Wednesday
Jan092013

Review: Aerosoft's Nav Data Pro

Reviewed by Brendan Farmer

At a glance...

Pros:

  • GUI is great
  • No more credits
  • Very strait forward and overall requires very little user intervention

Cons:

  • Ran across a few incomplete or messed up airways
  • Smaller database of airports – but it still has all that you’re likely to visit

Mentionable:

  • The end user experience in the sim isn’t much different than Navigraph
  • The same cost as Navigraph (30 Euro for a 1 year cycle – 13 updates)

Takeaway:

“It’s a great program, just not that different from what is already out there.”
 

Before we speak about what exactly Aerosoft’s product here is, it is probably best to define indeed what the concept behind it is.

All airplanes in the sky with navigation systems rely on a database which feeds the flight management system. This database includes the entire world’s navigation system – airways, fixes, VORs, NDBs, airports and SIDs and STARS. Keeping these updated in the real world is essential for both legal and safety reasons, simply because the world’s airspace changes. Airways get renamed, modified, added or dropped. VORs get decommissioned. Fixes get added. Crossing restrictions on arrivals get changed. This is all accounted for by updating navigational databases.

In the real world, the pilots don’t usually need to worry about this on transport category aircraft. Maintenance technicians plug in computers and do all this for the pilots. But, like many things in the sim, we the pilots have to do this for ourselves. What is worse is that as of the last few years, we have had to pay to do this. And until now, we have only had one option – Navigraph. Navigraph has been supplying AIRAC updates (which is the name of the cyclic issued navigation database) for our complex addons for many a year now. Generally, there have been no complaints with their service. Some people weren’t fans of the way that certain procedures were created, but in the end it did its job good enough for 99% of the consumers. However, now there is a competitor to Navigraph, this being Aerosoft.

Aerosoft NavDataPro uses a real world source, Lido, to provide navdata updates to its users.

Lido is a real world company, operating under Lufthansa Systems, that essentially does this for airlines. So the theory with Aerosoft’s navdata is it will be exact same thing in your simulator that the guys have in the real world flight deck.

Purchase and activation is pretty much standard fare for Aerosoft. There are three options for customers:

  1. Single Nav Data Cycle ($9.61 USD)
  2. 4 Nav Data Cycles  ($21.39 USD)
  3. One Year, 13 cycles ($32.09 USD)

I can see the point of each and like how Aerosoft gives customers options for different kinds of simmers.

Once the user has downloaded and installed the .exe and entered the activation information, they are presented with a list of flight simulator addons that allow for updatable navigation data. From there, the user selects what addons they would like to update and simply presses the update button. After configuring whether or not you want the program to backup the last cycle (many real airplanes have the last cycle loaded into the FMS as well), press download. The nav data is updated and that is the whole of it. You can also configure the program to email you when there is a new cycle available – which I think is very neat. If you buy the entire year of data, this is certainly a good way to keep track of when it needs updating. Overall, I really enjoyed the GUI and thought that it was very easy to use. Being able to sort by simulator is a great idea too and can help streamline the experience for the user.

In the simulator, 95% of the time, the user isn’t going to notice a difference between this data and Navigraphs product. From time to time, both products will miss a crossing restriction on a STAR or have a badly entered speed restriction on the departure. Airways, SIDs, STARs… the whole database works the same now with Lido as it did with Navigraph. It’s the same stuff that Navigraph has been providing simmers with, it’s just coming from a different source. There was only one moment of confusion with the NavDataPro, which occurred with the PMDG 747X. Some airways, of undetermined length, simply wouldn’t go into the route page. To overcome, I just broke the airways down into its various way points via my navlog and entered the airways as three or more segments. That only happened a couple times and generally when flying towards Asia or the Middle East from Europe. I can’t explain it, but suffice to say that wasn’t a problem I experienced with Navigraph.

In the end, Aerosoft’s NavDataPro is a great product and a worthy competitor to Navigraph. I really enjoyed used the GUI and thought it was great that I could update my navdata without having to go out on the web and download a bunch of different installers. I was also thrilled that I no longer had to worry about purchasing and spending credits on cycles, which is the Navigraph way of doing things. Really though, within the sim, I really did not notice a difference between my years of Navigraph usage and the Lido powered Aerosoft product. I didn’t have many problems before and I don’t have many with NavDataPro. If you are a loyal Navigraph user, there isn’t a lot to force you to switch. It costs the same and you won’t experience a mind blowing different within the simulator. But if you’re looking for a more strait forward approach and experience to your navigation database updating, Aerosoft does a great job. 

 

In Sim Comparison

Navigraph vs. Aerosoft Nav Data Pro

BPK7F (LHR/EGLL)

NavigraphNav Data Pro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CPT2S (STN/EGSS)

NavigraphNav Data Pro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PORTE4 (SFO/KSFO)

NavigraphNav Data Pro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SADDE6 (LAX/KLAX)

NavigraphNav Data Pro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
You can also download PDF of this review here.