Released on the 19 of October 2001, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 improved vastly over previous versions.
In addition to improved graphics, Flight Simulator 2002 introduced ATC (Air Traffic Control) and AI (Artificially Intelligent) aircraft. Users could now fly alongside computer controlled aircraft and communicate with airports.
A target frame rate option was added, enabling a cap on the frame rate in order to reduce stuttering while performing texture loading and other maintenance tasks.
In addition, the aircraft now featured a 3D virtual cockpit, creating the effect that the player was viewing the cockpit from the viewpoint of a real cockpit. The external view also featured an inertia effect, inducing an illusion of movement in a realistic physical environment. The simulation ran smoother than Flight Simulator 2000, even on comparable hardware.
The long anticipation for this version was supposed to be released shortly after September 11, 2001. Due to the terrorist attacks on that day, the launch was postponed in order to remove the World Trade Center Twin Towers in all copies.