Available now! – HiFi’s Active Sky weather add-on finally comes to Microsoft Flight Simulator

After a prolonged development period marked by significant anticipation and numerous challenges, HiFi Technologies has finally announced the release of Active Sky FS (ASFS) for Microsoft Flight Simulator. It represents the culmination of years of work by Damian Clark and his team, aiming to deliver what may be the most definitive alternative yet to the default weather depiction in MSFS.

What’s Active Sky?

For the newest simmers that came into the hobby with MSFS 2020, Active Sky may not mean much, but the truth is that this product has been a cornerstone in the flight simulation community for over two decades, renowned for its ability to create highly accurate and realistic weather scenarios. Traditionally, Active Sky has excelled in providing dynamic weather updates, sophisticated weather phenomena simulations, and a rich array of customizable weather scenarios that have significantly improved the way atmospheric conditions are simulated in various flight simulators.

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Initial Announcement and Development Intent

In late 2020, HiFi Technologies first made public their intentions to develop an Active Sky product specifically for MSFS. This announcement was significant as it came during a time when MSFS was still evolving its SDK and its approach to third-party integrations, particularly in the area of weather simulation.

Fast forward to 2024 and we see that the journey to integrate Active Sky into MSFS has been anything but smooth. Damian Clark, the spearhead of HiFi Technologies, has shared insights into several critical obstacles the team faced:

  • Developer Support and SDK Limitations: MSFS’s initial reluctance to fully support third-party weather solutions that did not use the official SDK created a significant barrier, forcing HiFi to explore alternative integration methods.
  • Evolving MSFS Platform: The continuous development and updates to MSFS itself meant that HiFi had to frequently adapt its approach to ensure compatibility and leverage new features as they became available.
  • Resource and Community Challenges: With finite resources, HiFi had to balance maintaining support for their existing products on other platforms while investing in the development of ASFS. The waning support from parts of the MSFS community and the flight simulation market dynamics added layers of complexity.
  • Personal Hardships: Damian Clark also candidly shared that personal hardships over the past four years have also played a role in the long development time of Active Sky FS
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Active Sky finally comes to MSFS

After all that work, Active Sky FS (ASFS) is available for MSFS and it’s designed to integrate seamlessly with the platform. It promises a suite of innovative features that aim to redefine weather realism:

  • Advanced Integration Techniques: ASFS uses a new approach combining several methods for weather data retrieval and manipulation, ensuring deep integration with MSFS without relying entirely on the native weather engine.
  • Comprehensive Weather Simulation Features: The tool offers an array of weather depiction modes, including ASFS Preset and Passive modes, which cater to different user needs for realism and control. These modes allow for precise manipulation of weather elements such as wind, cloud layers, precipitation, and more.
  • Historical and Real-Time Weather Data: One of ASFS’s standout features is its ability to offer both real-time and historical weather conditions. This is facilitated through an extensive database of weather archives, providing users with the ability to fly in past weather conditions as recorded globally.
  • Enhanced Atmospheric Effects: The inclusion of customizable air turbulence effects, such as clear air turbulence, updrafts, and downdrafts, enhances the realism of flight dynamics within the simulator.
  • Dynamic Weather Playback: This feature dynamically adjusts the weather conditions during a flight according to historical data, providing a highly realistic and challenging environment for simulation enthusiasts.
  • Compatibility with Third-Party Add-Ons: Integration with SimBrief for flight planning, PMDG wind data export, and universal common data export, ensuring comprehensive compatibility with various popular third-party add-ons.
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Active Sky FS certainly raises expectations for its potential to introduce enhanced realism and detailed weather scenarios in Microsoft Flight Simulator. However, it’s well known that the MSFS weather API has limitations, which might restrict the full potential of third-party weather systems like ASFS.

Looking ahead, HiFi Technologies plans to ensure that ASFS is compatible with future versions of MSFS, which naturally includes MSFS 2024, but the team will have to evaluate that implementation once the new version of the simulator becomes available later this year.

Active Sky FS is now available for around €23.00 + tax through stores such as Contrail, Aerosoft and simMarket. Check out the full details on the product page that is now live on HiFi’s website.

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