Can you explain what factors are currently taken into account in thermal/updraft model and what are the future plans for realistic soaring weather?

It is clear that with SU9 new airmass updraft model was introduced (or at least some artifical limit was removed) - we, RL glider pilots, appreciate it very much as it already allows soaring and shows great potential for MSFS to become the best soaring simulator with realistic soaring weather.
But very few information about it’s mechanics were provided yet.

  1. Do we have thermals that originate from stationery ground spots - that produce constant or periodic thermals skewed by the wind - that with proper conditions can even form cloud streets?

  2. What factors are accounted for ground heating calculation - do you try to determine material kind - asphalt/soil/crops/lakes/ coniferous vs deciduous forests, ground wettnes (like hours or even days after rains given area won’t generate thermals), slope relation to the sun, shading of area by the clouds?

  3. Do latent heat of large cumulus clouds is accounted as updraft generator - so can cumulus clouds generate updraft by themselves, without connection/reaching any ground heat source?

  4. Do you model or plan to model (in both live and preset weather) typical daily cumulus weather evolution/cycle? - early formed Cu thermals reaching inversion layer - spilling all over it, sometimes producing local showers - around 4pm blocking the sun from warming the ground thus thwarting thermals - clouds slowly dissipate, so another thermal cycle can begin or result in sunny evening.

  5. Do you account/simulate temperature gradient change with height (weather soundings) to properly model vertical instability and thus difference in thermal strength with height?

  6. What are the mechanics, conditions to form blue thermals (that is thermals not associated to cumulus clouds)?

  7. Do we have possibility of multiple thermal cones joining at higher altitude?

  8. Do you model downdrafts and turbulent border area that should surround thermals?

  9. Will wind gusts/turbulent flow be logically related to border between updraft / downdraft areas?

  10. Do you consult changes in weather model with experienced cross-country real life glider pilots?

  11. Do you plan to add more parameters to weather presets configuration to be able to more directly define soaring weather?
    For example to define atmosphere vertical (in-)stability (or even better be able to define irregular temperature change with height - similiar to weather soundings plot),
    inversion height.
    Ability to somehow affect how the weather changes in time would greatly improve realism as no soaring day has constant weather.

  12. Do you plan to add live weather recording/playback feature (at least for some regions) - very important feature for soaring as there is no better/interesting weather than the real one, and real, good soaring weather occurs rarely - seasonally and mostly during mid-daytime hours so is mostly of no use for working people - no use for people thac can only fly at evenings - as then midday occurs at the oceans.

This topic is very important not only for glider pilots, this is an important improvement for all aircraft types (including helicopters), except maybe Concorde pilots.


Hello EPPRglider81,
Thank you for the posting and your comprehensive listing. I can only fully subscribe to this. Actually, you would think that it should be important to all Fs2020 users. Then there should be many hundreds of votes here.
Even if the name of the software only contains the two words “Fligth Simulator”, I think the mainstream is about entertainment and not about the serious examination of real conditions. I don’t expect someone who flies on the X-Box with his game controller in the rear view of his plane for 30 minutes and then switches to the next game to pay any special attention to realism. Nor knowledge of such complicated aerodynamics as you list.
The other half of the “players” have the 250 page manual of the “146 Professional” in their hands and are happy when all the buttons are pressed in the right order and they are able to operate everything correctly. Even though I can understand that, they don’t ask for correct air dynamics like a glider pilot.
You could already do all this extensively in previous versions of the FS. With the new computing power of today, it would be fair to assume that the development of a serious simulator would be heading in that direction. And I wish that the development of FS2020 would make an exception with this topic, where otherwise they only follow the mainstream.
But on the other hand, the topic is as complicated as the implementation of a DX12 interface, or the physical conditions that make the clouds volcanic ash grey, so it takes time.
Therefore my call to the developers: here are (currently) only 8 votes, and we are not the mainstream, but make FS2020 the best simulation in the world in this direction as well.
Thank you! :slight_smile:
If anyone here feels misunderstood by my post, then write it here and support the post with your vote. In this case, I would be happy to apologise if I am wrong.


My additional question inside this topic would be:

  • Are there any plans to realistically simulate ‘‘dangerous weather’’ ? Like very strong up/down drafts inside big cumulus clouds or storms which we would have to avoid like in reality?

Voted, thank you for this thread!!

1 Like

Thank you for your balanced input.

First teasers even before release of MSFS2020 showed advanced weather mechanics - that “bought” me to invest in hardware (upgrading to 3080TI and Reverb G2 wasn’t cheap) strictly for the sole purpose of flying only(!) gliders in MSFS.
Latest Q&A by showing CFD, new updraft/thermal model reaffirmed me that they are still bold to make huge changes in the sim engine (that even may somewhat annoy “leisure simmers”) and also are paying attention to subtle details (structural bending, upgrade in wheel mechanics) that “leisure simmers” won’t even notice - they really show great commitment to the “Simulator” part of it’s name.

I think “leisure simmers” are already happy (visuals!) and besides greater stability there is not much more to make them more happy, they also won’t provide much more income.

On the other hand people people flying or aspiring to fly in RL are in “long term relationship” with the sim (guess what they will do when health won’t allow them to fly in RL? :wink: ) - and I can say for myself - I will buy every glider related add-on (tow plane, winch, gliders with RL flight model, glider races, scenery where I fly) that will be of high quality.

Microsoft/Asobo thinks big, I am in great awe they are doing it on great scale - and with declared 10 years investement they can take it all - be the best GA/Airliners/Gliders/Helicopters sim ever.

Having said that the only correct implementation of weather is to also do it “big” - real fluid, airmass flow, global (to see what the weather will be in Poland in few hours I should look at weather in France!) weather simulation - no “sinusoidal wind gust generator” like bandaids will ever feel real for glider pilots who fly only because they are understanding real weather phenomena - “weather is their fuel”.
As a side note current preset parameters are somewhat artificial - cloud layers is not an input, rather as a result of other more basic parameters - like change of temperature gradient, moisture with height (like in charts of weather soundings), dew point etc - hope this area will be also remodelled in the future.

Moreover I think completely different teams of people at Asobo are assigned to improve game stability, different do flight model, different do landscapes and finally different are assigned to weather - so lots of work in one area doesn’t mean they don’t have resources in other area.


Thanks EPPRglider81 for posting these questions to the Q&A, Let’s hope Asobo recognizes the importance of these mechanics for glider pilots specifically but also for every pilot in general.


I’m not a real pilot at all. I’m not using gliders that much in the sim but i still want the air to behave like IRL. Thats the most important thing in a ”flight” simulator. Happy to voting on this :slight_smile:


Hello EPPRglider 81, with FSX my activities have fallen asleep a bit about 10 years ago. I also didn’t invest much in new hardware since then. With the release of FS2020 the interest has risen again 100%. Since I have given up paragliding due to my family situation and I have not flown gliders for about 10 years, I would like to continue this hobby in simulation and have therefore bought hardware again that offers the maximum that technology has to offer today. That quickly adds up to a few thousand euros.
In addition, I am currently developing a VR simulator for gliding, which takes both time and money.

Nevertheless, I think, with all the investment, I have full confidence in MS and Asobo that the whole effort is worth it.

  1. the basic considerations for a new simulator, which were made at the beginning regarding possibility, were exactly right.
  2. the first implementation was well done and the effort made by all the disciplines shows that they are serious. The financial effort, especially to get it ready for the market, was devinitv enormous.
  3. The public relations work is absolutely exemplary. Never before have I seen the developers work so openly and closely with the community. Given the costs, that’s understandable, since you can’t develop without the customer in mind and you want to reach the masses, which in my eyes was a complete success.
  4. The people who present themselves in public are not PR experts who want to create an appearance of perfection. They put their heart and soul into it and can also admit mistakes when things don’t go as planned.

These are all reasons that motivate me and make me invest in the project. And a lot will come together in the future.

Including me, we are always impatient because of our enthusiasm. Otherwise I wouldn’t have developed the thermal generator for the Kenetic Assitant with my son. Although the FS2020 has already made a push forward in this direction, I still use it. But I think at the latest in autumn, when gliders will be officially supported, this will no longer be necessary.
Therefore patience, patience, patience :sparkling_heart: :sparkling_heart: :sparkling_heart:
Greetings Ralf

BTW: I have always asked myself what the background to the Fs2020 is. When the Cern LHC was developed, it was known that the data processing and distribution was far from sufficient. So new IT was needed, and over time this konwhow has become part of our everyday lives all over the world. FS2020 is not just about “the game” aspect. There will be much more to it than we see at first glance. The experience and technology in development at MS will also flow into many other areas of expertise that are perhaps not yet recognisable to “us”. Therefore, it will be the best FS the world has seen so far :wink:
PS I hope my bad English hits the point as I think it does. :thinking: