FlightAware to fill Flight Simulator’s virtual skies with airplanes

The latest Partnership Announcement for Microsoft Flight Simulator looks set to make sure that the skies of Microsoft Flight Simulator are filled with aircraft using real world data. To do that, they are partnering with FlightAware, a data based company that supplies data to airport status billboards and to companies like Google who use that data to display them in your search engines and on your smartphones. Now it’s coming to Flight Simulator! Let’s have a look!

What is FlightAware and how does it connect?

FlightAware is a data intelligence company that takes a wide variety of data sources and helps combine them into a single feed. They can pull in the ADS-B aircraft tracking network, datalinks, air traffic control radar, and airline flight information and combine that together to provide data outputs. The billboards in airports and the flight tracking information on smartphones are provided by services such as FlightAware, and according to their marketing materials, they provide estimated time of arrival data on half of all flights in the United States.

Check out the cool data card to see at a glance the kind of data that they are working with.

So how does this interact with Flight Simulator? Well let’s start with a quote because I think it sums up nicely the work that Asobo Studios is putting into this generation of sim and why we’ve seen so many of these partnership announcements recently.

Microsoft Flight Simulation’s team is fully dedicated to bring to simmers the most accurate replica of the world ever seen from a plane perspective. Thanks to FlightAware data, we are thrilled to be able to populate this world with the actual aviation traffic all around the world, whether it be on ground or in the air.

Jorg Neumann Head of Microsoft Flight Simulator

It’s the replica of the real world that Asobo Studios is chasing for Flight Simulator that goal, above all else, is driving the desire to connect to real world data sources and bring them into the simulation. We’ve seen it with weather, flight plans and now the actual aircraft positions themselves.

That quote above goes on with another key piece of information.

Out of the box, Flight Aware data will allow simmers to fly sharing their air space with the current air traffic but also to check arrivals and departure from airports, select any flight to see its fly plan and even have the possibility to, virtually of course, take controls.

Jorg Neumann Head of Microsoft Flight Simulator

I absolutely love the dream that this holds.

Data driven dreams

Real world scheduling … inside Flight Simulator.

Together with the other partner updates that we’ve heard before, it’s very clear to me that Asobo Studios is doing everything they can to make the dream of flying come alive for enthusiasts of the genre. I can see this as being a maybe being useful tool for pilots in training but I think it really appeals more to the flight enthusiast and the real world aspect of it really just brings this together.

The second part of it is of course that it also appears to help fill the sky with real world aircraft. In earlier feature discovery series we learned about how multiplayer shards work and how AI aircraft are integrated into them – reacting and responding to the player in real time. But it looks like that interaction will be governed at least in part by real world aircraft data.

Real world aircraft traffic from the cockpit of your virtual airplane.

Asobo is going direct to the real world source and making use of that data to fill in the virtual world’s traffic and that interconnection on its own is very cool and great for immersion.

This is not revolutionary, as we’ve seen plugins for X-Plane that can do similar things, but it looks like the scale and integration here appear to be at the next level which is great to see. I can’t wait to try it out for myself!

Check out the rest at FlightSimulator.com.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Ken says:

    Will be interesting to see if you can scale the amount of traffic that’s displayed.
    And if, and how, it will be integrated with simulator ATC. I know from experience that FlightAware gets crowded fast at busier airports. If the airports are full of real-life traffic, how will a player be slotted in?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mischiew Rithe says:

      Yeah, I hope the amount of traffic can be tuned too!

      From what I understand, and if they do is smartly, the “real-live” database only provides flight plans that can be used for AI aircraft (that the user can even control apparently). There is some degree of flexibility, and if there are users at an airport, ATC can be programmed in any way to insert them in the departures and arrivals. Hopefully without waiting as long as in real life 😉

      If users take too much time and delay flights, just because one got AFK for instance, well, delays happen all the time in real airports too, the AI will need contingencies. In extreme cases, they’d just remove some AI planes before they get stuck in ground traffic on the taxiway for example.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s