Over the years, we have enjoyed a lot of great products to increase the realism of our simulations. We’re always wanting new hardware, new software, more tweaks, better FPS, sharper textures, better clouds, better color… the list goes on.
When it comes to realism, and taking the next step forward, this is a demanding hobby for developers to survive in. As flight simmers, we are on the rewarding end of that. Just think of the addons you’ve purchased over the years and where your simulation is today.
Truth is, we’re at a plateau now. That’s right, I’m calling it for how I see it. Things have gotten SO good, that they can’t possibly get much better for a while.
In other words, FSX has become so realistic and such a compelling simulation, that it’s undeniably the best it’s ever been in the history of the hobby.
Below I share and discuss 5 addons that have come out in the last few weeks alone. These addons are ALL game changers in their own space. They are all affordable and necessary. They all fix a previous problem. They all change the world of flight simulator as we know it.
Let’s see what those are:
The Latest Aircraft
It’s no surprise to anyone at this point that at the PMDG 777 was just released. Many of you are now enjoying new route options, the beautifully modelled aircraft, and more importantly the realism it brings.
Although we saw one heck-of-a-machine with the PMDG 737, the 777 is just that much better. Not only is it more visually appealing, but it is better on frame-rates, has many new features, and finally does a justice for a Boeing aircraft that was yet to be simulated correctly.
It’s almost hard to believe it’s finally here. As a result, many of you will be exploring the world over.
Perfectly Planned Flights
In days of yesteryear (or prior) to a week ago, were you actually fully confident in your preflight planning for commercial simulations like the PMDG 737 or PMDG 777, not to mention others?
Did you actually feel as though you were doing things correctly?
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that less than 1% (yes, I just made up a statistic) of people were planning their flights correctly and executing those plans correctly. Those 1% would be a very select few professionally trained individuals, like real world dispatchers.
For the rest of us, we had a tool here, and a tool there, and not a way to really pull it all together and get an actual flight plan.
Those times are over. Enter PFPX.
PFPX, or Professional Flight Planner X does just about everything short of making you a hot airline style meal delivered by an attractive stewardess.
We’re talking full ETOPS Planning, Redispatching, Route Validation, Real World Routes… Oh yeah, and the regular stuff? Of course it does all that.
Step-by-step, with the easy to use interface, you’ll create and execute flightplans with spooky accuracy.
Enjoy the precise nature of flight planning in an easy to use, accurate way.
World Scenery Coverage
Over the past 5 years or so, a company called ORBX has been creeping their way into the market ever so slowly- until they came out with a huge bang when they released FTX PNW in 2010, followed by a quick succession of many other sceneries.
Now much of North America, all of the UK and all of Australia are covered. Those are so major areas. Coincidentally, they’re they most popular areas for flight simulation in terms of numbers.
However, what about the guy that lives in Greenland? What about the guy that lives in the Phillipines? Russia? Laos? Brasil? Japan? The list goes on. These guys aren’t covered, right?
Well, although there isn’t a FULL treatment for those areas, we now have FTX Global.
Fly from the Congo to Korea, and never miss a beautiful texture on the ground. The terrain will look realistic and fantastic. FTX Global replaces the default autogen (trees, buildings, etc) in addition to default ground textures. Your textures and building style will be realistic for the region you’re in.
And this is- Full. Global. Coverage. That’s FTX Global.
The Details of Pilotship
Recently I’ve seen some absolutely incredible videos come out from A2A Simulations, showing the latest aircraft they’ve done.
Now, usually these guys do classic airplanes like the B-17, P-51, Piper Cub, and other classics. And they do a GREAT job. No one does the classics like A2A.
However, for wise reasons, the team has decided to do a Cessna 172- a once relevant and still relevant training/GA aircraft.
You see, as a pilot, you miss out on a lot of things when you come to FSX. You really miss all the little preflight things you have to do- the quirks of the airplane itself- the buffets and shakes. There is just so much more that goes into doing an actual flight than a simulation flight.
A2A has recognized that’s ‘missing’ from simulation and have made a 172 that comes complete with a ‘maintenance hangar’ where one can (and sometimes must) change oil and tires and recharge the batteries- not to mention a slew of other things.
You can also do a walk around, checking the control surfaces, checking the oil, checking the entire airplane just as you would.
These guys have really brought a whole new expectation to the mass market of GA flying. To this point they’ve been a bit niche in only doing classics.
Watch out, GA Aircraft Developers. A2A is in the market. And they’re looking to seriously shake things up.
Go get ’em, guys.
Digital Cockpit Revolution
During the past several years, iPads and other tablets have exploded onto the aviation scene. Airline after airline has approved the replacement of their paper charts with iPads in the cockpit.
In general aviation, it gets even more impressive. Not only can you use iPads as a moving map now, but they can also be used to gather live-weather data, in addition to traffic advisories. This is all plug and play, and incredibly helpful.
How does this translate over to simulation? If you’re using an iPad with your flights, then you know. Having an iPad is a very useful tool for the virtual flight deck as well.
One thing that has been frustrating me, though, is the lack of charts on an iPad. Sure, I have the Navigraph Desktop App- but I want an iPad app, dang it!
JUST TODAY- Navigraph has announced Cloud Charts. Accessed from any device and any browser, Cloud Charts puts all the charts available from Navigraph right at your fingertips.
We use Navigraph Charts exclusively for all of our training, and as we’ve been using iPads more in our training as well, this is such an awesome thing to see come to the market!
We’re super excited for Navigraph, and know this will be completely successful. We know we’re onboard.
As I said earlier- I reaffirm now- this is the time to be a simulator pilot. Flightsim has never been as healthy as it is now. The latest products show just how far we’ve come.
Just for the near future, I don’t see how it gets better than this. Because right now, things are really, really good.
Now let’s go fly!
Chris Palmer and the AOA Crew
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