What is PilotEdge?
PilotEdge is an online Air Traffic Control (ATC) network. Once you connect your flight simulator to PilotEdge (including X-Plane, FS2020, or P3D), you can talk to trained, paid, human air traffic controllers by using the radio in your aircraft exactly as you would in real life. The service is available in the Western half of the United States during fixed hours each day.
When it comes to ATC, you will find the experience of flying on PilotEdge to be nearly indistinguishable from real life. You use exactly the same frequencies and procedures, and the controllers use the same phraseology.
If you’re a real-world pilot/student looking to add ATC into your sim, PilotEdge is the gold standard of professionalism and quality.
Flight enthusiasts will also be able to enjoy the ultimate in a realistic multiplayer ATC environment for a very low monthly cost.
How does it compare to VATSIM?
You may have also heard of other online ATC networks such as VATSIM or IVAO. While the coverage of these networks spans the globe, it runs on a volunteer basis, and as such, there is no guarantee of ATC coverage at the location or time of day you want to fly. Moreover, the quality of the controllers on the network can vary dramatically. For this reason, it is not an ideal tool to support real-world training, ultra-realistic simulation, or the building of proper habits.
How to fly on PilotEdge – Getting Started
Joining PilotEdge and setting up the software is very simple. The official instructions are available on PilotEdge’s website, but the following is a quick overview:
- Ensure you have a microphone connected to your computer
- Sign up
- During this process, you will need to choose from two different coverage areas.
- The airports covered in the “Western coverage area” are further apart and are better suited to longer airliner-style flights. However, the traffic density is also lower, which can make it a more relaxed environment for beginning your PilotEdge experience or if you’re learning to fly at one of the airports in the coverage area.
- The ZLA (Los Angeles) area has a high-density of airports with staffed control towers, and there you can follow along with the CAT/I ratings described below.
- You can also choose to purchase access to both areas when you sign up. You can change your subscription at any time.
- Download and install the PilotEdge software, and select a Push-to-Talk button on your joystick and/or keyboard
- File a flight plan (if required)
- Connect to the network (on a ramp/parking area – never while on a runway/taxiway, as you might disturb another aircraft!)
- At this point, you can use the radios as you would in real life and press your push-to-talk button to communicate with ATC.
PilotEdge Training Offerings
Flying on PilotEdge requires a reasonably high level of proficiency with both your aircraft and radio communications procedures.
At FlightSimCoach.com, we can provide coaching to help you build the background skills to get started on the PilotEdge network.
The amount of coaching performed on versus off the network can be adapted to your current level of proficiency. If you’re a complete beginner, the coaching will primarily be offline, since it will allow us more flexibility to pause, explain details, and give you repetitive practice at the ATC calls. Online allows us to help improve your radio technique when other aircraft are on the frequency and understand how ATC works in the context of actually seeing the other air traffic.
In either event, your “solo” practice after the session will be critical to help reinforce in the skills that we cover together. Our goal is to give you the basic skills and confidence to connect to PilotEdge and practice on your own.
PilotEdge CAT/I Rating Preparation (LA-area)
PilotEdge offers its own official rating program, which is excellent. The flights take place in the Los Angeles coverage area.
It consists of 11 “CAT ratings” (VFR scenarios including complex Class C and B flights) and 11 “I-ratings” (IFR flights and scenarios) in increasing levels of difficulty.
PilotEdge has published videos of each flight, as well as a series of workshop videos to help you learn the necessary background material to obtain the ratings.
We offer guided CAT/I rating preparation coaching, allowing you to practice with a flight instructor offline to learn the proper ATC phraseology and flying techniques to build your confidence before attempting the rating yourself on PilotEdge.
To get started, you can purchase an individual coaching session or custom package with your desired instructor, and we can adapt it to target any or all of the ratings/flights you want to complete.
FlightSimCoach Training (in PilotEdge’s Western Coverage Area)
These are FlightSimCoach.com’s unofficial PilotEdge ratings (they will not be tracked or recorded on the PilotEdge website).
They take place in the Western coverage area, where there is less traffic density, offering a less stressful introductory experience. They are also ideal for pilots based in the Seattle area or at other airports included in the Western coverage area (Portland, Boise, Denver area, etc.).
Each progression contains two “checkride flights” on PilotEdge where you will put the skills we practiced offline to work.
Before embarking on one of these ratings, you should ideally be as proficient as possible with operating your aircraft (hand-flying/autopilot and basic navigation). We can weave in these topics in the context of these ratings, but if we have to focus on non-ATC topics, it may increase the required training time.
The content of each rating can be modified to meet your level of proficiency. While there is no guarantee that you will be able to complete the ratings within a certain number of hours, your success at efficiently completing the rating will be greatly improved by doing as much self-study, review of the recordings from the lessons, listening to LiveATC, and solo practice on PilotEdge as possible.
Getting started: You can purchase an individual coaching session or custom package with your desired instructor, and we can adapt it to target any or all of the ratings/flights you want to complete.
Completion standards: The online checkride flights are considered passed when you complete them with minimal assistance from your instructor, without pilot deviations, and using proper FAA communications phraseology.
PilotEdge VFR ATC Rating (General aviation aircraft)
- VFR-1 (offline): Intro to Class D airspace and airport operations at PAE
- VFR-2 (offline): Traffic patterns around PAE
- VFR-3 (on PilotEdge/checkride flight): Depart PAE, exit the Class D, then arrive again and perform 3 patterns
- VFR-4 (offline): Class D and uncontrolled airport operations (PAE-AWO)
- VFR-5 (offline): Class C airspace operations and flight following (PDX-MMV-PDX)
- VFR-6 (offline): Class B airspace operations (PWT-S50-BFI)
- VFR-7 (offline): Class B airport operations (BFI-SEA, including a tour of the Seattle downtown skyline)
- VFR-8 (on PilotEdge/checkride flight): S43-S50 with Class B transition, Mariner/Seahawk transition, land BFI
Estimated completion time: 12-16 hours
Note: We also offer a Private pilot VFR ATC communications course (6 hours). How does that compare to this PilotEdge offering? The PilotEdge VFR ATC rating is more comprehensive, more scenario-based, and it includes the checkride flights on PilotEdge.
Featured Ground School Course
Sporty’s VFR Communications Training Course: “VFR Communications is broken down into 8 subject areas and 22 individual video segments. Based on over 50 years of aviation education experience from the instructors at Sporty’s, the VFR Communications course contains over 60 minutes of engaging 3D animations, in-flight video and real-world communication scenarios.”
PilotEdge IFR ATC Rating (General aviation aircraft)
- IFR-1 (offline): Basic vectored IFR flight (PAE-PAE, round robin with ILS approach)
- IFR-2 (offline): Basic IFR flight planning and ILS approach (PAE-BFI)
- IFR-3 (offline): Basic IFR flight planning and RNAV approach (BFI-OLM)
- IFR-4 (offline): IFR flight planning with Victor airways (OLM-PAE) and flying a published hold
- IFR-5 (on PilotEdge/checkride flight): IFR flight from OLM to BFI
- IFR-6 (offline): Multiple approaches at PAE and S43, including an intro to DME arcs and missed approaches
- IFR-7 (offline): PAE-PWT, missed approach, diversion to Seatac (SEA)
- IFR-8 (offline): Advanced IFR operations. ELN-YKM-ELN, covering uncontrolled airport IFR departures, an Obstacle Departure Procedure (ODP) out of ELN, the LOC/DME BC B approach at YKM, and the YKM GROMO 4 departure (a SID containing a DME ARC).
- IFR-9 (on PilotEdge/checkride flight): Final IFR checkride with at PAE (ILS, RNAV, VOR approaches, missed approaches, holding)
Estimated completion time: 14-18 hours
Note: For real-world IFR students, it is suggested that you first complete the Intro and Advanced Instrument Rating Courses prior to undertaking the PilotEdge IFR ATC Rating