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severniae

My little Pro ATC/X Review

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Hi All,

 

There's a lot of talk regarding Pro ATC/X at the moment, so wanted to do my own short review and hopefully help a couple of other make their decisions on whether they plan to go ahead or not.

 

I've been watching the progress on ProATC for some time now, their forum is very active and there have been some good threads here too. I personally have been using Radar Contact 4.3 for the last two years and haven't had any particular complaints. Only the nagging feeling that it was missing something. Namely, correct handling of SIDs and STARs, along with ground instructions. There were other small niggles, such as the outdated UI, difficult and often intermittent FSX integration and sometimes a general sluggishness. So, after several months of watching, and finding out that they have integrated control of AI Aircraft I decided it was time to take the plunge and try ProATC/X.

 

Firstly, I was pleased with how easy it was to purchase the software. Go to their website and press on buy now and your greeted with a PayPal page (this is the only option, so not good for the paypalphobic!) Within two minutes of ordering I had an email with a download link and a licence key. One thing worth noting, is that the initial download is not the latest version. You must go to their website and download the latest version after install and unpack it into the same folder you installed the program to! I shan't go into detail on the install procedure, other than to say it was quick and easy and I encountered no problems.

 

Once installed and activated the main screen for ProATC shows several flight plans that already have been entered. There is an ability to search through previous flight plans using filters. I found it nice and easy to search for any plan I might be looking for and had no issues. Once you are ready to load the plan you have created or found, right clicking and selecting fly now will open up the software within FSX. I was pleased with how quick and easy this was!

 

I haven't used the flight planner much, as I purchased this software to serve my ATC needs, my flight planning is almost always done in FSBUILD and I don't feel any need to move away from it. The flight planner in ProATC is relatively basic. It does automatically allow you create a flight plan between airports and has a nice feature to generate a new plan if you don't like the original One thing that is fantastic is that there is no need to select the SID or STAR before loading the plan. Instead the departure and arrival procedures are assigned based on runway in use at the Airport and transition and is much more realistic in my opinion. The planner does lack any kind of weather integration, it also does not do any kind of fuel planning. However it's a nice side feature of the ATC program.

 

So now the ATC part itself. I was generally pleased with the way that you control ProATC from within FSX. The interface is very similar to the FSX default ATC control window. Even more so than RC4 in that it doesn't rely on various key combinations to perform certain tasks, taking away the need to memorize endless combinations of 'ctrl+shift+/' etc... That often leave me feeling like I'm playing twister on my keyboard in the middle of a flight!

 

The voice sets are good, however, I find them a little on the fast side.Had it not been for the text that comes up on the top of the screen I would have missed a few instructions during the flight. They do however sound very natural and not at all like a computer talking to you, and are at least of the same quality as other ATC add-ons The only thing it seems to be missing is a variety of controllers to talk to. I often felt that I was talking to the same person over and over as I flew across the UK, so a little more variation would have been nice. It does break the immersion a little to be handed off to another controller only to hear the same person speaking to you at the next station. It does make the world feel as if control towers are manned by clones!

 

Assignment of ground taxiway is a nice feature too. It gave me the correct taxiways to my departure runway - a big improvement on the FSX default big yellow marker on the middle of the taxiway! The only thing that griped me was that during my taxi one aircraft went straight through me. The integration with the aircraft on the ground must not be finished yet!

 

One very nice feature is the ability to view the flight plan info from within the simulator. This tells you key information for the flight, including your assigned SID/STAR, cruise altitude, SQK code and various other little pieces of information that save you from franticly scribbling down information during clearance. Considering that my writing often looks like Spiders' legs dipped in ink have taken a stroll across the page, and as such often find decrypting my wring a challenge that those at Bletchley Park would have found perplexing with, this is a brilliant little feature!

 

During the flight I didn't encounter any errors or problems of any kind, and was happy with the way that it worked. There have been several reports of crashes or other oddities but I couldn't manage to get it to break, so this shows the level of development that has gone into this software within the last 6 months. I was disappointed with the lack of ability to select an alternate destination, or declare an emergency. The ability to manually select a different approach was missing also. However it is nice to be able to manually trigger TOD.

 

In conclusion, this is a nice piece of software. However feels in some places rushed and unfinished. I feel that perhaps a little less time should have been spent on the planner, and a little more time should have been spent on the ATC part of the program, as this is the main reason that 99% of people will purchase the software. The voice sets do need some work however I see that there are new ones coming out all the time. It's also a little pricey, coming in at £43 which is a little on the high side considering the level of functionality provided. However, just a look at their forum shows that the developer is constantly bringing out updates (in fact one came out last night!) and the interaction between customer and developer is very good and much better than several major developers! My personal feeling is that this is the program to watch over the next 12 months. With the current level of development and progress I think this will be the best bit of ATC software around in not too long!

 

What I liked;

 

-Easy to use, intuitive UI.

-Realistic SID/STAR handling.

-Quick and easy set-up.

-Ability to view flight plan info within FSX.

-Brilliant support and ongoing development.

-Ground taxiway assignment.

-AIRAC data import.

 

What I didn't like so much;

-Lack of controller voice variation.

-Fast speaking controllers.

-No ability to select alternate destinations or approaches.

-No controller talking to AI aircraft.

-Ground AI control poor.

 

Overall rating - 7.5/10

 

Thanks for reading!

 

James

  • Upvote 3

James W

 

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Thank's for taking the time to write this James.

 

I've been thinking about getting this for a few months and i probably will somewhere down the line, i'll hold off for a bit and see what's implemented in the coming updates.


Chris Howard
 

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In a way I wish I'd waited a little longer. But am generally happy with my purchase. I think I'll still use RC4 for some route/situations. As at the moment, with the exception of correct SID/STAR handling and ground featues, it does have the slight edge on realism.


James W

 

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Thanks for rewiew.

 

No controller talking to AI aircraft.

 

What? Is that mean ATC only talk with me, no talking with AI Aircraft (others traffic) ?


Ivo Crni

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As of yesterday, it now handles AI when airbourne;-)


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Thanks for rewiew.

 

 

 

What? Is that mean ATC only talk with me, no talking with AI Aircraft (others traffic) ?

 

It doesn't talk to the AI in that you can hear it, although it does control the AI. The only way to hear what is happening is to turn the FSX voice volume up.


James W

 

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Nice review. I agree with most you've said. I would like to make it more clear that ProATC/X really is a work in progress. The things that are really missing (I would add 'Vectors to finals' to your con's list) are being worked or at least promised, so I also have high hopes for the future.

 

It doesn't talk to the AI in that you can hear it, although it does control the AI. The only way to hear what is happening is to turn the FSX voice volume up.

 

Afaik it does not yet control AI, at least not until yesterday: I have yet to read about and install the latest update. Howver, ProATC/X does not control AI on the ground, that's for sure! It does notice when AI is taking off when you want to take off but that's it. Taxi but also landing can bring you into close contact with AI... But I am sure they are working on this as we speak.

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Interesting reading, I've been looking for a decent ATC program, and I'm looking to this one with great interest.

 

Do you guys knows how it behaves with the destination runway and STAR, taking into consideration that if you use AS2012 with DWC the destination wind will not be the real one until you are quite close?

 

Thanks!


Matias Sorcinelli
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I just want from ProATC/X:

 

- SID/STAR support (also Vectors from depart or arrival, VOR appr, NDB); random choose by ATC (weather, wind...)

- traffic separation (on gorund/on air)

(I want to hear : "You are no3 for aproch"; "Folow B737, no2 for departure"..etc)

- AI support ( controled by ATC)

compatible with UT2, etc..

- real Sqwak generator, TL , TA

- weather snync (ASA2012, OpusFSX etc)

- correct TOD by ATC (requested TOD as option)

- wrong behavior recognition (wrong fly SID/STAR/HDG/ALTITUDE/..etc)

- voice / button support

- rwy,taxiway, gate, hold point support from scenery

- go around procedure (from chart)

- ...... much more

 

proATC/X is expensive product, with my list will be more expensive?


Ivo Crni

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I just want from ProATC/X:

 

- SID/STAR support (also Vectors from depart or arrival, VOR appr, NDB); random choose by ATC (weather, wind...)

- traffic separation (on gorund/on air)

(I want to hear : "You are no3 for aproch"; "Folow B737, no2 for departure"..etc)

- AI support ( controled by ATC)

compatible with UT2, etc..

- real Sqwak generator, TL , TA

- weather snync (ASA2012, OpusFSX etc)

- correct TOD by ATC (requested TOD as option)

- wrong behavior recognition (wrong fly SID/STAR/HDG/ALTITUDE/..etc)

- voice / button support

- rwy,taxiway, gate, hold point support from scenery

- go around procedure (from chart)

- ...... much more

 

proATC/X is expensive product, with my list will be more expensive?

 

From what I've read in the forums, a lot of what you suggest will make it into the final version. I'd hope that shouldn't increase the price, as you say it's already rather expensive and I think any higher would scare customers away.

 

If I'm 100% honest at the moment it's not worth the full price tag, they should really have the price lower until they get all the functionality into it, but then that's only my opinion.


James W

 

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The only thing it seems to be missing is a variety of controllers to talk to.

 

Good review. Fair. Glad you like the product. It's fun. I like the background ATC capability too. I think you should have also mentioned the fact they have a program where you can record your own voice as a controller, co-pilot, etc., and upload it to their website for others to download. This will provide a lot of variety but you'll have to select the Pilot and Co-Pilot before a flight if you want to change those voices. All of the controllers you have installed can be activated for the variety.

 

weather snync (ASA2012, OpusFSX etc)

 

The setup program already has the option to link directly with OPUS weather so ProATC-X can be aware of the weather even if you are 300NM's away from your destination. I assume they will also make this compatible with AS2012 too.

 

Best regards,

Jim


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Hi Jim,

 

Yes I only just noticed that program, and looks good too! Will be nice to have my own voice as the Captain!


James W

 

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Great review! Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with us. I've been watching from the sidelines long enough I think I'll pull the plug and get this today.

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Great review! Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with us. I've been watching from the sidelines long enough I think I'll pull the plug and get this today.

Expensive or not, you won,t regret it. PRO ATC is only going to get better.


Rick Hobbs

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Expensive or not, you won,t regret it. PRO ATC is only going to get better.

It should also be mentioned that a voice control module in in the works for the future. I have never regretted my purchase of this product even though it is still in developement. Everyday it becomes another must have program just like opus. Great thing about it is we get to learn each new feature as it comes out.

Sam

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