Review: Commercial Level Simulations MD81/MD82
By Edward Longe (4 October 2010)
Developed during the 1970's the McDonnell Douglas MD81/MD82 became one of the most recognisable aircraft in the skies with its distinctive T-tail configuration, tail fin mounted engines and large swept back wings, The MD81/82 became the work horse for airlines all over the world. The aircraft entered production in 1979 and finished 20 years later in 1999. During its production period over 1,100 aircraft were built at a cost of about $48.5 million dollars each. With a range of approximately 1,500nm and a seating capacity of 172 people (1 class configuration) it was an immediate hit with many European and American airlines purchasing the aircraft. In fact several aircraft are still in service today with airlines like Spanair and Delta.
Commercial Level Simulations (CLS)
Commercial Level Simulations is a well known Dutch company who have become world-renowned for developing add-ons that visually are spectacular but not complex so you don't have to spend hours programming Flight Management Computers (FMC). When I began playing on Flight Simulator X many of my early add-ons were ones developed by CLS. I became a huge fan of their work, owning add-ons like DC-10 Collection (published by Just Flight) and the Airbus Collection Long Haul (also published by Just Flight).
Purchase, Download And Install
There are several ways to purchase the CLS MD81/82; the most obvious way is to download and have it immediately available or you can buy the boxed product from Just Flight.
The download of this product is simple. Once you have paid for the add on it's a simple case of clicking OK and waiting. The size of the download is 175 MB, so fairly big! The download time depends entirely on the speed your ISP provides.
The installation of this product is also extremely simple. All the user needs to do is find the default Flight Simulator file (usually Program Files/Microsoft games/Flight Simulator X) and insert the registration key provided when you purchased the product. Overall the purchase, download and installation is pretty simple just like most add-ons on the flight sim market today.
CLS, just like all other add-ons on the flight simulator market, have included a manual. The manual itself consists of 61 pages and another 15 covering a tutorial flight which puts everything together. The manual covers every minute detail about the functions included, history of the aircraft and how to get airborne within a matter of moments. Reading through it, I must admit it is very well written and contains every snippet of information regarding the aircraft's performance and specifications.
The tutorial flight takes the user from Atlanta (KATL) to the sunny destination of Miami in Florida. Unlike the manual, the tutorial flight strings everything together in chronological order from planning the flight to shutting down the aircraft.
Unless you purchased the boxed version, the manual is only available in PDF format so the user will require the latest version of Adobe Acrobat to view it.
Exterior And Liveries
Commercial Level Simulations have always prided themselves on providing add-ons that visually are high in detail but less demanding for new users. In the past CLS add-ons have always been superb but with this one they have simply surpassed themselves! The exterior model is so well modelled that even rivets have been modelled and look fantastic! I especially like the textures that are on the wing. The flaps, ailerons and spoilers are all modelled to perfection.
Included in this product are 16 liveries from around the world and one "blank canvas" so the user can create any livery they want to although the paint kit must be downloaded separately.
- Aeromexico (Mexico)
- Aero Republicia (Argentina)
- Alitalia NC (Italy)
- Burkina (Burkina Faso)
- China Eastern (China)
- Continental (America)
- Delta (America)
- Finnair (Finland)
- Iberia (Spain)
- Jets Go (Canada)
- Martinair x2 (Holland)
- Scandinavian (Sweden)
- Spanair (Spain)
- TWA (America)
- Viking (Sweden)
If those liveries aren't to your liking, you can download extra packs from various outlets at next to nothing or purchase the Livery Expansion Pack that CLS offers.
The Virtual Cockpit/2D Panel
The virtual cockpit (VC) on this MD81 is simply superb! The levels of detail are enough to rival the likes of PMDG and Aerosoft who are world renowned for producing some of the best VC's on the market today. I particularly like the fact that CLS have put so much detail into the wear and tear on the surfaces like the aileron trimmer and throttles. The night lighting is also very well done, unlike some add-ons where the light coverage is uneven and some areas are impossible to find in the dark. The night lighting is really well done with the even coverage and not being over bright. The 2D cockpit is also very well done with all instruments and fully legible. I also love the additional detail CLS have put into the VC/2D flight deck (scratches, etc.).
Before I conclude this review, I will have to touch upon one important thing and that is the overall flight characteristics. Generally this add-on performs very well in all aspects. Take offs, taxi and cruise are generally all smooth with nothing really to complain about. However I find landing this aircraft very difficult in full flap configuration. The response times are seriously decreased as the controls become extremely sluggish. This is a major issue on landing as the minor alterations to the controls required to land the jet are almost impossible.
CLS have gained world notoriety for developing add-ons for members of the flight sim community that are highly detailed but are simple to fly. I am delighted to report that the CLS MD81/82 fills the need for a historic airliner and the criteria mentioned above. I have spent about 10 hours flying this add-on around the virtual skies and have found I appreciate it more than some other add-ons like the PMDG 747. I love the high quality liveries, well designed flight decks (2D cockpit) and the variety of liveries included. However some aspects like the virtual cabin can cause unstable frame rates.
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