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

  • From: "Bones" <bones@xxxxxxx>
  • To: <jhb_airlines@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 27 Aug 2005 20:20:52 +0100

The only point I will add is that I think FPI is going through a slight
change at the moment (as it did two years ago) and things are not as smooth
as they used to be. Having said that I also think that when they sort
themselves out life will get better.

The server problem probably results from the connection with the West Coast
servers and the subsequent withdrawal from that plan. We've lost a couple of
European servers in the process but I'm hopeful that this will get sorted
out. This brief partnership has also put a lot of work on the FPI team and I
suspect it is why other matters have taken a back seat. The intended revamp
of their web site is behind schedule (not a great event in my eyes) but also
the intended update of some of the software.

I know that a full revision of the VA packages was in the pipeline but it
was hinted at the time that other changes were in the works too. Maybe this
was driven by the West Coast alliance but if so the rewrites will now need
changing again to remove anything that was related to the joint venture. At
some stage in the near future I do expect to see new FPI files appearing
though - hopefully our JHB repaints being in these.

The other ray of sunshine for the UK is the growing number of controllers.
This week we had six on line and we could have had eight if Alan and Kevin
had the time to join in - both briefly connected to the ATC channel for a
chat. With this level of ATC the future is looking good for the UK -
probably the best area for growth in the whole FPI network. The appearance
of the VBA (Vee Bird) crews from VATSIM has also pushed up our traffic
levels a notch. Oddly enough I think one problem for future sessions may be
too many controllers and not enough positions for them to man..

With the last comment in mind I am going to voice the need for a review of
UK airspace in the UK FPI forum. The actual software limits us to the
positions we can use - EGTT_CTR, EGLL_APP but we can't use EGLL_TMA. As the
UK gets busier it is simply too much work for London Centre to vector
traffic around the London area and keep an eye on aircraft say up near
Newcastle. I know we have EGTT_N_CTR and EGTT_S_CTR but even with these a
controller can't spread his eyeballs out between Southend and Exeter as we
tried last week. The London TMA involves a lot of vectoring and I think we
need to have this position established now - before it too busy to do
anything about.


-----Original Message-----
From: jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Gerry Winskill
Sent: 27 August 2005 08:17
To: jhb_airlines@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [jhb_airlines] Re: Why is FPI/ATOC so bad?

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

 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 theme.
>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
>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
>Am I alone...?

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