Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is PilotEdge?
PilotEdge provides realistic, professional-level Air Traffic Control services to subscribers using flight simulators connected to its online network, using live controllers, 15 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How long has PilotEdge been around?
PilotEdge started service with the Los Angeles ARTCC (ZLA) coverage area in October 2011 after several years of development and testing. In December 2016 the network started expanding to cover much of the rest of the western US under a separate subscription, known as the Western US Expansion (WUS). This expansion was complete in March 2018 and now covers Denver, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, Seattle and Oakland Center airspace. Since its inception, PilotEdge has grown to include user base from all over the world, including several commercial aviation training providers. PilotEdge has been featured in multiple aviation magazine articles and is a regular exhibitor at EAA Airventure in Oshkosh, WI and other aviation and flight simulation events in the US.
Is the ATC provided by recordings, AI, or real people?
PilotEdge ATC is provided entirely by real people in real time. There are no recordings, scripts or AI engines.
How does the system work?
Pilots use software that connects their existing flight simulator to the PilotEdge servers. Our controllers are located all over the country and use software that emulates the various radar scopes used in the real-world. They connect to that same network, allowing them to see the pilots on their scopes.
Pilots communicate with ATC by selecting a frequency on the radio panel and speaking through a headset, exactly the same as flying a real airplane. PilotEdge maintains a healthy roster of air traffic controllers, ensuring that we have a sufficient number of controllers online to support the needs of the connected pilots.
Our controllers use the same real-world procedures for the supported facilities, providing an experience for the pilots that mirrors the real-world, right down to the detailed IFR departure procedures out of small Class D airports. Pilots can practice pattern work, cross country navigation, receive flight following, receive radar vectors, file IFR flight plans, pick up a clearance, practice instrument approaches, and even practice non-towered radio operations on the CTAF.
How do I connect my simulator to the PilotEdge network?
Pilots need to download our software to connect their flight simulator to our network using a standard internet connection.
What flight simulators does PilotEdge work with?
PilotEdge supports Microsoft Flight Simulator MSFS 2020, Laminar Research X-Plane, Lockheed Martin Prepar3D, MSFS FSX and MSFS 2004 desktop simulators. Additionally, customized solutions are available for customers using BATD, AATD, FTD and even Level C and D full-motion flight simulators. For more information on customized solutions please email firstname.lastname@example.org
What kind of headset do I need?
We recommend a USB (non-Bluetooth) headset designed for use on a PC (not a gaming console such as Xbox or PlayStation). There are a few brands such as Plantronics and Jabra which have struggled with compatibility in the past, therefore if you are planning to purchase a computer headset we would recommend avoiding these brands. However, if you already own a Plantronics or Jabra headset, you are welcome to try it. If you cannot get it to work, visit our Tech Support on Discord and inquire about some tips you can use to get one of those headsets working.
How is PilotEdge different from other online ATC networks?
Briefly, PilotEdge provides feature-rich, realistic, guaranteed ATC coverage, geared towards the real-world pilot or discerning flight simulator enthusiast. See our Other Network Comparison page for detailed information.
What are PilotEdge operating hours?
Air Traffic Control services are provided from 8am to 11pm (US Pacific Time zone), 7 days a week.
What is the PilotEdge coverage area?
PilotEdge is split into two operating areas covering the majority of the western US. The first is the area served by the Los Angeles ARTCC which we refer to as ZLA. The second is the area served by the Albuquerque, Denver, Salt Lake City, Seattle and Oakland ARTCCs which we refer to as WUS (Western US). A map of the service area can be found here. Each operating area has a separate subscription, or you may purchase a combined subscription and have access to both areas.
For Which airports does PilotEdge provide service?
In the ZLA operating area, every towered, civilian or joint-use, public-use airport in the real-world has service on PilotEdge. In the WUS operating area, all Class B and C airports have service and select (but not all) Class D airports have service. Purely military airports are uncontrolled with the exception of Nellis AFB (KLSV), Creech AFB (KINS) and Tonopah Test Range (KTNX). These 3 airports are towered but are reserved for simulated military operations only. A list of airports with service can be found here.
Can I fly on the network outside of normal operating hours?
Yes. The network is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Can I fly in ZLA airspace with a WUS-only subscription?
You may only overfly ZLA (at or above 13,000ft MSL) with a WUS-only subscription. This means you may not takeoff or land at any airport within ZLA without a ZLA or combined subscription.
Can I fly in WUS airspace with a ZLA-only subscription?
No. You will be automatically disconnected from the network at the ZLA/WUS boundary.
Can I switch my subscription from ZLA to WUS or vice versa?
Yes, but only once at the end of a billing cycle. If you would like immediate access to the other operating area, you can purchase an upgrade to a combination subscription covering both operating areas.
Can I fly into the PilotEdge service area from outside?
Yes. As you approach the boundary of the service area, use your charts to determine an appropriate frequency, then make contact with ATC and request a clearance. It’s very similar to requesting a “pop-up” IFR clearance.
Can I depart from an airport inside the service area with a destination outside the service area?
Yes. As you approach the boundary, ATC will advise you are leaving the service area and will terminate radar services. You are then free to disconnect from the network if you wish.
Can I connect while airborne?
Only if you’re in Class G or E airspace. Connecting inside A/B/C/D airspace without prior coordination with ATC may result in the controller removing you from the network, at their discretion.
Can I connect to the network while on a taxiway or runway?
No, you will be subject to removal from the network if you connect to the network while in a movement area. Having aircraft “pop” up on a taxiway/runway at a controlled airport is highly disruptive. Please ensure you are in a non-movement area prior to connecting.
Can I fly flights entirely outside of the PilotEdge coverage area?
Yes, however ATC service is not provided outside of the coverage area. You will still be able to see other aircraft and communicate with other aircraft on air-to-air frequencies.
Does PilotEdge have any training materials?
Yes, we have extensive training materials available on our website. Additionally, we have the CAT (VFR) and I (IFR) Ratings programs. The programs lead you through a series of flights, getting progressively more challenging with each flight. They test your ability to fly a whole host of different types of flights. Your performance on the flights is evaluated by the controller(s) on duty at the time and you are given a pass/fail result at the conclusion of the flight. You cannot move on to the next flight until you have passed the previous one.
How do I file a flight plan?
Please use the File Flight Plan page on our website to file a flight plan.
Do I have to file a flight plan for a VFR flight?
No. As in the real-world, VFR flights do not require a flight plan, however you are welcome to file one if you wish. The one exception is if you’re flying a CAT Rating flight, you are required to file a flight plan.
How do I open/close my VFR flight plan?
In the real-world, VFR flight plans filed with Flight Service Stations (FSS) are purely for search and rescue services and do not get transmitted to any ATC facility. We do not simulate FSS services, therefore pilots do not need to open or close VFR flight plans like they would in the real-world.
Can the controller see my VFR flight plan?
No. In the real-world, controllers do not have access to any of the information provided in a VFR flight plan, so our controllers are trained to solicit the same information from you that a real-world controller would need.
What kind of callsign can I use?
You may use any properly formatted aircraft registration (US or international), omitting any dashes. Proper format for US registrations can be found here. Registration prefixes and formats for other countries can be found here. Please follow the correct format for the country you choose.
You may also use any real-world air carrier callsign, using the three-letter ICAO identifier (eg. AAL, UAL, DAL, etc) Do NOT use the IATA identifier (eg. AA, UA, DL, etc). Flight numbers should be no more than 4 digits.
There are a few, select virtual airline callsigns that are also permissible.
If you have a fictitious or obsolete air carrier callsign you would like to use on the network, you may apply to have it approved by sending an email to email@example.com
Is there a way for me to interact with other PilotEdge users?
Yes! We have a very active Discord server where you can interact with other users, controllers and management. We also have community forums. We have a very strong sense of community and look forward to chatting with you.
Will I see other planes?
Yes. You will see any other aircraft that is connected to the network (regardless of which flight simulator they are using) and within your visual range. Additionally, to provide a more realistic environment, there are hundreds of recorded aircraft (drones) flying outside of controlled airspace that you will see. These aircraft are presumed to be flying VFR without radio contact and will be pointed out to you as VFR traffic targets by ATC, where needed.
Why am I seeing traffic as a different aircraft type than what ATC told me it would be?
PilotEdge uses next generation HD visual models for various aircraft models. The Common Scenery Library in your simulator will use a direct match if there is one, otherwise it makes its best effort to find the closest match based on known aircraft size, number of engines, engine type, etc. If an aircraft didn’t exist when the list of aircraft types was created, you’ll see a C172 instead, which is the default fallback display aircraft. Additional CSL aircraft can be downloaded here.
Can I listen to the ATC radio transmissions live, when I’m not flying on my simulator?
Yes, through the PilotEdge Receiver application, you can listen to ATC live from the network.
How does the radio system work?
The simplest answer is: much like the real-world. You tune the radios and use a programmed push-to-talk button (PTT) just like in a real aircraft. The range of our transmitters are limited by line-of-sight and terrain, just like the real-world. As you approach the limits of the range, you will hear realistic-sounding static in your ears, increasing the further you get from the transmitter until you can no longer hear anything. You’ll also hear realistic “VHF distortion” when using the radio system. The frequencies to use can be found on real-world charts.
How do I know if my radios are working properly?
You can conduct a radio check by setting COM1 and COM2 radios to 123.45, with both radios enabled for receiving. Make a quick radio transmission. You should hear yourself (via the COM2 radio). Alternatively, you can park on the ramp at a towered airport (such as KSBP) and call ground for a radio check. If the radios are busy, use your judgement as to not tie up the frequency with unnecessary radio traffic.
Is there a way to do a radio check without asking ATC?
Yes. The frequency 123.45 is a full duplex channel. If you tune both radios to 123.45 and set the audio panel so you can hear on both while transmitting on one, you will hear yourself on the other radio, with a slight delay. This frequency is not routinely monitored by ATC, so you will not bother anyone by using this method.
How do I know if I am getting out of radio range with ATC?
PilotEdge has a complex algorithm designed to simulate real-world radio range based on distance, altitude, terrain and a host of other variables. As you approach the edges of the transmitter range, realistic-sounding static will start to distort communications. This will increase the further you fly away from the transmitter until you can no longer hear anything. If your radio static is reaching a point where it is over powering the frequency, inform ATC of the static and request a new frequency.
Why do I hear the same controller’s voice across multiple frequencies?
Controller staffing is based on traffic demands, both in the real-world and on the network. PilotEdge controllers cover a larger number of positions and sectors than real-world controllers do, and this is purely due to the much lower levels of traffic found online compared to the real-world. At lower traffic levels, there may only be one controller per operating area. As traffic levels increase, more positions are staffed. The same concept is used in the real-world when traffic levels are lower, such as during the early hours of the morning. Center and approach sectors get combined and controllers often cover multiple positions (such as clearance, ground and tower).
Why do I hear pilot transmissions at airports far away from where I am?
In the real-world, there is complete frequency isolation, meaning you cannot hear another pilot if he is on another frequency. This creates two issues. The first is for controllers when covering multiple sectors as pilots may not know that another pilot is already making a radio call when they key the mic, so the controller has to try to listen to two (or more) radio calls at once. Additionally, listening for an appropriate break in radio conversation is an important skill for a pilot to acquire as he learns how to communicate on the radio. If he cannot hear half the conversation, the level of immersion is incomplete. Complete frequency isolation cuts down on the amount of two-way radio transmissions that a pilot on the network can hear. As a result, PilotEdge has a repeater system that allows pilots to hear other pilots who are on different frequencies. This cuts down on pilots “stepping” on each other. We realize this is a break from ultimate real-world realism, but it is a small sacrifice compared to the benefits.
How does the frequency isolation system work?
Very basically, with customary traffic levels, if you are on a clearance, ground or tower frequency you will hear all other pilots transmitting on clearance, ground or tower frequencies. If you are on an approach frequency, you will hear all aircraft transmitting on an approach frequency. If you are on a center frequency, you will hear all other aircraft on a center frequency. The caveat to this is that you will only hear aircraft transmitting on frequencies that your current controller is transmitting on. For example, if there are separate controllers for ground and tower, and you are on a ground frequency, you will not hear pilots on tower frequencies. As traffic levels wax and wane over time, the exact division of isolation may change.
Why did the controller give me a different frequency than what is on my chart?
Due to the lower traffic levels found online compared to the real-world, we do not need as many sectors, and so multiple sectors are combined into one. Although the frequencies on the real-world charts will work and are routed to the correct controller, it may not be the main frequency that the controller is using, so you may be given or asked to change to a different frequency.
I was given a new frequency but I can’t seem to get a hold of anyone on that frequency. What do I do?
This happens very frequently and is often the result of a miscommunication between the controller and the pilot. The best way to resolve it is to return to the previous frequency and ask the controller to verify the frequency. If, for some reason, you cannot raise the controller on the previous frequency, then you could use the Guard frequency of 121.50 to regain contact with ATC and get a useable frequency.
I haven’t heard from a controller in a long time. What do I do?
It’s possible that traffic levels are very low and radio transmissions are infrequent. If you are concerned you have lost contact with the controller, first attempt contact with him/her on your current frequency. If that doesn’t work then chances are you have flown out of range of the transmitter the controller was using. You can look for a better frequency on the enroute chart, or use 121.50 to re-establish communication with ATC and get a new frequency. Be advised that it may take the controller a few seconds to respond to your transmission. Our controllers cover a very wide area and it may take a moment for him/her to re-center his scope to your position.
What frequency do I use to make traffic reports at towered airports that PilotEdge does not staff?
As in the real-world when the tower is closed, use the Tower frequency as the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF).
I am on the ground at an uncontrolled airport. How do I contact ATC to get a clearance or cancel IFR?
In the real-world, there may be a GCO or RCO frequency you could use to make contact, or maybe even a phone number. PilotEdge does not simulate RCO/GCO frequencies, nor do we have a phone number for you to call. We have reserved the frequency 122.20 for use in this situation to simulate a phone call to ATC. This frequency is only active on the ground and for the purposes of getting clearances or canceling IFR. This frequency will work on the ground at any uncontrolled airport enabling you to make contact with ATC. Although 122.20 is the real-world frequency for contacting Flight Service Stations (FSS), PilotEdge does not provide any FSS services.
Does PilotEdge simulate Flight Service Station (FSS) services?
No, FSS services are not provided at all.
Does PilotEdge simulate Guard on 121.50?
Yes. Guard on 121.50 is fully isolated and monitored by our controllers. That being said, please use the frequency with discretion. As in the real-world, it is meant for aircraft in distress, not routine radio checks, pilot-to-pilot conversations or other non-essential communications.
When transmitting on the guard frequency, be sure to include in your transmission that you are transmitting “on guard” so the controller is aware which frequency to respond to you on. Routine controller radio transmissions are no longer transmitted over the guard frequency since the feature update.
Are radio transmissions recorded?
Radio transmissions for our most common control positions are recorded and are available here on an hourly basis. “Dead” time in between radio transmissions is omitted, so you will hear all radio transmissions for the hour in a continuous stream. VHF distortion effects as well as line-of-sight calculations are not included in the radio recordings therefore they will sound a bit different than the actual frequency.
Is my flight track recorded?
Yes, PEaware can be used to view your flight track and history.
How do I use shared cockpit on PilotEdge?
The primary pilot connects normally. The secondary pilot connects with the same callsign, but with @ on the end. For example: TPX123 and TPX123@.
What happens if I have a radio failure?
Please follow real-world radio failure procedures. If you are unfamiliar with radio failure procedures or do not wish to continue the flight then it’s best to disconnect from the network.
Can I simulate an emergency?
You may simulate an emergency situation, but please be courteous to the controller and other users in so doing. If it is busy, it would be best to avoid emergency simulations as it can consume a large portion of a controller’s time and concentration. That being said, our controllers are trained to respond to emergencies as they would do in the real-world, as much as workload permits and is practical in the simulated online world.
Can I pause, use time acceleration or reposition my aircraft while connected to the network?
Pausing, repositioning, and using time acceleration while connected to the network can be very disruptive to network operations, especially when they are a surprise to the controller. As such, we discourage pilots from doing these things while connected unless they’ve coordinated with the controller ahead of time. Controllers have complete discretion to approve or deny these requests and may remove you from the network if your use of these features is distracting, significantly breaks immersion for other users or becomes disruptive to smooth traffic flow.
How do I manage the use of my transponder?
In recent years, the FAA changed the guidance regarding transponder usage. The AIM now says “Civil and military transponders should be turned to the “on” or normal altitude reporting position prior to moving on the airport surface to ensure the aircraft is visible to ATC surveillance systems.” This is especially necessary at Class B airports and even some Class C airports. We recommend following the FAA guidance and getting into the habit of turning your transponder to Mode C before entering the movement area at any airport.
If you’ve been given a discrete transponder code, the best time to enter that code is as soon as you get it. If you haven’t been given a discrete code, check your transponder before you taxi to make sure it is on the VFR code of 1200. Whenever instructed to “squawk VFR”, promptly enter the 1200 code in your transponder.
The controller has advised me that he/she is not receiving Mode C information from my transponder. I have checked several times and my transponder on my instrument panel is set to Mode C, how can I fix it?
If you are using Microsoft Flight Simulator (any version) or P3D, use the pilot client menu to force Mode C. Most of the time, this fixes the issue. It shouldn’t be an issue with X-Plane.
What weather does PilotEdge use?
PilotEdge uses real-world weather information from government sources, however we do not inject weather into your simulator, nor is your use of real-world weather required. To use real-world weather, you will need to setup your simulator accordingly.
Can I use custom weather on PilotEdge?
Yes! You may set your weather to whatever you would like. When using custom weather however, report you have ATIS information “Zulu” to the controller. That is the PilotEdge way of communicating to the controller you are using custom weather and not the published METAR. One note of caution and that is controllers will be using the runways most suitable for the real wind/weather so just like the real-world, requests to use contra-flow approaches and runways may be denied or delayed so as not to cause disruption for other users. There is also a checkbox in the PilotEdge flight plan page that adds a remark to your flight strip, indicating you are using custom weather.
Does PilotEdge simulate ATIS?
PilotEdge simulates ATIS at all towered airports that have ATIS in the real-world and are staffed by a PilotEdge controller.
How does the ATIS system work?
Unless you have filed a flight plan indicating custom weather, you will hear PilotEdge generated ATIS (including ATIS code) when you tune your radio to the ATIS frequency You will then report that code to the controller on initial contact, just as you would in the real-world. The controller is provided with the same ATIS information you are, and will confirm your receipt of the correct ATIS code. Note: You will need to disable the in-game ATIS for FSX/P3D/FS2020. X-Plane ATIS is disabled automatically by the plugin.
For airports that are towered in the real-world, but considered uncontrolled on PilotEdge, you will receive in-game ATIS automatically if you use X-Plane. Microsoft Flight Simulator (any version) users will need to manually adjust settings to enable/disable in-game ATIS.
For towered airports that do not have ATIS, you will receive in-game ATIS.
For uncontrolled airports with an AWOS/ASOS system, you will receive in-game transmissions, where modeled.
Do I have to use real-world time?
No. We do not simulate time of day at all. You are welcome to fly whatever time settings you desire.
Does PilotEdge follow real-world opening and closing times for control towers and approach controls?
No. All towered airports and approach controls are simulated to be open and staffed during normal PilotEdge service hours.
Does PilotEdge simulate NOTAMS?
PilotEdge simulates runway closures at Class B and C airports that are scheduled to be closed for longer than a week. We do not simulate any other NOTAM.
Does PilotEdge simulate Special Use Airspace?
PilotEdge simulates special use airspace that have scheduled active times as being active (hot) during network service hours. Special use airspace that is active by NOTAM only is considered to be inactive (cold). We do not simulate TFRs.
Will PilotEdge teach me how to fly my sim?
The short answer is no, although we have some introductory material to help you get started, we do expect you to have at least the basics of flying your sim down before you add in the complexity of talking to ATC. For assistance on setting up your flight simulator, or getting started with home flight simulation, we work with Community Aviation where you can arrange a one-on-one virtual meeting with a flight simulator specialist
Flight Sim Coach is a 3rd party service which offers one on one coaching with real-world Flight Instructors for an additional fee.
I want to fly airliners on the network, can I do that?
Yes, but with a caveat. Flying airliners from major airport to major airport requires a significant level of familiarity and proficiency not only with the aircraft you are flying, but with SIDs, STARs, airways, and a whole host of other complex IFR procedures. We aim to maintain a professional, high level of service and realism on the network for all of our customers’ enjoyment. We would strongly recommend you become familiar with our network by starting out in smaller, general aviation aircraft and then progress to flying airliners once you are comfortable.
What happens if I make a mistake while flying on the network?
We understand our customers have a wide range of proficiency levels and that most are here to learn, so “rookie” mistakes are not dealt with in a punitive manner. That being said, just as in the real-world, our controllers are trained to identify pilot deviations and provide correction where necessary, so do not be surprised if this happens to you. More serious deviations or flying aircraft or procedures obviously well beyond the capability of the pilot will result in a recommendation to complete our training program. Repeated serious deviations will result in us requiring you to complete the training program in order to continue using the network.
Malicious or disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. Users engaging in such behavior will be immediately removed from the network and their accounts subject to termination.
The controller advised me of a pilot deviation but I don’t understand what I did wrong. How can I learn more?
Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your question or concern. We will consult with the controller and get back to you.
Avoid extended conversations with controllers on the radio. If your question has not been answered in a couple of sentences with the controller, please use the email option above.
What background do your controllers have? Are they real-world controllers? What training do they get?
Our controllers have a variety of backgrounds, from real-world controlling experience, to professional pilots, to extensive experience providing ATC services for online networks. Controllers are selected for their skill and experience related to providing realistic, professional-level ATC to an online community and then put through our controller training program. This program typically takes several months with multiple “checkouts” along the way. Controllers are certified at each position/area they work and are subject to recurrent testing on a regular basis.
What are your controller’s names? Are there any bios on them?
We do not publish our controllers’ names or biographical information. In the real-world, FAA facilities also do not publish this information for multiple reasons, so we mirror that practice. However, several of our controllers are active in the forums and Discord server and are happy to interact with you and answer questions. You’ll even find some of them flying on the network, from time to time.
Where is PilotEdge located?
Our physical office space is in Pompton Plains, NJ. Our staff and controllers typically work from home, and are spread out across multiple locations.