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!
Until next year….
Happy Flying and see you all in the new year!!!