Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Chock

A quick fly by of Pro ATC

Recommended Posts

As noted on the Avsim main page, this is a new FSX add on which offers you three functions to improve your IFR airliner flights: a replacement ATC system, a flight planner and a co-pilot. It is by German developer Pointsoft, who I've never heard of LOL.

 

A link to the product site - note that the screenies at that site are tiny, and consequently don't show a lot, so I've posted some bigger ones here on this thread:

 

http://www.pointsoft...cxfeatures.html

 

 

At 40 quid (about 65 Dollars) this is not a cheap add-on, but then again it does do three fairly major things, so it would perhaps be better to think of it as several add-ons combined, which makes the price a bit easier to swallow (more on this below).

 

What you initially see upon installation and having fired it up, is an interface which looks like this. Don't worry, there are loads of available airline choices and you can add your own aircraft types too, so you don't have to fly for the Luftwaff - I mean Lufthansa:

 

1-66.jpg

 

Click on the flightplan bit and it takes you to a screen where you can set up a flight which will automatically generate an IFR plan for you between your chosen departure and arrival airports in a manner similar to the default FSX flight planner:

 

2-52.jpg

 

Again, sort of like the default FSX planner, you can then amend by right clicking on things to either add or delete waypoints on the route, although unlike the default planner, it has SIDs and STARs:

 

3-39.jpg

 

Having set up a route and saved it, you can then choose from rather a lot of options relating to how your co-pilot will assist you, and what sounds will be played etc, etc (including some very nice real world ATC pre-recorded stuff if you like). These choices can also be tweaked on the fly when the thing is running in FSX, so it is very customisable:

 

4-31.jpg

 

When you've set everything up to your preferences, you right click on your created flight plan in the list, and with FSX already running, it will set up the flight for you when you click the option which appears to enable you set up things such as the time and start location airport gate:

 

6-19.jpg

 

When FSX fires up, you press the 1 key (that's the default, you can change it) and up pops a modified ATC window with all the options which Pro ATC adds. And there are a lot of them, here you can see the choices on what your co-pilot will or will not do for you:

 

1-67.jpg

 

Here's the choices for checklists:

 

3-40.jpg

 

And here's the regular ATC menu with some expanded choices:

 

2-53.jpg

 

All of this stuff has audio, so you can have you co-pilot go through checklists, and you will press the 2 key to acknowledge things (you can reassign that key if you like), where it plays audio for your response. You can select a variety of voices, although Germany features prominently here, since it's a German development company, but the voices are not heavily accented, so it's all perfectly undertandable English, and there are some nice options, for example, you can have a female co-pilot if you like. Go on, admit it, you like that idea, don't you?

 

When you contact ATC for clearance, push back, engine start etc, the procedures are also with audio and very true to real life procedures, so both the co-pilot and the ATC module do a similar thing to stuff such as FS2Crew, MCE and Radar Contact combined. This means it's quite a lot of bang for your bucks, which goes at least some way toward explaning the rather hefty price tag. And it works with any aeroplane.

 

Now the bad news, well, sort of. Initially when I installed this, I had loads of problems with it, it wouldn't let me add or remove waypoints from plans, the options windows kept closing randomly on me, and all kinds of stuff like that, to the extent that I was forming the opinion that it was an overpriced piece of garbage. So thought I would try reinstalling it as the admin and then running it as the admin too, courtesty of right clicking on the installation file and then right clicking on the exe fiel to run it, and guess what? that sorts it all out, and it then runs just fine. So I was getting narked off for no reason really, although they could have suggested doing that on the install window and saved me a bit of trouble LOL

 

But - there's always a but, isn't there? - before you get too excited, there are some flies in the ointment, the main one being that the database of SIDs and STARS is not absolutely complete, for example I found that some fairly major airports did not have some procedures which they should have done, places like Paris Charles de Gaulle, Brussels, Manchester and Almeria, so there is clearly some work still to be done to make it really zing.

 

However, there are apparently plans to add other sound packs, and I should think at this price they will have to look at getting those procedures in there too (there are a lot which are present too by the way, so don't let that put you off too much). So whilst I would say that it is currently a bit pricey given the certain lack of quite a few SIDs and STARs, and the fact that you cannot import a flight plan but must instead let Pro ATC create it and then amend it from there, this does in fact have the potential to be a must have if you like stuff such as MCE, FS2Crew and Radar Contact, because the ATC and the co-pilot functions are really rather good.

 

I hope they make a demo of it, because it would be nice if people could give it a try out before deciding to stump up 65 bucks. But having sorted out my initial issues with it, which did initially make it a pain in the &@($*, I have to say that it is really pretty good.

 

Al

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Help AVSIM continue to serve you!
Please donate today!

It looks interesting indeed. I wonder how "smooth" the radio voices will be? I hope there is a video or demo for it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Being recordings, the voices sound just like the real thing, that is one of the plus points of it in comparison to some other solutions. They are treated to sound like radio transmissions by being subjected to some treble boost and bass reduction EQing.

 

Al

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Al, this is the FSX version of a previous similar FS9 interesting project that was reviewed (see link on AVSIM), is the product very much different from this one and have the flaws identified in the review then (FS9 version in 2006 in all fairness to the developer) been resolved?

http://www.avsim.com...FSCOM/FSCOM.htm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's good. But FSX does actually a good job in not being so "robotic" audio compared to other atc addons I've seen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice one Al that was just what i was waiting for.

 

I was tempted yesterday but held off for your review!! Yes a demo would be good to try out first as it is quite pricey.

 

With all the other features aside, is it on par with RCV4?

 

Cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about ATC, how does it assign SIDS/STARS. Is it like voxatc? What about, approaches, vectors stuff like that?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From a mail conversation with the developers, SIDs are assigned based on weather at the airport. STARS are not calculated before a certain distance to the destination airport, so they are influenced by the local weather as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great review Al, thanks!

 

I'm very tempted. How customisable is it? Can you add/create SID/STARS, add voices etc ? I love the co-pilot feature

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The one thing that seems to be missing is voice communication (with ATC, co-pilot etc.) Or did I miss that ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Repost of the developer words from here:http://forum.avsim.net/page/index.html/_/pr-ann/pro-atcx-from-pointsoft-released-r347?st=50#commentsStart

 

Hi all, I am one of the developers of PRO-ATC/X and just want to clarify some points discussed here.

 

Flight plan

Importing flight plans is not supported so far. The reason is that flight plans in fsx format don't know anything about SIDs and STARs.

 

PRO-ATC/X assigns the sid and star procedures at run time, means after the flight is started, since the procedures to assign depends on wind heading and this can differ from flight to flight, especially when flying with real weather.

 

An fsx flight plan is already now generated and loaded automatically into the GPS. This is done in 2 steps.

 

Step1: When Clearance Delivery assigns a SID procedure or vectors, a flight plan containing all sid and airway waypoints is generated and loaded into the GPS. At this point we don't know which star procedure will be assigned later!

 

Step2 is done after approach control assigns a star or verctors. Btw the generated fp is saved into the file "proatcx.pln" in your personal fsx folder.

 

AIRAC Data

Importing airac data will be implemented with an update within the next few weeks

 

 

Videos and a forum will be available tomorrow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Al, thanks for the review and Josh thanks for reposting the dev's words.It looks like an interesting piece of kit.I wonder if the planner includes NATs when planning transatlantic flights.The price is interesting too :Party:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's good. But FSX does actually a good job in not being so "robotic" audio compared to other atc addons I've seen.

 

I completely agree with this point. I've tried many ATC addons over the years and although some of them are procedurally better than the default FSX ATC they nearly always have a struggle sounding at all convincing. I agree that FSX's ATC voices are superbly done, since although they are actually triggered bits and pieces of voices, they are very cleverly put together to give a pretty convincing natural flow.

 

As Chock also points out, ATC should never be hi-fi quality (some addon ATCs actually proudly claim "recorded in hi resolution", which is quite silly as that is not as it should be - ATC should sound as low fi as possible, with middle and treble eq and almost no bass eq at all).

 

The voices used for realistic ATC are every bit as important as the procedural system used, but many addons have at best a very poor implementation of voices, or worse still, a horrible use of microsoft or other "virtual" voices which to my ears sound ridiculous. But to be fair to the developers of these kinds of addons, it is a huge task to record then link together the hundreds of phrases, numbers and commands that an average ATC operator speaks, in a convincing way.

 

I've never heard a better implementation of this than FSX's default ATC, and that encourages me to forgive the procedural mistakes.

 

Rob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Al,

 

Thanks for the review. Does the ATC only follow ICAO, or does it do FAA also if flying in the states?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Al,

 

My sincere thanks for reviewing 'in record time' this new utility and sharing your opinion with us. And lets hope that the feedback to the developers that bleeds through your review and comments made yesterday in reaction to the announcement will result in an enhanced version in the near future.

 

Regards,

 

JJ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does the mouse work with the menu or is it keyboard only?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One issue I see with this, is if I am reading the features right, it uses the default AI, although it will react to it, it does not interact with it. Background ATC is canned chatter, although it says appropriate for the area you are flying.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey does it give you a route string so I could quickly copy and paste it into fscommander then import the route into my pmdg aircraft. The flight planning seems to be a draw back for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One issue I see with this, is if I am reading the features right, it uses the default AI, although it will react to it, it does not interact with it. Background ATC is canned chatter, although it says appropriate for the area you are flying.

 

That is my consern as well. Can someone confirm if this is the case?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interested to see the demo. Hope this program includes inter-action through voice. If so, would luv to see that demonstrated in the demo video being made. And situational awareness of surrounding AI is a must in my book. Program sounds promising.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I kind of blasted through it in order to get a bit of a mini review up on Avsim because I felt people would be interested to get a bit of a closer look at it. Because of that and the fact that I actually only got the thing yesterday, it is still pretty new to me, so I am by no means completely knowledgable on every thing it does, but in an attempt to answer some of the questions that have cropped up on this thread, here goes...

 

With all the other features aside, is it on par with RCV4?

 

I would say yes, but with reservations, since it does things a little bit differently. Procedurally it is as realistic as RC4, but what is different, is that it is a bit more 'on rails' than RC4 from what I can tell so far, so I did not see things such as leaving the frequency for WX, or the ability to declare an emergency and deviate from the plan, but note here that just because I did not see these things in the brief tests I have made, does not mean I know for sure that you can't do that stuff, like I say, this is pretty new to me.

 

Like RC4, the ATC responses and control can be handled by you, or automatically by your co-pilot, but one feature that I think is nicer than RC4, is that you can have the ATC text scroll across the screen in a very bright colour against a small tinted background, which makes it a lot better to read than the red text which RC4 uses. RC4 text of that nature can sometimes clip off the end of the message, making it tricky to copy an IFR clearance if you miss the squawk, whereas in Pro ATC, it was completely legible, and thus a bit more helpful. This might seem a minor point, but i think it's an important plus. Actually, the scrolling text sort of reminded me of the old pre-programmed 'Adventures' which used to be a massive part of the Flight Simulator scene, but were dropped by MS some version back from FS and then replaced by 'Missions' in FSX.

 

Can you add/create SID/STARS, add voices etc ?

 

Yes you can add voices apparently. There is more info about that on the Pro ATC website, where i believe you can download some stuff to assist in doing that. I could not find a way to add procedures, but, I might have missed something in not being able to do that. What I do know that you could certainly do however is, in a manner similar to the default FSX planner, add the waypoints of a SID or STAR to your flight plan so that the procedure's track is part of your plan. I sometimes do that in FSX to make ATC a bit more amenable to my intentions. If you could add your own procedures, that would in fact resolve one of my more pressing issues with it.

 

The one thing that seems to be missing is voice communication (with ATC, co-pilot etc.) Or did I miss that ?

 

Pretty sure you could actually do that, at least partially at this point, because it is using the default ATC window, and as you probably know, with Multi Crew Experience, you can interact with the default ATC window. Knowing how on the ball FS++ are with getting MCE to work with other add-ons, I would put money onthem being on the case with that already to ensuring you can do so flawlessly. FS++ are like that.

 

The co-pilot as I say, is one of its really strong points. it is very well implemented indeed, with some thoughtful stuff in evidence, i.e. if the co-pilot is running through a checklist and asks you, for example, 'Parking Brake?' and you are busy doing something and miss what they asked, after some time they will again ask 'parking brake?', so unlike some other such co-pilot add-ons I've had for FS, this one does not leave you wondering what the hell they asked, since you can either wait for them to say it again, or actually ask them to repeat what they said. Little things like that are much in evidence here, and they show that some thought has gone into the practicalities.

 

Does the ATC only follow ICAO, or does it do FAA also if flying in the States?

 

I've not used it enough to know for sure, but I do recall it telling me to 'line up and wait', which is I believe the newer procedural phrase recommended by the FAA, although you can correct me if I am wrong on that.

 

Does the mouse work with the menu or is it keyboard only?

 

Yup, it works with the mouse, you can click on the ATC window options to choose them.

 

One issue I see with this, is if I am reading the features right, it uses the default AI, although it will react to it, it does not interact with it.

 

Yup, that's my concern too, although I've not checked it out enough to be certain that that is the case, if it is, then that would be one thing that RC4 has over it, and would be a minus point for me.

 

Hey does it give you a route string so I could quickly copy and paste it into fscommander then import the route into my pmdg aircraft. The flight planning seems to be a draw back for me.

 

You can get you plan out, and into a format which your FMC can use, although to be honest at the moment it is a bit of a faff to achieve that. Nevertheless, it is possible with if you are prepared to get a little inventive. this is in fact my other complaint with it; I should like to see the ability to export its flight plans so I could pull them into EFB or an FMC more easily. The easy way around it at present, is to have Pro ATC automatically dump its route into the default GPS, which you can then save out and pull back in. this is by no means ideal, but it does at least give you some options whilst there isn't a more dedicated function in Pro ATC. I really think they need to look at adding that.

 

Al

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Al,

 

Thanks, Line up and Wait is now used in the FAA, but it was adopted from ICAO. If you were flying in Europe, you would hear Line up and Wait also. Some of the big differences between FAA and ICAO that you can tell are things like al**ude changes. ICAO will use "Climb FL190" where as FAA will use "Climb and maintain FL190".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yup, I know all the European ones since I have to use them for real, but never flying for real in the US, I'm unfamiliar with some of the FAA ones. I don't know if it does all of the US stuff, I should think it is more likely to do European stuff since it is made by a European developer, although given that it is intended for use mainly with airliners, it may do the US stuff, I'll know for sure when having played with it a bit more, although I daresay someone will chip in and confirm or deny that.

 

If not it would make a pleasant change from the default FS ATC for me personally, where it normally insists on FAA procedures in other parts of the world, which was always a bit of a bummer. I'll be interested to see if it even goes one better and uses metres when flying over the USSR and some places in Eastern Europe. That would be kind of fun, and somewhat scary I should think too LOL. It would definitely be a plus point if it had that level of sophistication, not least because VOX ATC is pretty damn expensive for the Brit ATC version.

 

Can't imagine it would be too tricky to program in a discriminator which detected the ICAO codes and boundaries for your route, although it would of course mean that more audio files would be needed, which would be really the only reason why I could see it not happening, since it would of course mean more work and more files to load on an international flight across the pond.

 

Al

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll be interested to see if it even goes one better and uses metres when flying over the USSR...

LOL, I hope not Al as the states of the Russian Federation (and Mongolia, I think) abandoned metres and changed to flight levels based on feet for IFR traffic in November last year.

 

I think the question about ICAO as opposed to FAA procedures relates as much to altimetry as phraseology - e.g. pressure settings in hectopascals as opposed to in/Hg, variable Transition Al**udes from country to country (and sometimes airport to airport) as opposed to a fixed one of 18000ft in the US and so on. Any reports on this aspect?

Pete

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Chock,

 

Thanks for the review, Looks really promising , but no where close to 65 bucks for a product with no SID and STAR ( at least should be able to port flight plan to all the best aircraft out there) , and of course network support for the moving map function. No point in moving map otherwise. Enough Bashing. I really hope the developer updates it with all the necessary things add AIRAC support fast and network...

 

<<<<< keeping fingers crossed for this to be the best ATC.... its really past due to have a kick &amp;@(&#036;* ATC for FSX... ( I dont prefer online flying, so my reactions to ATC is understated...)

 

Thanks again , CHock.. And is the airaft in the pic 787 from aerosim ???? or afs 350

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.