Message from: Gunnar Lindahl, VATSIM President
Date of Release: 9 August 2020
Like any organisation, VATSIM needs to constantly review the way that we deliver our services to our membership. It’s important that we adapt to the way our organisation is evolving, whilst recognising that VATSIM remains a hobby, above all. The past twelve months have seen some of the biggest changes in our history.
In October 2019, VATSIM delivered a new voice platform that has revolutionised the experience for both pilots and controllers. Since then, we have delivered a new pilot client for X-Plane and our developers continue to develop our existing clients to match the changes. Audio for VATSIM is fully integrated with our leading pilot clients. A new ATC client, developed based on the Australian TAAATS system, has been released with Audio for VATSIM fully integrated, the first ATC client to do so.
VATSIM is also modernising the network’s infrastructure to provide significant stability improvements for pilots and controllers, with the next step being to release fast position updates so that VATSIM pilots see real-time visual movement from other aircraft. We have also modernized our website, developed a personalized member portal, and are working on a global events calendar - all of these are in the final stages of development.
In addition to all of the technical improvements, the Board of Governors and Executive Committee have spent the past six months reviewing the leadership structure of VATSIM. As a result of that review, VATSIM is moving to a leaner leadership structure.
VATSIM has been operating in its current form since it was founded in July 2001, with three layers of governance; the Founders, Board of Governors (BoG) and Executive Committee (EC).
The Founders are the owners of the Network who generally have a ‘hands-off’ approach to the day to day running of the Network and creation of policy. The Founders monitor the work of the Board of Governors. The BoG has responsibility for setting the strategy as well as day to day management of VATSIM, including the creation of policy and ensuring existing policies are kept up to date and meet the needs of our membership.
The Executive Committee represents the Regions, Divisions and underlying local facilities on VATSIM. In other words: the parts of VATSIM where the vast majority of our activity as a community happens. However in the current structure, the facilities of VATSIM have only one seat on the Board of Governors: the Vice President – Regions.
Currently, from an organizational construct, the Board of Governors has too many organizational layers separating it from the general membership. This is not the type of approach my team and I want. We are focused on being hands-on, adaptable, flexible, and, most of all, approachable and tuned in to our hobby. One of our current opportunities is to restructure the membership of the Board to ensure it fairly reflects the importance of the different components of our network.
Following the review of the leadership structure of VATSIM, the following revitalised structure has been proposed, with the full support of the BoG and the EC:
- Integration of the Board of Governors and Executive Committee
- Disestablishment of the Vice President Regions position on the Board of Governors
- Disestablishment of the Region Director role
- Reduction in the number of Regions from six to three
- Creation of three new Vice President positions on the Board of Governors, responsible for the following regions
- VP Americas
- VP Europe, Middle East and Africa
- VP Asia Pacific
The changes see the BoG increase in size by two members from 12 to 14 to reflect the direct access from the membership to the BoG via the VP of their Region.
Division Directors are some of our most valued volunteers on this network. They keep large, critical portions of the community running smoothly. This change will have each Division Director reporting directly to their Regional VP, who will sit on the Board of Governors – taking a layer out of VATSIM’s hierarchy.
The BoG and EC believe that this flatter structure will ensure that the membership’s voice is truly reflected in the decisions of the BoG and provide greater transparency to the Divisions.
The six Regions of VATSIM have in many instances been successful vessels to drive cross-division events and other collaboration. I must stress that this change will not negatively impact the great work done in this space. The Regional VPs will be well placed to run their Regions as they see fit, which is likely to include a small support structure, particularly in the busier parts of VATSIM, to help them execute their responsibilities.
Between now and the end of September 2020, the EC will continue to function as it currently does as VATSIM transitions to the new structure from 1 October 2020.
The transition plan to the new structure is as follows:
- 16 August 2020 – New Position Descriptions are released for the three Region Vice Presidents and applications open
- 30 August 2020 – Applications close and applicants are short-listed by the BoG
- 15 September 2020 – The successful applicants are announced to the membership
- 1 October 2020 – The new structure is in place
Any member may apply for the three new Vice President positions, provided that they meet the requirements of the Position Descriptions.
As part of this change, the Board is exploring how it can better make itself available to our members going forward. We have committed to publishing updates more frequently than our quarterly meeting minutes, and will re-establish our ‘Town Hall’ format meetings on a regular basis as part of this change, circulating around each Region in a variety of timezones to allow our members to make suggestions and for us to share our thoughts with the community on the future of VATSIM.
I hope you will join me in welcoming these exciting changes to the network.