A couple of weeks ago, Hype Performance Group, creators of the very fun Airbus H135 (the first helicopter for MSFS) and the Icon A5 Performance Mod, revealed a change in the development team and announced a new product, the Airbus H145. This new team, Accelerated Flight Systems, is now well underway into the development of their second helicopter, and hope to build on the lessons learned with their H135 to create a high-fidelity product that will set a high bar for future MSFS rotorcraft.
This announcement in itself wouldn’t be particularly noteworthy. After all, third-party developers are constantly announcing new aircraft for Flight Simulator. But this announcement also came with an unusual new idea that we don’t often see in this hobby: Accelerated Flight Systems is asking for an Early Access pledge, valued at $42.99, and promises to make the H145 available to buyers once a stable build has been reached.
The community was obviously stirred. How can a newcomer team of developers, with only a full freeware project to prove their talent, be asking for money for a product without actually delivering it in return? With many people asking this question, while others pledged their support to developers and recognize their efforts so far, we thought it would be a good idea to talk a little with Steve Daniels, from Accelerated Flight Systems, to get some insights into their plans and how they feel about the reception this new project is having.
1. Steve, thank you for taking the time to talk to us about this new project. After a freeware product as successful as the H135, what made you decide to create the H145?
The H145 was the obvious choice for our next project for multiple reasons. The first reason, and really the most important is that there was a lot of community demand for the H145. It was frequently requested by the community on Flightsim.to, the official forums and on our Discord.
Another huge reason is simple and that is that the H145 is an incredible aircraft and gives our team the opportunity to set very high standards for what should be expected from future helicopters in Microsoft Flight Simulator. The H145 is an aircraft that has the power and technology to complete any mission and our talented team of developers is hard at work to ensure that our release is equally capable.
2. What are the main differences between the two?
We’d recommend that the community do some research into the amazing line of Airbus helicopters so that they can appreciate all of the differences between the H135 & H145, but speaking specifically about our development efforts what I would stress is that the community should look at our H135 as a testbed that provides just a sample of what our team is capable of.
Our H145 has a professional team of modelers that are delivering quality far beyond what I’ve seen from other developers and when you combine that with the proven talent of our lead developer David Amenta users can expect that the H145 will be delivered with quality that far exceeds our H135 as well as many other aircraft available in the marketplace today.
3. How complex is the H145 simulation planned to be? Are you getting some help from real H145 pilots?
Users should follow our development progress through our weekly updates on YouTube and through discussion with our developers on Discord. We are receiving feedback from H145 pilots that are helping to ensure that both our aesthetics and systems are developed with respect to realism. As we move into our user testing phase these same pilots will also provide us with invaluable flight model feedback.
4. Will the H145 feature a custom flight model built from scratch, or will you bring some of the H135 code to this new project? The fact that MSFS doesn’t yet support rotorcraft is a problem for the development of the H145?
This is a good opportunity to clear up a common misconception. Although there are not any default rotorcraft in the sim, this is not the same as the sim not supporting rotorcraft. Developers with knowledge of the SDK can see that the sim already allows for custom flight models to be injected and this has been done with our H135, I think it’s important for the community to know that the H135’s flight model is not just a hack of a fixed wing aircraft – it is a flight model built from the ground up by our lead developer David Amenta and for the H145 the flight model will be unique to that aircraft as well.
5. The renders that were first shown are indeed very good looking. How do they compare with the real model that is being created for MSFS?
I know that when the community finally sees in sim photos of the H145 that everyone will be extremely impressed. I genuinely do not believe any aircraft available today comes close to the level of detail and quality of the work that we are doing with the H145.
6. Why the decision to go with an Early Access program that asks people for money without actually delivering a product at the same time?
Most payware projects are developed in a silo and users are only able to provide feedback after a product has already been released. This usually leads to aircraft having a 1.0 release that have numerous bugs that need to be fixed and requested features that can’t be implemented because major design decisions were made early in the project without community feedback.
With so much of the success from our H135 being tied to our open development process with the community we wanted to have a way to maintain that relationship with our community. The best way to do that was to allow owners of the H145 to have access to provide feedback on the H145 during the development process and that is only possible through an early access program.
One thing that is important to note here is that our early access launch has been very successful, and we attribute that to the community that has faith in our team based off the success of our H135. To those who are not yet ready to preorder our H145 we respect this decision and hope that you’ll still follow our development and make the decision to purchase the H145 whenever you’re ready.
7. There were some voices in the community that took this plan with a grain of salt. How would you respond to those voices?
We love and respect this community and that means that we must show that same love and respect to those in the community even when they do not agree with us. Our intentions are pure and the H145 will be delivered, and it will be an incredible aircraft. The community will hold us accountable and that’s not a concern to us at all because we know we have the talent to exceed expectations.
8. Are you feeling under additional pressure now that some people are asking for a very high-quality helicopter, given the business model you guys are presenting?
There really isn’t any additional pressure as we know that the H145 we are developing is far beyond anything else we’ve seen in the sim thus far. That said, we respect that people have paid us for a product and that does motivate us even further to do the best job possible.
9. Are there any expectations for a release date? What is the planned roadmap for the development and release?
We do not have any dates to provide at this time and ask that those interested in the development of the H145 follow our weekly development update series and join our Discord for direct interaction with our development team. There’s always a few things that we openly say in our Discord that may not get picked up by the media.
10. What would you say to those in doubt about the capabilities of a new development team such as Accelerated Flight Systems?
Our lead developer David Amenta successfully delivered the first helicopter for Microsoft Flight Simulator and the modeling team now supporting him have multiple years of professional modeling experience. The H135 is by all accounts a great aircraft and proves what our development team was capable of with limited resources, what we’re able to do with the H145 now that we have access to additional resources and have added professional modeling talent will be sure to impress people enough to where the capabilities of Accelerated Flight Systems won’t be questioned in the future.