POSCON – Positive Control Network Will Be Awesome! Yep, you heard it here first….
But let me be brutally honest. When I first learned of a planned new online flight sim multiplayer network I sort of rolled my eyes and pondered WHY? Unless you’re new to my blog postings, then you know I’ve been flying computer based sims since the 1980’s and have been a part of the flight sim community since the dawn of the Internet age and have been blogging about this hobby for well over 10 years. I’ve also been an active member of the VATSIM network since the day it was founded back in 2001. Yea…I’m nearly old as dirt, I have opinions…but I absolutely love this hobby. Much of the reason I asked “WHY” was down to the fact that I figured a third online multiplayer network would just further dilute IVAO/VATSIM, which in turn would just make all three mostly a wasteland of virtual air space. After all, contrary to popular belief, the flight sim community is rather small in comparison to other gaming communities.
What is POSCON?
POSCON or Positive Control Network is the next generation flight simulation network. The team behind POSCON are a mix of aviation professionals, hobbyists and enthusiasts who have experienced the need for an improved, modern flight sim network that supports the latest and greatest technologies.
But Why Something New?
As I previously mentioned, I too asked myself why. After all, not all change is good. Yes, I’m fully aware that both IVAO and VATSIM have their issues. While I’ve flown on both networks in the past, VATSIM is my primary network of choice and while much of their infrastructure is seriously outdated (especially their voice codec) my initial thoughts were let’s focus on fixing what we already have, before we head down the path of something new. After all, both IVAO and VATSIM were born as a result of management differences with the old SATCO network which was developed in the late 1990’s.
POSCON Is Not Just Something New
That’s right! From the outside, yea….sure….POSCON will be a new online flight sim multiplayer network. But, once you begin to peel back the layers, you’ll soon learn that POSCON is not just something new. Instead, POSCON is something DIFFERENT! Very, very, very different from what we have now.
POSCON Will Be Immersive
A total immersive experience is the absolute goal behind POSCON. The immersion factor begins well before you get into the flight deck and will end well after you’ve landed and parked at your gate/stand.
POSCON will not be just a casual flying network. Today in the VATSIM/IVAO environment, the immersion ends immediately after the flight. POSCON will include additional features to reward virtual pilots who want to achieve full immersion before, during and after each flight. POSCON will include a system behind every thing that is done on the network. The additional immersion features will ensure there’s more to your flight than just landing after diverting to another airport and logging off the network. Pilots will be rewarded for making the extra effort to submit a logbook entry just as it’s done in the real world.
POSCON events will be different from what we have experienced with VATSIM/IVAO. Events will no longer be just a point A to point B only experience. Air traffic during events will depart from multiple airports within a region to other multiple airports in another regions. The overall experience during events will better simulate real world air traffic with flights arriving into large international airports, smaller regional airports and overhead cross traffic. In other words, the experience is not just about trying to land 500 planes into one airport.
Don’t always have time to fly during events or when most users are logged in? Neither do I and sometimes it does get a bit lonely being the only aircraft landing/departing from our favorite airports. If flying offline, most AI Traffic packages don’t always simulate real-world operations. It bugs me to no end when I see AI aircraft landing on runways which I know are not used in the real world.
POSCON will fill the virtual skies with interactive AI. Quoted directly from the POSCON website “Imagine for a minute a network without any traffic dead zones. For pilots, this means a flight that never gets boring. For ATC, this means you can sign on at 9 AM and still work a busy sector. Our algorithms will generate traffic based on real world airline flight schedules and inject them into the live network. Controllers have the option of tracking these targets and, when they do, the AI drones will come onto the frequency and be controllable through voice. As live traffic on the network increases, the untracked AI traffic will begin to drop offline to allow for a manageable level of traffic for controllers.” Pretty cool, huh? I thought so too!
Real World Scenarios
Yea…I’m guilty of seeking out the worst weather imaginable. Whether it be a massive snow storm or hurricane force winds/rain I’m often loading up my sim, logging onto VATSIM and thinking YOLO (You Only Live Once) and flying my PMDG 737. But in the real world, airlines and pilots would never do this. POSCON may close airports in these types of scenarios and offer pilots one of two choices. Option one…divert! Option two…hold! I think that’s cool and that my friends is total immersion!
Air Traffic Controllers will also have access to real world weather conditions right in their POSCON controller client and will be able to vector traffic around strong storm cells just like real world operations.
POSCON Data Link
POSCON data link features for enhanced commercial flying will be a feature. Example, You’re flying an American Airlines 738 into Denver. You’ll receive a message via the POSCON Data Link providing you the gate assignment on arrival. The ATC controller client will also receive this same information. In the event someone spawns in and occupies that same gate, then POSCON will attempt to provide a gate change assignment. However, as is the case in the real world (flown into Heathrow lately?), pilots may experience a ground hold until gate assignment becomes available. POSCON will reward pilots for their patience and/or effort in helping to keep the immersion to a high standard. These rewards will be part of the POSCON pilot record.
In addition, communications for large events like Cross the Pond would be handled most via data link messages just as they are in the real world. At any given point in time, hundreds of aircraft are flying across the Atlantic…but very little verbal audio communications take place. It’s all done via data link messages.
POSCON Audio Quality & Communications
POSCON audio is custom and will be as clear as real world communications and at times may be as distorted as real world communications can be. Modulation simulation, HF/VHF simulation will all be simulated into the system. POSCON will also offer a voice Unicom and will be managed via the AI system and will monitor pilot behavior. The system will have the ability to take a snapshot of the pilot behavior for review by supervisors.
POSCON will not have the ability for free form text messages, but instead will include predefined messages that can be sent to the controller. While ATC in the real world is English only, POSCON will have the ability for non English language support. All predefined messages will be translated into multiple languages. A Chinese virtual pilot could send a message that he/she would view in Chinese, but other pilots/controllers would see that message in their native language or English.
What About Model Matching
One of the major bugbears with VATSIM and IVAO is model matching. Simply put, model matching means if I’m flying online and another aircraft is nearby, I want to see that other aircraft depicted in the exact type of aircraft AND livery as it should be. POSCON plans a very unique method of handling model matching where multiplayer traffic will be stored on the cloud and dynamically downloaded and injected as the user navigates online. Only the models which are needed will be downloaded, displayed and deleted as necessary. Very Cool!
What Else Can I Tell You?
POSCON is expected to be released sometime mid 2019 with early access beta possible in very early 2019. The plan is for an open beta as the POSCON Dev Team wants 100% transparency. So any and all who would like to participate will be able to participate.
You might be asking yourself, gosh Jerry this all sounds absolutely amazing…but how much will all this cost me? Great question and the answer to that question is NOTHING! POSCON will be 100% and absolutely FREE!
I doubt these will truly be my final thoughts on this subject. But for this posting and at this time, I’ve just got to say that if POSCON becomes reality…then this will truly be a thing of beauty. Of course, many are saying that POSCON will kill VATSIM and IVAO. I don’t think so. I think POSCON may prove not to be for everyone and in this case, those virtual pilots will continue to enjoy VATSIM/IVAO just as they do today.
But as I’ve said many times before, the changes I’ve seen in the flight sim hobby over the past 35+ years have truly been amazing. Whether it be the features of ground handling services of GSX (when working properly), the injection of real world weather from ActiveSky, the icing effects and bug splatter on the FSLabs A319 and hopefully all the goodness I’ve just been blabbering about from POSCON. When I think back to what things were like in the early 1980’s on my Commodore 64 to what they are now…God it’s truly a great time to be alive.
Want to learn more? Yes, I’ve covered a lot and I think I’ve just about covered everything publically available today with regards to POSCON, but should you want to know more or just want to check out the POSCON website, then please do so. I’ll certainly provide more details as it becomes available and I truly look forward to the open beta and the general release of what is shaping up to be a very cool addition to our already amazing hobby.
Until next time…