There is a new flight simulation packages that I'm sure thousands of you may have heard. It goes by the name of Pro Flight Simulator. Pro Flight Simulator isn't really that new at all, in fact, it's a re-brand of a flight sim package you may have been using for years.
Pro Flight Simulator has been hot in the social media - the company promoting and branding this product have run an intense social marketing campaign, have employed article spinning techniques to improve their search engine rankings and have also run regular advertising on many flight simulation websites (including our own). In fact, we have noticed that the advertisers on our own website are just affiliates for the company branding the product.
You may notice that I don't ever say "developing" the product and only "branding" because that's exactly what's going on here - Pro Flight Simulator is not a new flight simulator, it's simply a re-branded version of a popular free package you may have heard of called FlightGear.
While this isn't an illegal practice, it has upset many in the flight simulation industry, including the developers of FlightGear themselves. The reason this isn't illegal is that FlightGear is open-source software under the GNU GPL license, which allows re-sale of the software.
This is the statement on the official FlightGear Wiki Page regarding the product:
The GNU GPL license, under which FlightGear is released, allows reselling under certain terms. The main issue that FlightGear developers have is the misleading marketing tactics used by pro flight sim that target unsuspecting users who aren't yet familiar with FlightGear. This is primarily an ethical, not a legal issue.
FlightGear also states:
Pro Flight Simulator is a commercial product very heavily based on FlightGear. Investigation by a number of the FlightGear developers has found no difference between this and the FlightGear v1.9.1 release other than a change of name. Pro Flight Simulator is in no way endorsed or supported by the core FlightGear development team.
Given the similarities between Pro Flight Simulator and FlightGear, we would recommend that prospective buyers download FlightGear for free and satisfy themselves that Pro Flight Simulator provides worthwhile value for money before purchasing it.
The official promotional video from the Pro Flight Simulator website:
So it seems that Pro Flight Simulator is simply a re-brand of the popular FlightGear package, and while what they are doing is not technically "illegal", it's somewhat unethical given the circumstances. The developers capture hundreds of "first-time" flight sim enthusiasts with their page one listing on Google for the term "flight simulator". In fact, there are hundreds of "capture" websites that have been set up for the practice of capturing searchers and leading them to their website to purchase the product.
They have also set up many Twitter accounts that regularly tweet with links directed to their main website - in fact, everywhere you look you can see advertising and canvassing material. There are hundreds of websites, affiliate portals and they have even dominated the first page of Google for the term "flight simulator".
I won't link to them within this article, however, you may do a search for "Pro Flight Simulator" yourself to understand what is going on here.
Finally, if you do want a free copy of FlightGear, you can grab that from our downloads library here (it works on Windows, Linux & Mac).