2023 has been a fantastic year for the hobby of flight simulation. New simulators have been released and announced, and countless excellent add-ons have been released for every type of flight simmer. To celebrate the end of this year, we here at FSNews proudly present The 2023 FSNews Editors’ Choice Awards.
The staff at FSNews has collectively chosen a winner in seven categories representing a wide variety of flight simulation add-ons. Some of these have been showcased in previous editorial content, and some flew quietly under the radar but impressed us nonetheless. Every category received superb nominations from the team, and it was often a struggle to choose between several excellent contenders. From the FSNews team to the entire flight sim development community: Thank you for a phenomenal 2023!
Table of Contents
Note: These awards are the subjective opinion of the FSNews staff as a collective and largely represent the add-ons that stuck with us over the course of the year. While incredible add-ons were released in every corner of the flight sim world, unfortunately, we didn’t get to experience all of them personally. If there’s something you think we’ve missed, let us know in the comments to kickstart our 2024 with some great new experiences!
Best GA Aircraft: Accu-Sim Comanche 250 for MSFS by A2A Simulations
A2A Simulations has made a name for itself as a benchmark-setter in flight simulation for years. Their first release for Microsoft Flight Simulator came this year in the form of the Accu-Sim Comanche 250, proving that the studio could only advance its reputation. Despite beginning development for MSFS before the simulator was even released, the lengthy development time resulted in a polished release that set the new benchmark for General Aviation aircraft in 2023.
In our review of the A2A Comanche 250 for MSFS, we praised everything from its modern, impeccable textures to its realistic handling. But what set the A2A Comanche 250 apart was its one-of-a-kind Accu-Sim 2.0 simulation engine. Accu-Sim 2.0 elevated the notion of realism in a home simulator, going beyond “just” simulating systems with accurate wear and tear and providing a level of unique personality previously not seen.
Additionally, the A2A team paid special care to the user experience, resulting in an excellent, complete package that enthralled every member of our staff who had the pleasure of flying it this year. FSNews is proud to present this Editors’ Choice Award to the A2A Simulations Comanche 250 for MSFS, and we are looking forward to seeing what the A2A Simulations team can deliver next. The A2A Simulations Comanche 250 for MSFS is available here.
Best Large Aircraft: Just Flight Fokker F28 Professional for MSFS
Just Flight has begun to make a name for itself in the MSFS space for creating high-fidelity renditions of yesteryear’s best airliners. This year’s release of the Fokker F28 Professional cemented that position with a lovingly crafted rendition of the classic ’60s jet.
The Just Flight Fokker F28 Professional scored top marks in our review with our staff falling in love with its sounds, systems, and extreme attention to detail. Just Flight left no stone unturned when it came to recreating the F28. Its little touches such as fully functional cabin controls from the galley stations, “unscrewable” indicator lights, and intricate systems really made us fall in love.
The Just Flight Fokker F28 Professional is wholly deserving of the Editors’ Choice Award and has kept us flying it even after its release. Since this airliner no longer flies commercially, we felt that such an excellent rendition served an additional purpose to preserve it in our simulator, making it possible for future generations to experience an era of aviation rapidly fading into the past. The F28 Professional is available here.
Best Scenery: FlyTampa EHAM Amsterdam Schipol for MSFS
The demand for a new Amsterdam scenery was gradually increasing as the airport is still being constantly improved, with old products lacking details and previous iterations getting outdated – that is until FlyTampa brought their already famous scenery to Microsoft Flight Simulator. The scenery has been highly anticipated ever since the release of the simulator and for many airliner pilots, it is a crucial add-on to own, especially if you fly on networks or for virtual airlines.
FlyTampa is renowned for creating detailed sceneries of major international hubs, and their rendition of Amsterdam is no exception. It is suitable for flying on an online network, as it offers an up-to-date layout with all the new taxiways and markings, as well as details in the surrounding area, with custom ortho imagery.
Speaking of the airside of the airport, there are custom, high-resolution textures, and accurate 3D objects, including 3D interiors of the terminals and the control tower. All of this made flying to this international airport more pleasing and enjoyable. FlyTampa’s latest masterpiece earned the Editors’ Choice award for creating the best, most modern rendition of this airport that we have seen yet. You can check it out on FlyTampa’s website here.
Best Utility Add-On: Stripr by Parallel 42
Stripr by Parallel 42 is an add-on that streamlines the Microsoft Flight Simulator loading screen experience. If you didn’t think that loading screens needed streamlining, then you’re not alone – but first-hand experience amongst the FSNews staff has convinced us otherwise.
Stripr turns the time spent waiting for your flight to load into an enjoyable experience by displaying dynamic information about your route of flight. You see satellite images of your departure airports as well as other interesting airports that you might not otherwise take notice of. Our team found that it encouraged them to explore new areas of the world.
Parallel 42’s Stripr can also streamline the entire MSFS experience by providing the option to skip loading cinematics and otherwise mandatory package updates (Note that core sim updates cannot be delayed). Nothing is more frustrating than having your sim session delayed by a giant download you don’t even need – and Stripr is the only solution to this problem. We chose to present this Editors’ Choice Award to Stripr by Parallel 42 for its unexpected utility and creative approach to augmenting otherwise neglected aspects of the sim experience. The utility is available here.
Best Hardware Peripheral: Honeycomb Aeronautics Alpha/Bravo
When it came to the hardware peripheral, we thought it was best to expand our criteria slightly. Since the development timelines for hardware can be so much longer than software, we felt that the Honeycomb Alpha Yoke and Bravo Throttle Quadrant were deserving of the Editors’ Choice Award as a unit – despite the fact that they did not release in 2023.
Since their release, Honeycomb’s products have dominated discussion about hardware peripherals for the home simmer, and it is easy to see why. Honeycomb Aeronautics brought high-quality, expandable options onto a market with a wide gulf between “entry-level” and “high-end.” Honeycomb’s Alpha and Bravo have been the go-to options for simmers seeking high-quality options for civil aircraft simulation, at prices that do not break the bank.
It was impossible for the FSNews team to separate the essential utility of the Honeycomb Alpha yoke from the endless expandability of the Honeycomb Bravo throttle quadrant, and so we have awarded the Editpr’s Choice Award to both. Both peripherals have become irreplaceable in our sim cockpits. Check out our review of the Honeycomb Alpha and Bravo, and learn more about Honeycomb here.
Best Freeware: Horizon Simulations Boeing 787-9
The Aircraft and Avionics Update #2 completely reversed the fortunes of Asobo’s much-maligned Boeing 787-10. However, the -10 variant is not the most widely used 787 variant, and so Dreamliner lovers (so, most of the FSNews team) were excited when Horizon Simulations released their freeware Boeing 787-9 conversion mod for MSFS in the waning months of 2023.
Building upon the improvements brought to the 787 by Working Title, Horizon Simulations’ talented team reworked the model including the textures, animations, sounds, and more to bring simmers the most realistic rendition of the Dreamliner that we have seen in years. The release is a truly collaborative effort, bringing together well-known freeware developers from across the MSFS space as well as an in-house livery team.
The Horizon Simulations 787-9 has amassed tens of thousands of downloads in the short time since its release, consistently topping the charts on flightsim.to. For its inspiring collaborative development and stellar final product, the Horizon Simulations Boeing 787-9 is well-deserving of the Editors’ Choice Award. You can find out for yourself why our team enjoyed this add-on so much here.
Editors’ Choice Innovation in Flight Simulation Award: Parallel 42
Parallel 42 is a developer who has consistently pushed the boundaries over the past year. From their sceneries to their utility add-ons such as Stripr, to their off-kilter and unexpected Juice Goose, Parallel 42’s 2023 was marked by creative and unexpected releases that challenged the traditional expectation of “flight sim add-on.”
Edson Soriano, CEO of Parallel 42, once told us that all their scenery products must pass a “vibe check” before being released. All of these “scenes,” as they are called by Parallel 42, are crafted with intimate vignettes that tell a story of the people that frequent the airstrips – and encourage you to create your own with previously-released add-ons such as Campout. As evidenced by Stripr, their utility add-ons approach the challenge of improving Microsoft Flight Simulator from a different point of view, focusing on improving the overall experience on top of adding innovative new features.
In the latter half of 2023, Parallel 42 released the “Juice Goose” – a 4×4 vehicle to drive around in MSFS’ world. While this was not the first driveable ground vehicle to be released for MSFS, it is clearly the most complete – with specific scenes released (and other scenes updated) to ensure a good experience for Juice Goose drivers. Add-ons such as the Juice Goose advance the idea of the “everything simulator” – an idealized rendition of the world so realistic that flying, boating, driving, trucking, train-ing – everything – is possible and enjoyable.
Our team is proud to award the 2023 FSNews Innovation in Flight Simulation to Parallel 42. We were enthralled by the playground they created in the simulator, and their work captivated even our most die-hard tubeliner captains. Check out Parallel 42’s website to learn more about what they have released this year. We are all waiting excitedly for their next big idea!
Looking to 2024
The entire FSNews team would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the entire flight simulation community for a jam-packed 2023. Deciding on the final list sparked lively debates amongst our team – and this is a testament to the high volume of excellent products that were released this year. In the last few days before year’s end, we’d like to invite you to our Discord to discuss your own stand-out picks for 2023. See you in the new year’s sky!