Is simplates worth getting or not?
If not is there a freeware version that is the same?
thanks in advacne
Simplates looks pretty comprehensive, and combined with something like FSBuild you'd be able to plan any route you want! However, although it might take me longer, I prefer researching all these charts off of sites like www.myairplane.com for free. There are plenty of sites like that one that will offer full IFR approach plates, SIDs, STARs, Airport Diagrams, takeoff/landing restrictions, etc. etc. all in one spot.
The feature that one of those sites wouldn't offer you is the "preferred routes" part of Simplates. But this you could either obtain in a round-about way throuth ARTCC's (air traffic control centers) which are all linked through VATSIM's resources page. Most of them have preferred routes between the major airports covered by their centers and popular ones being flown from. Other sites like http://rfinder.asalink.net/free/ can also give you similar routes to Simplates. They won't be as comprehensive, but it will save you money.
Another thing to note is that all of this is pretty much pointless if you're using microsoft's default ATC. They barely ever let you get to the start of your STAR and all of the regulated altitudes given by the approach plates. I've found they'll start vectoring me off of these FAA assigned routes as far as 80 miles out! These really only become practical when you're doing things like flying through www.vatsim.net with their trained controllers whoe expect you to be using these charts.
Cheers for the link's originalgrunge teh first one's grat when I'm flying in the US.
Does anyone know of any for the UK & Europe?
this site provides free access to all uk charts, you need to register first, but this is free. You are asked to provide info for what purposes you require the charts...just say for flight sim use.
These have the preferred routes for most airports.
I dunno about for things outside of the US, but I use these two a lot.