The World Of Simulated ATC
Vatsim grew out of the desire of ardent flight sim addicts for more and more realism. Along the way, they've attracted more than 100,000 registrants in a worldwide system that rivals the real air traffic control system in complexity and regulations. Vatsim is not for the casual gamer. It can take up to two years of study, practice and testing before Vatsim superiors will trust a controller to handle live traffic unsupervised. Virtual pilots also go through the full gamut of certificates and ratings that are required of real pilots before they get the keys to a 300-seat airliner. Vatsim is an online club with no membership fees but it has rules and lots of them. As with the real ATC environment, things can get tense and one of the first things new participants are told is to remember that it's all in fun and that it's just good manners to say thank you once in awhile. The group provides free software that realistically simulates everything from flight planning sheets to the controller's view of the radar screen and also sets participants up for voice communication with the other pilots and controllers online at the time. As pilots and controllers gain proficiency, they get promotions and eventually end up as supervisors and instructors.