Microsoft Flight Simulator is more of a platform than it is a game, to be honest. Sure there are landing challenges, bush trips, and lots of sights to see, but for many first time players, there’s an astounding lack of reasons to fly. Other than the pure simulation, of course. Thankfully, the flight simulation community has long been creating mods and addons which improve upon what Asobo has already built. In this guide, we’ll be recommending our favorite MSFS 2020 career mode addons which you can use to help you explore the world.
When I first got into Flight Simulator, OnAir is where I first landed when it comes to career modes. I briefly tried out FSEconomy and while it does have some advantages, like being free, it’s incredibly dated and it can take weeks before the mods get around to creating your account so you can actually play. OnAir, on the other hand, has a much better UI and is far easier to use. The best part is it has something to offer all types of players. If you want something super casual where you can teleport around the world flying whatever you want, you can do that. If you’d rather manage an entire airline service using AI pilots to do most of your jobs while you just casually fly, you can do that. There’s even a world that has only human players where jobs can be outsourced to other real world players and simulation rules are strictly enforced by the application.
How you get jobs in this game is simple, but also complicated. The world generates jobs from each airport with various cargo, passenger, and job type requirements. Some are time limited and will require you to fly at a small time window some time in the future. There are events where things from three to five different airports all have to make it to one location on time. Others are fragile and will be damaged if your flight is too rough.
Then there are FBOs, short for fixed-base operator. With these you can pay a sum of money depending on the size of the airport to establish a base of operations there. Should you continue to invest in them you can unlock benefits like cheaper gas, free parking, and more. Most importantly, it lets you generate jobs yourself, defining things like the direction of travel, range of the flight, and how much cargo or passengers you’re looking to carry. Through these methods, players can define how they want to handle their own career mode.
Heck, it’s even got a skill tree to progress though, though on easier worlds you can auto complete it. There’s more here than we can possibly cover, but I recommend checking out the wiki for more information. OnAir does require a subscription which runs about $9 a month, $45 a year, or $56 for two years. There are also subscription lengths between those.
Out of everything we’re covering in this article, The Skypark is easily the newest. Whereas other career modes are randomly generated, everything in The Skypark is hand crafted. Routes are picked by the developers. While this does mean some airports are left out, it also means they’re likely to be higher quality and more focused. For example, a holiday release featured a bunch of gift based contracts featuring Canada, Scandinavia, and Alaska. Other contract updates have focused on bush trips in the Pyrenees, Bolivia, and the Caribbean.
Though very young, one of the cooler features I enjoy is their travel contracts which are essentially sightseeing tours. The first, and currently only, one is a pair of tours through the UK. These span more than 50 stops and 2,000 nautical miles around England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland and there’s no time limit so you can take your time and earn a hefty chunk of XP along the way.
Unlike OnAir, Skypark doesn’t have skill points or anything. Rather the entire system is focused on your level, karma, and reliability. These three factors determine which contracts are available to you as each major update has specific requirements. Some very well paying jobs are locked behind the most reputable or infamous pilots on the app. It’s a fun way of making your flight decisions matter, but currently the money you earn doesn’t actually do anything yet. This app is incredibly young and still in development.
It’ll run you about $32, but unlike other apps it’s mostly focused on just getting you flying. There is no cargo weight and no real simulation or tracking of proper flying. When you accept the contract the game simply recommends what type of plane you fly depending on the airport types and distance. You’re free to take whatever one you want. The game just wants you to get there and honestly that’s one of the best things about it. Plus it’s got a really good tablet interface which comes with flight tracking!
When it comes to all of the career mode options out there, NeoFly is likely the most innovative. It’s a one person project, however, which means it’s a little rough around the edges. Unlike our other two recommendations, it’s 100 percent free with paid optional expansions. It’s also exclusively focused on general aviation meaning you’ll be dealing with single-prop and turboprops rather than jets and airliners. You can, however, still purchase those planes to use.
There have been lots of updates since I’ve last used NeoFly including the addition of AI pilots and lots of new missions types. Unlike these other applications where your goal is to go from airport to airport, NeoFly has a variety of goals. Some will require you to land in fields, fly low above a drop zone, or land smoothly.
NeoFly also has FBOs like OnAir, but these are locked behind a $10 purchase. They’re far more complicated, however. NeoFly has a lot of spreadsheets and throws information at you. Unlike OnAir, you actually need to hand define routes and keep your FBOs stocked which you’ll actually use as you run routes. You’ll need magazines for your passengers, mechanical parts to keep your planes running, and you can even buy and sell materials from different airports to try and turn a profit.
Have your own recommendations? Share them in the comments below!