An early look into the Aero Dynamics KC-10 / DC-10 for MSFS

The number of exciting airplanes under development for Microsoft Flight Simulator continues to increase. More than a year after the launch of MSFS, a thriving community of third-party developers has been established, with countless ongoing payware and freeware projects of varying degrees of complexity. Today, we’re introducing you to an ambitious project to bring to MSFS a highly detailed simulation of the McDonnell Douglas KC-10 and DC-10, coming to life by the hands of real-world pilots and boom operators of the KC-10 tanker.

This group of developers goes by the name of Aero Dynamics, and they have been sharing their progress to produce what they intend to be the most realistic simulation of the KC/DC-10 ever seen in desktop flight simulation. Bold claims indeed, but the team is leveraging their very close relationship with the KC-10, as some of the developers are currently on active military duty and operate a real airplane in the USAF.

Aero Dynamics is working to create three different models for MSFS, starting with the KC-10, the military version of the DC-10 airliners, the variant they are obviously most familiar with. Then, they will follow with the DC-10F, the civilian cargo transport, to finally focus on the famous DC-10, the passenger variant.

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The first of the bunch, the KC-10, is the aerial refueling tanker, in itself a highly modified DC-10F. Compared to the latter, it’s missing the lower cargo doors but gains the refueling boom and centerline drogue system. It also features a different antenna layout and different avionics.

As for the civilian cargo and passengers versions, Aero Dynamics is modeling the -30 variants for both the cargo and passenger aircraft. With its three engines, the DC-10 became a well-recognized airplane in 70s and 80s, and it’s still flown today, most notably by Fedex Express, in its cargo variant.

Aero Dynamics is looking to create a high-fidelity simulation of these airplanes for Microsoft Flight Simulator, counting on the team’s experience and ability to study the aircraft up-close. Having direct access to the airplane and its systems definitely gives them an upper hand when it comes to getting the necessary data to accurately replicate its features and functions, a knowledge that can be easily transferred to the development of the DC-10, once the KC-10 is finished.

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Aero Dynamics has an active Discord server where they have been posting some development updates. Currently, the KC-10’s modeling is well advanced, both on the exterior and in the cockpit, where many switches, gauges and dials have been worked on. This also applies to the exterior of the aircraft, which the team is hoping to serve as a baseline for the subsequent variants.

In terms of textures, Aero Dynamics intends to deliver an authentic modern look of the aircraft, with the expected wear and tear that these machines have suffered over the years. Again, by working in a real-world KC-10, they can get a lot of accurate data that will certainly be precious during the development, something that also extends to the whole audio experience, since they can record accurate sounds of those GE CF6-50C2 engines, as well as all the switches, buttons, lever, warning sounds, and more.

With their goal to create a fully-featured and highly complex aircraft, the developers understand that proper documentation is absolutely mandatory for future simmers to enjoy these airplanes. To that end, Aero Dynamics is creating in-depth learning tools, to be available upon release of the add-on, which should be invaluable to learn how to operate these fascinating machines. These will include a completely custom flight manual, which will be based on the real one, and also in-depth video tutorials. The flight manual, in particular, is expected to be about 1000 pages long, for a truly study-level experience.

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As we’ve seen, Aero Dynamics is promising a highly-detailed simulation for these airplanes. As a passionate team about the DC/KC-10, they are looking to get it right, knowing it will take time since they are all volunteering their free time for this project. That said, a release date is nowhere in sight at this moment, but once that happens this will be a freeware add-on.

At this early stage of development, everything appears to be going well, judging from the team’s statements and the development images that have been shared. Let’s see if this team can fulfill its promises. Unfortunately, we’ve seen many of these freeware projects die in flames as quality aircraft development proves to be more difficult than initially anticipated, but this definitely seems to be a serious undertaking. As usual, stay tuned to learn more, as we will keep a close eye on this project and its future developments!