OK, we all like freebies, free stuff, and offers. However, sometimes even the thriftiest of us have to accept that on occasion you “get what you pay for!”
While the virtual world of aviation offers some amazingly high-quality freeware add-ons, some of the payware available simply serves to open up your virtual flying experience. Indeed, they bring some of the most famous, picturesque parts of the world right into your living room via your computer screen, as well as offering some of the most graceful aerial machines to ever take to the skies to visit them in.
With that in mind, then, here are some of the best payware aircraft and scenery add-ons for 2020 that are compatible with Lockheed Martin's Prepar3D recently released v5 and the older v4 package.
All of the add-ons mentioned below (at the time of writing) are fully compatible (and even designed exclusively) for use with P3Dv4/v5.
Please be aware, all of the add-ons featured here are payware. This means you need to purchase them at cost before using them. If it's specifically freeware you are looking for, check out our freeware page here.
This article is quite lengthy as it discusses our selection of add-ons in great detail. For ease of use, please use the jump links below:
OK, so at the core of flight simulation, of course, is the aircraft. So, whether you are wanting to zip around in the latest up-to-the-minute tech-heavy slimline aircraft or are happy to take to the skies in something a little more traditional, reserved, or even something a little quirkier, here are some of the best aircraft add-ons available right now.
New for 2020
The A330 Professional, developed by Aerosoft is, I admit, an expensive add-on. Some users may say too expensive - however, this is a truly amazing add-on that brings the Airbus A330 to Prepar3D as it's never been seen in any flight simulator before.
The attention to detail and depth that has gone into developing this add-on warrants its high price tag. I can assure you, you've seen nothing like it in a sim.
Launched under the "professional" range - it's released as a higher quality package that is meant to go above and beyond standard payware that you might generally see. It includes lots of advanced animations including sunscreens, windows, tables, tiller, jump seat, standby compass, drooping flight surfaces, and more. Also included are opening main doors and cargo hatches.
A first for a sim is the included web server that allows you to access the MCDU via another desktop or in particular a tablet - providing a separate screen showing the operating systems of the aircraft in real-time while you are flying it in the sim.
The A330 has been developed to be entirely 64-bit which only allows it to be used in P3Dv4 and v5. This also allows for the deprecation of old technology and enables the advanced features of the next-gen sims to be used.
The textures and all repaints have been designed with Physically Based Rendering (PBR) technologies to show true-to-life lighting effects, bumps, and shadows on the body of the aircraft. A background sound package has been included which literally adds several hundred background sounds to make the flight experience as realistic as possible.
Download size: 2.4 GB - Published by: Aerosoft
CVN-65 USS Enterprise "Final Cruises" Aircraft Carrier
New for 2020
While not technically an "aircraft", this aircraft carrier package for Prepar3D v4 is quite remarkable. It brings the CVN-65 USS Enterprise to your simulator world so you can enjoy military flights on a fully functional aircraft carrier.
Just released, this version is greatly improved over the old version and is now fully compatible with P3D v4. This version is based around the "Final Cruises" of the CVN-65 and represents the ship in two schemes including the final World Cruise in 2006 and the 2012 Mediterranean/Arabian Sea Cruise, the last cruise of the Enterprise before returning stateside for defueling and eventual decommissioning in 2017.
Features include; empty deck mode, full compatibility with FSX carrier operations (Acceleration), a boatload of static aircraft to make it look as authentic as possible, flying AI aircraft, the steam effect on the catapult system and full dynamic night lighting.
Download size: 370 MB - Published by: Team SDB
If you are looking to roll back the years a little with your aircraft as opposed to taking to the virtual skies with the latest aerial phenomenon, then the Douglas DC-8 is a classic offering that you will very likely enjoy. Perhaps not least because of the vintage realism employed.
Realism is an important part of flight simulation for obvious reasons. It is no surprise then that the Douglas DC-8 offers huge helpings of it in multiple ways.
Everything from the shape and size of it right through to the speed with which it would really move has been accounted for. This is certainly the case with the virtual cockpit, which screams authenticity in each detail. Not only that, but the lighting in the cockpit further offers a feeling of genuineness and also makes visibility far easier when landing and taking off. As does the panel back-lighting and instrument lighting.
The radar set-up also provides in-depth and detailed information right through the flight which offers the chance to analyze all aspects of your journey. The build-up of ice, for example, and, in turn, the increase in drag, all authenticate the Douglas DC-8 add-on.
Even the sounds on offer as you go about your flight duties add yet another layer of detail that serves to make the overall experience as realistic as can be. Furthermore, seemingly trivial but effective extras such as authentic landing gears and the management and deployment of cargo doors all contribute to making this aircraft a must for those looking to experience pre-1970s long-distance air travel from the comfort of their own computer chair.
Download size: 400 MB - Published by: Aerosoft
In a similar nostalgic bracket as the Douglas DC-8 is perhaps the VC10 Jetliner which first began production in the early-1960s. Widely regarded as a “graceful” traveler of the skies, its design is as much to do with its requirements to operate in and out of “hot airports”, sometimes with limited runways and at very high altitude as much as anything else. In fact, in terms of speed and overall performance, the VC10 consistently ranks second only to the supersonic Concorde of later years.
The add-on version of this aviation classic is every bit as graceful and detail heavy. Perhaps not least in the 3D virtual cockpit, which can be experienced from all four of the flight crew positions of Captain, Co-Pilot, Flight Engineer, and Navigator. The overall realism of the cockpit, and more specifically the simulation details, are perhaps the strength of this particular add-on.
Such details as the autopilot with a pitch and bank hold, as well as the fuel systems which allows the transferring and jettisoning of fuel simply pile up to make the flight experience top notch. In fact, many of the performance, flight dynamics, and overall general engine sounds and audio is authentic due to the heavy leaning on the knowledge and experience of the ex-VC10 aircrew.
It isn’t just the cockpit, though, where the detail is. The landing systems, aircraft configuration, thrust-reverse system, and engine start procedures all contribute to making this an essential add-on for aviation lovers.
Furthermore, the VC10 add-on is available in ten different liveries including the British Airway G-ARVM with a red tail or classic circa-1976, three different BOACs, the Gulf Air A40 VI and VK, Just Flight, Nigeria Airway 5N-ABD, and a Government of the United Arab Emirates G-ARVF. Further, still, should you desire, PSD Paint Kit allows you to create your own details.
Download size: 430 MB - Published by: Just Flight
Largely built and in operation throughout the 1950s until the mid-sixties, the DHC-3 Otter is a single-engine plane that could seat up to eleven passengers and/or various cargos, with its distinctive high-wing design for short take-off and landing missions. And perhaps the details on offer with this add-on package have those types of flight operations in mind, as well as the locations many of them would have taken place in.
As well as the classic and modern cockpits, for example, the package includes options for wheel, amphibian, float and ski variations. What’s more, there are numerous different liveries spread across these different options.
And these variations are highly-detailed in themselves. Such things as the passenger and cargo doors, and cockpit door windows, for example, all operate with absolute authenticity. Much like the VC10 add-on package above, many of the flight dynamics and performance data comes from the assistance of experienced pilots of the DHC-3 Otter.
Overall, by purchasing this add-on you are purchasing a vehicle that provides numerous and varied options, which themselves provide further options to the user. Ultimately you would hard pressed to say this package doesn’t provide value for money.
Download size: 1 GB - Published by: Just Flight
SAAB Regional Pack v2
If different options and variations are a sign of value for money, then the SAAB Regional Pack v2 add-on is something you might want to look at. Three different models are available here – the SAAB 340, the SAAB 340 cargo, and the SAAB 2000 – all of which offer substantial improvements against their previous versions. Furthermore, numerous different repaints are available for all three of the different models.
These include such famous branding as British Airways, Air France, Air Panama, Delta, United Express (new and old), Sky Bahamas, and Crossair, with an abundance of other choices available.
It is perhaps, though, the vast improvements in new virtual cabins on offer which makes this an interesting and enticing package. The control panel and 3D cockpit offer improvement on just about every level, while the sound and high-resolution textures are also high-quality. And what’s more, the vast improvements of graphics and details don’t affect the gameplay or quality of the overall product in any way.
If you are looking for a high-quality plane with a multitude of different options at your disposal, built-in and ready for you to utilize, then this is certainly a purchase you might want to consider making regardless of your virtual flying experience. As is, the following package.
Download size: 470 MB - Published by: Virtualcol
The Swedish twin-engine aircraft the Saab 340 first took to the skies in January 1983 and remained in production right up until 1999. The add-on version of this aircraft offers quite a lot by the way of authenticity. The high-quality textures, the genuine real SF34 sounds, and the real airplane behavior (including weight and balance dimensions) all contribute to the realism.
And it is perhaps the, at first, unnoticeable details that make this add-on so appealing. Things such as the shining effects from the propellers. Or the sounds of the brakes on the taxi and landing run. Or perhaps the genuine feel to the rolling movement effect. Even the night light effects throughout the cockpit and across the control panel leave an impression of realism.
The fact is, there are multiple such finer details which build up to contribute to the overall pleasurable experience of taking one of these digital planes to the skies every now and then. Perhaps these finer points of authenticity are due to the input and testing of the software by genuine pilots.
Indeed, the behavior of the plane you will be purchasing and flying in the simulation is extremely accurate when compared to the behavior of the plane in the real world and is perhaps an aircraft add-on that would appeal to the novice and the grizzled veteran of virtual aviation.
Download size: 880 MB - Published by: Carenado
Once you are happy with what’s in your virtual hangar, you need something fly over, visit, land at, and take off from – scenery and airports.
While these perhaps don’t sound as attractive and required as the many virtual aircraft available for your money, taking off and landing is obviously one of the key parts of aviation. So then, it makes sense to perform these tasks from some of the most famous airports in the world while also appreciated some of the most breathtaking landscapes and marveling in the detail incorporated into such things.
So, whether you are wanting to take to the air over the quieter skies of Alaska in the uppermost regions of the United States or from the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s main travel and business hubs such as Heathrow in London, all are available to you for a small fee. Here are some of the best and most authentic.
The add-on for Anchorage, Alaska is as unique as it is challenging and should be appealing to virtual pilots of all experience levels.
The famous, and important, Ted Stevens International Airport is highly detailed, in proportion, and generally authentic to the real place. And that authenticity continues in such things as the weather details, which on occasion (as in real life) results in challenging landings and take-offs at the airport. Even the ground traffic moves around the airbase in a highly realistic manner, making the airport, and in turn the package, one of the best available.
Furthermore, the package includes a recreation of Lake Hood in breathtakingly stunning detail, and further still, includes various seaplanes and aquatic aircraft which only serve to bring this add-on to life even more. And the finer details such as signage and such, compliment this already highly detailed environment, including coastline locations and the general shaping of the land below.
Given the aerial travel is highly important to the residents of Alaska due to many roads and much of the land being at the mercy of snow and ice for much of the year, anyone familiar with this part of the world will surely appreciate this add-on. For those who aren’t, here is your chance to experience it.
Download size: 4 GB - Published by: Aerosoft
To say that this version of Gibraltar add-on is a marked improvement on what had gone before it would be a huge understatement. Prior versions have left such smaller parts of the world with just basic detail, resulting in a rather bland flying experience.
That certainly isn’t case with P3Dv4 which offers detail upon detail of the terrain, coastline, and airport. Should you decide to take a quick virtual trip out that way you are bound to be impressed with the realism incorporated into the package. Every detail has seemingly been accounted for, including the lighting systems and navigational beacons of the airport which, incidentally, looks alive with activity beneath you as you bring your plane in to land.
Even the typical sounds that hit the ears in Gibraltar are on offer here too, which along with the authentic replications of buildings and landmarks around the island, certainly make this the best Gibraltar package available at the moment.
Download size: 700 MB - Published by: Aerosoft
Mega Airport London Heathrow Professional
Heathrow Airport in London, England, is not only perhaps the most important airport in the UK but is a key hub for travel into the rest of Europe. Indeed, Heathrow Airport resides alongside other world-famous airports such as O’Hare in Chicago, JFK in New York, or LAX in Los Angeles. It makes sense then that anyone with an interest in aviation – virtual or otherwise – would want to have this add-on on their system. And this version is loaded with detail and authenticity.
For example, the new T2 and T2B terminals are incorporated and the entire airport – all 42 square km of it are replicated in extraordinary detail. Perhaps worth noting for long-time aviation enthusiasts, this package includes the option of using the old Europier (which is due for demolition) and may indeed be the last package to include the older part of the world-famous airport.
Everything about the Heathrow add-on, from the taxiway and runway layouts to the highly-detailed buildings and actual airport layout screams realism and should be appealing to long-time virtual flyers and new one alike.
Download size: 2 GB - Published by: Aerosoft
Mega Airport Barcelona Professional
Much like the add-ons for Gibraltar that we looked at a little earlier, the enchanting city of Barcelona is another that has been let down desperately in detail in the past. However, with this new add-on for Barcelona Airport – one of the largest airports in Europe - the details are vastly improved and significantly more authentic.
As well as the airport itself, the package includes significant portions of the city of Barcelona, all of which are accurate in detail and make the add-on a pleasure to use. As you approach to land the activity below serves to increase the realism, as do some of the historic and famous landmarks and buildings of the surrounding areas. Even the vegetation of the land has been taken into account and incorporated into the package.
The lighting features on the optimized 3D runway, the shadow technology, and the overall authentic layout of the airport all contribute to making this add-on of the airport from one of the most historic cities in the world a must for virtual flyers of all experience levels.
Incidentally, the package also works on your system while using other Barcelona add-ons.
Download size: 5.5 GB - Published by: Aerosoft
sim-wings Fairbanks Professional
Much like the airport in Anchorage, the Fairbanks International Airport in the North Star Borough is one of the most important such facilities in Alaska. Furthermore, it is utilized by a whole range of airlines, for a whole variety of reasons, including most often for refueling during trans-polar flights. Major US airlines, Delta and United, also operate out of Fairbanks International on a regular basis, and the airport resides in the smallest city in the United States to run a non-stop service across the Atlantic to Europe.
Given its quiet importance, it is only right then that should you wish to visit this airport in the virtual world an authentic representation of it should be available. Well, now it is. The airport details and the surrounding areas are all highly sympathetic to their real-world counterparts and completely up-to-date as of April 2018.
Much like any other virtual airport worth its salt, Fairbanks International burst to life with appropriate activity as you make your approach to land, simply adding to the authentic feel. As does the lighting and realistic weather conditions.
Download size: 1.2 GB - Published by: Aerosoft (sim-wings)
Why do you ask? Why not just install some freeware add-ons?
The add-ons mentioned above are from highly experienced developers who create these expansions with years of knowledge, experience, and improvements by listening to feedback from customers. You simply can't compare payware to freeware - you will see that from the screenshots and videos on the product pages. If you're a simmer who craves that extra level of realism or improved simulation experience then paying for your software may be the best option for you.
I Want Freeware...
If you have no budget for "paid-for" mods, you'll be pleased to know that there are indeed thousands of freeware files that work with Prepar3D over in our file library here. Most of the add-ons in the file library were created to work with Microsoft Flight Simulator X and the Steam Edition (read our review here). Prepar3D uses the same file structure and core engine as FSX which is why many of the files work without issue in P3D and P3Dv4. P3Dv4 was upgraded to 64-bit so there may be some issues with aircraft gauges and older modules that were made for 32-bit FSX. It's simply a matter of trying them out in the sim... what have you got to lose? They are free!
Update Feb 2020:
We have released our freeware P3Dv4 & P3Dv5 add-ons page here. You will find mods and add-ons with guaranteed P3Dv4 compatibility here.
Let us know your thoughts
Have you used or purchased any of the products listed above? Have you recently written a review? Please share your experiences with us by posting in the comment below. Want to mention a file we may have missed in the listing above? Please let us know in the comments section below.
We look forward to your comments and users of the site will find them most useful too.