X-Plane implements lots of things well, but AI traffic isn’t one of them. There have been many attempts to implement AI traffic; some payware, some freeware. None of them have encapsulated all the features we want or need when it comes to creating busier skies. The latest release to try and attempt to inject the next level of life into X-Plane is Traffic Global XP from Just Flight. Just Flight has lots of experience in creating AI movement for the flight simulation community but their focus has been around the ESP based simulators, never X-Plane. Traffic Global for FSX and P3D has been released in early access stage for some time, and although it has received some minor updates, the addon remains in early access. Traffic Global XP for X-Plane however, is a full release. The developer’s reasoning behind this isn’t because the X-Plane version is further along than the FSX/P3D version. Instead, the two are separate programs that share some models and texturing, but the coding behind the scenes is very different, and the two products just share the name. This review doesn’t serve the purpose of comparing the level of detail or execution of Traffic Global across different platforms. Instead, I set out to discover what may or may not make Traffic Global XP the best AI traffic addition to the X-plane platform yet.
Traffic Global XP is available in an instant download format, direct from the Just Flight website and it costs £35.00. Since the release, there have been 4 updates, some more major than others. Each update is provided by simply re-downloading the latest version from the My Account section of the website. The team is constantly adding more models and airlines along with any bug fixes to help improve the system. The version I have for this review is version 1.0.8796, there has been 1 update since this release which addressed some additional minor bugs. The installation process is quick and simple once downloaded. You run the installer and follow the instructions. The only thing the installer may ask you, is to locate your X-Plane folder where it will install Traffic Global XP. The overall size Traffic Global XP takes up on your hard disk is around 7GB. Once installed, the program is ready to go. Open up X-Plane and your airports and skies will be populated automatically each time you start your simulator.
As soon as you start X-Plane for the first time after install, the sheer difference that Traffic Global XP makes is immediately apparent. Starting from a stand at London Gatwick, I was astounded by how many different airlines and aircraft I could see. The modelling of the aircraft is some of the best modelling I have seen when it comes to an AI aircraft package. Just Flight has taken time to model over 60 different aircraft, including the latest aircraft such as the Airbus A350. All planes come with variable speed animated turbine fans or props, working landing gear, flaps and speed brakes. The models are high fidelity and look impressive. Each model takes advantage of the default particle effect system that comes with X-Plane. This means you see exhaust heat coming from engines when they are on and this effect varies whether the AI aircraft’s engines are on full power or not. AI traffic in cruise also pulls white contrails across the skies. Contrails do reset every time you select another view of your aircraft but from the flight deck, you often spot the contrails before you spot the aircraft itself which helps identify traffic en route.