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Mutleys Hangar Joe Lawford 2006 - 2009 All Rights Reserved.


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AH generates freight hauling jobs, more or less at random, but with an eye toward the base location(s) and aircraft type(s) owned by the company. The jobs are also affected by user preference settings for various attributes including distance and the kind of airports preferred. Much randomness remains but in the aggregate, jobs conform to the particulars of the user’s company location, equipment and his indicated preferences.

Jobs list

Jobs may be outward from a base, inward to a base, or between two non-base airports. Occasionally a job may be between two bases.

Jobs have an expiration time, always less than 72 hours from the time of generation – sometimes much less. Jobs are persistent, disappearing from the list only if completed or expired. The user is under no obligation to perform any specific job unless he accepts it. Once a job is accepted, it must be flown and delivered on time or consequences occur.

Job times are real-world times, as determined by the PC system time, not by the Flight Simulator time. Time of day may be changed in FS at will; accelerated time and pausing in FS may be used without penalty. A new, optional feature pops up a sim-time setting utility in AH just prior to launching FS at the beginning of a job. This permits the user to begin his flight at any time of day. AH jobs/flights always begin in a cold and dark cockpit.

AH flights are automatically saved by landing at any airport and shutting down the engine(s). An in-progress flight may be continued from that point at any time by resuming it in AH, but the user should be aware that the RW clock is still ticking down toward the expiration time of the job(s) aboard. A cargo delivered late or to the wrong airport, perhaps because of bad weather, is handled in a fashion that mirrors the real world. Jobs flown by the owner/user are flown in FS and may use other add-ons such as weather engines, flight managers, etc.

Load cargo and fuel

Aircraft MTOW limits are enforced – if it’s overweight, AH will not allow the flight to be launched. You may have the local FBO remove some fuel, however, for a fee. Careful flight planning is called for. Enroute fuel stops are permitted, whether planned or ad-hoc.

Any FS aircraft may be used in AH. Add-on freeware or payware AC can be imported and will be available for sale or lease. Any AC in the list can be had at any time as a new AC at full price, or can be leased. Used aircraft appear for purchase from time to time at reduced price, but in less than pristine condition.

Sometimes they are a good deal, sometimes they are not. Caveat emptor, or words to that affect, applies.
 


Aircraft may be leased by payment of a leasing fee up front plus an on-going monthly lease charge. The user may terminate the lease or exercise an option to buy at any time. The user is entirely responsible for the maintenance of leased AC.

How will you afford to buy or lease a large AC, you ask? Well, I’m glad you did ask. Loans are available, subject to certain limits, from the Royal Bank of … well, no matter. Available interest rates vary daily, but become fixed on the day you take the loan. Monthly interest payments on the outstanding balance are required, but payments on the principal amount are optional. Outstanding loans affect the availability of further credit so eventually the owner may elect to pay down the principal in order to be allowed to borrow ever more. It’s how real world businesses operate. Borrow the money to buy the asset, put the asset to work generating revenue and pay down the loan.

There are certain restrictions on aircraft leases and on bank loans at certain times. Start-up companies must establish themselves and earn a requisite amount of business stature before some options become available. Loan amounts available are always subject to some limits, however, the more sound the company, the higher the limits. As in the real world, sometimes you must prove you don’t need a loan in order to qualify for one.

Company financials


Feeling lucky? Well then, visit the stock market in AH. You may use your company’s virtual cash to purchase virtual shares in real-world companies at real-world market prices. AH will access several markets and provide the RW share prices for your speculative pleasure. “Buy low, sell high”, is always the gist of free advice from the experts and is worth every penny. Sorry, there’s no AH casino just yet, but this is the next best thing.

Companies in AH have a reputation attribute, expressed as a percentage. Beginning at various levels depending upon the difficulty setting chosen, reputation is enhanced by certain things and diminished by certain other things. The reputation attribute affects the appearance on the job list of certain lucrative cargo types, the availability of loans and leases, the hiring of AI pilots and…

What’s that you say? Yes, I did say AI pilots! Once the user reaches a certain point in the game, hired minions become available at a monthly salary. They may be assigned jobs to fly using the company aircraft and the revenue will come rolling in… as will the bills for fuel, landing fees, periodic inspections and repairs for damage from the occasional bad landing or component or system failure.

Flight crew recruitment

AI pilots have ratings. Ratings affect the MTOW limit of AC they may fly – and their salary. As AI pilots gain experience they receive promotions allowing them to fly jobs in heavier aircraft. Their monthly salary increases accordingly. The human owner/user too has a rating though it is largely honorary, except in career mode. He receives no salary and has no limit on the AC he may fly. He progresses to higher rating levels by the same means as the AI pilots. In Career Mode, the owner/user is subject to the same MTOW restrictions as the AI pilots and so must work his way up to higher ratings in order to be permitted to fly the heavier AC classes.

Pilots, either the owner or the AI variety, may be moved from place to place via commercial travel if necessary. A distance-based cost is incurred. For AI pilots a RW time delay also is required. As a concession to playability commercial travel to relocate the owner/user is instantaneous, though still requires payment.

AH rigorously and separately tracks the location of each pilot, aircraft and cargo. Continuity of location is enforced for each of the three different entity types. If a plane is flown to A and then needs to pick up a cargo at B, well, someone is going to have to fly it there, either the owner or an AI pilot. Deadhead flights (without a paying cargo aboard) are part and parcel of AH though the astute manager will use every opportunity to pick up a nearby cargo along the way.

In addition to location AH also tracks AC condition (i.e. unrepaired damage), cargo aboard and fuel remaining. Aircraft are subject to periodic inspections and flight time is tracked by AH for that purpose.

A comprehensive Flight Report log is automatically generated and maintained for each flight. It details the expected things, but is divided into flight data and landing data. The flight data includes detailed fuel usage information, which can be very useful for future flight planning. The landing data includes touchdown speed and pitch, heading, vertical velocity, cross-wind component and several other related things to buttress or bruise your ego, depending on how well you did.

The user may specify his own graphics file from any of several supported formats for use as a company logo. The graphic will then appear in the header of the Flight Report and on several other screens, mainly on the financial report pages.

An AC may only be utilized by one pilot at a time. When he’s done with it, another may use it. If the intended pilot is not at the same location as the intended AC, well, – either Mohammed must go to the mountain or the mountain must come to Mohammed. The AC must be flown by someone to the location of the pilot who needs it or the prospective pilot may travel – for a price, and in the case of AI pilots, with a suitably realistic delay – to the aircraft.

AI jobs are “flown” outside FS and will even proceed when AH and the PC are shut down. When AH is re-started, the AI job activities are re-calculated and updated. The user may utilize the PC, the Flight Simulator and/or AH for other activities concurrently with ongoing AI jobs.

Insurance may be purchased covering aircraft against most of the repair costs for damage, though not for system failures. If too many claims are made for a certain AC it is black-listed by the insurance company and becomes un-insurable.

Multiple instances of the same AC type may be owned in AH. If the user wishes to operate a fleet of 737s, not only is it possible to do so but he will benefit from a further reduction in the cost of repairs performed at bases due to the economies of operating multiple AC of the same type.

Too-heavy cargoes may be moved in multiple trips. AI pilots may be assigned multiple jobs and will plod through them in the order assigned. Cargoes may be transferred from one AC to another at intermediate locations, making feeder systems possible. Some cargoes are fragile and can be damaged by anything but the most careful flying but they pay more if they can be delivered intact. Even normal cargoes may be damaged by a bad landing or extreme flying and the revenue for the job suffers accordingly.

Landings are monitored and rated. An audible Ground Proximity Warning System calls out AGL heights during approaches. A user-adjustable, audible “Minimums” warning plays at the pre-set height too. There is a pause-at-distance feature that will automatically pause FS at a user-selected distance from the destination airport during AH flights.

For jobs flown by the user/owner, complex job and flight planning is available. Multiple cargoes may be carried on a single flight (though not currently by AI pilots). Routing and loading may be whatever the user wants it to be. It is quite possible, for instance, to plan up and fly the following sequence in AH

* Depart A for B with no cargo
* At B, pick up a cargo for E
* Fly from B to C and pick up another cargo for E and one for A
* Fly from C to D and refuel
* Fly to E and drop off the cargoes from B and C
* Fly to A and deliver the cargo from C

…limited only by the user’s imagination, the availability of the cargoes and the capacity of the aircraft. This may well be the most powerful of all AH’s features.

There’s more. Time and space doesn’t permit listing every feature and detail, but these are the big pieces and some of the small ones. I hope this is enough of a taste to pique your interest.

For more information, visit AH’s web site at… http://www.airhauler.net/ or Just Flight at http://www.justflight.com.

There’s a forum too for users, prospective users and the merely curious. Come and have a read or a chat. It’s an interesting place and is getting better all the time.

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The Thinking Man's Freight Flying Simulation