The Return of Community Spirit
Once upon a time, there once existed a spirit within the flight simulation community where talented individuals created many marvelous things to enhance the base simulator application. Everything from navigational aids, enhanced airport scenery and aircraft. At one time in our not so distant past, the quality freeware offerings outnumbered payware. As the base simulator began to evolve (circa FS9 –> FSX timeframe) the quality freeware began to decline and the rise of payware took hold. While I won’t pretend there’s absolutely no freeware available for P3D, I will tell you that the quality content is very few and far between.
Of course the X-Plane community has, for years and still very much to this day, enjoyed a very strong community spirit around freeware/shareware concepts. Many of the X-Plane users in the virtual airline I belong to have spent little to almost no money to enhance their simulation experience. Arguably, one of the very best freeware aircraft models ever known to exist is the Zibo 737. The Zibo 737 Project, led by a team of developers to expand the capabilities of the default 737 in X-Plane. Many who fly both the PMDG 737NG and the Zibo 737 will tell you the differences between the two are hardly noticeable. Others might describe the Zibo 737 as being on-par with Aerosoft quality. Either way, it’s a fantastic aircraft and absolutely free. Who can argue with free?
With the launch a few weeks ago of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, many were bracing themselves (and their wallets) for an onslaught of payware add-ons. After all, if you’ve spent the past decade or more flying study level aircraft the excitement of a brand new simulator may wear off fairly quickly once you climb into the flight deck of the default Airbus A320. Sure….it’s pretty. But within just a few minutes you realize you’ve taken a huge step backwards in the level of immersion as most features are labeled as Inop. I’ve even stated several times that for me, MSFS2020 will most certainly become my go-to flight simulator, but only once aircraft models from PMDG, FSLabs, QualityWings etc. become available. This won’t be happening this year. Most likely this won’t be happening until sometime late in Q1 2021 or perhaps even early Q2 2021.
In just the past week or so, there’s been news about a project underway to create a “Zibo” like experience with the default Airbus A320 in MSFS2020 called the MS2020 A32NX Project. I can tell you from first hand experience that what this team of developers have been able to do in the short time since the release of MSFS2020 has certainly piqued my interest in both MSFS2020 and the default Airbus A320 from an airliner perspective.
Understand, the project is still very much a work in progress. But they’ve certainly managed to excite me in such a way that I can certainly see myself flying the A320 in MSFS2020 on the VATSIM network very soon. Certainly much sooner than I originally believed would be possible.
Want to learn more?
Of course you do! I’d suggest watching the video I’ve embedded below which will bring you up to speed on the progress already made as well as what’s in-store for the very near future. The video description area will provide you with the links to download the mod and how to join the project’s Discord server so you can stay informed on the team’s progress. I hope this news excites you as much as it does me.
Thank you for reading this article. It’s much appreciated. For those who are thinking the MSFS2020 A320 project will never be on-par with the likes of the FSLabs A320, you are probably correct. However, as previously stated….the FSLabs Airbus series is most likely 4-6 months away from being available. I’d be willing to bet, the team working on the MSFS2020 A320 project will (in time) bring this up to a level of quality and realism as what we currently see with the Aerosoft A320 and perhaps beyond.
Many are asking if the same might also happen with the default Boeing 747 and Dreamliner. Unfortunately, due to the DRM status of these two aircraft…this may never be possible. But I suppose one should never say never.
Thanks for reading. I’ll soon provide an update to my experiences with the latest MSFS2020 patch. Stay tuned….
Until next time….