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TOPCAT/PFPX Freeware Alternatives?

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I'm starting a new personal era for myself in FSX. I'm going to start moving away from flying 'Casual', "CTRL+E, Autopilot, CTRL+SHIFT+F1" flights and more into planning and executing flights as realistically as possible. This may help me come to grips with IFR training in the future, but mostly it will be much more fun and satisfying. So far, I own the PMDG Jetstream, the Majestic Q400, and just recently purchased the NGX (which left me absolutely speechless- it's just like flying an actual machine!). Of course, in order to fly realistic flights, I need to start with  good way to plan them. TOPCAT and PFPX seem to be the obvious choices. However, having just purchased the NGX, I am a little short on money. So, for the time being, I'd like a good interim solution. I've come across the following utilities: http://fuelplanner.com/index.php%C2'>

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I like simbrief.com as an alternative to pfpx, although Ive never used pfpx.  Its usually spot on with fuel calcs for my 777 and 737.  Not sure if there is anything out there like topcat for free though.  At least topcat is cheaper than pfpx.

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I recommend simbreif.com as well, excellent site and gets the numbers almost perfect for the Q400.

 

Check out http://www.aurasim.com/ a free(there was some discussion of making it payware, I don't know if that's still ongoing) takeoff/landing performance calculator for the Q400.

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I would really suggest you http://www.fscommander.com/  for flight planning and fuel calculation and anything else.

 

While the program is payware, you got 30 minutes of trial mode every time you start the program. The only thing you can't do is importing the flightplan directly (but nothing stops you from taking a photo or writing it down before starting the simulator :) ).

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I would really suggest you http://www.fscommander.com/  for flight planning and fuel calculation and anything else.

What an interesting program. For all the time I spend on avsim, I don't recall hearing about it. The price isn't terrible either compared to the PFPX/TOPCAT bundle. What are the program's strengths/weaknesses? The avsim review that I found for it is quite old (2006).

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It has long since 2006 been updated to I think the latest version, v9.6. I used to use it but since getting PFPX+Topcat, no longer do so.

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Paying for something like PFPX when you have simbrief is like buying 'soft clouds' that make your sim look like fs98.

Dumb and pointless.

 

Quite an insulting statement. Have you tried PFPX?

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I have bought PFPX a while ago but I am only using simbrief now. Their flight plan templates are much more accurate than those available for PFPX (largely because creating/editing them is a pain due to certain constraints, I have tried it myself...). Simbrief's planning accuracy is at least as good as PFPX, concerning the templates I've tried. PFPX is better-suited for you when you really want to get deeper into flight planning and scheduling, though. More of a pilot myself, I guess. :smile:

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What an interesting program. For all the time I spend on avsim, I don't recall hearing about it. The price isn't terrible either compared to the PFPX/TOPCAT bundle. What are the program's strengths/weaknesses? The avsim review that I found for it is quite old (2006).

 

Hard to say since i have a basic use of it and i use the trial version (which i would suggest you to try before spending money on the full version or PFPX or other softwares). I use it for flight planning and fuel calcolations, it's super easy to select sid/starts/transitions and see them right on the map. There are templates for planes too.

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Simbrief for sure.

 

The output from this free website is quite remarkable.

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Just wanted to give a quick and slightly belated thanks to everyone for the replies and advice. Unfortunately due to school I have not have time to really get into planning a full flight, and my experience with the NGX has so far been limited to a single try of the first tutorial which ended with a CTD about 20 minutes in. Hopefully, though, I'll be able to do a real flight this weekend. 

Anyway, I've recently stumbled across Online Flight Planner (http://onlineflightplanner.org/). Has anyone else heard of it? It looks a lot better than Sim Breif IMO. You can download you flight plan in the PMDG, iFly, Level-D, Airbus-X, and other file formats, and it gives you a map of your route along with fuel calculations. Would be interesting to hear if anyone else has heard of/used it. 

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I've never heard of or used the Online Flight Planner.

 

 

 


You can download you flight plan in the PMDG, iFly, Level-D, Airbus-X, and other file formats, and it gives you a map of your route along with fuel calculations.

 

You can do that with SimBrief aswell. However SimBrief also gives you a realistic OFP (you can choose between different airlines) which I think improves the realism of the whole experience. Simbrief normally gives me a fuel value of within about 2-5% of actual burn using the majestic q400, and I've heard the NGX is very accurate at simbrief as well.

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