Is the Flight Model of the MSFS 2020 realistic or do we need a completly rewrite?

My 2 cents:
I fly a Piper Warrior III in RL. In my opinion any flight sim you use feels somehow off and arcady compared to the real thing. That said, alot of the arcady feel comes from a lack of force input on your body, hands, feet when you fly from the comfort of your couch. You don’t feel the squeaky wheel, you don’t notice the subtle difference of back pressure on the yoke when trimming, there is no resistance when pushing the rudderpaddels, there are no g-forces pushing you into the seat when turning at 40° bank. There is no smell, no back pain when riding too long in that old used aircraft, no sloshing of the fuel in the wings etc. etc. That alone is the reason why for me a flight sim never feels real.
Some of the aerodynamic effects are quite accurately simulated. I can only speak for the Piper of course. The visuals of the clouds and haze etc. is another plus for the sim.

But to answer the question initially posed: no the flight model does not feel like the real thing but it can come quite close to it. I mean it is in the name: it “simulates” the real thing, it is not a perfect copy.


Didn’t they turn those off because some “real life pilots” claimed that the aircraft “twerk” too much in the wind? (Their words… not mine…) I can see a lot of stability related coefficients getting turned down.

I mean, one update we’ll get people complaining the FM is too twitchy, the next update people would complain it’s “on rails”. Even real life pilots don’t agree on anything. Just go to PPRuNe and ask “power for speed or pitch for speed?” and watch them fight! :laughing:


Exactly. The mathematical model is only as good as the numbers you supply. Some of the coefficients that the equations depend on are often very difficult to accurately obtain without real wind tunnel data. Drag is one of those examples. It’s not just a simple number you can plug in because drag has a lot of different sources: skin friction drag, form drag, induced drag, wave drag, and also ram drag etc. In a lot of instances if you don’t have the data, you’d try to guess it and plug in some generic number and see if it’s close enough…

Good thing is that the new Surface Element Model can approximate a lot of those behaviors to a certain degree based on geometric shapes. So even if you have a lot of “guestimated” data, the aircraft would still be flyable. Just not super accurate.

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They weren’t turned down though, by setting them to zero they’ve basically been removed.

It is difficult to distinguish if the flight model is insufficient or the planes simply poorly or incorrectly modeled. My money is on the later.

GA planes I didn’t find too bad. What is off is eg. the stall behavior and the too optimistic glide ratio for engine out. But I guess that could be fixed with adjusting those cfg parameters.

Can’t say much about the airlines. But I would trust the airline pilots who posted here or published YouTubes.

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To be fair I haven’t tried it again since SU5, but prior to that the 172 was bang on to the glide performance chart in the POH.

There are some things that MSFS does really well. And other areas that it could use improvement. I think SU5 released some model updates to some planes.

For me, the 172 feels much better (more real) than it used to.

However, there are still things missing: p-factor, adverse yaw, certain loading impacts. And that’s just for one plane.

I think the arguments about realism are people latching onto certain characteristics (or lack thereof).

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Is this really missing? Don’t you have to correct the direction in prop planes during takeoff? I do, unless I have selected assisted rudder or whatever it is called in the assistance menu.

Is this also really missing from the game, or is the effect just not very noticably (or at all) modeled for most of the planes at the moment? I think this discussion was interesting reg adv yaw. MSFS - Modern flight model has no adverse yaw | FSDeveloper

But can the sim still use those parameters if you put a non-zero value back in the cfg or are they just flat out don’t do anything anymore? I’ll have to play with some of these when I get around to them maybe this weekend. Just out of curiosity.

Good to know. I should not have generalized my statement. I observed it in the TBM and Longitude a while back which both got above 20 fully configured. The TBM even above 30 in clean config but unfeathered.

Watch for example 74Gear videos about flying 747 in MSFS

The most nutty thing there was it seems that a person who knows how to operate the flight plan computer in a real 747 could not operate the flight plan computer in the simulator. He wanted to set up a 10 mile final and a landing at a specific runway “Ten Left” and entered it correctly and put the autopilot on.

The autopilot lined up the approach for him but on the wrong runway and he had to scoot over, which he did deftly.

It would motivate me to learn the 747 plane and all its systems if the simulation had been vetted by 74gear and other pro-747 pilots and been pronounced to “work properly” including all flight computer, and autopilot functions, and all airport runways being correctly identified for the 200 biggest US/Europe airports, especially it must have the correct runway names mapped to the right righways, for LAX and every big US airport.

One of his landings would have resulted in a pod-strike (engine housing strikes runway) in a real plane, and so either the flight model, or its ground effect simulations are missing or broken in some way.
I’m curious how accurate “near the runway or near the ground flight behaviour” has been modelled.


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74Gear has to my knowledge only done landing challenges in this one, and mostly from 3rd person view. Last MSFS video by him is from 8 months ago. In which video did he do the “10L” landing?

That’s what I feel anyway. I’ve noticed on my Robin for example that it no longer swings off the runaway with the new config files, whereas before it would. I’ll have to dig out the old config files and test more too.

I’m an airline pilot and have flown Dash 8 Q400, Embraer E-175/E/195 and latterly Airbus A319/320/321 over the past 16 years. I have flown PC flight-sims since 1986 including every variant of Microsoft Flight simulator since FS2, although my interest in home flight simulation waned in recent years (because frankly I was spending too long in cockpits in the day job!)

I think the question of whether simulations are ‘realistic’ is a complex one and involves many factors such as handling, scenery accuracy, graphical fidelity, systems modelling, seating position, sound effects, VR/flat screen/projection and peripherals.

What drew me back in over the past 18 months was a desire to keep my flying skills up during an enforced period of reduced flying which coincided with the release of FS2020. I use a Thrustmaster Warthog and their pendular rudder system because I like the fact it feels heavier than most domestic sim peripherals and it’s metal (which real world aircraft controls are). I also have a PFC column yoke and throttle quadrant but rarely use those nowadays - again they’re beautifully made but my home cockpit is an old Akers Barnes design I knocked up myself and the PFC yoke is a bit tall for the seating position. Those heavy feeling flight controls though go a long way to making any sim feel more realistic. Real aircraft yokes, joysticks and pedals are usually pretty heavy and so I certainly wouldn’t underestimate the importance of this to handling - especially in VR where the HOTAS and pedals are probably the only thing you are touching anymore. Pre-VR I had Go-Flight panels and other peripherals to add to immersion, but these are rendered obsolete by VR.

My impression of the Microsoft FS series through the years has been that aircraft lacked momentum and felt overly twitchy. This can be evidenced by how hard it can be to trim an aircraft in FS for level flight, whereas in real life trimming an aircraft like this is quick and easy once the basics are mastered. I do think that FS2020 made a significant leap though in terms of how general aviation aircraft ‘feel’ and they’re much better than they used to be. In short they no longer feel like they have no inertia. I’ve never been an X-Plane fan until this year largely because the graphics were so poor compared to MSFS unless you downloaded fortunes of payware and spent ages configuring it.

Given my desire to get some practice in over the past year or so to keep my flying skills current I jumped into the default MSFS A320 and put on the VR headset. My main aim was to keep up my knowledge of scans and flows, get my head into the MCDU/FMS and to just fly around a bit in the UK. Frankly it became quickly apparent that the default Airbus was a nice looking rendition, but lacks authenticity and cannot be considered a ‘study level’ aircraft - but the ‘feel’ of the aircraft in the air to me still suffered from that same old lack of inertia - and that is disappointing. I understand the lack of systems authenticity - it’s there to give everybody a taste of handling a big jet and there probably aren’t too many people who really want to get deep into the nuts and bolts of how our friends in Toulouse design things! After realising there are not currently any really accurate Airbus available for FS2020 I discovered there are a couple available for X-Plane.

I checked out some reviews, decided to purchase X-Plane 11 (£50) and the Toliss A319 (£70) and fired it up. My instant reaction (in VR) was ‘wow!’ The systems accuracy is 99% true to the real aircraft and in my HP Reverb G2 I can confirm that the sensation really is of sitting in the real thing. What really struck me though was the incredible accuracy of the sounds too. There’s a huge amount of avionics cooling fans in the Airbus flight deck and they completely nailed that sound as well as the various bleeps, clicks and voice effects like TCAS instructions. Moreover the sounds of gear going down are just so ‘right’. In terms of flight modelling I would say that this aircraft reproduces extremely accurately the stability and sense of inertia of a real Airbus A319. It gives you that feedback that you are flying a 65 tonne aircraft not a balsa wood glider! I have found myself flying along in VR and actually reaching out to put my hand on the cockpit glareshield instinctively just as I do in the real aircraft when looking at stuff out of the window or reaching out with my hand to flick switches or press buttons which of course simply aren’t there!! That to me says a lot about the immersion possible in PC flight simulation today.

What is truly awful about X-Plane 11 though is the dreadful default scenery out of the box and FS2020 utterly destroys it in this respect! The fix for this isn’t cheap though! In the end I bought the Orbx True Earth Great Britain sceneries for the whole of the UK (around £70). Those are incredibly impressive (and fairly expensive) but as my main interest is in UK flying they add greatly to immersion. It should be noted though that FS2020 gives you scenery almost this good right out of the box.

So where does this leave us? Personally something like FS2020 out of the box with the cheapest joystick imaginable would have been beyond my wildest dreams in 1985 when I was 16 years of age. Flight simulation has come an incredibly long way since then! I think the key points though are:

  1. Solid joysticks/throttles/rudders are massive game-changers in terms of aircraft handling, don’t skimp there!
  2. FS2020 now has good flight models for GA aircraft, XP-11 are better still.
  3. FS2020 still has poor feeling flight models for airliners, XP-11 (payware) are very close to the real thing.
  4. VR is the single biggest leap forward in home flight simulation since FS1. It is quite literally the next best thing to an airline full flight simulator and at times comes so close this old dog forgets it’s not a real Airbus. It creates scale, 3d perspective and makes things like flying accurate circuits and knowing when to turn base as instinctive as they are in a real aircraft.

Sorry for the long rambling post but that’s my take on the state of flight sim in 2021.



Thanks for this big Answere. It is and was very intresting to read.

Also would you say:

MSF2020 = more Game and for the large mass of gamers. arcade game like in the upcoming Air Race dlc.
XP11 = for us which have flightsimulation as Hobby.

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I think calling FS2020 a ‘game’ is too harsh - you can do so much with it right out of the box from practicing instrument flying, conducting manual approaches and departures, learning about navigation and weather, flying on VATSIM with live air traffic or just toodling around your local area in a Piper Cub looking for your house practicing VFR navigation. Where it falls down currently is in study level airliners (but these will come in time) and in big jet handling - and I have no idea what if any plans Asobo/Microsoft might have to address this. I have no doubt they have accurately modelled aerodynamics by the numbers, the question is why this hasn’t resulted in a greater feeling of authenticity, at least for the larger aircraft.

What is interesting I think is that I recently purchased the DC Designs F15 for FS2020 and was surprised how much inertia this has. I have never flown a real F15 but I hope the real thing feels more agile than this!!! This points to the fact that the MSFS Flight Model can be tweaked to provide a sense of momentum and if they are able to really understand how their modelling parameters affect handling I think it has the potential to become a very impressive simulator indeed.

For now though when ‘brushing up’ for the day job it’s XP11 all the way for me. For fun sightseeing I generally turn to FS2020. Isn’t it wonderful that in 2021 all of us whether hardcore simmers, aviation enthusiasts or indeed real world pilots are so spoiled for choice? Quite honestly computer flight simulation has advanced far further and faster than I ever expected it to in my lifetime. VR in particular is the great leveller. back in the day people spent a fortune constructing cockpits with panels and switches and multi monitor setups and few of them come close to the fidelity achievable by a £299 Oculus Quest 2.



Thanks for sharing, this is really interesting insight re using X-Plane for airliners (I fly GAs ATM, also with the Warthog setup)

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My greatest immersion is in x plane, besides the piloting of my planes studies with the various addons like the weather, the programming of the FMC, I jumped in my 738 zibo (which is free and one of the best of the game) I posted myself at a gate started my plane then followed the taxi until the stop point of the runway 24 of Paris Orly (LFPO) and waited for the plane or was my daughter for her trip to Barcelona, which was also a 737, I took off behind her at the time of her real departure, I found myself with 3 other planes, which took the same route at different levels, I let myself be outdistanced by the plane where my daughter was, it was flying that day at maximum speed, I managed to catch up with it before the final approach because it did a waiting lap, I therefore landed just behind her and then sent her a phone message I was able to follow the whole flight on my radar, and follow it on flightradar24 . Everything was live with no time lag and with all the planes present, even those that crossed our route. It was really my best experience in the games, the flight went really fast. This alone is not possible in mfs. There are addons for real traffic but they are still too young, or their source is bad like flybyware…
It’s true that vr is fantastic in x plane, I could test it 3 years ago, with an old vr headset, at the time I was suffering from the lack of performance of my computer and OpenGL, but already the immersion was fantastic, to sit in my cockpit of the 737 or my 767 was hyper impressive, I already ■■■■■■ up my screen to want to operate the controls :joy::joy::joy:. I dreamed of mfs, but I’m afraid that if they never open the floodgates 100% for third parties, whatever the aircraft, addons, that mfs will never reach a level of quality and precision of flight, as it can be in x plane or p3d.


The answer is: other priorities/things to fix, and they are stockplanes. Jörg admitted that the deluxe/premium liners fell short of expectation and they plan to address that. Regardless though, stockplanes are stockplanes. Why is nobody flying the Xplane stock liners? Why is everybody using the Zibo mod, ToLiss etc…? I think we know why. Why are people flying PMDG, Maddog, Majestic, Fslabs, and so on, and not some freeware liners? Ultimately it is about the potential of the whole sim and there are some hurdles to overcome yet, but at the same time we have the Fenix airbus that aims to be the most advanced liner ever released in any sim. Whether that holds true or not, we will soon see, but I think that the big dogs like PMDG wouldn’t invest in a platform they see no potential in. I think it’s a matter of time and just that.