Photo from Wikimedia Commons

With so many aircraft designs flying around, why choose to develop a DC-9 for FSX? It’s a cool aircraft! What more do you need?! Well, actually the logic behind choosing to develop the DC-9 goes a bit deeper than that. I will try to explain.

 

Photo from Wikimedia Commons 

The first product I launched was the Super 80, a classic airliner with mostly analogue instruments. Next up was the Super 80 Pro, which is an upgraded MD-80 taking the aircraft into the era of digital flight displays and flight management systems. This time, I’m going backwards. To the beginning you might say. The DC-9 is of course the origin of the MD-80 series and subsequently the MD-90 and B717.

 

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

On the outside they may look like they are basically the same aircraft. But to the pilots flying these aircraft, they are three very different aircraft. What we have are three cockpits from three different eras of cockpit design. The DC-9 has all round analogue gauges with needles and rolling drums, often referred to as “steam gauges”. The Super 80 (classic) represents the intermediate stage, between old and new, with the first introduction of electronic long range navigation systems, a predecessor to the modern flight management systems. And finally, the Super 80 Pro represents the beginning of the modern “glass cockpits” with digital displays replacing the old analogue gauges and highly advanced flight management systems.

 

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

If you look at the cockpits of these aircraft side-by-side, the family resemblance is obvious. They share many of the basic systems, such as electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, pressurization and air conditioning. But on the other hand, there are the flight instruments, engine instruments, autopilot and navigation instruments which differ greatly between the three aircraft. On the DC-9 it is all about line-of-sight radio navigation, whereas on the Super 80 Pro you are tracking a pre-programmed route fed into a flight management computer picking up signals from outer space (that would be GPS) to get you to your destination! It is this duality of being so different, yet so similar, that makes these aircraft so exciting.

 

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The similarities and differences are exciting from a development stand point too. It means that I can reuse a lot of the code from the previous product. What?! These are copy/paste aircraft? No, far from it. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I'm never fully satisfied with the aircraft because I'm always full of new ideas I want to implement, but I can’t just build and build a product for eternity. What I do is I take the code from the previous aircraft and build on it. Every product then becomes an incremental step up in terms of simulation complexity and features. For every product, I'm getting one step closer to the vision I hold in my head. The commonality between the aircraft is what allows me to go through this step-by-step process towards the "perfect" aircraft. And the differences are what keep the development process fresh and interesting. The DC-9 really is the logical next step for me.

 

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Oh, and the DC-9 is a really cool aircraft too!

I am having a lot of fun developing this aircraft. I hope you will have a lot of fun flying it when it is released.