Improve AI Traffic at Airports and in The Air

After extensive testing, live AI traffic seems to be one of the most unreliable aspects of Microsoft Flight Simulator. It’s also underdeveloped in many ways, so I thought I’d collect my suggestions and add more that I saw from other users.

The principle is that AI traffic is extremely important for immersion. Many of us spend hundreds of dollars to have ultra-detailed airports, and then we find them populated with roughly-painted Frankenstein aircraft that immediately pull us out of the experience, when they appear at all.

Here are a few suggestions (ok, more than “a few”). If I miss something important feel free to let me know and I’ll add it, or you can add more suggestions yourself in replies.

Not everything needs to be implemented at the same time, but I do believe this is an ideal to strive for.

  • Improve the reliability of live traffic. At the moment it’s extremely hit and miss. Some aircraft appear, some don’t. Some airports are reasonably busy, some other (which should be) are deserted. The same airport at times is busy, while at time it’s completely desert despite heavy traffic being reported by FlightAware. We need to get to a point in which if an aircraft appears on flightaware, it should appear in the sim. A small delay is justifiable, but completely missed aircraft are not.

  • Replace the “Frankenstein” generic AI aircraft with actual real-world models with real-world airline liveries if possible.

  • If having real-world AI models isn’t possible, at least reprogram ATC so that they’re not called “generic.” Flightaware tells you what model each aircraft is, so please use that.

  • If you plan to stick with the Frankenstein models, at least the a32x family should be represented by your simplified a320neo model. It’s a much better representation for the a319, a320, and a321 than the generic Frankenstein twin jet.

  • AI Aircraft should be EASY to repaint. They’re low-poly, simple models. It’s completely unacceptable that their textures are complicated and basically impossible to repaint correctly. For instance, the tail section of the generic twin-engine airliner has the tail split in several portions, some of which are mirrored and some aren’t, making painting any logo or writing on it impossible. Large surfaces should be contiguous and any part of the fuselage that is painted should not have any mirroring. The only real-world livery existing in the sim at the moment (United) uses a system of 3D decals added on a white textures which is inaccessible to painters. Alternatively, please make that decal system usable by us as well.

  • Implement a traffic camera that can switch between nearby traffic.

  • Implement proper sequencing for AI traffic on landing and takeoff, including player aircraft. I understand this is difficult with multiplayer enabled, so I would say it could ignore non-local aircraft. The ability to go around is also important. At the moment, aircraft that cannot land either “cash” somewhere close to the runway or simply circuit the runway forever. When an aircraft has to go around, the AI should take over from flightaware and land it at the next available slot.

  • Implement realistic landing slopes and behavior. At the moment many aircraft follow WAY too shallow approaches to the runway, literally skimming the buildings from miles away. They also need to properly flare on landing. As it stands, they simply touch down flat like they were on tracks.

  • Implement realistic taxiing speed. At the moment taxiing aircraft are too slow resulting in runway and taxiway congestion.

  • Inactive parked aircraft on the ground should definitely not be randomized. At the moment, the sim picks and chooses parked aircraft completely at random. This becomes even worse when a user has liveries installed because those are chosen at random as well. Finding Easyjets in Tokyo and Peach in London is… not exactly immersive.
    instead of picking aircraft at random, the AI shoud pick the correct aircraft that should be parked at that airport at any given time.
    Since you partner with FlightAware, that provides you not only with data about aircraft that are en route, but also arrivals and departures, including the tail number of each aircraft.
    You know when an aircraft with a given tail number is arriving and departing, so you can easily determine at any given time which specific aircraft are parked at an airport waiting for a turnaround, which model they are, and which airline they belong to. Those are the aircraft that should be displayed.

  • Relabel parking slots correctly. At the moment, while the simulator seems to have support for more than airline and GA parking tags (Military, cargo, and such), all airports have their parking slots labeled only airline and GA. This results in cargo and military aprons being used by everyone (including the player. I can’t count the times I was sent to the cargo apron in a Citation), which is extremely unrealistic. Seeing a Fedex plane depart from a passenger terminal ain’t the best. Military-only airprts with aprons full of airliners and GAs is also not ideal. Of course, military parking should be labeled by nation, for obvious reasons.

  • Possibly allow labeling parking slots by airline. Past flight simulators had AFCADS that allowed this, so that airliners would go and park at the correct terminal.

  • Allow the ability to still have certain preset timetables active at the same time as live traffic. This will allow modders and third-parties to add traffic not tracked by flightaware like military, coast guard, and such.

  • Allow the AI to search for liveries associated with specific tail numbers in a player’s library. Many aircraft have special liveries and those should be correctly depicted (or livery painters should at least be able to add them).

  • Have ICAO tail codes appear on the fuselage of AI aircraft as they do for player aircraft (make it so that it can be deactivated in a livery’s files if the user so wishes).

  • Possibly synchronize live traffic to the time of day we set instead of always making it current. At the moment, if I fly in my country at night but I set the time to noon, I’ll get sparse or no traffic because it feeds nighttime traffic into the sim. Instead, the sim should use flightaware’s archives to feed in the traffic that was happening on the same day at noon. Many simmers fly prominently at night due to jobs and real life, and this causes them not to be able to enjoy traffic unless they go fly on the other side of the world.

  • IMPORTANT: Please fully open AI traffic to third-party developers letting them use both live traffic and timetables, let them control parked aircraft, access FlightAware data, and the whole shebang. If Asobo doesn’t wish or isn’t able to provide fully realistic AI traffic (due to licensing, resources, or any other) I guarantee third-party developers will be happy to oblige.

  • corollary to the above. Please install some form of live reporting when an AI aircraft from flightaware can’t spawn for whatever reason (too crowded? missing model? Missing livery? Bug?). It’s crucial to test the feature, especially when third-party devs will put their hand on it.

  • Possibly work with developers and modders who have developed considerable experience in creating AI traffic over the years in order to know what they need or to request their direct support (see here)

Just a small, nostalgic addition.

Scenes like this were possible in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004. There’s no reason why Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 shouldn’t aim to achieve the same or better.




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Asobo, please get in touch with AIG (Alpha India Group, freeware AI traffic), AIFP (freeware AI traffic creator tool) and FSLTL (freeware model matching for live traffic in msfs) and ask them what they need.

I also found out if you generate a flightplan using AIFP with two liveries on the same model it will randomly pick one livery and apply them to all models. (the issue is not on AIFP’s side) This should also be fixed.

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Added to the OP :smiley:

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That’s basically liveries?

It’s much more than that. :slight_smile:
These are planes/liveries that actually fly the schedule of real world airlines. The schedules are recreated by a dedicated community with the correct models and liveries (incl special liveries).

I prefer these offline flightplans over the Live Traffic for various reasons.

  • It can get rid of the low traffic we see today.
  • Supposedly it has a more correct schedule than Live Traffic (which currently shows about 10% of RL traffic and has several bugs)
  • It allows for historic schedules (going back to the 747 golden age is possible, or even the 50’s)
  • It allows for a fantasy airline to be implemented
    *It’s actually quite fun to create these schedules and then watch the airport come to live. :smiley:

It was possible in FS9/FSX/P3D. It is somewhat possible in MSFS, but it has issues.

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Ok, I’d prefer the live traffic to be fixed because I think this will be more awesome but thanks.

This suggestion actually focuses primarily on the fixing of the live traffic, while of course having both options properly fleshed out would be great.

In previous flight simulators, having airports that looked realistically busy was achieved with flight plans because live traffic options did not exist. These pictures are simply an example of what this sim should strive for with the live traffic. It should actually be easier to achieve in many ways (not having to compile flight plans for thousands of flights is definitely a plus) but it needs fixing and considerable expanding.

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Do the AI A320 even fly? I see them all parked at airports, but I have yet to see a 320 AI model land or take off, I only see the 330 model doing it? or am I doing something wrong? Also never seen the 380 in AI flight. I do have AI to generic.

They broke the AI ​​offline at att 5, all my skins are standing at the gate while the junk from the generics are landing and taking off, and I can’t take any more looking at the actual traffic with the default texture, are awful !!!
fix the clouds are also the worst since launch.

I may be wrong but it does fly, exclusively when it’s an actual 320 Neo. If it’s a normal 320, it picks the generic twin.

Good suggestions for things that should be improved in this area. However, I’m a little confused by your post (might just be me) - as to whether you are talking about live real world traffic or AI traffic. There is also static ground traffic. Your OP includes items relating to all 3 of these, but is only titled as being about AI Traffic.

What’s the distinction?

AI Traffic is the moving traffic in the sim generated by the sim and controlled by the sim - it is what yoiu get when you turn AI traffic on.

Real world traffic is well…real world traffic - which is what you get when you turn real world traffic on. It is fed into the sim from (I think) flight radar and does whatever the real world traffic actually does

Static ground traffic - this is what is controlled by the ground traffic slider in the game - it doesn’t do anything other than sit there

I think ti might be worth categorising your wish list into AI/Live/Ground as they are (I think) fundamentaly different in the sim, and your wish list title only mentions on of them.

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I’m talking about Live traffic applied to AI traffic. So it’s both. Even if it’s live traffic, it still requires AI control to be functional with any degree of realism. Nothing in this post is related to having live traffic off and letting AI take complete control based on static flight plans. Some of it may benefit that part as well, but that’s just accidental.

The Ground traffic slider should ideally become redundant, or traffic simulation will never be realistic. The simulator should be fed data from live traffic about what aircraft are parked at an airport and spawn those. There’s no place for random parked aircraft in the implementation if Asobo wants to aim for a realistic depiction in the long run.

Ideally, it’d still be live traffic, just not active at the moment of parking.

There’s no need for a distinction, because I’m not considering offline AI traffic at all. Nor I expect Asobo to. Like it or not, Microsoft Flight Simulator is a showpiece of Microsoft’s cloud tech. That’s why it’s getting the support it’s getting. I don’t expect Asobo to put a primary focus on anything “offline.” That’s simply there as a filler for those who can’t be online.

As mentioned before, I expect third parties to take care of improving that part from the ground up as they always have. Again, some of this may improve offline AI traffic as well as a happy accident, but that’s not the focus of this suggestion.

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OK, that helps, although this statement is still a bit confusing, as is the reference to “live AI traffic” in your original post. Traffic is either live OR AI - it is not both.

I think this all makes your post very difficult to follow as to what you actually want to have happen. Eithere the live traffic is doing what the real world live traffic is doing, or you have AI traffic on, in which case the sim is deciding what it does. Your requests span across both of these.

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Sorry, but I disagree. The context of the post is self-explanatory.

AI traffic can refer to both. The “AI” is required for both to properly function. The simulator refers to what you mean as “Offline AI traffic.” There is no mention whatsoever of “offline” in here.

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Then I think we can agree to disagree

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You are correct, it is either live or AI.

Live is real world data, a copy of what is actually flying around, for example what you can see when you look up to the sky and see the same plane above you also on flightradar. AI is just a virtual plane not connected with the real world data (in FS).

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Live traffic approaches and departures should be based on ADS-B signals even if it the signal is limited on the ground because it uses real atc, so your runway flight planning would be what the real world traffic is doing , that is the immersion factor. The the fill in gaps would be have to be worked out from there. Live traffic program has been done with 90 second delay.

I think the simulator is able to recognize the liveries. I have Lufthansa in the liveries and when an A320 is flying it can also use the identifier to assign which livery it is. Or it was just a coincidence.

Picture One
Picture Two
Flight

In another picture, which I don’t have here right now, it shows me the old Lufthansa livery correctly.

[EDIT]: 2nd Flight and Screenshot

So I think it must work. We only need the airliners and the liveries, or not?

I recently played around with the liveries and I figured the problem might be related to airline subsidiaries and probably even code shares.

A good example would be DHL Aviation: it basically consits of 8 different airlines each with their own ICAO airline code but also flying with the DHL livery. Additionally, there’s 7 other airlines DHL partners with, partly also operating using DHL livery.
The famous livery mega pack however contains only one of these airlines (I forgot which one, probably BCS for EUROTRANS) so the livery will likely have to be replaced by a random or generic one every time you encounter an DHL flight outside of continental Europe.

Another good example is easyJet which operates under the codes EZY, EJU, EZS and also offers feeder flights for several other airlines of which I’m not sure under what “flag” these are operated. The mega pack offers at least two of these airline codes.

Things get a little more complicated when you take a look at actual codeshares:

  • Delta Connection: operates under EDV (Endeavor Air), RPA (Republic Airways) and SKW (SkyWest Airlines), yet the corresponding livery is tagged with the regular DAL code

  • United Express: operated under the codes AWI, UCA, GJS, ASH, RPA and SKW while the United Express livery (Longitudes) runs under UAL which is the regular code for United

  • Lufthansa: shares codes with all sorts of airlines, basically their Star Alliance partners.

And so on.

Conclusions:

  1. one could correct the airline codes in the livery packs and add more AI liveries by copypasting the folders and only change the airline code to achieve better overall livery coverage (but needs some diligence)
  2. 100% livery accuracy is very hard to achieve e. g. it’s hard to tell under which livery a “brickyard” flight currently operates.
  3. another option might be to sit back and wait until Asobo figures out an official way to properly handle mapping liverys to flight numbers.
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