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forshaw

Best all round ATC for FSX - Pro- ATC/ X?

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Hello Folks;

So, I am trying to determine what is the best all round ATC for FSX since I am now finally ready to replace the standard FSX ATC which I have been using since it was introduced. I have done a lot of home work and I am down to 2; Pro ATC/X and PF3. I really don't want to start a thread on this since I know it was discussed at length around mid 2017 and however, since it has been awhile ago I am sure some of the concerns listed then are no longer issues.

The current default ATC is not too bad given it's age. I current use FlightSim Commander to plan my flights which I then load into FSX and my Aircraft FMC. For the most part it does the job the issue is when it comes time to set me up for approach it seems to go back and forth before I am finally set up for the heading to intercept the ILS. I don't have any traffic add-on and my FSX standard traffic is set pretty low so I know it's not avoiding traffic. Also it gets my clearance to land on the shorter of the 2 runways that are side by side (8,000 vs 12,000 KFK 22/L vs 22R) and a few others airports as well. I also think some things may be outdated. So hence the reason I am ready for a change.

Here is my basic information;

Aircraft: I fly the heavies all of the time (iFLY V2 747 -8; PMDG 777 and just purchased today the PMDG 747-400 and will add the -8 next week). 

Where I fly: 95% of  my flights are in the USA, East Coast to Midwest to West Coast. The remaining 5% is split between Europe and Hong Kong. I only use Add-on Airports.

Flt Planning: I prefer to have the tool generate the flight plan (SIDs/STARs for me and victor me into the appropriate for landing based on the weather at time of landing. For weather I use Active Sky '16 FSX. I don't have any AI Traffic software installed however, I may get one sometime in the near future.

Assistance: Definitely a Co-Pilot is required for setting the Comm Radio , not too much for setting the Heading / Speed, I do that myself with the default FSX. But from what I read the products have those features added sometime after the initial launch..

I have done quite a lot of research on the Net by reading reviews, including this site and visiting the product sites. So out of Pro-ATC/X and PF3 I am leaning towards Pro-ATC/X.

So my question is, given what I would like to do, would I be making a mistake going with Pro-ATC/X? Is there any big ticket items that I am missing or I should know about before I purchase?

 

Thanks again.

Kindest Regards.

Forshaw.

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in the last decade i used radar contact and vox atc for many years, but since 2016 or so i mostly used pro-atc/x, its the best one for me!. i think it handles the procedures of arrivals and approaches better than the rest. and it helps that it integrates with navigraph updates correctly so the ATC and my charts and fmc data all line up. (i mainly fly the pmdg planes 737,777,747 and maj q400)..... i think there is another newer program called pilot2atc that looks somewhat promising but i have not tried it, there is a forum on here that supports it.

pro-atc mostly does the things you listed ....i'm not sure its flight planner is that great but it probably works, mainly i make my routes in pfpx or simbrief and import them.

good luck

cheers,

-andy crosby

Edited by spesimen
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I have both.  Pro-ATC/X has a great flight planner and it can use Navigraph updates.  It is also designed for IFR flights only, which is right up your alley, forshaw.  Finally, Pro-ATC/X has STARs and SIDs integrated, while you need to manually edit your flight plan in PF3 for the same result.

Unfortunately when I actually fly with Pro-ATC/X it is very unreliable in actually taking me from takeoff to landing.  I frequently get told by the ATC to turn towards the airport I had taken off from and sometimes the Direct To feature doesn't work (plus why should I have to use it every time if it is the ATC's job?).  I find PF3 to be much more reliable and I prefer its features such as RemoteText and also TGS Display to assist with taxiing.

Because of the issues above, PF3 is my primary ATC.  However I am not adverse to trying Pro-ACT/X again when it gets its annual update in the next few months.  Note that Pro-ATC/X is updated yearly while PF3 is updated several times a year.  For now I still use Pro-ATC/X for flight planning and I export its .pln file to PF3.

Edited by BF Bullpup

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After using the default ATC in P3D, I tried both PF3 and Pro-ATC/X.

As for PF3, one thing that annoyed me a bit at the gate was the virtual co-pilot feature. I had set him to confirm ATC instructions as well as check in to the new frequency immediately after. The problem with this setting is that he will go straight from obtaining clearance to requesting start-up and pushback when boarding was still ongoing. This is also an issue when you want to request a different runway: you can't if you have this feature enabled because he will acknowledge the given runway. You mentioned the co-pilot feature so I thought you'd want to know this even if it's not a deal breaker for the addon. Another issue to me is that it seems to be giving instructions more or less out of the blue. Being on final for PSP with no other aircraft anywhere near the airport it told me to slow to 160 when I was more than 20 miles out. Even after it had issued landing clearance and I was way past the FAF it kept nagging me to slow to 140, which was even way below Vref. Last issue for me is that you have to put in a lot of manual prep work prior to your flight, like someone above already said. It has no AIRAC database and thus doesn't know SIDs/STARs and you have to put in the name, transition, the runway, FAF height, MA height, etc. yourself. It will say climb via the XXX departure and let you do things on your own until the point you have defined to be the transition. This also means it will give you the same SID/STAR regardless if the wind changes and that SID/STAR isn't applicable anymore. Whether this is an issue to you is purely subjective, though. For me, it's an immersion killer as I'm basically telling the ATC what to tell me and I know there isn't much 'behind it'. I also find it hard to keep track of all the hotkeys, there are 0-9 plus some Ctrl+Shift+whatever hotkeys that all have different assignments depending on what facility you're tuned to. Takes some time to get used to it.

On the contrary, what I really like about PF3 are the voices. Some can be hard to understand because of the volume but you can turn those off if you wish. I fly in North America exclusively and for the US/Canada it has, what, 30 voices or more? That's a lot and you'll never really find controller and pilot having the same voice. As soon as you fly to, say, Mexico, you will only hear voices with a Spanish accent. There a plenty for several regions/languages. This definitely improves immersion and realism.

After testing PF3, I found myself using Pro-ATC/X more. It doesn't have so many voices but you can download additional ones and for the US/Canada you'll have plenty. They also are the most natural sounding voices of all the ATC addons for me, they don't really sound robotic even when, for example, callsigns are put together from single numbers. Very human-like. According to a post on the Pro-ATC/X forums there are many new voices due to be released. They are also integrating regional profiles like in PF3. Instructions were a bit off on my first few flights but that I think comes down to a user error. I imported flight plans from PFPX with SID/STAR waypoints included which confused Pro-ATC/X. It's better to put your route without SIDs/STARs into Pro-ATC/X and let it build the route itself. A huge advantage over PF3 for me is that it has an AIRAC database which can be updated with Navigraph and the like. As a result, it will know all the procedures and assign it on its own and change it on the fly when winds change. It will also give instructions like altitudes according to the procedure. Overall, I feel like there is more own 'thought' and work on behalf of the program behind instructions, etc. The virtual co-pilot also behaves well. I can't say anything negative about this one, to be honest. Works fine for me.

I hope this novel is of use to you. Keep in mind, however, that it's all my opinion and experience. YMMV when using either of the two programs.

Edited by threegreen
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I tried PF3 twice (they have a free demo version) and just didn't like it.  Too much work setting up approaches and departures in advance, plus there are so many settings that you can adjust, enable/disable, etc. that it becomes tedious  The voices were also not very good in my opinion.

I'd like to try Pro ATC X but the developer will not offer a demo version which makes me suspicious.  Moreover, it has been 9 months since the developer has released an update.  He has been criticized in regards to the long intervals between updates several times before and he just doesn't care, I suppose. 

Dave  


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My three-cents coming up.  ProATC-X may not be for everyone but it is the best ATC program for me.  Back in the FSX days, it was Radar Contract and that was a great program for its times and many people still use it for FSX.  There is a lot of information out there on how good and how bad this program is but I think the consensus is that it is good.  It is updated at least once a year around April or May after collecting new ideas and recommendations.  Bugs are fixed almost immediately after the yearly update.  I would like to see it add more aircraft or at least give you the opportunity to create a setup for new aircraft (and owners can share those custom setups).  For instance, I enjoy the CS757-300/200 and I can surely set up a flight plan for it but it stops there.  If I click on FlyNow in the ATC program, it has no option to load a flight plan for the 757.  There is no option to add it under Options>Folder Paths.  So the program is limited to a few aircraft and, for me, that is where it fails.  Still, if you stick with the aircraft it is compatible with, you will have a lot of enjoyment.  Not perfect as perfection is only in the eyes of the beholder but close.

I wish PMDG would issue demos but they do not.  I really do not see how this program could be released with a demo as a demo is surely limited.  If you can purchase it at the Flight One store, you can ask for your money back after 30 days.

Best regards,

Jim

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I think the only ATC program I haven't tried is Pro-ATC. I'm using Pilot 2 ATC and it has been the most reliable for me. It can get expensive if you start adding voices for it but it does work with voices that come with Windows. It's updated regularly and has its own forum on AVSIM. If you have a problem the developer (Dave) usually answers within a day. Most of the time he'll answer within hours.


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Like a few here, I used RC4 for many years.  (And really wished RC5 had gotten off the ground.)  I've never heard of PF3, but I've been using ATC-X for a few years now.  It has improved quite a bit over the upgrade cycles and I find it today to be a solid ATC program that is easy to use and does what it's supposed to.  It's easy to let it generate a flight plan or to create your own and it does a *fantastic* job of picking SIDs and STARs before and during your flight.  That is the most valuable thing to me because that is realistic - you don't have to set up your procedures ahead of time.  ATC tells you what you're going to use, which is how it should be.  The one feature I really like is that it provides ground traffic instructions, just like FSX ATC.  (I don't know of any other ATC that does.)  If you get off course, it vectors you where you need to go.  It also exports flightplans after you get clearance to the correct folders for your chosen aircraft.  I've gone into the FMC and had no problem opening those flightplans for PMDG, iFly and FSCaptain.  They've put a lot of thought into integrating into add-ons.  The list, however, is short in terms of add-ons supported for FL import in the FMC.  But that's really a minor detail. 

I also like the moving map, which is really helpful for finding and parking at the right gate. 

Overall, I've been very happy with Pro ATC-X and they have put serious time into improving it over the years. 

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1 hour ago, mwilk said:

I think the only ATC program I haven't tried is Pro-ATC. I'm using Pilot 2 ATC and it has been the most reliable for me. It can get expensive if you start adding voices for it but it does work with voices that come with Windows. It's updated regularly and has its own forum on AVSIM. If you have a problem the developer (Dave) usually answers within a day. Most of the time he'll answer within hours.

Thanks Mwilk. I did take a look at Pilot2ATC however, it seem to favor the small aircraft more that the "heavy irons" I might be wrong. On their website they had their product exampled with small aircrafts, and I didn't see much of the product on any YouTube with the "heavies" so I really didn't do a deep dive into the product.

Thanks again.

Forshaw.

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Just now, forshaw said:

 

Thanks Mwilk. I did take a look at Pilot2ATC however, it seem to favor the small aircraft more that the "heavy irons" I might be wrong. On their website they had their product exampled with small aircrafts, and I didn't see much of the product on any YouTube with the "heavies" so I really didn't do a deep dive into the product.

Thanks again.

Forshaw.

All I fly is airliners. It works very well with them too.


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Hello all;

Thank you so much for taking the time to promptly respond with such valuable information based on your experience using the products, which is exactly what I was looking for. I carefully read each and every response to understand it in details so I now have a much better understanding of the products.

Given what I have read from everyone I didn't see anything that stuck out that would prevent me from moving forward with Pro-ATC/X. At least I would not be surprised by any of the little issues you all pointed out which I can work with given your recommendations.

The  1 concern I have is Pro-ATC didn't have the PMDG "747" listed as a supported aircraft. However, when I contacted them they stated that since it supports the 777 it should work with the 747 if I change the options  in the 777 Root Directory.

Did anyone have a problem using it with the 400 or -8 PMDG. Is it as easy as they indicated:biggrin:

Again, thank you all of your valuable input. It was very helpful and I appreciate it.

 

Kindest Regards.

Forshaw. 

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10 minutes ago, mwilk said:

All I fly is airliners. It works very well with them too.

Fantastic, that's good to know. Thank you.

 

Forshaw.

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1 hour ago, forshaw said:

The  1 concern I have is Pro-ATC didn't have the PMDG "747" listed as a supported aircraft. However, when I contacted them they stated that since it supports the 777 it should work with the

I'm aother past user of Radar Contact and PF3 and like Pro-ATC/X best. 

I'm not sure what they mean by "compatible". In a broad sense, Pro-ATC/X is compatible with ALL aircraft, as far as communicating with the various ATC controllers. What they may mean is that the aircraft their  list are compative with Navigraph AIRAC data, as is Pro-ATC/X itself. This means that you can download the same AIRAC cycle for Pro-ATC/X as well as your aircraft's FMC, and Pro-ATC/X and your aircraft will then be in synch as far as SID's, STAR's, etc.

Compatibility may also have something to do with allowing the Pro-ATC/X co-pilot to control flaps, gear, etc., but I have no experience with this as I handle those things myself.

The internal Pro-ATC/X flight planner is good, but it will ocassionally fail to include proper SID/STAR transition points. On the recommendation of Pro-ATC/X support I tried routfinder.com, which is free to use and works better. Getting flight plans generated by routfinder.com into Pro-ATC/X is just a cut-and-paste, takes a few seconds. I've also used flightware.com, which will give you real world flight plans if there are any for your dep and des airports.

As far as user support, I've found both PF3 and Pro-ATC/X to be outstanding. Radar Contact is now freeware and I'm not sure what that means for user support.

 

Edited by Sidney Schwartz
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9 hours ago, Jim Young said:

For instance, I enjoy the CS757-300/200 and I can surely set up a flight plan for it but it stops there.  If I click on FlyNow in the ATC program, it has no option to load a flight plan for the 757.  There is no option to add it under Options>Folder Paths.  So the program is limited to a few aircraft and, for me, that is where it fails.

Hi Jim. Have you asked them about this? Can you load a standard FSX flight plan into the CS 757? If so, you should be able to tell ProATC-X to save an FSX flight plan when you click "Fly Now", and then load that into the 757. Or if CS uses a proprietary format for flight plans, maybe there's a way to convert them to FSX format. That's what I have to do with the Majestic Q-400. Works like a charm, though.

 

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