Flight Simulator Q&A recap

Microsoft and Asobo have hosted their latest developer live stream with Q&A and in it they have revealed a lot of information about their imminent and future plans for Microsoft Flight Simulator as they tend to during these sessions.

Summary of some key points

Watch the Q&A yourself or check out my notes below

At the beginning of the Q&A, Jorg, Sebastian, and Martial (the usual members of the team participating in the Q&A) covered a variety of topics and here are some of the key updates that I picked up while listening in to them.

  • An-225 was the fastest selling marketplace airplane ever. Jorg is planning to provide some round numbers at some point in the future.
  • After considering what benefits Deluxe and Premium Deluxe users should get, the team has decided to offer small price cuts for first party planes for Premium Deluxe and Deluxe users in the Marketplace.
  • AU-1 is also just the beginning for upgrading some of the Premium and Premium Deluxe aircraft.
  • Helicopter improvements are incoming including:
    • Smoothed governor activation engine RPM (Cabri).
    • Added support for governor switch for turbine engines and engine trimmer.
    • Improved support for correlators, multi-engine rotor friction and brake.
  • Thermals update:
    • A lot of feedback was received on thermals and the team have worked hard to address many of the comments.
    • Assistance menu in Sim Update 12 now lets you control turbulence level but doesn’t take away thermals.
    • Time of day, date, windspeed, latitude, as well as cloud coverage and density all affect thermals.
  • Stability tracking:
    • Martial gave an extensive talk on stability and crashes. A large number of crashes appear to be GPU and GPU software related with “Device removed” crash. Other crashes such as the ATC system causing a crash was solved in SU12.

The usual roadmap graphic was also provided to us with two items revealed and that I’m covering in the next two segments.

World Update 13: Oceana!

World Update 13 was revealed as Oceania. The update will cover about 8-million square kilometres including multiple islands in the Pacific area and Hawaii.

The update will have new digital elevation data (DEM) and aerial imagery, 14 bespoke airports & airstrips, 140+ points of interest (with 100 in the Oceana area and 40 for Hawaii), 3 research bases, 3 landing challenges, 3 bush trips and 4 discovery flights.

One item that is unknown at this point is if any new photogrammetry will be added. There aren’t very many big cities in this release and some of the more challenging areas to capture is Hawaii where the weather makes it difficult to get imagery.

Some of the data is really outstanding including 1 meter DEM for Hawaii. That includes the volcanoes. This should really help to boost the imagery in the area with the new update.

Another item mentioned is terrain on the poles. There is now terrain over the poles that is coming. This required a significant re-write code for both the simulator and Bing Maps.

Expert Series 1: ATR-42/72

The first in the expert series of aircraft released by Microsoft and Asobo is coming in April. The aircraft, created primarily by Hans Hartmann (who was on the stream), together with input from ATR is nearly ready to go. The package will include both the ATR 42-600 and ATR 72-600.

For the presentation today, the avionics was the focus with a lot of attention paid to the pop-out multi function displays. There are tons of options including the ability to auto tune the radio or controlling it yourself, synthetic vision options, VOR, ILS, and so on. There’s also display information for aircraft systems like the power distribution and hydraulics information. The aircraft performance information is also on the display and it looks like its very easy to then confirm the data and go.

The map is interesting too with a display that can zoom into airport layouts. That view can give you ground map information without the need for additional charts. There are a few caveats with taxiway numbers and names not in yet but parking stands and runways are.

There are a few things that won’t make the release. The real world ATR has video displays throughout the inside and outside of the aircraft. That is not currently possible in MSFS so static images of the cargo hold are the only options available for now.

The aircraft also does not have failures built in. On this point, its the license with ATR that prevents them from adding that level of detail to the airplane.

Jorg and Hans also don’t yet know what the training options will be. iniBuilds did their own video tutorials for aircraft like the A310 and An-225 which they thought were fantastic. Jorg suggests that Hans isn’t setup to offer that kind of experience so they may do a manual as well. On this point it’d be good to have something but I’m also sure that the community will help fill the blanks on this too.

Hans is working with about a dozen testers and pilots including the chief ATR test pilot so this aircraft should be an authentic experience befitting of the Expert Series nomenclature.

Surprise at the end

The news right at the end is that Microsoft will be at FSExpo 2023 this year in Houston! I was there in 2019 in Orlando on the Sunday afternoon when the MSFS 2020 trailer came out and it was a huge moment for nearly all of us there at the show.

The team hasn’t yet been to the expo but this year they are planning to take up a big corner of the expo and be there.

For more information about FSExpo 2023, check out the information here.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Urgent Siesta says:

    It’s interesting that the ATR appears to be good enough that BlackBird/MilViz cancelled their long-in-development version. Sad for them, but hopefully it means we get some of their more interesting aircraft in MSFS sooner 🙂 .

    The Marketplace discount for Deluxe+ versions is 33% – that’s HUUUUGE!

    All in all, MSFS is continuing to substantially improve over time – so glad to see it.


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