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hawkhero

Is PFPX worth the price?

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I bought PFPX when it was released and have not stopped using it since. It is well worth its price if you simulate a lot of airline flights. I don't know how I planned my flights without it! Well...I do but it definitely was not as easy or enjoyable.

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I started out using the free stuff like routefinder and simbrief.  However last year around the time I bought the NGX (my second payware FMC enabled aircraft) I decided I really wanted to learn SIDS and STARS.  I picked up PFPX partly because it can suggest SIDS and STARS (was on a world tour and not flying standard routes that are on Flightaware for instance) and it got too difficult for me as an amateur to go looking through SIDS and STARS for an airport and try to figure out which ones to use with my route.

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I am puzzled by how many people write that PFPX is difficult to use. I had that impression when I used it for the first 2-3 times, but I was also very happy with what I learned about flight planning by using it. Once you figured out how PFPX works (not that hard to learn) it is actually the easiest planner to use. Just pick departure and destination and plane, click a few times on buttons in the menu (auto payload, auto alternates, compute flight) and you're done. Even including ETOPS is a breeze: pick the scenario (90, 120 or 180 minutes), let PFPX find two or three airports - done.

 

Yes you can make flight planning very complicated with PFPX (and I sometimes do just for the fun of getting it right myself), but it is so well designed that you don't have to.

 

The PFPX route planning is only slightly better than FSBuild's or FSCommander's. For me only real world routes top the paid version of rfinder in route planning.

 

The fact, that PFPX pre-selects SID and STARs is quite nice, but when flying in Europe, it doesn't work as well because PFPX can only guess which runway might be in use and the weather might change between planning and the flight.

 

I haven't used the paid version of rfinder, but except for real world routes PFPX is hard to beat in Europe. It even has a "validate" function that checks if the route is compliant with various European aviation regulations. How about pasting an rfinder route into PFPX and see if it is valid ;)

 

The SID/STAR issue with weather changes actually taught me something about flight planning as well. The flight plan (not necessarily the route, but fuel planning) should be created shortly before departure. I think that's what they are doing in RW as well. PFPX enables you to save routes and picks them automatically when you prepare the plan (unless they are not compliant with the lates AIRAC cycle in case you have updated it).

 

Cheers,

Peter

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I haven't used the paid version of rfinder, but except for real world routes PFPX is hard to beat in Europe. It even has a "validate" function that checks if the route is compliant with various European aviation regulations. How about pasting an rfinder route into PFPX and see if it is valid ;)

 

The European routes is exactly where paid version of rfinder beats PFPX. Here is how:

 

In PFPX you create the route, validate it, then you make changes so that the route passes validation. (here is a post I wrote on the subject: http://forum.aerosoft.com/index.php?/topic/72444-cfmu-validation-errors-and-using-pfpx-auto-routing-to-fix-them/)

 

For me the _paid version_ of rfinder is more user friendly. After route generation, it will automatically tell you what parts of the route are not valid (this feature is not available in the free one). You then just tell it to avoid the parts that would cause validation errors and you are done.

 

The point being, that in PFPX you have to know how to correct the route and iterate the validation process after each run. rfinder knows how to fix the route for you.

 

Of course: what works for me, might not work for everyone.

 

EDIT: my go to place for routes in Europe (not found in vroute) is eurofpl.eu

Edited by Jarkko

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Here's another aspect of PFPX that I had forgotten about. The first year gave you free access to their weather server. My subscription just expired so it's about $15 USD to renew it. In theory, you were supposed to be able to use weather from Active Sky or FS Global Real Weather but apparently that part is not working. They are working on a fix but there's no telling when that will happen. I'm not sure if I want to sink more money into a utility that I paid a good price for to begin with.

 

I use ASN weather with PFPX and it works great--not sure where you got the idea that this part isn't working? I've never even used the free subscription to the PFPX weather server.

 

Actually, I think the ability to use non-live weather in planning is by far the biggest selling point of PFPX over simbrief for me--are people really always planning their flights with live weather and then flying them that way? For me I pick a flight that happened in the past (usually in the last 48 hours) so that I have the weather to plan it and then fly it using historical weather in ASN. PFPX makes this very easy to do in the planning stage--set the flight date and time in ASN and PFPX gets the wind, temp etc. data for fuel planning. It also predicts runways in use and SID/STARs though as people have said that is a little more unpredictable.

 

James

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I use ASN weather with PFPX and it works great--not sure where you got the idea that this part isn't working? I've never even used the free subscription to the PFPX weather server.

 

Actually, I think the ability to use non-live weather in planning is by far the biggest selling point of PFPX over simbrief for me--are people really always planning their flights with live weather and then flying them that way? For me I pick a flight that happened in the past (usually in the last 48 hours) so that I have the weather to plan it and then fly it using historical weather in ASN. PFPX makes this very easy to do in the planning stage--set the flight date and time in ASN and PFPX gets the wind, temp etc. data for fuel planning. It also predicts runways in use and SID/STARs though as people have said that is a little more unpredictable.

 

James

 

I think most people fly with real time weather, so it's irrelevant where you pull wx data from, as source of the data would be the same.

 

For people flying history flights, I agree with you, PFPX linked with ASN is the best choice.

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I use ASN weather with PFPX and it works great--not sure where you got the idea that this part isn't working?

Flightsimsoft, the developers of PFPX say it isn't working. From their support forum:

 

"Dear PFPX users,

 

there have been several reports concerning problems using an external weather source (e.g. Active Sky, etc. ) with an expired server subscription.

We confirm this is an issue in the present PFPX Version 1.15 and we´d like to apologize for the inconveniances caused by this situation.

 

As a courtesy we´ve now added an additional 14-days of server subscription for all users. Until then a new version will be released fixing the issue.

 

Brgds,

PFPX team"

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You can use flightaware for the the actual in use DPs and STARs.

 

I don't need to pay for that when it's freely found on the web.

 

Absolutely top notch service from simbrief.

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You can use flightaware for the the actual in use DPs and STARs

 

On flightaware, the DPs and STARs are only available for a tiny portion of the world (unfortunately). Only US and Canada if I remember correctly.

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Flightsimsoft, the developers of PFPX say it isn't working. From their support forum:

 

 

Huh. Well that's unfortunate...

 

I guess I hadn't noticed yet! Thanks for the heads up. I think.  :lol:

 

James

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On flightaware, the DPs and STARs are only available for a tiny portion of the world (unfortunately). Only US and Canada if I remember correctly.

Yes, that's correct. Although simbrief does have a feature that captures historical flight plans from airport to airport.

 

Does PFPX provide real world routing? Or is it auto generated?

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James, as I said, I had completely forgotten about the weather server subscription until I started PFPX the other day and I got a warning about the subscription. I'll see how the fix works when it comes out to determine if I renew the subscription or not.

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I use ASN weather with PFPX and it works great--not sure where you got the idea that this part isn't working? I've never even used the free subscription to the PFPX weather server.

Quite a few people (including myself) have had problems in recent days when the subscription expired. PFPX won't accept any changes to the weather settings, it sticks to "No weather". However, FlightSimSoft has already acknowledged that this is a bug and is working on a fix. Meanwhile, our subscriptions have been extended. I'd call this excellent customer service.

 

Cheers,

Peter

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Hi, I us FSbuild now but am looking at a newer flight planning software. How good is PFPX? I just found SimBrief online and I like it so far. (and it's free). Any opinions on PFPX?

I have not used SimBrief, but I use PFPX in conjunction with TopCat every time I fly, and I love it!

 

I am not a commercial pilot, but PFPX/TopCat adds to the illusion that I am! Given that I use this tool each time I fly, and that it is currently supported and enhanced, I feel the price is equitable to other FSX addons. Unfortunately, I've spent more money on other products that did not live up to their advertisements, and were soon uninstalled from my PC.

 

I actually use PFPX/TopCat, FSC9, and EFB - each product has features that the others do not, or are at least better suited than others. And It's great to learn that there even more tools available, like SimBrief, for the simming experience.

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I use one thats free, I don't even remember the name but it exports the flightplan in PMDG format and does a great job of calculating fuel needs.

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Has anyone used both? I don't see people in this thread with experience on both, just a lot of defending of what they currently use.

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Has anyone used both? I don't see people in this thread with experience on both, just a lot of defending of what they currently use.

Probably not as who has bought PFPX wants to justify investment so doesn't use other tools, and who hasn't bought PFPX cannot try it as there's no demo.

 

I do not see how people defending of what they currently use, as we posted many reasonable pros and cons of many tools available. 

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Ethan,

            I have both. I use both. For my purposes, PFPX does a whole bunch of things very well. Sometimes it provides a lot of information that I may not use. Simbrief is for when I don't want to devote a lot of time to flight prep. For me it's a little faster. They both do essentially the same thing. PFPX is just more sophisticated.

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Has anyone used both? I don't see people in this thread with experience on both, just a lot of defending of what they currently use.

 

I use both for generating the flight documentation and also FSBuild. I love them all for this particular job.

 

As mentioned before, the comparison between PFPX is apples to oranges. I'll try to explain why by this example based on my workflow:

 

Step 1: I will find/generate (and validate) the route

Step 2: I will do fuel and performance calculation

Step 3: (Once plannign is done) I will monitor my aircraft's flight on a moving map (and also online traffic and ATC)

 

1.1 finding a route. Here is where I will look for ready made routes (in order of preference):

 

 - flightaware.com

 - eurofpl.eu

 - vroute

 

1.2 If there is no ready made routes. I will generate one with (in order of preference):

 

 - rfinder paid version (has a built in validator)

 - eurofpl.eu (has a built in validator)

 - PFPX (has a built in validator)

 - FsBuild

 - FSCommander

 

(by "validator" I mean Eurocontrol CFMU validation)

 

If the program doesn't have an built in validator, I will use vroute for validation.

 

2) For performance planning it's TOPCAT (only supports certain aircrafts), but for fuel planning and documentation it is (in order of preference):

 

- PFPX (has direct integration for TOPCAT which is a huge plus) 

- SimBrief (it's free!)

- FSBuild

 

3) For monitoring my flight, online traffic and ATC I use (in order of preference):

 

 - EFB

 - FSFlightKeeper

 - FSCommander

 - PFPX

 

So if you look closely, PFPX is mentioned in all of the three steps, but SimBrief in only one of them. The point I'm trying to make:

 

SimBrief currently has less features than PFPX, but the things SimBrief does, it does them very well (especially for the price).

Edited by Jarkko

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eurofpl has validation too :smile:

 

Thanks for pointing that out! Post is now fixed :)

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Simbrief also provides routes (does not generate though) and validates against current AIRAC from Navigraph (if you subscribe) and against an older AIRAC if you dont subscribe.

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Simbrief also provides routes (does not generate though) and validates against current AIRAC from Navigraph (if you subscribe) and against an older AIRAC if you dont subscribe.

 

Absolutelu true and I should have been more specific :) By validation, I didn't mean to validate against AIRAC. The minimum requirement for any generated route is that it is using airways and waypoints that are included in the navdata.

 

The validation that I was talking about is the Eurocontrol CFMU validation (for European routes).

 

This is where things get though. You have a route that is "valid" based on AIRAC, but based on Eurocontrol rules, you are only allowed to fly it on mondays and only after 2200Z (and so on). Also there are cases where you are not allowed to use an airway unless your origin is X and your destionation is Y. The list goes on and on and on. This is what you get, when you have so many countries in such a small place :)

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Jarkko and Mike, thank you for your objective statements. I personally have PFPX, but really wanted to hear a voice of someone using both. I use a variety of programs depending on the type of flying I do, and PFPX only gets used on complex flights. I don't like screwing with all of that stuff for non commercial planning. I may try to add Sim Brief to my toolbox eventually though.

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