ATC needs looooooots of work

I know I know, I’m not the first one to complain about the ATC, and many people may have had similar experiences. Nevertheless I have to vent a bit, and hopefully MS will listen if enough people ■■■■■ about it.

First up: I’ve been a sim pilot since 1988 on FS2 on an Atari ST, and had every version until FS2002. I’m not a real pilot but have spent enough time on the co-pilot’s seat in small planes listening to ATC to know a little about it.

With FS2000 and FS2002 I had a very nice ATC addon (sadly don’t remember the name) that flawlessly guided me through a whole flight, with startup, taxiing, vectoring and approach. It told me which localisers to use, what speed and altitude to fly at and even put me in a holding pattern. And after landing it guided me to the gate or parking. It even had cabin announcements and other little details. That was 15-20 years ago. Since then I had only casual contact with FS2004 and FSX so I cannot say much about ATC there. FS2020 was the first time in a long time, I really got wound up about Flightsimming again.

So while the visuals and flying are fantastic (mostly), and the interface and voices of the ATC is not bad, almost everything else about ATC is really a big letdown for me so far.
An here is why:

  1. Automatic Flight Planning is off (especially for novices)
    The flight plans automatically created on the map sceen before the flight don’t plan an approach, but only let me fly from airport to airport. Descent and Approach have to be edited manually. Otherwise an approach is not possible since ATC will not vector you in.
    In addition I have to select the runways myself. Normally on IFR I expect to be assigned a runway according to prevailing winds and traffic.

  2. ATC ignores flight plan
    Filing a flight plan seems to be more like a recommendation for ATC in many cases. While it partly sticks to some of the navaids I selected, it often does not give the right vectors to the navaids and sometimes sends you completely astray. I once just let it direct me and I ended up flying in the opposite direction without any protest from my controller. Sometimes it sends me to navaids that are not in the flightplan.

  3. ATC knows where I am but cannot guide me.
    Yesterday I flew to LOWI (RWY 26) from EDDM in a SR22. Weather was mostly overcast with low-hanging clouds at about 3000-4000. I came in over the mountains at 9500ft (IFR low) and ATC not only didn’t give me vectors for approach it also didn’t tell me to decend. It told me to fly towards a navaid which was not in the flightplan but didn’t tell me how to get there. So I ended up 9500 feet above the airport. I declared a missed approach and ATC then got totally useless. It told me I was 2 miles west of the airport (which I was), and Instead of turning me around, it sent me further on upwind (260) and told me to expect the runway 26 localiser… Yeah that’s certainly going to happen …
    I flew on for a few minutes to see if it would come around to my way of thinking and send me back, but 15 miles out I cancelled IFR and restarted IFR again selecting RWY 26 again. This time it sent me back but told me again to expedite climb to 9500 (I had decended to 3500 by myself before). When it told me to expect the localiser again I was at least on the correct side of the airport, but still at 9500 (LOWI is 1907ft) and on the upwind leg only a few miles distant. So even if I had turned on final I would have had no time to decend. In the end I cancelled IFR again and landed on visual. I was glad for the Garmin. In the C152 I would have had to circle down slowly until I had visual of the runway.

  4. Cannot contact ATC after landing
    After landing and taxiing to parking, I cannot reach ATC anymore. So I cannot continue flying after refueling. Refueling only seems to work when I taxi (without clearance) to some fueling station.

  5. Startup, Pushback
    Startup is nonexistent. Pushback only works on occasion. Often it’s unavailable. This is especially annoying when you are standing in front of a fuel pump and don’t have room the manoeuver.

  6. Taxing
    Even on large airports I often get directions to one taxiway. Generally the first one. And then I am told to get to my assigned runway. How I am supposed to get to the runway from there is my problem. Same on the way back. No taxiway directions, no parking spot or gate. So why are all the parking spots and gates integrated in the airports if they are not used? Looks like these may be features to come later.
    Since there are no airport diagrams available in the sim, I would have to use some 3rd party site for that as well.

  7. Lingo and Idiomatic phrasing
    While it might be in the controller handbooks, I have never heard a controller say one,one,niner,decimal,four. Since speed is important in ATC radio traffic one,one,nine(r),point,four is surely the way to go.
    The same goes for the word “taxiway” followed by the Letter. MSFS ATC always says “Taxiway Charlie” instead of just “Charlie”. There are some other similar things that simply are cumbersome.
    Here maybe a special ATC for beginners might be an idea, where words like “taxiway” etc are included so that players not familiar with the lingo find easier access, and a pro mode with realistic ATC lingo.

  8. Live traffic and ATC doen’t seem to fit together
    So far I have never seen a Live traffic aircraft and ATC to actually work together. I get the impression that the ATC transmissions to other planes are just random.

  9. 10000 feet above
    Really? It’s baffeling how many live traffic aircraft are flying above their assigned altitude.

  10. End of flight screen
    Not directly an ATC issue I think. Sometimes after landing and switching off the engine I get a screen giving me statistics of the flight which are then added to my profile. I haven’t found out yet when this screen appears and when it doesn’t. Fact is: the statistics in my profile don’t add up at all with reality.


have you raised tickets with Zendesk? That’s the way to get MS to deal with it


Radar Contact?
It wasn’t perfect as far as I remember either, that’s why I switched to online networks.

I think we fail to grasp how technically difficult it is - airspace base levels, final approach fix altitudes, other airspace restrictions, even glideslope differences - there is a reason why ATC in real life is not automated to remove humans and lots of learning required prior to getting into a tower or a basement somewhere for en-route control.

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I also flew MS flight sim since 1989, and I must say the graphics weren’t pretty back then like it is now, but I also remember those add on’s that made flying more realistic and fun. My guess is they are going to release all the stuff included in those older sims, but this time probably for a price as an add on. I am also extremely disappointed with the ATC, so I’ll wait and see if someone comes up with an ATC add on that makes sense. I feel like pulling out my hair every time I hear decimal.

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I just googled a bit and I’m almost sure it was called “Real ATC 2”
It didn’t have airspace restrictions or glideslope differences as far as I remember, but it was way way superior to what we have now.

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will do. Thx

one of my biggest frustrations is that ATC doesnt know the dimensions of their airspace. Always says I can change frequency when I am still well within their CTR. LOLs


Good luck with that, We have all been sending tickets to Zendesk regarding this issue since alpha as well as beta and nothing has changed, so I don’t get why people keep saying to do that when they know full well it won’t make any difference. They expect us to buy an add on to get what we need. I believe this is only the beginning of a huge money grab for add on’s.


Or you can save your $$ and go with a live (free) network like VATSIM. Check it out at for the US.


Also VATSIM is not that good, since you have to have controllers at all airports working, which they don’t. So having an AI ATC would be a nice thing, especially if they finally would use the real live frequencies and taxiways.


And I think I pointed out how infeasible this is. Trust me - if there was such an add-on vatsim controllers like myself would stop going there and the network would close.

It’s not perfect - nor is in-built ATC nor is a paid network like pilotedge. We cut corners where it’s reasonable enough and imo asobo should spend as little time as possible on the in-game atc.

Sorry. Strongly disagree there. The ATC addon I had in FS2000 worked much much better, than what we have today in FS2020, so I am sure it could be done.
This addon wasn’t perfect either - FS2000 was primitive by comparison - but at least it got me from the gate on airport A to the gate at airport B. It even had a “navigation system” for the taxiways where the route you had to take to the gate could be superimposed on the center line of the taxiways themselves, if you so desired (not realistic, but cool nonetheless)
The other traffic wasn’t live of course. It was just random radio messages for immersion, and the AI planes flying around (from another addon) were not integrated either, so you had to check during takeoff and on final whether the runway was really clear, but that was a minor inconvenience in comparison to not even being routed to your destination let alone being left to your own devices as soon as you leave the runway. The way ATC works now I can skip IFR and fly VFR. At least I know where I end up and with the G1000 even landing at 0 visibility is doable.

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I disagree. Although there are many addons and live ATC networks they could at least not cripple the in-game ATC which has such gaping bugs like inability to vector for an approach or clear a descent in time. It worked way smoother in FSX/P3D and they could just make it at least as good.


Strongly disagree, I’ve seen too many clowns or moms calling for dinner on FSX and XP11 doing ATC it’s not my idea of immersion, I’d rather have a decent AI ATC.


It most certainly needs work. “Continue as planned” is not acceptable phraseology. Often times a real controller will simply acknowledge your call. If necessary, a controller might say “proceed on course.” The term “decimal”, as in “one-one-niner decimal five” is not used in the United States. Rather it would be “one-one-niner point five.” However “decimal” is used in the rest of the world. The Asobo folks would be well served to invest in a Pilot-Controller Glossary and overhaul the whole thing.


I disagree. ATC is an important part of the whole flight sim experience and missing features need to be added.


I 100% agree with you, the current ATC is simply not a working product, it’s more like a sketch for now.
In P3D I used to use Voxatc (voice recognition ATC) that was crippled with bugs but was still 100x better than this. Really it changes everything.


Oh man it has gotten worst…

It worked for me quite well up till this week which I find very odd.

I’m new to flight sim so I rely on ATC for altitude descents.

30NM out today and was told to expidite my climb to 390FT.

It worked so well for me up until this week.

I agree mostly. Just the use of decimal is correct and should remain. Nearly everywhere in the world Except the US decimal is used as it is ICAO standard and therefore that should remain as it is.

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The ATC is not fit for purpose, how they are allowed to get away with releasing something as broken as this is beyond me. The sim is amazing in many respects but something as fundamental as ATC that simply doesn’t work is unacceptable.