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Feedback requested on proposed model matching changes


Ross Carlson
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Hi all,

For quite a while, I've been wanting to expand vPilot's model matching capabilities. Currently, it looks at the first three characters of the callsign to determine the airline. This works well for most situations, but there are some cases where the callsign prefix doesn't correctly identify which airline should be shown on the model, such as when a regional airline is flying for a mainline airline. For example, if the callsign is RPA123, the callsign prefix (RPA) doesn't indicate which mainline airline the pilot is flying for, and it could be Delta, American, or United. vPilot supports the ability to map a flight number range to a specific model, and this covers most of the regional airline situations. However, this flight number functionality is only available if you load a custom VMR file. vPilot's automatic model scanning does not support the flight number range capability.

Since the FLAi project was shut down, model matching has been back to the way it was before FLAi ... it's a bit of a free-for-all, and you don't get decent model matching unless you make your own VMR file, or you use a model set that vPilot "knows about" such as the World of AI models or the payware My Traffic models. This leaves P3D v5 users and MSFS users out in the cold, and they have to use third-party tools like ModelMatchingMagic in order to get decent model matching. I want the process to be more automatic.

To that end, I'm considering two major changes to improve the model matching process:

First, I would expand the Connect window so that you enter not only your callsign and aircraft type code, but you can also enter an airline code and livery code. The airline code would be optional, of course, and you would leave it blank if you're flying a General Aviation aircraft. If you're flying an airliner, you would obviously enter the ICAO airline code in the airline box. This airline code would be used by other pilots' pilot clients (not just vPilot) for the purpose of selecting a model to represent your aircraft in the other pilot's sim. This will improve model matching not just for vPilot users, but also for other pilot client users when they are displaying aircraft flown by vPilot users.

If you leave the airline code blank, and your callsign looks like an airline callsign (three letters followed by one or more digits and then optionally one or two letters) then the airline code will be set equal to the first three letters of your callsign.

If you fill in the livery code, that code will be sent to other pilot clients to allow for more fine-tuned model matching. Since we don't have a standardized database of livery codes, this will primarily only be useful for people that build custom VMR files for their VA. Eventually, I would like to build up an "official" database of livery codes, and provide a list of those codes in a dropdown for the user to choose from. This list would be filtered based on the aircraft type code and airline code that was entered. This would allow pilots to specify that they are flying the "Mosaic" livery for JetBlue, or the Fox livery for Frontier, or the Shamu livery for Southwest, to name a few examples. We could also establish standard livery codes for GA aircraft in order to represent the colors in the paint scheme more accurately.

When you fill in these fields, you will have the option of saving the aircraft details in your "hangar" for easy recall later. There will be a dropdown on the Connect window where you can choose a previously-saved aircraft. Note that the callsign would not be saved with the aircraft, as it is subject to change each time you fly any given aircraft, but vPilot will remember that last callsign you used with each aircraft and pre-fill that callsign when you select the aircraft from your hangar. I may also have vPilot remember which aircraft you selected for each flyable aircraft that you have installed in the sim, and then automatically select the appropriate aircraft from your hangar when you select an aircraft in the sim. If vPilot doesn't recognize the aircraft that you selected in the sim, the Connect window fields will be blank and you'll need to enter the data. vPilot will then remember the values that you entered for the next time you select that aircraft in the sim, even if you don't save the details as a new aircraft in your hangar. I might have vPilot pre-fill the aircraft type, airline code, and livery code if the aircraft you've selected in the sim is found in the model database.

Second, I would have vPilot utilize the database of model information that the developers of swift and the community have created and given me permission to use in vPilot. vPilot already has its own database of model information, but it hasn't been updated in a long time. The swift community have done a great job of populating their model database, including many of the models that are available for MSFS. Using this database to supplement the existing model scanning process will allow vPilot to automatically identify many more of the models that you have installed in your sim, especially for MSFS users.

So, that's what I'm currently considering. Please let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions for changes.

Thanks!

 

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Developer: vPilot, VRC, vSTARS, vERAM, VAT-Spy

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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  • Board of Governors

Thanks for looking into this Ross!

May I suggest that it’s potentially easier to just allow users to enter their registration number in addition to their callsign? In the case of the regional jets, you then get the correct mainline partner as N300SY is an E175 painted as Delta Connection, and N202SY is an E175 painted as United Express. This then works for the airline special liveries for all the airlines as the paint is tied to a specific aircraft, which has a unique registration number. This also has a large bonus for the “hardcore” AI people who install multiple versions of the same paint with different registration numbers as now they will see “different” Delta 737s since the registration number changes.

Obviously if the user does not put one in or the registration does not correlate with a paint in the other member or VATSIM’s database then the randomness rules apply as to what paint is set.

This would take some significant community work on the backend to populate a database of registration numbers correlated to liveries, but I know the community is up to it and I think overall wold be easier.

Matt Bartels
VP: Marketing & Communication
## vpmkt (at) vatsim.net
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Unless otherwise stated, opinions are my own and not representative of the official opinion of the VATSIM Board of Governors

 

 

 

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Why don't you tap into swift's database? We have mapped thousands and thousands of flyable and AI/CSL models from all the frequently used simulators and distributors already. Each type, sub-type, livery, sublivery etc. have their unique ID-code that swift also transmits and receives. Obviously, at this time this is only functional from swift to swift clients, because other apps cannot handle these ID-codes.

I could show you around our database to help you make up your mind.

Edited by Andreas Fuchs
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8 hours ago, Matthew Bartels said:

just allow users to enter their registration number

I thought about that quite a bit, and it would be fine as an alternative way of specifying your aircraft details, for those users that know their reg number, or if vPilot can auto-fill it if it's found in the aircraft.cfg file for the aircraft they're flying. It just can't be the "main" way of specifying your aircraft info, since many users don't know or care about their reg number.

One thing I thought about was the fact that a reg number is actually logically equivalent to a livery code. (We can think of it as a livery that is only painted on a single real-world aircraft.) So if we were to develop an official DB of livery data, we could just add the reg numbers to that database. If the user entered the reg number in the livery code box, it would auto-fill the other values (airline and aircraft type.) The box could be labelled "Livery Code or Registration Number" or something like that.

What I'm picturing for the UI once we have a full DB of livery data, is that the user would first enter their aircraft type code, then their airline code (if any) and then vPilot would populate a dropdown list of all applicable liveries that match the entered type code and airline code. The user would then choose an entry from this list. The list would include an "unspecified" option if no matches are found in the database for the given type code and airline code. If we added reg numbers to the livery database, those would appear in the dropdown as well as any livery codes that were not tail-number-specific. So if the user entered SKW1234 as their callsign, E175 as the type code, UAL as the airline, the livery dropdown would contain N202SY as an option, along with something like "Standard" or "UAL" as the more generic livery option. For the users that know their reg number, we could have a livery search box where they could enter the reg number and shortcut the process.

Developer: vPilot, VRC, vSTARS, vERAM, VAT-Spy

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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