Who doesn’t know Coolsky, or the person … Espen Øijordsbakken?
In case you don’t know, Coolsky is responsible for the famous Microsoft Flight Simulator Super 80, Super 80 Professional models with their integrated Training system and the POAB Fokker 50, where he integrated his Fokker 50 panel, but now also for FSX. For your convenience, find here the direct link to Coolsky.
But years before all of this, Espen was/is, for example, well-known of his Fokker 50 Panel for Microsoft flight Simulator 2004. Via different forums advices where given by the community how to connect his panel to other Fokker F50 airplane models.
Anyway, this interview deals with Coolsky, Espen himself but above all, his upcoming Douglas DC-9 Classic.
Due to the in-depth information given by Espen, ASN has decided to split this interview in part I and part II.
For now …. relax, sit-back and enjoy part I!
What is your passion for the McDonnell DC-9/MD80?
My passion for aviation is something that goes back to my childhood. Back when I was a young boy looking towards the sky, pretty much all the jets flying overhead were DC-9s or MD-80s. Scandinavian Airlines, which is still a major player today, really dominated the Nordic market back then with their massive fleet of DC-9s, MD-80s and MD-90s.
Through the years they have had over 150 of these aircraft serve in their fleet. At one point they had the largest fleet of MD-80s outside of the USA. I guess it’s the aircraft I grew up with. But doing this series of aircraft was also a logical choice.
With the many obvious similarities between these aircraft in this aircraft family, I’m able to take the basic systems code from one aircraft and reuse, build upon and expand the feature set to the next aircraft. Each new aircraft thus becomes a step up in terms of systems complexity and features. For me, creating the DC-9/MD-80 family of aircraft was simply a natural choice, for both emotional and intellectual reasons.
Why did Coolsky decide to go for a Classic DC-9?
The DC-9 is an old aircraft and I think it’s safe to say that up through the years all the aircraft have been given an upgrade or modification of some sort.
Most likely they have received multiple upgrades and modifications. You would have a hard time finding two DC-9s with identical cockpits today. With such a variety of cockpit layouts to choose from, which one do you choose?
It seemed simple to me; the original one. Besides, why simulate modern instrumentation in an old aircraft? You might as well just simulate a modern aircraft.
When you simulate an aircraft from the -60s, I think it should have a cockpit with instrumentation from the -60s as well.
Which DC-9 Classic models can we expect?
We will be simulating the DC-9-31 model. With 660+ DC-9-30 series aircraft produced, this model accounted for about 60% of the total DC-9 production and was by far the most popular version of the DC-9 among the airlines.
Compared to the earlier models, the Series 30 had a stretched fuselage, increased wingspan and full-span leading edge slats for improved takeoff and landing performance.
The Series 30 was also the model used for the cargo versions of the DC-9 as wells the US military. Both the US Air Force and Navy still have DC-9s, designated C-9, flying in their fleets today.
McPhat Studios 3D makes the VC, why?
I worked with McPhat Studios on both the Super 80 and Super 80 Pro where they created the wonderful World Airliners livery packs with ultra high definition texture liveries for both these aircraft.
The quality and details McPhat Studios put into these and all the other aircraft liveries they make are just incredible. They really are in a class of their own. For the DC-9 Classic project I naturally wanted to continue cooperating with McPhat Studios. Initially, McPhat was just supplying textures for the aircraft liveries.
This is a first for McPhat, so one might have concerns about giving such an important job to someone doing it for the first time. Knowing McPhat and the level of professionalism and quality they always put into their work though, I did not hesitate accepting their offer.
The feedback from customers on the screenshots we have shown of the aircraft and virtual cockpit has been very positive so far. I am confident our customers will be pleased with the visual appearance of this aircraft, both outside and inside, once it is released.
What are the simulated characteristics of the old fashioned Sperry SP-50?
The Sperry SP-50 Automatic Pilot is not really all that different from modern autopilots in the features and functions it does provide. It’s the features and functions it does not provide, which sets it apart from newer equipment. You might be accustomed to having features such as automatic level-off at the preselected altitude. The Sperry does not have this feature.
You will have to watch your altimeter carefully and level off manually yourself when you reach your target altitude. There is some help available from the altitude alerter, which will beep and remind you to check your altimeter. But you still need to take control of the aircraft and level off yourself. Another feature you might be accustomed to using is the auto-throttle.
The Sperry does have an auto-throttle feature, but it doesn’t quite work the way you might think. The auto-throttle in the DC-9 is only used for the approach phase.
When you activate the auto-throttle, the autopilot automatically calculates the appropriate VREF speed and maintains that for you on the approach.
You don’t get to choose the airspeed it maintains, which effectively means it can’t be used for anything other than the approach phase which it was designed for. But other than that, you got all the regular features such as IAS/Mach hold, vertical speed hold, VOR tracking, ILS approach (no autoland), pitch and bank hold.
Are different DC-9 Classic VC’s available and a 2D?
There will only be one version of the VC available and the DC-9 Classic will come with a full 2D panel. I have noticed some developers are phasing out the 2D panel from their products, but I still think the 2D panel is an important part of our product.
Can you tell us more about the failure simulation?
The failure simulation in the DC-9 Classic is one of the new features I’m really excited about. Full failure simulation is something I have always wanted to incorporate into my products and finally I have.
The failure simulation I have implemented is a scenario based system rather than just faulting individual instruments. The foundation for all the simulated failures is the emergency and abnormal procedure checklists found in the real aircraft manual.
The DC-9 Classic simulates a total of 140+ individual system failures and situations in 3 categories of emergencies and 14 categories of abnormal situations.
You can activate as many of these as you want at any one time. You can specify a unique trigger situation for each failure as well.
For example, you can set the right engine to start surging at 12 seconds after liftoff, or you can set the right main tank to start leaking 10 minutes after climbing through FL250. This way you can also build more complex scenarios by setting multiple systems to fail in sequence.
Some specific types of failures will also lead to more systems failing if not handled properly. A simple thing such as resetting a circuit breaker multiple times can lead to an electrical fire and smoke in the cockpit.
The failure simulation system also comes with the ability to save and load scenarios. This means you can create a failure scenario for your friends, send it to them and they won’t have a clue as to what they are in for!
I would like to point out one thing about the failure simulation system. It is primarily implemented and simulated as a procedure trainer for use in the 2D panel at this point. You can definitely fly from the virtual cockpit and properly handle most of the emergency and abnormal situations from the VC.
However, environmental phenomena such as icing and smoke in the cockpit, has not been visually simulated in the VC.
Visual damage to the virtual cockpit or external model has not been simulated either at this point. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to add these features right now. Sometimes you just can’t have it all at once, so these features have been put on the future upgrades list.
Are all aircraft systems simulated?
Yes, all systems in the cockpit are simulated, even down to the individual circuit breakers, of which there are well over 400! Why simulate circuit breakers?
Well, you’ll need them when, for example, you have a runaway stabilizer and the only way to stop it and save the day is by pulling the circuit breaker to the alternate longitude trim servo.
Both my previous aircraft, the Super 80 and Super 80 Pro, are highly advanced add-on aircraft but the DC-9 Classic takes the systems simulation and complexity to another level.
I’m the type of guy who is never really completely happy with the aircraft because I see room for improvements and new features just about everywhere.
But I have to say, compared to my other aircraft, I’m very happy with the systems simulation on this one.
Is there a tutorial system integrated with schematics?
The DC-9 Classic is very much focused on teaching you have to operate the aircraft while in the cockpit. The built-in in-cockpit training system has lessons for just about everything you need to know about the aircraft and its systems and procedures. When selecting a lesson, you are presented with a step-by-step description of what to look for and what to do.
The applicable panel windows are automatically opened for you and arrows and/or boxes show you exactly where to find the switches, knobs, levers and systems being discussed. You can step forward through the lesson at your own pace, or step back to review a part of the procedure if needed.
The in-cockpit training system is not meant to completely replace the manual that comes with the DC-9 Classic, but you can actually do most of your initial “type rating” training in the cockpit without reading to much in the manual. If you have flown either the Super 80 or Super 80 Pro then you are familiar with this training system. The training system has sort of become a signature feature for my aircraft products.
New in the DC-9 Classic are the live interactive system schematics. System schematics are diagrams making use of abstract graphic symbols rather than realistic pictures to represent a system.
The goal of a schematic diagram is to visualize and aid comprehension of how the elements of the system work together as a whole. Sometimes it can be difficult to fully understand what is going on with the aircraft and exactly what happens and why when you operate the switches, buttons and levers.
You get live interactive schematics in the DC-9 Classic. You can flip a switch in the cockpit, or on the schematic itself, and see exactly what that does and how it affects the system.
The goal of the system schematics is to give you a much better understanding of how the aircraft works.
What kind of manual can we expect?
As with my previous aircraft, the DC-9 Classic comes with an Aircraft Operating Manual (AOM) and a User Manual. The User Manual is 40+ pages and the AOM is 450+ pages, which is the largest manual I have written so far.
While the AOM is quite big, it is mostly reference material. You should however familiarize yourself with the manual, have it available and know where to find what you need whenever you fly the DC-9 Classic.
But there are also definitely parts of the manual you need to learn and know. Knowing your airspeeds for example, is definitely important. If you are really serious about your flying, then you need to memorize the memory items on the emergency procedure checklist as well.
Some actions need to be made immediately when the emergency is a fact. In general, I will definitely advice you read a little bit in the manuals before jumping into the cockpit of the DC-9 Classic.
However, with that said, the DC-9 Classic does come with the Automatic Aircraft Configuration (AAC) system, the same features as found in the Super 80 and Super 80 Pro.
The AAC will automatically configure the aircraft for you, all switches and buttons, for your selected phase of flight. So, if you really want to, you can actually jump right into the cockpit of the DC-9 Classic, takeoff and have fun flying around!
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