My choice of add-ons for Flight Simulator X and Prepar3d. 2017.
Weather, clouds, sky, improved airport surfaces
Active Sky – the weather engine
Active Sky (HiFi Simulation Technologies) has been the leading weather engine for FSX and P3D for years. The current versions: Active Sky 2016 (FSX / P3Dv3), and Active Sky For P3Dv4 for the latest version of Prepar3d creates the most realistic weather in the sim. It works with airport METAR (where available) and real-world data for winds and temperatures aloft (globally). Active sky also enhances turbulence in FSX and P3D.
Textures – sky, clouds, water, airport surfaces
I am using TOGA Envtex textures. REX 4 Texture Direct is a good alternative. Both apps replace default textures with their own changing how the sky looks during the day, in mornings, and in afternoon. They also replace textures of clouds, water (ocean and inland) and wave textures. Airport surfaces are enhanced with a selection of textures for runways, taxiways, and aprons (these changes will only appear at airports that are using default textures – most payware airports will not be affected).
For Envtex I recommend using ASCA. Soft Clouds work best with REX 4.
Currently, I use TOGA Envtex without ASCA. I am waiting for a new product from REX – it’s expected to be released soon.
REX Airports HD
REX Worldwide Airports HD improves airport buildings with new models and textures.
This add-on improves default buildings only – you will see a difference at default airports and at simple freeware airports. Payware airports will not be affected.
It is not yet available for P3Dv4 (as of July 2017).
ORBX Global (+Vector +openLC)
ORBX Global Vector adds vector sceneries – coastlines, roads, rivers, lakes…
openLC modifies landclass scenery adding correct information about the type of terrain (city, forest, fields, rocky terrain, desert – and much more – there are over 100 terrain types in the sim). For each terrain type, it adds regionally correct textures (for example – rural landscape in Scandinavia will be significantly different from the same terrain type in France).
openLC is available for:
Improved trees. Global add-on. Link.
Apart from global products, ORBX creates regional sceneries. They started with FTX Australia, which is still one of my favorites (covers Australia and Tasmania). New Zealand is also available (two sceneries for North and South Islands).
In Europe you will find sceneries for:
- Northern Ireland,
- Northern Germany.
North American range:
- Southern California,
- Northern California,
- Pacific North West,
- Pacific Fjords (British Columbia and southernmost part of Alaska),
- Southern Alaska,
- Central Rockies,
- Northern Rockies.
The gap between ORBX’s sceneries for Pacific coast is filled with Tongass Fjords by FS Addon.
All those sceneries are compatible with FSX, P3Dv3, and P3Dv4 (Tongass Fjords requires manual installation in P3Dv4).
MegaSceneryEarth is the market leader in this type of products. At this moment they are working on the third version of their photosceneries for the US. Sceneries for the following European countries are available too: Ireland, Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland.
x4 sceneries use 4 times the resolution (50cm instead of 1m). It seems that these sceneries are no longer in development (several states in the US are available).
Nuvecta offers autogen for photosceneries. Landscape product range adds buildings and trees.
European autogen is available at openVFR.
Freeware photosceneries like Blueskyscenery make a good alternative to payware products. The quality is usually a bit lower compared to the same place covered with payware photoscenery, and often the resolution is also lower (2,4m/px in Germany compared with 1m/px of MegaSceneryEarth) but they are worth trying.
It’s impossible to write a “must have” list for airports – the choice is mostly dependent on the personal preference. Here I will mention several developers whose sceneries I use or consider (the case of Taxi2Gate and Pacific Island Sim).
They do airports too. Mostly smaller general aviation fields but recently they added several major hubs – like Arlanda in Stockholm and San Diego.
Polish developer that created quality sceneries for almost every IFR airport in Poland. Their Polish Airports packs include 3 or 4 airports each. Kraków (EPKK) and Warsaw-Okęcie (EPWA) are also available. Modlin (EPMO) is included in Warsaw X scenery that covers the whole capital of Poland.
Drzewiecki Design shows interest in other places around the world – they created sceneries for New York, Miami, Washington, Tallin…
One of my favorite developers. The team behind Twentynine Palms (USA), Samos (Greece), and Magdeburg (Germany). Currently working on Nuremberg (Germany). Skiathos (published by Aerosoft), and Sumburgh (published by ORBX) are also their creations.
A developer of highly popular St. Maarten and Kai Tak. Recently they published major airports like Copenhagen, Montreal, Athens…
A wide range of sceneries and other add-ons.
With a few airports they are on of the smallest developers on my list, but I highly enjoy their Phoenix and San Francisco.
Pacific Island Sim
I enjoyed their Atolls of Tuvalu and Papuan sceneries. Currently, I don’t use any of their airports but if I need anything from the Far East – I’ll check their website.
I consider buying some of their sceneries.
If you are looking for a British airport – check them.
Danish developer, who started with small private airports and later moved to larger (Billund was the latest). Extraordinary attention to detail. One of my favorite developers.
4 airports at this point – I love the quality.
If you are looking for top quality, “by the book” system simulation and custom damage model – consider A2A and PMDG.
Aerosoft works with several developers. Expect something between “good” (Airbus) and “extraordinary” (Katana) in terms of quality and the level of simulation.
Carenado and Alabeo are a bit lax in terms of system simulation, but they their product range is wide and their planes look nice.
I also use RealAir Duke, helicopters by Cera Sim and Nemeth Design and two planes by Milviz (F-86 and Beaver).
My software of choice for flight planning (in airliners).
DX10 Fixer for FSX
A must have add-on for FSX users. Available here.
The basic version is free and is only needed to for some add-on planes to work correctly. Registered (payware) version adds the ability to configure custom controls and adjust axis sensitivities. Autosave feature is also useful in FSX if you are afraid of crashes.
Ground services for FSX and P3D. A great add-on for screenshot artists and for anyone who fancies a busy apron.
Voice add-on for several payware planes. It adds an interactive co-pilot.
A2A’s add-on that brings some of the features of A2A planes to any plane in FSX. It improves turbulence, adds sounds.
P3Dv4 version is not yet available.
EzDok Camera Addon (EZCA)
Camera management suite. One of my must-haves. Sometimes crashes.