Today third-party developers had plenty of news to share about Microsoft Flight Simulator add-ons.
We start a release, the DHC-1 Chipmunk, which was launched by Aeroplane Heaven.
- All new hi-fidelity models with superb detail
- Beautifully crafted exterior and interior models built over contemporary detailed plans and drawings
- Authentic cockpit detail includes many bespoke animations and effects.
- Full PBR materials and textures include realistic “pillowing” of metal surfaces.
- Separately modeled military pilots selected automatically via camera views in cockpit.
- Removable pilots based on the weights window
- Switchable navigation instruments work with period style radios
- Highly accurate flight dynamics and performance based on real flight tests.
- Specially authored WWise Hi-Fidelity sound package.
- Unique code to “iron” out poor simulator tail-dragger performance.
- Choice of T10 long canopy or Bubble canopy models.
Next, we hear from DC Designs, which provided a development update and new screenshots of the AV-8B Harrier II, which should release between August and September.
“This week has been a LOT of fun. There are months of research, preparation and building involved in creating a model for MSFS before the fun stuff starts, and that usually begins with the addition of high-quality textures and PBR ( physically-based- reflections ). This week, the Harrier got its PBR work added, and I’m pretty sure you’ll all be able to see the significant differences visually between this weeks’ images and those of last week. Same model, just with proper texturing in place. This time, I have elected to go with panel lines and rivets mostly on the textures themselves, after using the decal method on the F-14s and Concorde. It’s just to see which method really works the best on a finished product. ( For Phantom Phans, next week’s update will show the F-4J with its PBR finish and hopefully much panel line work also ).
Other refinements have been on-going with the flight model, with further improvements to the V/STOL envelope and general handling characteristics. CodenameJack has been hard at work on this as always, and his efforts are really paying off well. We now have very smooth lift off and landing phases, a good transition into forward flight and good directional control in the hover. Forward velocity is capped at 30 knots, to allow the Harrier to pace ships for landing ( they normally move at 20 knots in flight simulators ) thus allowing for sea-based operations on any vessels with hard decks.
I was also this week fortunate enough to be approached by a retired United States Marine Corps FA-18 / AV-8B Harrier pilot, and MSFS fan, who wanted to help test the Harriers before launch. It’s not something that I advertise much, but the only airplane I have built that wasn’t tested in some form by a pilot of the real airplane, is Concorde. There are still a few folks out there who like to suggest that because I don’t worry about super-detailed systems modelling, that somehow the rest of the airplanes are not realistic either. How little they know. This time it was great to not have to hunt down a willing pilot with real-world experience, but instead be approached directly by somebody with the skills to help make the Harrier as realistic as we can in MSFS.
After some thought, I am now planning to add the AV-8B+ and GR9 variants to the package. These will be external model differences only, with the longer nose forward of the canopy and sensor additions – the cockpit will remain the same for all variants. This widens the user’s variant choice without creating excessive extra work that would push the price of the package up.
I have around a week’s more work to perform on the exterior model ( finer detailing, weathering, texturing etc ) before I can start on the interior, which is itself a scratch-build so will take some time ( much of the rest of the summer basically ). After this, I will introduce the other external model changes and start wrapping the project up for release. Publication will be simultaneously to the Marketplace and third-party stores this time, to avoid console users having to wait longer for their Harriers. A best guess for launch is late August / early September. We’ll see how it goes.”
No information was provided on the release window, but it’s coming.
We also get a trailer from IniBuilds showing off San Antonio International Airport (KSAT) in Texas, US.
We don’t know when it’ll be released but it’s “coming soon.”
Moving on to announcements, Orbx revealed the upcoming release of Phuket International Airport (VTSP) in Thailand.
This is another relevant addition to the lineup of Microsoft Flight Simulator, being the second airport in the country and a famous tourist destination.
Here’s what you can expect.
- Detailed depiction of VTSP Phuket International Airport
- Custom groundploy
- Newly developed Siam Land Private jet Terminal
- Bespoke GSE
- Simplified terminal interior
Another airport announcement comes from Skyline Simulations, which will launch Roanoke–Blacksburg Regional Airport (KROA) in Virginia, United States.
While it’s not a massive airport, it does get quite a bit of both passenger and cargo traffic.
You can see a single screenshot below featuring the iconic Aurora statue in the plaza in front of the main terminal.
The next announcement is a rather peculiar but definitely interesting one. Black Square and Just Flight revealed two Steam Gauges Overhauls for the default Beechcraft King Air and Cessna 208B Grand Caravan.
Basically they do what they say on the tin. While reusing the excellent default external models and sounds, they offer a fully remade cockpit and systems that promise to increase the simulation realism considerably.
The price will be €33.95 for the King Air and €24.95 for the Grand Caravan.
- Completely new interior and panel for the default MSFS aircraft, featuring analogue instrumentation, swappable radio configurations and an overhauled electrical system with every circuit breaker, bus, meter, switch and knob functioning.
- Custom-coded steam gauges with low-pass filtering, needle bounce and physics to provide ultra-realistic and silky smooth animations like you’ve never seen before.
- Carefully modelled components match the depth and character of the real-world instruments, based on reference photos, schematics and real world measurements. Every piece of equipment is modelled after a real piece of aircraft equipment and will behave the same way in its primary functionality.
- Every knob, switch and button is interactable, along with its respective electrical circuitry. Turn systems on and off or pull circuit breakers to see the impact it has on your generators and battery via the analogue meters. Automatic load shedding and standby generators are also simulated. Many pieces of equipment respond correctly to electrical configurations with warning messages and diagnostic codes.
- Fully 3D cockpit lighting technology for every gauge and panel, with ambient bounce lighting for a more immersive night-time experience.
- Improved turbine dynamics (ITT, TRQ, Ng, Fuel Flow, Inertial Separator), battery charging circuitry and AC inverters.
- Selective state saving for radio selection, radio frequency memory, cabin aesthetics and other settings.
- Engine limit excursions that decrease engine health and will eventually lead to failure.
- Crew/Passenger oxygen system that depletes according to pressure altitude, passenger occupancy and the biological demand of each passenger based on weight.
- Dozens of checklists with hundreds of items for normal, abnormal and emergency procedures in textual form, and in-game, using the MSFS native checklist system with control and instrument highlighting. If it’s in the checklist, it can be set in the aircraft!
The update should release by the end of the weekend and among other things lets you start both emergency and firefighting missions in any location worldwide without the use external applications.
You can check it out i the video below.
Below you can read the full announcement from CEO Robert Randazzo.
PMDG 737-700 for MSFS Update to 3.00.0024
This week’s update for the 737 includes a significant amount of “behind the panel” work to prepare it for rollout of our new lateral flight path model. We are very close to turning that new feature on for you, but there are some other pieces and bits that need adjusting so that has been the main thrust of work leading up to this update.
We have also spent an enormous amount of time investigating laggy animation problems. This involved testing across a range of machines and visual settings in order to induce lag in the animations by loading up the processor and the gpu to see what effect our adjustments and changes were having. It is a painstakingly slow process, but we think we have made good progress in stabilizing some of the laggier items such as the control columns and throttles. We also put quite a bit of time into correcting the trim wheel animation and sound model.
One item still in the research pool is the windshield wipers. We made a small amount of improvement here, but we are finding that the wipers move so fast (even at their slow setting) that they simply don’t render smoothly and we are still working to see if we cannot devise a way to make that work more effectively. Stay tuned for more there.
In this process of cleaning up animations, we have found that some of the techniques we used well on other platforms don’t work well in the MSFS environment across the entire spectrum of performance capabilities. There are a range of techniques we use, so apparently there is still a bit of learning to do here and we are mapping out a sweep through the cockpit animation to be sure we clean up laggers and improve smoothness in as many places as possible. This will take place over a couple of update cycles.
Other changes are encapsulated in the change list here:
0011475: [Main Panel – General/Unsure] Removing non working Color changing options from FMC (abashkatov)
0011474: [Virtual Cockpit – Geometry/Textures] Screw on upper display unit floating in space (vscimone)
0011468: [Virtual Cockpit – Functionality/Click-Spots] Landing Gear lever animation missing through the OFF position (hvanrensburg)
0011320: [General – Suggested/Missing Features] ARPT_RWY.dat size is zero, ie empty on some customers (abashkatov)
0011330: [Virtual Cockpit – Geometry/Textures] Typos on flight kit stowage placards (vscimone)
0011345: [Virtual Cockpit – Functionality/Click-Spots] Transponder Scroll issue (abashkatov)
0011374: [Systems – Fire Protection] Fire Bottle Discharge lights do not come on for almost 20 seconds after discharge (rsrandazzo)
0011376: [FREEZES – All Types] RTA waypoint sequencing or deletion provisions (emvaos)
0011381: [External Model – Geometry] Belly light bleed through cabin (jbrown)
0011382: [General – Documentation] aircraft.cfg text – use of coma error (rsrandazzo)
0011384: [Virtual Cockpit – Geometry/Textures] Poly clipping on ceiling (vscimone)
0011391: [Virtual Cockpit – Geometry/Textures] VC gap, outiside eviroment visible (vscimone)
0011393: [Virtual Cockpit – Geometry/Textures] Main Panel indicator housing needs more detail (vscimone)
0011395: [External Model – Geometry] Wet touchdown Water Spray from Main wheels is reversed Left/Right (jbrown)
0011399: [Virtual Cockpit – Geometry/Textures] Throttle Screw texture alignment off (vscimone)
0011411: [Systems – Flight Controls] LE Flaps and Slats retract with B system off after Alternate Flap Extension (rsrandazzo)
0011413: [Virtual Cockpit – Geometry/Textures] Glareshield geometry wrongly changed on latest update (vscimone)
0011417: [Virtual Cockpit – Geometry/Textures] F/O side window cable clipping (vscimone)
0011419: [External Model – Geometry] BBJ Texture flickering on left side beneath the cockpit (jbrown)
0011422: [Virtual Cockpit – Geometry/Textures] Stab trim cutout switched texture needs a touch up (vscimone)
0011389: [General – Documentation] Tutorial Typo Errors (hvanrensburg)
0011392: [Virtual Cockpit – Geometry/Textures] Front window serial Number sticker shows only when there is a solid object in front of the plane (vscimone)
0011397: [Virtual Cockpit – Functionality/Click-Spots] Bank Angle selector no longer works with Mouse Wheel and cannot be rolled to the right except from the FO side. (hvanrensburg)
0011429: [External Model – Geometry] Cabin windows have a rainbow effect applied (jbrown)
0011431: [Virtual Cockpit – Functionality/Click-Spots] HGS panel on pedestal is not back-lit (hvanrensburg)
0011444: [Virtual Cockpit – Functionality/Click-Spots] Many switches and knobs animate instantly and should be slowed down (hvanrensburg)
0011473: [Systems – Flight Controls] throttle animation requires algorithmic improvement to animation function (rsrandazzo)
0011472: [Systems – Flight Controls] Control column/yoke animation requires algorithmic improvement to animation function (rsrandazzo)
0011471: [Systems – Flight Controls] Trim Wheel Animation incorrect and not working as expected (rsrandazzo)
0011443: [Sounds – Internal/Cockpit] Trim sounds not working (rsrandazzo)
0011445: [Virtual Cockpit – Geometry/Textures] Overhead GEN panel texture updates and improvements (vscimone)
0011449: [Virtual Cockpit – Geometry/Textures] HGS Display on FO Main panel does not protrude enough (vscimone)
0011460: [Virtual Cockpit – Geometry/Textures] Various text spacing issues on CB panels (vscimone)
0011461: [Virtual Cockpit – Geometry/Textures] Erroneous space on smoke hood placard (vscimone)
0011459: [Virtual Cockpit – Geometry/Textures] Window stickers disappear with sky in background (vscimone)
0011457: [Virtual Cockpit – Geometry/Textures] Text missing on captain’s emergency rope hatch (vscimone)
0010424: [Systems – Fire Protection] Extinguisher TEST Switch and Fault/Inop and Overheat/Fire TEST Switch should be spring-loaded to center. (hvanrensburg)
0011387: [General – Unsure] Popup key commands should be added to documentation (hvanrensburg)
0011451: [External Model – Geometry] COMM/EXT Power panel issues (jbrown)
How to Update:
You can get the latest update simply by running the PMDG Operations Center and pulling down the AIRCRAFT AND LIVERIES tab, then selecting PRODUCT UPDATES. If you don’t see an update notification already, press the CHECK NOW button (top left) and that will get you going in the right direction.
Please don’t forget that one of the little quirks about C++/WASM projects within MSFS is that the first time after installation or after a major product update, when you run the the 737 and select an aiframe MSFS does an entire recompilation process to get the airplane ready for your use. How long this takes depends upon both your processor speed, but also upon how much memory you have installed. It is just something the sim needs to do for C++/WASM projects, so select your airplane before running out for a snack or something. (And bring us some, we’re hungry!)
What is Next for 737?:
This coming week is going to figure heavily on control axis related issues. I am preparing a short video to offer some recommendations on getting your controls configured correctly for proper control feel, and we will be working on seeing if we cannot get the rudder axis to play nicely with twist-for-steer sticks and game controllers. Hopefully we will be able to make some progress here.
There is quite a bit of work going on elsewhere in the airplane preparing it for the new lateral flight path, for rollout of the 737-600, and also integration of the tablet is coming along swimmingly. Oh- and there are rumors of a very good looking 737-800 being spotted around the PMDG test flight area…
If you’d like to learn more about Microsoft Flight Simulator, you can check out our brand new interview with head of Microsoft Flight Simulator Jorg Neumann about the 40th Anniversary Edition, the world update, and more.
If you’re curious about Microsoft Flight Simulator add-ons, you can enjoy our recent reviews of Anchorage International Airport, Fenix’s Airbus A320, West Virginia International Yeager Airport, Kansai International Airport, Toronto Pearson Airport, the Twin Otter, Auckland International Airport, Skiathos Airport, Athens International Airport, Bergamo Orio al Serio Airport, Amami Airport, Bristol Airport, Marrakech Menara Airport, Great Britain Central, Tehran Imam Khomeini Airport, Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport, Shanghai Pudong Airport, Kraków Airport, Fukuoka City & Airport, Fort Lauderdale Airport, Chongqing City & Airport, Manila Airport, Santiago Airport, the Frankfurt City Pack, Key West Airport, the Okavango Delta, Bali Airport, London Oxford Airport, Berlin Brandenburg Airport, the CRJ 550/700, the PA-28R Arrow III, Kristiansand Airport, Macau City & Airport, Bonaire Flamingo Airport, Milano Linate Airport, the Singapore City Pack, Tokyo Narita Airport, Yao Airport, the F-15 Eagle, the Paris City Pack, Greater Moncton Airport, Tweed New Haven Airport, Santorini Airport, Sydney Airport, Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, Reggio Calabria Airport, Bastia Poretta Airport, Munich Airport, Paris Orly Airport, Newcastle International Airport, Sankt Johann Airfield, Dublin International Airport, and Seoul City Wow.
We also recently published a review of the Thrustmaster TCA Yoke Pack Boeing Edition, which is a great controller for Microsoft Flight Simulator.
If you want to learn more about the game itself, you can read our review which will tell you everything you need to know about Asobo Studio’s game.