Come Fly With Me!
Traffic, traffic and more traffic! When does enough become enough? Well, I have got to tell you I just can’t seem to get enough when it comes to adding AI to my virtual world. Whether it’s military, general aviation or commercial, I just keep adding away and the end result is a very crowded airspace; almost so crowded that I find I have to turn my sliders down at some of the airports, but its still fun seeing all of the different variants as well as all the extra military AI.
Installation and Documentation
Purchase, download and installation is relatively straight forward and doesn’t really require a whole lot of work on your part, although it does require you to register at Just Flight and create your own account. I do like that all of the installers, especially the older ones like Jetliners 1, have been updated to recognize FSX rather than having to rely on a patch to install the product once it is purchased. This was a nice change over the initial release of the commuter package and having to install it the old way.
As for documentation, I am sure there is some but I didn’t look for it as I didn’t need it; installation into both simulations is relatively straight and to the point and doesn’t require any other learning curves. As long as you know how to implement AI traffic into your sim with either the Traffic program or a manual install, you should be just fine. For whatever help you may need and any questions, you can generally find answers on the Just Flight forums.
FSX Or FS9, perhaps both!
I use Traffic 2005, now just called Traffic, with both FS9 and FSX so if you read my last review about the Military 1 package there are some steps that have to be taken to make the AI work within FSX; FS9 is straightforward and works flawlessly! The biggest problem I run into with FSX is finding the aircraft within the sim, compiling said aircraft works about the same as the FS9 stuff but I found that I don’t get as many planes in FSX as I do in FS9, even if I max out the AI sliders. This issue is a result of using the AFCADS that shipped with FSX rather than using the ones that came with the Traffic program as they are not compatible with FSX; this along with the pre-generated flight plans created for the AFCADS that came with Traffic have an issue with FSX.
For the Military traffic in FSX I need to set my sliders to well over 50% to get most of them to show and I think that as we start to see updated AFCADS for individual military bases and updated traffic bgl’s, the overall variety of aircraft will get better for each location. This will give us the populated virtual world that we are used to in FS9. I do believe I saw an AFCAD converter for FSX in the Avsim library, I have yet to use it but I am sure it will go a long way to helping with this issue.
I am not saying that the FS9 product is perfect either, each traffic AI add-on ships with new and updated AFCADS, thus allowing AI to appear in places where it hadn’t been seen before by assigning proper parking areas and such. But, and this is a big but; I found that it was very difficult to find military traffic at many of the US Airbases in the United States, as only the major military facilities are included and the lesser known ones are left out. Take for instance the military airbase in Phoenix AZ; I found my airbase there to be totally devoid of any military planes and appeared deserted with both FS9 and FSX.
Now, the solution to this is to simply add the flights yourself via the Traffic Compiler that comes with the Traffic program, but be warned that it can be a bit tedious and you have to make sure that the GMT time matches the GMT time within MSFS; otherwise you will find yourself at a deserted base once again.
Military Aircraft 2
The Military Aircraft 2 package from Just Flight fills a gap that I noticed with their first release of Military Pack 1 and that was the lack of larger military transports. This package adds not only the C-17, but also the IL-76.
In total, this package includes 10 different aircraft that are presented in more than 30 different liveries where those planes are used. It also comes with some nice 3D features makes the Military Aircraft 2 package a must have, at least it was for me!
The included aircraft are: C17 Globemaster, VC10 Tanker, IL 76, Tornado F3/ADV, F-16, SU27, Euro fighter Typhoon, 2 versions of the C130, and the AS365 Dauphin Helicopter. This is a pretty good list as it adds the much needed transports to the virtual world of Traffic as well as throwing in some other varieties when it comes to fighters and such.
All of the aircraft have some sort of 3D animation. For example, when the fighters are parked on the ground you will see them with their crew ladders extended and canopies open. As for the bigger birds, the C130’s sit at rest with their cargo bays open and most impressive was the included feature on the VC 10, when it climbs above 12,000 feet the fuel boom extends and a Tornado will fly up to it to refuel, this was fun to watch.
I was also impressed that the fighters no longer fly alone; they fly in formation with other fighters. I was not aware of this until I caught one totally by accident; it was a squadron of F16’s flying over the skies of Afghanistan. This is an impressive feature as it really does add a realism factor to the AI in Flight Simulator.
Jet Airliners 1
This one has been out for some time and I couldn’t help but think that when it was released, "what does anyone need with more 737’s, 747’s", etc. Well I found that the included aircraft go a long way to rounding out the overall variety of AI aircraft in MSFS. The extra liveries are what really enhance Traffic and FS, as the liveries are not only applied to that of the planes that came with Jet Airliners package, but are added to the existing fleet and are placed in their correct geographic locations throughout the world.
The included aircraft are: Boeing 737-500, 737-600 & -700 NG and the -700 with winglets, 757-300, 777-300, 727-100, 747 SP, EMB 170/5, Tri-Star 500 and finally the MD-90. Along with liveries for already existing airlines, this package ships with 25 new airlines from all over the world. This gives the user a grand total of about 100 different aircraft to use for your AI fleet.
Frankly, you could spend all day trying to find all of the aircraft above in MSFS, but given time you will find that they will just show up quite literally by accident and you will find yourself saying, "wow that’s cool!" Most notably was the different array of 737’s in and around London. There were liveries that I didn’t recognize and planes that were quite obviously new. Plane spotting is the name of the game if you really want to get the most out of this package, park yourself at the end of a runway and just watch them come and go.
Sadly, I was never able to find the EMB 170, and I went everywhere from Seattle, Los Angeles, DC, Miami, New York and the United Kingdom. I could never find it in the aircraft list on the traffic map. The easy correction for this is to simply add the plane via the Traffic compiler and get it added to your favorite airport. But I guess it will eventually show up.
The Aircraft Models
The planes in these packages were created using GMAX, which ultimately gives the end user a frame rate friendly and moderately detailed aircraft to view. We have all been there, AI cranked up, scenery cranked up and we are basically watching a slide show. Well, not so with these add-on’s as the whole Traffic program and its add-ons perform remarkably well.
The aircraft themselves are not on the same level of quality as say a flyable commercial product, but they do perform well and do fit the bill when it comes to filling the virtual skies with AI planes. One could only imagine the performance hit we would have if we had our virtual skies filled with highly detailed AI aircraft. Anyway, you all know what I am getting at and know what to expect when it comes to AI planes. When you draw comparisons to freeware AI, there are some really nice packages out there but I don’t have time to add them, although I have been curious a couple of times. I still found myself enjoying the simplicity of the Traffic program and its associated add-ons.
After looking over these two packages, I was really impressed with how well the military planes performed in both simulations. They act and fly like military planes and cause little or no affect on my overall system performance. At first I thought the planes flying in formation would ultimately cause issue, but they didn’t and it really is impressive to see squadrons of F-16, Tornado’s and SU-27’s flying about.
Performance And The Sometimes Overcrowded Skies Of Traffic
Is performance an issue? Well it can be and it all comes down to how many planes you want flying around at any given time during your flight. At times one can find oneself sitting at a runway for well over an hour waiting to get clearance to takeoff and don’t even get me started about the ridiculous wait times when trying to land. Now this could be compared to reality, but when you have 10 jetliners taking off and three Cessna’s waiting to do touch and goes, it gets a little on the ridiculous side.
I noticed this the other day as I fired up the new St. Maarten scenery from Fly Tampa. With my sliders set to about 70% in FS9, I waited almost 40 minutes behind a 767 waiting to taxi into position for takeoff and when it was my turn to finally go, I was run into by another aircraft waiting to turn off of the runway onto the taxiway.
The problem here is that there are so many aircraft that the ATC just can’t keep up. So, I recommend that you run the AI program that comes with Traffic to help prevent this. I have also turned my AI slider down to about 60% (lower would probably be better) and that seemed to help quite a bit.
In The End
Do I like these Traffic packs? Yes, they offer a lot to an already well rounded AI add-on. Whether you choose to use Traffic, or use something other than Traffic, these aircraft are very easy to implement in whatever kind of setup you are using. The cost really isn’t an issue as both retail at $14.00, so they are not breaking the bank per say.
If you are looking for a quick and easy way to add more AI to your Flight Simulator world, this is an easy way to go about it. These two add-ons, coupled with the Traffic compiler, makes it very simple.
There is just something to be said about flying into your favorite airspace and watching a squadron of F-16’s zoom by on a parallel heading, or flying into Russia and seeing a squadron of SU-27's returning from a training flight. Overall these add-ons just add to the simulator environment, and they bring the realism of a crowded airspace to your virtual world and makes for some interesting flying.
What I Like About Military Aircraft 2 & Jet Airliners 1
What I Don't Like About Military Aircraft 2 & Jet Airliners 1
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