My Mini MSFS Aircraft Reviews

I’ve been away from sims for a bit, so decided a couple of days ago to splurge out on some new MSFS aircraft, plus revisit some older ones. There’s about 250+ aircraft on the official store now, and some of them are awful, as quick FS ports, while others are really quite nice and much better than the ones that come with the sim. Here’s my top choices of the ones I like:

FBW A320

It’s free and it’s a really nice update to the stock A320 Neo that comes with MSFS. The systems are at the stage where a full flight can be planned, simbrief can be imported, has a nice EFB and pretty much every button is now hooked up. The LNAV is now fully custom and it flies nicely in that ‘Airbus Way’ of playing by its rules. It’s short on emergency procedures and the more unusual ‘everything is not fine’ direct law, but still lots to learn. Ideal for short hauls, although it’ll manage the Atlantic if not full. The upcoming Fenix A320 seems like the one to get for full fidelity, but in the interim this is a really nice aircraft. It’s become my XP11 Zibo 737 equivalent but for MSFS.

Aerosoft CRJ 550/750

A short-haul pencil that enjoyably heavy on pilot workload, due the lack of auto-throttle. Limited VNAV so lots of monitoring needed, but a really nice flight model. Great curved screens and sort of borderline in VR due to the small real-life instruments but an aircraft full of character.

PMDG DC-6

Classic airframe with super detailed systems and great helper engineer features, if you don’t want to do everything yourself. A real pleasure to fly, but you need to treat it gently or it will bite you. Limited autopilot of the time, and lots of engine monitoring needed. Great at getting in and out of surprisingly small airfields it all just reeks of quality. The start-up procedure is a joy and never fails to make me smile with the prop counts and the glorious noise.

Just Flight Piper Arrow III

For a nice change of pace and some VFR fun this is a nice quality aircraft. Love the weathered interior and the feel and sounds of this one. There’s an EFB for options and the usual fiddly Garmin, which is far more fun when it’s swapped out for something more analog. It’s a nice feedback flight model, nice ground handling and good visibility for tourism.

BlackBox BN-2 Islander

For something slightly bigger, and more of a port from FSX, the Islander is great for exploring. I’ve not spent a lot of time with it yet, and it’s not at the level of PMDG, but it’s a fun size and everything seems to work - plus the price is good. Stops on a dime.

https://www.blackboxsimulation.com/index.php/products/fs2020/islander-bn2/

I use all of the above in VR, hence the rather dull ground screenshots. I’m really looking forward to the Fenix A320 and the PDMG 737, even if my wallet isn’t.

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I don’t have the FBW A320 or the JF Arrow(s), but completely agree with everything you said about the CRJ, DC6 and Islander. My favorite has to be the DC6, but I have to be in the right mood to fly it because it requires a lot of attention and you need to stay well ahead of the airplane.

The CRJ is just a big Challenger, or a hobbled Global, depending on how you look at it. Either way, I found I was right at home with it for the most part. Aerosoft did a nice job with this one.

I just picked up the Islander yesterday but so far it seems like a really good product. It certainly is fun to fly.

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I think I like the CRJ so much as the routes sort of aren’t too long and there’s enough depth to be fun but still lots to learn. The cockpit interaction with the mouse in VR feels good.

The DC6 radials require a lot of work for planning a descent, which surprised me. I’ve used it with some Arctic flights and icing and bad weather made it horribly tense in IMC, waiting for the next VOR to come in range - great fun, but in no way relaxing :slight_smile:.

I need to check out the Helos and Warbirds next.

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IMC in icing conditions certainly gives you an uneasy feeling when in the DC6… :grimacing:

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the helicopters and warbirds. Which ones do you have?

I’ve got the Bell 47 (it feels twitchy so far, need to dampen the cyclic a bit) and the FlyingIron Spitfire IXc (I miss shooting things but it feels solid).

I also need to learn two mosquitos as well (need to install the DCS one, which I want to try first), but that’s looking like November now.

After being ‘sim dry’ for so long it feels good to feast now…

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The Bell 47 is a handful. There is no doubt in my mind that it wants to (virtually) kill you every minute of every flight. I guess that is part of it’s charm. :wink: The HPG H145 is much more stable. I have enjoyed flying Medical and SAR flights with it using NeoFly.

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Is that the paid H145?

The Bell feels honest, in that I just need to fingertip it a bit. Took off with a slight crosswind and realized I was out of tail rotor authority pretty quickly, with my foot hard on the floor. :slight_smile: I wasn’t expecting much compared to DCS Huey/Hip etc but so far it’s been good fun. Fantastic bubble cockpit views of course.

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Yes, that’s the one. So far HPG have done a nice job, although of course, DCS still has the best helicopter flight models IMHO.

The Bell 47 is great in VR. I can’t help but grin when I look up over my right shoulder to see the rotor-head spinning just a few feet from my head! :astonished:

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Really?? Dang…I hadn’t really visited the store much lately. I’m gonna have to take a look-see. I’m still trying to figure out what sim I want to do the Christmas Flight in - choices, choices…

Did not know about that one… I haven’t had my ear to the ground enough the past few months with all the training and schedule mayhem at work…

That is a great endorsement…

I felt the same way. Like you observed…it is true to life…those displays are small and the font is small (I think the Boeing 717 has…not the same avionics, but the same trouble…small displays, small fonts…)…

On my list. The X-Plane versions are superb. And I love the old school panel. Does that user created Garmin mod thingy work for the panel - because it really makes the default Garmin look and perform better. The last time I tried to use it it wasn’t compatible with whatever patched version of MSFS I was using…

If I decide to drop a dime on Air Hauler for MSFS, this would be a good one for the business.

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The Working Title G1000 NXi? I’m not sure, as I’ve so far turned off the 750 glass in the Piper to make it look even older - it just needs a wee metal cigarette ashtray to complete the look :slight_smile:. I think the remaining Garmin in that config is an LCD 100, but not sure?

The WT currently doesn’t work in beta SU6, and I’ve been using that, but I’ll check next week as I’ve heard they have a patch ready to go (the WT crew work for Microsoft now, they all got hired).

EDIT: From the piper manual

image

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Before you do that Chris, take a look at NeoFly. I don’t think it is quite as hardcore with regard to the business simulation, but it has a wide variety of mission types, a commodities market where you can make good money by trading, SAR and medical flights (with 3D assets in the sim), passenger flights, freight, fragile freight where you have to land softly, and more. Pretty cool, and the base product is free, so you can try it at no financial risk. Once you are hooked, there are enhancements that you can buy (more 3D assets, random events such as passengers wanting to divert to a different destination, etc etc). Well worth the investment IMHO.

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Thanks for this thread! I’m going to install this one.

I have been exploring the default aircraft but starting to feel the need for something a bit more substantial. (it was going to be the DC-6, but after talking with my builder, the upcoming renovation budget is going to pause any non-essential spending for the time being…I’m even off beer until I’m done with the demolition and know what I’m dealing with! but I digress)

Now, I’ve never flown an Airbus (or any modern tubeliner for that matter), so I suspect I’ve got a bit of a learning curve - is there a particularly good online resource for it? I guess Chuck’s guide for the FSX A320 is probably a good place to start…

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When using the FBW installer the ‘development’ build is a good one to use, as it updates often and rarely has serious bugs.

There’s certainly a lot to learn and Chucks guide will help. Getting used to managed mode vs selected mode is key, as is some MCDU setting up. The throttle detents are also important. It’s quite an opinionated way but makes sense once used to it.

I like these series of videos as an interesting coverage of lots of things airbusy.

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