2024 looks to be an exciting one for Microsoft Flight Simulator and its users, with a range of updates, addons, and improvements expected. As 2023 comes to an end, here are some of the most anticipated flight simulation products expected in 2024.
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024
First announced in June 2023, MSFS 2024 will be a standalone simulator and the sequel to the current iteration, MSFS 2020. Its initial announcement drew some concern among the flight sim community, with question marks over the future of 2020, and compatibility with current addons. Much of this has since been allayed and clarified, with the following now known about Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024:
- Current aircraft and airports for MSFS 2020, “as well as virtually all Marketplace add-ons”, will be supported in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024.
- Purchases from the in-sim Marketplace will not need to be bought again to function in MSFS 2024.
- MSFS 2020 will continue to be supported “post the Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 launch”, although how long for has not been specified.
- A key priority for the new sim will be improved data management: more information will be streamed from the cloud, with Microsoft saying: “When users load into the sim, only the textures, meshes, and map data that they need will be downloaded to avoid unnecessary bandwidth and disk space usage. This will keep the minimum specifications of the sim as low as it is now and will also reduce update and load times.”
- Several new airliners will be included.
- Improved CPU multithreading will be implemented to enhance performance.
PMDG’s much-anticipated Boeing 777 for MSFS is expected in 2024, with six preview images released so far. The aircraft is currently in Beta testing, with PMDG’s Robert Randazzo saying the team is “seeing performance very close to what we experience with our 737 product line.”
Fenix Simulations Airbus A319 and A321
Initially announced in August 2023, Fenix Simulations’ A319 and A321 was originally said to be released “by the end of the year”, but is now expected some time in 2024. The pair will come as a “single expansion package” to Fenix’s existing A320, and will be priced at £39.99.
The delay in releasing the A319 and A321 is likely the result of the delayed “Block 2 Update” for the A320. Despite the setback, Fenix has released some incredibly-detailed screenshots showing what’s in store for Block 2, including a stunning new visual model, the IAE engines and the external engine model, further avionics fixes, and Electronic Flight Bag version 2. Much of this can also be assumed to apply to the A319 and A321 too.
iniBuilds Airbus A350
iniBuilds announced the development of the Airbus A350 for Microsoft Flight Simulator in December 2023, with release expected in 2024. It intends to have both the -900 and -1000 variants available, with both winglet types modelled on the -900.
Despite its real-world popularity and success, an A350 has not yet been developed for MSFS; Digital Flight Dynamics have previously announced that it was developing an A350, however no release date has been shared. The aircraft is understood to be particularly challenging to bring to the simulator, with its complex aviconics, and the purported lack of real-world reference materials and documentation.
Aerosoft Airbus A330
Next in the range of commercial airliners expected for 2024 is Aerosoft’s A330. First announced back in February 2022, the aircraft was originally expected to release “late in the year for sure”, according to Mathijs Kok, then-Product Manager at Aerosoft.
Since then, the aircraft has experienced a range of setbacks: by April 2023, the release had slipped to summer 2023. In August 2023 however, PMDG announced that Mathijs Kok, thought to have been key to the A330’s development, had joined the PMDG team.
The last update from Aerosoft came in December 2023, with the team saying: “The end-of-the-year sprint is underway and we will try to make as much progress as possible before the Christmas break – and we’re already looking forward to next year!”
Bluebird Simulations Boeing 757
Bluebird Simulations’ passenger 757 was planned for the end of 2023 or early 2024, followed by a paid cargo expansion after the initial release. In July 2023, the developer announced the successful recording of sounds from the 757 RB211 engine, with the aircraft at that point in Alpha testing. In December 2023, the team said a further update on the 757 would be made in January 2024.
FlyByWire Airbus A380
Finally on commercial airliners, FlyByWire’s A380 continues to progress, with new screenshots released in December 2023. While no timeline for release has been shared, the aircraft appears to be coming along well.
Blackbird Simulations Huey and SR-71
While Blackbird Simulations has a range of aircraft in the pipeline, the Huey and SR-71 are perhaps two of the most anticipated. In a December 2023 update, the team said the SR-71 has “pretty good chances” of coming out in 2024, but no commitments were made.
The UH-1H Huey meanwhile is progressing well, and while no timeline for release has been given, development appears to be at an advanced stage.
Just Flight Tornado and PA-38
Like Blackbird, Just Flight has several projects ongoing, but two stand out: the Tornado GR1, affectionately known as the ‘Tonka’, is being developed by the same team responsible for the acclaimed Avro Vulcan. The development team is currently transferring the high-fidelity code from their Tornado GR1 in Prepar3D to MSFS. Post-transfer, the focus will be on improving accuracy and adding additional features to ensure the Tornado operates as closely to the real aircraft as possible.
Just Flight’s PA-38 Tomahawk meanwhile has been pitched as the team’s “best GA aircraft yet”, with core aircraft systems coding nearing completion as of December 2023.
No release timeline for either has yet been shared, although like Blackbird Simulations’ projects, both appear to be at an advanced stage of development.
Flightbeam Studios KSFO
Flightbeam Studios, the highly regarded flight sim developer, is expected to release its KSFO: Captain’s Edition scenery for Microsoft Flight Simulator at some point in 2024. Preview images were last released in April 2023, showing meticulous attention to detail and high-quality graphics.
The developer has said that time has been taken to ensure the addon is “future-proofed as much as possible”, adding that it “includes some new state-of-the-art optimization techniques for smooth performance.”
iniBuilds Abu Dhabi International Airport and Leeds Bradford Airport
Announced in December 2023, iniBuilds’ Abu Dhabi International Airport is expected to release in 2024, with a range of stunning screenshots already previewed. Leeds Bradford Airport likewise is in development from iniBuilds, with “two more destinations planned for the UK in 2024” according to the team.
BeyondATC, first announced at FSExpo 2023, aims to transform the use to air traffic control inside MSFS, integrating the capabilities of AI into this frequently criticised, yet critical, component of the simulator.
In November 2023, the developer previewed the addon’s innovative traffic injection system, demonstrating its ability to minimise resource usage while efficiently populating a large airport. BeyondATC is planned for a 2024 release.
SayIntentions.ai takes a similar approach to ATC, using AI to refine the user experience, but is specifically designed for VFR use. It is currently expected to be released in January 2024, initially compatible with US airspace, with international support planned in the future.
While the selections highlighted here represent our top choices for the most anticipated add-ons set to release in 2024, it’s important to note that there are numerous other add-ons spanning a diverse range of categories expected to debut throughout the year. Are there any other upcoming releases that have captured your attention for the next 12 months? Let us know in the comment section below!