notmyidea

The offline ATC space is really crowded these days

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Just getting back into Flight Simulation after a 5 year hiatus and am wondering what is the recommended offline ATC these days? I have Radar Contact 4 from a bygone era and have been stunned to find that there are so many ATC programs out now. From what I understand, the contenders seem to be Pro-ATC/X, VoxATC, Pilot2ATC, and PF3. Are any of these better than RC? I have done some searching on these but they usually involve outdated posts so am just wondering what the latest on this is.

Jason

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I recently jumped into pilot2atc and love it.  There’s a free 10 day demo you can try.

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I really wish more people would jump into Vatsim.  It’s free and all u need is a good headset.  All its missing is more pilots.

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I used Radar Contact when it was the top one, but that was many, many years ago. I have tried each one extensively  and the one that is the most realistic and immersive  for me and the only one I use now is PF3.  Hundreds of controller  voices come with the program, and it is constantly being improved and the developer is always on their forum answering questions.  Try the demo, it's free. 

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1 hour ago, mpw8679 said:

I really wish more people would jump into Vatsim.  It’s free and all u need is a good headset.  All its missing is more pilots.

A controller once in awhile, wouldn't be a bad idea. I gave up on Vatsim,. got tired of flying On Unicomm 90% of the time. 

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I've got three of them (RC4, PF3, and Pro-ATC/X) and ran the Pilot2ATC demo, although it was several versions back.

RC4 is still my go-to ATC program.  It gets the terminology and procedural pieces right, and its context-specific menu system is still the easiest to use.  The biggest downside is that sometimes canned events, like the cross 30 NM restrictions, get a bit rote, but at least I can fly a full procedure turn without the ATC program trying to call every turn and stepdown altitude (like Pro ATC X).

I have never had good luck with voice recognition, and that's what got in the way of Pilot2ATC.  You also have to make a *significant* investment in text-to-speech voice sets if you want to not hear ATC with the same one or two voices all the time.

I tinkered some more with PF3 for a few days while I was waiting for my RC4 key to come back,  I may play with it some more, as it has been getting a fairly regular stream of updates.  It's a bit cumbersome to set up ahead of a flight, and some of the terminology (like "cleared to finals") is definitely nonstandard and hits a trained ear like a $3 bill presented to a bank teller.

Pro-ATC/X suffers from an underwhelming once-per-year update cycle, is missing lots of airline callsigns, tries to micromanage (with associated pestering to comply) in phases of procedures that is inappropriate, particularly on full procedure approaches.

A real pity that RC5 got shelved.

Regards

 

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A few points:

PF3 is the only current ATC program that lacks support for Navigraph/NavDataPro AIRAC data. PF3 therefore doesn't have predefined support for SIDs/STARs and requires the user to manually enter details for each airport/runway and use a freeware 3rd party randomiser tool to implement dynamic arrivals, departures and parking. The use of prerecorded voices means that when you supply the name of a charted procedure it can't be spoken by PF3 but must be spelt letter by letter. Whilst I see the abstracted nature of SIDS/STARs in PF3 as a significant limitation of the program, others find it in fact provides some flexibility and avoids version conflicts between P3D, add-on scenery and airacs.

For people who like voice recognition, PF3 can be used with the product Multi Crew Experience (MCE) to allow voice interaction with ATC.

Conversely, if you struggle with voice recognition, Pilot2ATC now has a context sensitive menu interface which allows you to avoid voice commands. Uniquely, Pilot2ATC will work not only with P3D/FSX but with XPlane too.

Pilot2ATC is updated much more frequently than any other ATC program - at least monthly. PF3 also receives regular updates - roughly quarterly. ProATC/X now seems to only get one update a year  but it's moderately substantial. VoxATC looks to me to be nearly as dead as RC4 with its only update in the past year being quite minor with long standing bugs left unfixed.

Cheers

Peter J

Edited by paj

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17 minutes ago, paj said:

A few points:

PF3 is the only current ATC program that lacks support for Navigraph/NavDataPro AIRAC data. PF3 therefore doesn't have predefined support for SIDs/STARs and requires the user to manually enter details for each airport/runway and use a freeware 3rd party randomiser tool to implement dynamic arrivals, departures and parking. The use of prerecorded voices means that when you supply the name of a charted procedure it can't be spoken by PF3 but must be spelt letter by letter. Whilst I see the abstracted nature of SIDS/STARs in PF3 as a significant limitation of the program, others find it in fact provides some flexibility and avoids version conflicts between P3D, add-on scenery and airacs.

For people who like voice recognition, PF3 can be used with the product Multi Crew Experience (MCE) to allow voice interaction with ATC.

Conversely, if you struggle with voice recognition, Pilot2ATC now has a context sensitive menu interface which allows you to avoid voice commands. Pilot2ATC is updated much more frequently than any other ATC program. Uniquely, Pilot2ATC will work not only with P3D/FSX but with XPlane too.

Cheers

Peter J

Good to know! Thanks for the feedback. Does Pilot2ATC recognize UT Live traffic?

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3 hours ago, mpw8679 said:

I really wish more people would jump into Vatsim.  It’s free and all u need is a good headset.  All its missing is more pilots.

I plan on using Vatsim down the road but I would like to learn the phraseology better before diving in.

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1 hour ago, notmyidea said:

Does Pilot2ATC recognize UT Live traffic?

Yes and no.

Pilot2ATC reacts to any AI traffic that is visible to FSUIPC, which includes UTL traffic. It will provide you with traffic advisory alerts when airborne and on runway crossings etc. But it won't speak to AI or control it. Instead Pilot2ATC recommends use of generic prerecorded ATC "chatter" files or turning on P3Ds ATC solely for its AI chatter capability.

 

Edited by paj

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4 hours ago, mpw8679 said:

I really wish more people would jump into Vatsim.  It’s free and all u need is a good headset.  All its missing is more pilots. 

Matt,

I tried Vatsim but found it too daunting...and I used to fly real world, prefer to stick with ProatcX .

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3 hours ago, Bobsk8 said:

A controller once in awhile, wouldn't be a bad idea. I gave up on Vatsim,. got tired of flying On Unicomm 90% of the time. 

Exactly 😉

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Yeah I have no interest in flying online with few controllers and aircraft, kind of defeats the benefits of flying online.  I also use time acceleration in cruise usually so that’s an issue for VATSIM too.

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18 hours ago, paj said:

A few points:

PF3 is the only current ATC program that lacks support for Navigraph/NavDataPro AIRAC data. PF3 therefore doesn't have predefined support for SIDs/STARs and requires the user to manually enter details for each airport/runway and use a freeware 3rd party randomiser tool to implement dynamic arrivals, departures and parking. The use of prerecorded voices means that when you supply the name of a charted procedure it can't be spoken by PF3 but must be spelt letter by letter. Whilst I see the abstracted nature of SIDS/STARs in PF3 as a significant limitation of the program, others find it in fact provides some flexibility and avoids version conflicts between P3D, add-on scenery and airacs.

For people who like voice recognition, PF3 can be used with the product Multi Crew Experience (MCE) to allow voice interaction with ATC.

Conversely, if you struggle with voice recognition, Pilot2ATC now has a context sensitive menu interface which allows you to avoid voice commands. Uniquely, Pilot2ATC will work not only with P3D/FSX but with XPlane too.

Pilot2ATC is updated much more frequently than any other ATC program - at least monthly. PF3 also receives regular updates - roughly quarterly. ProATC/X now seems to only get one update a year  but it's moderately substantial. VoxATC looks to me to be nearly as dead as RC4 with its only update in the past year being quite minor with long standing bugs left unfixed.

Cheers

Peter J

You are incorrect in some of your statements regarding PF3. You do not have to use the Randomizer for departures, arrivals or departures. You also don't enter manually for each airport/ and runway. The only thing you enter when flying is telling PF3 if you want a Sid or Star when setting up the flight. I use Simbrief for my flight plans which suggests a Sid or Star, if they are available for your route. You could also use charts or a program like EFB, to see what sids and stars are available for your route. Then you just fly the procedures. If you just want vectors rather than Sids or stars, you can select that too, and PF3 will vector your from takeoff to landing. 

Problem I found with Pilot2ATC when I tired it is the extremely high cost of getting voices for controllers, at sometimes $40 a voice or more. I have 140 voices in PF3, it would costs me thousands of dollars to purchase that many voices for Pilot2 ATC. 

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I have found Pilot2ATC to be an excellent add-on and well worth the cost. I have appx 10 different voices which I obtained for free using different language packs and some others from the web. I find that to be enough variation to enjoy the experience. I also have X-ATC Chatter, which works great with P2A and helps with the immersion.

i have a lot of XP11 add-one and Dave is among the top of developers in terms of support. Very responsive to requests/issues and continues to update the product regularly. Sure - it’s not perfect - but its pretty darn good and the best I’ve tried so far.

i also subscribe to PilotEdge - a terrific online ATC service. I am working toward my ppl and am utilizing P2A and PE to assist me with practicing ATC. I find this to be an excellent combination. P2A allows me to practce ATC techniques in a somewhat more relaxed environment prior to flying something similar in PE. I am just now launching into IFR and the P2A / PE combo is helping me to get more familiar with this new challenge.

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3 hours ago, Bobsk8 said:

You are incorrect in some of your statements regarding PF3. You do not have to use the Randomizer for departures, arrivals or departures. You also don't enter manually for each airport/ and runway.

?

If you don't manually supply PF3 with sid/star information for each airport/runway (i.e. procedure names, runways, MAp altitudes, airport specific transition altitudes and minimum FAF altitudes) then PF3 simply announces "cleared as filed, Delta-Papa departure" and "cleared to final for Sierra-Tango approach". (It may not be obvious but delta-papa is PF3s abbreviation for "departure procedure" and by sierra-tango it means "standard terminal"). I mostly fly IFR and I find this non-standard phraseology particularly jarring and it ruins my sense of immersion.

I didn't say you "had to use Randomiser for departures, arrivals or departures (sic)". I said you will need Randomiser to "implement dynamic arrivals, departures and parking". The SimRandomiser freeware utility allows PF3 to vary the chance of: vectoring vs procedures, selection of SIDs/STARs and changing airline-based selection of gates. 

 

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