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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…