[jhb_airlines] Re: Why is FPI/ATOC so bad?

  • From: Gerry Winskill <gwinsk@xxxxxxx>
  • To: jhb_airlines@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 27 Aug 2005 08:16:53 +0100

Hi Mike,
Not sitting on the fence, too painful by far, but I find myself agreeing with you, whilst coming to the same conclusion as Bones.

I've done a few long haul flights recently and on only two has there been ATC at the destination. One was the "please dismantle your aircraft and b....r off" place. The other didn't really count as, seeing John Hill on seat, I made my Capetown to UK flight take me to Heathrow. Even then we had, as seems to be the norm at present, problems with voice comms. Clicking on John's ATOC strip got me nowhere and the Servinfo frequency was also different from the one he was using. In most countries outside Europe it would appear there are few FPI controller members.

Again like you, I've flicked through the two competitor lists and found them to be full of both controllers and traffic.

Taking a step back, for the reasons John mentions, I'm reluctant to go to VATSIM. I don't know much about IVAO. The relaxed approach of FPI suits me, so I guess that if I choose to stay with it I'll be stuck with its limitations. The limitations are the narrow geographical area where it offers actual, as opposed to notional, ATC coverage, plus the increasingly tetchy nature of its server setup. I guess they are stuck with the former but really should get a grip of the latter. That is far more important than the company speak and pseudo marketing that seems to be increasingly evident. The simple fact is that FPI and the pilot end are not really interdependent. No flyers an no FPI. No FPI and the flyers can either look at the competition or fly off line, with FS ATC and AI for company.

At the moment my own intention is to stay with FPI. I enjoy the Wednesday sessions, when not distracted by bikes or football. I'll also start more flying to continental European destinations, though even that isn't easy. My guess is that the bulk of the controllers are younger than the pilots and still having to work for a living. I often switch on Servinfo, during the day, to find a healthy number of aircrafy in European zones, with not a controller to be seen.

For long haul flights I've tended to file a flight plan, which is also lodged with FS9. If there's no FPI cover I take off in FS9's ATC environment but as VFR. That allows me to depart from a field with other traffic in sight, receive taxi instructions, etc; provided the weather isn't IFR but avoided FS9's often illogical IFR departure routing. Once clear of land I switch to FPI and keep an eye on Servinfo. If there's no sign of life around my destination, with a couple of hundred miles to go, I get out of FPI and MP and ask FS9 for IFR clearance. That gets me back into the land of the pseudo living.

I do hope that the people who run FPI can extract a digit but, since I'm using it for free and doing nothing to help them, I guess I'll have to make the best of what they offer.

Gerry Winskill

Bones wrote:

You seem to have had more of a rough time than most of us recently. I admit
I only tend to plug in once a week but that is usually for a solid 3.5 to 4
hours. I've had one or two hiccups but nothing so bad as to raise the
frustration levels too much. Yep - I did have one night a few weeks back
when I was being kicked off every hour or so but it hasn't been a recurring

If you are thinking of trying VATSIM then you will indeed have a lot more
traffic and controllers to contend with - but the level of simulation is
also much higher too. VATSIM stick to real world procedures so you really
have to know the airfield layouts, the SID's and STAR's (current ones too)
and have good cockpit management skills. Having said that it is a challenge
that some may relish as you know you will be mixing it with a lot of real
world airline pilots.

There is no doubt that some of you will outgrow FPI. It hasn't evolved as
much as your own skills - a pity as I had hoped it would have grown a lot
more since we first started using it - and I am sure this lack of
development will make some feel they are missing out on better things.
Before jumping in the deep end with VATSIM though I'd recommend extending
your experience outside the UK. If European controllers are online in FPI
then get some useful foreign experience under your belt. I know it can be
reassuring to speak to a familiar team in the UK but it's best to build up
experience. Europe in FPI (or even further) is a small step compared with
jumping in the deep end which is VATSIM.


-----Original Message-----
From: jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Mike Brook
Sent: 27 August 2005 00:58
To: JHB Airlines
Subject: [jhb_airlines] Why is FPI/ATOC so bad?

I am rapidly reaching the point of abandoning FPI/ATOC due to its frequent unavailability and failures. At about 1130 local this evening I was chucked out of their servers with the following error message:

"Debug Assertion Failed!
Program: C:\program files\FlightProject\ATOC.exe
File: dumpout.cpp
Line: 52
For information on how your program can cause an assertion failure, see the
Visual C++ documentation on asserts. (Press Retry to debug the application)"

What the **** was that all about???

I had spent a long time manually setting up my PMDG 747-400 FMC for an
overnighter tonight from EGLL to WSSS when FPI/ATOC went t*ts up.  What is
the name of all that is holy is going on with this service?  Has anyone any
info that could help restore my confidence?  Whilst I have never used VATSIM
or IVAO, it really does frustrate me to see all the pilots/controllers
available 24/7 on their servers whilst there are maybe have a dozen or so
folks worldwide on FPI or, more likely, the service is completely down or
otherwise unavailable in one way or another.

Am I alone...?


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