The increasing reliance on Simbrief

I just want to open the discussion about the increasing reliance on Simbrief as a route planning tool (feel free to move this topic if I posted it in the wrong forum, it kind of is a wishlist, but not sure it fits here entirely).

With MSFS now including more and more planes (the Inibuilds and ATRs for instance) that don’t play nicely or at all with the MSFS flight planner, you as a player are left with two options:

  1. Enter the flight plan manually in the flight computer. The problem here is that there is no mention of the selected SID, STAR or airways you just planned in the flight plan once you are loaded into the game, all you have is a long list of waypoints in the NAV log with no mention of SID or STAR, unless you wrote down the SID and STAR while you were planning, but the planner doesn’t show the airways anywhere unfortunately.
  2. Plan the flight in Simbrief and use Simbrief integration to get the flight plan onto the flight computer. I have used Simbrief in the past with great success, but I am starting to notice that its new owner, Navigraph, is seemingly pushing people more and more to its €10,95 monthly subscription to have semi decent flight plans working in MSFS. Most of the routes I now plan simply don’t work because of changed SID/STAR/waypoint/airway names because of the old AIRAC used (2203) on the free edition. I tried to plan a flight today on the 747 from Liverpool to New York, and the integration failed because an airway was no longer available (probably renamed). I really don’t play enough to warrant a monthly €10,95 payment for a feature that should really be in the game by default if you ask me.

So what I do now is I plan a flight in MSFS, I save the flight, I open the .flt file in notepad to find the route (it’s in there including SID, STAR, airways and everything), and I manually add these into the flight computer in game. While I was filing the latest flight into the A310, I was asking myself if the reliance on Simbrief as a flight planner isn’t getting a bit out of hand? How are Xbox players or less tech savvy players pulling this off or are they all either dealing with broken flight plans or paying €10,95 a month? WT managed integration with the MSFS flight planner in the 787/747 absolutely fine, surely Inibuilds and the rest can be asked to implement such a feature if they are to be shipped as default content in the game?

So I guess my asking is twofold:

  1. Make it so that every plane on offer in the default version of the game at least supports the MSFS flight planner.
  2. Allow users to see a flight plan route in game that can be used to manually enter it into the flight computer, like the example below. It includes the SID, STAR, airways and waypoints which allows you to perfectly enter it into the plane’s flight computer without issue and since the MSFS planner uses the same AIRAC as the plane, there are no issues with missing SID, STAR, airways and waypoints.

EDDF/18 SULU3A SULUS L984 KULOK DCT OKG DCT BALTU DCT TOMTI DCT MISKA N871 OKENO Q277 AGAVA AGAV5N EPWA/11

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Moved to Tools & Utilities as this is more of a discussion question / topic about Simbrief rather than a specific wish (i.e., I wish Microsoft would buy out Simbrief so it integrates better with the A310 - yes, WLs are required to be that specific and single-threaded).

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They aren’t. Buying a Navigraph subscription currently does nothing for the XBox players because it can’t sit atop the Navdata like PC users since Community Mods aren’t supported for console. They could still use it on other devices (i.e., launch Charts app) but there is no sim integration for those folks. And more importantly, they’d be flying the sim using Airbus Navblue data but Charts is on Jeppensen. In CONUS, there’s a rough parity because NavBlue is combined with FAA Supplemental data, but outside of the US, Jeppensen has much better up to date coverage.

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I agree that the monthly fee for Navigraph is too high for a casual player.
I just started a subscription yesterday since I started playing more frequently again but there is a chance I will cancel the subscription sooner or later.

In my opinion they shouldn’t make you pay for AIRAC Cycles or they should offer a downgraded subscription for half the price.

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The second solution in my opinion is the best. Since making these aircraft access the simulator’s flight plan would require an API and a lot of code work, the most practical solution is to update the navlog to include the SID & Star. This way we could copy what is there and insert it into the FMC…

Yes, the current active free cycle from SimBrief is dated 20th of April 2022. And even if SimBrief tells you that there are no invalid endpoints, there are a lot of points does not present in the sim or in the newest AIRAC. Navigraph subscription is too expensive (in my place I have to work 1-2 days to pay a monthly one).

My understanding is that MSFS does not provide a flight plan API for WASM which is why none of the WASM aeroplanes (nearly all of the complex ones) are able to read the world map flight plan, nor integrate with ATC.

If you want this to work then the wishlist item is to get a complete flight plan/ATC API on WASM to provide the equivalent functionality as is available to the default JavaScript planes. That should be explicit enough to qualify as a wishlist topic.

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The 2 cheaper options with a Navigraph sub are:

  1. Buy a one-month sub, update your FMS data and cancel the sub.
    You will have more recent AIRAC data than the free option (2203), but it will be ‘stuck’ at the month you had the active sub until you make a new purchase.

  2. Purchase an annual FMS data-only sub (approximately €36 at last year’s price).

This latter option can be found in the ‘Your Account’ section of the Navigraph site and only when your current sub is cancelled/expired.

https://forum.navigraph.com/t/navdata-only-subscription/9714/2

Ultimately, I do agree with the OP that the over reliance on one third party provider is not healthy.

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Lifesaver. Couldn’t find the option at first (they managed to hide it well), but subscribed after finding it. €35 a year is more in line for what I’m willing to pay for the up to date AIRAC. I won’t have the maps, but I don’t use them anyway, so it’s fine.

But yes, bottom line still stands: Simbrief is slowly getting a monopoly in flight planning, which wouldn’t be an issue if the free version offered seemless flight planning. Maybe an ideal compromise would be if MSFS would show the planned route in a in the NAV window with SID/STAR/Airways included, that way people who aren’t able or willing to purchase a Simbrief subscription can still manually enter the route into the FMS.

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Just to remember Simbrief is FREE to use and does not incur a cost. Navigraph the planning app does need subscription. You can use Simbbrief without having to subscribe to Navigraph - I used Simbrief for 10 years without paying anything.
Also Navigraph is a wonderful app and gets updated many, many times with plenty of new features. If you notice in all aircraft that support Simbrief & Navigraph they have separate integration. No need for subscription if you only want to import your flight plan. If you want to see charts within the EFB then yes you need a Navigraph subscription but these charts can also be obtained and printed from the WWW.

You should really be saying Navigraph not Simbrief.

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FWIW, I get more value from my monthly Navigraph subscription than the equivalent cost of most add ons, and I’m on Xbox Series X! Like pilots IRL, I use the charts on a personal device, iPad or laptop (for flight planning). When in the 787, HondaJet or VisionJet, I can download from SimBrief (free); and get flight following on the business jets via SimLink to Navigraph (subscription). While I get that this is enthusiast level use of Navigraph/SimBrief/SimLink; it is also possible on Xbox which is terrific for those who wish to invest beyond casual user and don’t want to maintain a gaming PC.

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Just to remember Simbrief is FREE to use and does not incur a cost. Navigraph the planning app does need subscription. You can use Simbbrief without having to subscribe to Navigraph - I used Simbrief for 10 years without paying anything.
Also Navigraph is a wonderful app and gets updated many, many times with plenty of new features. If you notice in all aircraft that support Simbrief & Navigraph they have separate integration. No need for subscription if you only want to import your flight plan. If you want to see charts within the EFB then yes you need a Navigraph subscription but these charts can also be obtained and printed from the WWW.

The problem is that the free version of Simbrief uses a very much out of date AIRAC (= database), which means that if you plan a flight in the free version of Simbrief it it using an almost 2 year old database while MSFS uses a more recent one you have a lot of SID, STARs, airways and waypoints that cannot be found in game. I have had many flights simply fail to route because of these mismatches. Depending how Navigraph wants to monetize Simbrief, I expect them to keep the AIRAC very much out of date to gently nudge people to purchase a subscription.

You should really be saying Navigraph not Simbrief.

Considering Simbrief is a Navigraph product, they are the same.

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100% Agree! It coerces players into purchasing products and services they don’t necessarily need and/or can’t necessarily afford.
It really is a disgrace that DLC purchased within the game cannot use all of the built-in features of the game and requires a further purchase or subscription to a replacement third-party developer product.
Microsoft should be made aware of this and the unfair competition laws in force around the world.

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As a Xbox user I purchased the PMDG 737 fleet of aircraft. With no simbrief integration and No updates to the AIRAC. A Navigraph subscription cost for 1 year €81.64 the PMDG each cost €68. I use the Navigraph app each time I take a flight.
As a Xbox user I truly feel Navigraph is 100% worth the purchase. I’m glad Navigraph have continued to support MSFS, X-plane and PREP3D, my subscription works with all.

Thank goodness we have increased reliance with simbrief and Navigraph.

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I completely disagree with the comments made here complaining about Navigraph and Simbrief. I used Simbrief without payment for years without any major issues and it was and remains an excellent free flight planning tool. If you don’t want to pay for the navigraph subscription then you will need to accept that some flight plans will not be technically correct, and will have to be modified or simplified in order to work correctly. It is hardly Simbrief or Navigraphs fault that MSFS has an imperfect flight planning system. In addition aviation authorities do not change navaids, frequencies and procedures unless they have to, so the out of date database remains largely relevant.

My answer was to plan the route in Simbrief, in order to ensure correct fuel and payload figures, then import the flight into the MSFS planning section and use Simbrief to ensure that the correct runways and if possible the same or similar SIDS and STARS are used. As far as I am aware the MSFS route can normally then be imported into the all the aircraft FMC systems.
The Navigraph subscription, In my opinion, offers excellent value for money and is the icing on the cake.
However if you don’t want to pay the relatively modest sums involved then many aviation authorities freely publish their up to date charts on their websites. Of course without a Navigraph subscription it’s going to be more challenging to achieve a technically correct flight plan, but it is still possible.

Of course ATC in the Sim is still going to tell you to climb to 25000 ft when on final approach and generally try to mess things up, but that’s another matter.

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I wonder if my answer might be too obvious, maybe, but my suggestion would be to use LittleNavMap.

A) You can load in the plan created in FS and it shows you the full route details including SID/STARs, so you can f.e. use it for reference when typing in the plan into your plane´s FMC. There also is an option to show the route as you described above for easier entering.

B) You can use it with the up-to-date FS database, so if FS gets updated once in a month you can update the LittleNavMap database to be in line with FS database.

C) You can also plan your flights directly in LNM first and then export it to FS including STARS and SIDs (I suggest to select a gate in LNM before exporting it to FS, but not mandatory)

D) You can use it to import or upload plans to Simbrief f.e. to generate OPS etc.

E) You can also export your flight plan to a lot of 3rd party add-ons, like f.e. the PMDG FMC (rte files), although without SID/STARS, I think…

F) It also tracks your plane during flight.

And that´s all for free.

If you ever wanted to subscibe to Navigraph, you can use Navigraph NavData in LNM, too, if you prefer. There is an option to switch between databases in the program. I have used that combination for years and it usually got the job done without major issues.

I agree that the best solution would be that add-ons could access the already built-in and up-to-date navdata available in FS. Nevertheless, personally I think that a year subscription for the NavData only (without charts etc.) is a good investment to fully use Simbrief integration for convenience. Also, Navigraph Charts is a great tool in my opinion and also worth the yearly price, but this of course heavily depends on your own preferences. In the end, LNM might not look as fancy as Charts, but with updated NavAids (from Navigraph or FS), it´s not really missing any functionality you need for successful planning and flight tracking.

Sorry, if you (most likely) know LNM, but as you did not mention it, and even wrote of opening your flight plans in Notepad, I thought there is a small possibility that you might not use it yet…

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Spectacularly missed the point.

  1. It’s not a ‘relatively modest’ amount if you are a flight simmer living in a country with an unfavourable exchange rate.
    You can argue that’s just life, ‘deal with it’. But then I’ll argue ‘hiding’ the nav data-only option isn’t customer friendly.
    Don’t forget, as the monopoly provider, there’s very little stopping Navigraph from hiking prices 50 - 100% and saying ‘deal with it’.

  2. Many payware aircraft do not use/cannot import the flightplan generated by the default MSFS flight planner.
    Do all these aircraft arrive with the same (2203) NAV database that Simbrief uses as the free to use one?
    If not, there’s yet more incompatibility between route generation and the nav data it’s based upon.

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If you don’t want to pay for the navigraph subscription then you will need to accept that some flight plans will not be technically correct, and will have to be modified or simplified in order to work correctly. It is hardly Simbrief or Navigraphs fault that MSFS has an imperfect flight planning system.

The cause of the mismatches is the older AIRAC used by the free Simbrief version, nothing more, nothing less. Random example: if I use AIRAC 2203 (the one you get using the free version) in Simbrief and plot a route between EBOS and KJFK, it comes up with:

EBOS/08 N0479F360 KONA3S KONAN UL9 KENET N14 BAKUR DCT GISTI/N0466F380 DCT MALOT DCT TUDEP/N0482F400 N396A ALLEX DCT ENE PARCH3 KJFK/04R

If you request this data in the FMS in game using Simbrief integration, it simply routes until KONAN and throws an error because the KENET is not a valid airway exit of UL9. So you are stuck in a plane without a valid route. Likewise if you enter the route manually, you get a message that KENET is not a valid airway exit of UL9.

Load this route in AIRAC 2313 (the current one you get with the paid version) and hit analyse route, it says:

Airway “UL9” uses invalid endpoints.
Airway “N14” uses invalid endpoints.
Airway “NATE” uses invalid endpoints.

It then fixes the route, and that route does work in game.

This is just one example, you get more and more of these errors the longer Simbrief keeps the free version on AIRAC 2203. The core of my issue is simply that more and more content will be effectively paywalled behind a Navigraph subscription when time goes on unless Navigraph starts offering more recent AIRACs in their free subscription. This would not be a big issue if we had the tools in the game to easily enter MS flight plans manually into the FMS, but as it is currently, we lack those tools.

As far as I am aware the MSFS route can normally then be imported into the all the aircraft FMC systems.

Yeah, this is not the case. The A310 for instance (default content, note) does not support FS flight plans.

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A) You can load in the plan created in FS and it shows you the full route details including SID/STARs, so you can f.e. use it for reference when typing in the plan into your plane´s FMC. There also is an option to show the route as you described above for easier entering.

As per my initial post:

  1. Enter the flight plan manually in the flight computer. The problem here is that there is no mention of the selected SID, STAR or airways you just planned in the flight plan once you are loaded into the game, all you have is a long list of waypoints in the NAV log with no mention of SID or STAR, unless you wrote down the SID and STAR while you were planning, but the planner doesn’t show the airways anywhere unfortunately.

So unless you took a picture or wrote down the SID/STAR, you are out of luck since there is no mention of the SID/STAR in game anywhere (unless I missed it). There also is no mention of the airways used in the planning (and they are used considering I can find them in the .flt file). So even if you wrote down the SID/STAR that FS planning used, you are stuck entering the waypoints in one by one instead of entering airways.

As for the rest: I have played around with LNV after watching a few tutorials, but felt I needed more automation in the planning, but it is very possible that LNV offers all the tools I need. I will play around with it some more, thanks for the heads up!

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I think I understand the issue. The A310 uses the current MSFS AIRAC. SimBrief also uses the current AIRAC if a Navigraph subscription is purchased. Otherwise, SimBrief uses an older AIRAC which may cause FMC import issues due to data differences.

Users without a Navigraph subscription could attempt a SimBrief import created using an older AIRAC but any import issues have to be resolved by the user. This could mean hand entry of multiple waypoints as described in an earlier post.

For me personally, I don’t like flying the A310 because it cannot import flight plans using the MSFS World Map flight planner. There are other aircraft by other developers that cannot use MSFS flight plans but they aren’t “stock” MSFS aircraft. I don’t know if this is a bug or a “feature”. If the A310 did import MSFS World Map flight plans, then a current Navigraph subscription would be required. SimBrief (free) could still be used for fuel and weight calculations.