As Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS) celebrated its second anniversary earlier this summer, we’ve seen some really incredible add-ons release for the new platform. These new add-ons have truly helped to make MSFS the gold standard this year and certainly made it possible for me to make the switch from Prepar3D v5. While I’ve owned MSFS since its release in 2020, I only used it for the occasional VFR flying as I felt the sim just wasn’t ready for me to make the switch full-time as I mostly fly IFR and simulate airliner operations. However, with the release of several quality study-level type aircraft this year, I’ve made the move to MSFS and extremely happy I did.
Of course, any “Top” style list is going to be mainly based on the viewpoint and opinion of the individual compiling the list. This list should certainly be viewed with that in mind. However, I truly believe the individual items I’m going to list out today have been crucial to the advancement of Microsoft Flight Simulator in making it what it is today and as I’ve previously stated, I believe MSFS is now officially the gold standard of all other flight sim platforms.
Fenix Airbus A320
It should be said, the FBW A320 project which debuted shortly after the release of MSFS will certainly go down in history as the top freeware, near study-level add-on for MSFS. However, for me….it was the release of the Fenix A320 that gave me reason to take a serious look at MSFS and using it along with P3D (albeit for a short period of time) as I simulate airliner operations in the Airbus A320.
From my day one experience with the Fenix A320, it became clear this aircraft would quickly become one of my favorite airliners to fly and to this day it remains a top favorite.
PMDG Boeing 737-800
While PMDG were the first to release a true study-level aircraft to MSFS, I was slow to purchase their first, the 737-700. At the time of the release, I didn’t plan on purchasing the –700 as I felt once the –800 was released the –700 wouldn’t be used much. However, as time went by I struggled to enjoy P3D (compared to MSFS) when flying the PMDG 737-800, and made the decision to go ahead and add the 737-700 to my virtual hangar. However, once the 737-800 released it became a day one purchase and one that I’ve truly enjoyed flying in MSFS.
The Boeing 737-800 has been and remains to this day my favorite aircraft in the sim and PMDG has done an outstanding job in simulating this workhorse of an aircraft.
Back in the late summer timeframe, I wrote a review on GSX Pro. Now some 4+ months later I can say this add-on is as great as it ever was with FSX/P3D and really adds the extra level of immersion I want in the sim.
iniBuilds Airbus A310
Without a doubt the iniBuilds Airbus A310 must be included on any list of “Top Whatever” for the year 2022. We first heard that iniBuilds were planning to bring their Airbus A310 into MSFS late last year and early this past summer we learned that it would be released as part of the Microsoft 40th Anniversary Update or SU11 and it would be a free upgrade. While the A310 doesn’t impress me as much as the Boeing 777, it is one of the first wide-body, long-haul capable aircraft to be released for the platform. After all, it’s been a long two years of not having a complex wide-body aircraft in the sim.
New Navigraph Charts 8
Navigraph recently released their brand new Navigraph Charts 8. The new features which include worldwide VFR charts coverage, drag and drop rubber band route construction, seamless zoom down to the gate level and 3D globe projection has really made Navigraph Charts a must have for any serious flight simulation enthusiast.
FSLTL – FS Live Traffic Liveries – Model Matching for VATSIM
FSLTL or FS Live Traffic Liveries could actually win an award for the most needed add-on for MSFS in the year 2022. While we’ve had VATSIM model matching for MSFS via the AIG one click installer for some time, the AIG install/setup/configuration process is perhaps one of the most convoluted install processes known to man. While there are some shortcuts that help to speed the process up, it’s still mostly a PITA to get going. However, earlier this year FSLTL came along and greatly simplified the process of getting model matching to work with VATSIM. If you haven’t checked out the new FSLTL model matching for VATSIM, I encourage you to stop what you’re doing and check it out NOW. You can find more information about FSLTL here.
Various Airport Sceneries
We had some really awesome airport sceneries released this year, far too many to list here. A few that come to mind for me which I’ve really enjoyed are San Antonio (KSAT) by iniBuilds, Anchorage (PANC) by SimWings, San Jose (KSJC) by Orbx, London Heathrow (EGLL) by iniBuilds and finally Austin (KAUS) by Dominic Design Team. Different people will have different reasons for purchasing and installing 3rd party payware airport sceneries. For me, I tend to purchase the airports I enjoy flying into and out of fairly frequently. The few I’ve listed are my favorites from this year. I think if I were to pick my absolute favorite it would have to be the newly released Austin, Texas (KAUS). Austin was released on 7 December and it was a day one purchase for me. I’ve flown into AUS many times in the real world and it’s one of my top airports to fly to/from in the sim.
Looking ahead to 2023
I personally believe if you felt 2022 was a good year for MSFS (after all it was the 40th Anniversary) then 2023 will be even better. If all goes as planned, we should see the awesome PMDG 777 hit the virtual skies. Unless something sneaks in before hand, the PMDG 777 will be our first modern high-fidelity, study level, wide-body, long-haul aircraft in the sim. This aircraft is the missing piece for my full enjoyment of the sim and I’m sure will being countless hours of simming entertainment to us all.
In addition, I truly believe we’ll also see the Airbus A380 from the FlyByWire Development Team. While I know we’ve heard about A380 projects from various developers over the years that all seem to have been vaporware, the FBW team is hard at work in bringing this wonderful aircraft to MSFS sometime in the year 2023. Actually, based on all that I’ve read….I think we could actually see the FBW A380 in the Summer or early Fall of 2023. Of course, the FBW A380 will be freeware….but it should be (or eventually will be) just as amazing as the FBW A320 in time.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog articles. I certainly hope you find the content interesting, informative and helpful. As this will most likely be the last blog posting for 2022, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Until next year….
Happy Flying and see you all in the new year!!!
It’s been an absolutely fantastic summer for those of us waiting for study-level aircraft to arrive for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 (MSFS). First, PMDG released their Boeing 737-700 which was quickly followed by the absolutely amazing Fenix Airbus A320 both in May. A lot of folks were a bit disappointed in PMDG’s decision to first release the –700 (May), followed by the –600 (July). But from a business perspective and especially since PMDG modified the way they normally package and sell the 737 this makes a lot of sense. After all, the vast majority of flight sim enthusiasts really wanted the 737-800 and bringing the –700 out first made a lot of individuals purchase that aircraft (myself included) just to have some variety in the new sim.
I had planned on not purchasing the –700 or –600 and waiting for the –800. But as I became more familiar with MSFS, going back to P3D just to fly the 737-800 just wasn’t as enjoyable. So I did purchase the 737-700 about a month after release and used it, along with the Fenix A320. I have not, nor do I plan to purchase the –600, even though it was offered at a much lower price. I just don’t have the need for that airframe. But I digress….
Within my own virtual hangar, I typically fly the 737-800 about 75% of the time followed by the Airbus coming in at 25%. After all, the PMDG 737-800 has always been my favorite narrow-body aircraft and it’s just an absolute pleasure to fly. So I was really pleased to learn the wait was over and I’ve truly enjoyed the last few days of simming with this awesome aircraft.
Is the 737-800 Right For You?
Well, really only you can answer that question. While some were hoping for some sort of discount (especially if they had previously purchased the –700 and –600 variants, this was never something I expected PMDG to offer. After all, the 737-800 is the most popular variant in the Boeing 737 series. However, if you purchase the PMDG 737-800 now, it is being offered at an introductory price of $69.99 with the expectation that it will go up to $74.99 later.
What I can tell you is the PMDG 737-800 is worth every penny at either price point. Regardless if you’ve previously owned the aircraft in FSX, P3D or both….the PMDG 737-800 is a dream to fly in MSFS. Additionally, if you are new to the world of flight simulation, the PMDG 737-800 (or any of the other variants) is super easy to learn to fly. New aviators should check YouTube as you’ll find hours and hours of videos which demonstrate how to fly this aircraft and fly it well.
-700 or –600 Owners, should you also purchase the –800?
Again, not a question I can really answer for you. What I can say, is comparing the –800 to the –700…while they are basically the same aircraft with the –800 being almost 20 feet longer, the PMDG 737-800 does include more variants including the standard 737-800 passenger model, a Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) model and two converted freighter versions including the BDSF (Bedek Special Freighter) and BCF (Boeing Converted Freighter). Along with all the different ground and passenger servicing equipment you’ll need for total immersion regardless of the variant you choose to fly.
What’s Next From PMDG?
PMDG will release their 737-900 which will complete the 737 series. While no exact release date is known at this time. I believe we should expect that in the late September or more realistically in the early October timeframe. After all, PMDG’s original plan was to release the 737 series in 6 week gaps.
Once the –900 is out, we can expect the following aircraft types (in this order), Boeing 777, Boeing 747 and then the Boeing 737 Max. As for expected timeframes, well that’s any one’s guess at this point. I believe I once read some time ago that the expectation from PMDG would have the 777 available this year. But I would be very surprised to see that under our Christmas tree this year. I think the more realistic expectation would be sometime in 2023 (perhaps by summer if we’re lucky).
Why does it take so long?
For the most part, I believe legacy flight simulation enthusiasts who have been around for a decade or more and evolved through the various sim versions do fully understand that it takes time to bring an airliner of the level of quality we expect from PMDG to a new sim platform. However, MSFS has attracted a large number of new flight sim aviators to the hobby and these guys and gals are experiencing all this for the first time.
On some of the forums and Discord servers I participate on, the question is often asked “Why does it take so long for updates?” Or “Why does it take so long just to add a sharklet or new engine model to an existing aircraft?” Seasoned veterans of the hobby fully understand that there is more to all this then just slapping a sharklet onto a wing or adding a different engine variant under the wing. In other words, when looking at these study-level versions of popular modern day aircraft, there is a lot more that goes in under the hood than just a simple visual. Developers like PMDG, Fenix etc. need the time to properly code the differences in flight dynamics, performance and yes the visual representation into the aircraft and of course fully test before they bring them to market. So be patient….enjoy what you have available now and be thankful when something new comes along. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I certainly hope you enjoy the new PMDG 737-800 (or any variant) and I hope it brings as much joy to your virtual experience as it does to mine.
Until next time…
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.
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…