Jim Keir, a software engineer at Laminar Research, took to the X-Plane developer blog to detail a slew of changes coming to the X-Plane 12.06 update namely the air traffic control AI. He talks about the ongoing development these past few months and what is to be expected in the near future.
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What’s new with X-Plane 12.06?
Mr. Keir presents us with a huge list of high-level changes coming with the latest update to X-Plane 12.06 with added explanations. A few of the major changes include modifying the altitude monitoring to try and remove inappropriate warnings which had been a long-standing bug, fixing unwanted transmission that was possible during the spawn of AI on arrival clogging up airwaves for the first couple of minutes, and allowing editing of ATC flight info if required information is missing even if a flight is underway.
Another change included is the “fix_tropo_jumps” fix, where people flying airliners found that their altitude would suddenly change during cruise, sometimes by hundreds of feet which resulted in the autopilot systems going berserk. One more major change is “Merge branch ‘fix_XPD-13842_Departing_AI’”, where the calculation for the time simmers would take to line up was completely off. Sometimes it was too long or too short; this affected AI traffic as well and so the fix should prevent pilots from being instructed to line up with an A330 on final. A full list of the changes can be found in their blog post.
So what’s the big new change?
Mr. Keir then talks about the big change coming to X-Plane 12.06 and beyond: “feat_XPD-12784_multi_channel_atc” which has been in the works for quite some time. He explains that until now radio frequency use was handled very simply; all controllers would transmit and receive on all allocated frequencies at the same time. Previously too (in X-Plane 11) all players being on the same frequency was inconsequential as AI was used less and ATC even less.
X-Plane 12 has changed that; while using both ATC and AI traffic near larger airports or flying cross-country with a controller, getting a request in is extremely difficult. This led to missed turns, inability to make urgent/important requests, avoidable go-arounds, and all other sorts of chaos. This was the case despite human players being prioritized over AI traffic. But with the latest feature change, a controller will actively manage frequency allocation.
Instead of all flights transmitting on the same common frequency, aircraft will be allocated to other frequencies based on anticipated and actual traffic load. What this means is that simmers will be able to get requests in without too much delay and also be asked to switch over to a different frequency yourself. This, however, is not a full model of controller sectors, the team just doesn’t have that data available. But valid frustration players had with default ATC should be gone, no longer dissuading them from using it altogether.
What’s coming in the future though?
The developer also details a lot of features that can be expected in the next update release for X-Plane 12. Mr. Keir presents us with a list of features they hope will be in a very near future release. He also states that standard instrument departure and standard terminal approach routes (SIDs/STARs) support have already been coded. But the feature will undergo a “lengthy” period of rigorous testing and polishing and should not be expected to be released very soon.
A very feature-rich and exciting update from Mr. Keir at Laminar Research and the latest updates coming to X-Plane 12 in the near future should solve lots of frustrations players might have in the sim. That said, a lot of major features are still being tested and polished and should not be released very soon. But excitement is ripe regarding the platform’s future and the many new features it will bring. For more reading, check out FSNews’ coverage of other flight sim-related news, announcements, and more.