McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30

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McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 series
A Northwest Airlines DC-10-30 making an automatic landing in harsh weather.
A Northwest Airlines DC-10-30 making an automatic landing in harsh weather.
Type Airliner, Cargo aircraft, Military tanker aircraft
Author(s) Ryan "Skyop" Miller (model, FDM)
--aircraft= DC-10-30


Status Early production
 FDM Stars-2.png
 Systems Stars-3.png
 Cockpit Stars-3.png
 Model Stars-4.png
 Repository The development repository of the McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 series.
Download Download the McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 series aircraft package for the current stable release (2020.3).

The McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 is a long-range trijet commercial airliner. Highlights include fully functional lights for Rembrandt rendering, complete flight controls with proper spoiler and autobrake simulation, and an autopilot. At first glance, the DC-10 may seem like any other airliner you may have flown in FlightGear. Actually, it is an obscure, challenging aircraft with a steep learning curve, especially for inexperienced pilots. Nonetheless, learning to fly this unique airliner is a truly rewarding experience.


  • DC-10-30 - the basic intercontinental model
  • DC-10-30ER - later model with extra fuel tanks for extended range
  • DC-10-30CF - convertible freighter model with functional cargo door and configuration switching
  • KC-10A - military tanker model with working air-to-air refueling
  • DC-10-tanker - fire retardant tanker model

Quick checklists


  1. Set elevator trim for takeoff (move the trim within the green zone on the throttle quadrant)
  2. Set flaps for 15 or 22 degrees
  3. Turn on appropriate aircraft lights


  1. Set flaps for 35 or 50 degrees
  2. Arm the ground spoilers by moving the speedbrake/spoiler lever beyond the speedbrake detent: [k]
  3. Arm the automatic brake system (ABS) by selecting MIN or MED (or MAX, in case of emergency) [TAB]

General tutorial

This tutorial shows you how to make a typical flight in the DC-10 using the autopilot, automatic braking, and autoland systems. It is fairly in-depth, and meant to be read from start to end.

Getting started

To start the aircraft, use the "Autostart" item in the aircraft-specific menu. The DC-10 has incomplete system simulations and this is currently the only way to start up.

Preparing for takeoff

The first thing you should do is make sure the aircraft's doors are closed. :-) To open and close doors, open the "Doors" dialog in the aircraft menu. Then use the "Lights" dialog (in the same menu) to turn on the appropriate lights. At the very least, you should turn on the landing lights.

Now we need to prepare the flight surfaces for takeoff. First, deploy the flaps to 15 or 22 degrees, depending on the takeoff weight and runway length. Second, we need to set the elevator trim for takeoff. This will make it easier to rotate the plane during the takeoff roll. The takeoff trim zone is helpfully marked in green on the throttle quadrant:

DC10 throttle.jpg

Just use the HOME/END keys or your joystick to set the elevator trim within the zone.

Introduction to George, your virtual copilot...

Before we get into the air and put our passengers in danger, let's take a moment to meet George, the DC-10's autopilot system. The most intuitive way to control the autopilot is to use the Mode Control Panel, located in the top-center of the instrument panel. The DC-10, of course, also gives you the option to use a custom autopilot dialog. However, it is less intuitive to use than the panel, and will not be covered here. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the layout:

DC10 mcp.jpg

Our only concern is the three sections in the middle. Left-to-right, they control speed, heading, and pitch.

All controls on the autopilot panel operate consistently and predictably. Read on to learn how they work:

  • To pull any knob, middle-click it.
  • To push any knob, left-click it.
  • To rotate any knob, use the scroll wheel on it.
  • Push buttons by left-clicking them.
  • Unlike other aircraft, buttons on the DC-10 become depressed while you hold down the mouse button to reinforce the idea that you are actually pushing them.
  • Levers are the short, fat controls that move along black "tracks."
  • The levers for the autothrottle system (labeled "ATS") are toggled using left-clicks. This is because they only have two settings: on and off.
  • The levers for the autopilot system (labeled "AP") move up with left-clicks and move down with middle-clicks. This is because they have three possible settings.

Mess around with the panel now, getting a feel for the controls. You'll notice white messages appearing on-screen that announce what changes you have made. They help new pilots get familiar with the autopilot. If you happen to find them annoying later on, you can turn the messages off in the autopilot dialog (F11).

Taking off

Now, let's actually put George to work! He can't actually get the plane off the ground for us. But while we're still on the ground, we'll input our settings.

Setting speed

First, we'll set our desired speed. The first thing to realize about the DC-10's autopilot is that the "autothrottle" (the part of the AP that works the throttles) is a completely separate system from the "autopilot" (the part of the AP that controls the ailerons and elevators). You can have the autopilot on and the autothrottles off, and vise-versa. This might seem a bit odd compared to certain other airliners you may have flown in FlightGear. This is because, quite frankly, they are modelled wrong. ;-)

We'll set the autothrottle to maintain 250 knots for our climbout. We do this using the speed knob. The speed knob is located in the "ATS" section of the panel; it has an orange triangle on its face. You can adjust the speed setting by scrolling on this knob. Scroll up until you have selected 250 knots- but wait! If you push the knob in (that means left-click and hold, remember?) and then scroll at the same time, the knob adjusts in increments of 10 knots instead of 1. Use this handy trick to make quick adjustments to your speed setting.

Finally, pull the knob to select the autothrottle's IAS hold mode. (Remember, you pull knobs by middle-clicking them.)

Setting heading

Next, let's tell George which way to turn. The DC-10 autopilot has several heading modes:

  • Magnetic heading hold
  • Current heading hold
  • Inertial navigation system (INS)*
  • VOR-LOC track
  • ILS glideslope track (heading only!)
* - The Inertial Navigation System is currently not implemented. Instead, selecting this mode will cause the DC-10's autopilot to follow the route entered in the Route Manager.

All of these modes are fairly self-explanatory. Their usage is explained below.

The heading controls are labelled "HDG" on the panel. Remember, there are actually two heading knobs; a black one in front and a grey one in the back.

To set the maximum bank angle for the autopilot:

  1. Left-click the grey heading knob to decrease the bank angle.
  2. Middle-click the grey heading knob to increase the bank angle.
  3. The current bank angle is indicated by the white arrow.

To fly by magnetic heading:

  1. Rotate (scroll) the black heading knob to select the desired heading. (You cannot push the knob to adjust faster, unlike the speed selection knob.)
  2. Pull (middle-click) the black knob to select magnetic heading hold mode.

To hold the current heading:

  1. Push (left-click) the black heading knob.
  2. The autopilot will then maintain the current magnetic heading. (This is basically a "smarter" wing leveller.)

To use the Inertial Navigation System (INS) Route Manager:

  1. Push the INS button.

To track a VOR station:

  1. Tune the VOR station on the NAV1 frequency.
  2. Set the desired course on the NAV1 radial.
  3. Push the VOR-LOC button.

To track an ILS glideslope (heading only!):

  1. Tune the ILS station on the NAV1 frequency.
  2. Push the ILS button.
Selecting ILS mode only tells the autopilot to fly the glideslope's heading. To follow it down to the runway, you need to set the pitch mode to LAND.

Setting pitch

The DC-10 autopilot has several pitch modes:

  • Vertical speed hold
  • Altitude capture mode
  • Speed-with-pitch mode (IAS)
  • Speed-with-pitch mode (Mach)
  • Autoland mode
WIP.png Work in progress
This article or section will be worked on in the upcoming hours or days.
See history for the latest developments.


The DC-10-30 tanker variant is available for download here.

DC-10 retardant drop.png