Early evening yesterday I finally got a chance to sit down and fly the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 (MSFS2020) from Coldstream to Latrobe Valley. It was more a showcase of what the new flight sim looks like out of the box and it looks excellent.
For those not familiar with my background, I have worked in the US and Australian airline industry since graduating from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona back in 2001. One of my minors was in Aircraft Accident Investigation. I’ve held my Australian Commercial Pilots licence since 1993 and my US Multi-Commercial licence since 2008. It’s safe to say I know what it looks like when navigating visually or via instruments a few thousand feet above the ground. The new MFS2020 accurately depicts what it looks like when your flying in real life and I am incredibly impressed.
I’ve always been an avid user of flight simulators in the past, ever since I first gained my Australian pilots licence. In fact, I used flight simulators in the past to practice instrument training or just to keep my mind in the instrument flying game when I was not actually flying in real life.
Until now, flight simulators have been suitable for instrument flying or Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), but quite crude when it came to Visual Flight Rules (VFR). Both Flight Simulator X and X-Plane 11 out of the box were great instrument trainers, but lacked the visual landscape to navigate by visual means. You could visually navigate, but it was too simplistic and unrealistic. Although X-Plane 11 did have some additional free software, Ortho4XP, you could replace the static ground effects with satellite images from Google or Bing. It was a long and complicated process to install.
When I was living in Latrobe Valley, I was not flying in real life, but I was using Microsoft Flight Simulator X to keep current with instrument flight training.
Now out of the box, the MSFS2020 is perfect for visual navigation. The embedded video is straight out of the box without any additional installed software and you’ll see how beautiful both the Yarra Valley and Latrobe Valley look from the air in this early morning flight.
As you can see from the image of Morwell above; the Hazelwood Chimneys are still present, but it will eventually be automatically updated in the flight simulator. MSFS2020 uses an artificial intelligence (AI) called Blackshark.ai. Basically the AI uses Bing Maps satellite data to generate 3D objects on the ground. When Bing satellite photos are updated, the flight simulator scenery will also be updated. This in itself is amazing, so as satellite images improve over the years, so too will the flight simulator scenery. This is one area previous flight simulators have lacked, updating scenery.
This flight simulator is accurate enough for me to use it as a teaching tool when I go for US Flight Instructors rating most likely next year.
If your interested in learning to fly, MSFS2020 is a great place to start. Grab yourself a Cessna 172S Flight Manual or a Cessna 152 Flight Manual and start your first flight lessons in the new flight simulator. Yes there are flight lessons built into the flight simulator.
If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an e-mail. Thank you and of course, Have fun..