One area of the sim that has not seen any significant updates since launch is ground services. They are a good improvement over the default (or nonexistent) ground services in other simulators, but are missing some key features.
Although there are upcoming 3rd party paid plugins which deal with ground services (e.g. GSX), I do believe that having correct core functionality for ground services offered as part of the base sim, for no additional cost, is a necessity.
Here is my suggested list of improvements:
- Being able to control ground services directly (via a toolbar menu) instead of through ATC (which can be buggy, and often lists ground services as "not available" or "cannot be found", and take a while for phrases to be repeated back and acted upon)
- External ground power unit
- Does not affect actual availability of ground power (e.g. in A320, you can turn on EXT PWR even if the external power truck is not connected)
- The rotating beacon on the truck currently causes light bleeding into most cockpits - would be nice to tweak this light so this doesn't happen, or turn it off altogether as a temporary solution
- Pushback tug
- Need finer control over it. External plugins, which write to already available simvars, offer finer control over direction and speed (https://flightsim.to/file/15033/toolbar-pushback). I believe this should be available in the base sim
- The animations are often buggy - Sometimes the plane will start pushing back without the pushback tug even attached
- The plane should not move when the pushback tug is moving if its parking brake is set
- Catering truck
- Please add the ability to manually control when the catering truck comes and leaves - currently you can only summon it, and it stays for a hardcoded amount of time. It should stay in place until we tell it to leave, just like the jetway
- Luggage loader
- For airliners, the luggage loader currently only works on one of the cargo doors (e.g. forward cargo door), even though most luggage is loaded through the rear cargo door. It would be nice to have two or three separate luggage loaders which target these multiple doors
- Please add the ability to manually control when the luggage truck comes and leaves - currently you can only summon it, and it stays for a hardcoded amount of time. It should stay in place until we tell it to leave, just like the jetway. Or, allow the user to define how long it should stay. Perhaps this can be dependent on the amount of luggage that needs to be loaded?
- Currently, the animation for the luggage loader only shows it "loading" luggage from one section (out of three) from the truck, then leaving. Would be nice for it to load from all sections, for the sake of realism.
- Fuel truck
- Takes too long to arrive after summoning sometimes. Perhaps make this time a tweakable value depending on airport size or user preference?
- The fuel loading dialog should not appear when the fuel truck arrives, and the fuel truck should not leave when it is closed - the fuel truck should leave when instructed to, like the jetway
- Support for other jetway configurations, such as three jetways on heavy/super aircraft (like the 747 or A380), or jetways also connecting from the rear at some airports (I believe).
- Please add the ability to manually control when the stairs come and leaves - currently you can only summon it, and it stays for a hardcoded amount of time. It should stay in place until we tell it to leave, just like the jetway
- Add ability to attach a second pair of stairs to a rear exit, as many airlines/airports have this configuration
Here are a list of ground services currently missing that are needed for normal operations:
- Marshaller in front of aircraft giving directions for plane pulling in to apron (most non-default airports in X-Plane 11 have this)
- Air start cart / bleed air cart
- De-icing trucks/equipment
- Lavatory service vehicles (nice to have, but not a priority)