Concepts and recommendations

GA - General Aviation - is defined as private or corporate aircraft used on a non-recurring schedule basis. Certainly the small single engine piston prop planes are GA, but also private and corporate turbo props, what are commonly called bizjets and a few aircraft are private versions of commercial aircraft - the Boeing BBJ being the prime example.



Some of this might be very basic and many of you probably already know a lot on this subject. But the basics need to be covered to ensure the complete concepts are explained to flight simmers new to the working with GA.

Most people have a good understanding of using parking codes for control of commercial aircraft parking in FS2004, using airline ICAO codes. Simmers who work with military AI have also worked out a solid system for those aircraft - largely based on the type of aircraft.

The problem for GA is that neither concept fits the way general aviation works in the real world.

With the exception of a few operators such as FlexJet, NetJets, Flight Options, etc - and even then at only a few locations - GA aircraft do not park grouped by company name. Even at the KADS base for FlexJet, passengers are not loaded at the FlexJet hanger - the aircraft is towed to a nearby FBO.

GA aircraft also do not park by aircraft type - you never see all the Cessna Citations in one area, all the Lears in another, all the Gulfstreams in another, etc...

Certainly at most airports you will want to separate the GA aircraft from the passenger aircraft. It is relatively simple to do but does require that a couple concepts be followed.

Aircraft Configuration File:

Remember that the line in the aircraft.cfg file

atc_parking_types=

is a computer code, not where the planes park. GATE does not mean park at the terminal / jetways and RAMP does not mean park away from the terminal.

It only means park in parkings spots with a code which matches the one in the aircraft.cfg. Where the parking spot is located is not considered by the program.

Commercial passenger aircraft must always be:

atc_parking_types=GATE

GA aircraft must always be:

atc_parking_types=RAMP

If you put GATE,RAMP in the aircraft.cfg file - you will not be able to set preferences for your aircraft and you will not be able to use parking types to help keep the parking separate.

GATE,RAMP does not mean park at gate first and then park at ramp spaces - it means park at any spot using other criteria. Since there are only three types of parking in FS2004 - GATE or RAMP or DOCK - GATE,RAMP basically tells FS2004 to ignore the atc_parking_types= entry.  It has exactly the same impact as putting nothing in the aircraft.cfg file.

(CARGO, MIL_COMBAT, MIL_CARGO are all sub-types of ramp. Unknown is not a type, only the absence of a type)

AFCAD and Parking Spots:

Never use Ramp GA Large for commercial passenger regional jet and regional turboprop parking in AFCAD files for FS2004. Even if you use a parking code for an airline.

The size may be right for the aircraft, however, by using a RAMP GA LARGE parking type - you make that parking spot a prime candidate for GA aircraft to park.

Commercial passenger aircraft parking spots need to be GATE all the time. If necessary use GATE R for your ramp based / remote parking away from the jetways. Change the radius of the parking spot to 18M or 15M or 16M depending on the system you are using. Just make sure the Parking Type is not any form of ramp parking.

Radius:

The concept of Radius scares many people but is the most powerful factor available in Flight Simulator to control AI aircraft parking.

First, no AI aircraft will ever park in a spot smaller than the aircraft model radius.

Second, you already have a tool capable of ensuring that your AI aircraft models and your parking spots are in agreement - AFCAD and it's included Aircraft Editor under the Tools menu.

Third, the default Microsoft parking spots settings are way too large - with almost all GA aircraft, incuding bizjets like the Cessna Citations, Dassault Falcons, Learjets and Bombardier Challengers falling in the Small GA size group by having wingspans less than 20M. 

Fourth, if you do not have enough parking spots on your airport, the GA aircraft will spill over and move into larger parking spots, up to and including the commercial aircraft gates. AI aircraft will always park somewhere on your airport if there is a parking spot large enough for the aircraft, including a C172 in a heavy gate spot.

Traffic Files and AI Aircraft Load Order:

Traffic .BGL files contain the flight plans and information necessary to identify the aircraft for Flight Simulator to display.

The ability in FS2004 to have separate traffic files can simplify the job of creating, modifying and testing AI aircraft much easier.

However, we are still stuck with the AI Aircraft Load Order issue which we had in FS2002.

With just one flightplans.txt file in FS2002, we all learned that the AI aircraft are loaded with the first flight/aircraft in the plan first, and down the list to the end. If all the American Airlines flights were at the top and all the Delta Airlines flights were at the bottom, you could end up with more American aircraft at KATL than Delta aircraft if you did not have enough parking.

The same issue exists in FS2004, even with the use of multiple traffic .BGL files. Only it is harder to control. Traffic files are scenery files and load in a layer order just like any other scenery files. (Really when you get down to basics - AI aircraft are just moving scenery).

The result is that if you do not place all your flightplans in one file and you do not break the different groups up and randomize them - you will have all the LearJets load at once, all the Citations load at once, all the Lockheed Jetstars load at once, etc.

Your AI aircraft, AFCADs and your AI aircraft parking:

1. Use GA Medium parking spots for most bizjet parking - the Citation package includes a modified model file set to 11M in radius - a bit large for the visual model but it will allow you to control where the Citations park.

2. Do not use GA Large parking spots anywhere on your airport unless you change the radius to be smaller than 15M. This will ensure that the commercial regional aircraft never park in the GA area.

3. Make sure your commercial regional jet and turboprop passenger aircraft are set to atc_parking_type=GATE and your parking for those aircraft are Parking Type GATE in the AFCAD parking spot properties.

4. The Ultimate GA packages and other sources of GA aircraft will add a LOT of aircraft to your airport - your must have plenty of parking spots for those aircraft. If your GA aircraft are parking in commercial spots - add more GA Medium parking spots. You should always have a few EMPTY GA spots if your airport is to work well.