To us, one of the most notable things missing in commercial aviation simulation was the feeling of teamwork and the feeling of having an aircraft full of people counting on you to get them to where they need to be. There is a responsibility to make it to your destination on time smoothly and without issue, or if that’s not possible, properly communicate it to your passengers and crew. Every flight brings a whole new group of people and potentially new situations to handle. Our goal was to bring this experience to flight simulation; and so we present Passenger and Crew Experience – PACX.
The first area that needed addressing was flight attendant announcements. With PACX, the announcements you hear are tailored specifically to your flight. For example, if you’re flying a morning flight number 4553 to Los Angeles, you will hear “Good morning ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard flight 4553 with service to Los Angeles”. If you’re flying an evening flight number 2236 to Atlanta, you will hear “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard flight 2236 with service to Atlanta”.
In additional to flight specific data, announcements will vary between flights. You could complete several consecutive flights and hear different announcements, in a slightly different order, on each flight. This provides the feeling of having an actual crew on the aircraft.
Passenger AI Simulation
PACX simulates every passenger on the aircraft individually. They all have their own personality. Some may be flying for business and be very particular about their schedules. Others flying for leisure may be more lax. Some may be aviation enthusiasts and won’t be as bothered by turbulence, whereas others who are more nervous fliers will be more on edge about it. These nuances, and many more, will factor in to overall flight satisfaction and the odds and nature of in-flight events.
It is important to note that the extent of the passenger and crew AI is purely through text/menus. You will not physically see passengers in your cabin.
For the first time, you will be able to interact directly with the crew and passengers.
If you’re behind schedule, you can notify the passengers ahead of time and they will be more forgiving. If you fail to notify them, it will more severely affect their flight satisfaction. In the event of an aircraft problem, being communicative with your passengers and crew can aid in calming them during the emergency procedures.
In some cases, a passenger related disturbance may occur. You will be able to instruct the crew how to deal with the problem, when applicable, and the subsequent events will happen accordingly.
In addition to the traditional interaction menu, you will be able to interact with your passengers and crew verbally. For example, if you cue up the microphone and say “Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize, but we’re going to be a bit behind schedule today. We’ve having a few minor technical issues but should have them worked out shortly”, the interaction system will intelligently figure out what you said and notify the passengers and crew accordingly. You’ll then see that they are all a little frustrated, the nervous fliers may be a bit more anxious, and the expected time of arrival will be extended.
We wanted to ensure that the information presented to the pilot was done so in an immersive and reasonable way. You will not see a percentage indicating the passengers’ overall satisfaction. It will be much more generalized and realistic. If you want to dig deeper into each passenger’s information, a menu will be provided to allow you to do so, to simulate speaking to the passenger directly.
The interface itself is designed to be minimal and not intrusive. PACX is built to fit in to your existing work flow and doesn’t directly replace other software. As it aims solely to provide a thorough and immersive in-flight experience, other airline management, tycoon-style, or economy software should be compatible.
Expansion and Integration
We intend to offer the ability for PACX flight reports to be included as part of a pilot report for virtual airlines to assist in virtual flight quality assurance. We also intend to integrate directly with select third party aircraft to allow immersive interaction, like in-cockpit controls for queuing up your microphone or bringing up the interaction menu.
That said, we would like to expand PACX heavily depending on community feedback. We want to hear ideas for what would bring an extra level of immersion to your in-flight experience.
Questions and Answers
Q. Is PACX only compatible with the TFDi Design 717?
A. No, PACX will be compatible with any aircraft. The direct in-cockpit integration will only be with select aircraft, but PACX itself will work fully with any.
Q. Will I be able to have a safety video instead of a spoken safety announcement?
A. Yes, an option will be provided to play a custom safety video in place of the spoken safety announcement.
Q. Will PACX only support commercial flight?
A. Although it was designed around commercial flight, we intend to add support for general aviation, corporate aviation, and military flight as well, but they may not necessarily be in the initial release.
Q. What will the price be?
A. As PACX is a utility, it will be priced competitively to comparable utilities on the market currently.
Q. Will PACX support X-Plane?
A. Yes, along with support for Microsoft Flight Simulator X and Prepar3D, our intent is to make PACX fully compatible with X-Plane.
Q. When will PACX be available?
A. As we continue to progress, we will provide a more specific timeline.