FSElite Exclusive: Interview with Orbx about their Optica for Microsoft Flight Simulator

ORBX Interview

Orbx is very close to releasing their first-ever aircraft for Microsoft Flight Simulator and we were lucky enough to get some time with Orbx to talk all about the upcoming release. If you haven’t already seen, Orbx will soon be releasing the Edgley Optica for the simulator and it promised to be a unique experience that provides simmers the chance to see the world very low and very slow.

In our exclusive interview with Ellise, Business Development Manager, we dig into some of the finer details about the plane, how it came to be and some tips and tricks for when you take flight in the aircraft.

The EA-7 Edgley Optica is coming very soon to Microsoft Flight Simulator. Stay tuned to FSElite and Orbx to find out when you can get your hands on it.

This is a truly unique aircraft with only a small number of real-world units in existence. What made you decide to want to bring the Edgley Optica to Microsoft Flight Simulator?

For us, it was a clear choice! We wanted our first aircraft to complement our existing Microsoft Flight Simulator product suite. The expansive cockpit views and 8 hours of flight time let us really take in the wonders of the world with an amazing view. The Optica is a simple aircraft to fly; from starting her up to shutting her down. We were looking for exactly this kind of aircraft for those who like to take in the details of the scenery.

The aircraft is fairly unique in that it has a 270-degree panoramic view with a bubble design cockpit. What’s the experience like flying the aircraft over cities and other sights in the simulator?

Simply put, stunning, especially in VR! The views of the Cities from up high or low, going over terrain, rivers and valleys are breathtaking and really gives you a sense of flying. She has a great height range so even in the mountains you can really take in the sights. On the airfields and airports you can really appreciate the attention to detail with the 270 degree panoramic and almost vertical views.

What lengths have you gone to recreate the aircraft? Have you had experienced pilots provide insight or had any other input to create the aircraft as realistically as possible?

We are crazy about details, as you know… As you can see the model and texture quality is amazing, even things like stitching in the leather seats, fingerprints on glass and dirt on the exterior look stunning and as close to real as we can get with current in-sim PBR and lighting technologies. Feedback from pilots and observers who have flown the Optica was used to improve the aircraft for the sim, even down to things like engine sounds. This real-world feedback is rounded out as most of our team fly in the sim and we’ve had a lot of our Beta testers fly her and give feedback.

Whilst we are bound to the simulator limits, we believe we have created a close to real-world experience for flying an Optica.

I have to ask, but how does your version of the Edgley Optica compare and differ from the already available freeware model?

When we started development there wasn’t a freeware version for MSFS and those who compare will see our version of the Optica is a true-to-life experience that pilots will enjoy flying.

Our version has full comprehensive in-sim checklists, a printable manual and quick reference cards to use through all aspects of flight from start-up to shut-down. Also unique is our use of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator sound formats to give unique spatial audio inside and outside of the cockpit. This close to real-life audio feedback to the pilot greatly adds to the flight experience. Our flight model is very advanced including the unique ballast system the aircraft has.

We utilise the latest modelling and PBR textures to give stunning visuals to the pilots including unique real-world and fictional liveries. Also, we have a unique surveillance camera on some of the liveries which is true-to-life.

What has been your favourite experience so far with the aircraft? How does it compare to flying other small GA aircraft?

The main thing that has come out of it is the sheer joy of flying and taking in the visuals.

She’s comparatively easy to fly and trim out so you can really just take in the wonders of the sim. The 8 hours loiter flight time is far more than any other fixed-wing aircraft in-sim right now with limited cockpit views.

Where do you suggest simmers take their first flight with the Edgley Optica?

We would definitely recommend flying around our Landmarks and Cityscape packs as she is perfect for taking them all in. The London area is home for many of our staff, so it is great to fly out of EGLC and around London and the South East of England. But then there are also the
mountains, so LFKX Meribel is also a magnificent destination, you may have noticed that in the trailer video. She’s great at low level and also up high in the mountains so LOWI is another favourite.

Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Frankfurt, Paris, Singapore, our cityscapes are all amazing to see with the sun low and clouds on to really get a sense of flying with the open visual cockpit.

Are there any hints or tips you want to share with the community on how to best fly the plane or things you’ve picked up on that could be little ‘gotchas’ as you explore the world?

She really is easy to fly, just trim her out in climb, cruise and descent right down to the landing and you’ll have an easy ride to just look out of the cockpit. However, you do need to be careful at edge-of-the-envelope flying. Another thing to be cautious of is the ballast system. Hitting Fly just by selecting the Optica you’ll be fine but if you add co-pilots you do need to adjust the ballast fore or aft using the in-cockpit reference card or notes in the included reference guide.

Designed to fly slow for observation rather than speed so just beware of speed in the climb. Take-offs and landings are very easy with standard PC controllers and even Xbox controllers. She has been designed to fly really well with both in anticipation for the upcoming Xbox release of the sim.

Orbx is primarily known for its airport and scenery related products. I also know that Orbx has tried to create aircraft in the past, but that stone was left largely unturned. What challenges have you faced with creating an aircraft? Why was it the right time for Orbx to now focus on an aircraft?

The release of Microsoft Flight Simulator coincided with us looking at the development of aircraft. We expected that there would be interesting challenges developing aircraft and the Optica gave us our fair share of those with the ballast system. However, we have worked through some issues with Asobo and we achieved a unique flying perspective in the simulator.

I appreciate you likely can’t divulge too much at this time but are there future plans for more aircraft from Orbx in the future? Any hints you can drop as to what we can expect?

Definitely a space we are venturing into! Stay tuned and fly safe!


Thanks to Ellise for taking the time to answer our questions. Head over to the Orbx product page for the EA-7 Edgley Optica to find out more.

Tags : AircraftEA-7ExclusiveInterviewORBX
Calum Martin

The author Calum Martin

I have been an avid fan of Flight Sim since the release of ‘2000 and have developed my love for aviation ever since. I have the knowledge and experience to really deliver an excellent aviation community. Although no real life flying experience, I have a good understanding and always learning more and more.
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