Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020

The latest iteration of Microsoft Flight Simulator was released August 18th, 2020. I had always considered getting earlier iterations of MSFS, and I hesitated even on the current iteration. Although it has had software issues, I do not regret buying the Premium Deluxe edition eight days after its release. The software continues to be supported by the developers, Asobo Studio SARL. At the time of writing, three major updates have been released and several updates are planned.

Microsoft Flight Simulator is more than a video game. While interacting with the simulator, I learned about the auto-pilot systems used by Airbus A320neo and Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner. This knowledge eased the transition to the Garmin G1000 and auto-pilot systems used in other aircraft. I have also gained familiarity with instrument landing systems (ILS), distance measuring equipment (DME), VOR navigation, and the phraseology used between pilots and air traffic controllers. This software has motivated me to look at approach plates and VFR charts. Documentation, tutorials, and instructional videos unrelated to flight simulation are also applicable to Microsoft Flight Simulator. Everything that I have learned may be useful for when I work toward a private pilot license with instrument rating.

Cessna 172 landing at Hawthorne Municipal Airport (KHHR)

Once the novelty of flying jetliners on auto-pilot and landing with ILS wears off, actively managing indicated airspeed, vertical speed, altitude, approach heading, and keeping centered with the runway makes landing the most rewarding aspect of the simulator. Actively landing, sometimes with assistance from instruments in nighttime, foggy, or cloudy conditions, is a worthwhile experience.

The above video shows my landing a Cessna 172 at KHHR on runway 25 (“runway two-five”). The plane is maneuvered so that it is flying west parallel to the I-105. The plane flies over the I-110 on its approach to the airport. KLAX is visible to the right of KHHR.

Frames are noticeably dropped in the video. My desktop computer, which the simulator reports is unsupported, consists of the following components:

  • ASUS AREZ Radeon RX560 2GB (AREZ-RX560-2G-EVO) [$99.99]
  • AMD Ryzen 5 3600X [$189.99]
  • MSI MPG X570 Gaming Plus ATX [$154.99]
  • G.Skill 2x8GB DDR3200 [$69.99]
  • Samsung 970 EVO Plus NVMe M.2 SSD 500GB [$104.99]
  • NZXT H510i ATX Case [$99.99]
  • Corsair RM850 80+G Fully Modular ATX PSU [$159.99]

Subtotal: $879.93
Tax (7.75%): $68.19
Total: $948.12

The video card is the performance bottleneck. An MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio 10GB [$854.99] seems worthwhile. The experience provided by Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is definitely worth the cost of upgrading.

Questions, comments, and responses are welcomed and appreciated.

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