This AI tutorial was written for
traffic bgl's created for FS9 using the TrafficTools program.
There are other utilities available that will create bgl's for
either version of FS. I'm told that there are even utilities
available to make bgl's created in FS9 compatible with FSX, but I
have no first hand knowledge of this...check the forums of the
popular FS/AI sites for the details.
Creating a traffic file is very easy, and flight sim allows you to have multiple traffic files (new
in FS9). First, you create three small text files; Aircraft_xxxx.txt, Airports_xxxx.txt, and Flightplans_xxxx.txt
Second, you compile them using TrafficTools. Finally, add
parking spaces (as needed) with the AFCAD program. It really
is as simple as it sounds, and before too long your home A/P can
look like this.
Before we get started, you'll need to
download and install the
FSUIPC utility from Pete
Dowson. You'll also
AFCAD programs by Lee Swordy.
Although it's not necessary for this tutorial, I'd strongly suggest that you
get acquainted with the help
files in the TrafficTools, and AFCAD programs. They're very well
written, well organized, and are generally considered to be "the bible"
for all things AI in FS9. Refer to them often, because the answers to
most of your
questions will be found there.
Table of contents
The Aircraft.txt file
The Airports.txt file
The Flightplans.txt file
Putting it all together with TrafficTools
Adding parking with AFCAD
Create a folder on your desktop. Name it whatever you want, with the
understanding that when you compile the three text files, the
resulting traffic bgl will have the same name as the folder you just
Traffic_samename.bgl. (this will be known as the traffic
folder) Create three empty txt files. Give them the same name as
the folder you just created. I'll be using KOWD in this example, so
the folder and the txt files would be named KOWD.
name=KOWD Files=Aircraft_KOWD.txt, Airports_KOWD.txt and Flightplans_KOWD.txt
The three txt files must always begin with
Aircraft_ Airports_ Flightplans_ and should reside in a
folder of the same name.
Weíll start with the Aircraft.txt file. In this file you would
ordinarily choose which aircraft in your Ö\FS9\Aircraft folder you
want to use as AI, however, in this example weíll be using the DC-3
and the Piper Cub. After youíve created the file, make the
appropriate entries. You can simply copy and paste my entry at
the end of this section, if you prefer.
1. First youíll give the A/C a number that youíll also reference in
the Flightplans.txt file later. We'll be using the DC-3 as our
2. Followed by the cruise speed. I use the one referenced in the
aircraft.cfg file. Optionally, you can use the @ symbol in the
flightplan to force arrival times at a
gate, as noted in the TT's help files. The DC-3's cruise speed is
3. Next youíll need the title= line, found in the [fltsim. #]
sections of the A/C cfg file. I recommend you copy and paste it
instead of typing it. It may save you headaches down the road. The
title line is critical! It determines which plane (texture) will
show up as AI, so read the A/C cfg file very closely and select the
title line for the correct texture.
"Douglas DC-3 Paint2"
Note that the title line is in quotes. The completed
Aircraft_xxxx.txt file should look like the one below.
AC#1,161,"Douglas DC-3 Paint2"
Note that each component of the file is separated by a comma. (no
The entry above represents the Aircraft_xxxx.txt file for the DC-3
Cargo aircraft. We're going to use three aircraft for this
example, so we need to add two more aircraft.
4. Next, copy the entire entry you just made and paste it below the
original. You should now have two entries.
AC#1,161,"Douglas DC-3 Paint2"
AC#1,161,"Douglas DC-3 Paint2"
5. Change the AC# on the second line to 2, and leave the cruise
speed at 161. Go to the A/C cfg file for the DC-3 and find the title
line for World Travel Airlines. Copy the title line, and paste it in
AC#2, replacing the existing title line. When completed the file
should look like the lines below.
AC#1,161,"Douglas DC-3 Paint2"
Now we need to add the Cub.
6.Find the folder for it in the FS9 aircraft folder, and open the
A/C cfg file. Youíll see that the cruise speed for it is listed as
63, and the title= line is "Piper Cub" Thereís only one texture.
7. Insert the necessary information as the third line of text in the
Aircraft_xxxx.txt file, so that it looks like the one below.
AC#1,161,"Douglas DC-3 Paint2"
This completes the Aircraft_xxxx.txt file. Remember to save the
file and place it in the traffic folder on your desktop.
For this exercise it would be
preferable to use airports
with existing AI, that are relatively close to each other.
Another method of performing the step below would be to run the
CollectAirports utility that came with TrafficTools, and cut and
past the airports coordinates from the resulting file.
Next you'll need to select the airports you want to include in
this AI scheme. Choose
Open the AFCAD program and open the first A/P on your list. Select
file>open airport. In the Open Airport window, be sure the "From
All Scenery" radio button is selected and enter the complete airport
code (donít abbreviate), or you can select the name from the list on
the left. The airport will then open in the bottom window. In most
cases, only the "stock" airport will appear, however, if the airport
has already been modified with the AFCAD program you may see
additional airports of the same name ("Mod") with a different layer
Example: My airport has already
been modified with AFCAD, so two instances of Norwood Meml appear.
Another reason you may see two airports is because often times
scenery designers will include an AFCAD in their addon scenery, and
they sometimes will bundle it in the scenery subfolder of their
Unless you are using a modified version of the airport, open the
default. Double click on an empty area of the open airport, and that
will bring up the Airport Properties window. In it you will find the
latitude, longitude and elevation.
In the Airports_xxxx.txt file you will enter:
1. Full A/P code
Iím using KOWD. Substitute this with the A/P of your choosing
I suggest you copy & paste this
Again, I suggest copying and pasting
4. Field Elevation
The resulting file should look like the one below
KOWD,N42* 11.44',W71* 10.38',49
Note that each component is separated by commas without spaces
In this exercise weíre using three different airports so repeat the
above process for two additional airports located close to one
another. Iíll be using KHYA and KMVY. The resulting file should
resemble the one below:
KOWD,N42* 11.44',W71* 10.38',49
KHYA,N41* 40.16',W70* 16.82',52
KMVY,N41* 23.58',W70* 36.86',66
This completes the Airports_xxxx.txt file. Remember to save the
file, and place it back in your traffic folder. Pretty easy so
far, hugh? Now on to the Flightplans_xxxx.txt file.
Where you see the airports Iíve referenced, (KOWD, KHYA, KMVY)
replace them with the airports youíve selected in your
Airports_xxxx.txt file. Each plan has only one leg to keep things
The flight plan below is a simple, one leg plan. Lets break it down.
AC#1 Refers to the A/C of the same # in the
Aircraft_xxxx.txt file. N1382 The A/Cís tail #.
80% Indicates that the A/C will appear if the traffic
slider in the sim is at 80% or above. 4Hr The repeat
time is every 4hrs, which means the AI cycle starts at midnight
every day and repeats itself every 4Hrs. VFR Self
explanatory ;). 12:00,, The DC-3 departs KOWD at
12:00Z. Arrival at KHYA (,,) will be determined automatically by
TT when we compile the Traffic_XXXX.bgl. 14:00,, It
departs KHYA at 14:00, and arrives back at KOWD? (time to be
determined automatically by TTís when we compile (,,)) 025
Cruising altitude is 2,500í. R ATC will use the
tail # instead of a flight #. 0000 A flight #, if
used, would go here. KHYA The 1st (and only in this
case) destination A/P. KOWD The first departure, and final
destination A/P. FP's can have many departure airports (legs)
Letís do another with the Cub practicing touch & go's (TNG).
Letís add one more before we put it all together. Weíll list the
third and final A/C in the Aircraft_xxxx.txt file.
All three flight plans above may be copied and pasted into your
Flightplans_xxxx.txt file and compiled into a Traffic_xxxx.bgl using
TrafficTools. Or, if you'd prefer to use your own airports, simply
replace my A/P codes with your own, making sure theyíre the same in
the Airports_xxxx.txt file. Remember to list the field the plane
departs from last.
Again, I suggest you read the TrafficTools help files, the
"Source Files and Formats" section, item 21, for important
information regarding flight plans.
Important points worth repeating:
-The aircraft and airports in the Flightplans_xxxx.txt file must
match the ones used in the Aircraft_xxxx.txt and Airports_xxxx.txt
-The A/P that an AI departs from first is always listed last in a
Now that the three source files are completed, itís time to compile
them using TrafficTools. But first we need to tell TTís where to
find your installation of flight sim, where to get the source files,
and where to place the traffic.bgl.
1. Open TTís and click File>Locate Flight Simulator, and select your
path to FS9.
2. Click File>Select FS2004 Traffic Folder, to select the default
location of traffic files.
3. Click File>User Defined Source Folder, to check that option. Then
navigate to the folder with the three source files you just created.
4. Select the Flightplans_xxxx.txt in the left window. All three
files will then be selected.
5. Press the "Compile" button in the center of the TTís window, you
will see the resulting Traffic_xxxx.bgl information in the right
window, and the flight plan information in the bottom window,
assuming youíve done everything correctly.
Errors in the txt files will be highlighted in red. Note the path to
the source files, and Traffic.bgl in Flight Sim are located directly
below their respective windows.
Congratulations! Youíve just created your first AI traffic file. Letís see how you did.
Close the sim and reopen for the changes to take affect. Go to the departing A/P, set the time
for 12:00Z, (right hand time window in the sim) and see if the two
DC-3ís and the Cub are parked at that airport. If they are, youíre
done! Tune the radio, listen and watch.
If theyíre not, however, you may need to add parking spaces at the
A/Pís you selected for this traffic file. This is why I recommended
using A/Pís that have existing AI at the beginning of this exercise.
You can change the airports to those that are known to have AI, or
you can simply add parking, as outlined in the next section.
Changing them requires you change both
Flightplans_xxxx.txt, and Airports_xxxx.txt, and recompile them. But as you've
just seen, this is a very simple task!
Adding Parking with AFCAD
Lack of parking is a common occurrence when building AI traffic
files. See my comments below. Letís assume that youíve completed everything
properly up to this point, and youíre AI just arenít showing up.
Itís a pretty good bet that there arenít enough parking spaces,
they're the wrong type parking spaces, (as determined by the
aircraft.cfg file), the wrong size spaces, or there are no spaces at all
at the A/Pís youíve selected. To be sure, however, you might want to
review the previous steps before proceeding.
More on AFCAD
Parking types and sizes (radius) are crucial to
the operation of your AI. There are rules/conditions that
govern when and why an AI parks where it does. You may build a
perfectly good traffic file, but if that AI doesn't have a parking
space of the proper type and size, it's not going to show up and you
may end up wondering what you did wrong in the flightplan for hours,
possibly days! This can be avoided by
reading those two sections of the AFCAD help files. That said,
if you're simply trying to place a few of your favorite 747's at a
good sized commercial A/P (LAX, JFK, BOS and many, many others)
you're less apt to have a problem with parking. If, however,
you're adding even a few AI at a small GA A/P, that might not be the
case. I've found that it's best to always add parking at the
smaller GA A/P's. You may even want to consider placing
a couple of oversized spaces (or more) before doing the FP's to
completely eliminate the chances of a no-show AI due to inadequate
parking. Personally, I do GA exclusively and I add a space for every AI plane I add to
an A/P. I do it before writing any FP's. AFCAD is a major
consideration when building AI.
1. Start the sim and get into windowed mode. (Press Alt+Enter). Get
into slew mode (Y). Go to the first airport listed in
the Airports_xxxx.txt file and minimize the sim. I also find it
convenient at this point to be in top down view. (Ctrl+S)
2. Open the AFCAD program to the first A/P listed in your
Airports_xxxx.txt file. At or near an existing parking space is a
good place to be, if one is available. Use Alt+Tab, or click the
task bar icons on the bottom of the screen to switch between the two
3. With the sim and AFCAD opened to the same A/P, switch to AFCAD
and click the lock icon on the toolbar. This will put AFCAD and the
sim in synch. AFCAD now "overlays" the sim, so when you slew
around in the sim, the red cross hairs from the sim are visible in
the AFCAD program. (try it out, switching between the two
programs to see where you are in each program)
4. In the AFCAD programs tool bar on the far left youíll see a text
box containing a drop down arrow which shows the various types of
parking spaces available. Press the drop down arrow and select Ramp
5. Switch to the sim and locate a desirable location for three
parking spaces. Slew to the first location and press the letter o.
This places a parking spot in AFCAD, exactly where your A/C is in
the sim. Switch to AFCAD to view it.
6. Place one more Ramp GA Large, and one Ramp GA Small parking space
at the locations you've selected.
Note: To rotate the space, select the space by clicking on it.
A small dot appears at the front of the space. To rotate it to
the heading you desire, click and drag the small dot.
Youíve placed three new parking spaces. Now we need to connect them
to the taxiway system (if it has one) so the AI will recognize and use the new
spaces. (ATC will also recognize them). Note: Not all A/P's
in FS9 are "AI ready." If you do not see any existing parking
spaces at an A/P it might not be set up to accept AI. You
might need to add runways or taxiways by reading those sections in
the AFCAD help files.
There are two items on the AFCAD toolbar that youíll need to take
note of. The Apron Link, and the Normal Node. The Apron Link is the
green line with a small blue dot on either end, and the Normal Node
is the larger blue dot without a line.
To connect the newly created parking spaces to the taxiway
system, switch to AFCAD:
7. Select the Apron Link icon. Place the curser in the center of
the parking spot, click and drag to begin laying an apron link
system. When you release the mouse button, you will see a section
of the apron link that resembles the picture below. Note that
releasing the mouse ends a section of the link and automatically
inserts a normal node. This is also how you would "steer" apron links
around corners, to the nearest taxiway. Continue on, connecting
all three parking spaces to the nearest taxiway. (blue line)
Hint: You can sometimes run three lines into one, and then
connect a single apron link to the taxiway.
8. Click Tools>Fault Finder>Select every option>Find Faults. If
the fault finder finds any errors, you will receive a visual display
so you can easily identify where the error is and correct it.
This would be where reading the help files really comes in handy!
9. Save the file. Accept the default name and location AFCAD gives
You're done! Close the sim and restart for the changes to take
Move to the departing airport in the sim, set the time for 12:00Z,
and watch the show.
If you found this tutorial helpful, buy me a cup
of coffee...donate a buck...one dollar!