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What is THE best way to fly realistic IFR commercial routes?


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Hey all,


I've played flight simulator on and off for many years, but recently have gotten a lot more serious about it and have started trying to do a lot of realistic IFR commercial flying. I've been tracking down approach plates, practicing IFR approaches, etc.


I'm trying to get a lot of practice in on the offline simulator before I start venturing into the world of VATSIM. So, I wanted to ask you all what the best way to get the most realistic commercial IFR flying experience out of FSX is, including the use of freeware add-ons.


I'm running FSX steam edition, mostly flying the default 737-800. Usually when I fly I will generate an IFR flight plan using the default flight planner, use ATC, and have then guide me out of the departure airport and give vectors for the ILS approach.


I've been learning more about SIDs and STARs and understand that they don't really work with the default ATC and flight planning capabilities of FSX. Are there any good ways to fix this? Also, is there a good way of knowing if the approach plates you find online will be usable for FSX (seeing as how many of their VOR and ILS info is several years outdated). Alternatively, is there a way to update the information in FSX so that it matches currently available plates?


Any other tips/tricks/must-have add-ons for realistic commercial transport flying?



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You can update the waypoints in fsx. I also fly the default aircraft with the default gps. I can fly approaches using real world charts with updated waypoints. In addition, that site has a flight planner that allows you to manually type in waypoints from the charts. Makes flying SIDS and STARS easy. Hope this helps.



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One way to go about it is to buy addon aircraft with updateable navigation databases and flight management systems that allows you to enter routes that include SIDs, STARs and Airways. There are quite a few options such as PMDG 737, Aerosoft Airbus, or iFly. To keep the nav databases up to date you would need to buy a subscription from Navigraph or Aerosoft's NavData Pro. For flight plans there is a good free option called SimBrief, or you can even just copy real world flight plans off of FlightAware. There are also payware flight planners such as PFPX.


Using the above solution allows you to use present-day real-world procedure (ie SIDs, STARs and Instrument Approaches) and airway charts. You might want to also update the FSX magnetic variation data from the same website mqytn links above so that your bearings will match up to current charts. The above website also has some tools to update navigational aids (in case you use VORs for example), ILS frequencies and runway numbers.


One problem is that the FSX airports themselves (ie. runways, taxiways, terminals, parking etc) are not up to date. So your present-day charts might show a runway that is not there in FSX, or you might get lost trying to use current Taxi charts, or the airport might be missing from FSX entirely! The only solution here is to update the airport files, either by looking in the file library for updates or by updating them yourself using Airport Design Editor or some similar software.


Another thing to keep in mind is that FSX default ATC is not going to understand your flight plans, so personally I either just fly with ATC in VFR mode or ignore ATC completely. There are payware ATC programs available such as PRO-ATC/X and PFE which would allows you to fly realistic flight plans with ATC, or you can use VATSIM or PilotEdge which is the most realistic possible.


You should also invest in a good weather engine if you haven't already. I use Active Sky 2016. There are some free options available too, a Google search should turn them up.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I am pretty new to online simulation flying, but not new, in fact "old" to aviation in the real world. I am using FSX along with iFly 747-400. I subscribe to Navigraph FMS 4 times a year updates and have generated flight plans using SimBrief.


I am totally amazed at being able to easily generate a flight plan for virtual flying. iFly 747-400 is just fantastic, very accurate and nicely detailed. It is not totally realistic, I have found items that are not accurately replicated, but it is very, very good, certainly worth the purchase. I have the PMDG 777, another fantastic product and simulation.


Can you tell me a little more about VATSIM? I may find that to be a lot of fun. Being that I am in the twilight of my career, it may be a way to stay "active" when I am not teaching or checking in the real simulators. I do not have a good weather engine, so I will look at Active Sky 2016, I have heard of that product.

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