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Virtual-Chris

Any good YouTube reviews of ATC solutions?

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Is anyone aware of any YouTube channel that has looked at all the various ATC solutions? I can search each one and find some review videos, but I’d love it if a single reviewer has put them all to the test to get a clearer picture of pros/cons. 

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Yeah would be interested into this also.

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So I gather no one is aware of anyone that's run through many of the ATC solutions out there.

I should start a new thread for everyone to rate their own ATC choice (relative to others or the default at a minimum). Here are the important aspects of an ATC solution in my mind... am I missing anything?

  • Voice diversity and number of choices
  • Voice quality
  • Phraseology
  • Interaction with AI traffic
  • Ability to dynamically assign an approach on arrival
  • Accurately calling ToD and bringing me down (without hitting a mountain)
  • Vectoring options for go-around, traffic, etc.
  • Accuracy in taxiing instructions at airports (default and modified)
  • Voice activated (speech recognition)
  • Co-pilot automation
  • Ease of adding a flight plan
  • Latitude in accommodating deviations from the flight plan
  • Accessible via pop-up menu
  • Can be hidden most of the time 
  • Hotkey assignments (that can be mapped to a Streamdeck)
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Pilot to ATC will check most of those boxes. While it sees AI traffic it does not control it. I don’t think there is any program that does that. Maybe the default ATC does but I’ve never used it. Pilot2ATC has a free trial so you can check it out before you commit. The developer is very interactive with his customers and the program is updated regularly.

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1 hour ago, mwilk said:

Pilot to ATC will check most of those boxes. While it sees AI traffic it does not control it. I don’t think there is any program that does that. Maybe the default ATC does but I’ve never used it. Pilot2ATC has a free trial so you can check it out before you commit. The developer is very interactive with his customers and the program is updated regularly.

I will definitely check out Pilot2ATC.  I really wish some Sim YouTouber spent some time to properly evaluate all the available solutions. I think most of them check most of these boxes, the problem is some do it better or worse than others, including the default ATC.  It's not like this sim launched yesterday, and the ATC hasn't been bad for 2 years 😄 Why no one has done a full review on ATC alternatives... well it just seems like a huge missed opportunity for someone as this topic seems top of mind for many.

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3 hours ago, Virtual-Chris said:

 

  • Accurately calling ToD and bringing me down (without hitting a mountain)

I thought this responsibility relies on pilot in command. ATC function is only to separate IFR traffic. But then again one cannot 100% rely on it IRL either. All midairs we had in SoCal happened with ATC on duty talking to both pilots


flight sim addict, airplane owner, CFI

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Just now, sd_flyer said:

I thought this responsibility relies on pilot in command. ATC function is only to separate IFR traffic. But then again one cannot 100% rely on it IRL either. All midairs we had in SoCal happened with ATC on duty talking to both pilots

Ok, I could be wrong... but as far as I understand, no pilot should be changing altitude without clearance. So maybe the pilot initiates the call to ATC to initiate the descent? Do most ATC alternatives support this?

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Posted (edited)

@Virtual-Chris

I get the impression you are "flying" IFR class A&B airspace procedures ...... hence your interest in copilot automation (which I trust is limited to comms)

All the MSFS ATC options use either included recorded sets or extra TTS voices for copilot comms & ATC voices, though not all have AI comms (some like P2A can use AI chatter). Few have included speech recognition.

Upcoming PATC & FSHud releases promise these later features.

Only other P3D ATC addons at this stage control & direct AI as well as you & have speech recognition for pilot "calls/intervention & copilot instruction eg request pushback / descent / diversion". I believe FSHud may do this soon in MSFS.

& don't be be thinking TTS voices are an expensive extra for those programs that use them ...... W10/11 has a multitude of accented english speaking voices included.

Edited by vadriver

for now, cheers

john martin

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1 hour ago, Virtual-Chris said:

Ok, I could be wrong... but as far as I understand, no pilot should be changing altitude without clearance. So maybe the pilot initiates the call to ATC to initiate the descent? Do most ATC alternatives support this?

Pilot2ATC does.

You can request an enroute descent clearance from ATC or you can wait for ATC to clear you for a descent automatically at a precomputed TOD (which Pilot2ATC computes itself based on pre set ground speed and average descent rate). When flying a STAR, Pilot2ATC will usually clear you to IAF altitude or transition fix altitude at once but of course you need to respect STAR altitude constraints (which is part of the clearance). When no STAR, Pilot2ATC seems to clear you to the lowest MEA or MSA (not sure here), even in steps if necessary, down to the IAF altitude.  

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, vadriver said:

@Virtual-Chris

I get the impression you are "flying" IFR class A&B airspace procedures ...... hence your interest in copilot automation (which I trust is limited to comms)

All the MSFS ATC options use either included recorded sets or extra TTS voices for copilot comms & ATC voices, though not all have AI comms (some like P2A can use AI chatter). Few have included speech recognition.

Upcoming PATC & FSHud releases promise these later features.

Only other P3D ATC addons at this stage control & direct AI as well as you & have speech recognition for pilot "calls/intervention & copilot instruction eg request pushback / descent / diversion". I believe FSHud may do this soon in MSFS.

& don't be be thinking TTS voices are an expensive extra for those programs that use them ...... W10/11 has a multitude of accented english speaking voices included.

Yes, and thanks for the insights. Speech recognition is not important to me as I intend to have my copilot handle the comms. 

I have seen how to add Windows or AWS Polly voices to Pilot2ATC. I will definitely be giving that app a trial. It seems very complete and highly configurable. If Pilot2ATC can add some additional immersion by chatting with AIG injected AI, that would be a bonus. A lot of dead air is not immersive, nor is the ATC Chatter app I’ve seen.

The others like FSHud, and P3D and other more obscure options are all difficult to assess. The information available is just poor on all of these others. Life is to short to try them all. I’ll probably just run with Pilot2ATC unless some review comparing them all magically materializes and clearly elevates one of these above Pilot2ATC. 

It’s actually frustrating trying to figure out what is best without wasting a lot of time. I’ve already spent two days of spare time on YouTube and don’t feel much more informed. Way too many “reviews” which are actually just demos without even any solid thoughts or opinions, and certainly not enough facts and features being compared. 

Edited by Virtual-Chris

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59 minutes ago, Virtual-Chris said:

It’s actually frustrating trying to figure out what is best without wasting a lot of time. I’ve already spent two days of spare time on YouTube and don’t feel much more informed. Way too many “reviews” which are actually just demos without even any solid thoughts or opinions, and certainly not enough facts and features being compared. 

Amen to that. YT can be a great resource but also a real PITA. Indeed way too many 'reviews' which are just people trying something for the first time without having a clue what they are doing. Waste of time.

I myself also looked at ATC solutions for a long time. Every month or so I'd look around and check video's and information and reviews (mainly about Pilot2ATC and PF3) but there were too many cons: either the voices were really bad or you would have to script the entire flight yourself so ATC would know what to tell you or the amount of options were over the top or the interface was obstrusive... Nothing looked right to me. So I myself finally settled for FSHud once it became available because of its simplicity (and it promise) but it remains a very personal choice.

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My advice is to take it one step at a time.

There are many YT videos that will give you an idea of what Pilot2ATC can and can not do. You just have to take the time to actually watch them. Study them. Then try the add-on.

It's just impossible to expect that any ATC add-on is going to cover every scenario that can can happen IRL flying. There are a million combination of things that can happen. Right now, MSFS default allows the creation of an IFR flight plan, then the use of the Co-Pilot feature to handle all ATC communications. Most of my IFR flights conducted in this manner have been very enjoyable.

You simple have to follow the ATC instructions. I've run into trouble when I asked for a higher or lower altitude. The feature is buggy! When I followed the instructions, it worked most (not all) of the time.

In real life, you simply have to follow the last clearance. That's the important point to remember.

Chris, you are cleared to watch a few Pilot2ATC videos. 😀

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3 hours ago, Virtual-Chris said:

If Pilot2ATC can add some additional immersion by chatting with AIG injected AI, that would be a bonus.

sorry ..... many have asked for AI comms, but it can only use "chatter"
 


for now, cheers

john martin

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, CFIJose said:

Right now, MSFS default allows the creation of an IFR flight plan, then the use of the Co-Pilot feature to handle all ATC communications. Most of my IFR flights conducted in this manner have been very enjoyable.

I've just been using default ATC since the release of MSFS. But I understand this can be limiting for other users as it is very basic. I find that most of the time, ATC will give reasonable clearances. I can change cruise altitude without problem. Asking for a different runway or approach usually occurs without any issues. 

If you file an IFR flight plan ATC will always give you what you filed for, even if the weather changes. 

I also let my co-pilot handle the comms. She does a very good job - much better than I would have done myself, I'm sure. 

Edited by Cpt_Piett
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If someone finds software that checks all those items @Virtual-Chris has thoughtfully articulated, do let the FAA, etc., know about it. I'm sure they would be very interested. In the meantime, do try VATSIM, PIlotEdge, POSCON, etc. I'm pretty sure that I won't live long enough to see a desktop software solution that mimics human controllers in anything other than a fairly trivial way.

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