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Mission Statement 

The purpose of FLAPS-2-APPROACH is two-fold:  To document the construction of a Boeing 737 flight simulator, and to act as a platform to share aviation-related articles pertaining to the Boeing 737; thereby, providing a source of inspiration and reference to like-minded individuals.

I am not a professional journalist.  Writing for a cross section of readers from differing cultures and languages with varying degrees of technical ability, can at times be challenging. I hope there are not too many spelling and grammatical mistakes.


Note:   I have NO affiliation with ANY manufacturer or reseller.  All reviews and content are 'frank and fearless' - I tell it as I see it.  Do not complain if you do not like what you read.

I use the words 'modules & panels' and 'CDU & FMC' interchangeably.  The definition of the acronym 'OEM' is Original Equipment Manufacturer (aka real aicraft part).


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If you see any errors or omissions, please contact me to correct the information. 

Journal Archive (Newest First)

Entries in Avionics Suite (2)


How to Update and Troubleshoot Problems with the ProSim737 Avionics Suite

The backbone of the simulator is the avionics suite, and for the simulator to run effectively this software must be reliable, feature rich, and robust. 

There are several avionics suites available to simulate the avionics and functionality of the Boeing 737; Project Magenta, Sim Avionics, and ProSim-AR being the most popular.  I have not mentioned Precision Manuals Development Group (PMDG), as PMDG is marketed as a desktop simulation not used widely in a hardwired simulation.

Many virtual flyers assume, that when they purchase an avionics suite, the software will replicate all the aircraft systems, be compatible with their computer and simulator hardware, and probably not need to be updated. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.

In this article, I will discuss the use of the User Interface and Version Manager which forms part of ProSim737 avionics suite.  These two tools are used to update the software, and to enable first-line troubleshooting.  Additionally. I will share with you several ‘tried and tested’ methods to resolve update problems.  The last part of the article will address recommendations for basic troubleshooting. 

The Reason and Need for Updates

Technology is rarely static, and developers if they are to encapsulate new technology must provide updates to their products.  This evolution can be likened to a game of ‘leap frog’; as something new is released, developers ‘tweak’ their software to take into account new technology while (hopefully) still maintaining compatibility with legacy systems.   

Another reason for updates is that there is not an avionics suite that completely encapsulates 100% of all systems (and functionality) used in the B737.  A possible close exception is PMDG, but as mentioned earlier, this is a desktop simulation (I am not including Level D/Type 7 simulators).

Each company that produces an avionics suite has a specific method to how its software is installed, maintained, and lastly kept up-to-date with improvements, fixes and software upgrades.  For example, Sim Avionics beta test changes and improvements themselves (or to a select group of individuals) and then release a version update.  This is in contrast to ProSim-AR, who release a beta for client appraisal.  Then, after bugs and shortcomings are rectified, release a final release.

ProSim-AR - frequent updates

The avionics suite developed by ProSim-AR for the Boeing 737 Next Generation is feature rich, easy to install and run, and the software is for the most part very robust.   The company ‘appears’ to be committed to ensuring that their software operates across a wide range of computer hardware, and interfaces with as many mainstream hardware components as possible (for example, CP Flight, SimWorld, Open Cockpits, Flight Deck Solutions, etc.).  In my opinion, the company is very proactive in interfacing with new technology to gain the maximum benefit that new technology brings, which includes increased market share and profitability (for ProSim-AR).

With this in mind, ProSim-AR release updates to their software on a very frequent basis.  

Understanding the Basics of the ProSim737 File Structure

It is important to understand the basics to how the ProSim737 file structure is set out, as this will provide guidance to the best way to install an update, and if a problem occurs, troubleshoot.

The ProSim737 suite contains the following modules, located in a folder of the same name.  

(i)      ProSim737 (main system module);
(ii)     ProSim-CDU;
(iii)    ProSim Audio;
(iv)    ProSim Display;
(v)     ProSim MCP;
(vi)    ProSim Panel; and,
(vii)   ProSim737 Hardware Connector;

The folders can be installed to either a server (the computer that has flight simulator installed) or any number of clients (computers networked to the server computer).  Additionally, duplicate instances of the same module, with the exception of the main system and MCP module, can be installed.  

The ProSim737 folder and MCP folder must be installed to the server computer for optimal performance.  The other folders can be installed to the server or client computer, either as single or duplicate instances.

The ProSim737 folder contains the main system module and this is the module that interfaces with all other modules.

The folders can be installed anywhere on the computer, however, it’s not recommended to place them in the same folder (ROOT folder) that flight simulator is installed.

Important ProSim737 Files

Each ProSim737 folder contains a configuration (config) file.  The configuration file contains information pertaining to screen position, functionality, IP address, etc.  The most important configuration file is located in the main ProSim737 folder.  This file, amougst the things, holds the information that relates to specific hardware, functionality and button assignments.  All configuration files are named config.xml.

Other important files, located in the main ProSim737 folder, are the:

(i)     Companyroutes.xml;
(ii)    ConfigMCP.xml;
(iii)   TransitionAltitudes.xml; and,
(iv)   Cockpitsetup.xml.

The configuration files are important.  These files should be regularly backed up.

Other files that relate to the update process are the updatelog.txt and changelog.txt. The updatelog.txt contains information concerning to the latest update, while the changelog.txt provides a list of changes that has occurred in the various ProSim737 releases.   

Important Point:

  • The most important configuration file is the config.xml file located in the main ProSim737 folder.  This file contains all information that relates to configuration, customization, and hardware.  It should be regularly backed up.

User Interface and Version Manager

The User Interface enables you to customise the avionics suite, configure hardware components, update, and troubleshoot problems.

LEFT:  ProSim737 User Interface (upper image) and Version Manager showing the release notes for a beta release.  The User Interface enables considerable customisation and includes features to customise updates, configure the simulator, check connectivity, and troubleshoot problems (click to enlarge).

The interface is straightforward to use and I urge you to become familiar with its tab /page layout and content.  I will discuss some of the troubleshooting features of the interface later in this article.

Included in the interface is a Version Manager that can be used to update the avionics suite.  When connected to the Internet, the Version Manager compares the release date of the currently installed avionics suite to the latest available release. 

The Version Manager enables the avionics suite to be updated from within ProSim737.  It's accessible from the User Interface (help/updates).

The Version Manager has three tabs:  Releases, Add-ons and Pre-releases.

Releases tab will display a list of final ProSim737 releases (along with release information and the date it was available).  To install the latest release, or to roll back to an earlier release, you select the install link in the Actions title.  This will cause the selected release to download and be installed to your computer overrighting (and updating) any previous release installed.

Add-ons tab displays various add-ons that ProSim-AR have made available.  An example being the ProSim737 aircraft flight model.

Pre-release tab will display a list of beta releases.  Operation is identical to the releases tab discussed above.

One of the advantages of the Version Manager is that it enables you to quickly update the avionics suite to a beta pre-release, final release, or roll backwards to an earlier release.  It also provides information concerning the beta release (Release Notes tab), in addition to enabling you to monitor respective updates to the 737-flight model (Add-ons tab).

Three methods can be used to update the ProSim737 avionics suite:

(i)     Download the latest release from the ProSim-AR website (standalone requiring installation);
(ii)    Download the latest release from the Version Manager (zip file); or
(iii)   Download and install from the Version Manager a beta pre-release or final release.

There is no preferred method, however, option (iii) is the easiest way.

Beta Pre-release or Final Release ?

ProSim-AR regularly adds functionality and improvements to their avionics suite via beta pre-releases.  A beta pre-release enables users to test their hardware set-up with a release prior to it being finalised.  As such, beta pre-releases often have bugs, shortfalls and other problems associated with them. 

ProSim-AR have a dedicated web-based forum, and request that beta users provide feedback on a pre-release.  This enables issues to be rectified prior to making available a final release via the Version Manager.

The Updating Process

The ProSim737 Version Manager (if used) is smart enough to replace all files within the ProSim737 folder system, with the exception of configuration files and any file ending in .xml (these files are kept intact). 

However, if a release is downloaded from the ProSim-AR website, or the ZIP file option is used, then it will be necessary to manually insert the configuration files to their respective folders.  

ProSim737 updates in sequence.  This means, that after the software has been downloaded, the main ProSim737 module will be installed and run  first.  Then as each .exe file for each additional module is run, that module will update. 

A pop-up box will display 'updating configuration' as each module updates its content and synchronises with the main ProSim737 folder.  When an update to a module has been completed, the software will generate the updatelog.txt file (as discussed earlier). 

The time taken to update across a network between server and client computers depends upon your network speed; usually less than 30 seconds.  

LEFT:  The User Interface showing the Database window.  In this window the Scenery Database can be checked and rebuilt.  The window also indicates what version of Navigraph is being used, and the status of the terrain data (click to enlarge).

Although theoretically not required, the Scenery Database (config/database) should be checked to ensure it's path is connected to the correct folder in Flight Simulator.  It also doesn't hurt to rebuild the database.  Rebuilding the Database following an update ensures that the link between the database, ProSim737 and Flight Simulator has not been corrupted.

Important Point:

  • Configuration files are generated in each folder as the .exe for each module is opened (run).

Customising How ProSim737 Updates

There are three ways that the User Interface can be set-up to update the avionics suite:

(i)     Manual updating;
(ii)    Ask before updating; and,
(iii)   Automatic updating.

The method is customised in the User Interface, accessible from the drop down box (config/configuration/updates).  The interface also has a box that an be checked/ticked if you want the interface to monitor when a beta release becomes available; a screen pop-up will be displayed when you open the avionics suite.

Backups and Install from Backup

I recommend keeping a complete copy of each ProSim737 folder from the server and client computer.  By backing up the complete folder, you are  also backing up the configuration and other important .xml files.

Theoretically, the Version Manager negates the necessity to maintain a backup of ProSim737 (or the configuration file), as the configuration and other .xml files are maintained intact.  However, by keeping a complete copy of the last ‘working’ release, it’s easy to ‘change out’ between releases (roll back or forward).  

All you need to do is delete the ProSim737 folders from the computer, and then copy/paste the earlier folders to the same locations.  All the files are intact and ProSim737 will load whatever release has been installed.

If you don't want to keep a complete copy of the folders and files, then it's also straightforward to roll back to an earlier release by using the Version Manager (this downloaded the selected release from the ProSim-AR server).

Important Points:

  • Always make a backup up your configuration (config.xml) files.
  • If downloading and installing a fresh copy of a release from the ProSim-AR website, then the configuration files will need to be manually added to each folder (from your backed up files).
  • Updates using the Version Manager replace all files within the ProSim737 folder system, with the exception of configuration files and any file ending in .xml.
  • The Version Manager displays the current release of ProSim737 you have installed.
  • A good idea to backup a copy of all the ProSim737 folders on both server and client computers.  Doing so allows you the option to easily replace a ProSim737 release with an earlier release number.
  • After running any update, the ProSim737 Scenery Database should be rebuilt.

Troubleshooting Updates

This section is not the ‘Holy Grail’ to resolve all problems.  Rather, it’s what should be done prior to requesting help from the ProSim-AR Development Group.  Some of the methods used to troubleshoot are quite simple, yet effective.

Occasionally there may be a problem with an update.  The update may cause one of the module’s .exe files to loop continually (open/close/open/close), or there may be limited functionality, or perhaps the ProSim737 main module will continually crash.

Recommended Initial Troubleshooting Protocols

Before spending valuable time in advanced troubleshooting, I suggest you check/do the following:

(i)     Shutdown all computers and restart;

(ii)    Ensure that all modules within all folders on the server and client computers have been updated to the new release (check the update file in the folder or check the release version number by right clicking the screen display and selecting configuration);

(iii)    Close and open all ProSim737 modules on the server and client computers;

(iv)   Check to ensure that the correct IP address is recorded for each display window opened.  To check this, right click the opened screen and select configuration.  This will open the screen’s user interface.  Check that the correct IP address recorded in the server box;

(v)    Check the version of .Net Framework on your client and server computer (discussed later);

(vii)  Replace the configuration file in the main ProSim737 folder with a copy of your backup configuration file;

(viii)  Delete all ProSim737 folders from your server and client computers and download/install from the ProSim-AR website a fresh copy of ProSim737 (remember to replace the configuration files in the ProSim737 folders to maintain your functionality settings and screen position); and,

(ix)     Open the User Interface and confirm that the correct simulator (ie: MSFS) is listed in the options box.  Also ensure the enable embedded MCP beta is not selected, all installed  I/O modules and software are operational, and the simulator is connected (config/configuration).  Furthermore, check that all appropriate drivers have been selected for the add-on components and software you are using (config/configuration/drivers).

Usually problems are resolved by restarting your computer, or reinstalling ProSim737 from a fresh download.  

On rare occasions, the configuration file in the main ProSim737 module may have become corrupted during the update process (jumbled and altered assignments).  If you suspect a problem with the config.xml file, and copy/paste your backup configuration file to the folder.

Often, the easiest and fastest method to alleviate issues and save considerable time is to DELETE all instances of ProSim737 from the server and client computers.  Before doing this make sure you have a backup of any files you may wish to keep (configuration files, etc.). 

Then, download the latest release of ProSim737 from the ProSim-AR website.  Copy the folders to the same location and add a copy of the respective configuration file to each folder.  Then, download the beta release (if required).

Advanced Troubleshooting, Log Files and Input Debugger

If the above-mentioned ideas have failed, or the problem relates to a switch, toggle or USB disconnection of hardware, then the next option is to use some of the features available in the User Interface.  Namely the: System tabs, Driver tab, Input Debugger, Logging features, and Debug Mode. (config/configuration/main tab/drivers tab).  Let's look at each in turn.

Main Tab 

After opening the User Interface, the first tab that is usually seen is the Main tab.  The Main tab displays a list of registered and connected interface cards.  It also displays the add-on software components that are specific to your simulator configuration.  This screen is ‘live’ meaning that as you add or remove a device or interface card from the computer the connection (and list) will be updated.

The main tab is particularly helpful in identiftying hardware USB disconnects (Windows USB disconnect ding-dong sound). 

In the case of USB disconnects, note any interface cards that you have connected that are either not displayed in the list, or flash on and off simultaneously with the ‘ding-dong’ sound; this will mostlikely be the offending card/device.  Often removing and replacing the USB connection will resolve a problem.

LEFT: User Interface showing content in Main tab.  This screen is 'live' and will update automatically when a device is plugged in or out of the computer.  The SimWorld MCP expansion + has been opened showing the various SimWorld components installed (click to enlarge).

If the problem is a connection or functionality problem that relates to an add-on component (for example SimWorld MCP, CP Flight, Flight Deck Solutions, etc.).

Click the + symbol adjacent to the name of the device in the software list. This will expand the selected folder for the item in question.  Components not operating correctly, or not connected will be highlighted in red.

Important Point:

  • The list displayed in the Main tab includes all legacy components (for example, interface cards that previously may have been used but are now not connected).  To reflect the most up-to-date items, the configuration file in main ProSim737 folder must be edited.  This post in the ProSim-AR forum explains how to remove these entries: Removing Old Entries in Config File.

Drivers Tab

One of the advantages in using ProSim-AR, is that the developer has pre-installed and checked the connectivity of drivers for several add-on hardware components.  This removes the need to regularly update drivers.

The Drivers tab displays a list of all drivers that can be used with ProSim737.  For an add-on component to function, the driver specific to that component must be selected (checked/ticked/turned on).  If it isn't then the component will fail. 

If you have updated ProSim737 to a newer release, and have not used the Version Manager (manual update from the website), then there is a possibility that the correct drivers for your components have not been selected.

Functionality - Checking Inputs and Outputs (System tabs and Input Debugger)

There are 2 ways that the User Interface can be used to check whether the movement of a component (input/output) is being registered by ProSim737 and operating correctly - System tabs and the Input Debugger.

System Tabs

The System tabs correlate to various aircraft and simulator systems, and when opened will display a list detailing the functionality of that particular system.

LEFT:  Aircraft System tabs with the Fire tab opened.  The display indicates that the triggered movement on the fire handles is functioning correctly (click to enlarge).

If the switch, toggle or whatever component in question is manipulated, there will be a corresponding indication shown in the Systems tab for that component.

I'm unsure if the System tabs were designed with problem troubleshooting in mind. Nevertheless, the various tabs can provide useful and helpful information and should form part of your troubleshooting system. 

Input Debugger

The Input Debugger (help/updates) is very easy to use, and the information it generates in its text box may help determine where a problem may reside.

The first time the Input Debugger is selected, a display window (debugger window) will open showing dozens of entries; the list can be confusing to read.  It's recommended to clear the list to make the debugger easier to use (press the clear list tab). 

LEFT:  Screen grab of Input Debugger. (click to enlarge).

With the Input Debugger open, you physically move the component in question (switch, toggle, lever, etc).  As soon as you move the component, you will note that its input, output and other related information is displayed in the debugger window.

The use of the Systems tab and Input Debugger is an ideal way to check that ProSim737 has registered the movement (input/output) of a component.

There is also a MCP debug option located in the config file of the MCP software.  Opening the debug option in the MCP only displays information concerning the MCP.

Log Files

ProSim737 generates two files that can be used for troubleshooting; the log.txt and crashlog.txt files. 

The main system log and crashlog files are located in the main ProSim737 folder, however, log and crash files are also located in any folder that a instance of ProSim is run from (for example, display folders, CDU and audio folder).  Scrutinizing these files can often provide incite to the cause of a problem.

The log files, with time can become quite voluminous.  This is because additional information is added to the log everytime  ProSim737 is opened.  Often it’s easier to view a file that displays information that relates to the last simulation session. 

Therefore, when trying to troubleshoot an issue, it's a good idea to delete the log.txt and crashlog.txt files. The software will automatically generate both files from scratch when ProSim737 is re-run, and the resultant entries will only be from the last simulator session - this makes for easier reading.

The detail of the log files can be increased if necessary.  To select more detailed (aka verbose) logging, open the User Interface (config/configuration).  In the Main tab, beneath Logging and Updates, there is a drop down box - select either normal or verbose logging. 

It’s recommended, when using the simulator, to leave logging set to normal (unless testing).  The reason for this is because the verbose option will generate a significant increase in the number of fentries to the various logs, and no doubt use system resources.  

If a crashlog file is not generated for some reason, navigate to the Windows Event Viewer.  The Event Viewer may provide further information (google Event Viewer if you are unsure what this is).

Important Points:

  • ProSim737 will generate a new log.txt and crashlog.txt file if either of the files are deleted. 
  • Whenever posting to the ProSim-AR forum a question concerning a problem, its a very good idea to attach the log.txt and crashlog.txt files to the thread.  These files can then be perused by the Development Group.

Debug Mode

The debug mode is an advanced option that should only be used when requested by the Development Group (config/configuration/main).   Some explanation of the mode is needed.

ProSim737 will only generate a crashlog.txt that relates to problems within its own software.  ProSim737 will not generate a crashlog.txt file is the problem is located outside of its software.  In such circumstances, the debug mode can be used to force ProSim737 to generate a crashlog.txt file.  This may aid in troubleshooting.

The debug mode will generate a large volume of entries, which to anyone but a software developer will be  nonsensical.  The generated files should be sent to the Development Group.

Important Points:

  • If the problem you are experiencing does NOT generating a crashlog.txt file (after deleting the file), then the problem is NOT related to the ProSim737 software, but rather to an outside source.
  • The debug mode should ONLY be used to generate the crashlog.txt file, after which it should be turned off.  Furthermore, it should only be used if requested by the Development Group.

Other Potential Causes of Problems

The list could be infinite!  However, the following 'potential culprits' seem to regularly cause problems for some users.

Opening Sequence of ProSim737 Modules and Flight Simulator

Sometimes following an update, ProSim737 will crash (drop-out).  If this should occur, there may be an issue with the sequence that the various programs are opened (run).

Theoretically, all the ProSim737 modules should connect automatically with the main ProSim737 module no matter what sequence they are opened. This said, changing the sequence that the ProSim737 main module is opened can resolve the issue.

Some users have reported that opening P3D/FSX before ProSim737 resolves drop-out issues, while others indicate the opposite.  Likewise, some users report that the main ProSim737 module should be opened prior to opening the other ProSim737 modules.

Whatever the correct sequence, changing the sequence that programs are opened should form part of your initial troubleshooting regime.

Windows Power Management Settings

If a USB device disconnect occurs after a period of elapsed time, then the computer’s Power Management Settings should be checked.

The Power Management Settings  enable the computer to turn off a device to save power; this is done following a period of elapsed time, or after a device has not been used for some time (for example, USB devices and display monitors).

LEFT:  Screen capture (Windows 10) showing Device Manager and Power Management Settings properties box (click to enlarge).

Earlier operating systems maintained the settings established in Power Management, however, Windows 10 has a nasty habit of changing the Power Management settings without warning.  Therefore, the first check should be the device manager to check that the settings are as they should be.  

In the Device Manager dialog box, expand the Universal Serial Bus controllers tab, right-click each USB Root Hub, and click Properties. In the USB Root Hub Properties dialog box, click the Power Management tab.  The setting that allows the computer to turn off the device must be turned OFF (do not tick/check).

Additionally, check the Power and Sleep options. Depending on the operating system used, there may also be other tabs associated with power options.  Search Advanced Power Settings/USB/ and suspend/disable power management or sleep functions.

.Net Framework

Without going into detail, .Net Framework (pronounced dot Net) is a language that is designed to bridge other computer languages so that they can be understood.  .Net Framework is designed and written by Micro$oft, and ProSim-AR have used it in newer releases of ProSim737.  

As at writing, the latest .Net Framework release is 4.72.  ProSim737 (release 214 and above) will not function without .Net Framework release 4.72 being installed.  .Net Framework must be installed to all client and server computers.

Windows 10 Updates

Windows 10 has a feature that automatically updates essential files (as determined by Micro$oft) when the computer is connected to the Internet.  Often, the user is unaware that the files have been updated, as the update occurs in the background.

Sometimes a problem will occur when a Windows update deselects features in ProSim737 that are necessary, such as drivers, etc.

The Windows 10 updating feature can be deactivated if you use Windows 10 Professional, however, it cannot be deactivated in the Home edition (without registry hacking). 

Batch Files and Shortcuts

It’s common for individuals to use a batch file to open ProSim737, or at the very least to use a shortcut to the original .exe file within a specific folder.  It’s also commonplace to rename the .exe file to something meaningful other than ProSim Display (of which there are several instances).  

DO NOT rename the original .exe file.  Rather make a shortcut to the file (right click and make shortcut) and rename this file.  If you do rename the original .exe file, the Version Manager will not replace the renamed .exe file and the release update will fail.

Dedicated Forum and Requesting Help

ProSim-AR has a dedicated forum that is actively monitored by the Development Group. 

If unable to resolve your issue, the log.txt and crashlog.txt files can be posted to the forum along with a detailed subject line and description of the problem.  In most cases, the Development Group rectify problems quickly.  Failing this, you can submit a support ticket via the ProSim-AR website.

Important Point:

  • I cannot emphasis the importance of a detailed subject line.  It's counter intruitve to think that someone will open a thread that says "Help Me" or "Problem PS Doesn't Work" as oppossed to "Marker Sound Not Working With PS Audio", or "MCP Disconnects when Opening ProSim".


The above mentioned information is valid as at the time of writing with Release Version 2.20b2.  However, ProSim-AR frequently update their software, and a future update may change what I have documented.

Final Call

The procedure to update the ProSim737 avionics suite is relatively straightforward, and the updating process streamlined and effective.   Nevertheless, the avionics suite is a complex piece of software and problems can occur following an update.  

The User Interface and Version Manager are powerful tools that can be used to customize the way that ProSim737 is updated and configured, and be used to troubleshoot problems.  Additionally, highly detailed logs can be generated which can be used by the Development Group to aid in rectifying problems.  This said, often the easiest solution to resolve a problem is to reinstall ProSim737 to its virgin state (from the ProSim-AR website), and reinstall your backed up configuration files.

This article has dealt primarily with updating and some of the potential problems that may develop; troubleshooting has only been briefly addressed.  Despite this, the above-mentioned recommendations should rectify most of the problems that may present when updating the avioincs suite.

Acronyms and Glossary

Development Group - ProSim737 Development Group (software developer).
Level D/Type 7 Simulation - Full flight simulator (FFS) is a term used by national (civil) aviation authorities (NAA) for a high technical level of flight simulator. ... A Level D/Type 7 simulator simulates all aircraft systems that are accessible from the flight deck and are critical to training.
Manipulate - A term to mean move.  It could be a switch, toggle, button, lever or anything else that can be physically moved.
Run - Term meaning to run or open a program.
User Interface - The User Interface used to access the customizable features of ProSim737.  The User Interface is accessible by clicking the ProSim737 icon.
Version Manager – ProSim737 user interface used to configure and customise the ProSim737 avionics suite.


FS-FlightControl Instructor Operating Station (IOS) - Review

Virtual flyers can be grouped into three broad groups.  Those that are satisfied using a desktop simulator, those that gravitate toward a professional simulator, and those that strive to replicate, as close as possible, a Level D simulation.  No matter which group you belong, there is a requirement for a feature-rich, reliable, and stable Instructor Operator Station (IOS).

LEFT:  Opening screen for FS-FlightControl IOS on the server computer.  IOS can be easily configured to automatically open after Windows start-up.  (click to enlarge).

This post will introduce the Instructor Station FS-FlightControl, developed by AB-Tools GmbH, a company located in Germany.  The review is not meant to be comprehensive as such a document would be as long as the product’s operating manual.  Rather, we will examine some of the product’s features prior to making an assessment of the software’s reliability and ease of use.

What is IOS - Do I need It

IOS is an acronym for Instructor Operating Station.  At its simplest, it's the menu system in Flight Simulator that enables you to choose from several parameters to create a pre-programmed flight scenario. 

A dedicated instructor station is far more than a few options to alter the time, place, and scenario in the simulator.  A good instructor station should enable you to set basic flight scenarios, in addition to being able to monitor set tasks and parameters.  The software should provide clear and readable displays, be set out logically, be easy to operate, and also be able to initiate system failures.  Furthermore, the software must be stable, reliable and consistent in its output.

There are several Instructor Operating Stations available on the market and most high-level avionics suites come with a ready-made IOS as part of their software.  Therefore, the question must be asked - why is there a need to purchase a stand-alone IOS.  

Put bluntly, many generic instructor stations have been added at the back-end of an avionics suite.  These instructor stations can lack functionality, features, and ease of use.  Furthermore, their layout is often not optimal or configurable.

IOS Features - FS-FlightControl

The features and functionality that are supported by IOS are extensive, however, bear in mind that the instructor station has been designed to operate across different simulator platforms and avionics suites; not every feature may operate with the intended avionics suite.  For example, flight plans can be generated and sent to FSX in the standard .pln format, but they cannot be send directly to ProSim-AR in the correct format (as at the time of writing).

LEFT:  Screen shot showing the POSITION page display of IOS.  Note the easy to navigate menu at the bottom area of the screen (twelve modules).  This menu system is available on all IOS pages and enables quick and easy navigation between modules (click to enlarge).

I have purposely not duplicated what has already been written on the FS-FlightControl website.  The website provides a well detailed description of the features and functionality of the software and includes numerous screen shots.

Broadly speaking, IOS has been developed around 12 main modules.  Like-minded themes have been grouped into whatever module is specific to the subject.  If the information exceeds what can be displayed on one page, then one or more sub-pages (sub-tabs) are provided.  There is a gamut of features

Main Modules

Position:   Aircraft re-position, runway preference, aircraft scenario, approach presets, airport selection and re-position options.

Map:   Street map, satellite map and height map.   Navaids, AI aircraft, weather, aircraft location, compass and route/flight plan overlay.

Flight Planing:   Route and flight plan generation with load tool.  Importing and exporting of data with flight plan generated onto roving MAP.

Conditions:   Environmental conditions relating to weather (artificial and real-time), visibility (CAT presets), winds, clouds, precipitation, altitude levels, barometric pressure, presets, time and season, accelerated time, and user-generated conditions.  This section is very detailed and is examined in several sub-tabs.  Many of the presets are as easy as clicking a button on the screen.  For example, ILS visibility conditions can be generated by clicking one of the CAT buttons (CAT I, II, III, IIIa/b/c).

Push back:   Graphical interface enabling push back of aircraft at any angle and distance.

Fuel/Load:   Fuel volume, passenger, crew and cargo weights, aircraft weights (ZFW), center of gravity (%CG) and load tool.

View/Slew:   Alters external camera views of aircraft and enables the slewing of aircraft.

Failures:   Aircraft system failure conditions that can be triggered immediately, at pre-defined times, or at random.

Statistics:   Approach statistics - Graphical representation of aircraft in relation to vertical and lateral position, aircraft position, ground altitude, vertical speed, pitch, and bank angle.  Results can be exported to Google Earth for further analysis.

Network:   Module to control all computers and software within your simulation network (server and any number of client computers).

Aircraft:   Selectable list of aircraft options re: altitude, speed, direction, radios, TCAS alert status, engine parameter outputs, throttle outputs, autopilot, light and switches, etc. 

Settings:   Customization of all aircraft, map, and program parameters: colours, fonts, map layouts, etc.  Additionally, other variables can be customised such as CAT visibilities and decision heights.

Favoured Features

I’ll be honest, the more I use IOS the more I enjoy my simulation experience.  At the very least, IOS provides a reliable way to store various approach scenarios to numerous airports at different times, seasons and weather conditions.   Granted, that this can be done from the flight simulator menu, however, it cannot be done as cleanly nor as quickly as it can from the IOS module.

Although I do not use all the features available in the program, there are several that I continually use.  It is these I will discuss in further detail.

POSITION:  Position refers to the position of the aircraft whether it be on the ground or in the air.  IOS enables the user to select from several ground positions such as the gate, runway, terminal, base approach, straight-in approach, etc. A click of the mouse will position your aircraft to any of several preset locations. 

I find this to be a very good time saver, especially if you do not want to simulate a long taxi or some other part of the flight but wish to concentrate only on one aspect – such as the approach phase.  In addition to various presets, this page also allows customized approaches to be generated and saved.

Another aspect of this page deserves mention; the ability to select a chosen aircraft livery, parameter list (fuel state, trim, radio frequencies, etc) and save this to custom-named 'slot'.  This is another time-saving feature and easy method to choose a pre-saved livery of an aircraft type.

STATISTICS:   For those who fly by the numbers and want to improve their approach techniques, the statistics section provides a graphical interface that records the vertical and lateral deviation of the approach.  It also records airspeed, vertical speed and several other characteristics.

CONDITIONS:   Conditions broadly refers to environmental and weather conditions at the airport selected, or at various pre-selected waypoints or weather stations.  Changing weather conditions, visibility, season and time is as easy as clicking a button.

This page is exceptionally feature-rich and the instructor station can generate live weather, weather from an imported METAR string or any number of pre-saved weather themes.  For those interested in setting up specific weather events, for flight training, it is very easy to do so.  

MAP:  The map is a hidden gem that enables you to overlay a wealth of information onto a street or satellite map of the area of operation. 

LEFT:  Screenshot showing MAP display page.  Many advanced features that can be displayed as a map overlay.  The tabs along the sides of the page can be clicked to turn features on or off (click to enlarge).

 For example, the user aircraft and AI aircraft are graphically represented along with all navigation aids which includes VORS, NDBs, high and low jetways, ILS feathers and waypoints.  Wind direction and current barometric pressure can also be displayed along with the current SID, STAR or route.  Whilst on the ground all aprons, runways and taxiways are shown.  Navigating to an assigned runway could not be easier as the user aircraft icon shows the position of the aircraft at all times. 

As with all windows, the MAP can be displayed as a separate screen on another monitor.  Therefore, it is possible to have IOS open on two monitors with one monitor showing the MAP view while the other monitor displays a different view.

An added advantage is the ability to position your aircraft anywhere on the map and create a position fix along with altitude, direction, pitch, bank, airspeed and radio frequencies.  This information can be saved for future activation from the POSITION page.  This enables you to quickly and easily set-up an approach and save this approach for future use.

For those that fly on-line, VATSIM, IVAO and PilotEdge are supported.

NETWORK:  IOS enables the user to program the software to control what programs open or close on any computer that is connected to the network.

For example, I use a batch file  to open and close flight simulator, ProSim-AR and other FS related programs (weather, flight analysis, etc).  IOS when turned on from the client will automatically execute the opening of the batch file on the server computer.  Likewise, when triggered, IOS will engage the batch file I use to close flight simulator and other ancillary programs.  Additionally, a time delay can be configured to cause a delay between the closure of programs and the turning off of the server computer.  

Installation of IOS - Server and Client

The software package is downloaded from the developer’s website and consists of a self-extracting .exe file. 

As IOS has networking capability, it's not necessary to install IOS to the computer that has flight simulator installed; it will operate on a client computer.  Additionally, a wizard is used to direct you through the installation process and configuration.  Networking to a client is done via SimConnect.  FSUPIC and WideFS are not required.

LEFT:  Screenshot showing the PUSH BACK display page (click to enlarge). 

Although networking is achieved through the use of SimConnect which can, at times, be problematic, I did not experience any issues with SimConnect in relation to the installation and networking of the instructor station. 


Configuring the program to suit your requirements is done from the SETTINGS page.  Variables can be altered for each aircraft, and aircraft profiles can easily be created that save particular parameters or conditions.  Likewise, the software can be altered to enable a particular font style and colour to be displayed along with a zoom value and size.  The process is straightforward.

Pretty much everything in IOS is able to be configured to your liking.

One aspect of IOS I found to be very handy, was that when you close the instructor station it will keep the last known settings.  This means the parameters for the next flight session (if not altered) will be identical to the last.

Ease of Use

The IOS program is set-out intuitively and the various pages (modules) follow a logical sequence with like-minded themes bundled together on the same page.  The twelve page main menu located at the bottom of each page is promulgated across all pages and enables quick access to various features. 

LEFT:  Screenshot showing the FAILURES display page.  Note the open conditions call-out box.  There are several sub-pages (sub-tabs) that deal with failures.  Failures are an important asset to enthusiasts striving for realism (click to enlarge).

Unlike other instructor stations, all information relating to a specific theme is located on the one main page (for example, failures or position page); it is not necessary to navigate between several pages trying to find the information.  Furthermore, the screen display can resized to either fill your display or only part fill it.

Another advantage is the implementation of large-style buttons that enable quick and accurate identification of a module.  Everything is easy to find and access.

Program Administration

Program administration encapsulates the opening and closing of programs from one or multiple computers. 

Without an instructor station or the use of batch files, several programs must be opened on the client and server computer to begin a flight.  This takes time and the process can be unwieldy.

If the instructor station is configured correctly, it is a two-step process to begin a flight.  First the computers must be turned on.  Second, from the client the FS-ControlControl IOS icon is depressed.  Once IOS opens on the client computer it will communicate with the server computer (via SimConnect) and open any number of programs on the server (assuming they have been configured correctly in the IOS NETWORK page).  

Once Flight Simulator opens and you are on the flight line it’s only a matter of using the instructor station to alter any variables particular to the flight (airport, aircraft position, weather, fuel, weight, etc).  All changes are automatically promulgated across the network to Flight Simulator.

The important aspect to note, is that other than turning on the server and client computers, everything is done from the one screen on the client computer using the one mouse/keyboard.  Likewise, when closing the simulator session everything can be done, including turning off the server computer, from the instructor station.

Cross-Platform Operations

The IOS operates with Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX/FS10) including Steam Edition, and with Lockheed Martin Prepar3D® 1.x, 2.x and 3.x. in a Windows environment.  A separate APP is available for Android and Apple (iOS).  The software works traditionally using the keyboard and mouse in addition to being optimized for touch screens.  IOS can be run either on the computer that has Flight Simulator installed or from a networked client computer.

Stability and Speed

The last thing anyone wants is a crash to desktop caused by a bug-ridden piece of software that exhibits stability issues, poor performance, and does not operate consistently.  

The stability of the instructor station is excellent.  In my simulator set-up the IOS is installed on a client computer and networked to Flight Simulator located on a server computer.  The software loads quickly and interacts with the simulator seamlessly.  

The speed at which software interacts with Flight Simulator is important and it’s pleasing to note that IOS commands do not exhibit any significant time lag between the client and server computers.  There is no time lag when switching between any of the interface screens on the instructor station.  Surprisingly, this includes the MAP mode.  Often a high definition map with several overlays cannot generate its resultant map within an acceptable time. 

This said, internet connection speed may cause users to experience different speeds.

The time taken to open the instructor station from the icon on the client computer is approximately 10-15 seconds.

Updates to IOS (Annual Fee)

The software developer is very proactive and software updates with improvements, minor fixes and new features are regularly provided free of charge.  

LEFT:  Screenshot showing the CONDITIONS display page.  This page has several sub-pages that deal with conditions.  For example, real weather, presets, season, ILS visibility and accelerated time.  Note the display box in the lower left side that shows the frame rates (click to enlarge).

However, the update period is only for one year following purchase.  After this period has lapsed, an annual fee will need to be paid to enable future updates to be used.  The annual fee is only for updates, the original software will still function.

Do you need to update ?  If you are happy with what you have, then no.  However, if you are seeking specific functionality then an update may have this functionality.  A list showing the updates can be read in the INFO section of the software. 

The developer realizes that each person’s requirements for an instructor station is different, and as such, entertains ideas and suggestions for additional features or improvements from end-users.


FS-FlightControl does not have a dedicated forum, however the developer  replies promptly to all e-mails sent via the software help page.  

A benefit of sending e-mail directly from the software is that the log files from your system are automatically attached to any outgoing message.  This enables the developer to easily understand the issue, saves time in asking for further information, and leads to a faster resolution.

Dedicated Manual

A manual for any in-depth software is an absolute necessity.  It is pleasing to note that the developer has written a manual and does not rely on a forum to provide answers to common questions.

The manual, which reflects the latest software build, is accessed from the FS-FlightControl IOS website.  If necessary a .pdf is available on request.  

Additionally, the manual can also be accessed directly from the software.  Each page has several small question marks (?) that when clicked navigate the user to the appropriate help section in the manual.  If you find the questions marks unsightly, then they can be turned off from the SETTINGS page.

Software Trial

This review has only examined several of the features that the instructor station is capable of.  To enable a comprehensive examination of the software, IOS can be installed with full functionality (including any prospective updates) for a period of 14 days.  After this time has elapsed, the software will need to be purchased.

Final Call

Considering the scope of what an instructor station does and how it can be used to enhance the effectiveness of a simulator, there is little doubt that a good IOS is essential.    

I've spent considerable time using the FS-FlightControl IOS and although this review touches on but a few of the features of IOS, I believe this software to be superior to other contemporary products.   It certainly has enhanced how I use the simulator leading to a more enjoyable experience.

The IOS software and further information can be downloaded at FS-FlightControl IOS.

  • Please note I have no affiliation with FS-FlightControl.  I have not been provided with ‘free’ software, nor did I receive a discount in return for a favourable review.  The comments and recommendations I have made are my own.
  • Flight Simulator, in this article, refers to the use FSX/FS10.  I use the B737 avionics suite developed by ProSim-AR.