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Thread: Virtual Airlines and their thoughts

  1. #1

    Question Virtual Airlines and their thoughts

    Hi dear fellow pilots in the virtual skies.
    In the past few years i noticed that many VA's are born and died again, or a community with 1 - 20 pilots running there VA.
    The fun is gone if you ask me in a virtual airline, they set high standards for joining them, even exams are obligated before you can fill the form. This is really a joke if you investigate them further. I don't call names because this is not meant for attacking someone, just info. I was scrolling the internet for beautifull liveries and came across a virtual airline that obligate a new user to fill in your email adress where they can send exams too. Well i did this and the questions where way out of MSFS users, I didn't had an issue with that and took the exam. After that i could join them, but i didn't. Why? well if i have to take an exam because they stated to be serious and make there va as real as possible, how can it be that they accept flights where pilots land at -863 too - 1122 fpm. Some staff members don't act on a question and ignore you, or demand that you have teamspeak or something likely, but what if you Englisch language is terrible when you speak it? Like myself, i can use Google to type, but i can't use it to speak, that's why i never fly online, pitty but it's the reality. I'm a proud pilot at Worldwide Virtual because they did stay the same without exclude someone. They prove that making an acars system is still possible for FS9 users, a question is answered within 24 hours or sometimes faster, and the fun remains.

    Don't get me wrong this is not an attack towards anyone or with angry or bad feeling towards anyone, it's just an wakeup call that everything is dying in our virtual world, once we where glorieus, strong and a family together, now everyone want's too have a va and become the CEO of it, pitty very pitty. Look at WWV, United, Canadian or the official Delta VA, they still remain because they adore there hobby and take there VA serious, I believe United is born in 1997 and very active. So why not follow that example, quit those small VA's, and those stupid entry exams and build a good, strong VA for all versions of MSFS, get rid of too many VA's without fun. It's just how i feel about it so don't get mad please.

  2. #2

    Default

    You make some good points.
    I've always run my own personal airline within flight sim. Liveries, route structure, the works. I will take ADE and turn an area of an airport into my airlines parking area. It works for me because I am more of a casual flight simmer. I've been a member of a VA, but quickly realized it wasn't for me. Nothing wrong with the VA, just not my thing.
    But, I fully support choices, and encourage people to join/start VAs. Just like with other forms of entertainment, I skip what doesn't work for me.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Bloomington, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    607

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    Quote Originally Posted by Capt.Charlier View Post
    ... quit those small VA's, and those stupid entry exams and build a good, strong VA for all versions of MSFS, get rid of too many VA's without fun.
    "Bigger is better" ain't necessarily so ... especially when it comes to volunteer-based organizations. I enjoy the two "small VA's" where I'm flying, and intend to continue with them ... because it's still fun.
    Quote Originally Posted by Capt.Charlier View Post
    "... everything is dying in our virtual world."
    Please. Let's not exaggerate, shall we?

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Capt.Charlier View Post
    Hi dear fellow pilots in the virtual skies.
    ... how can it be that they accept flights where pilots land at -863 too - 1122 fpm.
    Do you even know how most ACARS capture landing rates?

    Most of the ACARS use what is called the "on ground" flag to capture the landing rate, this is the flag set internally by the sim to state that the aircraft is on the ground. Then the capture is based on the fps on the user's computer at the likely landing rate. Thus if you are getting 30 fps on your machine it is the instant 1 / 30 of a second of the landing. The moment the flag is set on.

    Real airplanes don't land in 1 / 30 of a second. A landing consists of the flare, the touchdown, and the rollout. Real airplanes have gear that compresses on touchdown and tires that deform. All of these things work together in a real airplane to convert the pilot's flare and touchdown into a smooth feeling landing that occurs over many seconds as each individual tire contacts the pavement and energy is absorbed. I have witnessed perfectly good landings get reported as outrageously high landing rates by these ACARS monitoring programs. Some Add-on Flight Dynamics are just better than others when it comes to transitioning on and off the runway. Add-on weather can also play real havoc as winds suddenly change with a METAR update and the airplane basically encounters a low-level wind shear during the flare.

    Finally, the rate of landing is only part of the consideration in landing. The more important factor is putting the airplane down in the touchdown zone. I have seen Reddit video after video where neophytes brag about butter smooth landings yet chew up over half the runway attempting it. I see these videos and think "epic fail" as that landing would never be acceptable IAW the ATP ACS.

    Touch down with the runway centerline between the main landing gear at the appropriate speed and pitch attitude at the runway aiming point markings -250/+500 feet, or where there are no runway markings 750 to 1,500 feet from the approach threshold of the runway
    Notice the standards say nothing about touchdown rate. As long as the landing does not exceed the limits in the applicable AFM it is an acceptable landing. However, we do prefer not to make every landing a firm landing. The problem is there is no easy flag to grab for the ACARS systems to determine if the landing occurred in the landing zone. So all VAs become slaved to this landing rate which really is a micro snapshot in time and does not capture the entire landing.

    At Elite Air Taxi I had a member who was concerned about getting nailed by SmartCARs for bouncing the landings. I told the member I was not too worried because during the landing sequence they probably barely touched one tire as they continued to flare and the ACARS caught that as a bounce as opposed to what we typically think of as a bounce. However, we did cover the appropriate approach speed for the weight of the airplane and discovered he was trying to landing at too high of an approach speed. (He pulled a set of reference speeds for the airplane, but the version being simulated had modifications that lowered VREF.) Once he started flying the correct speeds he got rid of the ACARS bounced landing and more importantly he started putting the airplane down where he was aiming. Now he is able to enjoy the sim and has even moved on to short field landings.

    To me, this learning process is much more important than any artificial landing rate recorded by an ACARS system which is not capturing the entire landing. If someone learns something, then I call that a good day and will continue to accept whatever number an ACARS system spits out for landing rate.

    At the end of the day, this software is a very low fidelity simulation of flight and does not come close to the capabilities of the Full Flight Simulators that I teach in. Too many people try to make this desktop software something that it is not and hold people to artificial standards that may not even be achievable on their machines.

  5. #5
    lavochkin Guest

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    Very good point GoodPastor. In the real world, pilots do not have a landing FPS. And they land in the landing zones on the runway. If they pass the landing zones on the runway a real world pilot calls a missed approach and goes around for another try.

    I own a small VA. I started my VA for my personal flight records. Not to see how many pilots I could hire. My VA is about flying airplanes, not a social event. I have no forums, teamspeak, discord.

    If you do not like the way I run my VA. Leave, resign, go away.


    Capt.Charlier, VA's do not make flight simulation fun. Flight simulators make flight simulation fun.

    I love my flight simulator. I fly every day and I have fun doing it. Cheers!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Grafton, VA
    Posts
    133
    Blog Entries
    2

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    I get what you're aiming at here. What you're describing is a VA that tests you to a high level in certain categories, but has pilots that can barely land an airplane. While others answering this have described the technical problems of measuring landing rates in a ACARS system, I'd say that it often works better than you'd think. At Eastern Airlines Virtual, when we used the VAFS system, it had a few anomalies that resulted in positive vertical speed at landing, usually we had reasonably accurate data. That means that what was posted by the system closely resembled what I last saw on the vertical speed indicator. When I was the Washington hub manager, I was very pleased with the smooth landings that the pilots were pulling off, and was willing to help those who weren't pulling it off with whatever advice I could give. After all, it couldn't be much fun, I reasoned, for a pilot to constantly rack up damages to the plane. With the assigned flight system we had, it was more involved for me, and I hope they're better virtual pilots for it. Of course, we have to realize that this is the experience of flying, filtered through a computer, often the cheapest one we could get away with.

    On the idea that there's too many VAs out there, you may be right. But everyone has a right to try, and you never know what might succeed. Everyone has an idea, and many want to be the CEO of a VA. In a way, the VA with no pilots beyond the founders is like throwing a party and no one coming. It's a sad thing to see, usually. Unless you're someone like lavochkin, who does one for his own records, and his own pleasure. He's right, joining a VA is an enhancement to flight simulation. I'd add that it can be a social experience, it can fire the imagination a bit. Novels have been written describing the story of one flight, or the career of a pilot (to describe advances in postwar air safety), or a crucial moment of a pilot's life. But if you don't enjoy the flying itself, what does any of it mean?

    In the last year, the VA I've been part of for about ten years (hard to believe) has lost its longtime CEO, and the ACARS system we used all those years. The result is a bit more laid back, and the pilots get to fly what they want to. One thing we do that I prefer is that you can see if people are flying online from our front page. You know there's activity going on. As I'm typing this, four of our pilots are online. It doesn't matter to me if you have a pilot roster a mile long, if it consists of pilots who haven't flown with you for years. In fact, Eastern clears the deadwood off the roster regularly. But if a VA like that works for you, great.

    In any case, I've toyed with this too long, and it's time to leave Charleston (where I last flew to with Eastern).

  7. #7

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    I have a different look at VA's. I have only ever flown for one VA and I spent one winter flying a Piper Cherokee around New Castle, PA learning how to navigate, but I have designed schemes and painted over 800 aircraft for 90 different VA's.

    Most have a vision of a band of dedicated and loyal pilots who support the hard work and effort that goes into starting, and then running a VA. Some succeed. Out of that 90, only 2 "customers" are still with me. Not that I've done anything wrong, but life has got in the way of the VA owner's original vision. Sad but true.

    So we should encourage the guy who wants to grow his VA into being as big as PanAm or American, not belittle his big ideas. Occassionally, he will succeed.

    And me, despite painting all those big jets and large propliners, I am a low and slow pilot, happily plodding along in my Tiger Moth or my Cherokee, although recently I have found a delightful MainAir Blade microlight that is fun to fly.

    So, I welcome VA's of all shapes and sizes, and wish them well in their endeavours. Long may they continue.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by MaxLegroom990 View Post
    I get what you're aiming at here. What you're describing is a VA that tests you to a high level in certain categories, but has pilots that can barely land an airplane. While others answering this have described the technical problems of measuring landing rates in a ACARS system, I'd say that it often works better than you'd think.
    I agree with you, at the time i got a landing rate with more than -300 fpm I messed up the landing myself. The Acars is never the issue, bad preparation, ignore weather conditions is what gives you a hard landing. For example: I often fly in a B752 and normally i get between -38 and -188 fpm at landing. Monday i managed too land very bad with -566 fpm at EFHK Helsinki and i'll saw it all happen on the vertical speed needle but choose to continue. The reasson for this awefull landing was the time issue, i didn't want to fly around for a better RWY and did the landing with a tail wind around 18 knots, FMC was warning for DRAG but i ignored that. So at the end it was my doing and not the acars system. I didn't send that pirep by the way too the VA, i was really in shame

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by goodpaster View Post
    So all VAs become slaved to this landing rate which really is a micro snapshot in time and does not capture the entire landing.
    Not all. There are a few virtual airlines that can calculate takeoff and touchdown distances relative to the runway threshold and determine accordingly. Additionally, once you have software that provides a complete picture of the flight you can start providing feedback about a lot more than landings.

    Cheers

    Luke

  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Luke View Post
    Not all. There are a few virtual airlines that can calculate takeoff and touchdown distances relative to the runway threshold and determine accordingly. Additionally, once you have software that provides a complete picture of the flight you can start providing feedback about a lot more than landings.

    Cheers

    Luke
    That is really interesting as the only way we were able to figure it out was to do it manually.

    With an automated system there was a problem of where was the touchdown zone. Because of the various platforms (FSX, XP, P3D) trying to find one overall solution was difficult. If you compared a member's touchdown with real-world data there may be an issue of scenery. An airport may have added a displaced threshold and older default scenery did not have the right runways or the scenery was misaligned with the actual location.

    The only solution we could come up with was to read the scenery installed on someone PC and build a database based on that. That way the threshold was based on what the member was actually seeing. The cost of building an ACARS program that could do all of that across all of the platforms we wanted was quoted in the thousands of Euros. That would be for a one-up development without any updates only bug fixes.

    Needless to say a few thousand Euros for a one-off ACARS that only added a few features that other systems did not already provide for a much lower cost was not cost-effective.

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