A few weeks ago, we were contacted by a small French development team in regards to a brand new application called OnAir. Since then, Aerosoft shared a huge post regarding some of the exciting features to come with the product, which is currently going through a beta testing process.
What is OnAir: Airline Manager?
In its simplist form, OnAir: Airline Manager is an MMO-style application that runs a persistent world running in real-time. As with other economy/tycoon systems, you start from the bottom and you have to work your way up through the ranks taking almost everything into consideration. Fuel prices, landing fees, cargo costs and much more are all part of the calculation into growing your airline and business. However you choose to get involved, you are in control. The system will allow you to be a pilot, manage the airline or other aspects of the operation. You can also work with friends or AI to help run the airline.
It has been designed to run alongside FSX/P3D and X-Plane, but even those without a flight simulator can take part.
At the bottom of this interview is a feature list highlighting some of the key aspects.
The application is due for a release on November 4th, but we wanted to give some insight into the development team themselves in preparation for the release.
OnAir: Airline Manager Interview
FSElite: Tell us who you are and what it is you do?
OnAir: We are a small family business. We have made mobile applications for big Companies and Public Authorities for 10 years and we think it’s time to move to something more enjoyable!
We have 4 members on the team:
Sandra – Master of things and Quality assurance
Perrine – Design UX
Arthur – Developer
Antoine – Private Pilot and Product Manager
FSElite Can you tell us a little about the history of OnAir and why you decided to make it?
OnAir: OnAir was prototyped more than 20 years ago in web-only form. Some people known in the Flight Simulator world were informed of the preliminary project (like Mathijs Kok now in Aerosoft and people at Lago). We didn’t have the technologies that we have today, especially mobile applications and we decided to postpone the project.
I always wanted to have a good reason to fly in my simulator and I wasn’t happy with the products on the market, so we decided to reignite the OnAir project.
FSElite: How will OnAir differ from similar applications?
It’s a persistent world and you will be able to interact with the world by using your mobile (iOS and Android) even when not online with your computer. Unlike a responsive web, it will be a real application keeping things in the cache when not connected and allowing players to see what is happening with their company and make decisions and best offers for the proposed jobs.
One great difference also is that there is a modding mechanism included in the main architecture.
The publisher will be Aerosoft, so I will quote what Mathijs said:
“OnAir: Airline Manager is a massively multiplayer online (MMO) with a persistent world that runs in real-time. As the core, it is a traditional tycoon with traditional tycoon elements like a skill tree and increasing difficulty levels. Designed for flight simmers AND tycoon enthusiasts it is a project Aerosoft loves. It’s the first project we did that aims at ALL of our customers! You can use it with FSX/P3D/X-Plane but also without a flight simulator!”
FSElite: What other features are you so far proud to include within the application?
The user can pause their Company and doesn’t need to fly continuously to avoid losing credits on fixed aircraft and employees fees
We will also provide a standalone version for players who don’t want or need to play with others with an import/export feature to switch from standalone to the online version and vice versa.
We also included a Survival mode, a difficulty level meant to make the game more challenging for experienced players. When in Survival Mode, many options are disabled, and you have access to a leader board based on your company ROA (Return on Assets) ratio.
Survival can be only be selected at the start of a company, once deactivated, survival mode cannot be activated again for this company.
FSElite: How has development been? When did you start? What challenges have you faced?
I was a Microsoft Certified Trainer for more than 15 years and the whole team was used to ASP MVC (used for the back-office), WPF and XAML (used for the client), XAMARIN (used for the mobile applications). The Databases are SQL Servers addressed via Entity Framework. So.. no risk in development.
We started prototypes 3 years ago during Saturdays, Sundays, and Vacations. We started the structured main development 6 months ago, and unlike the projects for our former customers, we could use Complete Agile Methodology, which made the project management very simple.
The only real challenge we had to face is the “World” part of the project. It has to perform well:
The service cannot be hosted on a web service, the http/https protocols are too heavy and slow. We developed a very quick specialized service, getting and sending commands via simple TCP/IP without any more bytes than we need 😊
Based on Microsoft AZURE, we start with a small configuration and will be able to scale by adding resources without changing any line of code.
FSElite: What are your release plans?
The release is planned for November 4th. So far, we have always kept the milestones we planned.
FSElite: How have you listened to feedback so far?
This is the main purpose of the beta we started 2 months ago. The forums are open to everybody and the system is usable for free during this period.
We already implemented many features asked by beta testers and fixed many bugs thanks to the great variety of platforms and add-ons our beta testers use.
FSElite: Where do you see OnAir in 12 months?
At the center of a flight sim passionate community seeking a good reason to fly
FSElite: What features can we look forward to?
- Many ideas, but we will analyze the user feedback after release to decide what and in which order we will implement them.
- More immersion (cargos/pax visible in the simulator)
- More diversity in offered jobs
- Integration with 3rd party products like REP, A2A, …
- Regular Routes integration
- Buy a route from/to specific airports and hour slots on at airports
- ·Exploit the route by scheduling regular flights
- Passengers and charter will be available automatically, the number depending on how many competitors you have on the same trip and the reputation you have.
- More social features
- Player Chat (this one will certainly be already available at release)
- Leaderboards for players using the “Survival Mode”
- Opening to modders: we already have prototypes of modding and the tutorial we will include at release will demonstrate this feature.
FSElite: Anything else you would like to add?
We will be demonstrating OnAir: Airline Manager during the FSWeekend event in Lelystad at the Aerosoft booth. Be sure to come by and check it out.
Thank you to the team at OnAir for taking the time to talk to us.
- Persistent real time world. It never stops, 24/7, with real time weather, real world events. It’s alive.
- Many roles possible. Managing an airline or FBO (selling maintenance, fuel and even aircraft), fly as a pilot, try to find the most profitable jobs and have other airlines fly them etc. We build the world; you need to decide how to use it.
- Designed with player interaction in mind. Strategic alliances between player possible. Code sharing. You got an aircraft you are not using, rent it out to your friends!
- Hire people. You can have your friends work for your company or hire AI bots.
- Gain skills. Make your company more efficient or being able to handle more complex tasks by using your skill point on the Skill Tree. From a license to do medical flights to better skill in hiring cabin crew.
- Manage your company using the special Smartphone app. If you have multiple aircraft flying long distances you can monitor their flights.
- Logistic Center that has thousands of assignments ready. Never again wonder where you are going to fly. Just pick an assignment and go fly!
- All airport, most aircraft. You can fly from every airport in the world in almost all generally used aircraft. You can even add aircraft as long as you are willing to do a check ride in a simulator so we can measure its performance.
- A simulation for flight simmers AND tycoon/manager enthusiasts. Fully designed to be used with or without a connected simulator! Compatible with all versions of FSX, all versions of P3D and X-Plane 10 and 11. Support for the new Microsoft Flight Simulator in progress. There is no difference in gameplay between sim-connected and not connected versions. Same world, same interaction.
- For simulator users:
- All your flights are monitored in detail and logged into the system using a very clever system that needs almost no attention.
- Allows time compression
- Allows flights to be stopped and resumed later.
Features compared to other similar simulations
- Other Airline Managers often use fictive airports, OnAir uses EVERY airport in the world.
- Other Airline Managers are only focused on the flying and financial aspects, OnAir looks at far more. From hotel costs for your crew to relocation costs.
- If you are using FSX, P3D or X-Plane you can fly the flights yourself. You are not just the ‘owner’, you are also a part of the staff and play an active role.
- OnAir allows ALL of our customers to play together, simmers or gamers
- OnAir uses many real-world elements, from weather to real-world events (for example Tour de France)