Microsoft's flight simulator series will return with a new name this Spring, the company announced on Wednesday. Microsoft Flight, due to enter beta testing shortly, will be made available as a free download, and will include Games for Windows LIVE achievements. Microsoft axed the original Flight Simulator X development team in 2009, following job cuts at the company, and the new Microsoft Flight game looks like it picks up from where it left off. Features include new aircraft, an Online Pilot Profile, additional content that adds aircraft, regions and customization options to the game over time, and performance improvements that make it suitable for most PCs.

Microsoft Studios, the game publisher, has also worked closely with the ICON Aircraft manufacturing team to provide access to the new ICON A5 before production of the flying boat-type amphibious monoplane starts later this year. Virtual air enthusiasts still have time to sign-up for the beta program and Microsoft plans to allow attendees to play it at their final CES booth next week between January 10th and 13th.

Update: Multiple tipsters tell us beta invites for Microsoft Flight are now arriving in their inboxes.