Microsoft Flight Simulator gets into the nitty-gritty of navigation in a new video

We know you can fly to your house, or at least over it, and soar through lovely volumetric clouds, but Microsoft Flight Simulator's latest video digs into how you actually get to your destination. Mostly through a million abbreviations, but also through lots of fetching footage of realistic instruments. 

When you're making long trips and hitting those high altitudes, you're not going to be flying by looking out the window—though feel free to still soak in the sights. Instead, you'll be using IFR, the real rules and procedures that pilots use to navigate via instruments. 

Asobo enlisted the aid of Navblue, a flight operations and air traffic management company, to provide it with a database that gets updated every 28 days, just like the real version, with radio frequencies, approaches, waypoints and all the other information that normally goes into planning flights. 

You'll be able to generate realistic flight plans, but you can edit the waypoints, altitude and other details to create your own custom routes. Once the route is picked, it will show up in your cockpit so you can always keep an eye on it, along with all your other instruments, ranging from live weather updates to radio communication. 

The flight plan can also be edited while you're on the move, and you can start your flight already in the sky if you just want to get going. There's a degree of automation, too. Depending on the plane, you might be able to use the auto-landing feature, as well as auto-thrust or auto-throttle to manage power. Along with the autopilot systems, you can also delegate radio comms to your co-pilot, letting them deal with air traffic control while you just enjoy the flight. 

You need to get in touch with ATC to get clearance for things like changing flight plans and landings, and it will dole out orders and keep you updated. If you want, you can just land without clearance, but that can prevent other planes from landing or taking off. 

It's been a long time since I've been in the cockpit of a plane sim, so I confess I'm a bit overwhelmed, but being able to fiddle around with all these instruments and knobs is still a tantalising prospect. If you've not been able to get into the alpha yet, you'll have more opportunities to get an early taste in the upcoming closed beta, scheduled for mid-July. 

Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.