Default planes suck. We all know that. No it should not be the way of things, but it is. Notably defaults suck in the realm of navigation. Particularly Instrument Navigation, Specifically RNAV capability. The defaults all come with the GPS 500 or the GPS 295 on them. Which is not true RNAV equipment, Not in Flight Sim. Yeah it can follow a programmed route but for true RNAV status it needs to be able to load procedures. SIDs, STARs, and Approaches; as well as build flight plans in the gauge and edit them. So we have addon airplanes shipping with their own avionics. For example the PMDG 737 with its FMS. But addon airplanes cost a lot of money, and they tend to have a really steep learning curve. They aren’t necessarily known for their frame rate friendliness either. These things all combined created the need for a FMS that is generic enough to work on any aircraft in FSX, defaults or addons. But also cheap enough to be affordable to anyone. Enter Integrated Simavionics.
Integrated Simavionics (hereafter referred to as ISG) came out in 2011 and was developed by Ernie Alston. If that name sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same guy who developed FSbuild; which was objectively the best Flight planner for Flight sim for a long time running; though it’s since been replaced by things like ProFlightPlannerX and Simbreif ( it’s still my personal favorite though). He also assisted PMDG in developing their Jetstream 4100 by coding the FMS for it. That same FMS is one of the gauges you can get with this addon by the way, though it’s notably lacking in the more aircraft dependant features as it is meant to be generic. Now what is ISG? Put simply ISG is a collection of 9 gauges that are generic, meaning they work on any aircraft you put them on. But they are also integrated, meaning the gauges talk to one another. This means when you build a route on the FMC that route is shown on the NAV display. These gauges were meant to fill the gap of generic enough to work on anything, but realistic enough to be useable for more advanced flying. And honestly I think they filled it quite well. Over the years I’ve purchased a lot of addons for flight sim. Several of them were a waste of money. But I’ve never felt that for ISG. It was one of my earliest addons for flight sim. And I still use it to this day.
The best way I can think to describe ISG is by telling you what I use it for. It breathed a new breath of life into the default airplanes. There was a time when I could not afford fancy addons (wait I still cant). So I had to make due with defaults. But I was also getting into flying online. With realistic routes and the possibility of route changes. The default GPS really shows its issues when you get a clearance with a different route than what you filed. In the default 737, I had the ISG FMS. No problem, I just enter in the route I was cleared for. ISG then shows that route on my nav display, And commands the autopilot to follow it. I also get TCAS, and a rudimentary VNAV as well. Takeoff hit LNAV and I was on my way. Pretty similar to flying a fancy addon airplane. But this was a default.
When I hit LNAV I also get a notation on my PFD along with the other modes that autopilot was set to. I get a traffic warning of a nearby aircraft complete with resolution advisories. The controller gives me a short cut today. Im cleared to bypass the rest of my SID and proceed direct to a enroute waypoint. I get above ten thousand feet and press VNAV. The autopilot then commands the plane through the rest of the climb. And no I had not been drinking and was confusing the PMDG aircraft with a default. It was the default 737. I complet that flight and the next day I feel like flying some rich person to Key West. I take the default king air on this trip. It also features LNAV, partial VNAV, and TCAS. Wait a minute we are talking about the defaults. The massive piles of crap that somewhat resemble airplanes.
Have I pushed it hard enough? Well honestly it’s probably one of my favorite addons. And one of only 2 addons that to this day I would say are truly must haves, were it not for one problem we will talk about soon. Not only can this be used in defaults I have used it to improved countless freeware planes. Alejandro Rojas is well known in the freeware community for creating some of the best planes available for FSX. Including a MD83, P35, and C750. He also did several improvements to the default B738 and B744 cockpits. Giving them features usually only found on payware planes, and in some cases he’s got one up on the payware planes. He’s not the only freeware developer that makes amazing things. Richard Schwertfeger made a fantastic Global Express. That thing could be payware if it had better texture quality. All the planes came with a FMS by the way. But it was the freeware Bendix King FMS that is nothing more than the default GPS with a fake VNAV and looks like a FMS. But I have ISG. I replaced the avionics of those planes, with the ISG avionics. Payware? Where I’m going I don’t need Payware!
Now it’s not all sunshine and lollipops don’t get me wrong. ISG comes with 9 gauges. And while the gauges are all pretty realistic, they contain some features that are locked away that make them much better. The biggest problem is that ISG is just the gauges. If you want to put them in the airplanes you’ll need a modified panel file for them. Now ISG does have panel retrofits for a lot of aircraft on their website. You can also build a panel for the aircraft yourself if you know how. And the gauges work fine as they come. But to really make them sing, you have to dive into their CFG files. There is documentation. Full walkthroughs of each gauge as well as documents on these special features im talking about. But the documentation for editing the associated files is not that straightforward. If it was not for the difficult process of actually getting the gauges working in an aircraft, ISG would score a lot higher.
By the way these gauges have navdata updates available by both Navigraph and NavDataPro. They also feature the ability to Load SIDs, STARs, IAPs, load a flight plan from a PLN file or their own special format, Save flight plans for future use, enter crossing restrictions that the airplane will adhere to; the FMS will also calculate a descent profile including crossings for each waypoint. Enter in any waypoint in the database to go direct to or add into an active flight plan (without erasing the flight plan). Enter Vspeed that will show up as speed bugs on the appropriate PFD. Meaning that entering in V1, VR, and V2 speeds on the boeing FMC will cause the V speed bugs to appear at the correct speed on the boeing 777 PFD. That’s the main stuff. There’s more but all the other features have to be unlocked by editing files and like I said the documentation is not the most straightforward.
I really feel as though I can’t put everything this addon can do to words so I’ve prepared the video above. Thats me Programing a Flight plan into the Honeywell GNS-XLS Flight Management System. It along with the 8 other gauges can be placed in any aircraft. In addition to that FMS, I modified the default King Air to have a Honeywell EFS50 ADI & EHSI, along with their associated control units. I also made a dedicated ISG CFG file for it which unlocks some of the more advanced features we talked about. I often choose to fly this King Air over the 2 other payware ones I have. You want to know the best part about ISG? It’s only $23, That’s it! That’s not that bad really. The only real complaint I have about it is the fact that unless you know how to edit panels it can be hard to get the most out of it. But it makes a great addon for thoughs of you who can’t afford a full addon aircraft like PMDG and company. Or for those of you who want to learn how to work the avionics in a less demanding setup than a complex addon aircraft. All the gauges work like their IRL counterparts. And ISG works on P3D to.
The Big question is Does this addon that was released in 2011, stand up today? Id say yes. Integrated Sim Avionics does withstand the test of time. It does exactly what it should do, and does it well. Its cheap enough that mostly anyone can afford it. It works on any airplane. There’s Minimal performance impact. Were it only for the actual panel installation process, and the overall user friendliness; I could call it a truly must have addon for anyone. My favorite part is the price. At only $23 its exactly where I personally would value it. See I can’t answer the question of weather or not this is worth your money. I dont know how much you value your money. I can only tell you that this addon is exactly in the price range I would put it if I was selling it.
By: Timothy Thomas
Imgur album showing off the aircraft I have ISG installed on.