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MSFS good enough yet?

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After many years flying my trusted FS9 B737 (iFly) on VATSIM, I am considering a switch to MSFS.  I read so many negative comments re:  the A320 A/P and FMS performance that I wonder if they are even useable in the IFR  VATSIM environment.  

I would appreciate some insight from pilots who have actually experienced it.



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My opinion is that it's great for VFR flying but the functionality of the complex RNAV systems is still too buggy.  My guess is that it won't be until major developers start releasing quality add-on aircraft that it becomes more reliable. 

That's just my opinion though.  Some interesting discussion on the topic linked below:


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Fully agree with Rob; that's the feedback I've been hearing from several people across a few communities. I don't fly any simulator now, so I don't have a predisposition to one or another. I just report on what I hear! 

I wrote this opinion article for BVA's Logan Informer back in September. I think it's still as true now as it was then, and is based on a small poll of our members: 


On August 18, Microsoft launched it's new simulator. Based on technology from a French studio called Asobo, Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS) revived the company’s longest-running PC software franchise. The new simulator uses map data powered by Bing—streamed live into the simulator—with Microsoft’s Azure artificial intelligence to create three dimensional cities, buildings, and landscapes. In some cases, cities are built using Bing Maps’ 3D imagery; in other cases, artificial intelligence was used to place three dimensional buildings and vegetation based on the aerial images. 

This is a truly new simulator, built on an entirely different platform than Microsoft Flight Simulator X (2006). However, there are still several elements that users of FSX will recognize, including the ability to import .pln files and the truly horrific automated air traffic control. (It’s just as bad, if not worse, than what was available in FSX.)

Several of our members have purchased and used the new simulator on the network. Early feedback from the community is that, while MSFS offers stunning visuals and great VFR flying, IFR support is limited. Flying a Cessna 172 around the coastline visually—fantastic. Trying to operate an Airbus or Boeing jetliner from JFK to BOS…not so much.

As with the initial launch of FSX in 2006, the simulator is missing the ability to conduct study-level IFR flights. Real-world weather depiction is inconsistent between users and tends to be delayed or even inaccurate. Additionally, several airports have glaring scenery issues: a missing runway at KBWI, limited terminal and tower depiction at KBOS, and floating jetways at KBDL, for example. Even downtown KBOS leaves a lot to be desired.

Much like with the launch of FSX in 2006, BVA believes the third-party add-on community will come to the rescue and make MSFS into a much more usable simulator in the coming months. Orbx has already launched several airport scenery products for the new simulator while several other scenery and aircraft developers have indicated they plan to offer support for MSFS. These include Carenado, Drzewiecki Design, FlightBeam, FlyTampa, PMDG, and TFDi Design. 

In BVA’s opinion, MSFS will be a great simulator—but isn’t right now. Based on member feedback and comments from the simulation community, BVA recommends: 

  1. If you’re already using Prepar3D or X-Plane to fly IFR, those likely offer a better experience than you would get in the new simulator. 
  2. If you’re using FSX with a significant number of add-on aircraft and sceneries, continuing to use FSX will give you a better overall VATSIM experience than MSFS, at this time.
  3. If you feel a need to purchase a new simulator immediately, consider Prepar3D v5 or X-Plane before MSFS. 
  4. If you are using FSX with a few (or no) add-ons and are happy with it, you will get a much better experience by upgrading to MSFS.

As MSFS continues to mature, when a proper SDK (developer kit) is made available to the community, and when more third-party developers re-release their products for MSFS, the simulator will become much more usable. As a result, over the next few months, BVA expects MSFS to become much more popular with users of VATSIM.

For a simmer’s look at MSFS, check out Calum’s review on FSElite. If you’re looking for instructions on connecting MSFS to VATSIM, visit our Getting Started Guide.



Evan Reiter
Boston Virtual ARTCC/ZBW Community Manager


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I've been flying on it with the FlyByWire A32NX mod for a few weeks. The autopilot and FMC can get wonky at times. I try to choose routes that I feel comfortable that the plane can handle. I also keep an eye on the the charts to guide it past its little navigation hiccups. The A32NX mod has come a really long way since the release. It's the only plane currently in MSFS that should sniff Vatsim IMO. The payware planes will help. I'm looking forward to Aerosoft's CRJs.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

If you want everything to work as well as a system that has been developed over 15 years, you might have to wait 15 more years. 😉

I use the FBW version of the A320Neo on MSFS and VATSIM and am challenged by my lack of knowledge of the system and how to "not bother" ATC with my difficulties. But I think that not all ATC minds dealing with difficulties.

I wouldn't wait. It is so much better than I ever saw in FSX even with lots of ORBX scenery (back 7 years, mind), and there's a growth/learning curve that everyone's on together. If you just stare at your panels while AP does it's thing, that might not sound very attractive, but it's rewarding in many ways.

Rob Vanderkam

Canadian Virtual Airlines (CVA) - in operation since 1997


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  • 3 weeks later...

I recommend MSFS to anyone still on the fence, yes it has some work to do still but they are working updates often and each one adds improvements.
It is only like $120 or so for the Deluxe Package and the updates are free.
There are several MOD's that are easily dropped in the community folder that resolves some of the issues.
The graphics are awesome and does require a good system to run in Ultra detail.
I only fly the Longitude since that is the Plane I make my living with in the real world so I can't speak to the other Aircraft, I have time in the CJ4 too and it seems to be pretty good also.
The 3rd part MOD's for the 700 have really made the Aircraft fun to fly, it is getting close to the real deal.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I feel I need to write my opinion here too, 'cause it is the first place where I found people who soberly talking about MSFS and not just "ah, it so good-looking, gougers and mind(eye)blowing". For me personally visuals is just a candy wrapper. And MSFS for now feels like great looking but yet empty box. I bought it and I do not regret that I did. I believe that in a year or two it will eventually become a great simulation tool, but for now it's just not there yet. I didn't try it in the VATSIM 'cause I tried some instrument flying (it was some GA vessel) and I quickly found that half of the GPS functions just doesn't work! I think it needs one or two real good (free or payware) planes just for start. Something like Zibo in XPlane or A2A c172 in FSX.

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2 hours ago, Evgeny Zavershinskiy said:

it needs one or two real good (free or payware) planes just for start

Try the freeware "Working Title CJ4", they seem to have done wonders on the default CJ4 - from what I read, it is the most advanced IFR aircraft in MSFS at this time.

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