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What are VAs?

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I've been on a few VA websites, but none really start from scratch. What are they? Are they live? Do you need VATSIM? What is the attraction?How much freedom do you have? Can I fly the default airliners?


I can't seem to find answers to these questions.

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Every virtual airline is different so you'll need to read their website, but typically they are:

  • "free flight" style VAs that let you fly whatever you want wherever you want. I don't really get the point of these as they're essentially glorified logbooks.
  • Simulation type VAs that try to replicate real airline operations, they have schedules/routes you need to follow and limit you to particular aircraft types (their "fleet").
  • "Flying clubs" that fly together online in GA aircraft

Almost all VAs require you to log your flights using their approved software (they often call this ACARS), and may terminate your membership if you don't log flights often enough (typically one per month but it varies). Most VAs encourage use of VATSIM and IVAO but don't require it.


VATSIM provide a list of approved VAs at which is a good place to find a reputable virtual airline.


The default airliners are very simplified, so most flight simmers use sophisticated addon aircraft that have a Flight Computer and moving map (FMS/FMC). VAs usually have freeware aircraft available to download and also repaint textures for the sophisticated paid addons (although you may need to be a member before you can access these).


I fly for a simulation type airline,, where I choose a flight from their schedules to fly. You need to download aircraft from their website as they don't use the default airliners.


I hope this helps you.

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Hi Paul,


Probably the best analogy is to think of a Virtual Airline as a club for flight simmers.


Like any club, the rules are different for each one. Some are stricter/more restrictive than others -- some require flights to be carried out on an online network (often those that have their flight logging system tied to those organisations' stats feeds), many don't. Some require that you fly scheduled flights at the published time and with the correct aircraft type, others will let you fly anything anywhere any time, and of course there are shades of grey in between. Most will have some form of 'inactivity' clause that requires members to log a minimum number of flights in a given time frame to retain membership (usually around one a month, though obviously there is normally some form of 'leave' entitlement to cater for holidays or other events in the real world that may temporarily affect that commitment).


The attraction will vary between people -- but on the whole I'd say most people join a VA in order to provide some structure to their hobby, to converse with like-minded individuals (most if not all provide some form of forum, Teamspeak server etc etc), to learn more about flying or simming in general, to benefit from various materials and documentation that a VA may make available to members only -- all sorts of things -- like I say, a bit like joining a club for any hobby really, and in the same vein there are good ones with a very active community and lots of materials and resources for members and there are those with quieter forums and not so much in the way of resources.


Most VAs that I've come across over the years have no restriction on whether you fly a default, freeware or payware aircraft -- the restrictions, where they exist, are more often about flying the type that has been scheduled than the actual FS model you choose to use.

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Thanks for the responses, I might check the VA forum you mentioned, Jim. 

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