X-IvAp is an X-Plane plugin for the global online flight simulation network of IVAO. It allows X-Plane users to fly online with other flight simmers and real live air traffic control, provided by real people. X-IvAp follows the philosophy and design of IvAp for FS and implements all its vital features, like full integration into the aircraft panel (you don't even have to show the plugin), improved IVAO weather system, flight plan changing by ATC and many more. Like all IVAO software, X-IvAp is free and can be used by anyone.
There is a second plugin available for the same purpose - XSquawkBox (XSB) by Ben Supnik. XSB currently works on IVAO and VATSIM, but that is going to change in the future. The technical differences between the two networks are already considerable and are going to increase even further in the future, so it will be impossible for Ben to support both networks in one same program.
In fact, this is why X-IvAp was created in the first place: to ensure the availability of a pilot client for X-Plane that works on IVAO. XSB and X-IvAp have a lot in common, for example the multiplayer code for XSB is being used in X-IvAp. Also, X-IvAp will implement the XSB SDK in the future, so that third party plugins that cooperate with XSB also work with X-IvAp.
X-IvAp is using the weather information provided by the IVAO network to generate the weather in the simulation. This includes visibility and temperature, cloud layers, precipiation, surface wind and high altitude winds. From this information, X-IvAp sets a complete weather profile consistent with the current situation - including thermals, runway conditions (wet or dry), turbulence, wind shear, microbursts etc. etc.
You might notice that the clouds are not exactly as they should be according to the METAR report of an airport - this is due to a limitation of X-Plane. Unfortunately, X-Plane allows only to set two cloud layers at a time; X-IvAp will set the two layers with the greatest coverage. An example: say the METAR reports FEW008 SCT050 BKN120. X-IvAp will pick the two "strongest" cloud layers, in this case SCT050 and BKN120. The third layer will not be displayed in X-Plane.
When you connect to IVAO, the system needs some time (about a minute, maybe two) to gather the weather profiles. Once X-IvAp received the weather situation, it will pick the weather profile of the station that is closest to your current position and immediately set the displayed weather in the simulator to that profile. This is the only time when X-IvAp changes the weather instantly: after your first connection to IVAO.
Say, you sit in your Cessna on a small airfield near a big international airport, and just connected to IVAO. The weather as X-Plane remembered it was great, blue skies, a little wind from the west and some nice thermals. Chances are that the IVAO weather system does not know the weather at this small airfield, but knows the weather of the nearby international airport. If the weather there is really bad because they're just having a series of thunderstorms passing by, you are likely to experience a sudden change from your perfect VFR weather to something rather unpleasant.
From now on, when the weather changes, those changes will be gradually. If the wind direction is to turn by 180 degrees, it will do so - but slowly. Same goes for turbulence, precipiation and all other weather settings - but NOT for clouds. Clouds are always changed instantly, mainly because a gradual change of clouds looks awful in X-Plane and makes the simulator pause a little bit on every update. This will also happen as you fly, from one weather front into another, so if you are cruising at FL350 with a nice tailwind, it could very well happen that this tailwind will turn into a headwind further down your route, so you might want to plan on taking some extra-fuel with you - just in case.
Weather updates can be turned off in X-IvAp. However, once turned off the weather will remain as it is. If you are flying VFR and just cant need the fog and rain that suddently appeared out of nowhere, it won't go away just by turning weather off.
X-IvAp currently supports voice only on Windows with TeamSpeak. If you are using it on Mac or Linux, you currently can use text only for communications, sorry - however, plans are to support voice on Mac and Linux in the future.
The good thing is - if you are on Windows and have TeamSpeak installed properly, you don't need any additional plugins to tune TeamSpeak for you. X-IvAp for Windows will do that automatically every time you cange your frequency. Besides the sound settings in TeamSpeak (pretty please, don't use voice activation!) there is no need for any kind of configuration in TeamSpeak?. That is, you don't have to configure any voice servers or channels and stuff like that.
As the weather, voice can be turned on and off in X-IvAp.
X-IvAp shares its multiplayer code with XSquawkBox, meaning that the CSL models are compatible. If you use a CSL package in XSquawkBox, you also can use it in X-IvAp and vice versa. I will do anything to maintain this compatibility, and to improve the common multiplayer code (by adding features, like additional visuals etc).
Same as for weather and voice applies - multiplayer aircraft can be turned off if necessary. You might want to do that if you have a slow computer and there are *A LOT* of aircraft around you and your framerate tanks. However, this is unlikely on current computer systems, the multiplayer code is very fast and can draw a lot of models without really affecting your frame rate.
The other day I had to find out the hard way that the current FMC system in X-Plane is rather painful to program by using the mouse and the panel instrument. After that rather unpleasant experience, I added a FMC Utility to X-IvAp, which you can use to export your flight plan to the FMC.
The exported flight plan will include departure and destination airports as well as your complete filed route, but no altitude. If you file a flight plan using a route like DIDAM UL603 ESATI UL984 SULUS, the FMC will be programmed with all fixes on that route - in this example DIDAM, TEBRO, KOMOT, GMH, TESGA, ESATI, LOHRE, PIGMI, SULUS.
X-IvAp uses X-Planes airway database to resolve airways to waypoints. However, it cannot be guaranteed that your filed route makes sense according to X-Planes airway database, depending on how current it is. A route "FIX1 AWY FIX2" won't be resolved if FIX1 or FIX2 are not part of AWY. Your FMC will be programmed with FIX1 and FIX2 instead, ignoring everything in between.
The resolving system always expects a route of the form FIX AIRWAY FIX AIRWAY FIX (repeat as often as needed). If you want to go from one fix direct to another one, file FIX DCT FIX. If you file FIX1 FIX2 DCT FIX3, then FIX2 won't make it into the FMC. Also, the FMC route will only be as smart as your filed route. Don't expect wonders to happen if your route doesn't make much sense. Also, SIDs and STARs won't be programmed automatically, but the FMC Utility (which will be available in the next version) offers a very comfortable way to do it manually.
One final note: The first time after startup, when you export your flightplan to the FMC, the plugin will load the airway database. This usually takes a few seconds, so don't panic if your simulator suddently freezes for a while.
While at the topic, there are some other nice features in the flight plan window you might not be aware of. First of all, everything is pretty straight forward - fill the text fields with the appropriate contents and pick an entry from the select list, when done file your flightplan. You can pre-file the flightplan before you connect to the network, it will automatically be sent once you are connected. However, if you connect without filing a flight plan, you should know that you will be visible as a Cessna 172 to other players, and that the servers will complain if you start flying without filing a flight plan.
There are two fields in the flight plan window that behave a bit differently though: The "type of aircraft" field, and the one for your Airline. Both have a drop down list attached to them that changes its contents as you type in the text field. For example, if you type "SKYLANE" into the text field for your aircraft type, the drop down list will contain 2 entries with aircraft that contain SKYLANE either in their ICAO code, manufacturer or aircraft name. For this example, this will be the Cessna 182 and the Cesna 182RG. As soon as you pick any one of the two, the text field will be set to the ICAO code of the selected aircraft (and the wake category will be updated accordingly). The text field for the airline ICAO code works similar.
Note that for a valid flight plan, you should always fill in the ICAO codes of your aircraft and your airline. If you fly a Cessna 172 Skyhawk, fill in "C172" and not "SKYHAWK". If your airline is DELTA, fill in DAL - and not DELTA. The safest way is to always pick a value from the drop down lists when filling out your flight plan.
Upon startup, X-IvAp will try to download the current server list from the IVAO network. When connecting to IVAO, you can select a server from this list. Try to pick a server that is close to your current geographical position (the real one, your computers, not your position in the simulator). If you live in Brazil, it probably is a good idea to pick IVANBR - and not IVANCN, which whould be China.
Sometimes, the download of the server list fails. In this case, X-IvAp will use the cached server list from your previous session. If you don't have a cached version (just after you installed X-IvAp), the server list in the connect window is going to become rather short. Don't panic, it won't be empty though, there is always a server for you.
If you are using IvAi, or if you want to connect to another server than the official server list provides (maybe to a LAN server), you obviously won't connect to one of the servers from the downloaded server list. For these cases, there is a second server list in X-IvAp: myservers.txt. The entries from this file will be added at the bottom of the server list in the connect window. It already contains an entry for IvAi running on the same computer, and can easily be extended with as many additional servers as you like. Just open myservers.txt in a text editor and follow the instructions in the file, but don't forget to create a backup first - just in case.
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