I was wrong, but we move on…

Well, the 2024 VATSIM Westbound Cross the Pond event is history.  By now all those VATSIM servers will have cooled down from the vast amount of traffic they were handling on Saturday during the event and of course PMDG didn’t release their Boeing 777-300ER just before hand.  While this is disappointing, I know from being a PMDG Customer for over 20 years that PMDG only releases when the aircraft is ready to be released.

Looking Forward

There are plenty of things to look forward to in the coming weeks and months.  Immediately on the horizon is the SU15 update from Microsoft.  While SU15 will bring us the new iniBuilds A320neo, what I’m most looking forward to are the expected performance enhancements we’ve been hearing about in SU15.  While SU15 has been delayed from the original target date of 26 March 2024, the new release date is expected to be on 30 April.

Fenix A319/A321

If you already own the awesome Fenix A320, then you also most likely know that the Fenix team have been hard at work to develop both the A319 and the A321 for MSFS.  As mentioned in this press release dated 14 April 2024, Fenix states that their A319 and A321 coming along swimmingly and should be entering beta testing very soon.  While I don’t want to speculate any possible release date…hopefully we could have these two new Airbus aircraft sometime later this summer.

BlueBird Simulations 757

This is a project I’ve mentioned a few times on my blog.  I’m really looking forward to having a quality 757 in MSFS.  While we don’t really have any new news on this aircraft or the release date, BlueBird Simulations have recently confirmed they will be at the FSExpo taking place on the weekend of 21 – 23 June and will be showcasing a preview of their new Boeing 757.  I’m hopeful we’ll see this release before the end of the year.

iniBuilds A350 and A380

The team at iniBuilds are hard at work creating not only awesome airport scenery, they are also working on two very much needed aircraft for MSFS.  While I believe they have every intention on these releasing this calendar year, I believe these would appear somewhat in the later part of 2024 if it happens, or sometime early 2025.  Time will tell….

PMDG 777-300ER

Once again…I was wrong with my anticipated release time for this aircraft.  Honestly, based on where we thought (or at least I had thought) this aircraft was back in early March…the timing just shouted it would be available in time for the VATSIM CTP.  Now I’m honestly scared to speculate.  Especially considering we haven’t heard from Robert Randazzo since the 6th of April.  OK…I’m game.  I’m going to predict we’ll have the PMDG 777-300ER before 1 June.  That’s over a month away.  But I could still be wrong.

Final Thoughts

As we all know, Microsoft and Asobo are hard at work with the development of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024.  While it should be safe to think we’ll have the PMDG 777-300ER and even perhaps other variants of the 777 and possibly even the PMDG 737Max before MSFS 2024 is released, I have a feeling the BlueBird Simulations 757 and the iniBuilds A350 and A380 won’t come out before MSFS 2024.

While MSFS 20204 will be a day one purchase for me, my expectations on when purchased add-ons for MSFS 2020 will be compatible with 2024 may not be a day one thing.  What I mean by this is while I’m very much looking forward to MSFS 2024, I am comfortable in knowing that it may take several weeks or perhaps even months before some of our favorite add-on aircraft and scenery will be made available for the new sim.  But then again, we really don’t know exactly when MSFS 2024 is expected to be available.  Hopefully we’ll all learn more about this after the FSExpo taking place 21-23 June.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

ActiveSky for MSFS

Well blow me down…a few days ago HiFi Simulation Technologies have announced, and somewhat out of the blue I must add, that ActiveSky FS is coming for Microsoft Flight Simulator.  Actually by the time I got around to writing this it is already out.  ActiveSky FS is officially available for MSFS as of 18 April and many of the Twitch and YouTube content creators have already begun showcasing the new weather engine.  Before I provide my opinion, let me say the following.

In the olden days…

Back in my FSX and P3D days, ActiveSky was an absolute must have in the sim.  It was truly a game changing 3rd party product.  When MSFS first came out and because Asobo/Microsoft didn’t open up the API for 3rd party weather systems, HiFi Simulations made the announcement that at that time there would be no way for them to bring live weather into the sim.  I discussed this in greater detail in this blog post titled “Confused in Cleveland – Weather Addon for MSFS“.  According to what I’ve heard, Microsoft has made no changes to the sim as we know it to allow any 3rd party weather systems to function.  So essentially ActiveSky FS must have found a way for it to finally work.  But it appears all ActiveSky FS is doing is reading the METAR and using default MSFS clouds and other weather elements to depict what is going on around you.

After the initial release of Microsoft Flight Simulator almost four years ago, the built-in weather engine wasn’t very solid.  But over the years and especially the last 2+ years that I’ve been using MSFS exclusively, there have been vast improvements made to the weather engine and I personally have been very pleased with what I experience in the sim.  I’ve actually been so pleased with it that I really haven’t felt a need to think about any sort of 3rd party weather add-on.  Which is why the announcement from HiFi Simulation Technologies comes as such a surprise to myself and many others.

My Impressions

First, let me state up front that I do not own ActiveSky FS for MSFS.  Some could argue and question why I would even write a blog post about something that I don’t have any first hand experience with.  While this could be a good argument, I’m stubborn and this is my blog site and I can write about what I want to write about and you can read what you want to read.  LOL  I have plenty of loyal readers of this blog site that look to me for honest reviews and opinions and while I haven’t purchased and used ActiveSky FS, the information I do have is certainly worthy to share.

Like I said, I have viewed several hours of content from both YouTube and Twitch in the past 24 hours and have come to the conclusion that in the grand scheme of things, at this immediate point in time  there is no discernable difference between what I saw with my own eyes when showing MSFS with built in weather active versus with using ActiveSky FS.  If anything….one of the content creators who I watch often, discovered a couple of bugs in ActiveSky FS which are worthy enough to take  a more wait and see approach to this add-on.

I do believe in time, ActiveSky FS would be something I would purchase if and when 3rd party developers such as PMDG, Fenix etc. are able to connect into the ActiveSky FS API for possible weather radar depiction functions which obviously still are missing in MSFS.  However, I just can’t see a reason to spend my money on something that at this time doesn’t offer anything better than the default MSFS weather.  Of course, one other big advantage of ActiveSky FS at this time is the historical weather options which have been sadly missed in the default system.  But this isn’t something I use very often and honestly haven’t missed it that much over these past few years.

The other slightly disappointing fact in my observations with regards to the new ActiveSky FS is their UI or User Interface.  It’s basically the same UI from years ago.  Of course one could say if that works, why change it?  If felt clunky way back in the days of FSX/P3D and still looks the same way today.  Perhaps this is something they’ll change in time.  But who knows.

Like I said, I’ll keep an eye on ActiveSky FS and hopefully in time the product will offer a lot more than what is available in the default MSFS weather systems.  While ActiveSky FS is reasonably priced at $24.99, it’s just not something I’m ready to commit to at this time.  But I would encourage anyone reading this to do their own research.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Reader Question – Bredok3D A380

I realize this is the third “Reader Question” post I’ve made in recent weeks.  Yes, that’s true!  I’ve obviously been holding out waiting for the release of the PMDG 777-300ER as that will be a day-one purchase for me and within a few days I’m sure I would write about it.  So until that happens, and I’m still holding out we’ll have it before CTP on 20 April, (but that is looking less likely) here is another email question/comment from one of our blog readers.

Hello, I’m new to your blog site and have already discovered a wealth of information that has helped me tremendously in my flight sim hobby.  I’m considering purchasing the Bredok3D A380 from the MSFS in-game MarketPlace.  Do you have any experience with this aircraft?  I’ve read that FlyByWire is developing an A380, but as the A380 is my favorite aircraft I’m wondering if the newly released Bredok3D version is worth the money.  I have experience with the Fenix A320 and PMDG 737, is the Bedok3D A380 similar in quality?  Can you help?

Well….to answer your question, No….I do not have any experience with the Bredok3D A380 and I don’t plan to purchase it.  In my opinion it is a waste of money.  To take this one step further, I doubt I would even install this aircraft into my system if it were free or if I were given a copy of it.  I just dislike these Frankenstein type of aircraft that mostly utilize the default aircraft systems (in this case the default A320).  There are just too many developers that have taken this course with releasing add-on aircraft that may look from the outside to be what is advertised, only to find out they utilize the default aircraft.  Another example of this is CaptainSim’s Boeing 777 that when released used the default Boeing 747 systems.

I suppose you could consider me a bit of an add-on aircraft snob.  I don’t mind spending my hard earned money towards something like the Fenix A320 or the PMDG 737 (or hopefully soon to be released B777-300ER), but I’m just not going to waste my money on this trash.  It’s just not worth it in my opinion, especially considering that a freeware version of the A380 will release soon from a reputable developer (FlyByWire) who has a proven track record with their A32NX.

While I can appreciate that the A380 is your favorite aircraft, likewise the Boeing 777 is mine.  I’ve never been tempted to purchase anything other than the PMDG version once it releases and it’s been a really, really long wait as I completely uninstalled P3D about 2 years ago once the Fenix A320 and PMDG 737 released.  So it’s been more than two years since I’ve flown a 777 in the sim.  But the wait will certainly be worth it.

Bottom line and my complete open and honest opinion for you.  WAIT!!!!  Don’t spend your money on the Bredok3D A380 as in the long run I think feel you’ll be disappointed.  Especially when you state that you have experience with the Fenix A320 and PMDG 737.  Trust me, even without flying the Bredok3D A380, I can tell you the level of detail, level of quality and level of immersion in the Bredok3D A380 will be absolutely NOTHING like the Fenix or PMDG and I’m more than certain that the FBW team will blow everyone out of the water with their A380 once released.

If you’re just craving some larger, long-haul type aircraft until the FBW A380 releases, then have a look at the Horizon Simulations Boeing 787-9 or the Kuro Boeing 787-8.  Both of these are fine freeware representations of the Boeing Dreamliner.

There are far too many other quality aircraft which you can fly until the FBW A380 releases.  Have you tried the Horizon Simulations Boeing 787-9 or the Kuro Boeing 787-8?  Likewise, the Headwindsims Airbus A330-900Neo is likewise a fairly descent aircraft which I also have in my virtual hangar.

Scammers/Scamware

Final thoughts on this subject.  Some in the community refer to Bredok3D, CaptainSim etc. as scammers and call their products scamware.  While I’ll stop just short of calling them scammers and development of scamware, I will just say that buyers must beware of what they are getting from these types of developers and this is part of the problem.  Since the release of MSFS 2020, a very large number of newcomers have entered the hobby.  This is a very good thing for the hobby, but these individuals haven’t been around to witness the behavior of developers like this in the past and don’t understand the questions to ask.  They just see a shiny, new Airbus A380 and think that will be a quality aircraft.  Unfortunately, developers like Bredok3D, CaptainSim and many others like them are not going to stop doing what they are doing until such a time that their Frankenstein projects no longer sell.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

JustFlight PA-28R Arrow III

I guess I’m truly bored with waiting for PMDG to release their Boeing 777-300ER. Since I last published my “T-Minus 8 Days and Counting” post, the days are rapidly passing by and I fear my gutsy prediction that we would have the 77W before the VATSIM CTP event on 20 April is going to be a bust.  While I could still be right, I just fear with no progress update over this past weekend from PMDG that the chances are rapidly evaporating before our very eyes. But hey, it can’t be too far away.  So hopefully we’ll have it before the end of May????

In recent weeks I’ve flown the heck out of the PMDG 737, Fenix A320 and both the Horizon B789 and Kuro B788 and have just wanted to do something a little bit different in the sim.  To be perfectly honest, in the past year or so the vast majority of flying that I’ve done in the sim (and I would estimate this to be hundreds of hours) has been flying tubeliners.  By tubeliner I mean the likes of the PMDG 737, Fenix A320 etc.  As some may know I fly for an American Airlines virtual airline and also currently serve as the Dallas/Ft. Worth Hub Manager.  The VA keeps me busy and this year we’re doing another contest to see which hub can score the most points to be crowned HubOps Champion.  Under my watch, the DFW hub has won this title in 2021 and last year in 2023.  We’re looking good to also reclaim the title this year.  But as we have a substantial lead in points, I have a few days to do a few other things in the sim and I’ve chosen to dust off my VFR flying skills.

Other than all the default GA style aircraft that comes with MSFS 2020, the only payware model I had was the Carenado Mooney.  It’s a super easy aircraft to fly and I’ve spent a few hundred hours just cruising around the sim world.  Which by the way, I used the Carenado Mooney Bravo for an around the world adventure back in the days of P3D and I need to complete my journey in MSFS when time permits.  But I digress….

I’ve read some really good reviews on the JustFlight PA-28R Arrow III and decided to make the purchase.  I purchased the bundled deal where I got three different versions of the PA-28 including the Arrow III, Turbo Arrow III/IV.  Just as you might expect from JustFlight, these are really superb models.

Anyway, like I said…I’ve been wanting to brush up my VFR flying and decided to spend a few days doing just that.  For my inaugural flight in the PA-28R Arrow III I decided to head over to England where I started out at Southampton EGHI.  I plotted a course from Southampton flying north towards the Compton VOR.  From there I headed east towards High Wycombe and the Wycombe Air Park/Booker Airport EGTB.  If you are interested, I wrote a review of the Wycombe Air Park back in 2020 which you can read here.


Route plotted in SkyVector (EGHI CPT EGTB)


Southampton, England EGHI (MSFS default scenery)

I really couldn’t be more happy with the purchase of the JustFlight PA-28R.  While I do love the Carenado Mooney, I think this Cherokee is going to become my new GA favorite.  After a few minutes I quickly familiarized myself with the controls and had her purring in no time.  After a quick check of the weather, I taxied to runway 20 and within seconds I was airborne and making my way towards the Compton VOR.

When I fly VFR, low and slow type flights I do enjoy flying in the UK.  I have a real special affinity to the Wycombe Air Park as before my wife moved to the US, she lived in High Wycombe and just a few miles from the airport.  When I would visit we would often go and watch the planes on the weekends.


Before landing at the Wycombe Air Park (EGTB), I take a brief scenic flight down towards Stokenchurch.  


Parked up at the Wycombe Air Park.

Well, as previously stated the new Piper Cherokee has truly been a joy to fly and I’m proud to own this add-on in my virtual hangar.  You too can own the Piper PA-28R Arrow III or the Piper PA-28R Turbo Arrow III/IV or get the entire bundle which includes all three aircraft for a discounted price.

Until next time….

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

T-Minus 8 Days and Counting….

Today I’m having a relaxing semi long-haul flight out of the new iniBuilds OMDB Dubai International Airport enroute to London Heathrow in the Boeing 787-9 by Horizon Simulations and flying as British Airways.  While in the real world BA operates this flight in a Boeing 788 or in a Boeing 777-200.  Well….I had been doing some flying in previous days in the 789 and I wasn’t sure if the 788 was updated to the latest and greatest version and of course we still don’t have a Boeing 777 available from PMDG and that sort of brings me to the main topic of this blog post.

As the title reads, we are just 8 days away from the VATSIM Cross The Pond event and the last update we’ve received from PMDG regarding progress of their Boeing 777-300ER was a week ago.  To the best of my knowledge and after scouring various Twitch and YouTube channels, I see no one streaming any pre-release content regarding the PMDG 77W.  While I generally “never say never”, it’s becoming increasingly less likely that we’ll see the PMDG 777-300ER before the VATSIM CTP event on 20 April.  So…I’m afraid the prediction I made way back in early March is just not going to happen.

On Thursday, Microsoft announced a new tentative release date for Sim Update 15 (SU15) to be 30 April.  While PMDG have publicly stated that the release of their Boeing 777-300ER is not dependent on SU15, they may still decide that a “wait and see” release is in their overall best interest.  After all, if I were in charge of one of the most highly anticipated aircraft releases of this year, I believe I would make this same decision to wait until SU15 was publicly available, test thoroughly in that release and schedule a release date sometime afterwards in very early May.

Of course, (and this is just an effort to keep the dream alive) a lot can happen in eight days.  PMDG may be tying up the last of the loose ends with a plan to release the 77W to a few select content creators this weekend and if all goes well could still release it mid week just ahead of the CPT event.  But I believe it is safe to say that if this hasn’t happened by Wednesday, 17 April or Thursday, 18 April at the very latest that it just won’t happen before CTP.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!  (Just not in the PMDG 77W YET)

Jerry

Reader Question – Upcoming ATC Add-ons for MSFS

We have another viewer question that I wanted to turn into a blog post to give some added visibility to the subject of add-on ATC applications currently being developed for MSFS.  Here goes….

Hello JT, I’ve been an avid reader of your blog site for a few years.  We’ve emailed back and forth many times and you’ve always been very helpful.  You actually turned one of my email questions into a blog post a few years ago when I asked about the auto-update features in MSFS.  Anyway, I have another question for you regarding the new ATC add-on applications I’ve been hearing about for MSFS.  Do you have any details on these?  From what I’ve heard from watching a few videos, it seems like a rather expensive option.  But what can you tell me.  As always, thank you for your help.  George

Hello George and hello to all reading my blog site.  Yes, I do remember your question about the update process for MSFS.  For anyone who might want to read this, you can find it here.

Yes, there are two (that I’m aware of) bolt-on or add-on 3rd party ATC applications currently being developed for MSFS.  One is called SayIntentions.AI and the other is Beyond ATC.  To be really honest with you, I’ve probably conducted more research on the subject of these two applications since receiving your email than I had done in all the time that news about these two offerings have first been announced.  Over the vast number of years that I’ve been involved in the flight simulation hobby, I’ve tried numerous add-on ATC applications for FSX/P3D and while most (perhaps all of these) could be categorized as far superior to the default ATC in these sims, none has really met my full and complete expectations.

However, the two which are currently in development for MSFS does hold some promise of completely changing the way we look at 3rd party ATC applications.  But as you mentioned, both are rather costly options and I’ll break down these costs in just a minute.

For me personally, I tend to shy away from any sort of monthly subscription type of services when it comes to my flight simulation hobby.  There are times that I tend to fly every day and then there are times where I may fly only a few times a month.  It really just depends on what else is going on in my life at the time and also it depends on what other types of games I’m enjoying.  For those familiar with my blog site, I do enjoy other simulation based games like Farming Simulator and American Truck Sim (ATS) and Euro Truck Simulator 2 (ETS2).  There are only so many hours in a given day that I have available to sit down and enjoy these titles and it tends to run a course where I’ll really be wanting to fly for weeks on end and then my attention shifts where all I want to do is Farm or Truck.  Right now, I’m spending all my free hobby time in flying.  But that could change tomorrow.  Anyway, for that reason is why I don’t like to be locked into a recurring monthly cost.

I’ve despised the built-in ATC of just about every flight simulation platform I’ve owned that had this feature built in.  This is perhaps one of the reasons I started flying on the VATSIM network almost 25 years ago.  When there is ATC coverage, you just can’t beat the VATSIM network as it provides both ATC services and also air traffic injection into the sim.  But I certainly understand the drawback to VATSIM (or other online networks like IVAO).  The learning curve can be rather steep for some and many new pilots feel uncomfortable when starting out over the fear of doing something wrong and getting yelled at.  To be honest, I’ve never heard a VATSIM controller yell at anyone who is new to the network unless they are doing some really silly stuff that is impacting the immersion of others.  But I digress…

Features

So let’s discuss the two Air Traffic Control (ATC) add-ons currently being developed for Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS).  But before I go any further, I feel it must be stated for full transparency that the only information I’m privy to is what I’ve been able to get from both their respective websites and what I’ve read online in other forums or flight sim news sites.

Both BeyondATC and SayIntentions.AI appear to be very similar products. Both offer realistic AI voices.  Both use proper FAA and ICAO phraseology and IFR/VFR flight options.  Both will require an active internet connection in order to function. Also, both products are only available for MSFS 2020 and both mention they plan to support MSFS 2024 once that is available.  Finally, both products provide full world-wide 24×7 coverage to over 88,000+ airports across the globe.

Pricing

Now let’s discuss some of the differences between the two add-on ATC products.  First, let’s discuss the 800 lb gorilla in the room and that of course is pricing.  The pricing differences are pretty huge in my opinion.  SayIntentions.AI will cost you $29.95 per month or an annual subscription is available for $299.95.  The features of these plans are identical and provide you with unlimited premium AI voices and everything else I mentioned above.

However, BeyondATC is a one-time purchase of $29.99 and includes access to all the core features and all future updates, along with 50,000 FREE Premium Characters which consists of approx. an hour of speech, unlimited push to talk, their basic voice model which advertises 100+ good quality voices and many accents.  Additional premium voice characters can be purchased for $9.99 which will add 250,000 premium characters enough to last for 15-20 flights.

Finally, from what I can gather both BeyondATC and SayIntentions.AI have plans to include functionality that will not only provide ATC for your flight, but will also control other AI traffic you might have in your sim.  It’s unclear if these products will offer AI traffic or if you’ll need a separate program for that such as FSLTL or FS Traffic.  I use and recommend FSLTL which is 100% free and includes both a traffic injector for offline network flying and use their aircraft models for VATSIM model matching.

Before I move away from the discussion regarding pricing.  I’ve heard developers from both BeyondATC and SayIntentions.AI defend their pricing model due to the high cost for Generative AI services.  Right now the term AI is quite the buzzword.  Over time, like most things, I would expect these costs to fall and both developers have stated their costs would also adapt to these changes.  Thinking about this sort of reminds me of my very first Compact Disc play I purchased way back in the 1980’s.  I think it was around $500 for a single disc player unit.  Today they are obviously much less expensive.

Availability

SayIntentions.AI offers a free demo that provides 24 hours of ATC coverage.  While the demo states it is free, they are actually going to charge you $1 for the access which they say is immediately refunded.  SayIntentions.AI is still in beta and the they will provide ATC coverage to other traffic in a Q2 release.

BeyondATC has not been released and will release in two stages.  The first release will include the ATC features only which provide services to just your aircraft.  The second release (when available) will include the functionality to provide ATC services to other traffic in your sim.

Summary

If I were interested in purchasing a 3rd party ATC program for flying off the VATSIM network, the price alone would steer me towards BeyondATC.  You can visit the BeyondATC website and hear audio samples between the basic set and the premium set of voices.  The basic set sounds far better than anything we’ve ever had for the sim and would probably do the job for me just fine.

Actually, now that I’ve reached this point in the review…I most likely will purchase BeyondATC sometime after the release.  It could certainly supplement my VATSIM experience and provide ATC services when no VATSIM controllers are online.  If/When I do make the purchase, I’ll make sure to provide a full review here.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

JT

P.S.  I’m still holding my breath that sometime in the next 10 days we’ll see the release of the PMDG 777-300ER for MSFS.  A good sign that this might still happen will be when we start seeing Flight Sim Content Creators flying it on Twitch or YouTube. Yes, I check daily and so far no one is broadcasting a pre-release version.  But we still have plenty of time.

Reader Question – PMDG 777 Delay?

We have another reader question which I feel is fitting to turn into a blog post.  Let’s go!

Hi Jerry, I read your recent blog post “Where Are Thou PMDG 777” and had the same opinion that we would surely see the release of the PMDG 777 before CTP on April 20.  With the announced delay of the MSFS SU15 package, do you think this will cause the release of the 777 to be pushed back?  Looking forward to your opinions on the matter.  Thanks for keeping us all in the loop.  Jon

Hello Jon, and Hello to all my wonderful readers.  Jon brings up a very valid question and a concern we all need to be aware of.  When I wrote that blog piece almost a month ago, the release of the SU15 update did play a major part in my overall prediction that we could see the PMDG 777 release before the annual VATSIM Cross The Pond event which takes place on 20 April.  However, I have read in the past few days where PMDG has stated that the release of the Boeing 777 will not be reliant on the SU15 update.

Again, when I wrote that above mentioned article PMDG had not stated which 777 variant would be the first out of the hangar.  We now know that the first PMDG 777 variant we’ll have access to purchase is the Boeing 777-300ER or 77W.  While I actually prefer the 777-200 as it’s the only version of the 777 that I’ve flown on in real life, the 77W will be a day one purchase for me and I’ll happily fly it until and even after I purchase the 772.

Finally, also way back in early March….we also didn’t know what PMDG’s release strategy was regarding the also highly anticipated Boeing 737MAX.  PMDG have stated that the 737MAX will release in between the other 777 variants.  So it’s highly probable that not only will we have a brand new 777-300ER for MSFS in the very near future, sometime soon after that we’ll also see the first 737MAX.  But let’s not jump too far ahead of things.  After all, the question at hand is whether or not we’ll have the PMDG Boeing 777-300ER before CTP on 20 April.

PMDG did provide an update yesterday on 1 April which you can read here.  This update from Robert says “The end of the wait is nearly upon us- I promise.”  So yes, I still believe it’s possible we’ll see the PMDG 777-300ER before 20 April.

In a perfect world, PMDG would release the 77W a few days or even more before the CTP event.  This would give everyone time to get familiar with the 777 in MSFS before this major event.  This is especially important considering the large number of new VATSIM members since the release of MSFS 2020 and many of these would not have flown this aircraft in P3D or FSX.

In closing, again….I believe we’ll have the PMDG 777-300ER very soon and certainly before the VATSIM CTP event.

Thanks for reading!

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Where Art Thou PMDG 777?

With the arrival of the recent Fenix V2B2 update, the next question on everyone’s mind (including my own) is when will we finally see the PMDG Boeing 777 for MSFS?  Of course I know only what you all know. If you’ve been following along with the development process you know that Robert Randazzo has provided us a few sneak peeks into the process.  His most recent update, dated 24 February he states “Things are coming together nicely” and “It won’t be long now”.  He further comments about how some bugs users have been seeing in the 737 are also appearing in the 777 and testing is underway with a fix package and if that resolves the issues, then we should see an “emergency update” headed our way for the 737. 

Naturally, PMDG is remaining very tight lipped regarding any possible release date for the Boeing 777.  This is 100% natural for PMDG and is directly from their playbook.  While some developers might stick their neck out a little and suggest a future release date for their add-ons, PMDG just doesn’t play this game. 

So when do you think we’ll see the PMDG Boeing 777?  Well….I believe it is safe to say that we will have the PMDG Boeing 777 in our virtual hangers sometime this year.  But I’m going to go a step further and make a prediction.

Of course, my prediction takes a few assumptions.  First and foremost, PMDG will absolutely NOT release the 777 if there are major issues.  Second, PMDG isn’t going to rush to get the 777 into our hands just for the sake of selling an add-on. 

We now know that Microsoft/Asobo are shooting for a mid March release of sim update (SU) 15.  So it is safe to say that PMDG will not release the 777 between now and the release of SU15.  Even if PMDG is currently testing the 777 on the public beta of SU15, I believe they will wait until SU15 is released out of beta and they can spend the necessary time testing the aircraft in the same release of MSFS as we all have on our PC’s. 

There is another key date which is part of my overall assumption.  20 April 2024.  On 20 April 2024, the annual VATSIM Cross the Pond Westbound event will take place.  This is a major online VATSIM event where hundreds of virtual pilots will depart the UK and Europe for destinations in North, Central and South America destinations. 

My prediction, if PMDG believes their Boeing 777 is ready for release, they’ll release it sometime after SU15 releases and 20 April 2024.  Of course if 20 April comes and goes and we still don’t have the PMDG 777, then obviously my prediction was wrong.  But I think if my assumptions are correct, I do truly believe we’ll have the awesome PMDG Boeing 777 sometime in early to mid April. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Fenix A320 Update = Awesomeness

I just realized it’s been over two months since I’ve posted anything to this blog site.  The previous two months (January and February) have been busy months for me and honestly, the time has flown by.  But during this time things have been relatively quiet until just a few days ago. 

While we’ve been anticipating the Fenix development team to release the long awaiting and highly anticipated version 2, block 2 update which includes the IAE engine option and many other fixes, until just a few days ago we didn’t know when that would happen.  Then on Wednesday, 27 February Fenix broke radio silence and informed us all that V2B2 would release on the next day, Thursday 28 February. 

The Fenix team didn’t disappoint.  The Fenix V2B2 update dropped during the afternoon (my time) just as expected and I downloaded, installed and performed a test flight from KDEN to KPHX.  While I’ve always considered the Fenix A320 to be one of the very best high fidelity aircraft available in MSFS, the state of the aircraft before the V2B2 update was certainly not the best that I hoped it would be or become.  However, with the V2B2 update I must honestly say that the Fenix A320 is now, officially better than what we had with the FSLabs A320 in P3D. 

FlightSimulator_YFxMs6BSHo

Fenix A320 (V2B2) arriving into DFW. 

Everything about the Fenix A320 changed with this new update.  First, having the extra engine option wasn’t that big of a deal for me.  I mostly fly American Airlines with the Fenix A320 and they have the CFM’s in some of their A320’s.  But I know for most flight simulation enthusiasts (even myself included) we truly want an “As Real As It Gets” experience and that means not flying an aircraft with an engine option which the real world counterpart doesn’t use.  So for all those who have been flying British Airways with the CFM’s when BAW actually use IAE’s in all their A320’s….I feel your pain and am glad you are all happy now.

Second, the performance factors of the aircraft have changed tremendously for the good with the new update.  I’ve performed several flights since the update and when hand-flying on departure or on final approach, the aircraft is so much more smoother than before.  Specifically on final approach and even more importantly on the final few hundred feet the aircraft no longer handles like a wild bull.  Before the update the final 30-50 feet were extremely nerve wracking as sometimes the aircraft would appear to fall out of the sky and come crashing down on the runway.  This no longer happens since the update. 

Third, the overall performance improvements are also very much appreciated.  While my system wasn’t necessarily struggling to run the Fenix A320 pre-update, I do certainly notice a much smoother experience when flying into highly detailed airports.

Finally, I really love the full GSX integration efforts the Fenix development team have put into the new V2B2 update package.  This integration allows GSX to do it’s thing with little to no extra effort on my part.  I can just sit back and watch the whole thing play out.  It really is sometimes just about all those “little things” that truly matter in the sim. 

If you currently own the Fenix A320 and haven’t updated yet, I would encourage you to do so now.  The new update is truly amazing.  Check out the V2B2 Release, Quick Start Guide and Changelog before flying for the first time.  If you don’t own the Fenix A320, then what are you waiting for?  You will not regret your purchase.

Of course, now we’re in the holding pattern again with regards to Fenix development on the sharklets and the release of the Airbus A319 and A321.  I know that much of the rework done in the A320 V2B2 update was to pave the way for the A319/A321. Now that this is done, let’s hope we’re on short final to receiving those in the somewhat near future.  

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

The Reality of Eggnog

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and are preparing to ring out the old 2023 and ring in the new 2024.  Here in Colorful Colorado, we had a semi-white Christmas with about a 1/2 inch of snow on Christmas Eve and an even whiter boxing day.  We woke up this morning to about 2 inches of fresh snow and it’s beautiful outside.  But that’s not what this blog post is about. 

A couple of weeks ago, Robert Randazzo teased us all with an update on a few of the PMDG projects and mentioned that he was looking forward to welcoming everyone into the hangar with a glass of eggnog. In that update he revealed the first screenshot of a Boeing 777 landing gear. Many in our community immediately add 2+2 and got 5 and anticipated that this was some sort of clue that we would see a new release from PMDG on or before Christmas.  I blogged about this back on the 9th of December. I will admit that while I thought it might be possible, I still held out on taking my credit card out of my wallet. 

Yesterday, on Christmas Day RSR once again posted an update on the progress of the PMDG Boeing 777 and provided several never before seen screenshots which I’ve posted below. 

PMDG_777_nose3

PMDG_777_tail3

Of course there was no mention of any upcoming 737 MAX in this PMDG update.  I still believe we won’t see anything until it’s actually been released as RSR has stated this many times.  But the bottom line with the PMDG 777, which I’m looking forward to having as much as anyone else, is that this aircraft has only been in testing for one week and the likelihood of it being available for purchase in the next few weeks or even in the next few months is most likely just not going to happen. 

My best guess at this point in time is that we’ll see the PMDG Boeing 777 sometime in the first quarter of 2024.  A date to keep in mind is the annual VATSIM CTP or Cross the Pond event.  The westbound event typically takes place toward the end of March or first part of April.  PMDG would make  a lot of simmers happy if they were able to release the 777 before this event. 

In closing, If you’re of a certain age you might remember the TV commercials featuring Orson Welles on behalf of Paul Masson Wine.  The similarities with PMDG are the same. 

Orson_Welles_Paul_Masson_Park

I hope the remaining days of 2023 are good to you and all the best in the new year!

Until next time….

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

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