Although details are still light, the latest version of Microsoft’s second foray into the flight simulation world in over a decade will likely feature aerial firefighting as a mission in the eagerly anticipated Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024, with early shots showing the ability to fight fires in a CL-415 and Erickson Air Crane. Also seen in their website is a screenshot of a Cessna C-188 equipped with spray booms. The C-188 also appears in a video trailer of the simulator, spraying a crop. No GPS lightbar is visible, however.
Microsoft has received mixed user feedback after their Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, was widely panned for having only fixed-wing aircraft and woefully inadequate flight model characteristics. Purists also lamented that the product was now more aimed at the game genre, being marketed as also available on the company’s X-box console.
Microsoft had been an avid participant in the flight simulator market since the early 90s when rudimentary graphics powered a very basic simulation experience, moving forward over the years to more and more immersive flight experiences with FS2000, through to the company’s last product, Microsoft Flight Simulator X, which until 2020 was announced as the company’s last product in the flight simulation market after selling the commercial rights to MSFSX to Lockheed Martin, who developed their own stand-alone simulator based off that code, named Lockheed P3D which is still in use as the back end simulation software of several commercially built simulators in the aerial firefighting market.
As the video below shows, the graphic interface appears to be stunning, although simulation enthusiasts are carefully optimistic that the new aerial firefighting and search and rescue operation options will provide a new layer of complexity for the once much-loved title that has gone on to assist thousands with the basics of flight training.