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.
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.
I hope the remaining days of 2023 are good to you and all the best in the new year!
Until next time….
It’s hard to believe the end of year is just days away. The year really went fast, but I guess that is also part of getting older. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about some of the MSFS add-ons which released this year and also wondering how it compares with 2022. During 2022 we had some really amazing and much needed add-ons appear on the scene. Most notably the Fenix A320, PMDG 737-800 and GSX Pro. To be brutally honest, 2023 hasn’t really been as exciting as 2022 and much of that has to do with developer delays.
Most of us speculated that PMDG might be able to get their Boeing 777 out before the end of the year and Fenix had also hoped to release their Airbus A319 and A321 airliners. But unless something changes in the next few days, we’ll have to wait until 2024 for these. I recently wrote about “What’s in store for us in the new year”? Have a peek at that article and see if you agree on some of my non-scientific speculation.
I’ve come up with a short list of the add-ons that I added to the sim in 2023 that truly impressed me.
Horizon Simulations Boeing 787-9
Anyone who publishes their top add-ons for 2023 and does not list this one at the very top or very near the top needs their head examined. In my opinion, prior to the release of the Horizon Simulations Boeing 787-9 we were absolutely starving for a truly capable long-haul, widebody aircraft. Naturally, the Horizon Sim 787-9 wouldn’t have been possible without the AAU2 Aircraft & Avionics Update released back in June. This revolutionized both the default Dreamliner and 747 in MSFS and of course the developers at Horizon Simulations capitalized on that and released their aircraft. The truly awesome thing about the Horizon Simulations Boeing 787-9 is it’s freeware. Pending you own the Premium Deluxe version of MSFS, this aircraft is 100% free. In addition to the bit about it being free, in my opinion it is just as good as the QualityWings 787 from P3D which we most likely will never see in MSFS.
Kuro Boeing 787-8
Directly behind the above mentioned Horizon Simulations 787-9 is the Kuro 787-8. These two could be interchangeable as for what might go into the #1 spot or the #2 spot. I’m ranking the Kuro behind the Horizon simply because the Horizon Sim 787-9 was released about a month before the Kuro. But they are both grade A representations of the Boeing Dreamliner and both (again in my opinion) exceed the QW Dreamliner which again, I must say we’ll never see in MSFS.
Headwind Simulations Airbus A330-900
While I believe this aircraft may have actually released back in 2021, it really didn’t catch my attention until earlier this year after it had had plenty of time to get all the kinks worked out. This was my first Airbus widebody to ever fly and I’ve had pretty good luck with it. While I’m mostly a Boeing sim guy, this has been a fun aircraft to fly and I highly recommend checking out the Headwind Simulations Airbus A339X.
Various Airport Sceneries
I’ve added some really awesome airport to MSFS over the past year. While I can’t be 100% certain that every one of these are new to 2023, they are new to me in the past year. FlyTampa EHAM, iniBuilds KPSP, Flightbeam KMSP, MKStudios EIDW, Dominic Design KPHL and KIND (along with a few others that I am pretty sure were released in late 2022) all are excellent representations of their real world counterparts.
Looking ahead to 2024
With regards to all the aircraft I mentioned in this recently blog post titled “What’s in store for us in the new year?” I failed to mention the FBW A380X. Based on some of the screenshots and updated information which was released around the middle of December, the project is coming along and hopefully we may see this aircraft sometime in the new year. Also, iniBuilds also just announced their plans to release an Airbus A350. I’m not sure if we’ll see that in 2024, so time will tell.
I’m also really hopeful that someone will someday, someday really soon release a quality Dallas/Ft. Worth KDFW airport. The Asobo version is ok, but it really doesn’t do this awesome airport justice. FSDreamTeam has always been the developer to make DFW, so hopefully it is on their list for the new year.
Of course, I’m really excited to see what Microsoft/Asobo releases with MSFS 2024. I know this is a sore subject among the flight simulation community. I provided some of my thoughts and opinions way back in June which you can read about if you so desire. But I’m really excited about MSFS 2024 as I believe this new sim will be a truly amazing upgrade to what we have now.
Well….that’s about all I can think of at the moment. Yes, I do believe perhaps 2022 was a much bigger year for add-ons….but while 2023 might have been a bit of a sleeper, I think 2024 will really blow our socks off.
I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I look forward to all that the new year has in store for us.
Until next time…
P.S. I started writing this blog post in very early December. The teasers from PMDG regarding their 777 and the assumed 737 MAX began gaining serious traction around the middle of the month. As I’ve always released my “Top Add-ons” blog post just before Christmas, I did have hopes that I might need to edit it and slot in a new PMDG release. After all, if PMDG had released either the 777 or the 737 MAX in the calendar year 2023, that release would have been my #1 add-on of the year. However, as the 777 only went into beta testing around the 17th, I don’t anticipate it releasing until sometime in the first quarter of 2024.
In the past 24-48 hours we’ve had more teasers from PMDG regarding the current projects under development. As we’ve known for sometime, the next expected release from PMDG AFTER the 737 series was to be the Boeing 777. Earlier this month PMDG teased us with a customary landing gear screenshot from the 777 which I discussed in my article “PMDG Egg Nog”. Since then, many have assumed (and you know what it means to assume right?) that Robert’s comment about “looking forward to welcoming you into the hangar with a glass of egg-nog in hand” meant that we might see something new from PMDG before the end of the year. Is this still possible?
Then on the 17th, Robert provided an additional update on the various projects along with another screenshot from the forward cabin of the Boeing 777.
In this update from the 17th, Robert mentions that the PMDG 777 has officially entered the beta testing stage. If memory serves, the 737 spent a couple of months in beta testing. So would the 777 beta testing period be similar? Could be, but Robert mentioned in this recent update that his PMDG team have learned a lot about the development process from the 737 series and that could mean the amount of time needed to thoroughly test the 777 could be shorter.
Even more speculation
There’s been some recent details about a PMDG tester being spotted flying a B38M. These details came from a screenshot of the testers Discord profile which showed him flying the type in MSFS around Seattle Paine Field. See below.
Once again Robert teases with how he closes out the update from the 17th by the following: “(Only 6 more shopping days until Christmas)”. Of course many are speculating that PMDG will release something new to us before or on Christmas.
My Own Opinions
As the 777 only went into beta testing on the 17th, I really doubt we’ll see that aircraft released in 2023. While I certainly believe the amount of time PMDG spent testing the 737 before release could certainly be due to the fact that MSFS was a brand new sim for them to develop for. The fact that they’ve had more than a year to come to terms with how MSFS works and what they have to do to develop add-on aircraft could certainly mean a short testing cycle for the 777. But I don’t think they will rush this just to try to get it to us before Christmas or even before the end of the year. In all likelihood, we’ll see the 777 release sometime in early Q1 of 2024.
As for the 737 MAX. Well…..I go back to what I’ve said before where we’ve heard Robert mention that PMDG has no plans to communicate a release date for the 737 MAX. That one day we’ll wake up and find it’s available to purchase. Could we actually wake up on Christmas morning and find the 737 MAX available? I suppose time will tell.
Until next time…
Only 5 more shopping days until Christmas!!
In most flight simulator forums, Discord communities etc. you’ll often see questions from fellow simulation enthusiasts inquiring on what is the best CPU or GPU to install into their PC. Others might ponder on which flight yoke, sidestick/joystick or rudder pedals to spend their hard earned money on. Still others might inquire about which headset/microphone combination will work best for VATSIM. While all these are extremely important questions to ask, especially when you are relatively new to the hobby of flight simulation, there is often one very key item left out which can be an absolute life saver. In my opinion, the most overlooked simulator hardware item is…..
The Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)
Yes, a UPS is often completely overlooked when designing a home flight sim hardware setup. Oh sure, many people will realize this after they’ve experienced power failures which ruin a multi-hour flight. While there are many options for auto-saving a flights progress….these do nothing to prevent or protect your flight progress during an intermittent or longer power failure.
I personally live in a nice neighborhood in Denver where all our power lines are buried underground. So we typically don’t experience the sort of power outages that some neighborhoods/communities would experience due to downed power lines from storm, ice or the occasional car crashing into a nearby power pole. However, we do occasionally experience the brief interruption of power that is enough to certainly cause the PC to switch off and this has even happened when I’m enjoying (or trying to enjoy) a flight in the sim.
Several years ago when I designed my home office/man cave I wanted to ensure that not only my gaming PC, but other PC’s and also my internet router would be protected from any short-term power outage we might experience and I purchased the APC 1500VA Smart UPS from Amazon. This UPS is powerful enough to operate my gaming PC, multiple monitors along with my internet router for more than an hour. This particular unit is probably overkill for most sim setups and there are certainly less expensive options that will work just as well.
When choosing a UPS, I recommend a name brand such as APC or Tripp Lite. I’d personally stay away from any of the knockoff brands. If you are just running a single PC, monitor etc. most likely a 600VA unit will do the job. Most quality units will include both the power backup feature, but also just as importantly, protection against electrical surges. Something like this from APC can be purchased on Amazon for less than $80. While I think a user replaceable battery pack is standard on most units sold today, I would make sure you can replace the battery yourself. Most of these SLA or sealed lead acid battery packs will need to be replaced every 3-5 years.
While a UPS isn’t as sexy as a brand new yoke or a set of rudder pedals, I certainly believe it serves a very important role in any home simulator or gaming setup. It’s probably not too late to ask Santa for one of these.
Until next time….
If you routinely visit the PMDG forums to catch up on all the development news regarding the 737 and other projects, then yesterday (Friday, 8 December) you may have noticed the tease which Robert Randazzo gave us in the “Other Stuff” section of his update. Here’s that comment….
What does this mean? Well…if we think back to some of the communications which PMDG released some time ago, we know that the first order of business regarding PMDG and MSFS was the release of the 737 product line. This of course included first the 737-700 followed by the 737-600, 737-800 and finally the 737-900. PMDG had stated that sometime after the 737 series the next order of business would be the Boeing 777, the Boeing 747 Queen of the Skies and finally the long awaited Boeing 737 MAX.
With regards to the Boeing 737 MAX, Robert Randazzo has also stated several times that PMDG had no plans of communicating any such release date for the 737 MAX. Meaning, that more or less one day we would all wake up to find the 737 MAX had been stealthily released with no pre-release hype. So back to Robert’s forum post from Friday, what could it possibly mean?
Within the Virtual Airline I belong to, some are speculating that PMDG could release BOTH the Boeing 777 and the Boeing 737 MAX on Christmas Day. I personally don’t believe this and here’s why. First, while PMDG might feel a bit of pressure since iFly recently teased their 737 MAX for MSFS. But PMDG has been in business for a very long time and I don’t believe they really pay much attention to those things. I really don’t think the iFly news would cause PMDG to rush the MAX, especially if the MAX just isn’t ready yet. Plus, I personally believe that we won’t see the iFly version of the Boeing 737 MAX anytime in the very near future. Plus, I don’t think PMDG would want to release two brand new aircraft into the market at the same time and especially do it on Christmas day.
So what do I think? Well….remember, you can’t take my opinions to the bank as they really don’t account for much. I think we’ll see the PMDG Boeing 777 before Christmas. It won’t release on Christmas Day as I don’t believe Robert would expect any of his employees to work and provide support on a major holiday such as Christmas. In addition, the time period between Christmas and New Year is often a time when people take time off from work to travel and visit family. So actually releasing the 777 a week or so before Christmas is almost ideal.
Finally, PMDG released the following teaser image today showcasing the aircraft’s recognizable six-wheel main landing gear. I’m sure over the next few days we’ll see even more preview images.
So, could we see the PMDG Boeing 777 sometime before Christmas? Could we see it before the New Year? Either way, I certainly don’t think we very far away from having this incredibly awesome aircraft in our virtual hangars.
As for the 737 MAX. I still believe we’ll just wake up one morning to find that it’s been released
and is available for all of us to enjoy.
Until next time….
We’re in the final weeks of 2023 and it has me wondering that we have to look forward to in the new year. Of course the biggest possible thing could be the next iteration of Microsoft Flight Simulator. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, I’m sure you know that a brand new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator is being released sometime in 2024. While many do not see this as a good thing, I certainly do. I believe Microsoft/Asobo have hit certainly roadblocks in MSFS 2020 and the only way to carry it forward is to release a brand new sim which hopefully will have everything we love about MSFS 2020, will have fixed everything we dislike about it and lay the ground work for an even better simulator for decades to come. While MSFS 2024 is certainly something to look forward to, many of us are still very much in love with 2020 and looking forward to a few new goodies.
Yes, one of my favorite simulator aircraft should be available to us in the first half of 2024. While there is no date and it is only my speculation, but I think we will see this in the first quarter of 2024. But don’t hate on me if that doesn’t work out. Thankfully we’ve had a really good Boeing 787 Dreamliner to keep us busy the past few months. But the void created by not having the 777 is a really big one. Let’s hope I’m right and we’ll see it sooner rather than later in the new year.
Fenix Airbus A319 and A321
In a very much unexpected announcement a few months ago, the devs at Fenix announced that we would soon have their version of the Airbus A319 and A321 before the end of 2023. I don’t believe they’ll make that deadline since they also had to delay the block 2 of their Airbus A320 which was originally planned to be released at the end of October. With the delay for the A320 block 2, I would expect the A319/A321 to be delayed until sometime in the first half of the year. While I would like to be as optimistic about the A319/A321 as I am with the PMDG 777, we’ll just have to see when block 2 comes out and how successful that is to then determine just how much longer it will be before the A319/A321 arrives.
Bluebird Simulations Boeing 757
Bluebird have been teasing us with status updates on their Boeing 757 throughout the last quarter of this year. While it was originally believed that the 757 would release before the end of the year, Bluebird announced several months ago that would not be possible and they would not rush the product just to get it out to us. I also believe we’ll see the 757 release in the first half of the year.
PMDG 737 MAX
Could we have the PMDG 737 MAX before Microsoft 2024 arrives? Of course we don’t know when MSFS 2024 will drop. If history repeats itself, then it might happen in the late summer timeframe. But who really knows. Robert Randazzo, the CEO of PMDG has stated several times that PMDG have no plans to announce any release date for the MAX. We’ll just wake up one day and there it will be. But could this happen in the first or second half of 2024?
iFly 737 MAX
In the past 24 hours, iFly have teased a few screenshots of their Boeing 737 MAX for MSFS 2020. To be honest, I haven’t really paid a lot of attention to this product and don’t know just how far along they are in the process. From what I’ve heard the iFly 737 MAX was successful in P3D and I would imagine we can expect nothing less for MSFS. I did own the iFly 737 when it released for FSX many, many years ago. iFly managed to release their 737 before PMDG by just a month or so (if memory serves). But just as soon as PMDG released their 737, I bought it and never looked back. So with this said, regardless of what iFly does, I believe I’m going to hold out for the PMDG MAX.
We must all practice patience and understand that these are all highly detailed and complex add-on aircraft. None of these above mentioned developers are known to rush a product out the door just for the sake of releasing it. They will release when they are ready and as a consumer, this truly is the very best policy.
I truly believe 2024 will be another really great year for flight simulation. What a great time to be involved.
Until next time…