Where Art Thou PMDG 777?

With the arrival of the recent Fenix V2B2 update, the next question on everyone’s mind (including my own) is when will we finally see the PMDG Boeing 777 for MSFS?  Of course I know only what you all know. If you’ve been following along with the development process you know that Robert Randazzo has provided us a few sneak peeks into the process.  His most recent update, dated 24 February he states “Things are coming together nicely” and “It won’t be long now”.  He further comments about how some bugs users have been seeing in the 737 are also appearing in the 777 and testing is underway with a fix package and if that resolves the issues, then we should see an “emergency update” headed our way for the 737. 

Naturally, PMDG is remaining very tight lipped regarding any possible release date for the Boeing 777.  This is 100% natural for PMDG and is directly from their playbook.  While some developers might stick their neck out a little and suggest a future release date for their add-ons, PMDG just doesn’t play this game. 

So when do you think we’ll see the PMDG Boeing 777?  Well….I believe it is safe to say that we will have the PMDG Boeing 777 in our virtual hangers sometime this year.  But I’m going to go a step further and make a prediction.

Of course, my prediction takes a few assumptions.  First and foremost, PMDG will absolutely NOT release the 777 if there are major issues.  Second, PMDG isn’t going to rush to get the 777 into our hands just for the sake of selling an add-on. 

We now know that Microsoft/Asobo are shooting for a mid March release of sim update (SU) 15.  So it is safe to say that PMDG will not release the 777 between now and the release of SU15.  Even if PMDG is currently testing the 777 on the public beta of SU15, I believe they will wait until SU15 is released out of beta and they can spend the necessary time testing the aircraft in the same release of MSFS as we all have on our PC’s. 

There is another key date which is part of my overall assumption.  20 April 2024.  On 20 April 2024, the annual VATSIM Cross the Pond Westbound event will take place.  This is a major online VATSIM event where hundreds of virtual pilots will depart the UK and Europe for destinations in North, Central and South America destinations. 

My prediction, if PMDG believes their Boeing 777 is ready for release, they’ll release it sometime after SU15 releases and 20 April 2024.  Of course if 20 April comes and goes and we still don’t have the PMDG 777, then obviously my prediction was wrong.  But I think if my assumptions are correct, I do truly believe we’ll have the awesome PMDG Boeing 777 sometime in early to mid April. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

PMDG Egg Nog

If you routinely visit the PMDG forums to catch up on all the development news regarding the 737 and other projects, then yesterday (Friday, 8 December) you may have noticed the tease which Robert Randazzo gave us in the “Other Stuff” section of his update.  Here’s that comment….

RSR

What does this mean?  Well…if we think back to some of the communications which PMDG released some time ago, we know that the first order of business regarding PMDG and MSFS was the release of the 737 product line.  This of course included first the 737-700 followed by the 737-600, 737-800 and finally the 737-900.  PMDG had stated that sometime after the 737 series the next order of business would be the Boeing 777, the Boeing 747 Queen of the Skies and finally the long awaited Boeing 737 MAX.

With regards to the Boeing 737 MAX, Robert Randazzo  has also stated several times that PMDG had no plans of communicating any such release date for the 737 MAX.  Meaning, that more or less one day we would all wake up to find the 737 MAX had been stealthily released with no pre-release hype.  So back to Robert’s forum post from Friday, what could it possibly mean?

Within the Virtual Airline I belong to, some are speculating that PMDG could release BOTH the Boeing 777 and the Boeing 737 MAX on Christmas Day.  I personally don’t believe this and here’s why.  First, while PMDG might feel a bit of pressure since iFly recently teased their 737 MAX for MSFS.  But PMDG has been in business for a very long time and I don’t believe they really pay much attention to those things.  I really don’t think the iFly news would cause PMDG to rush the MAX, especially if the MAX just isn’t ready yet.  Plus, I personally believe that we won’t see the iFly version of the Boeing 737 MAX anytime in the very near future.  Plus, I don’t think PMDG would want to release two brand new aircraft into the market at the same time and especially do it on Christmas day.

So what do I think?  Well….remember, you can’t take my opinions to the bank as they really don’t account for much.  I think we’ll see the PMDG Boeing 777 before Christmas.  It won’t release on Christmas Day as I don’t believe Robert would expect any of his employees to work and provide support on a major holiday such as Christmas. In addition, the time period between Christmas and New Year is often a time when people take time off from work to travel and visit family.  So actually releasing the 777 a week or so before Christmas is almost ideal.

Finally, PMDG released the following teaser image today showcasing the aircraft’s recognizable six-wheel main landing gear.  I’m sure over the next few days we’ll see even more preview images.

IMG_0040

So, could we see the PMDG Boeing 777 sometime before Christmas?  Could we see it before the New Year?  Either way, I certainly don’t think we very far away from having this incredibly awesome aircraft in our virtual hangars.

As for the 737 MAX.  I still believe we’ll just wake up one morning to find that it’s been released
and is available for all of us to enjoy.

Until next time….

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

MSFS 2024 and all those Elephants

Like many of you, I was enjoying a nice, relaxing and peaceful Sunday afternoon.  I was flying from TAPA (V.C. Bird International Airport) to KMIA (Miami International Airport) in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 and thoroughly enjoying all the awesome visuals and sheer smoothness of my brand new gaming machine I recently built and very much like how we all learned that Microsoft was developing a new simulator way back in 2019, the news broke that Microsoft/Asobo were planning to release yet ANOTHER brand new simulator next year titled Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024.

Since retiring back in 2020, I will admit that some days I question just what day of the week it is and even find myself thinking to myself that “I can’t believe it’s already June”.  But after watching the 2 minute and 14 second teaser video, I was wondering if I had some how stepped into some alternate universe and found that it was actually April 1st?  Or has June 11th somehow now become the new “Fool” day?  You can view the teaser video below.

Unfortunately, the content of the short two minute video sent the flight simulation community into a tailspin.  Forums and Discord channels quickly became a buzz of comments, questions and rightfully… concerns regarding what exactly we were watching.  Is this an expansion to the existing MSFS 2020?  Is this a brand new sim?  If this is a brand new sim, then WHY?  What happens to all my prior MSFS 2020 purchases?  Will this cause 3rd party developers to abandon projects for MSFS 2020?  What was Microsoft thinking?  Is this just a money grab by Micro$oft?  Will this become another Train Simulator like platform?  etc. etc. etc.

The somewhat startling thing was this news came out of the middle of nowhere.  Third party developers such as Aerosoft, Fenix, PMDG etc. were all finding out about this new simulator at the same time as the community.  The entire flight sim community was simply left scratching their heads over what seemed like a pre-mature announcement by Microsoft/Asobo.

Before retirement in July of 2020, I had spent the better part of three decades in IT Management.  In my various roles within the realm IT it was always our goal to ensure any sort of announcement didn’t create panic and uncertainty within the userbase.   Any sort of surprise announcement would always include a detailed FAQ which for the most part helped to prevent the sort of panic, frustration and thousands of questions something like this could generate.  Unfortunately, Microsoft/Asobo failed in this department with this announcement.

As the sun rose and a new day unfolded, Microsoft/Asobo did provide a short FAQ which addresses a few of the large elephants in the room.  Yes, MSFS 2024 will be a completely new standalone sequel.  Yes, MS/Asobo will continue to support MSFS 2020 based on the current roadmap.  Finally, with very few exceptions, virtually all add-ons that work in MSFS 2020 will function in the new MSFS 2024.

My Thoughts

I’ve been a computer based flight simulation enthusiast for over 40 years and have truly enjoyed every version of Microsoft Flight Simulator ever produced and of course Prepar3D during the time between FSX and MSFS 2020, a very big part of me is extremely excited about the MSFS 2024 news.   Of course, I’m also concerned with the fact that in its current state, MSFS 2020 still has many bugs and limitations.  Of course, Microsoft has stated in the FAQ that MSFS 2020 will continue to be supported post the MSFS 2024 launch. So time will tell.

When I first learned about MSFS 2020 and certainly after the initial launch of the new sim, I have quietly had some concerns regarding how Microsoft/Asobo could sustain not only the base product, but also all the future development, expansion and of course the cost of the infrastructure that is required for MSFS to function.  While I’m sure the initial sales of MSFS 2020 certainly went a long way to helping achieve that important ROI (Return on Investment), I did question how things would work in the future.  After all, while Microsoft has introduced a few extra add-on DLC’s to the MSFS 2020 platform, I personally have not purchased them.  Likewise, I also don’t purchase any of my 3rd party add-ons via the Microsoft Marketplace.  Every third party add-on I’ve purchased, I’ve purchased direct from the developer.

With all that said, and again for me personally…I’m not sure why Microsoft/Asobo just didn’t create a DLC add-on that incorporated all the new features mentioned in that trailer to be added into MSFS 2020.  But of course, I’m not in charge of MS/Asobo so what I think matters very little.

I’m sure over the coming weeks/months we’ll certainly learn a lot more about Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 and I’m also confident we’ll also soon begin hearing from 3rd party developers on just what we can expect from them both in products yet to be released into MSFS 2020 and beyond to MSFS 2024.

It’s too early for me to commit to words whether MSFS 2024 would be something I would upgrade to on day one.  I think at this point in time I would need to better understand what the differences between the two sims are based on my style of flying.  While the new features showcased in the trailer look cool.  I’m just an old commercial and GA flying enthusiast.

Final Thoughts

Based on all that we know (and don’t know) today, I do applaud Microsoft/Asobo for all that they have done for the flight simulation community.  There’s no doubt in my mind that Microsoft 2020 is the absolute best flight simulation platform available to the home sim enthusiast.  I’m confident that MSFS 2024 will raise that bar even higher and in my opinion, no other developer of a sim platform can or will exceed the current MSFS 2020 or the future MSFS 2024 in the next year.

I’ll certainly relay any new information as it becomes available and will of course share any personal thoughts regarding that new info in future blog postings.  Thank you for taking the time to read.

Until next time….

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Reader Question–MSFS Auto-Update

I have another reader question to explore today with everyone.  It’s a rather interesting one and honestly it’s one of my very own pet peeves about Microsoft Flight Simulator.  Here’s a snippit of the email I received a few days ago. 

Hello, I recently stumbled onto your blog site and found your content to be extremely helpful as I slowly wade into the world of flight simulation.  I read your recent “Reader Question – Where are the Widebodies” posting and it inspired me to email you with my very own question to see if you can shed any light.  Like many I’m sure, I don’t have a lot of time to devote to flight sim.  I have a young family and once I’m home from work, have dinner and help get the kids all in bed, I generally enjoy taking a short flight a few times a week.  I have even less time on the weekends as the kids all seem to have different activities and sometimes at opposite ends of town. Anyway, I was hoping to spend a quiet Friday evening flying my favorite PMDG 737, but instead the entire time was spent downloading updates.  By the time MSFS finished updating, it was time for bed as I had an early start the next day.  So my main question is why are these updates forced on us and is there any way to disable them?  My sim has been working just fine and I would have rather waited until a more convenient time to apply the updates, if that is even possible.  Thank you for your time.  George

Oh boy!  I for one certainly understand George’s frustration.  While I’m retired and don’t have kids that need to be shuttled around from one extra curricular activity to another….when I decide to sit down and fly….I want to fly!  Over the past four decades that I’ve enjoyed the hobby of flight simulation starting on the Commodore 64 all the way through each generation of Microsoft Flight Simulator and throughout each of the versions of Prepar3D….MSFS is the very first which has had this auto-update mechanism built in that upon launch and regardless whether you want  to update or not, you are forced to download/install the updates. 

During the Prepar3D (P3D) years, I would make it a matter of practice to always wait several days, perhaps even several weeks before downloading and installing an update.  Generally speaking, it could take several days, perhaps even a week or two before 3rd party developers could provide patches to their products to make them compatible with the most recent P3D update.  In addition, by deferring an update also allowed time to research the various forums to determine if the update caused any game breaking issues which could require a hot-fix to resolve. 

Having said all that, Microsoft Flight Simulator is a completely different sim from all those in the past.  Part of what makes MSFS the gold standard (in my opinion) is the fact it’s cloud based.  All the beauty and majesty we experience while flying around the virtual world is streamed down to our PC’s on an “On-Demand” basis.  The cloud based design allows for a much smaller footprint on our SSD’s or HDD’s and only needs to download the data specific to the location we’re flying.  As a result it’s necessary for all client machines connecting to the MSFS systems to all be running the same version of the base software.  Thus why we have the mandatory updates. 

I have read some comments on various forums and other social media platforms that suggest one can avoid the mandatory update process by disconnecting your network connection, start up MSFS and then reconnect once in the main menu.  While I’ve not tested this process, I believe avoiding updates is not the best practice in the long run and may lead to issues especially if you connect to the MSFS multi-player environment. 

Of course this cloud-based setup can lead to issues which we experienced a few months ago where many users experienced unexplained performance and CTD (crash to desktop) issues over several long days. I wrote about my own experiences in a blog posting titled “And Just Like That” where I discussed the issues I had experienced and my belief at what caused these issues. 

If I’m honest, I do have some long-range concerns regarding what may or may not happen as MSFS ages beyond the next several years.  There is a rather surprising number of simmers who still fly FS9 and FSX on a daily basis even though these platforms are almost two decades old.  While both Microsoft and Asobo appear to be fully committed to the success of MSFS 2020.  But depending on their long-range plans, it might not be possible to use MSFS in the year 2040 if something else has taken its place or God forbid the program is completed shelved.  Let’s face it, it costs a lot of money to operate the data centers and cloud solutions which allow us to fly around the virtual skies.  The powers that be at Microsoft will need to see a solid return on this investment over the years to come.  But hey, this is probably a discussion to have at a later day in time. 

Bottom line (and in closing), as I’ve stated many times before, I believe Microsoft Flight Simulator is the gold standard of all flight simulator platforms available today and I also believe, will be so for some time to come.  Despite the pain points we occasionally have to suffer through, when it works (and for me it works flawlessly 99.999% of the time) it brings me more enjoyment than I’ve ever experienced in my long history with flight sim. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog posts.  Until next time….

Happy Flying!

Jerry

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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