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VATSIM Cross The Pond 2020 Westbound Date Set

Ctp 2020 West

Given to pilots through a broadcast message on the network, the VATSIM Cross The Pond 2020 Westbound will happen on Saturday April 4th, 2020.

The dedicated website is currently being updated with all the relevant information. The airport application should happen early March, and voting will follow shortly thereafter.

A semiannual event, Cross the Pond sees pilots from all over the world make the trek over the Atlantic. One event sees all traffic head westbound (leaving Europe and arriving in North America) and the second event each year sees the traffic do the opposite.

Make sure to stay tuned on FSElite for further information regarding this much expected event.

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POSCON February 2020 Progress Update

Poscon

It has been close to 6 months since POSCON last released a development update to the community. Development seems to have progressed very well and the February 2020 Dev Update by Andrew H. is consequently huge and bears a lot of news.

Public Beta

The pilots public Invite-Only Beta is around the corner. Invites have been sent to the selected pilots who have previously subscribed. There has been up to 700 invitations for Phase 1 pilots. Those pilots will soon receive an approval email. ATC are still hand-picked by the POSCON Staff and will be under a Non-Disclosure Agreement. ATC is still under heavy work, and ATC stations will be scarce during the first weeks of Pilots Public Beta.

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Statement Regarding projectFLY V4 Delay and Reinstatement of V3

Pfly Home Fg Nov 19

A statement issued by projectFLY owner, Matt Davies, was issued with information as to why version 4 of the popular flight logging tool continues to face ongoing delays. The message also confirmed that v3 of projectFLY is now back online. On December 15th 2019, Matt made the decision to take projectFLY offline altogether in an attempt to migrate the platform from the old, costly, infrastructure to a new alternative. This process took place over a period of time with updates from Matt regarding the state of the migration.

Despite the best efforts of the team who worked around the clock, version 4 was never ready “enough” to be released. It was also admitted that even during the downtime for v3, testing on v4 wasn’t being done as “the testing team didn’t actually have access to a working copy of their version as the servers were down”. After about a week, testers finally received an updated Focus Group Build. However, once the new version was online for the testers, many new problems appeared. Matt went onto say “add Christmas to that mix where volunteers are unavailable & you’ve got yourself a tropical storm that won’t disappear.”

As a result, projectFLY v4 was in no fit state to release.

Matt has also said he felt that he gave the community a “false impression” of the application being almost ready. Matt did apologise for this and vowed that the product needs to be 100% ready before it can be released.

The original splash screen when the servers went offline on December 11th due to unpaid bills.

Moving forward, version 3 of projectFLY has been restored on the original servers (GCP) and no data from before the migration was lost. One big question that does come from this, however, is how it would continue to be funded – especially after various campaigns for donations. Matt has said that the current version doesn’t enable the platform to self-sustain, but the donations from previous crowdfunding rounds have covered the costs until “at least March”.

As for the future, Matt said in his message that there will be no timeline for when version 4 will be ready. However, he will be taking time to figure out a “solid development/testing process in place.” In the meantime, users can continue to use projectFLY as a way to track and log their flights via version 3.

Finally, Matt concluded the projectFLY message by saying that he will be “removing my ‘personal’ side from projectFLY & Mettar as a whole”, and will instead have a member of his team conduct communication.

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IVAO Future Software Close To Release

Jakarta

IVAO Public Relations Director Fares Belkhiria has posted a statement on Virtual Sky, IVAO’s magazine, regarding the release date of the three upcoming software of the multiplayer network. The three software are ATC Client Aurora, Pilot Client Altitude and Connector Artifice. The three softwares will be showcased next week-end (see details below) on the Youtube Channel of IVAO and released thereafter.

Aurora has been in the works for several months. The rendition of the software, led by several real world controllers, is designed to closely match real life depiction of airport and enroute sectors. The process of updating sector files has also been cleaned up, with data being stored on the server rather than on the controllers PC, which was the case until now. The release of Aurora will also allow IVAO staff and ATC to move on after the downturn of the IVAC v2 client. The IVAC v2 client was developed by an external company, and the contract quickly showed its limits, the IVAO teams not having access to the original code. This limited the further expansion of the product, and some of the bugs not solved, led several divisions of IVAO recommending not using the software, ultimately leading to its dismissal of the software by most virtual controllers.

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Mettar Simulations’ Suite of Products Down and New Statement

MettarSimulationsBanner

Update: projectFLY is now funded and back online. This also means the other sites including PTA are available again.

Yesterday, numerous websites under the Mettar Simulations umbrella appeared offline. This includes the popular virtual aviation online tool projectFLY, Mettarsim and also SimTweaks / PTA. As of today, the only website online is projectFLY.co.uk.

This is the third occurrence in the past three months in which these websites have gone offline or suffered outages. Back in October, it was confirmed by Matt Davies that due to a lack of funds, and high server costs, Google had shut down their servers until the bills were paid. The community then stepped up and support the projects and soon enough, services resumed.

In November, it was claimed that projectFLY was being “attacked“. Services were restored shortly afterwards. It was then said that once V4 of projectFLY is released, then it would solve the issues as there would be more paid tiers and options. Matt confirmed that they were aiming for a release of December 8th 2019. Currently, a new splash screen sits on the main projectFLY domain saying that “we’re upgrading.” No time frame is currently given.

projectFLY isn’t the only service currently unavailable to the community under the Mettar brand. Simtweaks, which publishes the PTA tool, is also unable to be used. Those that paid for the product currently cannot access the download. According to various AVSIM forum members, the 24-hour outage has also meant that they are unable to activate their product when wishing to use the tool. Why this outage is occurring is not clear. Back in October, it was made clear that Simtweaks / PTA would no longer be impacted by a projectFLY outage. Whilst there’s no evidence that they are linked, it’s hard to imagine this is purely coincidental.

We then contacted projectFLY via their Facebook page to receive comment. We did this to get answers for the community who were begging for answers after 24-hours of silence (aside from “we are working on it” type posts) This is the message we sent to the projectFLY page.

We hid some personal information from the screenshot above. Nothing else edited.

After this message sent, an update statement from Matt Davies was released on Facebook. In regards to projectFLY v4, it is “essentially complete.” The team are awaiting on a green light from the dispatcher partners, AviationCloud. They are away on business, which wasn’t communicated to Matt.

It is also confirmed that the Google Cloud Platform account has unpaid bills. What this means is that until those costs are cleared, no data can be migrated from Google Cloud to their new infrastructure. As a result, Matt is once again asking the community to donate more money to projectFLY. Only once the server costs are covered, can Matt then migrate the data over to projectFLY V4. Until then, no projectFLY and no projectFLY V4. They are keeping a record of everyone who has supported (along with their donation amount) and will be in touch with a “small, but hopefully meaningful way of saying thank you.” Should you wish to donate, you can do so here.

He did say that once they have moved to the new infrastructure, it will be faster and cheaper.

What this update fails to mention is users of PTA and how they can download and activate their products.

As always, we’ll follow the story and report to the community.

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Navigraph Subscription Changes

Navigraph Logotype

Popular FMS (AIRAC) data and charts provider Navigraph has made some changes to the way you can purchase access to their products. Going forward, Navigraph is bundling their FMS Data and Charts subscriptions. There is no official announcement through the Navigraph news section, but on their forums there are a few posts that announce the change and get provide some deeper explanation on it.

Navigraph has up until now been offering their services through three separate subscriptions: an FMS Data subscription, a Charts subscription and an Ultimate subscription. The latter was a combination of the FMS Data and Charts access, and was available through a monthly as well as a yearly subscription.

After the recent changes, Navigraph has upgraded all users of the FMS Data subscription to an Ultimate subscription. Navigraph is doing this without any additional costs for your current subscription period. Your subscription will begin to cost more at the end of your current subscription period +3 months. The three months are considered as complimentary by Navigraph so you can explore the Charts service and see what it has to offer.

Of course all these changes beg the question as to why this is all happening. This was explained by Navigraph too, in the aforementioned forum post. The team sees their software, and software developed by other developers, as increasingly complimenting each other. A good example of this are the planes, most of which use Navigraph data for their navdata. This navdata is complemented by Charts, which can visualise this data and calculate routes based upon it. There are also integrations with services such as SimBrief that use the Navigraph data as an underlying data structure for their route calculation. Another example is how developers are integrating not only the navdata, but also the charts into their add-ons. EFB’s are becoming more of a norm, and many developers are integrating Navigraph Charts into these EFB’s.

Another reason specified by Navigraph for going ahead with these changes is their own roadmap. This roadmap was shared with us earlier this year. The team is working on more products to expand their current offering, and bundling all their products under one subscription is something they wish to do. Some of the roadmap items are VFR charts, weather, traffic network and better integrations for other add-on developers.

This change received so much comments, that CEO and Co-Founder Magnus Axholt took to the forums with a more in-depth explanation on things. Magnus addresses some of the most common comments, such as people simply having no interest in the Charts app, or the increase in price for people with a subscription (after their subscription period ends, +3 months). He also re-iterates that they want to serve their users the best way they can.

Update: Navigraph has reverted all the changes discussed above. You can read more about the reversion in this article.

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AIG Unveils First Features Of New AI Engine For Prepar3D And FSX

AIG

Alpha India Group Lead Developer Kai P. Kamjunke has posted today on the AIG forums the first insights on the upcoming AIG Traffic Controller tool. This utility, announced in June 2019, aims at correcting all the flaws of the Prepar3D AI engine. The current AI engine of Prepar3D v4 is very similar to the one introduced in the ESP engine when FS2002 was released in October 2001. The overhaul of this engine is a feature that has been awaited for a long time by pilots who prefer to use AI traffic rather than flying online.

The new engine will use SimConnect in order to inject the new traffic into Prepar3D. For the moment, the utility is target at FSX and Prepar3D but should also be compatible with FS9. Kai is also working with other unnamed developers regarding realistic AI traffic separation and SID/STARs following.

The AI traffic will now be able to follow a specific flightplan. As an example, Kai showcased a flightplan used by the SOFIA Boeing 747SP, that will be reproducible in the Prepar3D world.

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Little Navmap 2.4.4 Update Released

Overview

Little Navmap developer Alexander Barthel has released another big update for his Little Navmap utility.

This update brings a lot of new features to Little Navmap. Among them are a permanent aircraft performance collection, the wind aloft forecast, a complete rework of the logbook and the ability for users to create final approach vertical guidance such as ILS glideslopes at any airport. The entire changelog is huge and can be found here. You will find below the most notable changes for version 2.4.4.

Users having previously installed Little Navmap will have to take the followings steps in order to properly update :

  • Reload the scenery library.
  • Reinstall the Little Xpconnect X-Plane plugin to see bug fixes.
  • Little Navmap resets the map theme back to OpenStreetMap to avoid wrong selection of the now unavailable OpenMapSurfer theme.
  • Route description options are reset to defaults.

Little Navmap has lately become a big player in the crowded world of moving maps and flight planning utilities. It is available for X-Plane, Prepar3D. Being a quality freeware, it has met great success among the community. It is a very helpful tool for IFR flying and training. Stay tuned on FSElite for further updates on this promising utility.

Notable Changes

  • Winds aloft forecast for display and fuel planning.
  • Wind gust factor in airport weather symbols.
  • Alternate airports for flight plan and fuel planning.
  • Complete rework of logbook. Separated from userpoints and improved functionality.
  • Permanent aircraft performance collection. Results can be merged any time. Improvements to fuel planning.
  • Accurate fuel and time prediction in aircraft progress tab based on aircraft performance.
  • Internal webserver. Access map and flight plan from everywhere.
  • ILS tooltip and information.
  • User defined final approach for vertical guidance including VASI and ILS slope at any airport.
  • Preferred runway by wind for airports in tooltip and information.
  • Nearest navaids and airports around a selected airport.
  • Display holdings on map like traffic patterns.
  • Two new map navigation modes: Click to center and navigation areas for touchscreens.
  • Map images can now be saved with an arbitrary size.
  • Hide columns in flight plan table.
  • Can highlight full airways from information window Map link like airspaces.
  • Improved airspace database. Added user airspaces. Assign online centers to airspace geometry.
  • Movable and closable tabs. Tab menu button and context menu for tabs.
  • Fixed all known procedure display issues.
  • Display alternate fuel units and true course optionally.
  • User features like range rings, holds and others can be hidden on the map.
  • Error and warning messages in user interface have tooltip for more information now.
  • Many user interface improvements and bug fixes for procedure display, METAR parsing and more.
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[Updated] VATSIM Sets Connections Limits For The Weekend

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Following the successful launch of the new Audio for VATSIM at the beginning of the week, VATSIM has released a statement regarding the maximum number of connections on the VATSIM network for the upcoming weekend.

Due to the lack of stability of the voice server when the amount of users exceeds a little over 1,000 users, the Board of Governors of VATSIM has decided to limit the number of connection to the network to 147 simultaneous connections per server through the weekend. This means that the maximum limit of users over the VATSIM network will be 1,036 across their 7 servers.

VATSIM expects to reach the cap a few times during the weekend. In order to minimize disturbance, a code of good practices has been put up, so that a maximum of people can enjoy the new Audio for VATSIM this weekend.

With the upcoming Cross The Pond taking place in 7 days, it is essential that the stability problems are solved in due time. The limitations will be removed as soon as the stability source has been pinned down.

Audio for VATSIM is a complete overhaul of the VATSIM transmission network. The voice servers now simulate VHF range degradation, accurate frequency blocking, realistic voice sounding, HF simulation, voice UNICOM and much more.

Update posted on 20-Oct-19 @ 07:30Z by Guillaume

VATSIM Matthew Bartels has posted a further UNICOM policy change that takes effect immediately.

“If no ATC is online in your area only tune the UNICOM frequency 122.80 from pushback to top of climb and again from top of descent until parked on stand. During cruise, tune off of the global Unicom frequency and tune a random frequency until top of descent.”

Bartels added that this issue with AFV is beeing actively worked on.

Audio for VATSIM temporary Code of Conduct

  • Upon completion of a flight, users are requested to immediately disconnect instead of staying connected while idle at a gate to listen to the traffic. In the same vein, users are requested not to connect to VATSIM until they are ready to file their flight plan and receive clearance.
  • If you are doing a longer haul flight and anticipate the need for an extended step away, please disconnect from VATSIM. Not only is this part of the Code of Conduct, but with limited connection availability it allows those actively using the network to connect. Supervisors have been advised to disconnect users who have stepped away whilst in an active Air Traffic Controller’s airspace and do not respond quickly per CoC B3.
  • Air Traffic Controllers are requested to  consider giving up their sessions to another qualified controller who wants to control the same position if the controller has been on position for 2 hours or more. Please ensure that the controller relieving you has successfully connected prior to disconnecting so your position does not go offline and is unable to get another controller online.
  • Air Traffic Controllers are also asked to not transmit and receive on multiple frequencies. Each controller may transmit and receive on only one frequency unless temporarily relieving another controller in the top down hierarchy
  • Where we reach server capacity, VATSIM may suspend voice ATIS connections and observer connections in favor of having slots available for active controller and pilot connections. Such messages will be broadcast to all users on the network. Should you receive such a broadcast, Air Traffic Controllers are requested to disconnect their ATIS messages and proceed using a text only ATIS and Observers are requested to log off and reconnect as a Pilot or Air Traffic Controller or continue their observing session at a later time.
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Update (16-Oct-19): ProjectFLY Status Update [Back Online]

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Update posted 16-Oct-19 @ 15:30 by Calum

Since the original post, projectFLY is now back online. The team left comments on various social networks saying that the team has “cleared enough of the bill to have the services reinstated.” Whilst the team said there is still £700 left to clear from the original bill, the servers are now back online.

Following this, it is also said that the team will be “working as close to around the clock as possible in order to ensure v4 is out ASAP.” It is re-confirmed that v4 of projectFLY will have a subscription service, which “providing enough people subscribe, [to] stop things like this from happening again.”

 

== Original Article posted 15-Oct-19 @ 19:45z ==

Earlier today, at roughly 1500Z, popular community flight tracking and booking tool projectFLY went down. Matt Davies has taken to Facebook with a status update regarding projectFLY and the current situation he and the tool find themselves in.

In his post, Matt explains that the current downtime is because the Google account that projectFLY runs on has been suspended. This is because of an outstanding bill of 2750GBP, which Matt is currently not able to pay. He was under the expectation that he would have until the end of the month to get this bill paid, which is sadly not the case. Matt has been raising money via his livestream as well as other methods to keep projectFLY up and running.

Matt’s update continues on a more personal note, talking about his sentiment regarding the community. Towards the end of the update he states that projectFLY is not dead, and that “it’ll never die”. Though small downtime like this may happen, now and in the future, Matt is looking for different ways to keep projectFLY up and running. What the current downtime means for v4 of projectFLY remains to be seen, though Matt did state that v4 would hopefully become self-sustaining.

As for PTA users, these are currently also affected by this issue due to the PTA activation running on the same servers as projectFLY. Matt is currently working on setting up the activation servers on a different hosting platform. This should be done by tomorrow, according to him.

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