AVSIM Commercial Utility Review. FlightSim Commander. Product Information

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1 AVSIM Commercial Utility Review FlightSim Commander Publishers: FlightSim Commander Product Information Description: Add-On program for general Flight Planning and Flight Information. Download Size: 30 MB Format: Download Simulation Type: FSX / FS9 Reviewed by: Arjun Murthy AVSIM Staff Reviewer - July 1, 2009 Introduction Many people don t want to purchase aircraft with FMC s. Many people find Flight Planning slightly difficult. Many people find making an aircraft fly a particular flight plan difficult. With FlightSim Commander, many of these numerous unknowns can be erased with a program called FlightSim Commander. FlightSim Commander is an amazing program enabling you to perform many tasks that are very hard without it. Many programs would be required to replace FlightSim commander with the same capabilities. It offers various services such as Flight Planning with High Altitude Airways; Low Altitude Airways and Navaids, Aircraft and Controller information for VATSIM and IVAO Multiplayer networks, Aerodrome Information (Such as Control Position frequencies, ILS/NDB/VOR Frequencies, Runway Lengths, TAxiways), Frequencies for Navaid s outside of Aerodromes, Airways, Fixes, Control Zones, User waypoints and much much more (visit the FlightSim Commander website for more information). Installation and Documentation The Installation is very simple for this product. The default download can be found on FlightSim Commanders website. This is the actual product that has a 30 minute free trial. This has to be registered for it to work longer. The file:///e /AVSIM/Reviews/FSCommander/FSCdr.htm (1 of 15)01/07/ :19:54 AM

2 Registration is as simple as registration for any other product with the name and Key Code. The Documentation, however, is quite large and a fair read for those that don t read much. FlightSim Commander has a 109 Page Manual for use with its product. It clearly explains all aspects of the program that are required to be known for the normal operations and usage of the product. Fortunately, the product is user-friendly and does not need the manual to be read to start off using it. The Nuts and Bolts The mighty documentation FSCommander has many tools in it that it s hard to know where to begin. It can clearly be seen by using the product that the Developers have made whatever is in the program to work to the best of its capability enhancing the experience of Flight Simulator. Flight Plan The Flight Plan system on FSCommander is very reliable. Due to the AIRAC updates, the information used for Flight Plan s are normally up-to-date. NAVAID, Low Altitude Airways and High Altitude Airways can all be used for a flight plan on FSCommander (only one at a time). It is as simple as entering the Departure and Destination and clicking on one button to produce a flight plan that is suitable in most places. (The Flight Plan s for some parts of the world aren t the preferred route. This can be manually changed by whatever suits the pilot). A Flight Plan String can also be inserted and that route can be established by FSCommander. This means that user flightplans and preferred flight plans for certain areas can be used with precedence over the Default FSCommander Flight Plan. Unfortunately, there isn t any documentation on how to enter Latitude / Longitude into the waypoints. The only way this can possibly be done is by having User Waypoints (which are defined by Lat / Long) and then add them to your Custom Flight Plan. SID/STAR SID s and STAR s can be selected through FS Commander. Most SID s and STAR s are included in the AIRAC Updates (although on some rare occasions, some procedures miss out). SID s and STAR s can be displayed before being added to the Flight Plan so the best Procedures for the First / Last waypoints can be found (if unknown). file:///e /AVSIM/Reviews/FSCommander/FSCdr.htm (2 of 15)01/07/ :19:54 AM

3 The SID and STAR Displays toolbar Some STAR s displayed as example Windows Aircraft / Fuel Windows Using FSCommander, your current aircraft can be selected. Some commonly used aircraft are already entered by default but others that aren t there by default can be manually added (Aircraft Limitations are necessary for this process). This is used to show the Fuel limits that can be viewed in Gallons, Pounds, Kilo s or Liters. This is a really good tool that FSCommander offers since Fuel Planning is often very unrealistic. Some pilots just estimate the fuel they need to fly with and this can be used for a flight with best performance. Holding Holds can be placed on FSCommander for En-route waypoints in a current flight plan for the aircraft to fly with auto-pilot or other Hold s (both enroute and offset waypoints) that can be hand flown. A hold can be specified with great detail. You can include information such as Waypoint / Fix to hold at, Reference Point of r the Start of a hold, Speed of Hold, amount of time to hold (which automatically calculates distance) and Heading of Hold. On top of this, the Radial of the Hold and the Distance for the hold from the chosen waypoint can be inserted. Although there is documentation on holds, I, personally, have never properly worked a hold (on auto-pilot) using FSCommander. The Holding Window User Waypoints User waypoints are a great tool. You can specify particular Latitude / Longitude s that you can use to create your own file:///e /AVSIM/Reviews/FSCommander/FSCdr.htm (3 of 15)01/07/ :19:54 AM

4 waypoints. You can also receive this data directly from Flight Simulator when connection is established between FSCommander and Flight Simulator by transferring the Lat/Long using the given option. Alternatively, you can also click on a point on the FSCommander window to find it s Lat/Long for a User Waypoint. User Waypoint Window Go To Airport The go to Airport feature can be used to centre the FlightSim Commander screen on the specified airport. Select Parking The Select Parking option is used for a Flight Planned flight. After your arrival at an aerodrome, when ATC specifies you a gate, you can enter this into your FSCommander which will automatically change the color of the parking to red making it easy to identify. The parking on the FSCommander can also be used to find a certain parking prior to starting the Flight Simulator as it is not always easy to find what gate you want to go to and its geographic location. The parking Selection Tool. Also note the Parking selected is highlighted in Red Airport Information This is one of the great tools in FSCommander which provides much of the necessary information for an Airport. It gives you the Global Region, Country, State/Province, City, ATC Frequencies and Name, Parking Numbers and Type and finally runway information including Runway Id, Heading, Length, Width and type of Surface. It also includes the ILS, Glide file:///e /AVSIM/Reviews/FSCommander/FSCdr.htm (4 of 15)01/07/ :19:54 AM

5 Slope Gradient and NDB Information that it may have. This provides almost all information necessary for an airport and makes it easy to identify if a runway has sufficient length to land your aircraft on, ILS frequencies and other important information. Options Window The Options window is very self explanatory. It includes all the general settings for the running of FSCommander. Selecting Aircraft Fuel Window Airport Information Window Go To Airport Go To Airport with the Name instead of ICAO code The Options Window GPS The FSCommander GPS is the most important part of the program. It has a summary of necessary information required for in-flight. It is easily accessible while flying and gives you your generic position with information including Altitude, Speed, Lat/Long, etc. It also includes a Auto Heading which takes over the Heading Hold for Flight Simulator Aircraft keeping the aircraft on track of the flight plan and finally, it includes runway (numbers) and ILS information that is necessary for approach to an aerodrome. It also has Cross-Hair s for virtually all selected runways and includes a Go To option where you can right click anywhere on the FSCommander Map and the auto-heading will automatically fly you there. Finally, it has a build in TCAS which comes up with conflict approaching and Conflict alarms for when you are about to crash into another aircraft and for when you are too close to an aircraft. When the FSCommander GPS is up and running it means that a link with Flight Simulator is established, therefore, FSCommander is able to receive all information from Flight Simulator. file:///e /AVSIM/Reviews/FSCommander/FSCdr.htm (5 of 15)01/07/ :19:54 AM

6 On the GPS button up the top, you can also select what information needs to be shown for AI Aircraft Airborne and on the Ground. Autoheading on the FSCommander GPS The GPS Toolbar Arrival The ILS selection tool on the GPS Runway Selection on the GPS file:///e /AVSIM/Reviews/FSCommander/FSCdr.htm (6 of 15)01/07/ :19:54 AM

7 The cross hairs on the GPS The comparison with the Aircraft s ILS Zoom The zoom on this program can be changed by the mouse scroll. Alternatively, the + and buttons on the button bar to the side can be used. It is a bit of a mayhem when the Scroll is NOT used because as soon as something is clicked on the screen, the window switches back to Flight Simulator which can get quite annoying. The Scroll for zoom makes it not do this, making it more convenient to operate. There is also an Auto zoom feature that brings it to 5NM Zoom on the Ground at 50NM when airborne. The zoom toolbar The button bar to the right Logbook FSCommander has its own logbook that logs all flights done using the program. Unfortunately, the L on the Button bar, or the AutoLog button on the Logbook toolbar has to be pressed EVERY time a flight needs to be logged. This is unfortunate as it isn t something you always remember causing many flights not to be logged. There isn t any documented way to make FSCommander Log a Flight. Lots of detail can be known from the logbook at later times such as Flight no, Tail no, etc. Logbook saved flights window The logbook toolbar Blackbox The Black box is a great feature on FSCommander that lets you show your track and your altitude at various parts of file:///e /AVSIM/Reviews/FSCommander/FSCdr.htm (7 of 15)01/07/ :19:54 AM

8 your flight. You can save the Track and re-open it at a later time to see your horizontal and vertical profiles during flight. Unfortunately, at times the lateral flight path cancels out and the dots that appear on the map don t show up but it works fine again when the FSCommander window is chosen and a user actively switches between both. The Vertical profiles can also be used to mainly show the smooth flight in take-offs and landings. A variety of Blackbox displays showing Track and Altitude at places Tracks The NATS and the PACOT tracks are both downloadable off the internet in real time using FSCommander. Both the tracks work great when displayed and can easily be used for a flight plan. file:///e /AVSIM/Reviews/FSCommander/FSCdr.htm (8 of 15)01/07/ :19:54 AM

9 The NATS Tracks The PACOTS Tracks The Date and Time stamp for each download Weather The Weather on FSCommander is very useful. Weather data is collected from thousands of locations around the world and sent to FSCommander via the internet for display by users. The weather is very useful. Place the mouse on an area with Weather and it shows the METAR for the current location. On top of that, a self explanatory weather symbol is also at each destination to show the type of weather in that location. Wind METAR for the Aerodrome at the Bottom Online The Online option on FSCommander can be used for the online status of Pilots and Controllers on VATSIM and IVAO. The Data is downloaded at frequent intervals (configured in the options menu) and what information to be shown for aircraft can be changed. One can also view the Controller Info and Flight Plan s of the ATC s and Pilots on any of the two networks. IVAO s IVAN and Password can be entered to connect to the IVAO ATC Voice Channels. Departure & Approach Route / Airport Approach Chart This Departure and Approach Route window shows a route from the last waypoint to the Final Approach Fix for the selected runway. The Airport Chart shows a diagram (specifically designed to look similar to Jeppessen charts) from the Final Approach Fix to the runway touchdown point showing the Outer Marker and its elevation for proper glideslope, runway elevation and much, much more. (depending on capabilities of the runway such as ILS) file:///e /AVSIM/Reviews/FSCommander/FSCdr.htm (9 of 15)01/07/ :19:54 AM

10 Departure and Arrival window information Runway Window Sectors The Sector information is shown in all the airspace drawings. A Red Dot is placed with each airspace line which gives information in that particular airspace. Example of Sector Info Transferring Frequencies One highly useful tool in this is the transferring frequencies tool. NDB s, ILS s and VOR frequencies can be transferred by clicking on SHIFT + Left Mouse Button which puts it in the ADF or the NAV1. This is very convenient. ILS frequencies can also be transferred from the ILS page on the GPS which adds to the convenience. file:///e /AVSIM/Reviews/FSCommander/FSCdr.htm (10 of 15)01/07/ :19:54 AM

11 ILS Transferring into NAV1 The ILS selection tool on the GPS Help Further to the PDF Help document, a website is set up for Help with the Product. It isn t a WWW published website but it is saved on your hard drive upon installation for easy access. Sounds The sounds on FSCommander are quite basic. They aren t really heard that much. The main time when it is heard is upon passing a waypoint on Auto Heading. A sound beeps while the GPS switches to the next waypoint. Using the Eyes (VFR) VFR Flight using FSCommander is made as simple as IFR. The main features on VFR flight are Sunrise & Sunset, Checking Control Zones and Control Zone Violations. All control Zones where there is Controlled airspace to the surface is indicated by grey stripes. This area turns light blue when nearing it and turns red when transiting through that airspace. It also detects the Vertical Altitudes of the airspace and gives warnings when within 500 (all colors depend on color setting. On top of this, warnings are shown on Flight Plan s every time it passes through Controlled Airspace. Sunrise and Sunset times are shown when the mouse is placed over a particular airport with the available information. VFR Toolbar The Sunrise and Sunsets at the bottom The CTA Warning for approaching and actually passing file:///e /AVSIM/Reviews/FSCommander/FSCdr.htm (11 of 15)01/07/ :19:54 AM

12 The Visual Display The Visual Display in FSCommander has all the necessary information displayed and can be changed. The information that can be displayed includes: Airports; Navaids VOR, NDB, ILS, Intersection, GPS Fix and User Waypoints; Airways Low Alt Airways (Victor) and High Alt Airways; Airspaces Advisory Areas, Air Defense Identification Zones, Air Route Traffic Control Centre, Area Control Centre, Buffer Zone, Control Area, Control Zones, Flight Information Region, Ocean Control Region, Radar Area, Terminal Control Area and Upper Flight Information Region; Minimum Safe Altitudes; Coastlines; Compass; Latitudes / Longitudes; and finally Holdings Connected to FS from FSCommander The Display on FSCommander This picture shows the Button Bar to the side file:///e /AVSIM/Reviews/FSCommander/FSCdr.htm (12 of 15)01/07/ :19:54 AM

13 The way it looks The display of a TMA of an Aerodrome (YSSY in this case) Left Mouse Button The left mouse button has different uses in Flight Sim Commander. Without anything activated, you can make a little square representing the size of your to be window. This is great as you can specify how big you want the zoom to be. Also, when the little distance measuring button from the top is pressed, it changes to a distance / bearing measurement tool. This makes it handy to vector yourself to finals if no-other sources are available. The Selector Vector tool Wish list file:///e /AVSIM/Reviews/FSCommander/FSCdr.htm (13 of 15)01/07/ :19:54 AM

14 There are many new features that I would like to see in FSCommander that would make it a whole lot better. There aren t many things to list but some small extra features will make this a better product to use. This Includes: Some Form of VNAV (for Altitude Hold as well); The ability to add Lat/Long coordinates into the Flight Plan Strip; and The small bugs with the GPS and having it close at times when the always on top button is clicked off and on. (When the GPS is connected, and the always on Top button is pressed the main FSCommander window comes up, when that is minimized, the GPS minimizes as well. Then when the Always on top button is clicked off, it still has the same fault. The only way to fix this is to terminate connection with FS and Restart. A fix to this problem would be great). Summary / Closing Remarks FlightSim Commander is an absolutely fantastic program when it comes to the use of virtual pilots. I would recommend this program to anyone that flies non-fmc aircraft or default aircraft a lot. It has it all in one product and makes an absolutely great little tool with all the information. It is a bit like a very informative co-pilot. It has all the required navigation information and is readily available. The program doesn t take long to load and when connected to your flight sim, it slowly monitors and can even record your each and every move. This will definitely be one of those products that I will use in almost ALL of my flights. Test System Intel Core2 Duo 3.0 Ghz 2.00 GB Ram Nvidia Geforce 9800GTX/9800 GTX+ Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3 Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick Flying Time: 17 hours What I Like About FlightSim Commander High Amount of features Detailed Airspace Information Flight Planning Tool Online Multiplayer information Tool GPS with information FSCommander being a program with everything packed in one little window file:///e /AVSIM/Reviews/FSCommander/FSCdr.htm (14 of 15)01/07/ :19:54 AM

15 What I Don't Like About FlightSim Commander The GPS bug The GPS changing waypoints too early sometimes (30+ NM) Printing If you wish to print this review or read it offline at your leisure, right click on the link below, and select "save as" FlightSim Commander (adobe acrobat required) Comments? Standard Disclaimer The review above is a subjective assessment of the product by the author. There is no connection between the product producer and the reviewer, and we feel this review is unbiased and truly reflects the performance of the product in the simming environment as experienced by the reviewer. This disclaimer is posted here in order to provide you with background information on the reviewer and any presumed connections that may exist between him/her and the contributing party. Tell A Friend About this Review! AVSIM Online All Rights Reserved Powered by AVSIM SimWords Become a SimWord Publisher! Flight Simulator Links Discover the world wide Flight Simulator Community. Enter your FS related website in the largest links database online. AVSIM Reviews Want to stay on top of the most recent ad ons? See our Reviews! VRS F/A-18E NOW SHIPPING! The first military true fly-by-wire add-on with the sophistication and realism of a high-end transport! NOW SHIPPING FOR FS9! Vertical Reality Simulations Advertise Here! Want your advertising to count? Advertise in this slot for pennies a day! Plane Mad Aviation photos, blogs, airport guides, airport weather, plus your own personalised aviation page. file:///e /AVSIM/Reviews/FSCommander/FSCdr.htm (15 of 15)01/07/ :19:54 AM

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