Just Flight Traffic 2005 – By Fred ‘mulletman’ Clark
Not Necessarily ‘As Real’, But Certainly ‘As Busy’
It gets real lonely when you load FS. Even with those traffic settings set to high, you still don’t see queues at Heathrow. And even when there is, it clears pretty quickly. Empty gates make 3rd Party TCAS’s Pointless.
In 2000 Just Flight released an add-on that very quickly changed all of that entitled ‘Traffic 2000’. This added much more traffic, to make you keep your eyes well peeled, as you checked your wingspan before squeezing through those gate areas. With the advent of FS2002, it was updated, and then again with FS2004. Until recently the latest addition, Traffic 2004 was the most used payware traffic programme.
It had hit a brick wall. Just Flight, published a rival to their own product, called ‘Ultimate Traffic’ which promised better visuals, more routes and more features. It delivered. My Traffic was another programme to take on the rest of them, but despite having better visuals than its rivals, it didn’t sell as well. With the sales of Traffic 2004 declining, the developer, Wolfgang Schwarz, decided it was time for an update. So here we are, with the all new, Traffic 2005.
First impressions are good. I open the box to find myself looking at a large printed manual, of a size that a lot of Aircraft developers have stopped printing. There is also a DVD-ROM, as the size of the information means that the user requires a DVD-ROM drive to use. On the disk we find that there is also a ‘Bonus’ version of Traffic 2002 for the FS2002 user inside, although this ‘Bonus’ is pretty much being paid for anyway, if you cannot use Traffic 2005, and are buying it for T2002.
If you can’t wait for delivery of a CD, There is a download version, both of an update from Traffic 2004, and full version available at appropriate costs. From this website there is also a ‘Plus-Pak’ available, at a cost that will add many more aircraft/livery’s. More plus packs (including military) are planned for the future.
I installed the 2.5GB of data. Before loading FS, I loaded AI Smooth (A special version of the freeware file). I figured that it would be good to take her out first at a normally busy Heathrow. The first thing I noticed was that despite selecting Heathrow – EGLL - London in the FS2004 menu, it was showing Heathrow Helipad because of a conflicting AFCAD for the helicopters. It’s a good point to make that this now includes helicopters, but, as with all payware AI packages, except My Traffic still no military traffic
I cannot stress the power of the difference. It is probably a lot less if you are used to lots of traffic, but I wasn’t. A quick FR check revealed that I had dropped frame rates by a small amount. But changing the traffic slider to around 75%, and tweaking FS a bit made for acceptable performance.
As I sat, I saw planes taxiing, and other movements. I caught sight of a Virgin series of aircraft, from the A380 to the 747. There were also some inaccuracies, of aircraft that airlines have retired, however, if a 787 doesn’t bother you, then a United 737-200 will have no difference. Then I loaded up ATC. And I requested clearance.
The package comes with new voice sets for Germany, the UK and new American voices. I couldn’t have turned them off quicker (done through one of the handy utilities in the Traffic 2005 start menu.) They were slow, hard to understand, and badly finished. There are freeware versions of this available on the internet, and I have a feeling that if I ever feel the need for some, I will go to Avsim.
As with all other Traffic upgrades, apart form My Traffic, there is no military AI. However, with me not being a military fan, I am not bothered. I should point out that if you have never stepped inside a commercial jet in your entire FS Career, then leave this at the gate, as your are only gong to get more AI targets for your F-16.
I went back to my in game scenario. I was still on the ramp, and it was time to pushback. I now pushed, started and began to taxi. It was a tricky affair, as with the new AFCAD, planes were a lot closer to my wingtips, Heathrow, being fairly spread out, is not too difficult, however I have also visited many airports since buying the product, and all have been a squeeze. Hence I have taken to flying into smaller airports, like Bristol of which is still fairly heavily populated. More than once I have had to use slew to get out of a tight spot.
After queuing to take off and chasing AI planes for a bit, I decided to land. Approach was fun. AI Smooth crashed during the flight, so had to be re started, but this wasn’t too much of an effect in-sim. AI Smooth was working, and I did see aircraft holding. Therefore I didn’t need to go-around. In early versions of the add-on, Aircraft would be seen doing aerobatics. Thankfully a patch has put a stop to that.
As I approached I saw more queues. I have had to wait for up to 45 mins to get to the active before now, however when AI Smooth is on, traffic is filtered, and my wait was cut. I did also see planes disappearing from the queue, but I saw this in FS when I still had default traffic.
At some airports, the New AFCAD means that the departing aircraft wasn’t close enough to the runway to request clearance. This led to 2 hour waits regardless of AIS. A replacement AFCAD was downloaded at Avsim, and I continued. Similar long waits could be found at internationals with one runway. AIS does not affect aircraft on ground, and you just have to wait.
I taxied back, and as usual for ‘Small’ aircraft, it was a squeeze to get her into the gate. I should mention that I turned off the AI Smooth voice, which makes a message appear at the top of the screen, and an audio message play, if you are using Windows XP. You can turn off both the voice, and the message that appears if you wish.
I will make a quick point of saying that, at night, these aircraft do have moderately good lighting. On some models however, lights are just generally wrong.
As well as the aircraft in T2005, which can be converted to flyable if you wish, there are a number of additional features in Traffic. (For some reason the EC135 Euro Copter already is, and upon flying, it moves like a Cessna) The first are external to FS, and come in the form of tools, which allow you to fly the aircraft included, with default panels. Another adjusts the taxi Speed of the AI traffic, both on the runway, and taxiway, a different setting can be made for each. Other tools can add routes and adjust airports. Aircraft are repainted using a handy repaint manager. There is also a Traffic Info board, which is like a radar, and shows the position of all nearby aircraft (airborne and on the ground)
On top of the external items are some items found in the select aircraft menu. None are flyable, but are useful for overseeing your newly purchased product. My personal Favourite is a Follow me car which, despite seeming a little overpowered, is ideal for sitting at the end of a runway, following aircraft. If just sitting is your thing, then you can use the spotter’s bag, which comes in the form of a small arrow, or is invisible. This places items like a map and radio on what would be the 2D panel. The final is a Tower, which is grossly oversized and ranges from small to *extremely* large. On this you can find radio, and map buttons, as well as an interactive Virtual Cabin, and night lighting.
Although none of these add-ons are going to make you run out and buy the product (especially the follow me car) All of them are worthwhile add-ons, and if you don’t feel up to flying, you will be able to happily spend some good time watching the clouds, and the planes they contain, go by.
What seems like a simple product, takes a lot to judge. The best reaction comes from the people who bought it. And looking at the Just Flight forum, you either love it or you hate it. If you have never had traffic before, it is a lot of fun. A lot of artistic licence is used, including on the A350 and 787, and as I said, United 737’s.
Either way, if your world is fairly bland, and you want friends, but don’t have any time to programme them individually, this is the way you’re going to have to do it. For the best price of all traffic add-ons, Traffic 2005 will accompany you with a smile, to your destination.
Fred Clark © 2005