Reader Question–Where are the widebodies?

Hello to all my loyal readers.  I recently received an email from one of my long-time blog subscribers that I wanted to answer and share with the rest of you.  I figure many of you might be wondering the same thing as well…so let’s get started.

Hello Jerry,

I hope you and your family are doing well.  You might remember me from many years ago.  I’ve been a subscriber of your blog site from the very beginning and you helped me with some issues I had been experiencing with FSX and the PMDG 737 about 10 years ago.  Like you, I recently made the transition to Microsoft Flight Simulator and have been having so much fun in the PMDG 737-800 and the Fenix A320.  I’m amazed at just how far flight sim has come over the past decade.  I’m curious if you have any insight into when we might see our first study level widebody long-haul aircraft?  By the way, thank you so much for the article you published back in September about using caution when purchasing add-on aircraft for MSFS.  I had been tempted to purchase the Captain Sim 777, but I vaguely remember you writing an article about that plane many years ago in FSX.  Anyway, I hope all is well and I look forward to hearing from you soon.   Randy

Before I get into answering Randy’s question about “Where are the widebodies” allow me to just briefly explain exactly what a wide-body aircraft is in relation to Microsoft Flight Simulator.  By definition, a wide-body aircraft is any aircraft which is wide enough to accommodate two passenger aisles with seven or more seats abreast.  Popular wide-body aircraft are the Boeing 747, 767, 777, 787 or the Airbus A310, A330, A350, A380.  The typical wide-body aircraft I just referenced are also sometimes referred to as long-haul aircraft due to their range.  In comparison, a narrow-body aircraft (like the Boeing 737, 757 or Airbus A320 series) has a single passenger aisle.   Of course, in modern day aviation we’re seeing many narrow-body aircraft replacing their wide-body counterparts on transatlantic routes.  But I digress….

Now in some respects, I personally have only started missing the wide-body aircraft I knew and loved in P3D and were lacking in MSFS when SU10 released in late September.  The reason I say this is before SU10, MSFS would typically crash on most users after 3-4 hours of flight due to a memory leak that has existed in the sim for some time.  But with this issue now resolved, I’m truly looking forward to the availability of my favorite wide-body, long-haul aircraft so I can stretch my wings and do some transatlantic flights in MSFS.  I’m currently tracking the progress on several planned wide-body aircraft which I want to share what information I’ve learned with all of you.  Let’s get started!

iniBuilds Airbus A310-300

Depending on when I actually finish this article and publish it, the first wide-body aircraft I want to discuss is the Airbus A310-300 which will be part of the Microsoft Flight Simulator 40th Anniversary Update (Sim Update 11) which is scheduled to be released on 11 November.  SU11 will include the much anticipated Airbus A310-300 which was developed in partnership with Microsoft/Asobo by iniBuilds. The iniBuilds A310-300 will be the first complex, immersive wide-body aircraft for the MSFS platform and will (at least temporarily) fill the void in the wide-body category. 

Other Future Wide-body Releases

Unfortunately, all we really know about possible future wide-body aircraft releases for MSFS are simply the what and by who.  In other words, we have a general idea on what the aircraft type will be and who is developing it.  But as for as expected release timeframe….well that’s anybody’s guess at this point in time. So let’s break this down by developer and I’ll share with you what I know about each. 

PMDG

Out of all the wide-body, long-haul aircraft that we know about currently being developed for Microsoft Flight Simulator, the PMDG 777 and 747 are perhaps the most anticipated (especially the 777).    PMDG long ago announced the release order for their MSFS products which included the 737-700, 737-600, 737-800 and finally the 737-900.  As we all know, only the –700, –600 and –800 have been released at the time of this writing.  The –900 is long overdue but we certainly know that PMDG is burning the midnight oil to get it out to us as soon as possible.  We’ve also been told that once the complete 737 series has been made available (including the EFB) the next aircraft we will see from PMDG will be the Boeing 777, followed by the Boeing 747 and then finally the Boeing 737 MAX. 

While I’m sure the PMDG team can multi-task and have some individuals working on the 777 alongside the 737-900, but if I were a betting man, I would wager we won’t see the PMDG Boeing 777 until late Q3 or Q4 of 2023 at the earliest.  Of course, we could all be surprised and see it appear earlier….but PMDG is a developer that prides itself on only releasing their products only when they are 100% ready and as bug free as humanly possible.  So with all that said, I seriously don’t believe we’ll see the PMDG Queen of the Skies (747) until sometime in 2024.

TFDi

If you are relatively new to flight simulation you may not have heard of TFDi.   They are a small developer who are behind such add-ons as PACX and if you fly for a virtual airline you may also use their Smartcars flight tracker to log your VA PIREPs.   A few years ago, TFDi released their Boeing 717 for FSX and P3D and we’ve known for some time they have been working on an MD-11.  Their MD-11 for MSFS has been getting a bit of attention in the past few weeks and the expected release timeframe could be as early as the end of September 2023. 

Aerosoft

The team at Aerosoft have been working on their Airbus A330-300 for quite some time and judging from the information I’ve seen on their forums and other social media outlets, we could actually see the Aerosoft A330-300 in Q2 or Q3 of 2023. 

FlyByWire

When it comes to the Airbus A380 we’ve heard of several teams attempting to develop the aircraft for P3D.  Each of these efforts have sadly evaporated into thin air.  However, the team that is behind the highly successful FBW A320 in MSFS are developing an open source Airbus A380 for MSFS.  While there is no release date currently available for this highly anticipated aircraft, the team are steadily making progress.  You can learn more about the FBW A380 from the FlyByWire Facebook page.  Based on what I’ve seen I believe it might be safe to say we could see this beast of an aircraft come to MSFS sometime in 2023. 

QualityWings

Unfortunately, all we know about the QualityWings 787 Dreamliner is the team has plans to eventually bring it to MSFS.  While I understand why developers don’t want to provide key details behind expected release dates, QualityWings has (in my opinion) dropped the ball and gone completely silent the past several months.  But this is really nothing new from QualityWings.  They’ve gone dark before for months and then out of the blue will surprise us with some news and images.  Could we see the QW Dreamliner sometime in 2023?  I hope so, but I’m also not going to get my hopes up based on the fact that we haven’t had an update on any progress in a very, very long time. 

Bluebird Simulations

While this last aircraft isn’t a wide-body, this aircraft is absolutely one of my favorites behind the Boeing 737 and 777.  The team at Bluebird Simulations is developing a Boeing 757 (in conjunction with Justflight).  There will be two variations of the 757.  One will be a simplified version and the second will be a more complex version.  The plan is to release a passenger variant in both the 757-200 and 757-300 versions.  A cargo variant is planned but will be released as an expansion add-on.  I believe the expected release timeframe is Q2 or Q3 in 2023. 

In Summary

As we are quickly approaching the end of what I have said has been an incredible year for Microsoft Flight Simulator, I truly believe 2023 will far surpass what we’ve experienced this year as far as add-on aircraft is concerned.  The sim itself is stable and it’s exciting to see the level of commitment from not only Microsoft/Asobo….but also from all the 3rd party developers who are working extremely hard to bring us all the extra bells and whistles we desire in a flight simulator.  For someone like myself who has been involved in the hobby of flight simulation for almost four decades, this is truly a great time to be alive and be involved in this wonderful hobby. 

Thank you all for taking the time to read.  If I hear updated news on any of the aircraft I mentioned above, I’ll certainly share that information right here on my blog site. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

The Return of Community Spirit

Once upon a time, there once existed a spirit within the flight simulation community where talented individuals created many marvelous things to enhance the base simulator application.  Everything from navigational aids, enhanced airport scenery and aircraft.  At one time in our not so distant past, the quality freeware offerings outnumbered payware.  As the base simulator began to evolve (circa FS9 –> FSX timeframe) the quality freeware began to decline and the rise of payware took hold.  While I won’t pretend there’s absolutely no freeware available for P3D, I will tell you that the quality content is very few and far between.

Of course the X-Plane community has, for years and still very much to this day, enjoyed a very strong community spirit around freeware/shareware concepts.  Many of the X-Plane users in the virtual airline I belong to have spent little to almost no money to enhance their simulation experience.  Arguably, one of the very best freeware aircraft models ever known to exist is the Zibo 737.  The Zibo 737 Project, led by a team of developers to expand the capabilities of the default 737 in X-Plane.  Many who fly both the PMDG 737NG and the Zibo 737 will tell you the differences between the two are hardly noticeable.  Others might describe the Zibo 737 as being on-par with Aerosoft quality.  Either way, it’s a fantastic aircraft and absolutely free.  Who can argue with free? 

With the launch a few weeks ago of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, many were bracing themselves (and their wallets) for an onslaught of payware add-ons.  After all, if you’ve spent the past decade or more flying study level aircraft the excitement of a brand new simulator may wear off fairly quickly once you climb into the flight deck of the default Airbus A320.  Sure….it’s pretty.  But within just a few minutes you realize you’ve taken a huge step backwards in the level of immersion as most features are labeled as Inop.  I’ve even stated several times that for me, MSFS2020 will most certainly become my go-to flight simulator, but only once aircraft models from PMDG, FSLabs, QualityWings etc. become available.  This won’t be happening this year.  Most likely this won’t be happening until sometime late in Q1 2021 or perhaps even early Q2 2021. 

But….

In just the past week or so, there’s been news about a project underway to create a “Zibo” like experience with the default Airbus A320 in MSFS2020 called the MS2020 A32NX Project.  I can tell you from first hand experience that what this team of developers have been able to do in the short time since the release of MSFS2020 has certainly piqued my interest in both MSFS2020 and the default Airbus A320 from an airliner perspective. 

Understand, the project is still very much a work in progress.  But they’ve certainly managed to excite me in such a way that I can certainly see myself flying the A320 in MSFS2020 on the VATSIM network very soon.  Certainly much sooner than I originally believed would be possible. 

Want to learn more?

Of course you do!  I’d suggest watching the video I’ve embedded below which will bring you up to speed on the progress already made as well as what’s in-store for the very near future.  The video description area will provide you with the links to download the mod and how to join the project’s Discord server so you can stay informed on the team’s progress.  I hope this news excites you as much as it does me.

Final Thoughts

Thank you for reading this article.  It’s much appreciated.  For those who are thinking the MSFS2020 A320 project will never be on-par with the likes of the FSLabs A320, you are probably correct.  However, as previously stated….the FSLabs Airbus series is most likely 4-6 months away from being available.  I’d be willing to bet, the team working on the MSFS2020 A320 project will (in time) bring this up to a level of quality and realism as what we currently see with the Aerosoft A320 and perhaps beyond. 

Many are asking if the same might also happen with the default Boeing 747 and Dreamliner.  Unfortunately, due to the DRM status of these two aircraft…this may never be possible.  But I suppose one should never say never. 

Thanks for reading.  I’ll soon provide an update to my experiences with the latest MSFS2020 patch.  Stay tuned….

Until next time….

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

P3Dv5 Inching Closer and Closer

My Prepar3D v5 setup is getting closer and closer to being ready for full time use.  Just in the past 48 hours, Aerosoft announced the release of their P3Dv5 installers for the Airbus A318/A319 & A320/A321 aircraft.  I’ve downloaded and installed both and they appear to work just fine. 

As I’ve mentioned in previous updates regarding my move to P3Dv5, I’m in no hurry to pull the plug on P3Dv4.5.  It continues to run smooth and as I’m still in self-isolation and working from home, I’m logging 6-8 hours a day in the sim.  For the month of May I logged over 150 flight hours.  The only hiccup I had was some performance issues after taking the last P3Dv4.5 hotfix which I discussed here

Fun in the Airbus Continues

As I mentioned here, I’ve moved back to the Aerosoft Airbus for my A319/A320 and A321 flights.  Since reacquainting myself with these models, I’ve logged perhaps 35-40 hours of flights in them and while the FSLabs product is more immersive, the Aerosoft versions have given me many hours of trouble-free enjoyment. 

Come on PMDG

As I’ve mentioned before, my holding pattern from plowing full-steam ahead with P3Dv5 is the PMDG 737NGXu release.  At the time of this writing, there is no clear timeframe for when it will be made available for v5.  From what I understand, there are two possible reasons for the stall.

First, Lockheed Martin is working on another hotfix for P3Dv5 which is supposed to resolve some of the performance and stability issues.  Second, Microsoft is due to release the latest Windows 10 update 2004 which is supposed to also address some issues with VRAM.  Most likely, Lockheed is waiting on Microsoft and PMDG is in a holding pattern as a result.  Makes sense to me.

My P3Dv5 Settings

I’m still tweaking my graphics settings to get the best looking visuals and performance from P3Dv5.  I started by essentially duplicating my P3Dv4.5 settings and that was initially OK.  However, due to the slight instability of v5 (at this time), I’ve backed them down slightly without much visual impact.  So I’ll continue to see how this works with the add-ons I have and what limited about of time I’m flying in v5 until the hotfix is released.  After all, at this point it’s really just about testing.

Well that just about does it for this update.  I need to get back to work and in a few hours land my Airbus A319 at KDFW. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Return to Aerosoft A319/A320/A321

Earlier this week I made the decision to return back to using the Aerosoft Airbus versions of the A319, A320 and A321 and thus (for now) grounding my FSLabs A319 and A320.  While I truly believe the FSLabs versions of the popular Airbus aircraft are certainly more immersive and also more study-level, I’ve been battling some issues with the FSLabs which I’ve not be able to fully address. 

Since COVID-19 has me working from home since mid March, I’ve been using the time to enjoy flight sim.  No, I’m not constantly flying all day when I should be working.  But I do generally start up a 3-4 hour flight in the morning and time it to land during my lunch break.  I will often depart for a second flight during lunch and time that to land just after my day has finished.  Alternatively, I’ve loaded up a long-haul with a duration of 9-10 hours in the same fashion.  During the in-flight time my capable first officer (auto pilot) is flying the aircraft.  I’ve been doing this on an almost daily basis since the beginning of the quarantine and as a result have racked up a few hundred hours of flight time this way. 

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Aerosoft A321 American Airlines

When flying any of my PMDG aircraft (B738, B777 or B744) or the QualityWings B788 the autopilot just quietly controls the aircraft and there are no issues.  However, when wanting to fly either of my FSLabs Airbus aircraft, the same can’t be said.  Almost every time I fly the FSLabs aircraft I will experience constant auto pilot disconnects.  These disconnects (unless I’m paying attention) usually end in with my aircraft doing a nose dive into the ground or water below. 

The FSLabs forums do offer pointers on how to control this behavior.  The main cause for this is turbulence and I’ve adjusted ActiveSky exactly how the info on the forums suggest.  So much so there’s almost very little observed turbulence, yet the AP continues to disconnect.     Short of flying without Activesky, I’m just not sure how else to try to resolve this issue.  In reading the forums, I’m not the only one that (even when following the recommended settings) continue to experience this behavior on almost every flight. 

Most say, this is just the behavior of the Airbus.  I’m not a real world pilot and I don’t personally know anyone that is.  But none of my Boeing aircraft (and the PMDG aircraft I own are just as study level as the FSLabs) behave in this way.  So what I come away with is the tolerances within the FSLabs are just too restrictive as compared to what I’m used to. 

So having said all this, I’ve returned to using the Aerosoft versions of the Airbus.  In doing so, I’m quite surprised at just how much this aircraft has matured.  The last time I seriously used the Aerosoft versions I was on P3Dv3.  At that time they were pretty basic, certainly so when I compared them with the FSLabs.  I still prefer my PMDG Boeing aircraft and I’m also enjoying the QW Dreamliner. But from time to time I do enjoy flying the Airbus series and for my Monday – Friday flights, the Aerosoft will work just fine.  I may even pickup their A330 soon.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!

Jerry

COVID-19 Relief Flight Series #3

As mentioned in my previous installment, this is a continuation flight to ferry the remaining relief cargo which we picked up in Brussels on to the island of Palma De Mallorca (LEPA).  At the time of the breakout of the Coronavirus, the resort island was packed with tourists and unfortunately not all were able to get off the island and begin their journey home.  The supplies we’re bringing in will help for now and more is planned in the coming days. 

Flight Planning

Our flight this afternoon is pretty straightforward.  The only difference between our arrival and our departure is weather.  But we won’t let become a distraction.  We’ll depart runway 30 and make a right hand turn, then head across Spain to Barcelona.  Then proceed across the Balearic Sea to our destination.  Our total flying time is a short 1 hour, 10 minutes at an altitude of 33,000. 

Route:

1

Let’s Go

We’ve had a bit of weather move into Bilbao today.  But it should not be a factor for us.  The ground crew is getting a bit wet, but we’re dry on the flight deck.

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We’ve got some kind of weird greenish fog moving in as we move out.  Perhaps not the best depiction of fog, but I can live with that. 

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It’s dumping out there. 

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That’s better!

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Making our turn to join the departure and above the clouds.

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Smooth flying at cruise.

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Beautiful skies as we descend into our destination.

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The island of Mallorca just ahead. 

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On final approach and fully configured.

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Runway insight.  Landing in just a few minutes.

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Touchdown?  Almost

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We’ve parked at the military section of the airport where our cargo will be unloaded.  Once unloaded and refueled, we’ll be on our way back to Belgium and the cargo airport of Liege.  This flight will be covered in the next edition. 

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Once we arrive back in Belgium, we’ll say good-bye to our little 738 freighter and stretch our legs a bit with some longer flights as we continue moving much needed cargo around the world. 

Until next time.  Please be safe, take care of your family and stay home.

Jerry

Credits

Flight Simulator:  Prepar3D v4.5 (hotfix 1)
Aircraft:  PMDG 737 NGX
Airline: Fedex (FDX)
ATC:  VATSIM
Airport Scenery: LEBB (Bilbao) Orbx, LEPA (Palma De Mallorca) Aerosoft
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector
Sky/Cloud Textures: REX 5 SkyForce and REX 5 Environment Force
Immersion Effects – Parallel 42 737 Immersion
Weather Generation: ActiveSky (ASP4)
Flight Planning: SimBrief, Navigraph, FlightAware, FlightRadar24

Note:  If you are interested in any of the above mentioned add-ons.  Visit my P3D Add-ons directory for links.

My Top 10 Payware Airports for Prepar3D v4

I recently compiled a My Top 10 Payware Aircraft for Prepar3D v4 listing where I ranked my favorite ten (plus an honorable mention) payware aircraft and why.  This list will be similar in style, but will obviously focus on payware, add-on airports.  I would encourage you to read my latest article titled “Why Consider Payware Airports” as it answers some of the questions as to why we spend the extra $$$ to add extra scenery to our flight sim.

For the record, I have a fairly large amount of payware add-on airport scenery.  Sometime last year I compiled a Google map so I could (at a glance) see what I owned and where I might want to fly so I can enjoy this add-on scenery.  At the time of this writing, I own a total of 63 add-on, payware airports and over the course of this article, I’ll give you the rundown of my favorite ten or so.  Let’s get started!

#10 – UK2000 London Heathrow (EGLL)

Actually, Heathrow is one of my favorite places in the world.  I absolutely love to plane spot here.  Both my wife and I enjoy our time we spend in the English Countryside and arriving at Heathrow is truly an awesome experience.  Generally on our way back home we’ll arrive a bit early so I can stand in awe and watch Boeing 747’s, 777’s and Airbus A380’s land and take-off to/from destinations all over the world.  I’m always amazed at just how efficient this airport operates with the volume of traffic and only two runways. 

#9 – FSIMStudios Cancun International Airport (MMUN)

Cancun is one of the newer add-on airports to land in my collection.  While I’ve never had the opportunity to visit Cancun in real life, it’s certainly a place I wouldn’t mind going.  The team at FSIMStudios have done a fantastic job with the scenery and I’m looking forward to their future work. 

#8 – Imaginsim Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (KAUS)

Austin-Bergstrom is another newly acquired add-ons which I picked up a few weeks ago.  This is a great airport in real life and it’s nicely modeled in the sim.  I really like the work Imaginsim puts into their sceneries and also own Atlanta KATL.

#7 – Captain 7 & 29 Palms Nuremberg Airport (EDDN)

The second largest airport in Bavaria, Nuremberg is beautifully done and is a great airport to pair up with flights from London Heathrow or London City.  For the level of detail this add-on also performs really well with little to no impact on sim performance. 

#6 – Drzewiecki Design Seattle Airports X (KSEA, KPAE, KBFI and KRNT)

If you’re like me and often enjoy taking delivery of your favorite Boeing aircraft direct from the manufacture, then you’re going to want to add Seattle Airports X to your inventory.  Obviously Seattle-Tacoma (Sea-Tac) KSEA is the primary commercial airport servicing the greater Seattle area.  A major hub for Alaska and Delta airlines, you’re sure to find lots of flight opportunities into and out of KSEA. 

Paine Field, KPAE is the home of Boeing’s Everett Assembly Plant and home of the largest building in the world and where the largest planes in Boeing’s fleet are born including the 747, 767, 777 and the 787 Dreamliner. 

Boeing Field, KBFI is where Boeing conducts final preparations for deliver of the 737 aircraft. 

Renton Municipal Airport, KRNT is located adjacent to the Boeing Renton Factory that manufactures 737’s.  KRNT is the initial point of departure for airplanes produced in the Boeing Renton Facility. 

#5 – My Dangerous Airport Collection EGLC, LPMA, LXGB, LOWI and TNCM

I’m grouping these five airports together and calling it “My Dangerous Airport Collection”.  Each of these five airports have very unique landing criteria and in the real world some of them require special certification and frequent training. 

London City, EGLC Along with Heathrow, this is another airport my wife and I use every 18 months or so as we connect from London to Antwerp, Belgium.  Much like Heathrow, this is a great airport to plane spot.  London City Airport features a single 4,900 foot runway and only certain aircraft are certified to operate here.  This includes ATR 42, ATR 72, Bombardier Q400, BAe 146/Avro RJ, Embraer ERJ 135/170/190 and the Fokker 50.  The largest jet aircraft that can operate here is the Airbus A318 which British Airways operates from London City to New York, JFK (with a brief fuel stop in Shannon, Ireland).  The return flight operates non-stop from JFK to London City.  Aircrew must be certified to fly the 5.5° steep approach.  If you’ve never flown into London City and never in that steep of an approach, let me assure you that you can feel the difference.  London City, EGLC is developed by UK2000.

Madeira Airport, LPMA this airport is ranked 9th in the world of Most Extreme Airports due to its location and spectacular runway construction.  Much of the 9,124 runway is built on stilts.  The cross wind action at this airport will test your skills like almost none other.  Madeira Airport, LPMA is developed by Aerosoft.

Gibraltar International Airport, LXGB is another one of my favorites.  Gibraltar was ranked 5th in the Most Extreme Airports of the world.  Just like Madeira, you have the possibility of strong crosswinds, terrain all around you and to top it all off, Winston Churchill Avenue intersects the short 5,511 ft runway and consequently has to be closed every time a plane lands and departs.  Gibraltar, LXGB is developed by Aerosoft.

Innsbruck Airport, LOWI  The Innsbruck airport offers something for everyone.  The airport can handle aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 767 but you’ll most likely see smaller aircraft such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A319/320/321’s operating in and out.  The approach can be both difficult and also breathtaking.  Innsbruck, LOWI is developed by Orbx and they have done a fantastic job with both the airport scenery as well as the surrounding area.  Of course it blends in with the Orbx Global products. 

Princess Juliana International, St. Maarten, TNCM  You’ve probably watched videos of aircraft departing and arriving into this extreme airport.  Folks hang onto the fence just behind runway 10 and try to keep from being tossed backwards from the jet wash.  TNCM features a 7,546 ft runway and until just a few years ago handled Boeing 747’s operated by Air France and KLM on a regular basis.  Perhaps today the largest aircraft flying into TNCM is the Airbus A340.  St. Maarten, TNCM is developed by FlyTampa.

#4 General Aviation Favorites by Orbx 7S3, WA56 and WA79

Another, but the last grouping of favorites.  This one is some of my favorite general aviation favorites by Orbx.  I just love loading up my A2A Cessna 182 or Cherokee and exploring the countryside.  Each of these airports is within the Orbx FTX regional system so the everything just blends in so nicely.  Plus each have a little extra eye candy to enjoy.

Stark’s Twin Oaks, 7S3 is located in Oregon and is a privately owned, public use airpark.  I believe this was the first of these I purchased.  Developed by Bill Womack, it’s a classic. 

Israel’s Farm, WA56 is located in Washington State and you’ll certainly experience the thrill of skimming over the trees, avoid clipping the fence and stopping before you run out of grass. 

Walter Sutton’s Private Strip, WA79 I often fly between Israel’s Farm and Walter Sutton’s place and it’s only a short hop from Stark’s Twin Oaks.  Another grass strip airfield which will certainly test your skill and nerve.  

#3 FlyTampa Las Vegas McCarran International Airport KLAS

When I began identifying the payware airports I owned for this “Top 10” list, Las Vegas wasn’t included.  Keep in mind that it may take me a few days to write an article and I often find a creative burst and I’ll start the framework for many articles at one time and then work on them a bit here and a bit there.  In the meantime, a new version of KLAS was released by FlyTampa and OMG…it’s amazing.  If it weren’t for the reasons I’ll later mention for my #2 and my #1 entries…this airport scenery would be #1.  Without a doubt.  FlyTampa has completely raised the bar and in my opinion snatched KLAS away from FSDreamTeam.  I love FSDT scenery, but what FlyTampa has done with Vega is just simply amazing.  Buy it!  You’ll thank me later.

#2 FSDreamTeam Dallas/Ft.Worth International Airport KDFW

If I had any way to track the number of flights into or out of a particular airport, I would honestly believe KDFW would be at the very top in the ranking order.  In the real world and starting at the age of a young boy, I have very fond memories of going plane spotting at DFW.  I saw the Concorde back in the 70’s when it was being operated by Braniff Airways and I’ve watched the airport grow (and the surrounding area) into what it is today.  As I became older and began my IT career, DFW was a common sight for me on Sunday afternoons and late Friday evenings for many years. 

In the virtual world, FSDreamTeam’s KDFW was one of the first add-on airports I purchased and the first from FSDT.  In my mind, FSDT’s KDFW has stood the test of time and is still pretty accurate.  One of my favorite routes to fly in the sim is between #1 and KDFW. 

#1 FlightBeam Denver International Airport KDEN

For those who know me and/or those who are regular readers of my blog content, it should come as no surprise that I would list Denver International Airport (DIA) as my #1 payware airport.  After all, DIA is my home airport and I fly out of DIA both in the real and virtual world often.  In just a little over two months, my wife and I will board a British Airways 747-400 and travel to London and I frequently fly out of Denver on American and Southwest.  If I’m not careful, I may surpass the number of flights into/out of KDEN in the virtual world as I do enjoy simulating both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines flights.  As I previously stated, my favorite route is between Denver and Dallas/Ft. Worth flying the PMDG 737-800 for American Airlines. 

In Summary

Most likely (and just like “My Top 10 Payware Aircraft for P3Dv4” list), I could re-write this posting a year from now, two years from now…perhaps 5-10 years from now and items #10 – #3 would/could change.  But I wouldn’t anticipate either of these top 10 lists changing the #2 and #1 items. 

While it was easier to compile the aircraft list, it was truly difficult to pull this list together.  When I began the framework for the article, I had noted over thirty different airports and through process of elimination I began whacking that list down to what you see here.  It truly was a struggle as I own so many really top-notch airport sceneries.  

Aerosoft Airbus for Prepar3d v4 Release Date Announced

Aerosoft Airbus for Prepar3D v4 Release Date Announced

Ladies and Gentlemen…the wait is almost over.  Earlier today, there was a not-so-public announcement regarding the date which we could expect the highly anticipated release of the Aerosoft Airbus A318/A319/A320 & A321 series for Prepar3d version 4.x.

The announcement was posted in the Aerosoft forums by Mathijs Kok (see below)

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What?  You didn’t see the release date?  OK…hang on, let me try this again……

Is this any better?

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LOL  Yes, it was hidden in white text and one needed to simply highlight the area to see the special hidden message.  But just in case you still can’t see it, the target date for release of the Aerosoft Airbus A3xx series for P3D v4 is 26 June.

This is really great news for the flight sim community.  Especially those who have made the move to P3D v4.  It feels like a mini-lifetime since I’ve flown the Airbus.  I’m mostly a Boeing guy, but I did purchase the Aerosoft Airbus series for FSX and used it in P3D up to version 3.x.  I must admit that I was never that proficient in the Airbus and I’ll certainly be starting over from scratch at learning her once again.  But I’m really excited for this release for a few reasons.

First, while I’m mainly a Boeing fan, I do enjoy flying a variety of aircraft and truly enjoy simulating many different airlines both in the US as well as in the UK and Europe.

Second, I’ve been following the progress of the Aerosoft Airbus for P3D v4.x from day one of the release of the sim platform.  While others managed to get their older 32 bit versions of their aircraft converted to 64 bit compatibility, Aerosoft took the approach of practically rewriting the entire aircraft series (or much of it) and states that many aspects of the Aerosoft Airbus A3xx Series will be the most advanced you’ll see.

Third, and this is the most important.  Upon installing the Aerosoft Airbus A3xx series we won’t have to worry about any malware being hidden inside the installer.  The same can’t be said of the FSLabs version as reported here.

Fourth, while pricing information hasn’t been made public just yet.  Mathijs Kok has stated multiple times that Aerosoft does not charge twice for the same code.  In other words, if you purchased the Aerosoft Airbus for FSX, you’ll only be charged for the code which has been modified to ensure it’s compatibility for P3D v4.  This is extremely fair.

So 26 June is a Tuesday.  I’ve already marked my calendar to remind me a day or two before.  Between now and then I’ll re-watch some of the older procedure videos and be ready to purchase, download and install both packages (A318/A319 & A320/A321) into my sim.

I can’t wait…

Until next time…

JT

The Rock of Gibraltar

I’m increasing my collection of add-on scenery for the European region and just recently purchased the Aerosoft version of Gibraltar LXGB for FSX.  This is a fantastic little airport and reminds me of my St. Maarten TNCM package I have from FlyTampa.  I currently own scenery from Aerosoft, FlyTampa, FSDT, Orbx, and UK2000 and truly love them all. 

I suppose one can quickly go broke on purchasing add-on scenery.  One criteria I attempt to use in making a decision on whether to purchase a particular scenery package is the frequency I think I may use it along with just how much more the scenery package will enhance FSX.  I really enjoy the KMIA to TNCM route in either a 737 or 757.

I’ve recently performed a lot of flights out of both London Heathrow and Gatwick, so adding those packages from UK2000 was an easy decision.  I also picked up the UK2000 package for London City as that is a really neat airport and one I fly into in real life every other year or so.  Plus I’m really looking forward to completing the EGLC-EINN-KJFK flight in an Airbus 318 soon.

Another factor I use in my decision is the level of difficulty a particular airport may offer.  Perhaps better known as the “Wow” factor.  I watched a History Channel program a few years ago called “Most Extreme Airports”.  Gibraltar is identified as the 5th most extreme airport.  If you are not familiar with this History Channel program, or just want to watch it again.  It is available onYouTube.  Fast forward to minute 33:00 for the Gibraltar LXGB segment.

Our simulated flight today is the British Airways flight 490 from London Heathrow to Gibraltar in the Airbus A320.  Gate to gate time is 2 hours and 50 minutes.  Our departure from Heathrow was uneventful.

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Our route today

fsx 2012-12-28 09-31-24-91

BAW490 departing EGLL runway 27L

Conditions for Gibraltar are showing winds 090 at 6kt.  We’ll be landing on runway 09 which is the more difficult approach. 

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Thick clouds and light turbulence as we approach the southern coast of Spain.

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Clearing as we continue the descent. 

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Approaching Victor

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Flying the published approach and configured at gear down and flaps 3 upon crossing the 5 mile radar fix.

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Beginning the turn after crossing the 3 mile radar fix.  Airport and runway clearly in sight.

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Just a slight cross wind and hoping the aircraft ahead will soon exit the runway.

fsx 2012-12-28 12-04-55-09

BAW 490 Clear to land runway 09.

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Slowing with plenty of runway to spare.

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At the gate.

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The Rock of Gibraltar in the background.

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Terminal at Gibraltar

fsx 2012-12-28 12-09-55-74

Additional detail shown for the LXGB scenery.  Need to watch those towers on departure.

All-in-all I’m very pleased with my purchase of the Aerosoft Gibraltar scenery for FSX.  If you like flying into and out of some of the worlds most extreme airports where weather, neighboring obstacles, traffic and shorter than normal runways are the featured attraction, then Gibraltar is an add-on I recommend. 

Now to return back to Heathrow along with 127 vacationers and crew so that we can plan the next adventure.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

JT

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