Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020Source: Microsoft

The 2020 version of Microsoft Flight Simulator takes flight this August, marking the arrival of a disruptive, cloud-powered entry in the genre. The use of satellite imagery and map data helps create a highly-detailed, accurate replica of our planet, serving as a limitless sandbox for virtual aviators. While it's host to thousands of airports, Microsoft pays special attention to a hand-picked range. Here's what you need to know about airports in Microsoft Flight Simulator, and how they relate to game editions.

Microsoft Flight Simulator has over 37,000 airports

Microsoft Flight SimulatorSource: Microsoft

The virtual world of Microsoft Flight Simulator sets out to mirror planet Earth in full, leveraging satellite imagery and mapping data down to the meter. That includes thousands of airports, ranging from small grass airstrips to top international hotspots. Microsoft has already promised 37,000 "manually edited" locales, ensuring faithful reflections of their real-world counterparts.

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The Flight Simulator team has already discussed the measures to represent each runway, which require additional love to align with reality. The dedicated tools allow developer, Asobo Studio, to outline the site perimeter, runway footprint, orientation, and other properties. The approach also allows Microsoft to flag artifacts and visual anomalies from the birds-eye view, clearing up the input for the world-building algorithm. The result feeds Microsoft's artificial intelligence, stringing the environment together in the cloud, and streamed to your PC in real-time.

Microsoft has also discussed a curated variety of "top-level" airports, blessed with a further handcrafted charm over the masses. These destinations receive additional custom-made buildings and props, aiming to translate their full identity into the simulation. It's reserved exclusively to iconic and popular locations, with substantial human input far exceeding the data's limitations.

What is a 'Handcrafted Airport' in Microsoft Flight Simulator?

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Airport CrewSource: Microsoft

What about the promised "40 handcrafted airports?" With Microsoft Flight Simulator recently securing an Aug. 18 release date, we've also received a glimpse into the three planned editions. The base game ships for $60 and includes 20 aircrafts and 30 handcrafted airports. The Deluxe and Premium Deluxe each expand the offerings, with five additional aircrafts and airports with each tier.

Microsoft's handcrafted airports refer to those "top-level" locations, with massive creative input over the broader 37,000. This includes recreating various defining architecture, custom lighting models, and better mapping the intricacies of areas to their real-life detailing. Check out the full list of planes in Microsoft Flight Simulator for additional information on the aircraft.

How Microsoft Flight Simulator airports work across editions

With Microsoft tying select handcrafted airports to various game editions, the world may appear different for some players. Those without access to Deluxe and Premium Deluxe editions can still visit those ten exclusive airports. Instead, they receive in-game models of airport buildings and furnishings with reduced visual fidelity, using generic airport assets.

For multiplayer, that introduces a new disparity between versions. Pilots may see different variants of airports, even if it's not immediately noticeable while playing. The underlying functionality remains identical for all, with handcrafted airports merely cosmetic upgrades designed to reflect the real world. There's no worry about playing with friends across different editions, even if the Premium Deluxe promises the full package.

List of Microsoft Flight Simulator Airports

Microsoft Flight Simulator ships with up to 40 handcrafted airports, which each feature improved levels of detail and immersion over the algorithmically-generated designs. While those with the base Microsoft Flight Simulator edition can sample 30 custom designs, a further 10 airports tie to premium bundles. The full list of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 handcrafted airports follows, with their required editions.

ICAO Airport Code Airport Name Country Required Edition
KASE Aspen/Pitkin County Airport USA Standard
WX53 Bugalaga Airstrip (CAMA) Indonesia Standard
SPGL Chagual Airport Peru Standard
LFLJ Courchevel Altiport France Standard
EIDL Donegal Airport Ireland Standard
HUEN Entebbe International Airport Uganda Standard
LPMA Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira International Airport Portugal Standard
LXGB Gibraltar International Airport Gibraltar Standard
LOWI Innsbruck Airport Austria Standard
KLAX Los Angeles International Airport USA Standard
VNLK Tenzing-Hillary Airport Nepal Standard
KEB Nanwalek Airport USA Standard
KJFK John F. Kennedy International Airport USA Standard
KMCO Orlando International Airport USA Standard
LFPG Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport France Standard
VQPR Paro International Airport Bhutan Standard
NZQN Queenstown Airport New Zealand Standard
SEQM Mariscal Sucre International Airport Ecuador Standard
SBGL Rio de Janeiro-Antonio Carlos Jobim/Galeao Int'l Airport Brazil Standard
TNCS Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport Dutch Saba Standard
TFFJ Gustaf III Airport Saint Barthélemy Standard
KSEA Seattle-Tacoma International Airport USA Standard
KSEZ Sedona Airport USA Standard
MRSN Sirena Aerodrome Costa Rica Standard
CZST Stewart Airport Canada Standard
YSSY Sydney Airport Australia Standard
KTEX Telluride Regional Airport USA Standard
RJTT Haneda Airport Japan Standard
MHTG Toncontin International Airport Honduras Standard
CYTZ Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Canada Standard
EHAM Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Netherlands Deluxe
HECA Cairo International Airport Egypt Deluxe
FACT Cape Town International Airport South Africa Deluxe
KORD O'Hare International Airport USA Deluxe
LEMD Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport Spain Deluxe
KDEN Denver International Airport USA Premium
OMDB Dubai International Airport United Arab Emirates Premium
EDDF Frankfurt Airport Germany Premium
EGLL Heathrow Airport United Kingdom Premium
KSFO San Francisco International Airport USA Premium

What's new with Microsoft Flight Simulator airports?

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Sloped RunwaySource: Microsoft

Beyond satellite and mapping data, Microsoft Flight Simulator also brings bespoke refinements to all airports. The game automatically inserts ambient life based on the size of the location. Many of its flagship international hotspots also host vehicles and walking ground crew. Like Flight Simulator X, various services are also available upon request, such as fuel and power supplies or baggage and catering. These bring more complex animations, capturing the full airline experience.

Microsoft has also introduced some changes to runways with this iteration, extending far beyond pretty lights and new visuals. The full aerodynamics overhaul also incorporates a new collision model, capable of handling static and dynamic friction, and simulating the relationship between tires and materials. That allowed the team to implement sloped runways, best demonstrated with infamous locations like the Courchevel Altiport, nestled in the French Alps.

Any questions?

Want to know more about Microsoft Flight Simulator? Sound off in the comments below if you want to read more. The game is set to release on Aug. 18, 2020 on Windows 10.

The Legend Returns

Microsoft Flight Simulator

Prepare for take-off.

Microsoft Flight Simulator takes to the skies on Aug. 18, promising a cloud-powered globe, with authenticity on an unmatched scale. It's headed exclusively to Windows 10 PCs, with preorders now live in three flavors.

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