How to Install Addon Aircraft in FSX

fsx aircraft selection menu

This tutorial will walk you through the steps of installing addon aircraft in Microsoft Flight Simulator X. On this page, I’m going to be using Dino Cattaneo’s FSX Grumman F-14D Tomcat Package, which can be download from his website, IndiaFoxtEcho Visual Simulations, or Fly Away Simulation. Windows 10 is the operating system being used in this tutorial.

It is helpful to have hidden files and folders, along with file extensions shown. I like to have a separate folder on my computer where I can place all the addons I download and extract them there. This makes it easier to organize and copy just what you need to the FSX folder,  than extracting everything to there in the first place.

Step 1: Download and Extract

Download and extract the aicraft file. Most of the aircraft that you will download are contained in a zip or rar file. You can either right click the .zip file and press extract all, running through the extraction wizard, or use a program such as Winrar, Winzip, or 7-zip to extract it. All do the same thing. If the file is a .exe or .msi, then you can just run the installer and it should automatically be installed for you.

Step 2: Copy Aircraft Folder

addon aircraft folder contents
Contents of the download F-14 folder.

Now that the file is extracted, take a look inside and see what it contains. You need to copy the right files and folders to the correct places within the main FSX folder. This can be found in the following directories depending on what version of the Game you have.

DVD Version: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Games\Microsoft Flight Simulator X\ (C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Microsoft Flight Simulator X\ for 32 bit)
Steam Version: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\FSX (Your Steam library may be in a different location)

There are 4 main folders, and 2 other files that are needed at a minimum to make the an aircraft load into the game. They are the modeltexturepanel, and sound folders, along with the aircraft.cfg and “name of addon”.air file. See the table below for an explanation of the 6 components of an aircraft.

Folder or FileWhat It’s For
ModelThis contains the model used by the addon. The .mdl file is the model and there is also a model.cfg file in here. If the addon has virtual cockpit it will ussualy have 2 .mdl files, one for the exterior, and one for the interior.
TextureThis contains all the textures used by the model. The main “Texture” folder will contain all the textures or images needed for it to display properly on the model. If the addon has more than one texture, each additional texture folder will ussually contain only unique textures associated with a certain livery or variation instead of having a complete copy of all the textures which would include base textures, cockpit, afterburners, etc. The thumbnail.jpg image is the thumbnail that shows up in FSX. The plane will work if an addon texture is missing the thumbnail.
SoundIncludes the .wav files which are the actual sound files and the sound.cfg, which determines what the aircraft sounds like.
SoundaiSame as above except for ai (Artificial Intelligence-computer controlled planes) versions of the addon, or if it’s used by other players in multiplayer.
aircraft.cfgControls how the aircraft functions.
“name of addon”.airControls how the aircraft flies.
“name of addon”_check/ref.htmFiles loaded by FSX for details about the addon, checklist, reference, etc.

Some addons may also have a folder filled with effects or gauges that need to be copied too. See Step 3 for information about this. Looking in the addon aircraft folder, there is an Effects folder, SimObjects folder, a couple of pictures, and a readme.txt file. Clicking through the SimObjects folder, we find an Airplanes folder, and then a folder called Grumman_F14D. This contains the model, sound, textures, and other necessary files needed for the addon to be loaded into FSX. Copy this folder into the FSX SimObjects Airplanes folder.

DVD Version: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Games\Microsoft Flight Simulator X\SimObjects\Airplanes\
Steam Version: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\FSX\SimObjects\Airplanes\

Step 3: Copy Effects & Gauges

If the addon has any folders with effects or gauges in them, as this example does, these files need to be copied to a different location. Effects files (.fx) get copied to the main FSX effects folder, while the gauge files (.cab, .dll) get copied to the main FSX gauges folder.

Effects: FSX Root Folder\Effects\

Gauges: FSX Root Folder\Gauges\

When we open up FSX and go to the aircraft selection menu, the planes show up. Remember to check  “Show All Variations,” to see multiple liveries if an aircraft has them.

aircraft selection menu
Aircraft Selection Menu in FSX

Troubleshooting Addon Aircraft

Followed all the above steps but still can’t get the addon working. See if one of the below tips will solve the problem.

  • Check to make sure the addon has all of the minimum five main components (Sound isn’t needed for an addon to work, but what’s the point of no sound..). If it doesn’t have a panel, or has a panel folder with nothing in it, copy the panel.cfg file from another aircraft. In the rare case that something other than sound or a panel is missing, forget about installing the addon, it’s not worth it.
  • Does it has all the necessary components but isn’t showing up? Open up the aircraft.cfg file with notepad and check to make sure there’s at least one flight sim entry somewhere in the file, [fltsim.0]. Also check to see if the “texture=” part in the aircraft.cfg is pointing to the right texture folder. If there was a folder named, then it would look like this in the configuration file: “texture=navy”. This applies to model, panel, and sound too if the folder name has anything extra added on to it.
  • Is what you downloaded really a repaint for something and not a plane or helicopter itself. You’ll probably see some texture folders and a readme. If it is, then see how to install repaints.