For years, the presence of general aviation within the flight simulation community has stood the test of time. Not always have the heavy metal airliners been everybody’s fancy. Though they may occupy the majority of traffic (at least from what I’ve noticed over the years), right behind them is the twin Cessna pilot in command.
Today, developers and our computers alike are taking us further to satisfy our aesthetic appeal. Never would I have imagined the quality or joy I get from performing the RNAV 31L approach into Orbx’s Palm Springs airport using the PMDG 737 twelve years ago when I first started with flight simulator. Eventually, I would grow a bit tired of always flying the same scheduled routes using the same airplane. The excitement was slowly deteriorating. Maybe I’m not the only one who has experienced the loss of interest in our hobby, only to get the craving again just a few weeks later.
I seem to underestimate the actual number of flight simulator users out there. I’m sure, like me, there are a large number of individuals who try to make the simulation as real as possible. To me, that means: realistic fuel loading at the gate before pushback, following flows and checklists, the ability to share the same flight deck as my friend who lives across the country, and to load my aircraft in the last panel state I left it in at the airport I previously landed at. With advancements of our simulators (FSX: SE, P3D, XP10/11), developers are making my wishes come true. Slowly, but surely.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy flying the heavy metal that is currently available to me. But I crave it in a different sense now. Enter corporate aviation. The ability to fly business jets (or props) big or small, wherever my heart desires. Thankfully tools such as fltplan.com and Simbrief make my flight planning a bit easier and more realistic. Now I can fly my Boeing Business Jet carrying an NBA team to their next game at the local executive airport instead of the cluttered international one five miles down the way. Or I can fly executives to their next business meeting in my speedy Citation X, or even fly a cargo load in my trusty Cessna Caravan.
Corporate aviation is on the rise. Thanks to developers like Eaglesoft (who have always stuck to their roots of general aviation), to Carenado who’s aesthetically stunning aircraft never fail to please the eye (though the same can’t exactly be said about their avionics in regard to functionality). Developers like Flight 1 who’s GTN series GPS and newly released GNS series GPS make flight planning much easier and enjoyable in almost whatever general aviation aircraft you desire. Thanks to developers like these, the gap between routine scheduled airline flights and short Piper Warrior hops are being filled.
Slowly are these newer aircraft meeting my expectations and desire for high quality addons. And lately I’ve seen the rise of corporate aviation on VATSIM. But this market has only barely been touched. Developers like Carenado are mysteriously able to pump out gorgeous aircraft in mere months. This factory has given us visually stunning aircraft such as the CJ2, and the recent Cessna 441. The trade off for such short development times? Lack of avionics functionality. I can’t seem to thank Flight 1 enough for coming out with the GTN series GPS. It gives me the level of automation I need to conduct a flight without a first officer present. It allows me to change my flight plan on the fly (no pun intended) when ATC wants to throw me a curveball. This GPS makes up for what would otherwise make me put my wallet back in my rear left pocket.
I patiently await the Eaglesoft XLS+, and impatiently wait for their Challenger 605. While Eaglesoft’s aircraft don’t have the Carenado shine to them (yet), they certainly have the functionality down. The ESDG Citation X is one of the most underrated aircraft out there, at least in my opinion (I seriously recommend you take a shot at it if you want a great simulation, I believe there is even a refund option available if you don’t agree with me). Their next two releases are sure to have me glued to my desk for hours on end as we’re finally going to get the best of both worlds in terms of function and form. It will be an excellent place to start for the simmer who is interested in FAR Part 135 ops.
But what is holding me over now you ask? What is quenching my thirst for quality business jets? I have a few that I love now: The Flysimware Lear 35 and Cessna 441 (I can’t wait for their Falcon 50!), the Flight 1 King Air 200 / Citation Mustang with pretty functional G1000 renditions, and the PMDG 737-600 which I use with a BBJ livery that I downloaded from Avsim. Paired with Orbx who does an incredible job of creating smaller class C / D airports, these flights can be a ton of fun!
Now what remains for me is to find a home where I’m able to fly business turboprops and jets alike, realistically. Not some operator who operates every aircraft type ever. This isn’t to bash those operators, nor the guys who just want to Control-E their aircraft and takeoff from a taxiway. I enjoy feeling like I belong to a team, in this case a virtual airline. But I look forward to these developers covering a market that is underserved, and full of potential.
So I ask you; would you fly one of these corporate jets if you haven’t before? What would it take for me to convince you to join me on VATSIM?
What are your thoughts? Do you agree with me? Do you also crave my thirst for realism? Is this market under served? What GA addon are you most looking forward to? What would you suggest to these developers? And what would you like to see in your next business jet/prop? Let me and the developers know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!