Hands-on with Aerosoft’s A330

Find out my thoughts on Aerosoft’s upcoming A330 after trying it out at FSExpo.

Hands-on with Aerosoft’s A330

One of the bigger surprises for me at FSExpo was Aerosoft. The company came to the show with a moderately sized booth and a small team, and I noticed little in terms of advertising about what they were planning on bringing to the show. So you can imagine my surprise when I went over to their booth and not only found a brand new unannounced airport (Frankfurt), but also a working and flying Airbus A330. It’s not a surprise that Aerosoft is getting closer to releasing this plane, and I’ll talk more about that later on in this article. Over the last months we’ve gone from previews of the cockpit and exterior of the plane to an internal release for beta testers, which also resulted in a number of previews – though exclusively of the exterior. At FSExpo, however, Aerosoft was not shy about showing every part of the aircraft, from interior to exterior. They even allowed you to get up close with it through a hands-on setup at their booth.

Before diving into the plane, the team told me that this was a build that was two months old and therefore not everything was working yet. Having that said, when I tried out the plane it did feel quite complete. With some help, because I don’t really fly Airbuses in MSFS, I was able to set the A330 in take-off config, spool up the engines and get her flying. The taxi mechanics during my take-off roll worked quite nicely; she wasn’t overly jittery and wanted to go relatively straight with minimal input from me. The second I lifted my nose-gear, the plane felt heavy – like it should. I hand-flew the plane around for a little while, up to 5000 feet or so, while making a few slow turns. The plane felt heavy, but still responsive, which to me felt quite accurate and realistic. Once I enabled the autopilot (again with a little help, because I did not remember the difference between managed and selected mode), the plane followed the autopilot nearly perfectly. The speed restriction was followed, as was my heading. Overall the AP systems seemed to work quite well, although I did not test every feature here.

With the autopilot enabled, I took a little moment to look around the cockpit. Aerosoft claims that this plane has been built from the ground up and that it’s not just a simple port of the Prepar3D version. I’ve never tried the latter so I can’t verify this claim, but I don’t have reason to doubt their statement. The interior modelling and textures honestly looked really good. The modelling looked of high quality and the interior and all its knobs, buttons and other objects in it looked refined. The textures, which were set to Ultra, looked incredibly sharp and highly detailed.

One of the nice extras that I got to play around with was the EFB. Aerosoft’s A330 comes with a fully functional EFB that interacts with the plane. You can set the plane’s payload through a handy interface with sliders for passenger numbers. You can also calculate performances via the tablet and see performance tables. The EFB worked smoothly and looked good, and I commend Aerosoft for including one.

One of the points of feedback that we’re seeing a lot when it comes to this plane is the lack of failures. Aerosoft maintains a philosophy that they want to implement the plane from the left-hand seat, similar to how the pilot would fly it. So I doubt we’ll ever see failures for this aircraft, although I am personally okay with that. However, in my short little flight putting the plane through its paces, I did notice that when you take the aircraft out of its comfort zone – which in my case meant over-speeding – the plane will throw some errors and alarms at you, including an ECAM message. Although these are probably not the failures some of you might be looking for, I was happy to see that the plane still responds when you take it out of its normal situation. From what I was told by the team, more of these situations have been included where the plane will warn you about wrong configs or other mishaps.

All in all, I was quite impressed with what Aerosoft was showing of the A330. I’ve seen the criticism and the jokes about the choice of the engine type, or the lack of a 3D cabin, and I agree with this criticism. However, I still had quite an enjoyable time flying this plane around and exploring it for a little while.

So what about a release date then? Aerosoft, until now, has been quite tight-lipped, although they have given a few hints or teasers. Luckily I was able to get a bit more information from the team at the show floor. Aerosoft is aiming to release their A330 at the end of summer, hopefully in August/September. That means that in just a few months, this plane can already be yours. We’ll still need to see about the feature list the plane will come with, but if I had to go by my FSExpo experience, I’d say this might be a serious contender for a quality long-haul aircraft for MSFS.

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