Most of us, virtual pilots, fly our aircraft for the sheer pleasure of flying. Simulators allow us to mimic aircraft and environments and, in sims like FSX, there’s no absolute way of providing some real meaning to our flights. FS Economy allows us to do exactly this by adding a new layer of simulation, providing you with a living economy. All that on top of your FSX, X-Plane or Prepar3D.
The world of FS Economy
FS Economy simulates an environment where you can fly assignments to make money. To do those assignments, you’ll need aircraft that you can own – by purchasing them – or rent from others users or the FS Economy almighty system. Rent an aircraft, fly assignments, make money. Rinse, repeat. Sounds boring? It’s not. You see, there’s a lot more into it.
When you rent an aircraft, you’ll eventually need to refuel which you can do that in an airport. Beware, though, not all airports have fuel available. If you find yourself stranded in an airfield with no fuel, you’ll have 2 options: you either “abandon” the aircraft – if it’s belongs to another user or to the FS Economy system you simply won’t use it anymore and rent another aircraft instead.
But you don’t want to be THAT guy so you’re going to have to rent another aircraft, purchase some fuel somewhere else nearby, haul it to the airfield where the first aircraft is and use that barrel to refuel the bird and get out of there. If it’s not damaged, that is. If it is, you (or its owner) will have to repair it. Ouch. More money out the window.
Fuel is bought from another player (if there’s a player FBO – Fixed Based Operators) or, again, from the FS Economy system. By the way, you may own aircraft and FBOs, if you can afford them, yes. FBOs cost money and need building materials to be built as well as supplies to keep running. But FBOs also mean you can create passenger assignments, which means more money to be made. Build a small FBO network and, provided you have a lot of time to fly, you can make tons of money. It will also keep you busy for sure, with supply runs and whatnot.
There’s a bank? Yes, there’s a bank. You’ll be entitled to what you could call a checking account and a savings account. The first will allow you to pay your bills and it’s also through where you’ll get your virtual money from assignments or member transfers. Your savings account will be the one that will provide you with a small income through interest. There’s a limit: only the first million will give you interest – meaning that if you have 3 million, for example, you’ll only receive the interest of 1. This was something the FS Economy board decided to change some time ago since a lot of players were getting richer and richer, destabilizing the economy.
You can also ask for loans. There’s a limit of v$40,000.00 (which is, by the way, the amount of money you start the game with – enough to buy a Bell 47G or other smaller aircraft – , if you wish to buy your own aircraft right away). You will owe any amount you take as a loan and will pay for bank interest. Of course, the interest of money owed is higher than the interest of money you have saved. Otherwise, just like in real life, you’d be living out of money from the bank.
How it all works
FS Economy is web-based but this means that you will need to be online but only at the beginning and at the end of the flight (thank you to jml79 over at the FSE forums for correcting me). Most of the operations such as selecting assignments and renting an aircraft, for example, are made on the website. For FS Economy to actually know that you are flying, you will have to download and install one of the three available FSE clients: FSUIPC (compatible with FS8, FS9 and FSX), SimConnect (for FSX and Prepar3D) and X-Plane. Once you're all set up, add some assignments to your flight, rent an aircraft, boot your sim and the FSE client and you're good to go.
Strength in numbers
So, gather a fleet, build an FBO empire and you will probably need an extra set of hands (or sticks). Fear not, you can always ask for help at the FS Economy forums [link]. The community is amazing and there’s always someone willing to lend you a hand – for a price, of course (or maybe just for the sake of helping – people do that a lot).
Want to get your empire even bigger? You can start a group. Groups can own aircraft and FBOs and assignments can be flown by them. Pilots will get a cut of the assignments they fly and the group gets the money from everyone that flies for it. With that money your group can build new FBOs, resupply them, buy new aircraft, maintain the old ones and even share the wealth among its members. It’s a true economy and its 10,000+(!) members will be there for you, at the official forums. It’s one of FS Economy’s strong points, if not the strongest.
Fly the world
FS Economy uses the database airport from FS9 (again, a big thank you to jml79 for the correction) and adds airfields that may exist in real life but not in the sim. So you’ll very probably find most if not all the airports and small fields that actually exist in your country. This means that pilots have a plethora of places to fly to and from. Some fields have just 1 or 2 assignments, others have dozens. Rest assured: you’ll find plenty to do worldwide. Some pilots have even done “around the world” flights gathering assignments and flying them as they moved across the globe, paying for the virtual aircraft, fuel, maintenance and making a profit. If you play your cards right, you can make a lot of money this way.
Lots and lots more
FS Economy is simple to use, yet complex behind the scenes. A team of volunteers steer it, deciding its path and its future and continue to maintain and develop the code necessary to keep it running.
The core of the system revolves around FBOs, aircraft and assignments but there’s a lot more than can be done and players can even make up some stories or crazy things to do in the forums. People are willing to make you forum signatures or aircraft textures for virtual dollars, call of actions are done that simulate, for example, real world emergencies.
FS Economy is a very well built, amazing, fun environment that puts a lot on the table for FSX and X-Plane owners. It almost feels like everything that these simulators should have brought from the start – and haven’t.
Which probably was a good thing because now we can have simmers from both products working together in the same simulated economic environment.
How do I start?
Are you ready to jump in? Head out to www.fseconomy.com.
In part 2 of this article (which will be online next week), I will guide you through your first assignment: from registration until you make your first v$.
Other parts of this series
Credit: main image by George Arana.