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Review: CaptainSim L1011-500 for P3Dv4
High systems fidelityGreat performanceOptions for both hardcore, and more casual pilots
Lacking DocumentationAutopilot takes some learning
4.2Overall Score
Documentation
Performance
Visuals
Systems
Night Lighting
Flight Dynamics
Reader Rating 2 Votes

Review by: Daniel Faas

The Aircraft:

The Lockheed-Martin L1011 is best described as an aircraft ahead of its time. I have always been a fan of three-engined aircraft from the early widebody era and until recently the L1011 had been neglected in flight sims in favor of the more widely sold DC-10 and MD-11 aircraft. The idea behind three engined aircraft in the late 60’s and early 70’s was to circumvent the ETOPs regulations present at the time by having more than two engines, but also reduce costs over four engined aircraft like the Boeing 747.

The design theory behind the L1011 was to use automation and technology to provide a more efficient and better performing jet than its competitors from Boeing and Douglas. However, cost-overruns and delays related to the new Rolls Royce engines meant that the L1011 was delayed until a few years after the DC-10 and cost more, both handicaps meant that low sales eventually spelled a premature end to the L1011 program. Although 250 were produced, over 350 DC-10s were produced, and production ended in 1984. The version being simulated by CaptainSim was the L1011-500 introduced in 1979.

Download and Installation:

CaptainSim have been established for some time, and it shows. Installation was quick and simple, and a single unified installer took care of installing the aircraft and all appropriate support software.

Visuals (exterior):

Captainsim did their best to faithfully recreate the L1011 and from every angle I can find they did a great job. The aircraft more than passes the more casual observer’s “eye test” but all the details that those hard-core rivet counters are looking for are present as well. The attention to detail extends to the gear and landing light details and the texturing as well, and both engine variants are available to change through CaptainSim’s ACE configuration tool.

There are also a number of external animations which can  be triggered through the Shift+2 menu as seen below.

Visuals (interior):

I feel that after the exterior the interior of the CaptainSim L1011 is a bit of a let-down. Not that it isn’t good, it definitely is, but it just doesn’t stand up to the same high standard of the exterior. The gauges are all easy to read and well detailed, the switches are all 3-d and modeled well, and all the animations are present. However the textures seem a bit drab cartoonish compared to some other offerings from other developers. However the attention to detail away from the panels is great, as you can see below.

Documentation:

The documentation for the this aircraft is a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde situation. While CaptainSim provides a three volume manual detailing the aircraft’s various systems, one thing is sadly lacking: a checklist and reference document. This leaves the user scrambling for a standard checklist, V-Speed, and Landing Reference document. Thankfully owing to the age and relative popularity of the L1011 these documents are available and free online.

Night Lighting:

The lighting in the aircraft is done very well, not quite as well as some of the other developers out there, such as Milviz, Aerosoft, or PMDG. The back-lighting of the panel is subtle and the addition of rheostats to adjust flood, panel, and other lighting is a nice addition.

Systems Simulation:

CaptainSim did their best to create a faithful rendition of the L1011. Included systems are:

• 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

The engineer’s panel is fully function as are all switches on the overhead and the main panel. This is a very complex aircraft with features that seem more at home in the 2000’s than the 1970’s.

My test flight was a relatively short flight as far as the Lockheed L1011-500 is concerned. I flew from Chicago O’Hare (KORD) to Philadelphia International (KPHL), a total flight time of about 1.5 hours at a quick .84 mach at flight level 370. As I have mentioned previously there are two methods to using the built-in INS system, and on this flight I opted to use the easier P3d flight planner auto-load method.

Having used the easier flight planning method the pre-flight was pretty easy and quick, owing to not having to manually enter all 9 of my first way points into the INS. Taxiing with this aircraft feels spot on, it takes a bit of throttle to get the aircraft moving, but it quickly picks up speed if you aren’t paying attention to it. Turns are appropriately wide and the location of the nose gear means having to hang the nose out over the corners to keep on the centerline.

Take-off took a fair portion of the runway as the aircraft is a bit slower to accelerate than most sim pilots might be used to, owing to the older Rolls Royce engines. Having found a V-Speed chart online I was able to verify an accurate lift-off speed and climb out was without any drama.

The Autopilot was ahead of its time when produced and, while a bit complex for those used to more modern systems, was very capable of handing all phases of flight. The autothrottle did a great job of managing the engines and held speed well under 10,000 feet to 250kts.

The INS did a fantastic job of holding the flight path all the way from climb out to final approach. I used the auto-route and auto-page functions which go along with the P3D flight planner method of using the INS, however if you would like full realism you can cycle waypoints yourself and re-add points each time you reach your final way point of the “card” (every 9 waypoints).

Final approach was easy and smooth. The Autothrottle does turn off at a certain AoA which means that when conducting my final I had to use manual throttle inputs to maintain speed. This aircraft, for its size, can land relatively slow, 135 kts in my case at nearly full pax, and low fuel. However with 33 degrees of flaps and the gear down this aircraft has a lot of drag and the older engines have a bit of lag so staying up on your throttle inputs is vital to conducting a stabilized approach. The ILS captured well and guidance was easy down to 300ft when I took the controls. There is an autoland capability but I did not test it in this flight so I can’t speak to its effectiveness.

Landing rollout was nice and easy, the brakes were more than enough to slow this very large aircraft down in plenty of time to make an exit from the runway without having to do a turn-around. All told this test flight was fantastic and without issue or bugs from the aircraft (which weren’t user induced).

Conclusion:

CaptainSim have produced an iconic classic jetliner and have done a great job. Whether you are a fan of aviation history, or just love flying Big Iron this aircraft will suit you. The options to vary your immersion with the onboard INS make this approachable for both the hardcore simmer or those who are just looking for something new and different to fly. The lack of documentation might be a bit of a hurdle for some but shouldn’t put you off if you want a new wide body jetliner to fly which isn’t from Boeing or Airbus. You can find the full package here at CaptinSim’s store for $49.99USD.

 

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