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

MSFS Beta and Should You Participate

There are many reasons why the user community of Microsoft Flight Simulator or just about any major gaming title (simulation or otherwise) should participate in the various beta or early adopter updates released from time to time.  While in a perfect world, the developer behind any gaming title should have the resources to perform system testing to rule out major issues, the hard truth is most do not and there’s almost no way for any developer to test all the possible scenarios including hardware configurations and 3rd party add-ons/mods which all can and mostly likely will have an impact in the finished product.  In actuality, the developer (in this case Microsoft/Asobo) will perform their very best due diligence to ensure the update performs on a few different hardware configurations and generally leaves it up to 3rd party developers and mod creators to “shoe horn” their add-ons around what they’ve been provided.  So our participation in these beta programs (especially when feedback is sent back to the developer) is instrumental in the overall wellbeing of the gaming title.

Generally speaking, most 3rd party developers will participate in the beta programs for obvious reasons. But they do not receive the beta version in advance of the general public.  In other words, 3rd party developers like PMDG and Fenix only have access to the beta when it’s been made available to all of us.  The 3rd party devs will utilize the time between when the beta is released and it becomes GA (General Availability) to work out any issues with their add-on.  Of course in many situations this all becomes a fast moving target as there may be many iterations of the beta.  The time a 3rd party developer spends adjusting their add-on to function correctly with the beta could become a complete waste of time as changes are made and pushed out during the beta cycle.  In other words, in some cases the only way of truly knowing if a 3rd party add-on is going to work is to wait until the beta has become GA and been released to the entire community. 

Over the years, I’ve participated in many beta programs for all sorts of gaming titles.  Some have been positive, wonderful experiences of being able to gain access to new functionality or performance enhancements before everyone else.  But in a few cases these beta experiences have become an absolute nightmare.  In many cases the only way to escape the beta is to complete reinstall the current live version. As you can probably imagine this can be an extremely time consuming process.

A few weeks ago, Microsoft/Asobo began their open beta for the upcoming SU11 update and the word on the street is the experience hasn’t been an easy one.  Especially with some 3rd party aircraft and live weather.  Some 3rd party developers will do their best to provide solutions or workarounds for their products for the beta cycle, but most simply can’t and won’t guarantee functionality on a beta installation.  On the bright side, with regards to the SU11 beta, some users have reported experiencing a significant performance improvement from SU10. 

If you’re wondering if participating in the MSFS beta program is right for you, I would say it depends.  If you mainly fly default aircraft or if you still fly P3D/XPlane then participating in the SU11 beta  (or any future beta release) is probably OK for you.  However, if MSFS is your sole flight sim platform and you’re an every day flyer of add-on aircraft like the Fenix A320 or the PMDG 737, then I would highly suggest you hold off.  Bottom line, if you want full system compatibility between MSFS and 3rd party aircraft, then stay on the current live MSFS build.  Otherwise you may be in for a surprise when you attempt to fly your favorite 3rd party aircraft in the beta build. 

As always, thanks for reading.

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Flight Simulator Choices In The Year 2022

Unlike other simulation based genres such as agricultural sims, trucking sims (just to name two) these have very little choice and are ruled by two different developers with GIANTS controlling the ag sim with Farming Simulator and SCS ruling the trucking space with American and Euro Truck Simulator.  This lack of competition, while good for the developers is of course bad for us consumers.  But the same can’t be said for the choices available in the flight simulation space.  

In recent weeks, Laminar Research released X-Plane 12 in early access. Of course Microsoft Flight Simulator surprised everyone in 2019 and released MSFS 2020 during the summer of 2020 and Lockheed Martin of course has their Prepar3D version 5 (unclear if there will be a v6), so the flight simulation community has choices when it comes to selecting a platform to build around.  But which is best and which platform is the right one for you? 

In the year 2022, it’s really difficult to specifically state which flight simulation platform is the absolute best.  It’s much like Coke versus Pepsi.  Each have their loyal, dedicated fan base and each produce a quality product.  But of course we all know that Coke is the best and certainly the one I prefer.  Smile

For many of us who have been in the hobby of flight simulation for many, many years we grew up with the various offerings from Microsoft.  When Microsoft abandoned their popular Flight Simulator way back in 2009, the only two choices were either to make the move to Prepar3D or move to X-Plane.  For me, and I’m sure many like me who had made a sizeable investment in FSX add-ons, the clear choice was to go the way of P3D as most add-ons for FSX would work.  Developers made their products available for P3D as quickly as they could and some didn’t charge for the update.  Of course others made the jump to X-Plane and never looked back. 

Certainly before Microsoft re-entered the scene with Flight Simulator 2020, both Prepar3D and X-Plane were very similar in what each offered and many 3rd party developers were supporting both platforms.  But this has certainly changed in recent years and from what I’m seeing the vast majority of 3rd party developers have completely shifted their focus to MSFS and have slowly decreased their development efforts away from P3D and in some cases X-Plane as well. 

Now it must certainly be said that prior to MSFS, X-Plane had a much more active community driven focus towards the freeware development of add-ons than the P3D community.  With P3D everything pretty much shifted to payware as the only option for enhancing the simulator.  Of course in the past two years since MSFS has been around the community focus has returned and we’ve seen some really awesome add-ons released for the new platform as freeware with lots more to come. 

With all that said, what advice can I give to those trying to choose a flight simulation platform?  In all honesty, I believe of the three platforms I’ve mentioned (MSFS, P3D and X-Plane) really it boils down to just two choices with the first being Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 and X-Plane.  But allow me to explain why I’ve removed Prepar3D from the list.

Prepar3D has never been intended to be used in the home/personal entertainment category.  From the very beginning, Lockheed Martin was unable to market/distribute the P3D flight simulation platform for anything other than commercial and flight training purposes.  While this never stopped anyone from purchasing the sim (I’m proof of that), the very simple fact is P3D has always been intended as a training sim.  Regardless if Lockheed Martin introduce a version 6 of the sim, I don’t feel P3D will ever be enhanced to the point of what we’re seeing with Microsoft Flight Simulator and since the debut of MSFS along with the quality of add-on, study level aircraft from Fenix and PMDG (more will come) Lockheed Martin is losing a lot of their customer base which used P3D as an off-ramp when FSX was no longer a viable option.  As already mentioned, many 3rd party developers have fully embraced MSFS and are moving full steam ahead in developing quality add-ons for that platform.  Of course, many users will stay with P3D and I’m sure Lockheed Martin will continue to support the platform regardless if there is a v6. 

As I mentioned at the top of the writing, X-Plane 12 has just released.  From what I’ve seen, read and heard….this latest version isn’t going down as I’m sure Laminar Research had hoped.  As I’m not an X-Plane fan, I have no intention of purchasing the sim.  But from some of the videos I’ve watched, those who are showcasing the new sim have mostly been disappointed in what they are seeing.  Of course, it must be said that this is a early release version and most likely things will change. 

Now I know there are a lot of unbelievers when it comes to Microsoft Flight Simulator.  As I’ve mentioned in previous blog postings, even I had my doubts regarding the new platform.  But over time, I believe the sim has matured into a quality flight simulator that I believe to be the “Gold Standard” of the available flight simulation platforms available today.  Both Microsoft and Asobo are committed to the project and I believe what we’re seeing from MSFS today is only the beginning.  In addition, from a cost perspective, MSFS requires a lot less investment to make the ground textures mirror that of the real world.

The 800 lb Gorilla

To address the 800 lb gorilla in the room, many will argue and say that X-Plane (at least historically) has always featured the best, true to life flight dynamics of any of the available sims.  I personally can’t argue either way on this statement.  I’m not a real world pilot, I’m not training to be a real world pilot and personally unless the difference gap was huge, I really don’t care.  It simply means nothing to me.  The aircraft I primarily fly in MSFS (Fenix A320, PMDG 737) compensate for any weakness in the flight dynamics department and I enjoy every single minute of my time in the sim and in those aircraft.

But What About…

Yes, there are two other flight simulator platforms that I have yet to mention in this posting, specifically Aerofly FS4 and DCS World.  DCS World, of course is an awesome flight simulator if you enjoy simulating military flight ops and honestly has some of the very best visual simulations of any platform.  I personally don’t spend a lot of time in DCS, but I do use it from time to time.  If military ops is something you really enjoy, then DCS World will be your best bet. 

Unfortunately, I personally don’t have any experience with Aerofly FS4.  While the platform does have some 3rd party development support with some add-ons, I don’t consider it broad enough to be considered above P3D, X-Plane or MSFS.  In addition, unlike P3D, X-Plane or MSFS, Aerofly FS4 does not include the entire world as part of the base package.  Additional regions must be purchased separately. 

In closing, if you’ve been in the hobby of flight simulation for some time and are already using and enjoying Prepar3D or X-Plane, then I certainly understand why you may choose to remain on those platforms.  But if you are new to the hobby, I highly recommend you do your homework and give consideration towards Microsoft Flight Simulator as I believe this is the very best and certainly will be for many years to come.

Thanks for reading and as always….Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

PMDG 737-800 Final Approach

Good Sunday morning!  We awoke this morning to some really great news regarding the highly anticipated PMDG 737-800 for Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS).  Essentially, the PMDG Boeing 737-800 is on final approach and should be available sometime between 23 August and 31 August.  This is excellent news for any fan of the 738.  After all, it’s really been a long time coming.  For me personally, this particular aircraft has been the “missing link” in my MSFS setup. 

Along with the release of the PMDG 737-800, some really cool lighting features are also due to be released.  While I’m not 100% certain of this, but I think these lighting features will be available for the other 737 types including the –700 and –600 which have already been released.  In any event, these new lighting features including spotlights and sun visor/shade devices will be extremely helpful to have in the sim.  A new video was released this morning showcasing these new features.  You can view that below.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYDM9kwzy8M[/embedyt]

Until MSFS came along, I really didn’t have much desire to fly during the nighttime hours.  Oh sure, I loved flying into LAS just before dusk, but in previous sims (FSX and P3D) I found the night lighting to be less desirable and harder on my system.  Plus I just really couldn’t see as well.  With MSFS, all elements of light have been drastically improved from the previously mentioned versions and flying at night is something I actually enjoy now. 

In Other News

Most likely you’ve also already heard that Sim Update 10 for MSFS has been delayed a few weeks. Microsoft/Asobo is shooting for mid September for this update.  SU 10 may prove to be one of the greatest achievements we’ve seen thus far in the life of MSFS as it should deliver many performance improvements. 

CTD’s and Other Annoyances

Have you been experiencing multiple CTD’s (Crash to Desktop) in the past few days?  If so, you’re not alone.  Even after my recent sim machine rebuild and reinstall/reconfigure of MSFS, I’ve been plagued with a few CTD’s.  Fortunately, all my CTD events (knock on wood) have been occurring during the launch process for MSFS and not during flight.  There is a very long thread on the Microsoft forums discussing these recent CTD’s and the general consensus is that they have something to do with how MSFS interacts with the servers controlled by Microsoft/Asobo.

While early speculation pointed the finger at FSDreamTeam and the new GSX Pro, there are other users who have experienced recent CTD’s and haven’t purchased GSX Pro nor own any FSDT add-ons.  You can read this rather lengthy forum post here

Well that’s about all I have time for today.  I’m approaching DEN in the Fenix A320 and need to now focus my attention on a safe landing. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Saying Goodbye to P3D…For now

My current gaming machine is just a little over 4 years old.  Amazingly, it still runs really well.  When I built it back in 2018, I used the latest and greatest components I could.  Amazingly (once again), the machine performs well with the current simulation based games I enjoy playing.  This even includes the new Microsoft Flight Simulator.   Anyway, I designed the machine to use a 1 TB NVMe SSD as the main drive along with a few SSD’s.  At the time of the initial build, I was running P3Dv4 and it was installed on the NVMe drive. 

When P3Dv5 released, I knew it would be several weeks before all the add-ons would catch up, so I installed it on the largest SSD (500 GB).  I ran both versions of P3D for several month with this intention of eventually doing a complete OS reset, then locate P3Dv5 to the NVMe drive.  Before that happened, MSFS released and I kicked the can down the road and delayed the OS reset and just uninstalled P3Dv4 to free up enough space on the NVMe drive for MSFS. 

For the first 18 months of the life of MSFS, I really only used it for GA flying.  But all that changed once the Fenix A320 and the PMDG 737-700 released a few months ago.  Since that timeframe, I’ve only used P3D a few times.  Meanwhile I was adding more 3rd party airport sceneries to MSFS and as a result watching the available space on the NVMe drive get lower and lower. 

On Thursday, I purchased and attempted to install the new GSX Pro from FSDreamteam.  Like many others, I ran into issues immediately after installing.  After reading forum threads and Discord messages, I finally gave up and decided to go to bed and sleep on it.  Oddly enough, I woke up fairly early this morning and decided it was time to refresh the OS and essentially make the move to MSFS 100% and for now, give P3D the BIG Heave Ho. 

Now, while GSX Pro has some challenges and some of the issues experienced on the first day appear to be related to their download servers….but I believe my own issues were a combination of having remnants of P3Dv4, along with P3Dv5 and MSFS.  While it should certainly be possible for everything to live in harmony…something was wrong and I felt just doing a Windows 10 reset was my absolute best option.  Like I said, the available space on my main SSD was becoming a serious issue.

It’s been a long day and I’m not 100% done.  But I’ve managed to get Windows 10 reset, fully patched with all updated hardware drivers installed.  The most time consuming part of the entire process has been reinstalling MSFS.  That took the better part of two hours just to download then apply the updates.  Next getting the Fenix A320 and PMDG 737-700 installed and finally all the add-on airports reinstalled.  I even took time to get the AIG liveries along with VATSIM model matching installed.  (That’s also a very time consuming process, but I had these things backed up so I didn’t have to start from scratch).  One of the last items I installed was GSX Pro and it installed without issue and works as perfectly has it can at this point in time.  I’ll explain more about this in a future blog post. 

As for the future of P3Dv5.  For now it will remain uninstalled.  To be honest, and I’ve said this before in other blog postings, I really only have time for short-haul flights.  While I do love the PMDG 777, 747 and the QualityWings 787, I really don’t have the time to enjoy them to their full potential.  Not to mention, (and I’ve also said this before) that the eye-candy factor is seriously lacking in P3Dv5 compared to MSFS.

Possible Final Thoughts about P3D

My interest in P3D really didn’t start until Lockheed Martin released version 3 in 2015.  I had dabbled briefly with version 2, but didn’t officially leave FSX behind until v3.  At that time most of the 3rd party developers were getting more seriously involved with Prepar3D and it just seemed like the right time to move over.  Of course, when P3Dv4 arrived in 2017 that officially ushered in the 64 bit compatibility we had all been dreaming of.  Finally one could get the true potential from the sim without fear of the dreaded OOM errors which were quickly followed by at CTD. 

When Prepar3D version 5 was released on April 14, 2020 we were in the early stages of the COVID Pandemic and I was working from home.  At this time we knew about the new Microsoft Flight Simulator and I seriously contemplated just staying on v4 knowing/believing MSFS would be the future.  But after a few weeks I finally pulled the trigger and purchased P3Dv5.  After all, I felt it could be at least a year (if not longer) before MSFS would be at a point where study level aircraft would be available and I wanted to experience the latest and greatest for whatever period of time it might be before making the move to MSFS. 

Getting into P3Dv5 from a financial perspective was really only the cost of the sim.  Again, to the best of my memory….99% of the add-ons I had been using in P3Dv4 were made available with P3Dv5 installers at no cost and I certainly got my monies worth out of v5.  All-in-all, as a hard-core flight simulation enthusiast I’m thankful to Lockheed Martin for making P3D available after Microsoft abandoned us.  While I tried XPlane sometime before P3Dv4, but having been such a long-time Microsoft Simmer I just couldn’t get into it.  In any event, at the time Prepar3D v5 was “As Real As It Gets”. 

I know many simmers discount MSFS.  Especially around the flight modeling.  But for me, this is a minor issue and is almost a non-issue with the Fenix and PMDG aircraft we have today.  I believe these issues will all evolve in time and MSFS WILL BE the very best home flight simulation platform. 

Final Thoughts

Just a little over 24 hours later and the rebuild is done.  I completed my first test flight in the Fenix A320 from TPA to CLT.  No major issues. I actually learned something today which I was not aware of with MSFS.  But all the settings including graphic settings, sim settings and controller settings/bindings are all saved in the cloud.  So when you reinstall MSFS, all these settings that often require lots of testing and tweaking to get things the way they were are just the same as before.  This saved lots of times and no doubt allowed me to get my first flight in much quicker. 

Thankfully I landed just when I did as 5 minutes after I shut down my engines and filed my PIREP, my electricity went out.  Thankfully my sim machine is on a UPS and I was able to safely shut down.  But my plans for flight #2 will have to wait a bit.  Until then….thanks for reading. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!  (Once power is restored)

Jerry

Microsoft Flight Simulator–Two Year Anniversary

In just a few days, 18 August 2022, Microsoft will celebrate the two year anniversary since the release of Microsoft Flight Simulator.  During the summer of 2019 and somewhat out of the blue, Microsoft announced they were working on the new version of their extremely popular Microsoft Flight Simulator.  I use the words “Out of the Blue” because most in the flight sim community were not aware of this news and it came to us with excitement and even some speculation.  Many of the blog postings I wrote here on my blog were very much mixed with my own personal excitement but also with guarded concerns.  After all, Microsoft had abandoned Flight Simulator and as a result many of the long-time fans of the sim had moved over to Prepar3D or X-Plane.  For the most part, I was certainly happy with the direction Prepar3D was moving in and was having a lot of fun in the sim. 

As we approach the two year anniversary of the release of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS) I can happily say that much of the concern or speculation I once held towards the title have been dismissed.  After all, earlier this summer when the Fenix A320 and PMDG 737-700 released for MSFS, I began flying MSFS almost exclusively.  I still occasionally fly P3D when I have a need to fly the PMDG 777 or the QualityWings 787.  But I would say this is perhaps only 1 out of 100 or so flights that I do this.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the time I spend in MSFS and the experience gets better and better.  As a matter of fact, I changed my mind on the decision not to purchase the PMDG 737-700 (I initially said I would hold out until the 737-800 released) as the few times I tried flying the 737-800 in P3D, I just didn’t enjoy the experience.  While MSFS may have some limitations, the overall beauty of the sim makes up it.  Plus the addition of the Fenix A320 and the PMDG 737-700 (and soon to be released 737-800) have been instrumental in keeping me flying MSFS and essentially letting P3D gather dust. 

About those concerns…

The concerns and speculation many of us long-time flight simulation enthusiasts once had for Microsoft and Microsoft Flight Simulator have (in my opinion) to be null and void at this point.  In all honesty, while it did take me about a year and a half to fully embrace MSFS for my jetliner use, I was convinced that the efforts of both Microsoft and Asobo would truly turn MSFS into the future of flight simulation we have been longing for.  It just took some time for some of the more advanced airliners to make it into the sim and of course it took some time for Microsoft to work out a few bugs.  But as I’ve mentioned a few times, I’ve been enjoying the hobby of flight simulation since the early 1980’s.  The advancement of flight simulation over these past 35+ years is truly amazing.  The dedication I see from Microsoft, Asobo and all the many 3rd party developers certainly have me convinced that Microsoft Flight Simulator earns the right to say “As Real As It Gets” and will only continue to get better as time goes by.

August Expectations

While August is about half way done, I believe we’ll see some amazing things happen this month.  First and foremost, Microsoft/Asobo have been working hard on the sim update 10 release.  While I haven’t participated in the beta, I’ve heard from many simmers who say that SU10 addresses many of the bugs we’ve been plagued with and moves the sim one step further ahead with better performance and features which many 3rd party developers can take advantage of.  While I’m not a fan of Microsoft’s “Must Update Features”, I am anxiously awaiting SU10 and hope the update/upgrade process works as smoothly as all the previous updates have. 

In addition to SU10, I believe we will see the PMDG 737-800 release this month or early September.  The 737-800 is my all-time favorite aircraft to fly in the sim and I’ve missed having it.   Yes, the 737-700 is just a bit smaller,  but I want my 738 and I want it as soon as possible.  I know many of you do as well. 

Finally, I also believe we will soon have FSDreamTeam’s GSX available to us during the month of August.  For those that don’t know, GSX is the ground services component to flight simulation.  GSX controls all aspects of cargo and passenger loading, including the visuals for baggage/cargo being loaded onto the aircraft along with fueling, catering and that much important de-icing during the winter months.  In addition, GSX also does a really good job with aircraft pushback services which are truly lacking in MSFS at the present time. 

The Future Remains Bright

I believe we’ll continue to see some truly amazing things come to MSFS in the later half of 2022 and early 2023.  I’m hopeful SU10 paves the way for Chaseplane to finally come to MSFS and of course we might….just maybe see the PMDG 777 before end of year or perhaps very early 2023. Time will certainly tell.  It’s certainly a great time to be alive and a great time to be a flight simulation enthusiast. 

As always, thank you for taking the time to read and I look forward to returning with a blog post in a few weeks to document my experiences with SU10, PMDG 737-800 and hopefully GSX.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

PMDG Boeing 737-700

I learned a long time ago to never….absolutely never say never.  Yes, my friends.  I broke down and pulled the plug and purchased the PMDG Boeing 737-700.  Yes, I had previously stated that I had no interest in the –700 since the virtual airline I’m involved with is an American Airlines based VA and American only flies the 737-800.  While we have codeshare airline agreements with Alaska (who do still operate the –700) and most recently GOL Airlines (who also operate the type), the main reason I pulled the trigger on the PMDG 737-700 was mainly due to the desire to fly the PMDG in MSFS.

After having exclusively used the awesome Fenix A320 in MSFS for the past several months (since its release day) and flying over 100 flights, I was seriously missing flying my PMDG.  One morning I fired up P3Dv5, loaded up the PMDG 737-800 and departed DFW airport.  Almost immediately my eyes said NO…Stop This Maddness!  I was quickly reminded as to the many reasons I enjoy the hobby of flight simulation so much. 

While P3D has provided me years and thousands of hours of flight simulation enjoyment.  It just no longer ticks all the boxes for me from a visual eye-candy perspective.  But with the delays in PMDG bringing their 737-600 to market and knowing the 737-800 could still be several months away from release, I just needed to have a PMDG aircraft in MSFS. 

I quickly killed the flight, rebooted my PC and purchased and downloaded the PMDG Boeing 737-700 for MSFS and installed an American Airlines livery.  I loaded it back up in DFW and departed towards my destination.  While American Airlines never operated the –700, my VA allows for this aircraft substitution and the value in having it and flying it outweighs the fact this is an entirely fictional aircraft for AAL.

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Since that first day a few weeks ago, I’ve flown over a dozen flights in the –700 and mostly love the experience thus far.  I say mostly, only because I do still believe in the current state (version 3.00.00.25) the Fenix A320 is a more complete aircraft….but the PMDG 737-700 is still very much fun to fly and only lags behind by a very small percent (in my opinion). 

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Now I have absolutely no plans to purchase the 737-600 which could be released any day now.  While according to PMDG news updates, they are working on the 737-800 in tandem with the –600 and Robert Randazzo even stated the –800 could be ready to release at the same time or even ahead of the –600.  I know from a business perspective, PMDG will most likely release the –600 first and then after some delay the –800 will release.  Otherwise, if PMDG releases the –800 ahead of the –600, then the sales of the –600 will be very minimal.  Most likely the sales of the –600 will be minimal anyway compared to that of the –700.  Personally, I believe PMDG should have followed their strategy from P3D and released the –600 as an expansion for the –700 and then release their –800 with an expansion to the –900.  But I digress…

In any event, I’m absolutely loving having both the Fenix A320 and the PMDG 737-700 in my virtual hangar for Microsoft Flight Simulator.  While I do miss my PMDG 777, PMDG 747 and the QualityWings 787…the time I have available for flights at this moment somewhat limits me to the shorter-haul flights which the A320 and B737 are designed for.  I know in time these other awesome aircraft will one day be available in MSFS.

What are your impressions of the PMDG 737-700 for MSFS?  I’d love to hear them in the comments. 

Until next time….

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Fenix A320 for MSFS

It’s been a while since I took the time to write a flight sim blog post. I’ve been busy with lots of DIY projects and just enjoying the spare time I have flying.  As I discussed soon after the release of MSFS, I decided to continue to fly Prepar3D v5 for all my airliner flights and have enjoyed Microsoft Flight Simulator mostly for General Aviation flying.  While I recognized from the very beginning that MSFS was going to be the new flight simulator standard, I saw no immediate need to begin flying airliners in the platform until just recently for several reasons.

First, while I did briefly play around with the FBW A320 in MSFS and will admit that what that team accomplished with the FBW A320 project is truly amazing, I didn’t see it replacing the FSLabs A319, A320, A321 I had in P3Dv5.  Second, from a short-haul perspective….I had everything I truly needed between the FSLabs and the PMDG 737.  I truly was waiting for something to grab my attention to the point where it would suck me right into MSFS.  Third, I must admit that I’m super spoiled with using Chaseplane to handle all my camera views in P3D.  The MSFS camera view system is seriously lacking when compared to Chaseplane and as I’ve been a Chaseplane user from the very beginning, old habits are truly difficult to break.

While I’ve been anxiously awaiting PMDG’s release into MSFS, I was slight disappointed in their release strategy.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand the reason behind releasing the Boeing 737-700 first, followed by the 737-600 then finally the 737-800 followed by the 737-900.  After all, had PMDG released the B738 first, they might have struggled with getting the sales on the –700/-600.  But, for me personally I’m just not interested in owning a –700 or –600 variant.  My primary interests are in the 737-800 and the 737-900.  As I fly mostly American Airlines with some Alaska Airlines flights mixed in.  But I digress as this blog post is supposed to be about the Fenix A320.

I began hearing about the Fenix A320 project a few months ago.  I’ll be honest, I really didn’t pay much attention to it until the last 60-90 days before release.  But the more I read about it the more I anxiously awaited its release and realized this could be the airliner to finally bring me more into MSFS. After all, I absolutely love the visuals (eye candy) in MSFS over P3D and truly want to do more airliner flying in the new sim. 

The Fenix A320 was a day one purchase for me and since the release, install and setup…I’ve flown nothing but the Fenix in MSFS.  I’ve successfully logged 24 flights in the Fenix and absolutely love it.  I’ve managed to setup the MSFS camera system to a point where I can use it and have been having fun.  I’ve flown a variety of short flights (1-2 hours) and several longer flights of 3-4 hours.  Both the Fenix and MSFS have performed flawlessly.  I’ve also started adding a few airports into MSFS from both some freeware selections on Flightsim.to and a few payware options where I’ve had discounts from previous P3D purchases.  While I’m not ready to uninstall P3D as I plan to fly P3D tomorrow in the Boeing 777, I’ll do the majority of my short-haul operations, and certainly all my Airbus flying in MSFS. 

Final thoughts on the Fenix A320.  I don’t like to “Never Say Never”, but if the devs behind the Fenix project remain true to their word and release the additional engine types and sharklets for the A320 and if they also produce (in time) an A319 and A321, I’ll be a Fenix customer from this point forward and won’t even consider any future FSLabs purchases in the A319/A320/A321 categories.  But of course time will tell. 

As always, thank you for reading. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Around the World Adventure–Flight Day 6

Note:  This is a fictional flying adventure using Microsoft Flight Simulator.  Any similarities to real world events, people and places is strictly for the purpose of the story.  While a trip like this might not be possible (or even a good idea) due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, I’m omitting this from this adventure.  At this time in all our lives, we need a little break from reality from time to time. 

Flight Day 6

To date our general flight routing has been with the goal of reaching South America.  All previous countries we’ve landed in or over-flown have been countries I’ve previously visited in the flight sim.  We’ve finally reached the portion of the trip where I’ve not (at least in the past 4-5 years) visited.  So today’s flight is taking a bit of a shortcut from Tocumen direct to Ecuador (bypassing Columbia).  Over the next few weeks the hope is to pickup all the remaining countries I need to visit to make South America 100%.  This plan also includes a flight down to Antarctica.  Once this has been achieved, we’ll turn and fly along the eastern coast as we make our way north towards the Caribbean.  While I’ve visited most of the Caribbean islands before, we’ll do a little island hopping to pickup the ones I’m missing and using that path as a shortcut to get back to Florida and the east coast of the US.

MPTO SETN

leg 6

Today’s flight is just under 500nm, but will be the first over open water as we’re taking a bit of a shortcut and flying direct from Panama City, Panama to Esmeraldas, Ecuador. 

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The Mooney Ovation has been performing flawlessly and is certainly up to the task.

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The Pacific Ocean is looking pretty calm, but keeping our eye on the clouds ahead of us. 

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As expected, had to climb above the clouds to avoid a small storm. 

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Runway ahead.  I think we’ll beat the rain. 

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On the ground in Ecuador.  As we’ve been pushing ourselves a bit hard over the past few days, we’re going to spend 2-3 days here exploring the area before proceeding towards Peru. 

Thanks for following along with my around the world adventure. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Around the World Adventure–Flight Day 5

Note:  This is a fictional flying adventure using Microsoft Flight Simulator.  Any similarities to real world events, people and places is strictly for the purpose of the story.  While a trip like this might not be possible (or even a good idea) due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, I’m omitting this from this adventure.  At this time in all our lives, we need a little break from reality from time to time. 

Flight Day 5

Once again it’s time to move on and continue our journey through Central America to South America where I hope to visit several countries I’ve not flown into in the past 5 years or so.  Below is a screenshot from the ProjectFly flight tracker indicating the countries I’ve visited in South America before I began this Around the World Adventure.  While the image is a bit dark, you can see I’ve previously visited Columbia, Venezuela, Caracaras, Guyana and Chile (shaded in gray).  Most of these flights were flown from the US out of either KDFW or KMIA with return flights back.  In other words, I tend to always fly from the last airport I’ve previously landed.

As previously discussed on an earlier blog post, I’ve visited 36% of the world.  While I could have just jumped around, I’ve always enjoyed flying with a purpose and that’s really what this adventure is all about.  Over the next few weeks the goal is to complete all of South America and also pickup Antarctica before heading north towards the Caribbean.  More about all this later.

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MSLP MROC MPSM MPTO

leg 5

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On the ground at MSLP.  Should be a beautiful day to fly.

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Climbing to our cruise level as we fly along the western coast.

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Flying over mountains in central Costa Rica. 

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Flying over Panama City and preparing for our arrival at Tocumen Airport.   We will stay here overnight and head for Ecuador. 

Thanks for reading and following along with my progress as I fly around the world in a Mooney Ovation.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

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