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Today third-party developers shared news and images about Microsoft Flight Simulator aircraft and scenery add-ons.

First of all, we hear from PMDG CEO Robert Randazzo, who provided an extensive development update and rather impressive images about the much-anticipated Boeing 737.

“A quick update to let you know that testing continues to progress on our new product for Microsoft Flight Simulator. The PMDG 737-700 for MSFS has completed four full weeks of very thorough testing, and has now entered into it’s fifth week of testing with great progress being made.

I predicted last week that I felt we would soon turn the corner, with progress being shown in the form of the development team resolving more items than are reported by the beta team. This is a normal pattern that emerges looking back at all of our beta programs and I was pleased to see that pattern emerge this week. The beta team opened 71 new issues this week, and the dev team resolved 121.

These numbers are not an exact science, as the dev team works on quite a bit more than just the issues that get reported into our tracking system, but the trend lines that it shows are generally the larger picture that describe the arc of progress of a product at this stage in development.

While we are still working through open reports and generally improving the stability of the product, we are slightly hampered in one regard due to the lack of tools in MSFS that we would normally be using to improve code stability and look for areas that require optimization. Overall performance under MSFS/SU8 is good and on-par with products that we consider to be in the peer group but our inability to gain insight into areas that might be less efficient than they should be has us all pulling at the reins a bit.

One of our main channels of effort right now is to begin slowly dialing up detail levels in certain areas in order to evaluate the impact different techniques may have on the performance of the simulator. Obviously our goal is to provide “like-real” image quality with 100fps performance, but since those are mutually exclusive on mondern hardware the goal is to balance the two in such a way as to give you the best performance possible while also giving you the greatest image quality. With that in mind we are gently increasing detail levels all over the airplane models and screens and the like while measuring the change in performance of the sim, if any.

The interesting news is that we are coming away from the effort with increased confidence in Asobo’s rendering engine, as it seems to handle levels of detail that our experience in FSX/P3D tells us should not perform well at all. This is the beauty of a modern engine for simulation and I think Asobo really deserves a tremendous amount of credit for this piece of the puzzle. Building engines is not easy, and this one is really quite good at managing the visual environment in such a way as to make it highly detailed without turning it into a slideshow.

Here is one example of what I mean: We have completely rebuilt the fire handles and you can see how much detail has gone into the surface of the plastic lens, for example. Scratches, micr-surface detail layers as well as incredible clarity of the materials and the surface type all come together to produce a really beautiful model. In particular I like these new fire handles because the read plastic lens has just the right hardness, shininess and clarity to it. It reminds me a bit of the candy apples I used to consume at the county fair as a kid. (Remember those?)

Taking a slightly different view of the dimmer knobs than the one I showed you last week, we drove the viewpoint in really close to the knobs I showed you last week so that you can see what the surface detail looks like. This kind of dialing-up of the detail level is taking place all over the airplane and it is really coming together stunningly.

I want to point out that these are not “rendered” images coming out of the modeling software. These images are taking right out of the sim itself in order to give you an idea what you are getting in terms of the detail level of the model and textures. Everything from dirt around the set crews in the dimmer knob to the hardening of the powder-coat finish on the fasteners gives you a level of detail that has never before been attainable on previous platforms. We are working through whole sections of the airplane bringing the detail level up to this point while carefully measuring performance in order to ensure we are making good decisions with regard to where to spend computer resources.

Some users are eager for us to remove the embargo from our beta testers and I do want to say that I anticipate them being under embargo a bit longer. We have some more detail improvements we want to get through before we let them begin to show you the airplane as they see it and through their own perspective.

Some users have been asking “will it have X” and “will it have Y.” We are planning a full bore promotional process for the upcoming release to start in the very near future. That process will give you all the answers you need. Some of our long-time PMDG customers have wondered whether the MSFS version of the airplane will be as robust and detailed as the P3D versions and I can assure you that it is. In many areas it is even more detailed because the MSFS platform allows us to do more than we could with Prepar3D.

Lastly- we know everyone is dying to know when this will release. (Including us!) The reason we are not sharing a release date with you at this time is that we simply do not know. We have a very robust process of testing products, as well as tracking all of the various bits and pieces that may still require attention. As we work through that process we are effectively ignoring the “when will it be released” question because it has been our experience that a product tells us when it is ready for market. It is a hard thing to describe, but as a long-time development house we know what we are looking for and when we see it, that means it is finished.

We are actually very close to that point now. You will know that our confidence level is good when we release the beta team from embargo and you begin to see previews created by folks OTHER than us. That is how you know it is really imminent.”

We also hear from Headwind about the freeware Airbus A330neo currently in active development and already available on Flightsim.to

Implementation of the newer FlyByWire systems is going well, and we should expect the release of the new version in under three weeks.

On top of that, we get a render of the new nose gear.

Last, but not least, you may remember the Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport (ZSHC) in China in the wors by a yet-unnamed group operating out of the FSdeveloper forums.

They have been quiet for several months, but today we learn that development is still ongoing and progressing well. We should expect it to be released “soon.”

If you’d like to read more about Microsoft Flight Simulator add-ons, you can enjoy our recent reviews of Toronto Pearson Airportthe Twin OtterAuckland International AirportSkiathos AirportAthens International AirportBergamo Orio al Serio AirportAmami AirportBristol AirportMarrakech Menara AirportGreat Britain CentralTehran Imam Khomeini Airport, Moscow Sheremetyevo AirportShanghai Pudong AirportKraków AirportFukuoka City & AirportFort Lauderdale Airport, Chongqing City & AirportManila AirportSantiago Airport, the Frankfurt City PackKey West Airportthe Okavango DeltaBali AirportLondon Oxford AirportBerlin Brandenburg Airport, the CRJ 550/700, the PA-28R Arrow IIIKristiansand Airport, Macau City & AirportBonaire Flamingo AirportMilano Linate Airport, the Singapore City PackTokyo Narita AirportYao Airport, the F-15 Eagle, the Paris City PackGreater Moncton AirportTweed New Haven AirportSantorini AirportSydney AirportHelsinki-Vantaa AirportReggio Calabria Airport, Bastia Poretta AirportMunich Airport, Paris Orly AirportNewcastle International AirportSankt Johann AirfieldDublin International Airport, and Seoul City Wow. We also have a beta preview of Singapore Changi airport.

If you want to learn more about the game itself, you can read our review that will tell you everything you need to know about Asobo Studio’s game.

Microsoft Flight Simulator is already available for Windows 10 and Steam, and Xbox Series X|S.

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