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Actual Airbus Pilot Reviews Microsoft Flight Simulator’s Accuracy

Airbus A320 Cockpit in Microsoft Flight Simulator
(Image credit: Microsoft)

If you’re not familiar with YouTuber 320 Sim Pilot, he’s a real-world Airbus pilot who for the past four months has been making in-depth flight sim videos on a regular, almost daily basis. Most of these have been in the 2016 flight simulator X-Plane 11, but with Microsoft Flight Simulator now out to the public, his past few videos have been focused on how well the game recreates the Airbus A320.

Half review and half guided tour of how flying the Airbus A320 works, his first video in this series is a 26 minute comparison between Microsoft Flight Simulator and X-Plane 11’s respective renditions of this aircraft. The key metric here is, of course, how true-to-life each game’s take is.

So far in Microsoft Flight Simulator, I’ve only toyed around with small propeller planes and have largely stuck to controlling them with my cheap Logitech HOTAS, but Sim Flight 360 shows how granular the game’s controls can get if you want them to. Instead of relying on a controller, he largely tools around with the game’s rendered cockpit controls, moving his plane mostly through the autopilot's knobs and rendered in-cockpit displays rather than through manually adjusting a flight stick.

The result is an impressive showcase of both the real-world steps pilots go through when flying an Airbus, and  the depths Microsoft’s team has taken in recreating that process. Aside from a few minor simplifications in what shows up on the in-cockpit displays, 320 Sim Pilot gets about halfway through his video before he encounters any unrealistic control.

This happens when the game reads him turning his heading knob too far to the left as a sign that he wants to go right, which is not how an actual Airbus operates. “The real airplane, as long as you start turning it in the right direction, it will keep following the heading button in that direction,” 320 Sim Pilot explains. "It's quite clever."

He encounters a few more minor issues throughout his flight, but leaves fairly impressed, especially given that this content is free with Microsoft Flight Simulator, whereas he had to pay to add the Airbus A320 to X-Plane 11. “They’ve obviously spent some time sat in the actual aircraft.” 

His approval extends to the look of the plane as well, as he starts out his video commending both the in-cockpit graphics and explaining exterior plane features I didn't realize were even in the game.

With that level of detail, then, 320 Sim Pilot's video is also a fun way to shadow a real pilot as he works us through his job. For instance, while I have most of the game's assistance options turned on, 320 Sim Pilot walks us through full takeoff and landing checklists, including plugging his destination into Microsoft Flight Simulator’s rendered in-cockpit computer. I didn’t even realize that you could actually type on those things in this game. I wonder if anyone has bothered to screenshot themselves typing in 80085 yet?

So far, I’ve been proud of myself just for looking up how a Cessna altimeter works so I could more accurately read the one in game, so this process is fascinating to me. It’s probably the closest that I’ll ever get to being inside an actual commercial cockpit mid-flight, and I’m glad Microsoft has put enough detail into Flight Simulator to make this possible.
 

Since releasing his impressions video, 320 Sim Pilot has since released four more videos, which you can see on his channel, each helping tutorialize how he flies so you can try it out for yourself. While the disclaimer at the start of his videos warn that they are for “home entertainment use only,” they’re a great way to nurture an interest in flying.

  • velocityg4
    Admin said:
    YouTube 320 Sim Pilot’s Impressions of Microsoft Flight Simulator are half review, half thaYRURGSnjFuQQAtSeEVhed tour of what it’s like to be a pilot.

    Actual Airbus Pilot Reviews Microsoft Flight Simulator’s Accuracy : Read more

    Did your cat walk across the keyboard before posting?:D
    Reply
  • supra5mge
    Another great Youtuber that has some really good tutorials is Squirrel. From the game's settings, control setup and to flying an aircraft. I found them very helpful!
    Reply
  • Haden J-Robbins
    320 is great. I think he will build up a loyal fanbase before long.
    I can guess which airline he flies for but I am not going to say :)
    Keep up the great content 320!
    Reply
  • NightHawkRMX
    cool article cool game.
    Reply
  • FastElectricsPilot
    The world looks really great, but the general aviation (small propeller) planes do not feel very realistic in my opinion. I haven't spent much time dialing in my controls yet, and I have no idea what it takes to modify the physical models of the planes. To me it feels kind of like the planes have far too little inertia, they feel kind of "twitchy" and unstable. And, sometimes you put out full flaps when you know you have the airstrip made, and suddenly you find yourself near full throttle just to maintain airspeed and sinkrate when you should be able to glide the rest of the way in.
    Hopefully when 3rd party planes become available they will get better.
    Reply
  • JoBalz
    I lost touch with a pilot friend who, last I heard, was a captain with Americans on one of their international routes (meaning the big jets). I had really wished I could ask him about what he thought about MS Flt Sim 2020, so I was glad to see the videos from the A320 pilot to get a professional's opinion. Makes you think that actual pilots were involved in constructing the software. (BTW, back in the late 80s when I worked for flight dispatch with one company, I was able to ride in the cockpit jumpseat on several business trips and a vacation. It was really interesting to be able to see firsthand the interactions of the captain, first officer, and the airplane.
    Reply
  • nofanneeded
    OKAY . I am still waiting for a realistic Fighter Jet simulators Microsoft. it is more fun to fly combat missions and dog fighting ...

    True there are Action games for Fighter Jets but they are not accurate nor real simulators.

    I want Fighter JETTTT SIMULATOR ...

    and with all kind of planes , from WW1 RED BARON Manfred Von Richhofen till F35 and SU57

    and with Aircraft Carriers missions as well , and worldwide missions from ww1 till modern days wars...

    I think they can do it using Flightsimulator 2020 engine ...
    Reply
  • Tigerhawk30
    nofanneeded said:
    OKAY . I am still waiting for a realistic Fighter Jet simulators Microsoft. it is more fun to fly combat missions and dog fighting ...

    True there are Action games for Fighter Jets but they are not accurate nor real simulators.

    I want Fighter JETTTT SIMULATOR ...

    and with all kind of planes , from WW1 RED BARON Manfred Von Richhofen till F35 and SU57

    and with Aircraft Carriers missions as well , and worldwide missions from ww1 till modern days wars...

    I think they can do it using Flightsimulator 2020 engine ...

    Try DCS World, free on Steam. Each airframe is a certain cost (from ~$10 to about ~$80 for an F-14) but it starts you out with an Su-25T and TP-51 for free. It's been touted as the most realistic air combat simulator to date.
    Reply
  • stallsnapflip
    FastElectricsPilot said:
    The world looks really great, but the general aviation (small propeller) planes do not feel very realistic in my opinion. I haven't spent much time dialing in my controls yet, and I have no idea what it takes to modify the physical models of the planes. To me it feels kind of like the planes have far too little inertia, they feel kind of "twitchy" and unstable. And, sometimes you put out full flaps when you know you have the airstrip made, and suddenly you find yourself near full throttle just to maintain airspeed and sinkrate when you should be able to glide the rest of the way in.
    Hopefully when 3rd party planes become available they will get better.

    Unfortunately, the term "flight model" is a mystery to many players and the actual "feel" of an airplane is hardly ever questioned. As long as the speeds are correct, most users are happy with it and tend to pay more attention to the realistic behavior of the autopilot heading knob and similarly "exciting" details. But a flight model is not only about the main performance specifications like speeds and climb rates, but about a detailled physical representation of the dynamics in flight.

    Now try to find information about the flight model of any flight simulator. Often the developers only mention that it is a "physics based" flight model (no really? And the others are "philosophy based"?) or that "dynamic forces" are modelled - sounds cool, but means nothing. Even the simplest model considers dynamic forces.

    Admittedly, the actual details of realistic flight dynamics are not easy to judge. The feeling that some aircraft feel "stiff" or "twitchy" compared to their real counterparts is one thing, but actually measuring and nailing down the error is much more difficult.

    For me personally, the most important part of a flight simulator is the representation of detailed flight dynamics and the corresponding feeling to show the true character of the aircraft. I consider a complex flight model more important than just spending time adjusting the model's fitting parameters so that all speed values are hit exactly.
    For big ships like commercial airliners, this does not play a big role. Even with a very simple flight model, they can easily be tuned to meet their specs and will behave quite realistically, simply because these big ships have such low manoeuvrability that complex dynamics simply would not make a big difference, at least within the normal operating envelope. But for small GA airplanes, these details will be much more pronounced, especially in aerobatics and post stall maneuvers, which often feel "stiff" or "scripted" due to a lack of detailed dynamics.

    However this should be no surprise. Why should a developer spend a lot of time developing a good complex (and more resource-hungry) flight dynamics model when the vast majority of players would not even recocnize it? For most users, eye candy is still the number 1 criterion for the realism of a flight simulator.
    Reply
  • Toni Vicente
    Tigerhawk30 said:
    Try DCS World, free on Steam. Each airframe is a certain cost (from ~$10 to about ~$80 for an F-14) but it starts you out with an Su-25T and TP-51 for free. It's been touted as the most realistic air combat simulator to date.
    Falcon BMS the most realistic (ok, no so beautiful graphics), dynamic campaign, Free with a copy of falcon 4 (around 4$)
    Reply