Microsoft Flight Simulator has proved to be an exciting new platform for developers to create and collaborate on incredible new virtual airplanes. From the usual high-quality, payware projects that we report about almost daily, to impressive freeware endeavors such as the A32NX or the upcoming KC-10/DC-10, the list of aircraft in development for MSFS keeps on growing. Today we’re bringing you another very promising project, which aims to bring to MSFS a high-fidelity depiction of one of the newest airliners in the market: the Airbus A220.
Synaptic Simulations is the collective responsible for the development of the A220 for MSFS, under the product name A22X. The team is now well underway into the development of this project, which is looking to be a long-term, open-source, and freeware depiction of the Airbus A220.
The team has issued a few development updates over the months, showing steady and incremental improvements across the entire product. The project appears now to be reaching a certain level of maturity that has made the developers even more communicative, both on their official Discord but also with an extensive live-streamed preview and Q&A session, where we got many details about the current state of the aircraft, global plans, and much more.
First of all, there’s no release date yet for the A22X, as it’s still in an early stage of development. However, the 3D model is almost entirely done at this moment, and the team is looking to start implementing textures over the new few weeks.
Once it releases, Synaptic Simulations says the A22X will be a fully modeled and textured aircraft, down to the smallest details in the cockpit, with a full cabin and animations. Most procedures will also be available but expect many improvements and features to come afterward, such as failures.
One interesting aspect of the A22X’s development is that, once the modeling is complete, it will be open-sourced for the entire community to tinker with, much like the A32NX.
Synaptic Simulations is currently modeling the -300 variant of the A220, the most popular among airlines. The -100 variant and the stunning ACJ corporate version are also possible in the future. Once external texturing is done on the 3D model, something that is currently expected to happen in early 2022, the team will release a paintkit for the community to start creating liveries, and talented repainters will also be brought to the team to create real-world liveries to be included in the package.
Right now, Synaptic Simulations is comprised of about 30 developers, who offer their spare time to work on the A22X and also on other MSFS projects. Some of these developers also work with FlyByWire, which has resulted in a “partnership” of some kind that enables resources and talent to be shared across both teams. For instance, the A22X will be available in the FlyByWire installer once it’s released, and the custom flight planning system and LNAV/VNAV mechanics in the A22X are also being implemented with FBW’s collaboration.
During the recent live-streamed development update, Synaptic Simulations previewed a wide variety of aspects of its airplane. The team showed the current progress with the 3D model, such as the engines, landing gears, wings, and spoilers, which have been modeled up to a very high standard thanks to reference photos taken by real A220 pilots. Additionally, they showed the current model of the cockpit, still textureless, but already with functional buttons, switches, and active displays.
Possibly the most interesting feature that has been shown is the current system’s implementation. Starting with the electrical system, the team showed how it’s interconnected and reconfigures itself, for example, to draw power from the engines once they are turned on, or how the left engine powers the left section of the electrical diagram once its running, while the right section continues to be powered by an external source.
Synaptic Simulations also previewed the PFD and EICAS functionality. We could see the EICAS showing some things such as the flaps’ motion and the engines spooling up, and the animated PFD during a simulated takeoff.
As for the FMS and Map view, it’s being developed in full collaboration with FlyByWire and Navigraph as well. The FMS is quite modern and appears to be in a relatively advanced stage of development. It allows the search of airports and NAVAIDS, associated waypoints, and much more. The flight plan can then be shown on a map, where several overlays can be toggled.
Furthermore, an EFB will be included, enabling a variety of customization options and features. It will be comparable with FlyByWire’s offering in the A32NX, and include performance calculations, fueling, Navigraph charts, a map, Simbrief configuration (for FMS integration), and failures. The team will look to integrate charts in the main displays as well, for added convenience and immersion when flying the aircraft.
Other additional features to be implemented are VNAV and LNAV, TCAS, wing flex, and vortices.
With all this, Synaptic Simulations understands that new users may eventually be a little overwhelmed with the complexity that the team is aiming to achieve, so the goal is to create user-friendly documentation to help new users operate the aircraft.
Ultimately, Synaptic Simulations hopes to provide an A220 simulation that is at least on par with the FlyByWire A32NX, possibly even better. It’s certainly an ambitious goal, but the team appears to be well organized and motivated. We will keep a close eye on the development of the A22X and let you know of any future updates. A new modern airliner is truly something to be hyped about, and we can’t wait to see what Synaptic Simulations has in store for us in the near future!