AVSIM Commercial FS9 Utility Review

Flight Tracker
(Time to Fly Edition)

Product Information

Publishers: Chanticleer Software

Description: Add-On Program featuring ACARS and Flight Log.

Download Size:
8.6 MB

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FS9
Reviewed by: Arjun Murthy AVSIM Staff Reviewer - December 22, 2010

Introduction

Everybody likes looking back on their flights to see what they’ve done and where they’ve gone. Everybody likes to see their payload statistics and route improvements over time. This can all be done with Chanticleer Software’s Flight Tracker. The program enables you to record some of the important data that happens in each flight through its extensive ACARS feature and creates a log of these flights so you can look back on your performance at any time.

Test System

Intel Core2 Duo E8400 @ 3.0 Ghz
2.00 GB Ram
Nvidia Geforce 9800GTX/9800 GTX+
Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3
Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick

Installation and Documentation

The Installation for this program is just like any other, a simple and basic installation requiring a key to access the program. It also has a free trial for 10 flights which means you can try before you buy. Simply navigate through the installation and in next to no time you’re good to go.

The documentation for this program is short and sharp. A convenient 28 page manual is included with the program so you spend more time using it than learning how to use it. The Documentation explains all extremities of the program in perfect detail so you don’t spend days going through each page. Numerous pictures are also included making it easier to understand their explanations.

Where are you? (the ACARS tracker)

The ACARS Tracker feature is the face of this program. The layout is so simple that you may find many things even before reading the manual. Some of the items include the Date, Aircraft Type, ZFW, Origin ICAO/Name, Flight timings, Weights, Fuel amount, Distance, various Speeds, Takeoff N Settings, Weather and Vertical Speed at Touchdown.

Some options for the ACARS system

The program also has various options for ACARS where you can change the Units (Kg/lbs), Timings and other useful settings (Complete list is available on their Website). This program also has connectivity with VATSIM where it will retrieve some useful information such as Origin, Destination and Callsign.

Once the “On” button is pressed after Flight Simulator is set up, the data starts recording straight away with most of the Numerical data recording when you release the Parking Brakes prior to commencing taxi. Most of the data is recorded during the OUT/OFF/ON/IN timings.

OUT is defaulted to Parking Brake release, OFF is defaulted to leaving the ground, ON is defaulted to touchdown and IN is defaulted to a selectable option including parking brake activation, engine shutdown or both. There is also an option to use the FS Ground Flag to ensure the data is as accurate as possible.

The Origin and Destination ICAO Codes can be manually selected from a large list of Aerodromes. These are also sometimes detected automatically (not tested in this Review).

During flight, weather can also be requested. This will be delivered in a METAR format and the source can be chosen from either FS, VATSIM or NOAA. This weather is displayed alongside the Airborne ACARS Messages which show certain data about the flights position.

Further to this, a Map of the current flight is also shown in the Google Maps style and can be selected to show the Satellite, Terrain or Road Map (which will be useful for VFR flights).

Once all the data from the flight is retrieved, the flight is able to be logged. It is a very common occurrence for people to forget to press the “log flight” button, and I’m a major victim of this, so luckily the developers have identified this and implemented an “auto log” feature so you quite literally don’t have to worry about anything apart from pressing the “on” button and filling in some basic details.

Empty ACARS Log
Automatic Detection after “ON” is pressed
ICAO Airport Selection
Airprots Selected
Park Break released
After Take Off
Page 2 – NOTE: Max Taxi speeds and Take Off data
Airborne ACARS Messages
Entered comment labeled “Comment Entering”
Requested VOMM Metar
After Landing
Page 2 with landing details
Page 1 after Time In
Page 2 after Time In
Some manually added information
Flight Logged

 

Live Map of track during Flight

“I remember that” (Flight Logs)

The Flight log feature is the “other half” to this program. All the flights can be logged and the information displayed in numerous formats. You can set up multiple Flight Log instances. It is also possible to record certain flights in certain Flight Logs so they are all separated and organized to how you want it. If you have accidentally logged a Flight in the wrong Log, no worries, simply copy the Flight from one log to another.

Extra addable field to the flight log

It is also possible to Bulk Copy numerous flights from one log to another. This organization of Flights in their Flight Logs is initially confusing but once the software is used and this option tested, it becomes self explanatory.

The data from each flight can be individually viewed and edited. You can very simply click on a certain cell and type in the correct information so the accuracy of all your flights is improved. The Flight log has an extra feature where you can also put in user columns either in a free text form or a Drop down style.

Views

There are numerous methods to view the data from the Flight Log system.

Spread Sheet

The first view available is the Spread Sheet view; here all the data is tabulated in an easy to view format. All the data can be edited or deleted in this view and numerous flights can be displayed simultaneously. You can change what flights you see here by change your Flight Log to another. Most of the Columns seen here are those fields displayed in the ACARS page. From this page, you can view the ACARS Report or Export the data to be viewed in Google Maps / Google Earth.

Tabulated Spread Sheet Flight Log

ACARS Report

The ACARS Report view opens up as a locally linked HTML file displayed in your default Internet Browser immediately. It includes all the decoded data such as Block Fuel as opposed to fuel at certain times. This is an easy to view format that makes it easy for everybody.

Google Maps/Earth

The Google Maps version of the view is simply stunning. Once this is opened, a new window within the program opens up with your flight path on Google Earth. This does not require a Browser and also has the Satellite, Terrain or Roadmap views.

Another method is to extract a KML to Google Earth that displays your Flight Path on Google Earth. This is a simple and easy method to view your flights with any detail you want.

These views are especially useful when you want to evaluate your track for a VFR flight with various landmarks or just simply want to see what part of your flight path cuts over your geographical location.

Log Report

The Log report shows all the data available in the Spread Sheet but viewed tabulated in an HTML format. This is a bit harder to decode the data since all the information seems crammed and some data is small but is informative nevertheless.

Statistic Report

The statistic Report is also a tabulated HTML format similar to the ACARS Report. It gives you the total IFR/VFR Time, Block Time/Fuel Flight Time/Fuel, Total Distance, Total Pax and Total Cargo. This is a nice way to “sum it all up” to see how far your hobby has really taken you.

Time by Aircraft Type (Flight Time Report).

Similar to the Statistic Report but shows the total time in each Aircraft Type also tabulated in an HTML format.

Flight Statistics

The statistics for Flights are directly derived from the Flight Logs. These are displayed as a Table, Bar Graph or a Pie Chart and are sorted by Aircraft Type. This is especially useful to evaluate the total experience you have on a certain type of aircraft. They are all color coded for the most efficient interpretation.

Virtual Airline

This section of the program was not tested. Unfortunately, the documentation available for this section is somewhat limited without prior knowledge of airlines that accept Flight Tracker files, however this option still does exist and can be used.

Handy Tools

There are various tools available with this program. The first tool is one where the current location on Flight Simulator can be converted and inserted into the Flight Tracker Database as the location of an Airport. This is extremely useful if an Airport is not listed in the default Flight Tracker list of Aerodromes.

Another tool is one that can convert Flight Simulator logs into Flight Tracker logs. This is especially useful when you have logged flights before purchasing the program and want them to be counted in your overall statistics.

Summary / Closing Remarks

All in all, this program performs its tasks with significant detail and the developers have ensured that the level of accuracy is raised, especially by adding editing options to the users. The data can be viewed in many simplistic formats and your total statistics can be viewed very easily.

This is one of those programs that has very few negatives in its build. If anyone wants some custom tracking software that focuses on getting flight details such as weights/timings, then this is a good program for you.

 

What I Like About Flight Tracker

  • Does what it’s supposed to do, very well
  • Excellent range of information collected
  • Excellent storage mechanism for Flight Logs
  • Google Maps/Earth integration
  • Various easy to interpret views

 

What I Don't Like About Flight Tracker

  • VA Feature hard to understand without prior knowledge

 

Printing

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Flight Tracker

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The review above is a subjective assessment of the product by the author. There is no connection between the product producer and the reviewer, and we feel this review is unbiased and truly reflects the performance of the product in the simming environment as experienced by the reviewer. This disclaimer is posted here in order to provide you with background information on the reviewer and any presumed connections that may exist between him/her and the contributing party.

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