My Top MSFS Add-ons for 2023

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

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

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

Horizon Simulations Boeing 787-9

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

Kuro Boeing 787-8

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

Headwind Simulations Airbus A330-900

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

Various Airport Sceneries

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

Looking ahead to 2024

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

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

MSFS Dreamliner Fulfilled

I’ve written a lot about my thoughts on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for MSFS over the past year or so.  I’ve speculated on whether QualityWings would be bringing their Dreamliner to MSFS and I’ve shared my own thoughts and comments about the wild rumor that perhaps PMDG was working with QualityWings in some capacity to finally bring the product to MSFS. I’m happy to say that none of that no longer matters to me.  The wait is finally over, the almost near perfect replacement for the QualityWings 787 Dreamliner is here, and it’s available right now!

Before I ramble on.  From what I’ve heard around the flight sim community. QualityWings is all but dead.  A few months ago the word was that most of the developers have left and not only were their customers left in the dark about any future plans, so were the beta testers.  While I suppose QualityWings could at some point get their act together and finally bring their products to MSFS, I’m sorry to say that they are a day late and many dollars short.  Let’s face it.  QualityWings only has three products in their current portfolio for FSX/P3D.  That being the British Aerospace 146, the Boeing 757 and the Boeing 787.  JustFlight has their 146 Professional, BlueBird Simulations is doing a fantastic job with the Boeing 757 and hopefully will release in early 2024.  As for the Dreamliner….again, what is available right now as 100% complete freeware rivals anything QW could bring to market. 

Yes, if you own the Premium Deluxe version of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 you too could be flying in an almost near perfect version of the awesome Boeing 787 Dreamliner is available today in the 787-9 variant via the Flightsim.to website.  I’ve been enjoying the 787-9 developed by Horizon Simulations since it released just over a week ago.  While I describe this add-on as “almost near perfect”, there are a few small issues that I’m sure will be addressed over the next few weeks that will bring it to absolute perfection.  The biggest issue that most flight sim enthusiasts have with this aircraft has to do with the rotation.  The aircraft seems to be very nose heavy and is somewhat slow to respond when pulling back on the yoke.  But as I said, this is being addressed and I expect to be fully resolved in the next few weeks. 

FlightSimulator_OGeyXAQoTp

Of course, the Horizon Simulations Boeing 787-9 has only been made possible by the AAU2 or Aircraft & Avionics Update which released back in June and the addition of the more recent changes allowing Simbrief integration into the CDU as it fully capitalizes on these now default systems into the base Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner. 

In addition to the Horizon Simulations Boeing 787-9 which is available today, the Kuro 787-8 is also expected to be updated with the same Simbrief integration and hopefully will be available soon. 

So if you’ve been longing for a quality long-haul Boeing aircraft, then look no further than the Horizon Simulations Boeing 787-9.  Make sure you grab the livery pack which also includes dozens of high quality liveries for both the 787-9 GE and the 787-9 RR engine variants.  I truly don’t believe you’ll be disappointed.

If you do not own the Premium Deluxe version of Microsoft Flight Simulator, I believe you can upgrade via the Microsoft Store (not sure how it works if you purchased via Steam).  But the cost to upgrade, in my opinion is well worth it to gain access to this awesome aircraft. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

MSFS AAU2 Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Over the past few days I’ve been watching different streamers showcasing the AAU2 (Aircraft & Avionics Update) beta for Microsoft Flight Simulator.  This update which is scheduled to release to all users on 23 June and is a partnership between Asobo and Working Title and will bring a major overhaul for both the Boeing 747-8i and the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner. 

I’m particularly interested in the Dreamliner as I believe this will be our best chance of seeing this aircraft in the sim at any point in the near future.  From what I’ve seen, and while the beta still has some challenges to overcome, it’s going to make for a very nice addition to the virtual hangar.  Upon release I would expect the default MSFS Boeing 787 Dreamliner to be just as flyable/enjoyable as the QualityWings 787 in P3D. 

Speaking of QualityWings and MSFS.  Last month I posted my thoughts on the “PMDG 787 Dreamliner Rumors” which was making the rounds on social media.  While we’ve not heard anything further on this possibility, (and it’s possible Robert Randazzo was just trolling the flight sim community) I just don’t see any sort of partnership between PMDG and QualityWings ever coming to fruition.  While the development team at QualityWings remains silent on the subject of MSFS….it’s certainly not something I think we’ll see this year and actually may never see happen. 

While we’ve had the ability to enhance the default MSFS 787 with the HeavyDivision Mod for over two years, I believe this update for both the default 787 and 747 is fantastic news for the flight sim community. In addition, I could see where the HeavyDivision mod could (once it is reworked after the AAU2 changes are implemented to further enhance the experience.

While I’ve not had the opportunity to install the AAU2 beta (experiencing major hardware issues at the moment), I trust the few individuals who have spent time with the beta and shared their opinions.  I’m looking forward to the official release on 23 June and truly believe this update to the default Boeing 787 will help bridge the gap until PMDG releases their 777 later this year. 

Until next time….

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

PMDG 787 Dreamliner Rumors

About two months ago, there was a Community Q&A livestream between a YouTube Content Creator named FilbertFlies and PMDG’s Robert Randazzo.  During this 3 hour, 32 minute and 48 second event a question was asked by FilbertFlies regarding whether or not PMDG would be interested in developing a Boeing 787?  The response from Robert is somewhat vague, but his response nonetheless has lead some to believe that PMDG and QualityWings could be planning to work together to finally bring the much loved Dreamliner into MSFS.  But is this true?  Is this really what Robert Randazzo said?

Let’s break down the conversation which took place at the 2:17:00 mark of the video (see video below).

FilbertFlies:  Might you make a 787?

Robert Randazzo:  (long pause), Hmmmm, Would I like to?  Yea…Sure…Hmmm…So we’re having some conversations about that with someone else.

FilbertFlies:  Woooo, that’s interesting!

Robert Randazzo:  Yea, hmmmm, yea it is.  The people we’re having that conversation with actually make 787’s.  So it’s an interesting conversation.  But yea, sure….why not.

Of course, Robert didn’t mention QualityWings  by name, only that “The people we’re having that conversation with actually make 787’s”.  While this could be QualityWings, it could also be the team behind the HeavyDivision mod as they are developing a stand alone 787.  But….it could also mean that PMDG is talking with Boeing.  After all, PMDG has a longstanding relationship with Boeing and all of the PMDG add-ons are officially licensed Boeing products.

In my opinion, everyone that has jumped to the conclusion that somehow, someway PMDG and QualityWings will join forces to bring the 787 Dreamliner to MSFS is putting the cart way ahead of the horse.

But don’t get me wrong….I understand why a PMDG/QW partnership makes sense.  After all, the team at QW has all but gone dark with any new news regarding their plan to bring the 787 into MSFS.  While we’ve known for some time that QW is working on it, we haven’t heard from them in a really long time.  The last comment I’ve found on the QW forums was back in March 2022 where they mentioned “the Q2 2021 estimate for the 787 was way off.  We’ve decided that for now being quiet is better than giving wildly inaccurate deliver estimates”. While I can appreciate QualityWing’s does not want to set a release date, I certainly believe they could and should provide some news on at least a quarterly basis just to let us know things are progressing.  But I suppose at the end of the day, QW can run their company as they please.

The bottom line is, we just simply don’t know precisely what Robert meant with his comment.  For now, I’m optimistically hopeful we’ll see the PMDG Boeing 777 release sometime this year and I’m sure a study-level, high fidelity Dreamliner will eventually make its way into MSFS at some point in time.  Until then….we just have to wait and see.

 

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

My Top 10 Payware Aircraft for Prepar3D v4

Hello Ladies, Gentlemen and Children of all ages…  I truly appreciate all who take the time to read the content I publish in written format on my blog site.  I realize the written word is so prehistoric in terms of all things new media.  After all, we have podcasts, vlogs, livestreams etc.  But the old blog site continues to received many thousands of visits each month and I very much enjoy writing and sharing…so thank you all for taking the time to read the ramblings of a middle aged man. 

Pay special attention to the subject line and notice the use of the word “My”.  This list hasn’t been compiled using some scientific method to include every single payware aircraft available for P3Dv4.  It’s just my very own Top 10 list of my favorite payware aircraft for Prepar3D version 4.  Yes, I own each of these and try to fly them on a regular basis.  The operative word in that sentence is “try”.  I’ll explain that later.  Let’s get started with MY Top 10 Payware Aircraft for Prepar3D v4.

Honorable Mention – CaptainSim 757

I’ve opted to list an 11th listing which I’ve thrown into the honorable mention category and it somewhat pains me to do so.  In my long history of flight sim and my nearly as long history of payware aircraft, I’ve had a somewhat contentious relationship with CaptainSim.  But I so much adore the Boeing 757 that when no other options were available, I plopped down my hard earned money and purchased their rendition of the aircraft.   While I had a terrible, terrible, terrible (did I say terrible) experience with their version of the 777 and I still believe their 777 flies like a brick, CaptainSim has come along way to improving the 757.  While I don’t agree with their pricing strategy, CaptainSim (at this time) is the only option for a 757 in P3Dv4. 

Note:  In between the time I actually wrote this article and published it, QualityWings did release their Boeing 757 which was originally developed for FS9 and FSX.  So technically there are now two B757’s for P3Dv4.  

#10 – Carenado C208B Grand Caravan with Cargomaster Expansion Pack

While Carenado may not be known for developing truly study level aircraft, usually their attention to detail in producing both a beautiful aircraft and one that handles well in the air is good enough to give me several hours of fun.  The Carenado C208B Grand Caravan with the Cargomaster expansion pack was perhaps my 2nd or 3rd purchase from Carenado and it remains one of my favorite aircraft to fly.  I enjoy loading it up in the Fedex livery and doing some Caribbean island hopping.  While I own a variety of Carenado aircraft and soon plan to add their latest release of the ATR 42-500 series aircraft.  I think this one will also be a fun plane to fly around the Caribbean in. 

#9 – Carenado Fokker 50

Just like I stated with the Carenado Grand Caravan, the Fokker 50 is beautifully detailed and flies well.  This aircraft has made the list due in part to the fact that I’ve flown on this same aircraft so many times between London City Airport and Antwerp, Belgium.  Unfortunately, when my wife and I were in Antwerp last summer (summer of 2018) the airline, VLM shut down operations just after we landed back in England.  Talk about timing!  So now we’ll most likely go by rail via the Eurostar which will be a brand new adventure I’m sure. 

#8 – Majestic Bombardier Dash-8 Q400

I would suspect this aircraft would rank much, much higher on other’s lists (if they were to compile one).  There are a few reasons why this aircraft ranks where it does on my list and it really has nothing to do with the aircraft itself.   You’ve heard the saying…”It’s not you, it’s me” right? 

So I was a bit late acquiring the Majestic Bombardier Dash-8 Q400.  When I did purchase it, it was for P3D v3.  Soon after purchase my life got busy (as it sometimes can do) and I never really got around to learning the aircraft.  Then when P3D v4 came out, I tried to upgrade but that was during the time when the FlightSimStore was having their issues which I discussed here and again here.  I finally managed to secure the upgraded version of the Q400 for P3D v4.  I’ve just not dedicated the time required to learning this awesome aircraft.  Perhaps if I can learn to fly this beauty properly, she would rank much higher on my list.  But until then….here we are!

#7 – QualityWings Boeing 787 Dreamliner

This is one aircraft which in the real-world I’ve yet to have the opportunity to fly.  The 787 ranks lower on my list simply due to the fact the other seven are more of a favorite than this one.  While it took the team at QualityWings a mini-lifetime to bring this beautiful aircraft to Prepar3D v4, it was worth the wait.  With the recent updates, the QW Dreamliner is truly a dream to fly and one I do enjoy flying every chance I get.  Now before I leave the subject of QualityWings, I truly wish they would hurry up and bring their Boeing 757 to P3D v4.  As soon as they do, I’ll purchase it and drop the CaptainSim in a heartbeat.  

#6 – PMDG Boeing 747-400 v3 (Queen of the Skies II)

While it only took me a few minutes to jot down ten aircraft (11 if you count the honorable mention), it’s now getting down to the truly difficult part.  Really from the Dreamliner all the way down to the #1, it really all boils down to just how frequently I fly these aircraft.  As I truly love the immersion experience the flight simulation hobby gives to me, I also enjoy simulating real world flights.  It’s just really, really hard to consider flying the magnificent Boeing 747-400 on a two hour flight.  But then again…there’s always cargo operations. 

The Boeing 747-400 will always be a very special aircraft for me.  In my lifetime, I’ve flown on several.  The first was on a United Airlines when I flew from San Francisco to Tokyo.  I’ve since flown on a British Airways 747-400 another three times with a fourth coming up this summer when my wife and I will once again travel across the pond from Denver to London Heathrow on the British Airways 744.  While she’s starting to get really long in the tooth, it’s still the most magnificent aircraft I’ve ever had the chance to fly on. 

#5 – PMDG Boeing 777

I recently counted the number of trips across the pond (US to UK) which I’ve completed in my life.  That number is eleven with my twelfth crossing coming up later this summer.  The Boeing 777 holds a special place in my heart (and on this list) as it was in an American Airlines Boeing 777-200 that I made my first transatlantic crossing back in 2001.  It was this trip which introduced me to my beautiful wife.  Since that first trip, I’ve flown on British Airways 777 several times before they began using the 747-400 on the Denver to Heathrow route. 

Of course, the 777 ranks here for much the same reason as the 747.  But I do tend to fly a lot of domestic Fedex routes and they are always fun to fly.  I truly love this aircraft.

#4 – FlightSimLabs Airbus A320/A319

Longtime and regular readers of my blog postings will certainly recall a time where I actually said I would never own the FlightSimLabs Airbus aircraft.  A few months later I changed my mind and wrote about the reasons for changing my mind.  I’m grouping the FlightSimLabs Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft together as they are very much the same aircraft, just slightly different variants.  Both are awesome to fly and both get taken out of my virtual hangar from time to time for shorter routes when I want to simulate flying for American, British Airways etc.  While I’ll always stand firm in the frustration felt with their earlier business practices, I firmly believe they have turned that corner and this team of developers are doing some really awesome things.  I look forward to their A321 variant and will add it to my virtual hangar upon release. 

#3 – Milviz DHC-2 Beaver

I  absolutely love flying in the wilds of Alaska with this awesome looking and equally performing aircraft.  An aircraft like this allows me to appreciate the shear beauty of the wonderful Alaskan scenery and with the float plane variant, there’s no place I can’t go.  Just as it says on the Milviz website, the DHC-2 Beaver embodies the ‘can-do’ attitude that’s made this iconic bush plane a symbol of hard work for nearly 70 years.

#2 – A2A Cessna 172

The finest study level general aviation aircraft available for Prepar3D v4 (also for earlier versions and FSX) which you’ll find on the entire interwebz is the A2A Cessna 172.  I’m really not sure you can call yourself a flight sim enthusiast unless you own this aircraft.  While A2A also offers (and I own) the Cessna 182 and Piper Cherokee 180, the Cessna 172 is aircraft I truly love to fly.  I will often load it up at Centennial Airport (KAPA) which is only a few miles from my home and office and fly around the Denver area. 

#1 – PMDG Boeing 737

There’s a reason why both #1 and #2 on this list also appeared in my “Top 5, Must Have Add-ons for Prepar3D v4” article I wrote last fall.  I must also admit that while I do very much enjoy flying low and slow in the above mentioned A2A Cessna 172, my main flight simulation passion is and has been for a very long time with jetliners/tubeliners.  As it happens, the PMDG Boeing 737 happens to be my favorite, my go-to and my workhorse aircraft of choice and for many reasons.

First, versatility.  This aircraft can practically go anywhere pending you account for fuel usage.  As it’s popular with many different airlines, you’ll find a wide range of liveries available to simulate your favorite airline.  It’s also a really easy and forgiving study level aircraft to start with.  I can literally load up P3Dv4 with any variant of the PMDG 737 and within 10-15 minutes I can be taxing toward the active runway with everything running/programmed and ready for flight.  Last, but certainly not least….the PMDG Boeing 737 is easy on frames which means you don’t need to have as powerful of a PC to still be able to enjoy a payware, study level aircraft.   

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it.  My Top 10 plus an honorable mention just for the heck of it.  Really with the exception of the #1 (PMDG 737) and #2 (A2A C172) the other listings could just about fall in any other order.  Meaning, they all are top-notch payware aircraft and a whole lot of fun to fly.  When asked, or even when I’m not asked…I always recommend both the A2A Cessna 172 and the PMDG Boeing 737 to those who are just starting out in flight simulation.  As previously stated, both are truly awesome aircraft and both will give you that “As Real As It Gets” experience.

I think I’ll work on a “Top 10” Airport Add-on list next.  Stay tuned…

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

WorldFlight 2018 GBS Tour – Leg 5

Our tourists are once again on the move.  The time spent in Singapore was certainly not disappointing.  Only time will tell just how historic of an event which also took place while our travelers were visiting Singapore.  Without getting too deep in the political weeds, I’ll just say that anything positive will certainly be a great thing for not only the region…but the entire world.  As mentioned during the last trip report, we will be flying this next leg in the beautiful QualityWings Boeing 787 Dreamliner.  For this leg we’re flying the Scoot Tigerair Dreamliner.  Scoot Tigerair (not to be confused with Australia’s TigerAir) is a low-cost airline from Singapore.  More about that later.

tour_map

An updated version of our tour map.

History of City

The Sultan Iskandar Muda airport is located 13.5km southeast of the capital of Banda Aceh, in the province of Aceh, Indonesia. Banda Aceh is situated at the tip of Sumatra and has long been a strategic, transportation and trading hub in the eastern Indian Ocean. The first mention in western accounts comes from 1292 when Marco Polo and his expedition visited the city and noted as the logical first port of call for travelers from Arabia and India to Indonesia. On December, 26 2004 the city was hit by a tsunami which was caused by a 9.2 magnitude earthquake in the Indian Ocean. The disaster killed an estimated 167,000 inhabitants and destroyed more than 60% of the city’s buildings.

History of Country

The history of Indonesia has been shaped by its geographic location and consists of 17,000 – 18,000 islands of which 8,844 are named and 922 of these are permanently inhabited. Indonesia is positioned along the equator in South East Asia.

History of Airport

Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport also known as Banda Aceh International Airport, is located 13.5km from the capital of Banda Aceh. It is named after the 12th sultan of Aceh, Iskandar Muda. The airport was built in 1943 by the Japanese Government and is currently the 23rd busiest airport in Indonesia.

History of Airline

Scoot Tigerair is a Singaporean low-cost, long-haul airline owned and operated by Singapore Airlines. It launched flights in 2012 on medium and long-haul routes from Singapore, predominantly to China and India. Initially, Scoot’s fleet consisted of Boeing 777 aircraft obtained from Singapore Airlines. The airline began to transition its fleet to Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft in 2015.

Flight Briefing

TGW1066
WSSS – WITT
Planned Fuel – 32,377 lbs.
Planned Altitude – 38,000
Distance – 571
Flight Time – 1hr, 50min
Route:  ADMI3F ASUNA L762 MDN W12 JILAT JILA2D

leg 5 fp

Flight Journal

Once again it’s time for our travelers to head towards their next destination.  Our next stop will once again have our travelers back in Indonesia, but this time on the northern side of the equator.  Once again the clouds are building as this is pretty much the pattern in these locations.  The ground crew in Singapore is getting the final cargo items loaded and soon we’ll pushback and taxi to the runway.

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As Scoot is a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, the Singapore airlines crew is helping with the ramp operations including pushback.

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If you follow aviation news, you may know there are some major issues with the Rolls Royce Trent engines.  However, in the virtual world…they work just fine.

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Lined up and waiting on runway 20C.  The tires have been kicked, we’re just waiting to light the fires on these RR Trent engines and get the Dreamliner in the sky.

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Just as the tag-line reads under the Captains window, it’s time to “Lickity Split”.

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A little artistry “Dream like effect” for the beautiful Dreamliner.

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Rolls Royce Trent engines doing their thing…

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I love wing shots.  The differences between the Boeing 777 and 787 vary little.  The wingspan of the 787 is 197’.

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Fully configured for our landing this evening.

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Short final into our very basic default P3D airport.  Not a lot of eye candy.

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Parked and awaiting the ground crew.  Another leg is safely and successfully in the books.

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Simulator Specifics

Prepar3d v4.2
ActiveSky Weather Engine
ActiveSky Cloud Art
Envtex & Envshade
QualityWings 787 (Scoot Tigerair livery)
Orbx Global Texture
VATSIM

Route Planning Tools

AivlaSoft PFPX
Navigraph Charts Desktop
FlightAware
FlightRadar24
SkyVector
Google Maps

Computer Hardware Specs

Yes ladies and gentlemen, another successful and most importantly safe flight in the books.  As I have some real-world travel of my own coming up, it will be a few days before I can sit down and fly the next leg.  But when that time comes, we’ll be back in the Boeing 737-800.  While I haven’t planned out the equipment for each leg of the tour, my guess is the 737 will end up being the most used aircraft for the tour.  But I’ll do my best to keep it interesting.  Thanks for reading.

Until next time…

Happy Travels

Jerry

QualityWings 787 for Prepar3d v4 – First Impressions

Before I start this review.  Please allow me to get the fine print out of the way.

The product I am reviewing was purchased by me and for my own personal use.  I receive absolutely no compensation of any form (cash, credit, discounts, promises) for reviewing this product.  I have not contacted, nor have I been contacted by the vendor to provide this product review.  The opinions expressed (good or bad) are my own, your mileage may vary.

OK…with the legal disclaimer out of the way, allow me to get started.  Like many of you, I purchased the QualityWings 787 for P3D v4 within minutes of it being released.  I’ve personally been anxious about this aircraft release from the time I first learned of it.  However, I’ve often been critical of QualityWings for their decision to first release this aircraft for FSX and FSX: SE.  But I’m also man enough to admit that I’m biased as I’ve not thought much about FSX since the early days of P3D v3.x and certainly have no interest in FSX now that the 64 bit P3D v4 is available and performing so well.

Study Level She’s Not

A question which is popping up just about everywhere has to do with whether or not the QW787 is a study level aircraft similar to any of the PMDG or FSLabs aircraft.  For the record, I don’t currently own (nor will I ever) any FSLabs aircraft.  The reason for this can be summed up here.  But I do own the PMDG Boeing 737, 747 and 777 and enjoy flying each and every one of them.   I can certainly confirm the QW787 can’t be compared to the likes of the PMDG Boeing lineup, but she’s still a joy to fly.

Study vs Quality

I make no bones about the fact that I’m NOT a real world pilot.  I suppose some might wonder how I can spend over 35 years flying computer based sims, enjoy them passionately and not have any interest in real world aviation.  Simply put, when I was younger and had more time, I didn’t have the money.  A decade or so ago, I had the money…but just not enough time.  Now days…well, as I’m older the cost of learning to fly is much more expensive and I suppose I just have a lot of other interests in my life.  At least this is my story and I’m going to stick to it.

While others may see PMDG as a developer of study level aircraft, I see them as developers of quality simulation aircraft.  Some folks might not see the difference between these two things…but I certainly do.  As an example, I really have no idea if the PMDG 737 performs like the real thing. I believe it does as that’s what others say…but my only real experience comes from riding a few thousand miles a year in one for work related trips.  Likewise, I have no idea if the PMDG 747 performs like the real thing.  But from my point of view in my nice business class seat, I’ll just order another glass of wine and I’m a happy passenger.

The point I’m making here is while I do enjoy the level of detail and the tasks which must be carried out to be able to simulate flight in a PMDG 737, 747 or 777….I really have nothing to compare that to other than the fact that I appreciate the level of quality which goes into a PMDG aircraft.  But I’m starting to digress and this article is reading more like a review of PMDG so let me get back on track.  The QualityWings 787 Dreamliner at this point in time, is not study level and it’s also not on the same level of quality as that of the PMDG models I own.  But I believe it can be.

Bugs

I honestly can’t remember the last time I purchased a flight sim add-on aircraft which was 100% bug free on day of release.  Most likely the reason I can’t remember is because in the history of flight simulation (and I have just about been around the entire time) no aircraft that I’m aware of has ever been released 100% bug free.  Yes, the QW787 has a few bugs. Most that I’ve discovered I would classify as minor annoyances, but a few certainly qualify to be labeled and identified as major.  Fortunately, I’ve personally not discovered anything I would label as a show-stopper.  Here are a few of the bugs I’ve discovered.

ActiveSky and WX Radar CTD – When using both ActiveSky for P3D v4 (ASP4) and using the onboard wx radar features of the QW787, a CTD or Crash to Desktop can occur.  While some may identify this as a show-stopper bug, the CTD can be avoided by simply not using the wx radar features.  QW’s are aware of this and working on a fix.  This is the only bug which has caused me any issues which I couldn’t overcome.

VNAV Issues – Some folks are experiencing various issues related to VNAV mostly during the descent.

LNAV Issues – Consisting of the aircraft attempting turns too early and/or overshooting turns altogether.

Altitude Constraints on SID/STARS – I’ve experienced both while flying the QW787.

If I’m not mistaken, Qualitywings have recognized these issues as bugs and are working on a fix.  As of a few days ago, the ETA for the hotfix was in approx. 2 weeks.

Bottom Line

I’m extremely happy with the purchase and I look forward to the hotfix patch which hopefully will resolve all the issues.  I’ve spent several hours flying this beautiful aircraft on mostly short hops of no more than 2-3 hours.  The QW787 Dreamliner is a new favorite in my hangar.  I’ll leave you with a few recent images of this beautiful aircraft from some of my recent flights.  I’ll also return with an updated post once the hotfix has been released.  But if you are looking to add a Boeing 787 Dreamliner to your fleet for P3D v4, then look no further than the QualityWings version.  I believe you’ll be pleased you did.

 

DaaJCKh

 

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MMmiLMx

 

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Until next time…

Happy Dreams

J

QualityWings Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Ladies, Gentlemen and Children of all ages who absolutely love everything avgeek, the wait is over.  Yes, QualityWings released their Prepar3d v4 version of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on Wednesday.  Earlier in the week, news broke that QW had lifted the NDA (non-disclosure agreement) with their beta test team and images, videos and discussions began appearing all over the interwebz.  The assumption was the QW787 release was imminent.

It’s been a long and winding road

According to my blog site search engine, the first mention of the QW 787 Dreamliner in any of my writings was back on 22 June 2017.   Later in 2017 from a hotel room in Orlando, I followed up with my comments regarding the fact QW opted to release the 787 for FSX (boxed) and FSX: Steam Edition before any version of Prepar3D.  This was somewhat of a head scratcher for me especially since P3D v4 had been out for about 5 months at this point and other aircraft developers (PMDG, A2A and others) had managed to release their aircraft which were originally developed for FSX and older versions of P3D with P3D v4 installers.  But oh well…we would just have to be patient.

The Un-official Race

I’ll admit that over the years I’ve been slightly critical of QualityWings.  I’m not the only one that has wondered “what the heck are these guys thinking” when it comes to the decisions they’ve made.  I often speculated just how long it would take them to release their 787 for P3D v4 and even felt it would be well after Aerosoft released their Airbus A318/A319 & A320/A321 product for v4.  I guess it’s a good thing that I didn’t actually wager any money against this bet, as I would have lost.  The guys at QualityWings have beat Aerosoft by country mile.  As I recently discussed, the Aerosoft busses won’t be released until 26 June.  So congratulations QW.

Not a First Impressions Article

I’m going to wait a few days before I write my official “first impressions” piece.  I feel I need some more time in the aircraft before I’m able to write a fair and balanced piece.  But I’ll certainly share two screenshots and a bit of commentary from my inaugural flight last evening.  I plan to spend some of this upcoming long, holiday weekend in the Dreamliner and will have a much better sense of just how good (or bad) this aircraft is.  But I can tell you this much.  My initial impression of this is QualityWings have lived up to using the word “Quality” in their brand.  I’m impressed.

DaaJCKh

Cruising at FL360 enroute from KDFW to KDEN.  As I’ve discussed before, I really don’t have the time to fly a lot of long-haul flights.  So while the Dreamliner truly was designed for long-haul and even ultra long-haul flights, most of my use will most likely be fictional flights of no more than 2-3 hours in length.

 

MMmiLMx

The “Sporty” style of the B787 Flight Deck is impressive.  While this aircraft shouldn’t be compared to a study level PMDG aircraft, it truly isn’t bad.  There’s still enough work that needs to be done to ready this aircraft for flight to keep me 100% interested.  I’m fairly confident, the QW 787 Dreamliner will get used often.

One Small Issue

Ok…well, perhaps it really isn’t that small.  Especially considering I did experience a CTD (crash to desktop) on my inaugural flight.  One flight, one CTD…I guess one could say it might be a bigger issue.  But after reaching cruise altitude, I was messing about with the weather radar features and while doing so experienced the CTD.  This was the first CTD I’ve ever experienced in P3D v4 and certainly the first CTD on the new Beast v5 gaming machine.  But I see absolutely no reason to panic.  I’m fairly certain this product will be like most others….there will be a few quirks that will get resolved in an update patch/fix soon.

The good news, I run auto-save via FSUIPC.  FSUIPC performs an auto-save of my flight, complete with all aircraft configuration settings every 15 minutes.  I was able to re-launch P3D and resume my flight (just like nothing ever happened) from the latest save.

OK…well I must get to work now.  I quickly wrote this piece while easing into my Thursday morning in the office.  The coffee is gone and I must go find more or today will be a long and difficult day.

Until next time….I’ll be dreaming of my next Dreamliner flight.

Jerry

QualityWings 787 and P3D v4.x

Hello to all.  Life has been quite busy for me the past few months.  I must apologize to my readers as in typical fashion, my busy schedule has had an impact on my blogging.  It’s been several months since I posted an article to my blog and for that I must apologize.  I had the best intentions of writing more and of course writing about flight simulation.  After all, it was flight sim which caused me to create this blog site over 10 years ago.

As I write this, I’m sitting in my hotel room in Orlando, Florida where I’m on my third business trip in the past five weeks.  I just got back from dinner (I’m stuffed), turned on the TV (boring) and decided to check my email.  One of my long time readers messaged me asking if I had spent any time with the newly released QualityWings 787 Dreamliner and what my impressions were.  Well…unfortunately, I had to answer his question with a short answer of no, followed by some additional comments I’m going to share here.

I believe the last time I wrote about the QualityWings 787 was back in June of this year.  At that time I had read a Facebook message stating the aircraft was expected to be released in the Summer of 2017.  Unfortunately, QualityWings missed their mark slightly.  The season of summer came to an end on Friday, September 22nd and the QW Dreamliner was released in early October.  Now I realize I’m being a bit cheeky with pointing this out….but details matter right?  OK….perhaps not.  The good news is the much anticipated QualityWings 787 Dreamliner is available, but the bad news…it’s only available for FSX!

Of course, we knew this would be the case and I even touched on that in my previously mentioned June blog post.  QW explains this decision is due to the fact the 787 has been in development longer than Prepar3D v4 (or even v3 or v2) had been in existence.  While I understand this fact, I must also mention that I’m of the opinion that QualityWings really have never fully embraced the Prepar3d P3D platform.  While it is true they did FINALLY update their Boeing 757 for P3D v2.5…but their treatment of P3D could be likened to that of a “red headed step-child”.

While I fully realize many flight sim enthusiasts still fly FSX and FSX Steam Edition, surprisingly there appears to still be a large number of FS9 users….but I’m of the opinion that FSX (in all forms) is just simply dead.  But I must again say that I don’t blame or fault QualityWings for releasing the Dreamliner for FSX.  But I’m curious how long it will take them to bring this wonderful aircraft to P3D v4?

I know some might say, “but the QW development team is small” and “these things take time”.  I get all that.  But I will remind everyone that PMDG was able to update their older Boeing 737 NGX which was released in the 2011 timeframe (if I’m not mistaken).  So in theory, the same can be said of PMDG that they began development on an aircraft prior to Prepar3D, but was still able to update/release the NGX for P3D v4 within a few weeks of release.

So….to answer my readers question.  Unfortunately, when Prepar3D v4 was released earlier this year I made the decision to embrace it as my flight sim platform and I’ve not looked back to earlier P3D versions or FSX since and I don’t plan to.

But having said that.  Just as soon as this beautiful aircraft is released for P3D v4.x, I will purchase it and I’m sure I’ll have more than a few things to say about it here.

I’m exhausted after a long day and ready to turn in.  I’ll post this sometime on Wednesday or Thursday.  So until next time….Happy Simming!

JT

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