It’s been over a year since our last update and we’d like to provide some transparency on why the project has been so quiet.

During our testing of the original CrewLink beta, we ran into the same issues affecting the typical ACARS found today: Performance.

Running flight simulators requires having as many computing resources as possible to ensure a smooth and visually appealing experience. Having an ACARS alongside should not impede that experience and we found this to be the case with users whose computers had less than ideal specs.

Current ACARS, including SmartCARS, process logic received from the simulator and provide an update every 15 seconds to our API. The amount of simulator parameters collected is very limited and restricts us from more advanced flight processing. We’ve realized that a more complex solution is needed, but not at the expense of computational resources.

I’m excited to announce an all-new CrewLink has been in the works for several months capable of some amazing features.

What Changed

CrewLink’s new concept is primarily cloud-based. While it still requires a desktop client, this application is extremely lightweight and has the sole purpose of providing updates from your simulator. This means it’s extremely efficient using just a few megabytes of memory. The vast majority of logic processing is done in the cloud freeing up precious resources for your simulator.

Refresh Rate

The most unique aspect of CrewLink compared to other ACARS is its update rate at up to 20x/second versus SmartCARS’ 1x/15 seconds. For every 1 SmartCARS position report, CrewLink logs 300 in the same amount of time. For example, a 6-hour flight with SmartCARS provides 21,600 position reports whereas CrewLink is capable of up to 432,000. This provides better resolution of tracklogs and allows us to capture a more complete picture of your flight.

Remote Ability

CrewLink’s primary UI is cloud-based and accessible via any supported browser, whether on the same computer or miles away on a phone. This concept gives you complete control of your entire ACARS, as well as many simulator and ATC network options. For example, you can pause/unpause your simulator or disconnect yourself from a supported network such as VATSIM.

FAA Data

CrewLink is connected to the FAA’s ASDI service and receives live updates about any events such as low-level wind shear alerts, microbursts, tornados, AIRMETs, field closures and so much more. CrewLink will monitor this data feed and keep you advised of any alerts affecting your route of flight. CrewLink will also provide useful information as you near your destination such as D-ATIS and METAR text products automatically.

Diversions

CrewLink will support diversions and will automatically suggest a diversion if your route of flight is affected by significant alerts. For example, if the real-world JFK has a runway excursion, CrewLink will advise you and suggest an alternate airport.

Release Date

CrewLink has progressed very well over the last several months. As with the previous project, CrewLink will undergo a beta period to identify any bugs and areas of improvement. The initial rounds of CrewLink’s beta will be closed but will progress into an open beta down the road. We’ll provide more information on how to sign-up for the beta once we reach that point in the roadmap.

AAvirtual is at the forefront of technology and we’re ecstatic to share this exciting news with you. Keep in mind, this is pre-release software and some features may function differently than as described and could be removed or modified in future releases.

We’ll resume providing updates every couple of weeks so you can follow the project’s progress.

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