Today I would like to do a special review. I am going to see how well the Super 80 Professional has stood the test of time, and if you should still buy it. Now, I know what you are saying. “Of course the airplane won’t hold up. It’s old!” And sadly, I am forced to agree. The plane is old, and it’s visuals are somewhat crude. But, simply look at the Level-D 767, and you will immediately find that visuals don’t mean everything. This airplane still has pretty crazy levels of detail, as we will now see. Sit back, grab your drink and snack, and… Actually, don’t lean back and drink. That’s dangerous. Don’t.
The Super 80 was a derivative of the MD 80, with updated avionics, and a glass cockpit. Widely used on short to medium haul routes, the Super 80 sees lots of use in North America and Europe. The plane seats anywhere from 130 to 172 passengers based on variant and configuration, putting it in competition with the 737-800. Powered by JT8D engines, the Super 80 is no longer the cost effective workhorse it once was. The aircraft is easily identified by its rear mounted engines and small wings. The plane is loved by pilots for its sturdy and mechanical feel. They also say that its a pleasure to fly, with great crosswind capabilities, and responsive controls.
INSTALLATION & DOCUMENTATION
The airplane can be activated in several different ways. You can enter your account credentials into the installer to activate it, or use a key provided to you. My installation went seamlessly. The plane took up about 440mb on my hard drive. With it, you get 23 liveries, the ICTS, and a monstrous 331pg. Aircraft Operating Manual. These features will be covered in the “FEATURES” section of the review. It’s safe to say that the aircraft’s goodies hold up well to other addons. I find that the ICTS is a lot more useful than other external applications we use today.
I may be trying to defend the plane in this review, but the VC is hard to do so with. The VC is not as 3d as most products. Everything is flat, and plastered onto the VC walls. I’m definitely not saying that it isn’t functional, but that it isn’t pretty. I have to back this claim up with the fact that, although flat, this VC is very detailed. Preflighting this airplane is a lengthy task, albeit fun. Most planes lack the “steam powered” feel that this plane provides. The only thing that I actively disliked was the knob for the ND brightness. I constantly found myself accidentally turning on my WX radar.
Images courtesy of Flight1/Coolsky:
The VC is flat, and lacks in the visuals department. However, look past that, and you will find a detailed control interface to fly your classic airplane.
The exterior model was impressive. The liveries were sharp, while also not being too clean and fresh. The model beneath may not have been the highest resolution, but it rendered the plane nicely. The airplane has all of the major animations, like landing gear, flaps, slats, spoilers, and reversers. The windows were somewhat see through, and you could see some of the inside cabin, which had some good detail. One gripe I had was that, although the plane came with McPhat textures, many liveries were left out. You can purchase these liveries from McPhat, for a grand total of $19.90 a pack. I think that payware liveries are a trend that shouldn’t catch on, and has seen little attention in newer products.
Although this plane is a relic, it’s exterior model is nothing to be ashamed of. The airplane compares well with newer products, and holds its own for the age. The CLS Super 80 may have a higher fidelity model, but the Coolsky’s Super 80 wasn’t bad to begin with.
The Super 80 is a unique airplane. The JT8D engines at the back would make the airplane quiet, right? In flight, yes. On the ground, NO. The Super 80 comes with the following features for sound:
- Talking First Officer
- All checklists read for you
- MD80 flight deck ambience sounds
- JT8D-209 engine sounds
- External wind noise, gear noise, gear rumble
- Central Aural Warning System recordings from real aircraft
- TCAS and GPWS aural alert
The cockpit will have all sorts of whining and grinding noises. From the APU to the trim wheel, you will hear most everything happening. Included as well is a First Officer, who will call out your V speeds, and go through the landing checklist. While this is a nice touch, I feel like he would be better off somehow integrated with the ICTS, like Aerosoft’s system. I like the overall sound of the plane, even if it is a little loud. While this isn’t the best sound package on the market today, it helps add to the realism, and should be treated accordingly.
The Flight Dynamics appear to feel unrealistic. Compared to my other addons, it feels a little heavy and unresponsive. Although real world pilots report great rudder authority, I find that to not be the case with this addon. Many times, landing in a 5kt crosswind proved very difficult. I blame this on the addon because of my proficiency with other addons, such as the MJC8, or Aerosoft A320.
Some may enjoy the way this airplane feels, Some may say it feels perfectly realistic. I’m not a real world pilot, so I can’t say for sure how realistic the FDE really is. I simply base my opinions off of what pilots say it should feel like, and how it performs in the sim. I personally think the airplane is a little too much. Some of you may enjoy it, though.
This airplane is advertised as a “highly advanced aircraft and panel package for MS Flight Simulator X and Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition which simulates the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft.” If this is the case, it should be good, right. Actually… It is. The airplane is very advanced beneath the 2d hood (I had to take one last jab at the VC, okay?) The overhead panel simulates everything from the stall warning test, to the galley power switch. I find that last switch particularly fun to play with during meal service. However, most of you don’t care about the flight attendant’s sanity, most of you just want an in-depth engine startup process. And, while I find it more fun to shoot approaches with the AAC (part of the ICTS) this airplane is easily adaptable to a very serious environment. This airplane is truly a one size fits all. Someone with no previous payware experience could have a blast with this plane, while others could play it by the book. And also turn off the galley power.
The airplane is a lot more adaptable than a PMDG one, while it lacks some of the ultra-high fidelity systems of its competitors. Don’t let that throw you off though. This airplane can be flown very seriously if you want to.
The airplane comes with a few aids to help you. The main program is called the ICTS, or Integrated Cockpit Training System. The ICTS has three main features. It has step by step interactive checklists. It has payload and fuel configuration. It also has Automatic Aircraft Configuration tool, which allows you to set up your plane for various stages of flight. This feature exists purely if the PIC wants it to. You could close the window, and forget about it, or use it as a crutch. Either way, this implementation of checklists is truly unique, and is a selling point in it of itself.
The AOM, or Aircraft Operating Manual is a pilot’s tutorial book. It tells him how to do everything, and anything related to that aircraft. This manual has been adapted to the flight sim world, and needs a read through before booting up the airplane. This document is a treasure trove for anyone who wants to simulate real world operations of the airplane. The manual cant man up to the FCOMs that are shipped with PMDG planes, but it proves priceless for those who choose to read it.
IS IT WORTH IT?
Well… Here’s the thing. The airplane has it’s pros and cons. It has great systems fidelity, and some great additions. However, this plane has equal drawbacks. An ill-fit VC, and half baked Flight Dynamics make this quite the hard decision. If this plane were to be dubbed a “still valid” plane, it would need to still win hearts of the consumer. Unfortunately, I think it was just too mediocre to have a fighting chance. For the money, you would be better off with the Leonardo Maddog.
MY PC SPECS:
Intel i7 4790k
NVidia GTX 745ti
1TB HDD @ 7200RPM
DISCLAIMER: This product was provided to me at no cost from Flight1 Software. However, this did not impact my verdict, not any of my judgement.
DISCLAIMER NO2: This product broke on my machine. I began having more and more crashes, until the plane would refuse to load entirely. My verdict was based off of the 15h of time I spent in the simulator examining the plane. Those who choose to purchase this plane should be aware that Flight1 offers a 30 day money back guarantee on boxed and downloaded products.