Traffic Global Bringing X-Plane 12 A Life
Traffic Global is a plugin that is designed to populate your airports and airspace with varying types of commercial, military and general aviation aircraft without a significant reduction in performance or frame rates. These aircraft add a level of depth and immersion to the simulation environment especially if your flight is not taking place in a multi-user environment.
The aircraft follow realistic flight schedules based on actual airline schedules to enhance the airport environment such that it becomes more engrossing. The plugin can be as simple to use as install and watch the aircraft populate your environment, or it can be as complicated as creating custom liveries for the aircraft generated by Traffic Global.
Installation and Documentation
Traffic Global is available from JustFlight.com or Aerosoft.com as an electronic download. For Windows, the download is an executable file that launches the installer that automatically sets up the plugin after you confirm your base X-Plane installation folder. The same installer will allow you to repair your installation or uninstall it if you need to.
On the Mac, the installation is a simple process of dragging the “Aircraft” and “Resources” folders into your base X-Plane folder. The contents will be merged into the existing folders without erasing any existing files.
The folks at JustFlight make a note in the Traffic Global manual suggesting that you run the X-Plane updater following the Traffic Global installation. They specifically recommend using the “Update Scenery Online” option stating that this often updates more files than the “Update X-Plane” option. The rationale for this is to make sure the most up to date airport definitions, that are very important to Traffic Global, are installed.
Speaking of the manual, you will find this very extensive bit of documentation in the Traffic Global folder. It is highly recommended that you review this document if you would like to get the most out of the plugin.
Upon your first start of X-Plane following the installation, you will be required to enter your license information to make Traffic Global functional.
When you have registered the plugin and are able to look around the simulation world, most likely the first thing you will notice is the sky is now peppered with moving text boxes that are labels for the aircraft at that location. These labels are completely customizable and can be toggled on and off using a hotkey that is set to the [Insert] key by default.
As you look around your airport, you will see more of these labels indicating where the Traffic Global aircraft are operating on the ground. You will find them at the gates, on the taxiways, occupying tiedowns, and at any other available parking area that is configured for some type of aircraft. If you have chosen to have X-Plane defer from drawing parked aircraft under the graphics settings, you will have more Traffic Global aircraft occupying your airport.
Immediately, Traffic Global has made the airport environment come alive with aircraft moving about in all conceivable and realistic locations. Traffic Global attempts to populate the airport with liveries that are most likely to be seen at that location. If you allow it through the options, the plugin will fill in with blank white models when it has nothing else it can realistically use.
Accompanying this activity is noise appropriate to the type of aircraft that is close enough to your location to be generating sounds that you would hear. As the aircraft approaches, the sound increases and clues you in to the location of the aircraft since it is a directional sound. The sound also changes with the view selected from the view menu and is reflective of how close the camera is to the aircraft and what type of aircraft it is. The developers have paid attention to the sound that comes across as realistic and of a quality I would not have expected for AI aircraft.
The quality of the models used for this environmental enhancement are quite detailed and the liveries are accurately recreated and easily identifiable. If you regularly fly somewhere that features a livery not included in Traffic Global, or if you find your favorite airport is frequently overrun with plain white aircraft, you can remedy both situations by following instructions in the manual to create additional liveries.
Traffic Global has a complex set of rules that are implemented to generate the aircraft traffic in your vicinity. These rules are affected by the taxiway and ATC rules governing each airport which is why JustFlight encourages ensuring you have the most up to date version of any airport you frequent.
Going Through the Options
Every option for the Traffic Global plugin is accessed via the X-Plane plugin menu where you will find a Traffic Global entry that opens into a three-section menu with sixteen options. The “Views” option opens into a sub-menu of its own.
As with almost everything X-Plane, Traffic Global has a basic purpose that is well fulfilled as we’ve seen but it also allows the armchair pilot to customize it to their liking and purpose. It also provides all types of information that allows for the control of the views as well as providing data some people may use for different purposes. Let’s look at the menus and what you can do with the options.
I will note here that some of the options can get quite technical and in-depth and this level of the plugin goes beyond the general usability and features this review is intended to cover. The manual is detailed in its coverage of the software so I will refer you to that should you want to find out anything further. I’m particularly comfortable doing this since you can read the entire Just Flight Traffic Global X-Plane Acrobat manual via this link prior to deciding to purchase the plugin.
The settings menu option brings up a small dialogue box with four sections onto the screen that allows you to set the options that control your experience of Traffic Global from what you see for aircraft to what you hear.
This is also the place where you access the area to enter your license key. Settings are broken down into groups that affect aircraft, that apply to the general operation of the plugin, that adjust network settings, and that control sound volume.
The dialogue box responds to the X-Plane interface size. On my system with a 3440 x 1440 resolution, the default size results in a small box with rather small type. Setting the interface to 150 percent resulted in some textual corruption within the box while a setting of 200 percent returned the clarity of the text. Both settings’ type size made the dialogues easier to navigate. The following screenshots were done with the X-Plane interface setting at 200 percent.
For the aircraft, you can control how much traffic fills your airports and sky, you can choose whether to create GA flights and how many, if you want to see such things as exhaust and dust created using X-Plane’s particle effects, and if you want to have your flight come to a sudden end should you run into an AI aircraft or if you fail to get out of the way of a moving one.
The last two items on this list are covered at the end of the manual rather than with the rest of the options. ActiveSkyXP integration allows the Traffic Global plugin to utilize the weather from ActiveSky. If ActiveSkyXP is running on a different computer, you can modify Traffic Global to accommodate that.
SAM integration allows the Traffic Global aircraft to interact with SAM animated gateways as long as the aircraft is configured correctly to do so.
The first setting allows you to control how sensitive your mouse is when you are dragging it to manipulate one of the Traffic Global custom views that supports mouse manipulation. I must admit that I was unable to see any difference when using this slider.
Choosing to use TCAS will cause the AI aircraft to appear on aircraft cockpit radar or other traffic monitoring systems that utilize the TCAS system in X-Plane. The following setting, if selected, will cause Traffic Global to disable itself if another plugin requests Traffic Global to stop controlling TCAS.
By default, if you use the X-Plane replay feature, the Traffic Global AI aircraft will not appear. This check box will change that behavior but will utilize some of your computer’s RAM. You can choose from four capacity options.
To prevent AI spawned aircraft from a different airline using parking assigned to a specific airline, you would choose the never steal parking option. While this will provide a more realistic airport experience, you may find the traffic drops off significantly, especially if your airport has a lot of parking assigned to a particular airline.
The allowing substitute option is what enables the totally white liveries mentioned earlier. If you deselect this option, there are aircraft you may never see if a livery option in use at your airport is not an available one for the AI aircraft. Traffic Global will also not substitute the closest available model of aircraft if it is unable to exactly match what the scheduled flight is calling for.
Map integration adds Traffic Global specific information to the X-Plane map and to the Instructor’s console in order to display the location of AI aircraft. This information is readily available in two of Traffic Global’s own modules as we shall see when we look at the radar and flight path screens. The information that is added is the location of moving and parked aircraft and flight path information.
Imperial units is a bit self-explanatory and simply allows you to choose between the imperial measurement system and the metric dependent upon your preference.
List cancelled flights will allow cancelled flights to show on the Departure Board that we have yet to look at. If you deselect this option, the flights will merely not show at all.
Discrepancies between the manual and the dialogue include the presence of the Release option that is not shown in the manual and the absence of the last option for Preferred View that is shown in the manual. This option is also not relocated to another section of the plugin so it is no longer available in X-Plane 12 as of this writing.
The network settings may be necessary to alter if you are running Traffic Global in a multicomputer network setup. Otherwise, this tab has no effect on the use of the plugin.
The manual provides a description for each option and when you might need to use it. Since this goes beyond the basic use of the plugin, I will defer to the manual for those explanations.
There are three options available in this section. You can turn the sound on or off, adjust the volume you hear while inside your aircraft, and the loudness of sounds you hear while outside your aircraft.
Changes here take effect immediately without the need for restarting Traffic Global.
The sounds referenced by the dialogue include the engine sounds of the AI aircraft as well as the tire squeal made when the aircraft lands. As previously mentioned, the quality of sounds used adds nicely to the immersion introduced by the use of Traffic Global. Especially rewarding are the directional sounds available when an aircraft is within proximity since it can aid in avoiding collisions if you did not detect its presence previously.
So that provides an overview of the basic functional settings that are available for the plugin. If you read through the manual, you will find that there are some advanced settings you can change by editing the plugin’s configuration files.
The labels option box can seem a bit busy when you first open it but it is straightforward. The purpose is to allow you to change the color of the label you see identifying the AI aircraft as well as giving you a chance to choose what information the label shows you. The options available are separated for airline and general aviation.
Within each type, you can specify values for aircraft that are in the air, ones that are parked or taxiing, and their radar representation. There is no “apply” button because changes are immediate. The label options are organized such that each line of options represents what actual label line it will appear upon. You select the information you would like displayed by clicking on a field button and selecting from the pop-up list that appears. Each label can have a maximum of three columns and four rows of information.
The range field determines how far, in nautical miles, from your current position aircraft labels are visible. If you are flying a slow GA aircraft, you may only want to see relatively nearby aircraft since you won’t be approaching their position that quickly. Inversely, if you are piloting a fast jet, you will likely want to see aircraft at a greater distance.
The color of the label is determined by your selection of one of the colors shown or by entering the red, green, and blue values of your chosen color in the corresponding boxes. Again, the change is immediate so you can adjust your choice without having to restart. The color options do not apply to the radar view, so customization of that view is restricted to choosing what text you want on the aircraft label.
This control box offers the user the ability to reduce the amount of traffic at an airport or to reduce the amount of traffic of one or more airlines at all airports.
The usability of this dialogue could stand with some improvement especially since the way the airline section works does not correspond with what the manual would lead one to think. For both the airlines and the airports, a value MUST be entered in the search box first to retrieve the entity you wish to alter. You may only enter one code and you cannot use a fuzzy search that returns more than one result since you will not be able to select from the list.
Once the search result is up (you can only retrieve one item at a time) you can drag the slider at the bottom to change the percentage number to the right of your chosen entry. Click the save button to keep your change. To return to the full list, clear the search box and click on search. The clear button will erase changes you made but you must save those changes. The reset button will return values to their last saved state.
Here you can fine tune the quantity of GA aircraft parked at the airport. You can also affect the behavior of those aircraft by favoring either students or private pilots as operators and by favoring point-to-point flights or circuits.
All the variables are selected by slider and are saved when the OK button is clicked. The color bars correspond to the sliders and are visual representations of the relationship between each choice. The logic of this relationship can be found on page 24 of the manual where you will also find the advanced information necessary to understand the ICAO-Specific slider.
In addition to displaying aircraft on the ground and in flight along with the ability to display customized labels for them, Traffic Global offers three ways that you can monitor what all those aircraft are up to and precisely where they are.
These modules include the radar screen, the flight schedule list, and the flight path view. All three of these pop-up windows can be “popped out” and moved to a second screen.
The radar, which is centered on your location, can zoom out to cover a range of about 112 nautical miles. The purple line across the display designates the north direction. There are several options on the left side that control what is displayed.
Aircraft in flight are always displayed. Optionally, the radar will display parked and taxiing aircraft if you choose. Label information (that you chose in the label dialogue) will show either constantly or upon hovering over the blip that denotes an aircraft. Aircraft labels are colored according to the type of aircraft and mode of flight from parked to final. Altitude can be displayed as relative to your altitude or as absolute feet above mean sea level.
A useful feature of the radar, which is common to all the modules, is the ability to click on a specific aircraft to make that the active AI which becomes the focus of all Traffic Global’s view options that we will be considering shortly.
The flight schedule is simply a list of all flights relative to the airport at which you are located. There are five options for what flights to display that are chosen by directly clicking on the slider button.
The “All Flights” view includes only all commercial flights. If you wish to see the GA flights to and from the airport, you will need to select the Unscheduled flights option.
Clicking on a specific flight in the list will make it the active AI aircraft for Traffic Global’s view options.
Flight Path View
Of the three modules, I personally have found this to be the most useful as it displays a very nice schematic of the airport you are at. This schematic is based upon the taxiway definitions that are incorporated in the design of the airport so, if an airport is modelled incorrectly, the schematic will also be incorrect. This is not a Traffic Global issue, then.
The schematic will show you all the parked and moving AI aircraft on the ground. The arrows will show you the runways in use and the aircraft type assigned to those runways. There is also a flow indicator that you may see changing in real time. One instance at an airport I was flying from had the flow in change mode but awaiting the landing of an aircraft on approach before the change was implemented.
All AI traffic was halted pending this completed change. If your range is close enough, you will also see a Legend screen that displays keyboard shortcuts to various functions as well as definitions for the colored taxiways and parking areas. Even closer in, you will see detailed information about parking spots if the airport modeler included that information.
Commercial aircraft are displayed in pink, GA aircraft are displayed in green. Your aircraft and the active AI aircraft are displayed in orange. A feature that is not obvious, but is mentioned in the manual, is the ability to change to a nearby airport simply by typing in the ICAO code while the window is active. As you type the first letter, you will see a text box open with the letter in it at the top of the window. This box closes on its own shortly after keyboard activity ends. If you want to know what airports are nearby, zoom out as far as you can and you will see all the airports in the area.
Now that we’ve seen a number of different ways to select what flight we want to view, we can look at the ways Traffic Global gives us to view what we have selected.
From the Plugins menu, the Traffic Global menu features a View option that in turn lists seven views with the keyboard shortcut for each one. None of the views respond to the default X-Plane keyboard commands (q,e,r,f) for rotating the camera. Other view modifications do work in some cases.
Let’s see what these views look like.
AI Center Camera
This view centers the chosen AI aircraft on your screen with the camera at some distance above the plane. The mouse can be used to rotate the view and the view responds to the X-Plane keys for zooming in and out as well as moving the view.
AI Chase Camera
This view starts you off behind and slightly above the chosen AI aircraft. As with the center view, the move view commands work and the mouse will rotate the view.
AI to You Camera
Here, your point of view is again slightly above the AI aircraft and the direction of view is determined by the relationship of your aircraft’s location to the AI aircraft since the camera will be pointed towards your aircraft no matter where it is.
The mouse does not move this view but it will respond to the default move view commands.
You to AI Camera
Like the previous view, this view positions you slightly above your own aircraft. The view direction is determined by the location of the AI aircraft relative to your own. As with the last view, the mouse does not rotate the camera, but the move commands are functional.
Tower to AI Camera
This view is similar to the default X-Plane tower view in that it places you at the location of the defined tower viewpoint for the airport you are at. The top left of the screen will display the name of the viewpoint and the name of the target AI aircraft which is the orienting object for the initial view focus.
This view does not respond to mouse movements and its response to the default move view commands is limited. If you move the view at all, this is remembered and will always return to that point unless you use the keyboard command “Reset stored tower offset” to get the default view parameters back.
Tower Free Camera
This view is identical to the previous with two differences. The first is the view title at the top left of the screen no longer includes the name of a target AI since the view is not associated with one. The second is the view responds to mouse control and keyboard move view commands. As with the previous, the position you leave the view in is remembered and stored so the “Reset stored tower offset” command is necessary to return to the default viewpoint.
Runway to AI Camera
This view will place you at the end of a runway with the camera focuses on the chosen AI aircraft. There are two keyboard assignable commands that will allow you to cycle through the runways at your current airport. This view does not respond to mouse input although some keyboard commands will function.
Traffic Global contains additional features you can use to discover missing aircraft liveries and types if you want to check why you might not be seeing aircraft you were expecting to see. There are functions for checking on missing airports and dumping a complete list of existing airports if you find some reason that might be useful to you. Some of these items are referenced in the manual and some are not. I suspect at least a couple of these might be used only for troubleshooting at the instruction of the developer.
So, once again, we are at the conclusion of an overview of an X-Plane third party product, and we need to decide if it lives up to its promises and if it is worth the asking price a simmer will pay to add it to their X-Plane world. JustFlight’s Traffic Global is a rather unique addition to that world and is currently one of two such products available for X-Plane 12. Its sole purpose is to add AI aircraft to your simming world at a frame rate cost that is much lower than adding a large amount of X-Plane’s AI capable aircraft to your environment.
My interest in Traffic Global was to see it do what it said it does: “The purpose is to make the airport environments feel much busier in a believable way – not recreating the exact
location of real-world aircraft in real time but making airport activity feel both appropriate and engaging.” I am not an online flyer and the empty airports and skies have long been one of my major annoyances in my simming universe.
Traffic Global has lived up to its promise and does, in a very satisfying way, solve that problem. My world is now full of active and inactive aircraft that behave in a mostly very realistic manner and add the sights and sounds of a busy airport to my flight experience. I especially appreciate its attention to general aviation activities since that is where I spend the predominant number of my flight hours.
The current version of Traffic Global features controls that allow you to specify how many of, and what type of (commercial or general aviation) aircraft will populate your virtual world. It also allows you to interact with those aircraft through the possibility of colliding with those aircraft and damaging your plane if you do not maintain situational awareness of what is happening around you.
To aid pilot awareness, Traffic Global has a simple ATC function that will allow you to get the proper active runway, as determined by its flight routing, for takeoff or landing that is aware of what runways are in use since X-Plane’s ATC is typically not aware of AI traffic. The default setup allows you to access this feature by tuning to the correct frequency at your airport and pressing the “end” key. This is important because Traffic Global will make corrections to runway flows based on conditions and its rules for doing so differ from the default X-Plane determinations so ATC may direct you to the wrong runway.
Though the Traffic Global manual states that X-Plane is now aware of AI aircraft, I have to say that on two occasions while using the new VFR flight following, I was alerted to the proximity of air traffic as I departed the runway and began my climb out. Traffic Global aircraft also appear on my aircraft TCAS representations and add a richness of flight there as well.
The graphics and sounds of Traffic Global are very well done and, in some cases, probably more than is necessary for AI aircraft. But, if you are someone who chooses to spend time following these aircraft as they go about their flights, the auditory and visual elements will be important. What I found particularly pleasing was the sound effects of aircraft at the airport that were near to my own aircraft.
The additional modules that we looked at add all the information you could want about the traffic around you. You can see the flight schedules for arrivals and departures. This allows you to calculate the window of opportunity for your own arrival or departure. I have found the flight path module to be a very worthwhile addition to my available tools for navigating airports both on the ground and flying in the vicinity of them. The legend is clear, and its outline of taxi routes is easily understood. The need to fly a circuit or to remain in a holding pattern as the airport flow rules changed is a totally new aspect added to my flight experience and it has been interesting to see how active aircraft can lock those changes in place until they are safely cleared from the runway.
Traffic Global does, on occasion, create some on-ground conflicts between two or more aircraft but I have seen these resolved by the plugin in short order. My one other complaint with the plugin is that the views seem somewhat fragile in terms of the ability to manipulate those views breaking down and not functioning. This is especially true of the mouse control.
It seems that other plugins or changing aircraft or flights can result in the need to restart X-Plane to get that view control back although this was intermittent, and I was unable to figure out the exact cause to reliably duplicate the problems. I do have one aircraft that Traffic Global seems to be entirely unaware of because it will spawn an AI plane in the same parking spot as my own and, if collisions are active, it results in a crash with my aircraft.
Those two little quibbles do not dampen my enthusiasm for this product and I highly recommend it to anyone who would like to add life to their off-line flying experience.
More information of the Just Flight Traffic Global for Windows X-Plane can be found at the dedicated Just Flight store page or for Mac simmers, via this JF link. Then you can also check out the dedicated Aerosoft page for Windows or Mac and not to forget on X-Plane.Org for your Windows or Mac version.
Until next time, cheers and blue skies!
|Add-on:||Payware Just Flight Traffic Global X-Plane 12|
|Publisher | Developer:||Just Flight / Aerosoft / X-Plane.Org | Just Flight|
|Description:||Traffic Global Bringing X-Plane 12 A Life|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / Approximately 1.8GB (download)|
|Reviewed by:||Paul Beckwith|
|Published:||January 7th 2022|
|Hardware specifications:||- Ryzen 9 5950X CPU @ 3.40GHz
- 64 GB DDR4 3200MHz RAM
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 10 GB GDDR6X
- Honeycomb Alpha Yoke
- Honeycomb Bravo Quadrant
- CH Products Pedals
|Software specifications:||- Windows 11
- X-Plane 12