The Airbus A320 is one of the most popular narrow-body airliners in the world, known for its fly-by-wire flight control system and commonality between variants. Since its launch in the 1980s, the A320 family has become a fixture of many airlines‘ short-to-medium haul fleets.
Not surprisingly, the A320 is also a highly sought-after aircraft in flight simulation software like Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS). However, while MSFS includes several airliners in its default aircraft lineup, the A320 is not one of them. For those who want to fly this popular jet in MSFS, third-party add-ons are required.
MSFS Default Aircraft
The standard edition of MSFS 2020 includes 20 highly detailed default aircraft covering airliners, business jets, prop planes, and helicopters:
- Airbus A320neo
- Aviat Pitts Special S2S
- Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental
- CubCrafters XCub
- Daher TBM 930
- Diamond DA62
- Diamond DA40 NG
- EXTRA 330LT
- Flight Design CTLS
- Icon A5
- JMB VL-3
- Robin Cap10
- Zlin Savage Cub
- Beechcraft Bonanza G36
- Beechcraft King Air 350i
- Cessna 152 Aerobat
- Cessna 172 Skyhawk
- Cirrus SR22
- Piper PA-28R Arrow III
- Robinson R22 Beta II
As you can see, the default Airbus A320neo provides MSFS users with a free narrow-body jet option straight out of the box. However, while nicely modeled, the A320neo lacks many of the complexities and depth found in payware aircraft add-ons from third party developers.
Payware A320 Options
For flight simmers seeking a more realistic and fully featured A320 simulation in MSFS, several payware choices are available:
One of the most popular and highly regarded is the Fenix A320. Developed by Fenix Simulations, this add-on replicates the A320-200 with IAE V2500 engines. It boasts an extremely detailed and realistic flight model, 4K PBR texturing inside and out, accurate lighting effects, and one of the most intricate system simulations of any aircraft in MSFS. The Fenix A320 also takes advantage of MSFS‘s SimConnect and WebAssembly to mimic real A320 electronic flight bag (EFB) functions.
The Fenix A320 costs $47.99 and is available for purchase on the developer‘s website as well as the MSFS marketplace. It is compatible with Windows PCs only initially, with Xbox support planned for the future.
Another payware option is the CaptainSim A320-214, on offer for $39.95. It includes high fidelity modeling of the exterior/interior, realistic sounds, detailed normal and abnormal operating procedures, failures, fatigue simulation, ground services vehicles, passenger ambiance, and 20 liveries. The CaptainSim A320 is available on their website and works on both PC and Xbox.
A third A320 payware choice is the iniBuilds A320, currently selling for $59.99. The exterior modeling boasts smooth and pleasing geometry while the cockpit has been faithfully recreated using laser scanned surfaces. It incorporates custom flight dynamics, failures, ground physics, realistic lighting, and an advanced FMC among its many features. Like the CaptainSim version, the iniBuilds A320 functions on both PC and Xbox.
Neo Dispatch A320
Neo Dispatch Simulations produces yet another payware Airbus A320 dubbed the Neo Dispatch A320, on sale for $34.95. It contains visuals created from real world A320 data, authentic custom sounds, failures, realistic avionics operation, accurate flight modeling, failures, and more. Supported platforms are PC and Xbox.
The FeelThere A320/A321 is a another high fidelity recreation of the popular Airbus narrow-body model. It sells for $99.95 and features 4K textures, normal and abnormal procedures, custom failures, ground physics, cabin ambiance, sounds derived from real aircraft, and authentic flight dynamics. This add-on works only on Windows PCs.
Freeware A320 for MSFS
In contrast to payware options that can cost $40-$100, there are also some free A320 choices for MSFS users:
The most popular freeware A320 is unquestionably the FBW A320NX created by the FlyByWire Simulations team. This Airbus A320neo modification for MSFS provides one of the most realistic and in-depth simulations of an A320 available. The FBW A320NX project is open source and community driven, with new features and improvements added continually.
Despite being free, the modeling, texturing, and attention to detail match or exceed many payware aircraft for MSFS. It incorporates accurate flight dynamics tuned using real world data, realistic engine modeling, failures, detailed electrical, hydraulic, and pneumatic systems, operational ground services vehicles, functioning EFB, and far more. The FBW A320NX works on PC and Xbox platforms.
Another free A320 option for MSFS is the NBA A320neo mod created by NBA. This add-on enhances the default A320neo model with 4K textures, more realistic lighting, improved gear and flight dynamics, and VC tweaks while remaining a very manageable 216 MB download. Despite being a freeware mod, the NBA A320neo delivers greatly increased visual fidelity and more accurate flight characteristics compared to the unmodified default A320neo. It is available for PC only currently.
A320neo Improvement Mod
The A320neo Improvement Mod from rikoooo represents a third no-cost option for those seeking an upgraded A320neo experience in MSFS. Rikoooo‘s mod applies higher resolution textures, adjusts reflections and other visual aspects, overhauls the flight model for greater realism, and improves avionics/systems functionality. Like the NBA mod, it sticks fairly close to the default A320neo while offering a nicer looking and flying aircraft. The A320neo Improvement Mod runs on PC platforms.
Note: The original A32NX mod for the default A320neo by FlyByWire has been retired in favor of their standalone FBW A320NX model described earlier. The retired A32NX remains a free download for those wanting to access its legacy features however.
A320 Free Trial in MSFS
Before purchasing a payware A320 for MSFS, some users may wish to take one on a free test drive first. Many aircraft add-ons offer limited time free trials that allow you to sample the simulation before buying. For example:
- The Fenix A320 provides a 14 day free trial
- CaptainSim has a 60 minute free trial for the A320
- 30 minute free trials are available for the iniBuilds and FeelThere A320 models
Downloading the demo can help you determine if the flight model, system depth, and overall capabilities of the payware aircraft match your preferences before spending money. Just be sure to cancel ahead of time if you decide not to buy.
Will the A320 be Free on Xbox Game Pass?
MSFS is included with Xbox Game Pass subscriptions. Some have wondered if this means the A320 and other payware add-ons could potentially be free for Game Pass members.
Unfortunately, that is not the case. The Xbox Game Pass version only includes what comes in the standard edition of MSFS. It does not grant free access to any payware aircraft like the Fenix A320 that must be purchased separately. Game Pass merely provides the base simulator – all payware planes and scenery for MSFS still need to be bought individually.
Third Party A320 Variants
Most of the payware and freeware A320 products for MSFS focus on the popular A320neo with CFM LEAP or IAE V2500 engines. However, there are some other A320 family variants also emerging:
A319 by ToLiSs
French developer ToLiSs is creating an Airbus A319 variant for MSFS. It will be a standalone model and not an upgrade to their existing A321. Planned features include custom flight dynamics, 4K PBR texturing, failures, custom sounds, SID/STAR integration, simulated wear and tear, and more. Estimated release is late 2022 or early 2023.
A321 by iniBuilds
The iniBuilds A321 is under development as a sister model to their in-production A320. No firm release date yet, but the A321 will also provide high fidelity modeling and a depth simulation when it launches.
A318/A319/A321 by Cana Software
Cana Software has revealed its intent to create the entire Airbus A320 family for MSFS, including A318, A319, A320, and A321 models. The Cana A318 and A319 are currently in beta testing, while the A320 and A321 remain further out on the roadmap.
Is the A380 or B747 Free for MSFS?
No, there is no free or default Airbus A380 or Boeing 747 available in MSFS outside of the default 747-8 intercontinental. Payware versions from developers like CaptainSim and iniSimulations are required to add other A380 and 747 models.
However, there are some free mods that enhance the included 747-8, such as the Boeing 747-8i Improvement Mod by rikoooo.
MSFS Compatibility Summary
Here is a quick compatibility reference for the payware and freeware A320 options discussed:
|Fenix A320||Fenix Simulations||$47.99||Yes||Planned|
|Neo Dispatch A320||Neo Dispatch||$34.95||Yes||Yes|
The Airbus A320 is clearly a beloved aircraft for many flight sim enthusiasts. For those seeking an advanced and realistic simulation in MSFS, investing in a payware aircraft add-on like the Fenix and CaptainSim A320 models is recommended.
However, options also exist for enjoying an upgraded A320 experience at no cost. The community FBW A320NX project stands out as an especially viable free alternative with its incredibly detailed and continually expanding feature set.
No matter which A320 you choose to fly in MSFS, there is no denying this workhorse jet is loads of fun to master! Understanding the differences between the free and payware versions along with their platform support is key to picking the right Airbus A320 add-on to suit your needs.