My Top MSFS Add-ons for 2023

It’s hard to believe the end of year is just days away.  The year really went fast, but I guess that is also part of getting older.  Anyway, I’ve been thinking about some of the MSFS add-ons which released this year and also wondering how it compares with 2022.  During 2022 we had some really amazing and much needed add-ons appear on the scene.  Most notably the Fenix A320, PMDG 737-800 and GSX Pro.  To be brutally honest, 2023 hasn’t really been as exciting as 2022 and much of that has to do with developer delays. 

Most of us speculated that PMDG might be able to get their Boeing 777 out before the end of the year and Fenix had also hoped to release their Airbus A319 and A321 airliners.  But unless something changes in the next few days, we’ll have to wait until 2024 for these.  I recently wrote about “What’s in store for us in the new year”?  Have a peek at that article and see if you agree on some of my non-scientific speculation. 

I’ve come up with a short list of the add-ons that I added to the sim in 2023 that truly impressed me. 

Horizon Simulations Boeing 787-9

Anyone who publishes their top add-ons for 2023 and does not list this one at the very top or very near the top needs their head examined.  In my opinion, prior to the release of the Horizon Simulations Boeing 787-9 we were absolutely starving for a truly capable long-haul, widebody aircraft.  Naturally, the Horizon Sim 787-9 wouldn’t have been possible without the AAU2 Aircraft & Avionics Update released back in June.  This revolutionized both the default Dreamliner and 747 in MSFS and of course the developers at Horizon Simulations capitalized on that and released their aircraft.  The truly awesome thing about the Horizon Simulations Boeing 787-9 is it’s freeware.  Pending you own the Premium Deluxe version of MSFS, this aircraft is 100% free.  In addition to the bit about it being free, in my opinion it is just as good as the QualityWings 787 from P3D which we most likely will never see in MSFS. 

Kuro Boeing 787-8

Directly behind the above mentioned Horizon Simulations 787-9 is the Kuro 787-8.  These two could be interchangeable as for what might go into the #1 spot or the #2 spot.  I’m ranking the Kuro behind the Horizon simply because the Horizon Sim 787-9 was released about a month before the Kuro.  But they are both grade A representations of the Boeing Dreamliner and both (again in my opinion) exceed the QW Dreamliner which again, I must say we’ll never see in MSFS. 

Headwind Simulations Airbus A330-900

While I believe this aircraft may have actually released back in 2021, it really didn’t catch my attention until earlier this year after it had had plenty of time to get all the kinks worked out.  This was my first Airbus widebody to ever fly and I’ve had pretty good luck with it.  While I’m mostly a Boeing sim guy, this has been a fun aircraft to fly and I highly recommend checking out the Headwind Simulations Airbus A339X.

Various Airport Sceneries

I’ve added some really awesome airport to MSFS over the past year.  While I can’t be 100% certain that every one of these are new to 2023, they are new to me in the past year.  FlyTampa EHAM, iniBuilds KPSP, Flightbeam KMSP, MKStudios EIDW, Dominic Design KPHL and KIND (along with a few others that I am pretty sure were released in late 2022) all are excellent representations of their real world counterparts. 

Looking ahead to 2024

With regards to all the aircraft I mentioned in this recently blog post titled “What’s in store for us in the new year?” I failed to mention the FBW A380X.  Based on some of the screenshots and updated information which was released around the middle of December, the project is coming along and hopefully we may see this aircraft sometime in the new year.  Also, iniBuilds also just announced their plans to release an Airbus A350.  I’m not sure if we’ll see that in 2024, so time will tell.

I’m also really hopeful that someone will someday, someday really soon release a quality Dallas/Ft. Worth KDFW airport.  The Asobo version is ok, but it really doesn’t do this awesome airport justice.  FSDreamTeam has always been the developer to make DFW, so hopefully it is on their list for the new year. 

Of course, I’m really excited to see what Microsoft/Asobo releases with MSFS 2024.  I know this is a sore subject among the flight simulation community.  I provided some of my thoughts and opinions way back in June which you can read about if you so desire.  But I’m really excited about MSFS 2024 as I believe this new sim will be a truly amazing upgrade to what we have now. 

Well….that’s about all I can think of at the moment.  Yes, I do believe perhaps 2022 was a much bigger year for add-ons….but while 2023 might have been a bit of a sleeper, I think 2024 will really blow our socks off. 

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  I look forward to all that the new year has in store for us.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

P.S. I started writing this blog post in very early December.  The teasers from PMDG regarding their 777 and the assumed 737 MAX began gaining serious traction around the middle of the month.  As I’ve always released my “Top Add-ons” blog post just before Christmas, I did have hopes that I might need to edit it and slot in a new PMDG release.  After all, if PMDG had released either the 777 or the 737 MAX in the calendar year 2023, that release would have been my #1 add-on of the year.  However, as the 777 only went into beta testing around the 17th, I don’t anticipate it releasing until sometime in the first quarter of 2024. 

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

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