Autopilot, here is an overview of various modes of this system and how they function.

     

     

    Auto Throttle System

     

    ATS

    Engages autothrottle to hold selected speed.

    Single or dual channel engagement is provided by ATS switches on FCES panel.  When in TO/GA flaps extend through 30 degrees, or IAS drops below 1.3Vs, ALPHA (angle of attack) flag covers IAS readout and autothrottles are programmed to maintain ALPHA speed.

     

    Caution

    ATS automatically disengages when TO/GA switch is pressed, TURB, or IAS is engaged, and upon landing.

     

    Caution

    When not in TO/GA and speed drops below 1.3Vs or the flaps are positioned beyond 30°, the ALPHA flag is referenced to 1.3Vs with automatic compensation for a forward acceleration (as would be caused by a tail gust), forward e.g. condition and excessive sink rate.

     

    Caution

    To prevent excessive throttle movement, do not engage ATS switch until IAS display and actual airspeed are approximately the same.

     

    Heading Mode Switch (Alternate Action Switch)

     

    Pressing switch holds heading selected and provides heading reference for F/D and/or autopilot in CMD.

    Mode is inhibited in A/L mode after localizer capture. Cannot be engaged in TURB mode. Disengages when pressed second time. Maximum bank angle is 28° at 200 knots, decreasing to 15° at 450 knots.

     

    Turbulence Switch (Alternate Action-Push Button Switch)

     

    Engages turbulence mode any time the autopilot is in the CMD or CWS mode unless the A/L or TO/GA modes are engaged.

    Switch illuminates and both pilots' AFCS TURB mode annunciators indicate turbulence mode is engaged.

    Trips autopilot switch (bat handle) to CWS if in CMD and disengage all other modes.

    Disengages autothrottles.

    Biases Flight Director bars out of view.

    Reduces pitch and roll gains by 50 per cent.

    Automatic pitch trim remains operative.

    Once the turbulence mode is established, no other mode may be engaged until the turbulence mode is manually disengaged.

    The turbulence mode is disengaged by pressing the switch a second time or by disengaging autopilot. The switch extinguishes and the TURB mode annunciators disappear.

     

    Autopilot Switch (3 Position Lever / Bat Handle)

     

    Solenoid held out of the OFF position.  Each solenoid-held switch controls one autopilot and cannot be engaged unless all signals are valid. Only one switch may be engaged at a time unless when A/L mode is selected.

     

    OFF

    Disengages autopilot. However, the autopilot computers remain synchronized with the aircraft attitude.

     

    CWS –

    Engages one autopilot at a time in the Control Wheel Steering mode to provide:

    Pitch hold up to 18°.

    Heading hold if bank is 3° or less.

    Bank hold between 3° and 35° max. Will return to 35° if engagement bank angle is greater than 35°. No navigation modes are available. Altitude hold may be engaged.

    Autopitch trim is operative except when force is applied to control wheel. Control wheel electric trim is operative with force applied to control wheel (four pounds or more).

    CMD

    Same as CWS if no modes engaged. Any compatible NAV and Heading/Pitch modes may be engaged.  Autopilot trim operative.

     

    G03. NAVIGATION

     

    Navigation Mode Switches

     

    A/L - (Approach/Land)

    The APFDS is armed for approach and autoland when either or both autopilots are engaged in CMD and ILS frequency is selected. LOC ARM, G/S ARM, and A/L ARM appear in both AFCS mode annunciators. This provides CAT II or III autoland capability and hand flown F/D approach down to CAT I minimums.

    APR

    Arms APFDS for capture and tracking of localizer and glide slope of CAT I quality. LOC ARM and G/S ARM appears in both AFCS MODES annunciators. ILS frequency must be selected.

    LOC

    Arms APFDS for capture and tracking of localizer. Glide slope capture is not available. LOC ARM appears in both AFCS MODES annunciators. However, LOC is not usable for backcourse approaches.

    NAV

    Selects VOR lateral guidance to APFDS. To select VOR NAV mode, a VOR frequency must be tuned.  VOR ARM appears in both AFCS MODES annunciators, followed by VOR after beam capture. If VOR station is not valid, VOR ARM will annunciate but F/D bars will bias out of view.

     

    As you can see, the Autopilot isn’t as simple as one would have expected. The modes that have been modeled are very specific and very detailed. Each mode has various parameters of operation and if any aspect of these parameters is not met, the functionality of these modes will be disabled. Such programming speaks for itself in that the L1011 definitely meets the criteria for being a complex simulation within the classic aircraft category. Is the autopilot perfect? No it isn’t (and let’s be honest, no autopilot is perfect) but to a reasonable degree, it is without a doubt one of the best you will find from Captain Sim’s classic line-up.  

     

    Flight Report

     

    I had the opportunity to fly the L1011 on numerous flights since it was released. Before embarking on any flight, it’s important that you be very familiar with the performance capabilities of this aircraft. The manuals that come with the CS L1011 do not contain much information on the performance of the aircraft, so it is important that you try to source this information otherwise. 

     

    After finding some information online, I was able to plan a flight from KATL to KLAX using the Delta L1011 livery. With an average fuel burn rate of 3600 lbs per engine, it was fairly easy to figure out the required fuel for the flight. While calculating the fuel is important, knowing how to load the fuel correctly is equally as important to flying the aircraft correctly. Typically, Tanks 1 and 3 are loaded with more fuel than Tank 2 and 2A and this is important to the overall weight and balance of the aircraft.

     

    After the flight planning is complete, we head over to the aircraft to setup our flight. The first task that needs to be done is to power up the aircraft by using either the APU or the External Power. After going through the APU start up procedure, it’s now time to program the INS. After aligning the INS, one can choose to manually enter the waypoints for your flight plan or you can use programs such as PFPX to save a flight plan in the default FSX format which can be loaded into the INS. This feature was a major plus since it made it so much easier to setup the INS. In addition to this one can also allow each page of the flight plan to load automatically which eliminates the need to load a new data card after all 9 waypoints have been flown over.

     

    The startup sequence for L1011 isn’t as simple as one may think. While Captain Sim has made it convenient to start your aircraft by using the command “CTRL+E” with past models, the L1011 is far different. Starting up the L1011 requires bleed air from the APU and along with this, the ATM (Air Turbine Motor) on the hydraulic panel. The ATM is a hydraulic motor that powers the hydraulic system. It is powered by bleed air from the engines and APU. Since we will need all of the bleed air from the APU, the ATM has to be turned off in order to start the engines. After the engines are started and the APU has been properly turned off, the aircraft is now ready for taxi. Normally the tiller is used to taxi an aircraft of this size in real life and CS has made it possible for us to do just that! By using your mouse, you can turn the tiller to steer the aircraft wheel on the ground. I thought that this feature was a very nice addition and it enhances the realism of flying this aircraft.

     

    For the takeoff, my only major observation was that the L1011 felt slightly sluggish on rotation. Whether this is realistic or not cannot be confirmed but for an aircraft this size, the handling seems plausible but it could use some improvement. During the climb, I found it quite a joy to hand fly the aircraft so much so that I felt that using the autopilot would be a waste of time. Nonetheless, we are not always in the mood nor may be have the time to enjoy hand flying as much as we would like to. This being the case, I tested the autopilot extensively at all phases of flight. For the Climb, the autopilot was very smooth in handling altitude changes and managing the speed of the aircraft. Typically the Auto throttle is used ONLY when the airspeed is relatively close to the target speed you wish to hold. This eliminates any erratic movement of the throttles in order to capture or maintain a specific speed.

     

    With regard to fuel management, the amount of fuel onboard normal determines how the fuel is managed. Sometimes it may require you to have a tank to engine configuration for the entire flight. In other cases, it may require you to do so until a specific amount of fuel has been used. Either way, managing the fuel on the CS L1011 isn’t as challenging as the FSL Concorde X, but it certainly is a fun experience that keeps you on your toes.

     

    As far has heading hold and INS navigation is concerned, I thought that the turn rate was very slow and this isn’t consistent with the agile nature of the real L1011. The INS mode works as described but my only issue is the position updating which requires you to record the coordinates of a specific point being flown over, and reentering it into the present position waypoint “0”. Unlike the INS display which shows coordinates of latitude and longitude, the INS flight plan page shows all of your waypoints by their respective names. This was a tremendous aid in planning for your descent and arrival. For example, if you are flying an arrival procedure that has various altitude restrictions, you can easily plan your descent by using the nautical mile readings from each waypoint.

     

    For those of you who have grown accustomed to allowing your autopilot to do all the work managing your vertical navigation, the L1011 is an aircraft for “grown-ups” and it requires precise planning in order to manage your descent. As a rule of thumb, if you are 35,000ft and your first altitude restriction is 13,000ft, it means that you have to descent 22,000ft. Using the first two digits of your altitude to descent (22), you can multiply this number by a 3 degree glide path which gives you the distance at which you need to start your descent from your first altitude restriction. In this case, we have to start our descent at 66nm from the waypoint which has the 13,000ft altitude restriction. But what about your descent rate? Well in this case you have to do a little more math. Some use the ½ groundspeed x 10 method to get a descent rate but I have found that in FSX, the rate of descent may have to be slightly higher or lower that the numbers you will calculate depending on the weather and winds.

     

    The methods I just outlined are a simple guideline on flying classic airliners. It shows that if you really want to roll up your sleeve and fly the way aviators of the past did on a daily basis, the L1011 is the perfect opportunity to experience this. After successfully flying the arrival, the landing is by far the most challenging aspect of flying this aircraft.

     

    During the approach phase of the flight, you will realize that slowing down the aircraft is rather easy. The normal flap setting for landing the L-1011 is flap 33 and it is at this time that the DLC comes into effect provided that other parameters are met. The aircraft’s autothrottles are then programmed to maintain ALPHA speed which keeps the aircraft at the 1.3VS. Should you be using the autoland feature, the approach is very smooth and accurate. If you are hand flying, be prepared for a challenge because landing the L-1011 manually is slightly different to other aircraft. In other aircraft it is common to adjust power to control your attitude but with the L-1011, the DLC only requires the pilot to make slight pitch changes at a given power setting to control the rate of descent. Mastering this technique can be very tricky but it is very rewarding once you get familiar with it.

     

    The landing itself was a questionable area since it sometimes required a significant down force to get the nose wheel of the aircraft onto the runway. There has been much debate as to whether this is truly a realistic characteristic of the L-1011, but I am sure that some tweaking is needed to make it easier to put nose gear down. All in all, the aircraft flies wonderfully and it is by far the best classic aircraft from Captain Sim. Minus the few minor issues noted, the CS L-1011 is very promising and it is without a doubt an addictive classic aircraft to fly.

     

    As far as PC performance goes, the L-1011 doesn’t have any significant impact on frame rates and I hardly think that this will be an issue for anyone. Given the fact that so many old fashion gauges have been modeled and all seem to work, I think it shows promise that classic aircrafts can be produced in significant detail without any severe performance penalties. Quite honestly, I hope that Captain Sim continues along this line with expansions to the L1011 with the addition of the 200 and 500 series which were far more popular than the 100 series. The 500 series had a few upgrades such as autobrakes and different parameter of operation for the DLC and the auto spoiler systems. In time, I certainly hope that Captain Sim strongly considers this as an optional expansion. If at all possible, it wouldn’t hurt to also have a freighter model as well!

     

    Conclusion

     

    In conclusion, it must be said that I was VERY impressed with the L1011 in its entirety. There is very little to complain about and in the grand scheme of things the pros of this product far outweigh the cons. CS has always had a gift for recreating some of the best classic aircraft out there and the L1011 is no exception. In fact, I can honestly say that the L1011 is perhaps one of the best add-ons ever done by Captain Sim. When the project was first announced, we all had the impression that the L1011 was primarily going to be part of the Fun Line of CS products. Whether it was always the plan or the developers caved into the countless requests for a Pro Line aircraft, CS was able to soon deliver a top notch product that “perfectly” captures the basic essence of the real aircraft.

     

    When the L1011 was first releases, there were a few issues that came to the forefront. First off all there were a few minor textural issues and there were also a few issues with the way certain systems worked and how the aircraft itself handled. I say that these issues were minor due to the fact that while they were somewhat noticeable, it didn’t take away from the overall experience significantly. Since the first release most of the issues that were observed had been fixed and CS had also included a few additional features. The most significant of these features was the custom INS which made this product an absolute pleasure to fly on long routes.

     

    Since the release of the L1011, there have been at least 2 updates that resulted in many of the reported issues being resolved or improved. Some issues still remain and I trust that in time the development team will release an update to adjust the handling of the aircraft on landing. Another area that I would like to see improved is the sound package that comes with the L1011. The sound of the L1011 is very distinct and CS didn’t fully capture the true sound of this aircraft. Finally, one of the features that I thought CS could have improved on was the VC lighting. This may seem like a trivial matter, but being able to fully control your cockpit lighting adds significantly to the realism of an aircraft. CS was able to offer a degree of custom lighting, but it would have been better if the text lighting in the cockpit were separate to the flood lights. Some of the lighting knobs are animated but they don’t actually perform their function.

     

    As a recommendation, CS should also have included performance charts that will allow virtual pilots to properly plan flights with fuel planning and thrust limit calculations based on weight and weather conditions. But until this happens, I would encourage you readers to source this information online and help with your flight planning. In addition to performance charts, a properly conducted flight tutorial would have also added value to this product as it would show potential users how the L1011 is properly flown. In most, an avid L1011 fan will no doubt do this on their own, but it would have been nice if CS made use of their real world L1011 pilots who assisted in order to create a flight tutorial that was accurate.

     

    As far as product support is concerned, I know that many have had mixed feelings about Captain Sim and their product support. While I can understand the reasoning behind some complaints, I can also understand the thinking of the developer. First of all, the L1011 is NOT a systems trainer and it has never claimed to be such. While it claims to have accurate systems, they function correctly to a degree that is necessary for a home based simulator. This doesn’t mean that the L1011 is a “lite” version type aircraft either! The L1011 is the perfect balance between in-depth systems and visual effects. In order to fly this aircraft correctly you WILL be required to read the manuals and supplementary information.  As with any product development, issues will arise and they all can’t be dealt with by snapping your finger. At times it takes a long time to fix certain issues and if a company such as CS is operating with a limited amount of developers, it is understandable that the development of other products cannot suffer for the sake of another in EVERY instance.  

     

    It has always been my experience that CS is very dedicated to their customers and they do listen to their request. Thus far, every reported issue with the L1011 has been noted and updates have always followed. Even as I write this review, updates to two of their latest products are well underway in addition to the development of other products. Another means of support that I can also suggest is the CS forums. The CS forums are at most times quite active and you will also find many other satisfied customers who are willing to help with any issues you may have. All in all, the past will be the past and from all indications CS seems to be on par with other developers as far as product support is concerned.

     

    I guess the final comments on the L1011 takes us to the pricing. The price of the L1011 was originally 39.99 Euros but it can now be purchased for 29.99 Euros. For all that this product contains, I think that this is a very fair price! Similar products sell for much more with this level of detail and systems simulation and I think CS has offered a great opportunity for everyone to be able to afford this great aircraft. If you are a Prepar3D user, the P3D version will also cost you 29.99 and while I haven’t fully tested the L1011 in P3D, I haven’t heard of any significant issues to date which means that it is perhaps function just as well in P3D as it is in FSX.

     

    Is the L1011 for you? Well that depends, if you are a fan of classic aircraft and you enjoy taking a break from all the automation, then the L1011 is perfect for simmers of all types. As was mentioned before, this is not a “Ctrl+E” type aircraft and it involves using proper startup procedures to get this aircraft going. The L1011 offers you in-depth systems simulation within its classic context. This being the case it offers users of all levels to enjoy following procedures without the hassle of figuring out complex computer generated displays. Say what you will about CS, they are master at creating classic aircraft and the L1011 Captain is perhaps the best L1011 we have ever seen to date!  I think it is only fair to give this aircraft a score of 4/5 in the Classic aircraft category. Let’s hope with future updates or with the release of other variants that this product can achieve a 5/5 score! 

     

    Well Done Captain Sim! But there is still room for improvement.

     

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