Shomron

Current thoughts on ATC programs

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Hello,

I've been using Radar contact in the last 10 years and finally looking into purchasing a new ATC program.

I have to admit Radar Contact has done a great job - it is rock solid (no CTDs) and always vectors correctly. However, it's time for a refreshing change and I'm also looking for better SID/STAR support.

After browsing the forum and checking out YT videos I find Pro ATC the best option.

Can anyone comment if the latest Pro ATC version (1.9.x) is solid in terms of correct vectoring? Are CTDs still experienced?

As for SID/STARs handling - I'm looking for real-world procedures. How are they handled in Pro-ATC?

Can one be vectored initially and then be cleared via SID? (In radar contact vectors are given only if the first way-point is >30 NM from the airport whereas in the real-world you can get vectors also to the initial SID way-point close to the airport)

Can one be cleared to a STAR and then be vectored without the need to follow the whole STAR?

 

Thanks

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Shomron said:

Hello,

I've been using Radar contact in the last 10 years and finally looking into purchasing a new ATC program.

I have to admit Radar Contact has done a great job - it is rock solid (no CTDs) and always vectors correctly. However, it's time for a refreshing change and I'm also looking for better SID/STAR support.

After browsing the forum and checking out YT videos I find Pro ATC the best option.

Can anyone comment if the latest Pro ATC version (1.9.x) is solid in terms of correct vectoring? Are CTDs still experienced?

As for SID/STARs handling - I'm looking for real-world procedures. How are they handled in Pro-ATC?

Can one be vectored initially and then be cleared via SID? (In radar contact vectors are given only if the first way-point is >30 NM from the airport whereas in the real-world you can get vectors also to the initial SID way-point close to the airport)

Can one be cleared to a STAR and then be vectored without the need to follow the whole STAR?

 

Thanks

 

I used Pro ATC X for a couple of years and was even a beta tester for it. When the latest version was released, it broke compatibility with P3D V3.4, so I switched to PF3. Comparing the two, I find PF3 much more immersive and realistic. Don't take my word for it, try the free PF3 demo and see what you think. Now the only caveat, is that PF3 has around 140 voices that come with it. Only 4 come with the demo, and they are not the best voices that are in the full program. PF3 is constantly updated. ( in fact one was released this week) the developer is always on the forum answering questions and listening to suggestions. The developer of PATC, on the other hand, is never available, updates are only once a year, and if something is broken in the latest version, you will wait another year for a fix. 

As far as sids and stars, I use Simbrief to generate flight plans and if there is a sid or star available for the flight, simbrief will suggest it. PF3 allows you to either fly a sid and or a star, or ask for vectors. It does not micro manage your flight while you are in the sid or star, it is up to the pilot to fly headings an altitudes that are called for by the sid or star, which is much more like the real world. 

 I used Radar Contact back in the day, in fact even met the developer once for dinner. It was the best back then, but couldn't imagine using it today. 

Edited by Bobsk8

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For the same compatibility reason that Bob mentioned, I ditched Pro ATC X. Moreover, their support is, imo, not all that good. Unfriendly and arrogant replies to questions asked.

 

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10 minutes ago, Bobsk8 said:

I used Pro ATC X for a couple of years and was even a beta tester for it. When the latest version was released, it broke compatibility with P3D V3.4, so I switched to PF3. Comparing the two, I find PF3 much more immersive and realistic. Don't take my word for it, try the free PF3 demo and see what you think. Now the only caveat, is that PF3 has around 140 voices that come with it. Only 4 come with the demo, and they are not the best voices that are in the full program. PF3 is constantly updated. ( in fact one was released this week) the developer is always on the forum answering questions and listening to suggestions. The developer of PATC, on the other hand, is never available, updates are only once a year, and if something is broken in the latest version, you will wait another year for a fix. 

As far as sids and stars, I use Simbrief to generate flight plans and if there is a sid or star available for the flight, simbrief will suggest it. PF3 allows you to either fly a sid and or a star, or ask for vectors. It does not micro manage your flight while you are in the sid or star, it is up to the pilot to fly headings an altitudes that are called for by the sid or star, which is much more like the real world. 

 I used Radar Contact back in the day, in fact even met the developer once for dinner. It was the best back then, but couldn't imagine using it today. 

Thanks for the info Bob. I find it more realistic getting the SIDs/STARs issued randomly based on weather AI usage etc...) - is this done in PF3?

Also, I found setting up PF3 to be an exhaustive process. So many parameters to be set! I like to set the minimum needed which also reduces the predictability of the route!

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11 minutes ago, Shomron said:

Thanks for the info Bob. I find it more realistic getting the SIDs/STARs issued randomly based on weather AI usage etc...) - is this done in PF3?

Also, I found setting up PF3 to be an exhaustive process. So many parameters to be set! I like to set the minimum needed which also reduces the predictability of the route!

If the weather changes, PF3 changes the active runway, and then you see which Sid or Star works with that runway. Many times it is the same for old and new runway, sometimes different, but a quick look at the chart, or what I use is Avialosft EFB will show you all sids and stars that work. I fly mostly in Europe now and almost every flight has both a Sid and star, and I have zero problems and fly about 10 flights a week for a Virtual Airline, almost never the same airports twice. 

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Posted (edited)

I was a Radar Contact user too, right from it's "adventure" based beginnings. I then used ProATC/X for some time, and still have it on standby, ready to use should I choose. I run it on a Client PC, not on the P3D4 PC and it works fine that way.

I did try PF3 but found it too unwieldy for me. Interesting that whilst it, like Radar Contact, started from the old Adventures, it looks to me as if PF3 is still basically an adventure compiler. I know they have smoothed over the cracks quite well, though (Probably someone will correct me on this).

These days my ATC program of choice is Pilot2ATC.  No in cockpit menus needed -- all voice interaction, with no "robotic" speech, or badly joined strings of pre-recordings.

The only drawback is the cost of decent voices for the MS voice synthesiser. I've built up a small collection. There's little point at present getting more than about 15 voices because currently you have to pre-assign a voice to each of so many ATC functions or stations. A future enhancement will be semi-random choice from installed voices -- then it will be worth building up a bigger collection, and maybe, by then, I'll have become so used to knowing what to expect from ATC (as real pilots do, of course), that I'll be able to add some voices with non-English accents. I've tried some and don't understand them (even though you can adjust the speed, individually, for each voice).

Oh, and whilst learning, you can get the "copilot" to do your voiced replies for you. Or have a button to tell P2A to "say it" for you.

P2A does assign your SIDs and STARs, as ProATC/X does..

Pete

 

Edited by Pete Dowson
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Posted (edited)

Big pro for ProATC is that it assigns SIDs, STARs, transitions and approaches automatically and based on weather. So need to setup your own SID or STAR (like afaik you need to do with PF3) and no need to figure out the SID, STAR, transition or approach yourself either (like with PF3). 

Do you also have to create SIDs and STARs etc. yourself in Pilot2ATC...? The biggest drawback of ProATC for me is the varying quality of voices and also that not all voices are complete so you might hear ATC speak with different voices in one sentence... However, the extreme ease of use keeps me with ProATC. Enter departure, enter destination, press a button to create a flight (you can also copy a flight into it), press save and you're done. Everything else is taken care off by ProATC. Which is why I don't like PF3: it really needs way too much user input. But of course some will like that and see it as something positive. 😉 But I simply want ATC to do it's job by itself and ProATC works like that.

I don't use vectoring, really, but you can ask a Direct to any waypoint in a SID or STAR or any other waypoint you want. I myself only fly in Norway and while I let ATC assign me a SID and STAR I usually ask for a Direct to the SID exit point (or even the STAR entry point) shortly after take off. At a certain moment I then ask for a direct to the STAR transition. In Norway flights are pretty straightforward and they seldom if ever fly a complete SID or STAR (certainly not when doing domestic Wideroe flights like I do). Works like a charm. 

ProATC assigns ILS approaches if possible but quite often I ask for an RNAV approach. When there is no ILS approach ProATC will assign an RNAV approach. ProATC gets ALL his data from Navigraph (no subcription needed, just one cycle will do) which is why you don't have to figure out and setup anything yourself.

I also like how ALL information you need can be checked within the sim using the simconnect window. To contact ATC you don't need a window or menu at all, which I also like. (I don't like onscreen panels and stuff.)

But well, ATC addons have been discussed a LOT before already and everything I said above has been said before (just as what Bob and Pete said). You might want to search some older topics. In the end you have to figure out yourself what's important to you. 

Edited by J van E

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I liked ProATC and used it for a bit, but didn't like the quality of the voices. Way too robotic. I did love how it set up the SIDsSTARs dynamically based on winds. 

I reverted to PF3 for a while because IMO that has the best sounding voices but the problem with PF3 is 1. It takes way too long to set up and 2. There's no dynamic STAR change, which is kind of weird if you're on a 14 hour flight and you've already decided your STAR prior to departure. 

Ultimately my favorite default ATC paired with requesting transitions on RNAV approaches which allows you to fly STARs and use ATC. Easiest to set up and quickest to get going. It's a little known feature of FSX/P3D. Everyone says "default ATC doesn't support STARs" but there is a workaround. You can fly an assigned star as long as the ADE file has it configured as an RNAV approach transition and request it when ATC begins to vector you.

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I am an Old ProAtcX user that recently switched to Pilot2ATC

+ Voice interaction to prepare me for starting to go toVATSIM new voice codec.

+ Randomly atc vectoring even when STAR assigned.

+ runway crossing interaction on taxi

- no automated AI interaction like ProATC/x

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I am also still with PATC and agree with most points J. v. E mentioned.

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1 hour ago, J van E said:

Do you also have to create SIDs and STARs etc. yourself in Pilot2ATC...?

No. As I said, it assigns them normally, though there is an option for the pilot to be able to override that (which I don't use -- I really prefer having them assigned.

BTW, Pilot2ATC is also available on a trial basis.

Pete

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Pete Dowson said:

As I said, it assigns them normally

I know they are assigned automatically, which is why I asked if you have to create them like you have to do in PF3. 😉 I might get that trial version a go sometime.

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Thanks all for the replies!

I was actually going to try the pilot2atc demo but then saw it is not user friendly for the ones not using voice control...

Regarding PF3 - is there a way for a simple set up (only putting the route w/o SID/STARs, transitions altitudes etc...) like done in Radar contact and Pro ATC? This is the main draw back I see. I want the flexibility to request SIDs/STARs within the flight...

1 hour ago, DChockey08 said:

Ultimately my favorite default ATC paired with requesting transitions on RNAV approaches which allows you to fly STARs and use ATC. Easiest to set up and quickest to get going. It's a little known feature of FSX/P3D. Everyone says "default ATC doesn't support STARs" but there is a workaround. You can fly an assigned star as long as the ADE file has it configured as an RNAV approach transition and request it when ATC begins to vector you.

In this case why not use radar contact? It lets you fly a SID/STAR on your own. What I am missing is more interaction with ATC on STAR approaches which is why I am looking for a switch...

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4 minutes ago, Shomron said:

In this case why not use radar contact? It lets you fly a SID/STAR on your own. What I am missing is more interaction with ATC on STAR approaches which is why I am looking for a switch...

I have never tried RC so I can't speak to it. Seeing a few videos of it, I wasn't too impressed with the voices so I steered clear. Only PF3 and default (sped up with EVP) have voices that sound good to me... If the voices are too robotic, I lose the immersion factor right away.

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The dev of Pro-ATC/X seems to be in his yearly winter sleep already (which lasts approximately from Oktober to July)...

No crashes occured since more than a year, but it still generates a very! small percentage of weird routings on taxi, takeoff and approach at a few specific airports , but I can live with that.

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