Jorg Neumann, Sebastian Wloch and Martial Bossard have all taken to the Twitch airwaves after a packed summer of events to offer the latest summary of upcoming updates and features for MSFS.
September 27th’s Developer Livestream covered a number of subjects including Sim Update 13 (which is releasing tomorrow), upcoming World Update 15, the next Local Legend and Famous Flyer aircraft, as well as a huge avionics overhaul to the stock Cirrus SR22 and an all new version of the A320neo which is being developed by iniBuilds.
This article covers SU13, the upcoming world update, famous flyer and local legend. For details surrounding the iniBuilds A320neo and Cirrus avionics update, see our companion article here.
Sim Update 13
To kick things off, the team focussed on the content of Sim Update 13, which is due to be released tomorrow. Among other things, the update will include:
- White Dot Fix: The update adds two new options to the accessibility menu which will allow players to change the way that the toolbar and ‘white dot’ behaves in the sim.
- Horizon Line Bug Fix: Currently it is possible to see the horizon line in some situations through the sides of terrain and objects. This update sees a change that makes the line ‘less visible’, although according to the developers it is currently not possible to make the line go away completely.
- Stability and Memory Improvements: Simmers should notice that the platform is more stable then ever with several crashes being fixed in this update.
- Logbook Issue Fix: The in-sim logbook has been updated to allow for more flights to be saved. Currently after the logbook exceeds 16MB in size, flights get wiped off to keep the file at or below the limit.
- World Update Fixes: Microsoft, Gaya and Orbx have now resolved ‘the vast majority’ of open issues from World Updates 3 to 12.
- 40th Anniversary Aircraft Fixes: Microsoft and it’s partners here have closed ‘the vast majority’ of open issues relating to aircraft that were added in the 40th anniversary edition of MSFS.
- Piston Engine Update: Working Title have worked on enhancements to the piston engine model, which will be covered in greater depth later in this article.
- Boeing 747 and 787: Both Boeing jets that were patched in AAU2 by Working Title have had additional features added, which will be covered later in this article, as well as a raft of bug fixes.
It isn’t known at exactly what time the update will drop for users, but when it does we will be posting it here on fselite.net
Arguably one of the most popular additions to the simulator to date, Aircraft and Avionics Update 2 (AAU2) saw Working Title completely rework the Boeing 747-8 and Boeing 787-10 with new systems depth, flight model, performance and more. It took the two long haulers, which were previously in a bit of a sorry state, into much more well-rounded aircraft. The 787-10 especially, a plane which is only accessible to users of the Premium Deluxe version of the simulator, saw a massive uptick in usage from users.
Sim Update 13 will now make these aircraft even more accessible by adding Simbrief Integration, a highly requested feature. Additionally, both planes now have menus within their CDUs enabling the user to manage the aircraft’s payload and fuel, saving the hassle of needing the weight and balance page in the toolbar – something that Matt Nischan from Working Title conceded on stream was more meant for smaller GA aircraft.
Additionally, Matt confirmed the addition of programmed step climbs, something he describes as a “big ask” from the community, as well as automated checklist items where applicable.
The 787-10 will also now benefit from having an EFB, making it the first Boeing in MSFS to receive one. Simmers will be able to use the EFB to perform their takeoff calculations. Addressing some critics who had called for Working Title to go further with the EFB, Matt Nischan commented quote: “We got a lot of pilot feedback from type-rated pilots that the EFB in the 78 is a little bit, uh… slow and difficult to use, and most of [these pilots] actually use an iPad for things like charts and stuff like that, so we want to just do the thing that you really need which is the takeoff performance”.
The 747-8 will also be getting auto-fuel system management. Matt pitches this to us as a great way to keep the plane flying on a long haul whilst we’re away from our computers without the need to manually configure the fuel system – something which he describes as “very complicated”. Now, there will be an option in the CDU to make this configuration process automated. Additionally, the plane now benefits from VOR and APP map formats and a slew of bug fixes.
Piston Engine Parameters
Interestingly, Working Title have also gone in and added a whole load of new parameters which will affect that way that piston engine aircraft perform in the simulator. All of these are “opt-in”, meaning that third party developers who already have piston engine aircraft addons for the simulator shouldn’t see their planes immediately break when the update drops tomorrow. Instead, if developers want to benefit from the new options made available to them by the addition of these parameters, they will have to go in and update their aircraft’s config files to include them.
To start, Matt Nischan says that a lot of people complained that turbo-charged aircraft needed to be leaned as they climbed, which is not necessarily correct. This goes “way way back” to some of the early code in MSFS2020. The new method added in SU13 will use the density of air at the intake to work out what the mixture ratio should be. This should mean there’s no need to lean until you are hitting your plane’s critical altitude.
Another new parameter allows developers to adjust the boost ratio based on the ambient air density. “Not all turbos are the same, so you can kind of customise that”, says Matt. Working Title have also added parameters allowing devs to set the mixture ratio for the lever position, different levels of engine efficiency depending on that fuel ratio, volumetric efficiency at a given RPM, and calculating fuel flow based on engine air volume metering, preventing an issue where if an engine stopped running mid-flight, fuel flow would be cut off – even if the engine was still spinning.
Ongoing Bug Fixes and Feature Requests
During the stream we got a good look into what is hot on the team’s mind as we close in on the summer holiday. Jorg says that during this period the team have been a little bit lax on the process of bug fixing, but the team is now back to regularly meeting once per week on these issues. As ever, he reiterated that the priorities come from the feedback snapshot which can be voted on over at the Microsoft Flight Simulator forums.
Of the top 24 bugs a voted for by the community, 14 have now either been fixed, partially fixed, or are seeing ongoing work to develop a fix. 9 of the remaining 10 bugs are ‘under investigation’ or planned for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024, with only one item (Reflections looking grainy even with reflections set to ultra) not having a planned fix.
When it comes to the community’s requested feature wishlist it’s a slightly different picture. Of the top 24, 5 items are considered ‘done’ or ongoing, while a considerable number of features are now marked “planned for 2024”.
Among some of the other “planned for 2024” items are updates for cities and airports in South Korea, aircraft-specific control profiles, access to the flight planner without leaving the flight, and seasons (which we’ve already seen being teased in some of 2024’s trailers).
Jorg reminds us in closing to pay attention as the snapshot is updated every single week, and re-assures us that the team is actively looking at the bug list and wishlist.
World Hub Scenery Update System
We previously reported on the World Hub back in August, but for those who need a refresher – it is a new way of enabling anybody in the MSFS community to make changes to airports which can then be pushed out to all players via the platform. Large international airports might be covered by decent scenery products, but if say your local airfield has changed runway number recently, or vegetation is overlapping where it shouldn’t be, the World Hub is conceived as being a tool which can empower the MSFS community to share their solutions easily with the whole playerbase.
When asked about the status of the World Hub (which was originally slated for a September release) on the stream, Jorg said: “Basically, Asobo is done. The tool exists and it is ready to go, it’s currently sitting with privacy and security at Microsoft. This is a Microsoft website and Microsoft has lots of rules around these kinds of things, and we just have to make sure we do it right”. It sounds like everything is ready to go, but the folks in the legal department are making sure it’s all kosher.
Famous Flyer 7 – Mitsubishi MU-2
It was confirmed on the stream that Microsoft have been working with iniBuilds to produce Famous Flyer 7, the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries MU-2. Jorg actually confirmed that this plane has been ready to go for a little while now, but the team have been unable to release it as planned owing to difficulties in securing a license. At the time of going live on air, Jorg even said that a license still has not been secured to sell the addon aircraft, and so at present there is no commitment to a launch date. Fortunately though, Jorg says he is in good contact with the manufacturer who is “just as excited as we are” about the plane.
Michael Standen from iniBuilds joined stream to talk a bit about this exciting new addon. The version that we’re getting in the sim is an earlier version that Mitsubishi made with unmodified landing gear. The plane was originally marketed as an executive and utility transport plane, but has seen service as a medevac and surveillance plane. However, for this rendition, the iniBuilds team looked at the original executive and utility functions.
The MU-2 is known for some rather unique handling qualities which Michael alludes to. It has roll spoilers and no ailerons at all, but that makes way for some very large flaps which gives the MU-2 great short field performance. It is powered by two highly efficient Garrett TPE331 engines giving it a range of about 800 nautical miles at 25,000 feet. On the inside, we can see iniBuilds have gone for the classic look and feel. There is a working radar and old school radios as default, although there is an option to switch these out for Garmin avionics.
Cabin altitude pressurisation systems were new at the time of the plane’s debute in the 1960s, but iniBuilds have included a modelled version of this. Michael says it will take a bit of getting used to as it’s rather primitive. Additionally we also see that the cabin interior is set up as a business jet, but this can be switched out for a cargo interior using the included EFB which has been modelled as a smartphone on a gooseneck arm.
A full manual will be included with the product when it does finally release. It’s a bit of a challenge to fly, but as long as it’s treated nicely Michael tells us that it is great fun.
World Update 15 – Northern Europe and Greenland
World Update 15 was also announced on the livestream. This time, we are going back to the Nordic and Scandinavian countries, including Greenland. The update is set to feature all new digital elevation maps (DEM) up to 40 centimetres in resolution, new aerial imagery, new photogrammetry cities, 90 POIs, 5 bespoke airports, 3 landing challenges, 3 bush trips, and 3 discovery flights.
Between 8 and 10 photogrammetry cities were shown as being part of the update, although 9 were shown on screen. These were Aarhus, Copenhagen, Frederikssund, Linköping, Malmö, Odense, Oslo, Roskilde and Visby. Jorg said we might also get Gothenburg, but that’s still in development right now and pending some issues with the Swedish military checking over everything.
We also had the 5 beautified airports confirmed as being Ivalo, Akureyri, Kiruna, Leknes and Mo i Rana. Gaya Simulations, who worked on 4 of the 5 airports, have also done some special work on ground textures, although this wasn’t unpacked in great detail on the stream other than a fleeting glance at a screenshot.
Local Legend 13 – Saab B-17
Warbird fans rejoice! The next Local Legend for Microsoft Flight Simulator is the Saab B-17. Jorg says that after approaching Saab, the company were very excited for the B-17 to be included with the simulator. iniBuilds are once again the driving force behind this addon aircraft, which has been fully scanned in Sweden. The team didn’t go into great detail other than to say the plane would be at the iniBuilds’ “usual high bar” for quality. The B-17 will be released on October 31st.
The livestream then continued onto some major announcements regarding Sim Update 14, which was originally pitched as AAU3 but has now outgrown itself to include much more than simple avionics improvements. For more information on all of that, see our companion article here!