• Review: Pro-ATC From Pointsoft

    Review: Pro-ATC From Pointsoft

    By Stuart Outram

    We May Have A Winner - All Slow Ahead!

    It is realistic
    The pilot does not sound disjointed and disembodied
    The voices are 'voices'
    ATC chatter is like the real thing.

    I am feeling a little faint...

    It isn't completely Peter Perfect, but I do believe that Pointsoft are doing a really good job of making something worthwhile here, that will move FSX and Prepar3D ATC on into the future. It is so new, that if they have managed to make it this good now, with tweaks and screwdriver turns, it could be very good indeed.

    As said, it isn't perfect, but it does have the scaffolding to make it very compelling.

    My Mesmer may have been overly 'rised' in the last couple of days, as without the aid of a safety net, advice from a sensible person, and a degree of lightness in the wallet area, I have taken the plunge and purchased Pro-ATC from Pointsoft.

    I first heard about this just before Christmas 2012.

    Hmmmmmm...

    "How good is the inbuilt FSX ATC," I had then asked myself?

    "How good is a blind man (no guide dog), guiding you through a field of razor blades?" Came back the reply.

    I am assuming, like me, that you will have all experienced the contact moment with FSX Radar, when you state, "With you Air Aerobic 242, Flight Level 100, descending 2,000 feet..."

    The jolly reply being..."Air Aerobic 242, Roger. Cleared for the Approach, Runway 06L, turn 360 degrees, invert your aircraft and climb to FL140. Good luck!"

    Considering that you are presently now going in the opposite direction, and climbing like a rocket ship, you MAY have lost some confidence in Roger Cantcareless down at 'blind as a bat' radar control? Me too.

    Now...

    I have watched Radar Contact for a long time, and mostly from afar. I have not been able to bring myself to purchase it, due to my own perception of it having a clunky 'metal mickey' voice set. I know nothing else about it, or whether it has improved in recent times.

    For those uninitiated (and for those too scared to come out from behind the sofa), there are YouTube examples for you to gauge from your own opinion. I make no further comment either for or against.

    Spooky for me though! It did put me off flying alone I can tell you - seemingly having the effect of an out of body experience. Disembodiment is not my idea of a good day on the flight deck.

    I have therefore held off from another dip into the wallet of never ending FSX fortuna.

    Always wanting to improve the experience, I have kept a look out for what Pointsoft has been doing over the last few months (since around December for me), and I have become a somewhat grudging but gradually turning acolyte of their Pro-ATC offering.

    For me, it started off as another - well, it does seem better than FSX ATC...but then again, for accuracy, my dog Butch barking into a bucket sounds better than FSX ATC.

    Then it all started to come into focus - my eyes have not been in focus for years, and I found this a quite vivid experience. For their forum was alight with ideas, suggestions, prods and pokes, and ways to make this product zing along. Amazingly, the developers are listening! They have been improving this product continuously, and I was so taken up with their progress, that in the depths of night, when all around me were asleep, I borrowed my wife's purse, and raided her cookie jar. Purchase made, downloaded, and countdown completed, before the dog had seen the rabbit!


    21 Comments
    1. StuartOutram's Avatar
      StuartOutram -
      As an extra piece of information, to add to my Review

      Since completing this Review, and as it awaited publishing, there have been further significant improvements to the product. You can now select or re-select both a SID, prior to departure, and a STAR on approach, just prior to reaching the entry point to the STAR you have chosen.

      This is a significant improvement, and I have found it to be very successful during wind shift on Approach, and the ATC Flexibility in guiding you to the re-defined Runway LOC/ILS and FAF is very convincing and reliable.

      This continues to be a product in development - I am also impressed that the Developer is really listening to the End Users.

      I am very much enjoying utilising this program, which continues to enhance the FSX experience. The Real as it Gets experience continues, beyond the demise of the Microsoft Flight Simulator Team.

      Stuart R Outram
      Reviewer
      Pro-ATC
    1. ballooningrich's Avatar
      ballooningrich -
      From what I have seen this product does not provide real-life-like ATC. It is better than FSX's built in ATC but so its so far away from using correct phraseology for UK & ICAO.

      Needs voice recognition (speech readback not menu selections) and updated phraseology (based on UK CAA CAP413) then I may be intrested.

      Keep up the good work.

      Dickie

      RW Pilot & ATC
    1. stufer's Avatar
      stufer -
      I fly the piper 180 from cerenado on a regular basis around all the ORBX PNW airports. I have all the controls from Saitek and the REX extreme program. I have used VOX ATC in the past but got frustrated with the invisible traffic and un-natural voices. Recently I have been thinking of going back, but if PRO-ATC can get speech recognition with these realistic voices I may choose to go with this program. If they do that I will start saving for a motion simulator. Then my simulator will truly be as real as it gets!

      Keep up the great work, look forward to realistic ATC.
    1. StuartOutram's Avatar
      StuartOutram -
      Dickie,

      A very relevant and 'on the money' comment.

      I am pretty sure that the 'speech' idea is very much in the minds of the Developers, and it would make this excellent product even more rounded.

      The idea of emulating the acknowledged ATC protocols is also an interesting observation. Whether it is probable, or even possible, I am unsure. Having some knowledge of the Developers mind-set, and their quest to make this product into a top quality fully accurate and working program, I am certain that they will be looking at all possibilities.

      Stuart
      Reviewer
      Pro-ATC/X
    1. hillman's Avatar
      hillman -
      Certainly an improvement of FSX, but the Menu driven selections HAVE to go. I use the IVONA speech engine which sounds even more realistic (Much less Jilted) but is payware. For me to consider this product, the option to use IVONA speech would need to be present. Good improvment so far tho!

      http://www.ivona.com/us/
    1. SmittyBRS's Avatar
      SmittyBRS -
      I wish there was a user manual to read. Went to the site and registered in the Forum but the only instructional material seems to be the videos. They are well done, although rather drawn out and overly "detailed", but don't really answer questions. The more I watched, the more questions I have.

      Being a US pilot, my concern is how well the program emulates US procedures and handles Skyvector type FP imports. A check of their Forum suggests that there are still problems. I agree that the developer listens to user input, but I believe I'll wait until it's out of advanced Beta stage. It will certainly remain on my "to get later" list !
    1. MBabba's Avatar
      MBabba -
      Quote Originally Posted by ballooningrich View Post
      From what I have seen this product does not provide real-life-like ATC. It is better than FSX's built in ATC but so its so far away from using correct phraseology for UK & ICAO.

      Needs voice recognition (speech readback not menu selections) and updated phraseology (based on UK CAA CAP413) then I may be intrested.

      Keep up the good work.

      Dickie

      RW Pilot & ATC
      Hi Dickie,

      voice recognition is in work, although it will be an extra module you'll have to purchase if you want it. Pricing isn't fixed yet. How ever, it'll let you communicate with controllers and your copilot via speech recognition.
    1. johnan's Avatar
      johnan -
      I too would like a written manual, but they are very time consuming to produce and as so many new features are being added, or modified , on a regular basis it would probably be best to wait until Proatc is just about finalised before committing pen to paper.

      I like being part of a developement process and seeing it improve and become more user friendly with every tweak is part of the fun.

      This is excellent software and the support is faultless and accessible.

      Well done to the authors.
    1. Mower's Avatar
      Mower -
      Ball park Fall 2013 purchase for me so watching but not pulling the trigger as yet.
    1. kowgli's Avatar
      kowgli -
      I don't understand why I should assign the departure and approach procedures? Isn't that one of the basic things ATC should do? Based on my position/departure direction and RWY in use ask me to follow a specified SID or STAR?
    1. andreaswoe1's Avatar
      andreaswoe1 -
      Forget it: it s just a protoype, nothing more: no AI-Traffic integration at all, always the same random ATC chatter files, always a pre-defined route only, no directs possible, no IFR pickups or cancelations, no deviations etc.

      It looks like a "functional prototype": a flight with pro-atc is just like a pre-recorded movie (u have define the whole route including SID and STAR, so u never get any surprises, different approaches etc.) and u always expect the route exactly as filed.

      Same on weather tools, like Active Sky or OpusFSX : no integration at all (wrong ATIS and opposite runway directions against AI is possible when the weather has changed, so never make a long whole flight with that).

      There is still much (!!!!) work to do for the developer to make that a useable ATC tool like JDTs Radar Contact.

      Its not a product yet: it´s just a very expensive prieview for 49 €.

      p.s but the phraesiology is really funny some times (i dont know if the developer is familar with real ATC), it doesnt match to any regulations (some kind of "mish-mash" between FAA- and JAR-FCL)
    1. qqwertzde's Avatar
      qqwertzde -
      For me, Pro-ATC doesn't work well at all. And in their user forums they suppress all negative comments. My post got deleted even though I only advised people to do their research on Pro-ATC.
    1. Stubbs's Avatar
      Stubbs -
      Quote Originally Posted by andreaswoe1 View Post
      Forget it: it s just a protoype, nothing more: no AI-Traffic integration at all, always the same random ATC chatter files, always a pre-defined route only, no directs possible, no IFR pickups or cancelations, no deviations etc.

      It looks like a "functional prototype": a flight with pro-atc is just like a pre-recorded movie (u have define the whole route including SID and STAR, so u never get any surprises, different approaches etc.) and u always expect the route exactly as filed.

      Same on weather tools, like Active Sky or OpusFSX : no integration at all (wrong ATIS and opposite runway directions against AI is possible when the weather has changed, so never make a long whole flight with that).

      There is still much (!!!!) work to do for the developer to make that a useable ATC tool like JDTs Radar Contact.

      Its not a product yet: it´s just a very expensive prieview for 49 €.

      p.s but the phraesiology is really funny some times (i dont know if the developer is familar with real ATC), it doesnt match to any regulations (some kind of "mish-mash" between FAA- and JAR-FCL)

      Where to start....
      1) No, you do not have to define a SID and STAR! You will get different approaches (and departures) either due to weather or you declare an emergency.

      2) It absolutely DOES integrate with ActiveSky and Opus, I doubt you ever ran PATX.

      3) Radar Contact is buggy, robotic garbage. In addition, it is no longer supported by its developer, all they do is collect the money now. It is also funny that the RC4 website NEWS has not changed since 2007!!!! Good luck getting support with that crap.

      You may not like ProATC and that is fine, but do not post a bush of incorrect information!
    1. Pat B's Avatar
      Pat B -
      Quote Originally Posted by StuartOutram View Post
      As an extra piece of information, to add to my Review

      I am very much enjoying utilising this program, which continues to enhance the FSX experience. The Real as it Gets experience continues, beyond the demise of the Microsoft Flight Simulator Team.

      Stuart R Outram
      Reviewer
      Pro-ATC
      New to FSX and find it ironic that after reading this article i have no idea what ProATC is suppose to do ?
    1. portanav's Avatar
      portanav -
      I have used both Radar Contact 4 and Pro ATC/X, and between the two I prefer Pro ATC/X and have made it my offline ATC software. It works better, is more realistic to real ATC (I am a retired Airline Pilot) and has far more features than RC4 (like being able to add unlimited ATC chatter or voices). It also includes a copilot for checklist reading and call-outs, and a cabin attendant for in-flight passenger briefings.

      Pro ATC/X is now on version 1.4.4.2 which is working flawlessly, and there is beta testing for a newer version, which is said to have many improvements and new features added from forum suggestions.

      If anyone should asks for my choice between the two, my choice is Pro-ATC/X.

      Regards,
      Michael.
    1. Bud Fields's Avatar
      Bud Fields -
      Quote Originally Posted by portanav View Post
      I have used both Radar Contact 4 and Pro ATC/X, and between the two I prefer Pro ATC/X and have made it my offline ATC software. It works better, is more realistic to real ATC (I am a retired Airline Pilot) and has far more features than RC4 (like being able to add unlimited ATC chatter or voices). It also includes a copilot for checklist reading and call-outs, and a cabin attendant for in-flight passenger briefings.

      Pro ATC/X is now on version 1.4.4.2 which is working flawlessly, and there is beta testing for a newer version, which is said to have many improvements and new features added from forum suggestions.

      If anyone should asks for my choice between the two, my choice is Pro-ATC/X.

      Regards,
      Michael.
      Where do you fly, sim-wise? I'm interested in feedback on US as well as EUR routes. Is this product sensible for US pilots?
    1. blockhead's Avatar
      blockhead -
      This is one of the most , 'I suppose a realistic' ATC add on for FSX. I cannot guarantee you that this software is perfect. It is not! I am willing to review this product with the entire truth. The good thing about this product is that you can select different parts of the map and click on different countries of the world and add on either real recorded radio communications with English accents over the UK, or add on real recorded radio communications over France and German for Germany, etc. These are repeated over certain minutes during your flight or on the ground at an airport. Spanish, English, French and German are only available with this product. However, you can add your own, but has not been looked into properly.
      With regards to the work of the developers, this product I would give, just 8 out of 10. The reason for this is that it seems that there are still issues with the behaviour of this product, for example; if you press a number on your keyboard by accident, say No. 1 - Aborting Take Off, after take off clearance you'll have to end PROATC X and having to start again! Restarting all your checklists and despite at the start of your take off run, the ATC can act differently, by telling you that you are no.2 in sequence by the ATC controller, despite he gave you taxi clearance and take off clearance beforehand. This can be frustrating for the pilot (you) as your aircraft is holding up all ground traffic and traffic coming in to land. So you ask by pressing No.1 -Say Again? for Air traffic controller to clear you for take off -but get no response! This is very annoying. If this happened in real life, I am sure there would be uproar and airlines would be all over the press and in the media due to delays and cancellations because of some deaf, dumb, ignorant tower controller! I'm afraid it can happen in the air as well, things may not work out to plan whilst airborne with this product. The developers seem to be very slow and possibly not working on any updates for this product. I am certain that many things need addressing, but everyone I am sure are awaiting more decent updates. It is worth buying - but be careful what buttons to press, as it doesn't seem to resemble your recent plans. There is also a Save Situation in this product whereas you can save the ATC area where you are flying...but you also need to save your flight in FSX, if you need a break or in case anything goes wrong, such as your computer crashing etc. There is one problem with this...your Flight Plan cannot be loaded once you exit FSX and start off where you last saved your flight. Microsoft's built in ATC is basic and more straightforward, but somewhat boring after a long while. So basically, you are better off with the default ATC and with PROATC X, the realism is with the Checklists/background real radio ATC/ Flight planning. Apparently, the ATC voices in this product is still 'robotic' though more realistic, but at least we'll give the developers credit for trying their best. But they really should start getting much quicker at updating and resolving annoying little issues in their software!
    1. Dawie777's Avatar
      Dawie777 -
      I had high hopes for Pro Atc. Initially, it was good to have an alternative to the default FSX/P3D ATC. I also downloaded the payware MaVe voice sets, which enhanced the authenticity somewhat.

      My disappointment with Pro Atc is that the program has a high tenancy to malfunction, especially when being vectored towards the destination airport. The Pro Atc forum is clearly slowing down, as more and more equally dissatisfied customers do not get satisfactory answers to their legitimate concerns, with no clear indications from the developers as to what is being done to address these matters, and even less indication as to when updates to solve them may become available.

      If I'd known the frustration in store for me when buying Pro Atc, I'd have avoided it entirely, but happy to say that I've learned my lesson, and have removed it entirely from my sim.
    1. Mower's Avatar
      Mower -
      Appears to me that oncourse software pf3 is a much better option.
    1. lcheagle's Avatar
      lcheagle -
      This product is not prime time ready IMO and it's very likely you will need help for integrating it with your sim. I haven't used it a lot yet but getting technical help was a nightmare for me.

      I can attest their forum is the MOST aggressive place I have ever been. Just for that I'll spend my money somewhere else... period...
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