Just Flight / CLS DC-10 Selection
by Dave Gorman


Serious Triple Engine Fun!
 

Iíve always had a bit of a soft spot for the Douglas, and later McDonnell-Douglas, DC-10. Thereís something about its nose, and that massive engine looking so out-of-place on the tail thatís always captured my imagination. Which is why I was so excited to see the DC-10 finally made in all its considerable glory by the guys over at CLS, and published by our very own Just Flight. Now, at this point it should be mentioned that this isnít the ďreal dealĒ sort of simulation that youíd get from PMDG or Level-D, itís part of JFís F-Lite range meaning that itís much simpler to fly, omitting the complex systems and flight computers of the more advanced sims, so it was far from my normal choice of FS packages. But hey, it was a DC10.

Before I go into what itís like to fly, a little bit about the package you pay for: the Just Flight package comes with an outstanding 7 aircraft types, these being the DC-10-10, DC-10-30, the lesser spotted DC-10-40 and freighter versions for all three, along with a DC-10-15. A free download from the JF site will also get you a DC-10-40B. Various engine modifications that happened over the years are also in the package, bringing the total number of models to 15 not including the free download!  A host of high-quality liveries are also included, with most of the passenger ones being classic airline liveries (although a few familiar faces do pop up with recent DC-10 operators like Monarch, Northwest and Continental), and the freighter liveries being more recent with the likes of FedEx and Gemini. And as an added bonus, military versions of the DC-10, namely the KC-10A Extender of the USAF and the KDC-10 of the Royal Dutch Air Force are included too. Itís worth noting here that theyíre all good models and liveries: CLS certainly havenít cut any corners on that front. The detail on the exterior of the planes is absolutely exceptional and the liveries, although slow to load, are of an excellent quality too. All of the external animations we would expect from a high-quality addon like this are present, with numerous doors opening (commands given in the manual) and even air stairs that can be called up from the cockpit.

CLS haven't let us down in the VC. It's well modelled and clickable, with the exception of the FE panel, and the lighting is great.

Moving into the flight deck, I very was impressed. This is an F-Lite product so donít expect any complex systems but most switches are actually operable whether or not they do anything which is a nice touch. The ambient sounds are nice although they seem to play even if the entire aircraft is cold and dark. Otherwise cockpit noises are good. In the VC, CLS have once again got it spot on, the VC lighting is just right, with the shadows in the right places too. All the switches are operable, except for the FE panel which Iíll come to in a second, and modelled well in 3D. My only gripe in the FE panel, which isnít actually modelled in the VC, with just a 2D image in its place. Clicking on it brings up the 2D FE panel which looks intimidating but this being F-Lite you canít do much harm with it, and the most important bits can be brought up enlarges in separate 2D panels. All the other 2D panels are well done too, including a First Officerís panel which was a nice surprise.  The DC-10 even has a simple FMC, which gives flight status, fuel predictions, and reference speeds, and is explained very well in the manual. Again however, it is not without its faults. A few panel labels are a bit hard to read even at higher resolutions, and some important controls such as the gear handle and flap position indicator can only be accessed through the FO panel. I found a big problem with the FO panel too: it looks promising but you canít actually fly the aircraft from it because no matter what order you call them up in, the FO panel always stays on top of the other sub-panels such as the throttle quadrant and overhead panel.

Pushing back and pulling one of the ominous-looking red handles on the overhead which start the engines, I discovered another fantastic feature of this addon: the sound. It really is out of this world, and is definitely one of the best sound sets Iíve ever heard in FS. It really does deserve a whole paragraph of this review to itself. The sense of power as those engines spool up and propel you, with much gusto, down the runway is absolutely immense. During most flights the constant engine noise tends to get on my nerves but I can honestly say that the low drone from the DC-10ís three huge jets wasnít a problem at any stage. I simply love those engine sounds and theyíre a credit to the guys CLS.

CLS have kindly included a pushback truck in the package. Starting the engines is fun, they sound so good.

 

The aircraft handles exceptionally well and feels realistic. On the ground it feels heavy as a DC-10 should. Care is needed during the taxi though Ė the powerful engines can be a bit feisty to say the least. The aircraft also tends to roll when the throttles are at idle, but again I think that this is realistic. I found that the best way to taxi in general was to give the engines a bit of a boost first and then just leave them idling and the aircraft will advance on its own momentum. On takeoff, the power from the engines is so great that I tend to find myself at the FMCís specified rotation speed (which is usually fairly accurate) in no time. One thing I found out to my cost, even though I was flying the shorter DC-10-10 at the time, is how easy it is to tail strike the thing. If this happens you will know about it because in addition to your sudden inability to lift off, CLS have kindly included a spark/smoke effect which will remain behind the aircraft until you kick yourself very hard and reset the flight.

As I found myself rolling into the Atlantic Ocean it did occur to me that a tail strike warning in the cockpit would have been nice. Anyway, with my lesson learnt I did manage to takeoff without any rear-end blazes and noted that the speed seems to increase very rapidly even in quite a steep post-rotation climb. Again, this may just be me underestimating the engines again but it does take quite a lot of getting used to. Climb performance is good too with the aircraft easily sticking to the selected vertical speed and handling increases or decreases in the VS selection well. Itís fun to hand fly too, as long as you can master the trim and keep an eye on the attitude indicator it handles pretty well for such a big bird.

Switching the autopilot back on, I found a slight problem: the aircraft just continues its vertical speed all the way to the top of climb without reducing it automatically as you reach the top so it tends to overshoot a little but itís no big deal as the autopilot recovers nicely. There are no problems anywhere in the cruise, the aircraft banks without falling out of the sky and handles speed changes well. I must admit that at first I had big problems with the autopilot but after a little practice I got the hang of it. During the descent the aircraft behaves well for both me and the autopilot too, and as is normal in heavier planes a little spoiler deployment is necessary at the higher descent rates. Once you are in range of the ILS the plane can auto land reasonably well, although as I neared the runway the approach, which had been textbook until then, seemed to get a bit messy as the aircraft became too high on the glide slope and missed the centreline quite a bit. It might have been weather related but the lack of a recovery by the autopilot when we were still 3 or 4 miles out was a bit alarming.

 
The package includes a simple but functional FMC. It shows your route taken from the FS flight planner along with fuel and time predictions, and more.   ILS autolands are generally reliable in the DC-10, although   it is much more fun to fly them by hand in this bird.
     

Itís worth noting that the Service Pack for the DC-10 has improved the flight dynamics further still, with reducing the enginesí power to the right amount among the corrections.

If youíve been reading closely, then, you will have noticed that I find this quite an enjoyable aircraft to fly. However I do have a few complaints about the package that the aircraft comes in, more specifically what you get outside of the simulator. The manual which is the only thing in the DC-10ís folder is nice and the tutorials are good but there is no brief version or a quick reference guide. More disappointingly there arenít any auxiliary programs which would have been really useful, especially a fuel planner and load editor. It is quite hard to estimate how much fuel will be required and fuel planners for these aircraft are few and far between, not least ones which cover all of the versions this package does. And a load editor would have been good too, as the FS one is a pain to say the least.

In summary, this is a fantastic aircraft to fly and is a very enjoyable package, although there are a few rather serious flaws in my opinion. The big two are the lack of some instruments such as the flap position and gear handle on the captainís side, and these being located on the co-pilotís panel which loads on top of every other sub panel. An extra download from JF including a fuel planner and load editor would be nice too. Like I said though, apart from that the aircraft is well modelled and fun to fly, and with this many liveries and 15 different models itís value for money too. A recommended buy.

Since I wrote this review, Just Flight have released a Service Pack for the DC-10. In addition to the thrust correction that I have already mentioned, they replaced the set of pre-saved flights and added checklists to all aircraft, as well as fixing some night maps.


Dgor's photo gallery - Click on image to see full size.

The first thing that hits you with the DC-10 is how astoundingly good the external model is. See what I mean? The detail is immense. The 2D panel is simple but functional. FPS tend to be good in 2D view, due to the lack of complex systems. The overhead panel is fairly easy to master.

As is the FE panel, intimidating as it looks. I would have liked a cold and dark startup option but there isn't one. CLS have kindly included a pushback truck in the package. Starting the engines is fun, they sound so good. Flight dynamics in the DC-10 are good and pretty realistic, especially since the service pack which lowered the engine power to the correct amount. The DC-10-10 is the smallest of the DC-10 series. But that still makes it pretty big.

The FedEx paint is one of a number of modern cargo carrier liveries in the package. Takeoffs are easy enough, and the FMC can give fairly accurate V-Speed calculations. The package includes a simple but functional FMC. It shows your route taken from the FS flight planner along with fuel and time predictions, and more. Climb performance is good, although the simplicity of the autopilot will take a bit of getting used to if you tend to fly the more advanced sims.
CLS haven't let us down in the VC. It's well modelled and clickable, with the exception of the FE panel, and the lighting is great. Another chance to see that magnificent external model. I love it. The FO's panel looks promising but because it loads on top of every other panel you can't really fly the aircraft from the FO view. The DC-10 descends well, although some speed brakes may be required.
ILS autolands are generally reliable in the DC-10, although it is much more fun to fly them by hand in this bird. There is no shortage of external animations. Many of them must be activated with icons in the cockpit though. This DC-10-40B is a slightly different version of the DC-10-40 and is available for free from JF, although it obviously requires the base package. Another modern user of the DC-10 is Gemini Air Cargo. Their livery is included on the DC-10-30F in the package.
CLS have included this effect for if you hit the tail off anything. Don't! The only livery included for the lesser-spotted DC-10-15 is this one, of Aeromexico. Whilst the DC-10-10 features Continental's classic Red Meatball scheme, the DC-10-30 has liveries for Continental's classic Black Meatball and this more modern scheme. British Airway's classic livery is another fantastic paintjob included. With the exception of the stairs, the vehicles in this shot are from Gatwick Pro and not the package.
       
 Links:-    
 Just Flight.
 DC-10 product page.
 DC-10 FAQ's & SP
 JF F-Lite Forum.
  Mutley says.. . . .

Thanks to Dave for this review.

I've flown this bird too and she is a beauty!

  

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