Help on propper flight planning with Simbrief

Hello All

First things first: I do have a Navigraph Subscription. But with the recent changes I got a bit confused and am no longer sure if I am doing flight planning “the correct way”…

So, when I fly Airliners I typically would open up Simbrief and go to Dispatch where I enter all the required fields. This would then give me automatically the SID and STARS. This flightplan I will then “Generate” and “Download”.

In MSFS I will then load the downloaded flightplan and set the departure gate. Then I launch the SIM and import the OFP via Simbrief integration (in this example ATR 72-600).

Now, I just did that for a flight in South Africa. What I find strange is that the flightplan generated by Simbrief is propperly showing up in the FMC - BUT - when I for example open up the VFR map where it shows me the flightplan I downloaded and loaded in MSFS Menue - I see slightly different waypoints.

Now to my two questions (finally lol):

  1. Any idea why the downloaded MSFS 2020 Flightplan shows different waypoints than the generated / imported one (shown in FMC)?

  2. Can you recommend a YT clip where I can learn to propperly use Navigraph etc. I ask because now I am a bit confused on how I should proceed. Shall I continue using simbrief - or shall I use the Navigraph Charts app and create my flightplan there? And if I do so, how can I generate a flightplan that can be imported like the one I “generate” in Simbrief?

I feel I have too many options and can’t see the right way lol. Hope you guys can help?

Have you updated the nav info in MSFS from your Navigraph Hub App?

Personally I would completely skip the part where you download the flight plan and import it into the game. What’s the point? Just pick a stand on the departure airport and go from there. Programming the FMC is part of the fun and takes literally a few minutes. The VFR map is useless for VFR (and IFR) * and resembles nothing found in reality.
All you need for navigation is already part of the airplanes avionics (if you have a FMS) + charts.

(*)

  • useless for VFR because it has way too little details (like detailed terrain, forests, cities, rivers, masts, roads and airspaces). VFR navigation means you should be able to orient yourself visually.
  • useless for IFR because it doesn’t show any procedures, frequencies etc.
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I have to agree with the @lkowgli there is no point in loading a pre-made simbrief plan into FS flight plan screen. I have found that this causes more problems than not… Here’s how I do it:

IFR:
Plan flight in SimBrief
Open flight with aircraft at stand/gate/parking
load the pre-made flight into the FMS/MCDU/GNS within the sim.

  • Some aircraft allow you import the flight from simbrief

VFR:
pretty much the same, but if VR, then I make sure that I have my route mostly memorized (alhtough I will plug the departure/arrival airports in the flight computer (GNS/etc)).

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Yes - thanks - I did that prior the flight as there is a new cycle that just came out on June 22nd if I’'m not mistaken.

Thanks! I think you got a point here. And for VFR I honestly go with LNM - I guess it’s just a preference :slight_smile:

Well - that leaves me with one open question then:

Is it possible to generate a “simbrief OFP” out of the app “Navigraph Charts”? I’m asking because unlike with simbrief where the app creates SID and STAR automatically, with Navigraph charts I kinda have more control over my flight plan.

But - if I then cannot export this flightplan in simbrief format (currently there are some formats incl. PMDG - but how would I export it for the ATR for example).

Since Navigraph and Simbrief are now one (right?), why do I seem unable to export as simbrief from Navigraph Charts? Or is that not a thing? What are your thoughts here?

If you want ATC guidance, you will need to do this step, or be able to “request IFR clearance” in the sim ATC menu (if the option shows up) after you enter the plan.

I know ATC is a “four letter word” among FS2020 users, but sometimes you want some ATC interaction, even with the understanding it sometimes fails spectacularly.

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Hey BigCow
I see! Well - I am waiting for BeyondATC as the built-in ATC is - well - really lacking ^^. So - valid point! But I can get around this - hoping that BeyondATC will give me the fix I’m looking for

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Yes I suppose if you want ATC in the Sim… Personally as I am PC I use VATSIM for my ATC coverage… BUT and this is a huge but (but not as big as mine), coverage is relative, and not everywhere… and you have to be on PC, atleast until someone creates a useful ATC Client for XBox…?

I don’t recall MSFS supporting (vs allowing) 3rd party-created flight plans like SimBrief and others. That is, MSFS allows flight plan importing with missing or incorrect information without doing any corrections. I don’t know why 3rd party apps don’t fix their flight plan export so they are compatible with MSFS or at least rename the export to something other than “MSFS”. Clearly 3rd part apps don’t completely test their exports whenever there is a software update.

SimBrief acknowledges that their flight plans files don’t import into MSFS correctly. They provide a workaround to fix their files making them work correctly in MSFS. Here are the import instructions provided by SimBrief (buried in their Download page):

  1. Download this file anywhere onto your PC.

  2. Open your simulator and go to the “World Map” screen.

  3. Click “Load/Save” at the bottom of the screen, then click “Load”.

  4. Browse to and select the *.PLN file you downloaded in Step 1.

NOTE: After import, you may need to reselect your SID, STAR, or approach using the provided dropdown menus.

I was always under the impression that the issues usually existed on the “World Map” side with MSFS not understanding all of the real world procedures you could get in a valid fight plan. And this is why there were reports (rumors?) of Working Title being tasked with completely rewriting the sim flight planner at some later date. I wonder if that “later date” will now be MSFS2024?

The plans do import into MSFS correctly.
If you use Simbrief Downloader you can have the Simbrief plan automatically imported to your MSFS flight plan folder.
Then the procedure to load the plan is no different than loading any other saved flight plan.
Yes, you may have to adjust the plan to use the correct departures and arrivals, particularly when you select a starting point other than the runway, but the basic plan is always correct.

There were significant changes in World Map flight planning several updates ago. Additional information was added inside of the flight plan files so that MSFS ATC could issue commands properly to aircraft. These additions include SIDs, STARs, arrivals, and waypoint altitudes and speeds. The drop-down boxes for SIDs and STARs were improved. Some of these changes were part of fixing the “Fly-back” problem. Many of these improvements have not been added to 3rd-party flight plans. Unfortunately, many of these improvements are either buried in Release Notes or not mentioned at all.

There were problems with MSFS flight planning most of which have been fixed by Working Title. There probably are some remaining issues but as far as I can tell, the MSFS flight planner is rock solid. There are issues with the World Map but AFAIK they don’t interfere with flight plan quality. There are also issues remaining with MSFS ATC that need to be fixed. There are some features that have been quietly implemented such as missed approach guidance (vectors still need some work) and the ability for some FMCs to upload changes while in flight to ATC.

There are design features that are lacking such as the ability to import and export RTE files used by PMDG and other developers or to have the flight plan customized for specific types of aircraft.

The primary issue that I still see often is that the drop-downs in the world map for procedures are not comprehensive. In Little Nav Map, I can see multiple options for transitions in the ILS procedures, for example, but in the World Map you basically just get whatever it assigns. You have no option to select different transitions.

So, ultimately, it’s very rare to have your enroute waypoints, vias, transitions, and approaches all sync up with your external flight plan. I’ll usually get it “close enough” and ATC guidance is then “good enough” for me.

Edit: I should add, I have Navigraph installed in all of my third party tools and in the sim as well.

There were problems with the SID and STAR drop downs on the World Map. Basically the problem was that the flight planner wasn’t choosing correctly the SID and STAR entry and exit waypoints. This was fixed several updates ago.

LNM is a very comprehensive flight planner with features not in other apps. I often use it to see the flight’s elevation profile. The issue as I mentioned before is the lack of information in the exported flight plan needed for MSFS ATC. LNM puts this info in their notes but doesn’t export it. Each flight planner have strengths and weaknesses. I often use Navigraph, SimBrief, LNM, and even SkyVector to plan my flights and then “hand carry” the flight info to the World Map.

Of course, World Map and import issues are not a concern when MSFS ATC isn’t used.

Can you give me a specific example? I’m trying to figure out if my understanding of where the data resides is correct.

Interesting thread, I have been grappling with this for some time.
As I only fly in VR I am not able to load the from the world map (this is a known MSFS bug)
Hope this gets sorted out soon, before MSFS2028.

The flight plans created using the MSFS World Map contain waypoint crossing restrictions such as speed and above, below, or at altitudes for SIDs and STARs. Other flight plan creators such as Navigraph, SimBrief, and LNM don’t have this information in their flight plans. This doesn’t prevent them from being loaded into the World Map.

There have been many changes with AAU2. I’ve tried importing a SimBrief and a Navigraph flight plans into the World Map and flown them using the 787. It appears that the FMC now loads the waypoint restrictions for these flight plans, that is they appear in the FMC and used for VNAV calculations. However, ATC seemed to not work at guiding me correctly. For example, no climb instructions were issued to climb to cruising altitude. ATC would grant me an altitude increase request. More testing needs to be done.

I tried starting a free-flight and manually typed in the flight plan including the SID and STAR. After taking off VFR I was able to obtain an IFR clearance to the destination I entered and I think ATC upload the FMC info. Again, more testing needs to be done. I tried this with a 737 but ATC never gave me an IFR clearance. Since the 737 can’t import PLN files, it probably can’t export anything to ATC.

So far, I am impressed with AAU2 improvements for the 787 and 747 although there are issues such as ATC disappearing during a flight and not returning until MSFS is restarted.

I see, so if you save the .pln file from the World Map, you will see crossing restrictions and speed restrictions if you open it with a text editor, and if you export a .pln with Simbrief, you won’t have those if you look?

I always assumed all of that data was in the AIRAC and all you had to do was provide a waypoint or a procedure, and the sim would use the installed AIRAC to fill in all the other details. Those with Navigraph would get more accurate routes since that data was more complete.

Regarding ATC, there are enough bugs that I don’t expect it to be right regardless of how I import the plan. I know that you’ll never get proper instructions to climb to your cruise altitude if you don’t set your flight level in the World Map. I remember early days of the FBW mod when I would import only through Simbrief and not load anything into the World Map. My climb instructions would stop at the initial assigned altitude or at the last altitude of the departure procedure. They had an option within the plane to attempt to “write back” into the sim after you loaded the MCDU plan. That was hit or miss. At some point Working Title made some improvements to the ability to “request IFR clearance” from the in sim ATC menu, and that was a bit better, but getting that ATC option didn’t seem to always be available.

These days, I’m happy if I get the proper cruise altitude and the runway procedure I wanted. Anything else is gravy :smile: