The VATSIM Board of Governors is pleased to announce that Gunnar Lindahl has been unanimously  reelected as VATSIM’s president for a second two year term. In his first 2 years as VATSIM’s president, Gunnar has valiantly served VATSIM and provided strong leadership with the ultimate goal of continuing to make VATSIM the premier online flying and air traffic control network. 

Gunnar’s leadership has been instrumental in establishing significant change projects over the last two years. Many  of these projects are close to release such as the new voice solution, Audio for VATSIM, improved network infrastructure, increased position updates, increased communication and transparency from network leadership, significant improvements to the pilot training program and many more!

Please take a moment to read the following statement from Gunnar on his goals for his next two years as VATSIM’s president and join the Board of Governors in congratulating Gunnar on his second term!

Statement from VATSIM President Gunnar Lindahl

Like many thousands of others, VATSIM has been a huge part of my life for many years. It truly is a hobby like no other, which is why I was honoured to have been elected as VATSIM President in August 2017 for a two-year term.

When I ran for the role, I was clear that my main aspiration was for the VATSIM Board of Governors to drive positive change and progress for the network, and to support this great community in making VATSIM bigger and better. For several years I had felt that the Board was quite removed and distant from the membership and that we missed opportunities to grow and innovate. I wanted VATSIM to do things differently. I particularly wanted the Board of Governors to regain the connection with the community across the globe. This way, as VATSIM’s leadership, we could truly understand what the community wanted and how we can deliver it. That is something we needed to do together, but I wanted to play a central part in making it happen.

So, how have the last two years looked?

Let’s start with the headlines. Last year, we hit a new milestone for VATSIM: over 80,000 active members now fly and control on VATSIM on a regular basis. That’s pretty incredible, but what’s even more incredible is the huge number of flight simulation enthusiasts who haven’t yet discovered online flying networks or haven’t had the time or courage to try them out. That’s a huge untapped market, and we need to be finding ways to welcome those people every day. A busier network is a better network.

We’ve run some really fantastic events all over the globe. I’m always particularly delighted when I see local VATSIM facilities joining flight simulation events across the world to showcase VATSIM or setting up in a hall somewhere and controlling as one big group for the day. That really is the spirit of the network. I’ve been very fortunate to attend several events and particularly enjoyed meeting dedicated VATSIM members from all across the world and showcasing Audio for VATSIM at FSExpo in Orlando this year. I’m looking forward to attending next year in Las Vegas!

We’ve brought some fantastic talent onto the Board of Governors over the past two years. I’m truly confident that the guys we’ve brought onboard recently are absolutely the right people to take VATSIM forward into the 2020s and I can’t wait to continue working with all of them.

On many fronts, we have made incredible progress as a community. Our technical development has evolved from being a very small group of insulated and talented individuals to a much larger pool of great guys who feel invested in the process.

Crucially, for the first time ever, members with coding experience have approached VATSIM and have had their offers of help taken up. The most obvious programme where this is the case is Audio for VATSIM, which is at the very cusp of release – a huge upgrade that will totally revolutionize the entire network, which has truly relied on our community to develop.

The most resounding credit must go at this point to the guys and girls all over the world who make VATSIM ‘tick’ every day – that’s our pilots and controllers, but also our local facility leaders, Division and Region Directors, membership team, Supervisors and everyone else who plays a part in keeping VATSIM a great place to fly and control. VATSIM simply wouldn’t exist without you.

I’m honoured to continue to serve as your president for another two years and want to explain what I’d like to do in that time so that we can go on this journey as a community.

The first and overriding priority for me and all my team is the release of Audio for VATSIM – our new voice technology – to the entire network, as quickly as possible. This technology is long overdue, and it’s high time we placed VATSIM firmly into the 21st century and future-proofed it for many years going forward.

My second focus is the rest of VATSIM’s systems and infrastructure: Matt, Aidan, Zach and their teams are doing some incredible work (most, as yet, unnoticed) to completely rebuild our infrastructure to make it stable, secure and easily maintainable. There are a number of user-facing enhancements which I’m excited to push for release in the coming months: a new website, a new user management system to replace CERT, and a truly fit for purpose central events and ATC bookings calendar. The tech guys have so much more going on than this, but these are just three points which I think will make a huge difference for all of us.

My third focus is on improving pilot quality. Those of you who follow VATSIM’s news know that the Board of Governors voted in favour of the introduction of a basic online knowledge check for all new VATSIM members to ensure they know how to fly their plane and know where to go for help. The guys are working hard to get this project over the line, which I’m confident will sift out the very small minority of members who connect for the first time without sufficient understanding of what VATSIM is or what’s expected of them, and disrupt the enjoyment of others.

A knowledge check won’t fix everything – we need to keep working even harder with our Authorized Training Organization partners and other stakeholders like VAs to promote high-quality pilot training programmes, and I strongly believe we can do more with leading on the creation of basic tutorials and so forth. It’s fantastic to see Ethan Hawes leading the team on a number of different projects in this sphere to drive pilot training to the top of the agenda.

Onto some bits where we need to improve.

It remains a great source of frustration for me that, despite the critical role that our divisions and facilities play, we still don’t have a great framework for how our Region Directors lead that charge. Our RDs are all long-standing VATSIM members who give so much to the community, and we have not given enough direction or expectation in what we actually want them to deliver within their respective Regions. This is not new – this has been an issue for a number of years. It was great to speak to Federico Navarro (Region Director for VATSIM South America) at FSExpo where he shared his passions and frustrations with his role. I’ve also had some great conversations with Jackson and Nicola Felini (Region Director, North America), and I think we’re all on the same page with the direction we’d like to go down. So there are no excuses – we need to deliver a change here which brings our RDs centre stage in delivering for VATSIM – and if we don’t do this within a year, we have failed.

Finally, we as the leaders of VATSIM need to be accessible to our members. Last year we introduced a minimum activity policy for the Board of Governors so that we’re all ‘tuned in’ to what’s going on. My aim is to restart the Town Hall meetings which have been held sporadically over the years and to make these regular and incorporating every single Board member. More news on this soon – it’s really important.

Thank you for reading. I am honoured to serve as your President for another 2 years and I look forward to flying or controlling with you on VATSIM very soon.

Gunnar Lindahl
VATSIM President