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Virtual Airlines

Posted on the 04 January 2012 by Dynamicreality @Carl_ball
Virtual Airlines
Virtual Airlines – An Overview
Those of you that know me know I have a passion for Aviation and that I have been flying virtually for many years. I recently joined a Virtual Airline and wanted to give everyone an overview of what its all about.

A virtual airline is a flight simulator based airline. It basically mimics the operations of a real-world airline. Like their real-world counterparts, virtual airlines need pilots and rely on them to fly routes. Some Virtual Airlines represent real-world airlines while some exist independently. Whichever airline you may join all require time and a commitment to learning. VA's based on real world airlines will use the same schedules, aircraft and in some cases procedures, as the airlines they representTo start flying for a virtual airline you will needA computer/laptop- Its preferable to have reasonably high specs as some of the software can be quite resource hungry A flight simulator program- Typically Microsoft Flight Simulator in either FS2004 or FSX flavours, although X-plane is mostly supported, the latest incarnation being X-Plane 10.An internet connection- For online flying and for filing PIREPS (Pilot Reports)A basic knowledge of flying- Whether you choose to fly offline or online your going to need a basic knowledge of flying and flying procedures, I recommend your comfortable taking off, landing and navigating before undertaking a virtual aviation career. Time- This is a must, as many airlines require you to complete flights in real time, so for example flying from Heathrow (EGLL) to Los Angeles (KLAX) would actually take you around 12hrs!! including time on the ground and time airborne. A commitment to learning- We all started somewhere, nobody expects you to check all the above and then take a 747-400 half way across the globe and kiss the tarmac at your destination. This is a hobby that’s all about learning and about those who had childhood dreams of being a pilot. The more you learn the more you will be rewarded and the experience will be so much more satisfying. Many virtual airlines offer training materials and tutorials, Microsoft flight simulator also has tutorials to get you up to speed with the basics of flying.Which Airline?There are many virtual airlines around which operate from hubs across the globe, a comprehensive list can be found at VA Central. Before you even begin to look you will need to consider the type of airline you would like to fly for, just like their real world brothers different types of them exist.Passenger- These airlines probably account for 70% of VA's and carry passengers from Point A to Point B. Aircraft types very drastically from commuter turboprops right through to Boeing 747-400's and Airbus A380's. Smaller VA's offer regional, short haul services while large, international VA's offer world-wide services. Examples include Canadian Virtual Airlines, British Airways Virtual,Virgin Atlantic VirtualCargo- These transport mainly cargo and generally offer global coverage. Aircraft sizes vary from Cessna's to Boeing 747-Freighters. Examples include TNT Virtual Charter/Leisure- These airlines offer limited routes which are constantly changing to meet seasonal demands, services will mainly include popular holiday destinations. Aircraft range in size but one can expect to be flying a modern jet aircraft. Examples include Thomson VirtualVirtual AirlinesBefore you beginOnce you've chosen a virtual airline you should read through the pilots handbook and make sure your happy with the procedures and conditions before you submit your application. You may be required to complete a basic assessment or even undertake a check ride to ensure you have the necessary skills, each virtual airline has different recruitment policies, so check before you apply.Once you've joined, I would suggest reading through all the available documentation or at least that relating to new pilots. You will then have to download any software the airline requires you to use. Most modern VA's use a variation of the ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) software to track your flights and allow automated PIREPS to be filed. Now its time to download any textures or complete aircraft you need, then your ready to fly!!Online Flying.Now you don't have to fly online but many VA's encourage you to do so as it adds an extra level of realism to your flights. When flying online you will be flying with other people from around the world, you will be able to talk to live Air Traffic Controllers who will direct you when taxiing, taking off, landing and en-route.There are two main flight simulation networks, VATSIM (Virtual Air Traffic Simulation Network) and IVAO (International Virtual Aviation Organisation) both allow you to be a pilot or an air traffic controller, the latter requiring specialist training.Both are divided into divisions and separated by regions, both expect you to know how to respond to air traffic controllers in the correct manner, follow procedures and know how to fly your chosen aircraft. Each uses downloadable plug-ins to interact between your computer and the network, while you communicate via a microphone or text if you don't own one.They have excellent training materials!! So even with no experience you can be guided though everything at your own pace.Well hopefully that covers it, I recently joined Patriot Airways, why not come and join me...If your interested, check out the links in the post, all comments, questions, feedback appreciated

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