Remember about the duo of freeware helicopters under development for Microsoft Flight Simulator by RotorSimPilot? The Robinson R44 and the Airbus H125 have quickly been built from the ground up and the R44 is now about to be released as an alpha version, ready for helicopter pilots to try its hopefully very realistic flight dynamics.
In the latest development update from RotorSimPilot, we learn that development has been progressing very well with the R44, with many features already working, although it still needs some work with other critical functions. In any case, the R44 will be made available already this Wednesday, September 15th, through flightsim.to.
Arguably the most interesting part of this project is the partnership with Fred Naar, a well-known developer in the helicopter flight simulation community for his work with HTR – Helicopter Total Realism, a utility that allowed sophisticated helicopter flight dynamics to be executed in FSX. He is now translating that work into MSFS, calling it AirlandFS. The R44 will be the first helicopter in MSFS to make use of this new technology.
With AirlandFS running the entire flight model, you will get some custom options to adjust the flight behavior to your liking. For example, you will be able to adjust realism settings, pedals and cyclic sensitivity through AirlandFS. But the goal of the developers is to provide an utterly realistic out-of-the-box flight experience that closely matches what you would expect from the R44 Raven II model, the most recent version of the aircraft.
The expected realism of flight is actually the most exciting thing right now about the R44, as the visual model itself still has a long way to go before it’s deemed as up-to-par to the flight model. RotorSimPilot says that it’s just about 5% complete, so be prepared to see a basic-looking aircraft. With the release, the developers will also share a clear development roadmap so people can know what and when to expect new features and improvements to be added.
As for the H125, it’s now a little on hold. The R44’s development has taken the center stage and will continue to do so over the coming weeks, so don’t expect many new developments about the H125.
While the R44 is definitely a very welcome addition to the tiny helicopter add-on offerings for MSFS, the arrival of Fred Naar and AirlandFS paves the way for significant advancements to rotorcraft development for MSFS. By providing a quick way to implement a custom helicopter flight model, third-part developers can focus more time on the build-up of the model, textures and sounds, while counting with AirlandFS to run the physics. Will we soon start seeing a wider variety of helis in MSFS? It sure looks so!