I was wrong, but we move on…

Well, the 2024 VATSIM Westbound Cross the Pond event is history.  By now all those VATSIM servers will have cooled down from the vast amount of traffic they were handling on Saturday during the event and of course PMDG didn’t release their Boeing 777-300ER just before hand.  While this is disappointing, I know from being a PMDG Customer for over 20 years that PMDG only releases when the aircraft is ready to be released.

Looking Forward

There are plenty of things to look forward to in the coming weeks and months.  Immediately on the horizon is the SU15 update from Microsoft.  While SU15 will bring us the new iniBuilds A320neo, what I’m most looking forward to are the expected performance enhancements we’ve been hearing about in SU15.  While SU15 has been delayed from the original target date of 26 March 2024, the new release date is expected to be on 30 April.

Fenix A319/A321

If you already own the awesome Fenix A320, then you also most likely know that the Fenix team have been hard at work to develop both the A319 and the A321 for MSFS.  As mentioned in this press release dated 14 April 2024, Fenix states that their A319 and A321 coming along swimmingly and should be entering beta testing very soon.  While I don’t want to speculate any possible release date…hopefully we could have these two new Airbus aircraft sometime later this summer.

BlueBird Simulations 757

This is a project I’ve mentioned a few times on my blog.  I’m really looking forward to having a quality 757 in MSFS.  While we don’t really have any new news on this aircraft or the release date, BlueBird Simulations have recently confirmed they will be at the FSExpo taking place on the weekend of 21 – 23 June and will be showcasing a preview of their new Boeing 757.  I’m hopeful we’ll see this release before the end of the year.

iniBuilds A350 and A380

The team at iniBuilds are hard at work creating not only awesome airport scenery, they are also working on two very much needed aircraft for MSFS.  While I believe they have every intention on these releasing this calendar year, I believe these would appear somewhat in the later part of 2024 if it happens, or sometime early 2025.  Time will tell….

PMDG 777-300ER

Once again…I was wrong with my anticipated release time for this aircraft.  Honestly, based on where we thought (or at least I had thought) this aircraft was back in early March…the timing just shouted it would be available in time for the VATSIM CTP.  Now I’m honestly scared to speculate.  Especially considering we haven’t heard from Robert Randazzo since the 6th of April.  OK…I’m game.  I’m going to predict we’ll have the PMDG 777-300ER before 1 June.  That’s over a month away.  But I could still be wrong.

Final Thoughts

As we all know, Microsoft and Asobo are hard at work with the development of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024.  While it should be safe to think we’ll have the PMDG 777-300ER and even perhaps other variants of the 777 and possibly even the PMDG 737Max before MSFS 2024 is released, I have a feeling the BlueBird Simulations 757 and the iniBuilds A350 and A380 won’t come out before MSFS 2024.

While MSFS 20204 will be a day one purchase for me, my expectations on when purchased add-ons for MSFS 2020 will be compatible with 2024 may not be a day one thing.  What I mean by this is while I’m very much looking forward to MSFS 2024, I am comfortable in knowing that it may take several weeks or perhaps even months before some of our favorite add-on aircraft and scenery will be made available for the new sim.  But then again, we really don’t know exactly when MSFS 2024 is expected to be available.  Hopefully we’ll all learn more about this after the FSExpo taking place 21-23 June.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

JustFlight PA-28R Arrow III

I guess I’m truly bored with waiting for PMDG to release their Boeing 777-300ER. Since I last published my “T-Minus 8 Days and Counting” post, the days are rapidly passing by and I fear my gutsy prediction that we would have the 77W before the VATSIM CTP event on 20 April is going to be a bust.  While I could still be right, I just fear with no progress update over this past weekend from PMDG that the chances are rapidly evaporating before our very eyes. But hey, it can’t be too far away.  So hopefully we’ll have it before the end of May????

In recent weeks I’ve flown the heck out of the PMDG 737, Fenix A320 and both the Horizon B789 and Kuro B788 and have just wanted to do something a little bit different in the sim.  To be perfectly honest, in the past year or so the vast majority of flying that I’ve done in the sim (and I would estimate this to be hundreds of hours) has been flying tubeliners.  By tubeliner I mean the likes of the PMDG 737, Fenix A320 etc.  As some may know I fly for an American Airlines virtual airline and also currently serve as the Dallas/Ft. Worth Hub Manager.  The VA keeps me busy and this year we’re doing another contest to see which hub can score the most points to be crowned HubOps Champion.  Under my watch, the DFW hub has won this title in 2021 and last year in 2023.  We’re looking good to also reclaim the title this year.  But as we have a substantial lead in points, I have a few days to do a few other things in the sim and I’ve chosen to dust off my VFR flying skills.

Other than all the default GA style aircraft that comes with MSFS 2020, the only payware model I had was the Carenado Mooney.  It’s a super easy aircraft to fly and I’ve spent a few hundred hours just cruising around the sim world.  Which by the way, I used the Carenado Mooney Bravo for an around the world adventure back in the days of P3D and I need to complete my journey in MSFS when time permits.  But I digress….

I’ve read some really good reviews on the JustFlight PA-28R Arrow III and decided to make the purchase.  I purchased the bundled deal where I got three different versions of the PA-28 including the Arrow III, Turbo Arrow III/IV.  Just as you might expect from JustFlight, these are really superb models.

Anyway, like I said…I’ve been wanting to brush up my VFR flying and decided to spend a few days doing just that.  For my inaugural flight in the PA-28R Arrow III I decided to head over to England where I started out at Southampton EGHI.  I plotted a course from Southampton flying north towards the Compton VOR.  From there I headed east towards High Wycombe and the Wycombe Air Park/Booker Airport EGTB.  If you are interested, I wrote a review of the Wycombe Air Park back in 2020 which you can read here.


Route plotted in SkyVector (EGHI CPT EGTB)


Southampton, England EGHI (MSFS default scenery)

I really couldn’t be more happy with the purchase of the JustFlight PA-28R.  While I do love the Carenado Mooney, I think this Cherokee is going to become my new GA favorite.  After a few minutes I quickly familiarized myself with the controls and had her purring in no time.  After a quick check of the weather, I taxied to runway 20 and within seconds I was airborne and making my way towards the Compton VOR.

When I fly VFR, low and slow type flights I do enjoy flying in the UK.  I have a real special affinity to the Wycombe Air Park as before my wife moved to the US, she lived in High Wycombe and just a few miles from the airport.  When I would visit we would often go and watch the planes on the weekends.


Before landing at the Wycombe Air Park (EGTB), I take a brief scenic flight down towards Stokenchurch.  


Parked up at the Wycombe Air Park.

Well, as previously stated the new Piper Cherokee has truly been a joy to fly and I’m proud to own this add-on in my virtual hangar.  You too can own the Piper PA-28R Arrow III or the Piper PA-28R Turbo Arrow III/IV or get the entire bundle which includes all three aircraft for a discounted price.

Until next time….

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

T-Minus 8 Days and Counting….

Today I’m having a relaxing semi long-haul flight out of the new iniBuilds OMDB Dubai International Airport enroute to London Heathrow in the Boeing 787-9 by Horizon Simulations and flying as British Airways.  While in the real world BA operates this flight in a Boeing 788 or in a Boeing 777-200.  Well….I had been doing some flying in previous days in the 789 and I wasn’t sure if the 788 was updated to the latest and greatest version and of course we still don’t have a Boeing 777 available from PMDG and that sort of brings me to the main topic of this blog post.

As the title reads, we are just 8 days away from the VATSIM Cross The Pond event and the last update we’ve received from PMDG regarding progress of their Boeing 777-300ER was a week ago.  To the best of my knowledge and after scouring various Twitch and YouTube channels, I see no one streaming any pre-release content regarding the PMDG 77W.  While I generally “never say never”, it’s becoming increasingly less likely that we’ll see the PMDG 777-300ER before the VATSIM CTP event on 20 April.  So…I’m afraid the prediction I made way back in early March is just not going to happen.

On Thursday, Microsoft announced a new tentative release date for Sim Update 15 (SU15) to be 30 April.  While PMDG have publicly stated that the release of their Boeing 777-300ER is not dependent on SU15, they may still decide that a “wait and see” release is in their overall best interest.  After all, if I were in charge of one of the most highly anticipated aircraft releases of this year, I believe I would make this same decision to wait until SU15 was publicly available, test thoroughly in that release and schedule a release date sometime afterwards in very early May.

Of course, (and this is just an effort to keep the dream alive) a lot can happen in eight days.  PMDG may be tying up the last of the loose ends with a plan to release the 77W to a few select content creators this weekend and if all goes well could still release it mid week just ahead of the CPT event.  But I believe it is safe to say that if this hasn’t happened by Wednesday, 17 April or Thursday, 18 April at the very latest that it just won’t happen before CTP.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!  (Just not in the PMDG 77W YET)

Jerry

Reader Question – PMDG 777 Delay?

We have another reader question which I feel is fitting to turn into a blog post.  Let’s go!

Hi Jerry, I read your recent blog post “Where Are Thou PMDG 777” and had the same opinion that we would surely see the release of the PMDG 777 before CTP on April 20.  With the announced delay of the MSFS SU15 package, do you think this will cause the release of the 777 to be pushed back?  Looking forward to your opinions on the matter.  Thanks for keeping us all in the loop.  Jon

Hello Jon, and Hello to all my wonderful readers.  Jon brings up a very valid question and a concern we all need to be aware of.  When I wrote that blog piece almost a month ago, the release of the SU15 update did play a major part in my overall prediction that we could see the PMDG 777 release before the annual VATSIM Cross The Pond event which takes place on 20 April.  However, I have read in the past few days where PMDG has stated that the release of the Boeing 777 will not be reliant on the SU15 update.

Again, when I wrote that above mentioned article PMDG had not stated which 777 variant would be the first out of the hangar.  We now know that the first PMDG 777 variant we’ll have access to purchase is the Boeing 777-300ER or 77W.  While I actually prefer the 777-200 as it’s the only version of the 777 that I’ve flown on in real life, the 77W will be a day one purchase for me and I’ll happily fly it until and even after I purchase the 772.

Finally, also way back in early March….we also didn’t know what PMDG’s release strategy was regarding the also highly anticipated Boeing 737MAX.  PMDG have stated that the 737MAX will release in between the other 777 variants.  So it’s highly probable that not only will we have a brand new 777-300ER for MSFS in the very near future, sometime soon after that we’ll also see the first 737MAX.  But let’s not jump too far ahead of things.  After all, the question at hand is whether or not we’ll have the PMDG Boeing 777-300ER before CTP on 20 April.

PMDG did provide an update yesterday on 1 April which you can read here.  This update from Robert says “The end of the wait is nearly upon us- I promise.”  So yes, I still believe it’s possible we’ll see the PMDG 777-300ER before 20 April.

In a perfect world, PMDG would release the 77W a few days or even more before the CTP event.  This would give everyone time to get familiar with the 777 in MSFS before this major event.  This is especially important considering the large number of new VATSIM members since the release of MSFS 2020 and many of these would not have flown this aircraft in P3D or FSX.

In closing, again….I believe we’ll have the PMDG 777-300ER very soon and certainly before the VATSIM CTP event.

Thanks for reading!

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

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

The Reality of Eggnog

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and are preparing to ring out the old 2023 and ring in the new 2024.  Here in Colorful Colorado, we had a semi-white Christmas with about a 1/2 inch of snow on Christmas Eve and an even whiter boxing day.  We woke up this morning to about 2 inches of fresh snow and it’s beautiful outside.  But that’s not what this blog post is about. 

A couple of weeks ago, Robert Randazzo teased us all with an update on a few of the PMDG projects and mentioned that he was looking forward to welcoming everyone into the hangar with a glass of eggnog. In that update he revealed the first screenshot of a Boeing 777 landing gear. Many in our community immediately add 2+2 and got 5 and anticipated that this was some sort of clue that we would see a new release from PMDG on or before Christmas.  I blogged about this back on the 9th of December. I will admit that while I thought it might be possible, I still held out on taking my credit card out of my wallet. 

Yesterday, on Christmas Day RSR once again posted an update on the progress of the PMDG Boeing 777 and provided several never before seen screenshots which I’ve posted below. 

PMDG_777_nose3

PMDG_777_tail3

Of course there was no mention of any upcoming 737 MAX in this PMDG update.  I still believe we won’t see anything until it’s actually been released as RSR has stated this many times.  But the bottom line with the PMDG 777, which I’m looking forward to having as much as anyone else, is that this aircraft has only been in testing for one week and the likelihood of it being available for purchase in the next few weeks or even in the next few months is most likely just not going to happen. 

My best guess at this point in time is that we’ll see the PMDG Boeing 777 sometime in the first quarter of 2024.  A date to keep in mind is the annual VATSIM CTP or Cross the Pond event.  The westbound event typically takes place toward the end of March or first part of April.  PMDG would make  a lot of simmers happy if they were able to release the 777 before this event. 

In closing, If you’re of a certain age you might remember the TV commercials featuring Orson Welles on behalf of Paul Masson Wine.  The similarities with PMDG are the same. 

Orson_Welles_Paul_Masson_Park

I hope the remaining days of 2023 are good to you and all the best in the new year!

Until next time….

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

PMDG 777 and 737 MAX News

In the past 24-48 hours we’ve had more teasers from PMDG regarding the current projects under development.  As we’ve known for sometime, the next expected release from PMDG AFTER the 737 series was to be the Boeing 777.  Earlier this month PMDG teased us with a customary landing gear screenshot from the 777 which I discussed in my article “PMDG Egg Nog”.  Since then, many have assumed (and you know what it means to assume right?) that Robert’s comment about “looking forward to welcoming you into the hangar with a glass of egg-nog in hand” meant that we might see something new from PMDG before the end of the year.  Is this still possible? 

Then on the 17th, Robert provided an additional update on the various projects along with another screenshot from the forward cabin of the Boeing 777.

PMDG_777_cabin-1024x576

In this update from the 17th, Robert mentions that the PMDG 777 has officially entered the beta testing stage.  If memory serves, the 737 spent a couple of months in beta testing.  So would the 777 beta testing period be similar?  Could be, but Robert mentioned in this recent update that his PMDG team have learned a lot about the development process from the 737 series and that could mean the amount of time needed to thoroughly test the 777 could be shorter. 

Even more speculation

There’s been some recent details about a PMDG tester being spotted flying a B38M.  These details came from a screenshot of the testers Discord profile which showed him flying the type in MSFS around Seattle Paine Field.  See below.

Discord MAX

Once again Robert teases with how he closes out the update from the 17th by the following:  “(Only 6 more shopping days until Christmas)”.  Of course many are speculating that PMDG will release something new to us before or on Christmas. 

My Own Opinions

As the 777 only went into beta testing on the 17th, I really doubt we’ll see that aircraft released in 2023.  While I certainly believe the amount of time PMDG spent testing the 737 before release could certainly be due to the fact that MSFS was a brand new sim for them to develop for.  The fact that they’ve had more than a year to come to terms with how MSFS works and what they have to do to develop add-on aircraft could certainly mean a short testing cycle for the 777.  But I don’t think they will rush this just to try to get it to us before Christmas or even before the end of the year.  In all likelihood, we’ll see the 777 release sometime in early Q1 of 2024. 

As for the 737 MAX.  Well…..I go back to what I’ve said before where we’ve heard Robert mention that PMDG has no plans to communicate a release date for the 737 MAX.  That one day we’ll wake up and find it’s available to purchase.  Could we actually wake up on Christmas morning and find the 737 MAX available?  I suppose time will tell.

Until next time…

Only 5 more shopping days until Christmas!!

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

What’s in store for us in the new year?

We’re in the final weeks of 2023 and it has me wondering that we have to look forward to in the new year.  Of course the biggest possible thing could be the next iteration of Microsoft Flight Simulator.  Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, I’m sure you know that a brand new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator is being released sometime in 2024.  While many do not see this as a good thing, I certainly do.  I believe Microsoft/Asobo have hit certainly roadblocks in MSFS 2020 and the only way to carry it forward is to release a brand new sim which hopefully will have everything we love about MSFS 2020, will have fixed everything we dislike about it and lay the ground work for an even better simulator for decades to come.  While MSFS 2024 is certainly something to look forward to, many of us are still very much in love with 2020 and looking forward to a few new goodies.

PMDG 777

Yes, one of my favorite simulator aircraft should be available to us in the first half of 2024.  While there is no date and it is only my speculation, but I think we will see this in the first quarter of 2024.  But don’t hate on me if that doesn’t work out.  Thankfully we’ve had a really good Boeing 787 Dreamliner to keep us busy the past few months.  But the void created by not having the 777 is a really big one.  Let’s hope I’m right and we’ll see it sooner rather than later in the new year.

Fenix Airbus A319 and A321

In a very much unexpected announcement a few months ago, the devs at Fenix announced that we would soon have their version of the Airbus A319 and A321 before the end of 2023.  I don’t believe they’ll make that deadline since they also had to delay the block 2 of their Airbus A320 which was originally planned to be released at the end of October.  With the delay for the A320 block 2, I would expect the A319/A321 to be delayed until sometime in the first half of the year.  While I would like to be as optimistic about the A319/A321 as I am with the PMDG 777, we’ll just have to see when block 2 comes out and how successful that is to then determine just how much longer it will be before the A319/A321 arrives.

Bluebird Simulations Boeing 757

Bluebird have been teasing us with status updates on their Boeing 757 throughout the last quarter of this year.  While it was originally believed that the 757 would release before the end of the year, Bluebird announced several months ago that would not be possible and they would not rush the product just to get it out to us.  I also believe we’ll see the 757 release in the first half of the year. 

PMDG 737 MAX

Could we have the PMDG 737 MAX before Microsoft 2024 arrives?  Of course we don’t know when MSFS 2024 will drop.  If history repeats itself, then it might happen in the late summer timeframe.  But who really knows.  Robert Randazzo, the CEO of PMDG has stated several times that PMDG have no plans to announce any release date for the MAX.  We’ll just wake up one day and there it will be.  But could this happen in the first or second half of 2024? 

iFly 737 MAX

In the past 24 hours, iFly have teased a few screenshots of their Boeing 737 MAX for MSFS 2020.  To be honest, I haven’t really paid a lot of attention to this product and don’t know just how far along they are in the process.  From what I’ve heard the iFly 737 MAX was successful in P3D and I would imagine we can expect nothing less for MSFS.  I did own the iFly 737 when it released for FSX many, many years ago.  iFly managed to release their 737 before PMDG by just a month or so (if memory serves).  But just as soon as PMDG released their 737, I bought it and never looked back.  So with this said, regardless of what iFly does, I believe I’m going to hold out for the PMDG MAX. 

Bottom Line

We must all practice patience and understand that these are all highly detailed and complex add-on aircraft.  None of these above mentioned developers are known to rush a product out the door just for the sake of releasing it.  They will release when they are ready and as a consumer, this truly is the very best policy. 

I truly believe 2024 will be another really great year for flight simulation.  What a great time to be involved. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Top Add-ons for MSFS in 2022

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.

GSX Pro

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!!!

Jerry

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