Like many of you, I was enjoying a nice, relaxing and peaceful Sunday afternoon. I was flying from TAPA (V.C. Bird International Airport) to KMIA (Miami International Airport) in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 and thoroughly enjoying all the awesome visuals and sheer smoothness of my brand new gaming machine I recently built and very much like how we all learned that Microsoft was developing a new simulator way back in 2019, the news broke that Microsoft/Asobo were planning to release yet ANOTHER brand new simulator next year titled Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024.
Since retiring back in 2020, I will admit that some days I question just what day of the week it is and even find myself thinking to myself that “I can’t believe it’s already June”. But after watching the 2 minute and 14 second teaser video, I was wondering if I had some how stepped into some alternate universe and found that it was actually April 1st? Or has June 11th somehow now become the new “Fool” day? You can view the teaser video below.
Unfortunately, the content of the short two minute video sent the flight simulation community into a tailspin. Forums and Discord channels quickly became a buzz of comments, questions and rightfully… concerns regarding what exactly we were watching. Is this an expansion to the existing MSFS 2020? Is this a brand new sim? If this is a brand new sim, then WHY? What happens to all my prior MSFS 2020 purchases? Will this cause 3rd party developers to abandon projects for MSFS 2020? What was Microsoft thinking? Is this just a money grab by Micro$oft? Will this become another Train Simulator like platform? etc. etc. etc.
The somewhat startling thing was this news came out of the middle of nowhere. Third party developers such as Aerosoft, Fenix, PMDG etc. were all finding out about this new simulator at the same time as the community. The entire flight sim community was simply left scratching their heads over what seemed like a pre-mature announcement by Microsoft/Asobo.
Before retirement in July of 2020, I had spent the better part of three decades in IT Management. In my various roles within the realm IT it was always our goal to ensure any sort of announcement didn’t create panic and uncertainty within the userbase. Any sort of surprise announcement would always include a detailed FAQ which for the most part helped to prevent the sort of panic, frustration and thousands of questions something like this could generate. Unfortunately, Microsoft/Asobo failed in this department with this announcement.
As the sun rose and a new day unfolded, Microsoft/Asobo did provide a short FAQ which addresses a few of the large elephants in the room. Yes, MSFS 2024 will be a completely new standalone sequel. Yes, MS/Asobo will continue to support MSFS 2020 based on the current roadmap. Finally, with very few exceptions, virtually all add-ons that work in MSFS 2020 will function in the new MSFS 2024.
I’ve been a computer based flight simulation enthusiast for over 40 years and have truly enjoyed every version of Microsoft Flight Simulator ever produced and of course Prepar3D during the time between FSX and MSFS 2020, a very big part of me is extremely excited about the MSFS 2024 news. Of course, I’m also concerned with the fact that in its current state, MSFS 2020 still has many bugs and limitations. Of course, Microsoft has stated in the FAQ that MSFS 2020 will continue to be supported post the MSFS 2024 launch. So time will tell.
When I first learned about MSFS 2020 and certainly after the initial launch of the new sim, I have quietly had some concerns regarding how Microsoft/Asobo could sustain not only the base product, but also all the future development, expansion and of course the cost of the infrastructure that is required for MSFS to function. While I’m sure the initial sales of MSFS 2020 certainly went a long way to helping achieve that important ROI (Return on Investment), I did question how things would work in the future. After all, while Microsoft has introduced a few extra add-on DLC’s to the MSFS 2020 platform, I personally have not purchased them. Likewise, I also don’t purchase any of my 3rd party add-ons via the Microsoft Marketplace. Every third party add-on I’ve purchased, I’ve purchased direct from the developer.
With all that said, and again for me personally…I’m not sure why Microsoft/Asobo just didn’t create a DLC add-on that incorporated all the new features mentioned in that trailer to be added into MSFS 2020. But of course, I’m not in charge of MS/Asobo so what I think matters very little.
I’m sure over the coming weeks/months we’ll certainly learn a lot more about Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 and I’m also confident we’ll also soon begin hearing from 3rd party developers on just what we can expect from them both in products yet to be released into MSFS 2020 and beyond to MSFS 2024.
It’s too early for me to commit to words whether MSFS 2024 would be something I would upgrade to on day one. I think at this point in time I would need to better understand what the differences between the two sims are based on my style of flying. While the new features showcased in the trailer look cool. I’m just an old commercial and GA flying enthusiast.
Based on all that we know (and don’t know) today, I do applaud Microsoft/Asobo for all that they have done for the flight simulation community. There’s no doubt in my mind that Microsoft 2020 is the absolute best flight simulation platform available to the home sim enthusiast. I’m confident that MSFS 2024 will raise that bar even higher and in my opinion, no other developer of a sim platform can or will exceed the current MSFS 2020 or the future MSFS 2024 in the next year.
I’ll certainly relay any new information as it becomes available and will of course share any personal thoughts regarding that new info in future blog postings. Thank you for taking the time to read.
Over the past few days I’ve been watching different streamers showcasing the AAU2 (Aircraft & Avionics Update) beta for Microsoft Flight Simulator. This update which is scheduled to release to all users on 23 June and is a partnership between Asobo and Working Title and will bring a major overhaul for both the Boeing 747-8i and the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner.
I’m particularly interested in the Dreamliner as I believe this will be our best chance of seeing this aircraft in the sim at any point in the near future. From what I’ve seen, and while the beta still has some challenges to overcome, it’s going to make for a very nice addition to the virtual hangar. Upon release I would expect the default MSFS Boeing 787 Dreamliner to be just as flyable/enjoyable as the QualityWings 787 in P3D.
Speaking of QualityWings and MSFS. Last month I posted my thoughts on the “PMDG 787 Dreamliner Rumors” which was making the rounds on social media. While we’ve not heard anything further on this possibility, (and it’s possible Robert Randazzo was just trolling the flight sim community) I just don’t see any sort of partnership between PMDG and QualityWings ever coming to fruition. While the development team at QualityWings remains silent on the subject of MSFS….it’s certainly not something I think we’ll see this year and actually may never see happen.
While we’ve had the ability to enhance the default MSFS 787 with the HeavyDivision Mod for over two years, I believe this update for both the default 787 and 747 is fantastic news for the flight sim community. In addition, I could see where the HeavyDivision mod could (once it is reworked after the AAU2 changes are implemented to further enhance the experience.
While I’ve not had the opportunity to install the AAU2 beta (experiencing major hardware issues at the moment), I trust the few individuals who have spent time with the beta and shared their opinions. I’m looking forward to the official release on 23 June and truly believe this update to the default Boeing 787 will help bridge the gap until PMDG releases their 777 later this year.
About two months ago, there was a Community Q&A livestream between a YouTube Content Creator named FilbertFlies and PMDG’s Robert Randazzo. During this 3 hour, 32 minute and 48 second event a question was asked by FilbertFlies regarding whether or not PMDG would be interested in developing a Boeing 787? The response from Robert is somewhat vague, but his response nonetheless has lead some to believe that PMDG and QualityWings could be planning to work together to finally bring the much loved Dreamliner into MSFS. But is this true? Is this really what Robert Randazzo said?
Let’s break down the conversation which took place at the 2:17:00 mark of the video (see video below).
FilbertFlies: Might you make a 787?
Robert Randazzo: (long pause), Hmmmm, Would I like to? Yea…Sure…Hmmm…So we’re having some conversations about that with someone else.
FilbertFlies: Woooo, that’s interesting!
Robert Randazzo: Yea, hmmmm, yea it is. The people we’re having that conversation with actually make 787’s. So it’s an interesting conversation. But yea, sure….why not.
Of course, Robert didn’t mention QualityWings by name, only that “The people we’re having that conversation with actually make 787’s”. While this could be QualityWings, it could also be the team behind the HeavyDivision mod as they are developing a stand alone 787. But….it could also mean that PMDG is talking with Boeing. After all, PMDG has a longstanding relationship with Boeing and all of the PMDG add-ons are officially licensed Boeing products.
In my opinion, everyone that has jumped to the conclusion that somehow, someway PMDG and QualityWings will join forces to bring the 787 Dreamliner to MSFS is putting the cart way ahead of the horse.
But don’t get me wrong….I understand why a PMDG/QW partnership makes sense. After all, the team at QW has all but gone dark with any new news regarding their plan to bring the 787 into MSFS. While we’ve known for some time that QW is working on it, we haven’t heard from them in a really long time. The last comment I’ve found on the QW forums was back in March 2022 where they mentioned “the Q2 2021 estimate for the 787 was way off. We’ve decided that for now being quiet is better than giving wildly inaccurate deliver estimates”. While I can appreciate QualityWing’s does not want to set a release date, I certainly believe they could and should provide some news on at least a quarterly basis just to let us know things are progressing. But I suppose at the end of the day, QW can run their company as they please.
The bottom line is, we just simply don’t know precisely what Robert meant with his comment. For now, I’m optimistically hopeful we’ll see the PMDG Boeing 777 release sometime this year and I’m sure a study-level, high fidelity Dreamliner will eventually make its way into MSFS at some point in time. Until then….we just have to wait and see.
Let’s get right to the question and to the point on this particular topic. The question today comes to us from a fellow flight simmer named George.
Hello GrizzlyBearSims, Like you I’ve been around the flight simulation community for a couple of decades. I’ve noticed a recent trend since MSFS has come onto the scene with some folks selling their aircraft liveries. I wanted to get your opinion on the matter. I for one have never paid for an aircraft livery and don’t plan to change this anytime soon. George
Well George and all who may read this blog post, I’ve been simming for a really long time and while I’ve purchased many third party aircraft and even more airport or scenery addons, I’ve never paid one red cent for any aircraft livery and certainly don’t plan to change this behavior.
The observation George has made unfortunately is correct. Since the release of MSFS in August 2020, we’ve seen all sorts of behavior which was almost certainly unheard with previous flight sim platforms. In the past, individuals would create liveries for various aircraft types and provide them to the community. You can search all the various flight simulation websites and find hundreds of liveries being offered up by the community at zero cost. Most 3rd party aircraft developers like PMDG, QualityWings, Fenix, FSLabs provide a wide range of liveries which cover most of the real world airlines in operation today.
The unfortunate fact in today’s new world of flight simulation is there are many individuals who are looking to make a quick buck out of those who are brand new and just don’t know any better. Also, just as unfortunate…there are 3rd party developers who are also doing the same thing by pushing out “Frankenstein” aircraft which utilize the default systems of aircraft. In many cases they have done this very crudely and in my opinion all in an effort to make a quick buck with unsuspecting new users.
With the launch of Microsoft Flight Simulator, the numbers of new flight sim enthusiasts have exploded beyond anything I could have imagined and as a result there are thousands of brand new simmers who don’t know any different. Fortunately for PC users who are in the know, there should never be a need to spend money on aircraft liveries. But I’m afraid the same won’t be true for those on the console platform as the only way they will have access to aircraft liveries which aren’t included with the aircraft will be to purchase them via the MSFS Marketplace.
One of the most common questions I receive from readers of my blog is regarding FPS improvements in Flight Sim and in recent months (for obvious reasons) these questions are concerning MSFS or Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020). Just in the past few days I’ve received three different emails asking for pointers on just how to squeeze out a few more FPS on the platform. While I’ve provided a few tips/answers to these emails already, I’ve selected one of those email questions to feature for this article. Let’s go!
Hello Jerry, I’m really struggling to achieve 60 FPS within MSFS when flying either the PMDG 737 or the Fenix A320. My hardware setup is not that much different from what you are showing on your blog site and I’ve also attempted to match your MSFS settings. The best I seem to be able to achieve is about 35-40FPS with mostly clear skies. But this number drops down to 25-30 FPS in cloudy/stormy conditions and about the best I can achieve on the ground is in the mid 20’s. I’m fairly new to flight sim with MSFS being my first introduction. I don’t seem to have these issues when flying the default Cessna and my other games also seem to be fine with 60+ FPS. What gives? JP
Thank you JP for your email. First, allow me to state for the record that I don’t get a consistent 60 FPS in MSFS with my posted settings. I never have. For many years I used to really stress over this fact until I finally realized that within flight sim a steady 60 FPS isn’t necessary and second to that, is really, really difficult to achieve especially when flying the more complex airliners like PMDG. On my current hardware configuration, really the only way one could achieve a steady 60 FPS will require the graphics settings to be turned down really low and that’s just not something I’m willing to do, nor do I feel is necessary.
One of the best solutions I can provide to you is fairly simple. Setup your sim the way you like it, which will provide you a smooth visual experience and simply forget about the actual FPS number. I realize this is probably the advice you were not wanting to hear, but trust me….once you get MSFS dialed in where you have stable visuals and just simply ignore the FPS number, your overall enjoyment factor will increase.
Over the past couple of decades I’ve used all flight sim platforms from FSX, P3D and now MSFS. I’ve always been somewhat behind when it comes to hardware specs. Today, my gaming machine is approaching 5 years old. When it was built and for a few months I perhaps could have considered it the top of the line at that time, but that’s no longer the case. Even after upgrading my GPU to the 12 GB 3080 Ti back in the late summer of 2022, I’m still running an older spec CPU which went into the machine in 2018. These specs just aren’t capable of running MSFS at a steady 60 FPS or more with the desired visual settings I require in the sim.
Having said all that, what I can say is based on my current hardware and my MSFS settings which I’ve posted, I have a steady sim with zero lag, zero stutter and all the beautiful eye-candy that I require in my sim when flying the PMDG or the Fenix. Some may argue with me, but flight sim does not require a solid 60 FPS to be enjoyable.
In closing, the Microsoft/Asobo team have made incredible progress with better maximizing the performance of the platform and I’m sure over time this will continue. In addition, the Fenix team have done the same with even more work currently in progress. The best advice I can give anyone reading this is to dial in your graphics settings to the point where you can achieve a stable experience with no lag and no stutter, then forget about the FPS number. Once you’ve done this, I promise you can enjoy flight sim without the stress of chasing 60 FPS.
Our first reader question of 2023 comes to us from Spencer who is relatively new to flight simulation. He’s asking a fairly common question regarding whether he should invest in a set of rudder pedals. Before I get to my answer/opinion, first allow me to tell a story. Way back in the early days of my own flight simulation experience, I spent a ton of time in the sim with only an inexpensive joystick. At some time in either the very late 90’s or perhaps early 2000’s, I purchased my first yoke. It was the CH Products Flight Sim Yoke and incredibly I still use it today. Yes, it’s held together quite well and has saw me through many generations of flight sim platforms including FS9, FSX, P3D versions 2 – 5 and now MSFS. It’s at least 23 years old (could be as much as 24-25) and with the exception of needing to adjust my null zones a little higher due to it being less sensitive in its old age, it still works really well. I subscribe to the theory that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it or in this case, don’t replace it.
Now back to that inexpensive joystick I used over a quarter century ago. Like I said, it was cheap…but it worked and while it didn’t include a “twisting action” to control the rudder, I just simply used the “auto-rudder” settings in the sim to get around this. Of course, when I upgraded to the CH Products Yoke I still had to continue to use the “auto-rudder” settings inside the sim as I had no additional control over the rudder action.
Within a few weeks of adding the yoke, I then purchased my first set of rudder pedals. Way back in the early 2000’s we really didn’t have a huge selection of add-on hardware like we do today. I paired the CH Products Yoke with a set of CH Products rudder pedals and of course turned off the “auto rudder” feature. I couldn’t believe how much this pairing improved my flight simulation experience. To this day, I still use this same combination of hardware. However, my first set of pedals stopped working after about 5 years and I replaced with the same.
So to get back on track, even if you currently use a joystick with a “twisting action” to control the rudder function of the aircraft, I truly believe your overall experience and certainly your immersion will be greatly increased by adding a set of rudder pedals to your flight sim setup.
For me personally, when/if my CH Products pedals finally stop working I will most likely replace them with something in the $130 – $200 range unless I can get a good deal on the TM TPR pedals I mentioned earlier.
Bottom line and to close this out, I believe rudder pedals are a must have for any flight simulation enthusiast. I really don’t believe I could, nor would want to fly without them.
Once upon a time, there was an abundance of various freeware add-ons available to the flight simming community. During the late 1990’s and very early 2000’s the amount of freeware (as compared to payware) was huge. Actually the amount of payware content was actually pretty scarce. Of course I’m talking about the time period when Flight Simulator 98, Flight Simulator 2000, Flight Simulator 2002 and Flight Simulator 2004 (FS9) were in their hay day.
With the rise of FSX in 2006, third party developers (of whom, many are still in business today) came onto the scene and began producing the most excellent payware products from airport sceneries, ground based textures, weather add-ons and of course some really awesome aircraft. Unfortunately this is the same time period that we began to experience a decline in freeware alternatives. Or should I say “Quality” freeware alternatives.
The freeware decline continued through the life span of the Prepar3D reign. However, for the most part the X-Plane community during this time frame did have a very active modding community which produced some really good freeware add-ons, but for me I just never could enjoy X-Plane the way I had enjoyed FSX or P3D. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, I had a fairly sizeable investment in FSX/P3D that I just couldn’t ignore and was most likely the reason I never considered X-Plane a substitute. But I digress…
Fortunately, for those of us who are fans of the Microsoft Flight Simulator family (including P3D) the introduction of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS) platform has brought about a renewed interest in quality freeware add-ons. Almost from day one of the release of MSFS back in August of 2020, fellow flight sim enthusiasts have been releasing quality freeware add-ons for the new platform. Of course one of the absolute best freeware additions has been the Airbus A320 mod from the FlybyWire team. This team took the default Airbus A320 which was included in MSFS and over time have created a freeware version that rivals that of just about any payware, study-level aircraft on the market today. The Microsoft Flight Sim family of platforms (including P3D) has never seen this level of quality in a freeware product and the FBW team won’t just stop at the A320. They are hard at work in creating an Airbus A380 model from the ground up which hopefully will be released sometime in the Q2 or early Q3 2023 timeframe. I honestly can’t count the number of previously announced A380 projects which have been announced over the years for P3D that have never made it beyond the planning stages and the FBW team will have one in our sims very soon.
Of course there are hundreds if not thousands of other freeware add-ons available for MSFS including various utilities, aircraft liveries and airport mods. There are a few airport mods I’m using in my sim today that rival the quality of work we typically see from payware developers. I frequently check the Flightsim.to website which has become the “go-to” place for creators to host their freeware add-ons.
Why is Freeware so important to the community?
First and foremost, not everyone can afford to spend their hard earned money on all the various payware that has and will be released for MSFS. Due to the willingness of these freeware developers to devote their time to creating quality add-on alternatives for the community at zero cost, this allows everyone the opportunity to enjoy the hobby without a huge investment. In addition, I also believe the vast catalog of freeware options is helping to keep the prices of payware at a more affordable price level. I believe we’ve already experienced the impact of this with the Fenix A320. The Fenix A320 is available for an incredibly low price of just £49.99.
The Quality of Freeware Alternatives
As I’ve already mentioned, we’re already witnessing examples of freeware being on-par with payware options. In addition to the FBW A320 I’ve already mentioned, another example is the recent release of the Doha Hamad International Airport (OTHH) which released in early December at the price tag of €19.99 by MXI Design. An absolutely stunning freeware version has been available on Flightsim.to since May 2021 which not only includes the OTHH airport but also various enhancements covering much of the city of Doha is included.
However, it must also be said that not all freeware is created equal. But of course the same must also be said about payware options (but I’ll save those comments for another article). One of the major challenges with some of the freeware airports that I’ve run into has been centered around issues when MSFS has been updated through the various Sim Update versions and the time it takes for the freeware developers to make the various adjustments needed. Of course, this is not an issue isolated to the flight sim community. We see the same issues with other games which allow mods to be used like ATS, ETS2 and Farming Simulator.
In closing, as someone who has been been enjoying the flight simulation hobby for over four decades and has witnessed freeware come, go and come back again…I’m extremely excited for the future of MSFS with successful freeware efforts at the very heart of the platform. I hope you are as well.
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! The annual Navigraph flight sim survey results were released just before the holidays and the survey says…..P3D is dead! In all honesty, I’m not surprised. After all, many of the top 3rd party developers have all but stopped creating add-ons for P3D and have moved to Microsoft Flight Simulator. This year over 25,000 of your fellow flight sim enthusiasts participated in the survey (up by over 1,000 from the 2021 survey). The 2022 version of the survey included 67 questions ranging from VR Headsets, graphic cards and of course which flight simulator platform is most popular.
Just to show a comparison, I’ve posted screenshots from both the 2021 and the most recent 2022 survey. These results show a continued downward trend with the use of P3D and a continued rise with MSFS.
2021 Survey Results
2022 Survey Results
Of course I realize not all flight sim users participated in the survey and certainly not all P3D users participated. Some MSFS users are still flying P3D at this time due to the lack of long-haul, widebody aircraft which I discussed back in November 2022 in my reader question response for “Where are the widebodies?” But the continued rise in popularity of MSFS and the subsequent decline of P3D certainly can’t be ignored.
While there are rumors floating around the flight sim community that Lockheed Martin is looking into utilizing the Unreal Engine for a future release, the same more than a decade old problem is still a possible concern. Of course I’m talking about the way that P3D is licensed and the EULA or End User License Agreement which looms over the P3D franchise.
In summary, when Lockheed Martin acquired the intellectual property and source code for the Microsoft ESP product, an agreement was signed which limited how Lockheed Martin could sell and distribute the Prepar3D platform. This licensing agreement restricted Lockheed Martin from offering a “For Personal, Home Entertainment” license. This of course had an impact on the pricing for not only the sim itself, but also for many of the 3rd party add-ons. Specifically PMDG changed their pricing structure from what had been established on the FSX platform. Of course, Lockheed Martin could release a completely brand new product developed on the Unreal Engine and thus render the agreement with Microsoft null and void.
Regarding the rumor about P3D using the Unreal Engine, Lockheed Martin has publicly stated the following: “We have no plans to make major architectural changes that would undermine existing third party add-on compatibility with the platform”. I firmly believe this statement tells us that Lockheed Martin has no plans to use the Unreal Engine at this time.
In any event, I honestly believe the future for Prepar3D (at least for the majority of flight simulation enthusiasts) will continue to decline further during the new year. As most of us expect, PMDG will release their Boeing 777 for MSFS sometime in 2023. Most likely this won’t happen until the later part of the year. But once this does happen, most who are still hanging onto P3D just for the 777 will most likely make the move to MSFS. In addition, many other widebody aircraft are due to release for MSFS (example the Airbus A380) in 2023. Microsoft/Asobo will continue to further enhance the MSFS platform beyond the current capabilities which will continue to increase the gap between MSFS and the other platforms.
Does all this mean you must abandon P3D? Absolutely not, fly what you want to fly….however, my advice to anyone who is new to flight simulation is to use caution when choosing to further invest money through 3rd party add-ons for the P3D platform. Any add-ons purchased today for P3Dv4 or P3Dv5 would most likely be obsolete if LM were to move forward with the Unreal Engine concept at some point in the future.
In closing, I realize this article might read as if I’m hating on P3D. That couldn’t be further from the truth as for myself and many others like me, P3D served as an important bridge between the days of FSX and MSFS. But the reality is Microsoft/Asobo really hit the ball out of the park when they developed/released MSFS and through that effort progressed the flight simulation community further than had been done since the very beginning of the franchise. Regardless of which camp (P3D or XPlane) you favor, MSFS can’t be ignored as to what this platform brings to the flight simulation community and where it stands over two years after its release.
As Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS) celebrated its second anniversary earlier this summer, we’ve seen some really incredible add-ons release for the new platform. These new add-ons have truly helped to make MSFS the gold standard this year and certainly made it possible for me to make the switch from Prepar3D v5. While I’ve owned MSFS since its release in 2020, I only used it for the occasional VFR flying as I felt the sim just wasn’t ready for me to make the switch full-time as I mostly fly IFR and simulate airliner operations. However, with the release of several quality study-level type aircraft this year, I’ve made the move to MSFS and extremely happy I did.
Of course, any “Top” style list is going to be mainly based on the viewpoint and opinion of the individual compiling the list. This list should certainly be viewed with that in mind. However, I truly believe the individual items I’m going to list out today have been crucial to the advancement of Microsoft Flight Simulator in making it what it is today and as I’ve previously stated, I believe MSFS is now officially the gold standard of all other flight sim platforms.
Fenix Airbus A320
It should be said, the FBW A320 project which debuted shortly after the release of MSFS will certainly go down in history as the top freeware, near study-level add-on for MSFS. However, for me….it was the release of the Fenix A320 that gave me reason to take a serious look at MSFS and using it along with P3D (albeit for a short period of time) as I simulate airliner operations in the Airbus A320.
From my day one experience with the Fenix A320, it became clear this aircraft would quickly become one of my favorite airliners to fly and to this day it remains a top favorite.
PMDG Boeing 737-800
While PMDG were the first to release a true study-level aircraft to MSFS, I was slow to purchase their first, the 737-700. At the time of the release, I didn’t plan on purchasing the –700 as I felt once the –800 was released the –700 wouldn’t be used much. However, as time went by I struggled to enjoy P3D (compared to MSFS) when flying the PMDG 737-800, and made the decision to go ahead and add the 737-700 to my virtual hangar. However, once the 737-800 released it became a day one purchase and one that I’ve truly enjoyed flying in MSFS.
The Boeing 737-800 has been and remains to this day my favorite aircraft in the sim and PMDG has done an outstanding job in simulating this workhorse of an aircraft.
Back in the late summer timeframe, I wrote a review on GSX Pro. Now some 4+ months later I can say this add-on is as great as it ever was with FSX/P3D and really adds the extra level of immersion I want in the sim.
iniBuilds Airbus A310
Without a doubt the iniBuilds Airbus A310 must be included on any list of “Top Whatever” for the year 2022. We first heard that iniBuilds were planning to bring their Airbus A310 into MSFS late last year and early this past summer we learned that it would be released as part of the Microsoft 40th Anniversary Update or SU11 and it would be a free upgrade. While the A310 doesn’t impress me as much as the Boeing 777, it is one of the first wide-body, long-haul capable aircraft to be released for the platform. After all, it’s been a long two years of not having a complex wide-body aircraft in the sim.
New Navigraph Charts 8
Navigraph recently released their brand new Navigraph Charts 8. The new features which include worldwide VFR charts coverage, drag and drop rubber band route construction, seamless zoom down to the gate level and 3D globe projection has really made Navigraph Charts a must have for any serious flight simulation enthusiast.
FSLTL – FS Live Traffic Liveries – Model Matching for VATSIM
FSLTL or FS Live Traffic Liveries could actually win an award for the most needed add-on for MSFS in the year 2022. While we’ve had VATSIM model matching for MSFS via the AIG one click installer for some time, the AIG install/setup/configuration process is perhaps one of the most convoluted install processes known to man. While there are some shortcuts that help to speed the process up, it’s still mostly a PITA to get going. However, earlier this year FSLTL came along and greatly simplified the process of getting model matching to work with VATSIM. If you haven’t checked out the new FSLTL model matching for VATSIM, I encourage you to stop what you’re doing and check it out NOW. You can find more information about FSLTL here.
Various Airport Sceneries
We had some really awesome airport sceneries released this year, far too many to list here. A few that come to mind for me which I’ve really enjoyed are San Antonio (KSAT) by iniBuilds, Anchorage (PANC) by SimWings, San Jose (KSJC) by Orbx, London Heathrow (EGLL) by iniBuilds and finally Austin (KAUS) by Dominic Design Team. Different people will have different reasons for purchasing and installing 3rd party payware airport sceneries. For me, I tend to purchase the airports I enjoy flying into and out of fairly frequently. The few I’ve listed are my favorites from this year. I think if I were to pick my absolute favorite it would have to be the newly released Austin, Texas (KAUS). Austin was released on 7 December and it was a day one purchase for me. I’ve flown into AUS many times in the real world and it’s one of my top airports to fly to/from in the sim.
Looking ahead to 2023
I personally believe if you felt 2022 was a good year for MSFS (after all it was the 40th Anniversary) then 2023 will be even better. If all goes as planned, we should see the awesome PMDG 777 hit the virtual skies. Unless something sneaks in before hand, the PMDG 777 will be our first modern high-fidelity, study level, wide-body, long-haul aircraft in the sim. This aircraft is the missing piece for my full enjoyment of the sim and I’m sure will being countless hours of simming entertainment to us all.
In addition, I truly believe we’ll also see the Airbus A380 from the FlyByWire Development Team. While I know we’ve heard about A380 projects from various developers over the years that all seem to have been vaporware, the FBW team is hard at work in bringing this wonderful aircraft to MSFS sometime in the year 2023. Actually, based on all that I’ve read….I think we could actually see the FBW A380 in the Summer or early Fall of 2023. Of course, the FBW A380 will be freeware….but it should be (or eventually will be) just as amazing as the FBW A320 in time.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog articles. I certainly hope you find the content interesting, informative and helpful. As this will most likely be the last blog posting for 2022, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Here’s another reader question/comment that was submitted a few days ago. I think this will be helpful to those who are thinking about taking their simulation experience to the next level. While my comments to the general question will reference American Truck Simulator/Euro Truck Simulator 2, most of my key points will be directed towards Flight Simulator. So let’s get started with the question and then my general comments.
Hello. I found your blog site after a few Google searches regarding a recent issue I experienced after connecting to the VATSIM network for the first time. In all honesty, I’m fairly new to Microsoft Flight Simulator. But many years ago I did use FSX but never tried VATSIM. I’ve been watching YouTube videos and Twitch streams and VATSIM seems really cool. But my first experience wasn’t an easy one and I’m really confused. Basically I connected to VATSIM and wanted to experience seeing other aircraft in real world liveries and just fly. The first issue I discovered was that I didn’t see other aircraft in their respective real world liveries and I also angered the controllers and other pilots when I attempted to take off without permission. I was hoping my VATSIM experience would be similar to ATS where I could just do whatever I wanted to do until such time as I could get my head around all the procedures. Needless to say, I don’t think VATSIM is for me but wanted to see if you had any pointers for me.
First things first. The VATSIM online network is NOT like the online networks for ATS or ETS2. Yes, you’re right….for the most part with ATS/ETS2 you can connect and just do your thing pending it doesn’t violate the terms of service of TruckersMP. In other words, as long as you don’t crash into other players or block roads/intersections then most likely you’ll be fine. Of course, you’ll see plenty of idiots doing the very things I encouraged you to avoid, but when they are caught they are generally served with a ban.
But like I said, other than TruckersMP and VATSIM both being online multiplayer networks…that’s really where the similarities end. The online networks for flight simulation including VATSIM, IVAO, PilotEdge and POSCON are all serious, by the book online multiplayer networks. Before connecting to any of these networks you really need to have an understanding of a few important things.
First, you really need to have a solid understanding of the aircraft you are flying. In other words, you should be able to taxi, take-off, fly and navigate based on a pre-determined filed route including SIDS/STARS and finally land, taxi and shut down the aircraft. While I’ve been flying on the VATSIM network for more than two decades, I rarely fly using a new aircraft until such time that I’ve put in the time required to learn it properly.
Second, you really need at the very least a basic understanding of the procedures required for filing a flight plan, requesting ATC clearance and just a general understanding of all the radio communications needed during a flight. While there may be times you’ll find no controllers logged in, this doesn’t mean you can just do what you want to do. Regardless of ATC availability…one should always operate his/her aircraft in such a manner that doesn’t impact other online pilots.
It may all sound like a lot of stuff to learn, but if I can do it…then anyone can learn the ins and outs of VATSIM or any of the other online networks for flight simulator. My advice is to search YouTube for VATSIM tutorials. You’ll find hundreds of hours of content to get you started. Second, I would encourage you to connect to the VATSIM network, make sure your plane is parked at a gate or some other remote parking area and tune into the various frequencies and just LISTEN! You’ll hear how other pilots are requesting clearance and communicating with ATC. Don’t give up….keep learning and keep trying. But bottom line, please understand that the online networks are for serious users who want to simulate the real world operations.
Now, you mentioned when you did login all the other aircraft did not appear in the real world liveries as you had hoped they would. There is an easy solution for this and allow me to direct you to the FSLTL (Flight Sim Live Traffic Liveries) website. You’ll also find YouTube videos on how to setup FSLTL so that when you connect to VATSIM you’ll see other aircraft as you would expect.
Finally, I also have several “how to” articles I’ve written over the years which can be found here. Alternatively you can navigate there by clicking the Flight Menu and clicking Flight Sim Tutorials. A few that might help you initially will be The Basics of VATSIM, IFR versus VFR and Your First Flight.
Also, understand this final important thing. Everyone….including myself and everyone else you’ll find on the VATSIM network have been exactly where you are today. We’ve all been brand new and we’ve all made mistakes. From time to time we may even still make a mistake. But bottom line is we’ve all been brand new at this. The vast majority of individuals you’ll encounter will go out of their way to help someone new. Especially when that new person has a desire to learn and improve.
I hope this helps you and I hope it helps anyone else that may read this article at some time in the future. The flight simulation community for the most part is comprised of likeminded individuals who all have a passion for aviation and we’re all extremely helpful to those who are new.
I hope to see you flying the friendly VATSIM skies very soon.