The history of flight simulation can also be written as the history of announcements. This is a literary genre all its own, and from simulator to simulator the emotions and imaginings triggered by such texts have become more complex (occasionally referred to irreverently as “drooling”, sometimes as “twitching in the credit card”). And as in great literary genres, there are vain hopes and fulfilled dreams, tragic figures and shining heroes, never-ending stories and unbearably exciting cliffhangers.
With the MSFS, new possibilities are opening up, and the new label FENIX SIMULATIONS is skilfully pushing into new dimensions of announcement lyricism. Will the expectations thus raised be fulfilled and will we see a new bright star in the flight simulator sky?
A lot is promised – not only a “study level” A320, but a “high fidelity” simulation of the A320ceo (“Current Engine Option” in contrast to the neo – “New Engine Option”), system-deep, more realistic and more detailed than anything known so far from P3D (from MSFS anyway). And best of all: this is not “planned”, but already implemented in an alpha version. (All pictures: Fenix Simulations).
Visually, the screenshots show a clearly used aircraft on the outside and inside; after all, most A320s are not brand new, but real workhorses. You can see dirt, oil plumes, and in the flight deck a really grabbed cockpit with rancid knobs, slightly bent landing light switches, scraped surfaces. The display resolves the A320 LCD screens down to their own pixels (also announced on Flybywire) and even the effects of the different viewing axes on the screens are simulated.
The surprises, however, were in the depth of the systems – on the one hand the navigation, on the other the electrical and hydraulic systems, the air conditioning, and so on. The list of simulated failures alone is 15 pages long, plus that 280 fuses were already assigned functions. The behaviour of the various fluids on board depending on their pressure and temperature, their heat exchange and even the heat capacity of the metal in the seats in the cabin and the cargo, all this is included in the simulation.
Navigation offers completely new levels: Fenix’s A320 brings its own model of the world as it is represented in the real FMS of the A320, with current updates of magnetic deviations, currently downloaded orbits of the GPS satellites, lateral offsets, ETPs, RTAs, step climbs, and a more uncertain navigation if the quality of the GPS data is not optimal, e.g. due to lack of coverage. In addition, the FLS capabilities, which are still optional on the A320, are integrated and have only recently become available as an innovation on the Flybywire A320neo.
The frame rate is better than with the Flybywire model, especially because Fenix calculates the systems and the physics of the A320 specifically “alongside” the simulator and not within MSFS, a trick that PMDG and A2A also used in FSX times.
The old hands at FS-Elite were left speechless at the presentation of the current state of work a few days ago. However, nobody in the scene had seen more than a limited number of screenshots so far. A first video announced on Fenix’s Discord Channel (Autoland in Sidney) was hotly anticipated, postponed for a day, and released in the meantime. Watching the systems at work gives some rise to optimism.
The fine art of expectation management includes good communication of release date and price. Fenix does not repeat the mistakes of its competitors: we will “not have to sell the left kidney” to be able to afford the A320…and the horizon is about a year away, but they don’t know exactly yet.
So whether we will be cruising through the MSFS skies with the Fenix A320ceo as realistically as never before in the foreseeable future (or ever) is still difficult to judge. I don’t know boss Aamir Thacker as an icon of flight sim development, and apart from “Mark” and “Mike” as co-moderators in the Discord-Chennel, one only hears about the team that they are experienced top developers (partly from other FS teams), A320 technicians and A320 pilots. It may well be that Corona-grounded crews, perhaps even a grounded A320 have found meaningful employment here, that would be great! However, you won’t find anything about the new stable “Fenix Simulations”, not even an imprint or a contact option on the company page, even the linked accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are (still?) completely empty.
Conclusion: let’s take a look and see!
Translated from simflight.de with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)