26.5.2023 – 20:33z

Top 5 Best Piston-Engine General Aviation Add-Ons for Microsoft Flight Simulator

Today we’re looking at our top 5 piston general aviation add-ons for Microsoft Flight Simulator. From the modern multi-engine options to the analog piston-engine all-rounders, this list covers all the basics for those looking for the best in general aviation flight simulation.

General aviation is the backbone of the aviation industry. There wouldn’t be any pilots if Cessna didn’t develop the Cessna 152. Modern flight simulators have many options for general aviators looking for a good time. However, some are better than others.

These five aircraft were selected with the following principles in mind:

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  • Systems Modeling
  • Usability
  • Features
  • Price
  • Performance
  • Interior and External Modeling
  • Flight Characteristics
  • Sound

Each of these principles is explained in more detail at the end of the article. All general aviation aircraft listed are strictly 3rd-party add-ons, no default aircraft were included in this top 5. Now, let’s get to the ranking!

5. Tecnam P2006T MKII – FlightSim Studio

This recently released twin-engine making the top 5 might surprise some. However, I assure you it has earned this position. The Tecnam P2006T MKII is a fantastically fun general aviation aircraft for bush flights. I have spent countless hours buzzing around and sightseeing in this slow yet remarkably enjoyable bird. The plane utilizes a full G1000X suite, making flight planning and routing a breeze. Additionally, all of this fun comes at under €30,00!

One of my favorite features in this add-on is the interactive checklist which includes a detailed exterior check. The interactive exterior walkaround is incredibly thorough for an add-on priced well under other general aviation competitors. Pilots will check tie-downs, flaps, trim, pitot tubes, landing gear, and more. This feature makes the aircraft feel more real; it makes the simulation experience more dynamic and significantly increases immersion.

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Some other fun features included in this add-on are the optional “realistic simulation settings,” which include simulation of all the circuit breakers for failure modeling, realistic engine startup (don’t mess up, the Rotax engines are not forgiving), and even persistent state saving. If you leave the aircraft battery on when you exit the sim, you might have an unpleasant surprise the next time you hop in!

This aircraft is perfect for people just getting into general aviation flight simulation; the avionics are simple and familiar, the flight model is detailed yet forgiving, and the speed is just right for teaching new pilots energy management. This aircraft is also an excellent option for those looking for more detailed systems modeling; from the optional “realistic simulation settings” to a fully custom autopilot, the Tecnam P2006T MKII should prove challenging and engaging for even veteran flight simmers.

FlightSim Studio’s Tecnam P2006T MKII is available for purchase on the MSFS Marketplace or from Aerosoft for €29,37 for both Xbox and PC.

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4. Piper PA28 – Just Flight

The Piper PA28 is one of the earliest general aviation add-ons released for MSFS. It is beginning to show its age in some places; however, it’s still one of the best general aviation aircraft available on the market. The Just Flight Piper PA28 is available in several configurations: I, II, III, IV, and Turbo. Each of those configurations is unfortunately sold separately. This is a major drawback of the product and lowered its overall rating. The fourth spot on this list goes specifically to the bundled PA28 Arrow III, IV, and Turbo, which comes in at €60,44 and gives you the best bang for your buck.

The aircraft is a steam gauge 70’s era general aviation masterpiece, the type of plane where you load into the sim and get immersed for hours. The flight model on this add-on is particularly spectacular. The Piper is enjoyable on both leisurely flights and when pushing the airframe to its limits. The aircraft is light and nimble while also being incredibly stable and capable. It is a satisfying plane to fly.

The Piper PA28 is an excellent add-on for veteran general aviation flight simmers. It includes all the features a general aviation add-on requires: in-depth walkarounds, dynamic weight and load management, steam gauges, excellent sounds, a fantastic flight model, and much more. I highly recommend this add-on for those interested in serious general aviation simulation and want a strong all-rounder.

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The Just Flight Piper PA28 is available on Xbox and PC through the MSFS Marketplace or directly from their website.

3. Cessna 152 – JPLogistics

The JPLogistics mod for the default Cessna 152 is exceptional. It’s a free mod that brings the default MSFS Cessna 152 aircraft up to a “study level” standard. The top 3 aircraft on this list are virtually level with one another, yet this free passion project can confidently stand its ground with the big boys. I cannot stress enough how important it is for everyone to try this mod out; it is unbelievable.

The mod brings many improvements to the default plane. A particularly appreciated addition is the taildragger version; it makes this plane a joy for bush trips. Other inclusions are a complete steam gauge overhaul, an electronic flight bag that introduces maintenance, dynamic load management, and a multitude of options for avionics. The overhaul brings so many features and changes to the default aircraft it’s become a case of the “Ship of Theseus.” Is this even the Asobo Cessna 152 anymore?

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This aircraft is perfect for people getting into general aviation looking for a completely analog Cessna 152 or even one with GTN TXi integration. It’s the little Cessna that could: rough runways, water, and snow are no problem for this versatile bird. To download the JPLogistics Cessna 152, you must join the JPLogistics Discord server; there, you will find all the information you need! (Due to the nature of MSFS mods, this add-on is only available on PC)

2. Cessna C310R – Blackbird

I bet you were expecting this one to be up here. This is not only one of the best general aviation add-ons it is truly one of the greatest flight simulation add-ons ever made; it is simply phenomenal. The Cessna C310R by Blackbird is the perfect do-everything, go-everywhere kind of plane. When I sit down to pilot the C310R, the hours fly by. I have flown cross-country, bush, and island hops on this masterpiece; every flight was special and unique. I cannot recommend this aircraft enough. This is a must for anyone even remotely interested in general aviation.

The Cessna C310R is packed with features, from dynamic failure simulation with persistent state saving to dirt and dust buildup on the airframe. This add-on is truly a marvel to behold and blows almost everything out of the water. The C310R includes walkaround features, where doors and panels are interactable, including modeled interiors. In cargo compartments, the baggage shown will change, and the volume will increase depending on the dynamic load. Even the engines will become visibly worn if you forget to top up the oil before startup.

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Blackbird spent good care ensuring that this aircraft really feels like it is being owned, and needs to be cared for by the user. Each livery and registration has independent state saving with its own wear and dirt buildup rates. Additionally, the aircraft have a full suite of avionics to choose from. Users are able to select PMS GTN750, GTNXi, or even just the default Asobo radio set. This level of customization is unparalleled in the flight simulation marketplace.

This add-on is simply amazing. There is virtually no other product that can match the level of care and detail poured into this project. I implore anyone interested in general aviation to take the plunge on the Blackbird Cessna C310R; you will not regret it. You can purchase the aircraft for Xbox or PC here for €37,10 or through the MSFS Marketplace.

1. Cessna C414AW Chancellor – Flysimware

I know what you’re thinking: how can something be better than Blackbird’s Cessna C310R? Somehow, Flysimware created a product that beat it to the top spot. The Cessna C414AW Chancellor may as well be the father to the Cessna C310R, it is as polished and more capable for long-haul high-altitude flights.

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Deciding the top spot was tricky. It was close between the C310R and the C414AW, and it was personal preference that tipped the balance. When I pilot both of these aircraft in the sim, there’s only one where I’m smiling the whole time like a child in Disneyland. Something about the C414AW by Flysimware makes me giddy with excitement. The aircraft is phenomenal in almost every regard; it nears perfection. It is as polished as the C310R, and for all practical purposes, it might just be a larger version of the same aircraft. Yet, I still find myself gravitating toward it.

The C414AW and C310R are exceptional products. I can guarantee that anyone interested in general aviation will find these to be perfect additions to their libraries. I encourage you to try them out and come to your own conclusions. You can purchase Flysimware’s Cessna C414AW Chancellor for Xbox or PC from their website for €37,10 or from the MSFS Marketplace.

Conclusion

It is a great time to be an aviation enthusiast and a flight simmer! The products and options available to command in our flight sims are becoming so convincing and feature-packed that we can spend hundreds of hours attempting to master them and still only scratch the surface. The developers of these products deserve our greatest appreciation; they’re building the best examples of community-created content.

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For any developers reading this: I want to thank each of you who has worked on these projects, you guys are at the forefront of mod development, and you’re all doing an excellent job. I hope you all know that while it may seem like the community takes you for granted, we all appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears that go into these projects, and we are forever grateful. Thank you.

Ranking Methodology

  • Systems Modeling: a good aircraft addon must have excellent systems modeling. This ranges from engine temperature and oil pressures to hot and cold airflow. These add-ons all include, to some degree, a complete top-to-bottom model of aircraft systems. These add-ons also include interactability for these systems. The pilot has to be able to interface with every system onboard their aircraft.
  • Usability: all MSFS add-ons have their niche. However, general aviation aircraft should be able to do just about anything. All the products listed are excellent all-rounders.
  • Features: the general aviation aircraft listed here all include a plentitude of features. However, they must be fully developed. All products listed demonstrated complete and polished features.
  • Price: with add-ons in flight simulation, the prices can vary wildly. We chose products that seemed fairly priced.
  • Performance: since these aircraft are relatively simple, the performance experienced was always above an acceptable level.
  • Interior and Exterior Modeling: a good 3D model makes or breaks the immersive experience desired with flight simulator add-ons. These aircraft all demonstrated excellent interior and exterior modeling.
  • Flight Characteristics: the custom flight models included in these aircraft are very important for the pilot’s “feel.” All of these aircraft were fitted with excellent flight models. The flight modeling also extends to automatic systems such as the autopilot. All aircraft listed use either custom autopilots or MSFS’ defaults.
  • Sound: is often undervalued in flight simulation. However, great sound can elevate a good product to an excellent product. All of these products demonstrated excellent custom sounds.

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