If you’re new to the world of flight simulation, then you’d be forgiven for not knowing that as feature-rich as the new Microsoft Flight Simulator is, it’s actually missing a key component — a replay function. That is, until now.
Developed by “nguyenquyhy” and released on Flightsim.to, Flight Recorder is one of the latest handy tools from the simming community that fills in some of the missing links in the Microsoft Flight Simulator experience. This simple utility does exactly what it says: it records the data of your aircraft during a flight. Once you’re done recording, you can “replay” it, in the most literal sense. The sim itself is still alive and active during the replay process, meaning that you’re able to stop and take control at any time. This is especially nice in instances where you might want to retry a landing that you weren’t totally pleased with.
Flight replays from Microsoft Flight Simulator can also be saved as local files and be reopened at any time, even if the simulator is restarted. So, for instance, this is especially useful for someone like a content creator. All one has to do is reopen a saved data file and then record the footage they want.
If life had a remote control
Since Flight Recorder focuses on capturing just the aircraft data, all other factors will be different in the replay. That means weather, time of day, and AI traffic will change as they normally would. Once you hit the “replay” button, it will not reverse the clock or restart the weather engine.
All that will happen is your aircraft will be teleported back to its starting position and the movements you made will be replayed in real-time. This also means that if an AI aircraft has landed since you took off, you’ll teleport and spawn into it. That’s why, including the fact that your plane may bounce when it’s teleported, it would be wise to turn off crash detection when you’re playing back a flight.
Another little quirk about this tool to keep in mind is that it currently doesn’t seem to know what to do with certain aircraft surfaces. For instance, some users have reported that the ailerons on the Airbus A3NX mod (the most popular mod for the sim so far) seem to be inverted when playing back a flight. This doesn’t affect the behavior though. It’s just a visual oddity. Flight Recorder also cannot yet detect when engines are turned on. This means that if you start recording with engines off and then turn them on, the aircraft will move without any visual representation that the engines are on. So, best to keep that in mind as well.
A video creator’s dream?
Flight Recorder will no doubt become more robust after it gets additional updates by its developer. Even in its current state though, I can report that it works very well — to a degree. The actual recording and replay functionality perform well. Unfortunately, if you want to use this for content creation, your mileage may vary.
After performing two test replays, I noted different results. My first test consisted of a Cessna 172 flying over the relatively simple scenery of the Channel Islands. With that, I had no issues at all and was also able to perform a video recording with no hiccups. For the second test, I used a Cirrus SR22 and flew over the southern tip of Great Britain, starting from Land’s End. Here, I noticed that my sim’s framerate would take a noticeable hit down to about 25-30FPS. (I usually hover around the mid-40s to 50s). I also noticed that the playback of the aircraft’s movements was choppy, as if there were missing frames. This was also without the added stress of video recording. I’m not at all sure why there’s a difference between the two scenarios, but do keep that in mind.
So far, this is one of two ways to add replay functionality to Microsoft Flight Simulator. In a twist of what could be considered either coincidence or irony, Flight Recorder was released just days after another utility called Flight Control Replay Pro.
FCR is a somewhat popular add-on originally made for FSX and Prepar3D, but has just recently been retooled to work with Microsoft Flight Simulator. It does much of the same as Flight Recorder, albeit with slightly more functionality. It has the ability to record and render a video file, which is very handy for video recording your flight all at once rather than having to start and restart. It also adds AI planes to follow your recorded flight path and more. But, while it may have more bells and whistles, this is the app that you’d have to pay for ($18.21 USD) whereas Flight Recorder is free.
Asobo has already stated that it has plans to add an official replay function to Microsoft Flight Simulator in the near future. The jury’s out if it will be better or just as good as these two independent tools. Nevertheless, at least you no longer have to wait if a replay feature is something you’ve wanted since launch.
Here’s a video demo of the app in action: