With a membership growing toward 400,000 members, VATSIM is a very large organization of pilots, controllers and staff members created for enthusiasts of flight simulation and air traffic control. It is important to remember that all of the members of VATSIM, including staff, are volunteers and have real lives yet are committed to your experience as a VATSIM member. They will work with you to resolve problems and assist you in finding resources. We hope you will one day join as one of our volunteers.
This section will explain the VATSIM organization and the roles of the members of each group. While they aren’t broken up this way, you can think of the VATSIM organization as broken into three major sections.
members who set and enforce consistency across broad geographic regions, including all of VATSIM. These groups also provide the systems level services and servers to the benefit of the overall organization.
members who deliver the local ATC services to pilots, to include their regional and divisional directors, staffs, chiefs, instructors, controllers, and students.
members who enjoy the benefit of the convergence of all these resources to provide a realistic environment for both themselves, the other pilots in the area, and the ATC providing the services.
2. VATSIM Governance Roles
VATSIM is based on this structure:
A “Founder” is an individual who, through the donation of their time and expertise, helped form and/or organize VATSIM.net, or was voted into this group by the Founders. Founders only use the call sign VATSIMXX. The name associated with the callsign can be found in the Code or Regulations document.
The Founders are the joint legal owners of VATSIM and all its trademarks. Many of them also serve in other capacities within VATSIM beyond their membership in this group.
Board of Governors
The Board of Governors are 12 individuals, one from among them is elected as President and serves for two years. Each other member is a Vice President, with oversight responsibilities in specific areas under their control. The President and the 11 Vice Presidents are found here.
For the specific duties of the Board of Governors and each VP, please consult the VATSIM Code of Regulations in the Documents section. Members of the Board of Governors have an Administrator (ADM) rating, the highest level in VATSIM.net, which gives them broad powers in enforcing VATSIM rules and regulations. Any directive from a VATGOV member should be complied with immediately.
There is an Executive Committee of seven; one among them is elected as Chairman for a one-year term. These individuals represent each of the six Regions:
- Africa/Middle East
- North America
- South America
This committee provides consistent operations within their respective regions, promotes teamwork between Divisions, and provides conflict resolution within their region. Executive Committee members have an Administrator’s (ADM) rating in VATSIM.net, and their directives should also be complied with immediately.
Regional and Divisional Staffs
The various Regions and Divisions also have governance duties within their geographic area of responsibility. Regions and Divisions will have Directors and Deputy Directors, and a staff of experienced volunteer members who handle the Conflict Resolution issues within their jurisdiction. The Directors oversee the operations, training, and leadership of the ARTCC, VACC, and FIR organizations under them.
Important members of the VATSIM team are the individuals who volunteer their time to supervise the moment-to-moment operations on the VATSIM network while you fly. They are easily identified by their call sign, xxx_SUP. Supervisors can cover any corner of the VATSIM world and report directly to the VP – Supervision (VATGOV11) and the Board of Governors. Their authority crosses all VATSIM boundaries and they can be called from anywhere.
Supervisors can be contacted using the Squawkbox Message format to answer questions and help new pilots and ATC solve problems to make their experience more enjoyable. They are also called when a conflict between any online members is not quickly finding a resolution. They have the authority to remove members temporarily who are being disruptive and in violation of the VATSIM Code of Conduct.
Supervisors can be contacted while on line through you pilot or ATC client using the text window by typing the dot command: .wallop your message here. Your callsign is attached to the .wallop message automatically.
But don’t let this prevent you from using them to increase your enjoyment of the online flying experience; if you need some help, give a SUP a call (use the command .wallop in your pilot client text box) and get assistance. Think of them as a referee with a large “May I help you?” sign around their necks.
3. VATSIM Operational Roles
Behind the scopes day in and day out are the controllers who provide the ATC services that attracts pilots to the VATSIM network. The experience level varies quite a bit between the newest Student working a Ground or Tower position to the Senior Instructors who aren’t happy controlling a major Center position with less than twenty airplanes at once. An ATC member must spend many, many hours controlling and gaining the experience to train others, including other trainers. In between are four other grades that reflect the relative demonstrated experience of the controller. These grades are listed below:
- CLEARANCE DELIVERY and GROUND Controller (S1)
- TOWER Controller (S2)
- TMA (Approach and Departure) Controller (S3)
- Enroute (Center) Controller (C1)
- Senior Controller (C3)
When controllers work within their skill level, the ATC they provide can be excellent. The local ATC ARTCC, VACC, and FIR organizations provide guidelines to keep controllers within their skill level. This allows you to safely log on at any staffed VATSIM controlled location and get good ATC, everyday. It is requested that pilots provide a bit of patience with an obviously new controller by having the knowledge that behind the scenes is an instructor coaching and mentoring this new member.
There are other staff positions a pilot may find within these operational organizations. One is the leader, generally called the Chief, and often with “_CF_” in their call sign. There are also Chief Instructors and their staff which provide not only regular ATC services but also provide live training to new and developing ATC members as they advance in skill and experience. The operational staffs also include Web Masters, Event Coordinators, VA Coordinators, and other positions developed locally to support their mission.
4. Pilot’s Role
New members of VATSIM hold the controller rating “Pilot/Observer” (OBS) and the pilot rating of "Not Rated" (P0). If you join a VATSIM Division and start learning ATC, you will have the opportunity to earn a Student rating and continue your training. Otherwise, you remain a Pilot/Observer rating. For more information on the VATSIM Pilot Ratings please see the VATSIM Pilot Training web site.
VATSIM Pilot Ratings:
- Not Rated (P0)
- VATSIM Online Pilot (P1)
- VATSIM Flight Fundamentals (P2)
- VATSIM VFR Pilot (P3)
- VATSIM IFR Pilot (P4)
- VATSIM Advance IFR Pilot (P5)
- VATSIM International and Oceanic Pilot (P6)
- VATSIM Helicopter VFR and IFR Pilot (P7)
- VATSIM Military Special Operations Pilot (P8)
- VATSIM Pilot Flight Instructor (P9)
The pilot’s first responsibility is to have fun, and to have it with other people in a unique online environment. To increase your enjoyment and the enjoyment of the other pilots and controllers, learn the rules of flying in controlled airspace and take the time to understand and follow the Code of Conduct.
Pilots are expected to keep their email address current and to keep up and comply with all VATSIM NOTAMs, which come by email and are posted in the forum. They are expected to follow the ATC regulations for the airspace they are flying in and seek help using vPilot Squawkbox or FSInn pilot client messages, the web sites, or through email contact with the leadership of that airspace when regulations at a specific location are unknown.
Pilots are expected to plan their flights up to, but not beyond, their ability. If you don’t have or know how to use VFR or IFR charts, say so in the Remarks section of the flight plan by writing "NO CHARTS". Pilots are also expected to PLAN their flights prior to logging on VATSIM. Sitting on the ground for more than 30 minutes is not acceptable on VATSIM unless you are a new member trying to learn the flow of ATC communications. If that is the case, insert something like “Newbie observing ATC” in your flightplan so the controller or supervisor knows your intentions.
All members should always be respectful of other members, both pilots and controllers, at all times as mandated by the Code of Conduct section A(1). We are all here for the enjoyment of the hobby so keep that in mind at all times. Take the time to express your gratitude to the controllers with a “Thank you, job well done” when the occasion calls for it. That goes a long way in bringing a sense of accomplishment to the men and women who take the time to become highly proficient at providing the ATC services that make VATSIM great.If you have other comments or suggestions about ATC services you received, each ATC facility has a feedback form or the leaders' email, they appreciate the constructive comments.
When new real-world pilots are handed their Private Certificate for the first time, the examiner will often shake their hand and say, “This is a license to learn.” Then pilots spend the rest of their flying careers learning new skills and technologies, mastering new procedures, and then using their hard earned knowledge to train others. This should also be true of VATSIM pilots in the virtual world. Use the training resources contained in this document, use the forums to get answers to VATSIM flying questions, and strive to be a model VATSIM citizen in all your flying.