Thanks for the additional details. pracines can you expand on your VFR and tower/ground controllers comments. Are there any specific details/issues you are running into that we could improve on?
Thank you to you and the P3D team for the recent release of 4.5 - its running fine for me. I eagerly look forward to future releases of P3D!
Here are a few specifics:
The current VFR flight following consists of traffic calls alone. If P3D could add some vectoring to final, in other words, be more aware of a VFR flight plan, that could help. Handoffs from Approach/Center to towers/Unicom would be useful as well. This could help VFR flight to be a bit more challenging /appealing.
Tower controllers need to be able to command speed, side steps, and altering runways to aircraft on approach to landing. AI planes need to be able to accommodate. The lack of these commands adds to inefficiency and a lack of realism.
Runway changes due to wind, need to be "coordinated" with approach and ground controllers ahead of time if possible. When the runways do change at busy airports, there is always direct conflicts of planes landing and taking off directly into each other for a few minutes until things "catch up"/settle into the new situation.
Tower/Ground controllers and AI planes need to be more aware of taxiway/ramp/terminal layouts in order to facilitate a more efficient exit off the runways after landing. A specific is San Diego (KSAN) where AI planes that land on runway 27 brake hard and exit at B5 or B6 (too soon for the airport layout). All the while they block taxiway B for AI taxiing from the terminal area to runway 27 for takeoff. If the AI landing could be commanded to exit at the end on taxiway B10 and at the same time keep the speed up to the end (don't jam on the brakes and then taxi 20 knots down the runway).
After AI/user planes land there should be (when safe/appropriate) a "line up and wait" command given to AI/user planes waiting to takeoff. This would add to efficiency and realism.
Ground controllers need to be more aware that AI airplanes take precedence over AI ground vehicles. The ground stops for a fuel truck coming from a mile away (at a large airport) can be very unrealistic to say the least. It may be better to make the fuel truck wait, because its better to have planes stuck at a gate than to clog up taxiways. Many of us are simply forced to totally remove AI ground vehicles because of the ground conflicts.
A "without delay" command should be implemented for tower controllers to facilitate busy times. AI need to be more aware how busy an airport is. There are so many go arounds at major airports that could be avoided if the AI planes would just takeoff without delay. Currently the AI planes at all airports, behave as though that are lining up on a steam cable launching system before they finally throttle up a go. This lining up takes an eternity when there is a string of planes landing....every other plane has to go around.
I could go further, but these specifics would be a good start. If something can be done with these specifics, then we will go deeper. If these specifics are not possible, then the others would not matter so much.
For a more complete understanding of my specific situation here is a list of the add-ons I use to try and help my realism situation. I don't think my situation is not unlike many other P3D users, but for some perspective:
--- I use Alpha India Group "One Click Install" AI traffic. I set my AI (Both Airline & GA) to 100% as I like a busy/realistic/stressful environment.
---I use Super Traffic Board to view and manage AI traffic schedules and movements. This utility helps to keep AI planes on approach to a runway, spaced far enough apart, so as to avoid constant/excessive go-arounds. The issue with this is that STB deletes AI aircraft to do this. Then they eventually spawn at gates suddenly. It helps to fix one issue and causes another less obvious issue.
---I use Radar Contact 4.3 for IFR ATC primarily because it can accept complex professional flight plans, and gives us the freedom to alter runways, change approach/departure routes if needed. It also has a world wide Transition Altitude/Level database. It also has sensible vectors to approach course. The problem with RC 4.3 is that ground control does not give specific taxi routes, we have to make our own way and hope P3D ground controllers don't cause our path to be blocked. Also, RC 4.3 ATC relies on our knowledge of the lack of sophistication in the P3D ATC system. For example, the slower AI plane landing in front of us is not going to side step, so we have to, or we have to land on another runway, or even go around to avoid a conflict. Once RC 4.3 is started the P3D ATC system is not available to us or aware of us, RC4.3 is aware of AI planes, but it means we pilots are the ATC system almost as much as RC 4.3.
My theory is that if the "artificial intelligence" of P3D ATC & AI planes can be improved, then add-on ATC products can go even further, but my hope is P3D ATC/AI will be sufficient for most professional users. Currently, add-on ATC products have a difficult time pushing the realism limits any further, because of the limits of ATC & AI planes and the lack of artificial intelligence (allowing ATC/AI to make better decisions based on a busy dynamic environment).