29.12.2020 – 15:45z

Volanta – a Beta Tester’s First Impressions

Over the last few weeks or so, Orbx have been teasing the flight simulator community with their flight tracking application known as Volanta.

The developers requested users to sign up to their invite only beta testing program. I have been one of the fortunate ones to get a first look at this handy piece of software, and given that Orbx have not put any restrictions on sharing screenshots or information, FSNews thought it only best I report my initial findings.

Installation

After being guided to the Volanta beta test page, I found downloading, and installing a breeze. Once on your system, it searches for installed simulators, and as announced recently, these now includes Aerofly FS2, and DCS, as well as those simulators you would expect. Apart from MSFS, the others require plugins to work, but these come bundled with Volanta, so all that is required is that you click the plugin to install.

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After the installation process you can also authorise Volanta to connect to Discord, Navigraph, and Simbrief, as well as virtual ATC providers such as Vatsim, IVAO, and PilotEdge. In regards to ATC, this allows you to see other pilots, live, through their servers and into the application.

FIRST USE

When Volanta is started, you are met with a map screen, and a box inviting you to submit a flight plan, or start the simulator. Going down the flight plan route gives you a couple of options, either to submit a departure and destination manually, then submit to Simbrief, or import from other sources. I just set a short flight up in the menu and submitted to Simbrief. Note, you will need an account with Simbrief to use these function.

Once in the simulator, as with many flight tracking applications, your aircraft is shown on the map, as well as others connected, either to the Volanta network, or others, depending on what you’ve chosen in the settings. Interestingly, airport layouts are shown in fairly accurate detail, with runway and taxiway markings. This allows you to find your way around airports very easily.

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The software follows the flight very well, with no impact on FPS, at least none that was noticeable. There’s also very little lag, which can happen with some applications. Another nice feature I liked was the ability to tilt the map, and pan around.

However, Volanta’s main strength lies not in flight tracking, but in providing a permanent record of all your flights, that can then be compared to friends online, and the ability to track your friends, like some kind of airplane stalker.

As well as tracking flights, Volanta also provides challenges, and though I’ve not attempted any yet, it does had another element to flight tracking software. It also keeps a records of countries visited, so if your aim is to fly around the world, visiting each country, Volanta will keep a record for you.

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final thoughts

Volanta is simple to set up, and easy to use. It accurately tracks and keeps a record. I tested using Microsoft Flight Simulator, but the developers say it covers all flights on most, if not all, simulators, meaning you only need one package to record all your flights across multiple platforms. Tracking can also be done through a browser, so Volanta can be accessed through tablets. It would be interesting to see if an app is released for the tablets themselves.

I have to say, I like Volanta, and the potential it contains. Having it running cross platform is a real bonus, and the fact it will be free, suggests there is no reason to own and run it. Multiplayer is something the flight community keeps asking for, and to some extent MSFS provides it, as do networks such as Vatsim and IVAO (which require a steep learning curve). Volanta adds something new to the mix. Maybe all it needs next, is the ability to communicate, in real-time, with other pilots, across all networks and simulators. That would really set it apart.

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