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Restricted callsigns question.


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After a quick interwebs search, since 1928, the year of the first airline accident with 50 fatalities or more, there have been a total of 550 such accidents where 50 or more people have lost their lives. Five hundred and fifty major accidents with loss of life greater than 50 people.

 

What makes the 6 restricted callsigns so special? I don't say that flippantly. Every accident or incident with loss of life is serious. Very serious.

 

What makes United Air Lines 93, or the other five restricted callsigns, more special than Pan Am 103, Korean Air Lines 007, United Air Lines 232, TWA 800, Iran Air 655, or Northwest Airlines 255?

 

VATSIM is restricting 6 callsigns out of a total of 550 that have gone down in history as an accident or incident with 50 or more fatalities.

 

Just curious why these were selected for restriction, and others were ignored?

 

Respectfully,

 

Tim

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The 9/11 callsigns were more than just tragic accidents; they were acts of intentional murder against thousands. While I don't think that all 500+ callsigns involving accidental loss of life should be quarantined, I do agree that other examples of terrorist attacks or other incidents involving intentional violence (several of which you mentioned) would be good candidates to add. Certainly I'd never try to fly on the network as PAA103, for example.

Cheers,

-R.

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This is a good point. I wouldn't mind a blanket ban on (accident) callsigns/flight numbers which are retired by airlines in real life. Adds to the realism as well.

 

Wouldn't it be possible to restrict the required callsigns on connection? That way nobody can run afoul of the rules, since attempting to connect with a restricted callsign would result in an error.

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It's more than just that, though. There was motive and copycats at play that if exploited could have signaled the end of this network.

 

Those 6 particular callsigns were relevant when FS2000, FS98, FS2002, and XPlane were the preferred sims for VATSIM and its predecessor, SATCO. And at that time, the flightsim community was just starting to really take off (pun intended) in popularity, especially when it comes to flightsim networks.

 

With that said, people were already gaining piloting experience, even if rudimentary for handling an aircraft. You could buy a yoke, throttle, comm panel, and pedals easily, and in short order, have a mock representation of a B737, B757, or B767. So someone could easily gain some experience with that flight deck and could operate the plane (or at least, that was what would have happened if the FUD spread)

 

Finally, those particular 4 simulators have one thing in common: All of them have the World Trade Center depicted in their scenery.

 

All of that put together means that we could have had some copycat idiots recreating all of 9/11, callsigns included, using a flightsim on a flightsim network. Imagine the storm that would have hit the media if that occurred.

 

So yeah.. those were instantly banned, and for good reason. Now, that isn't to say USA427, VJA592, ASA261, SWA1318, or any others weren't tragic, because they were; As mentioned before, it is the intent of those 6 incidents that is of concern.

 

I could see trying to recreate UAL232 to investigate what happened and what caused that accident (especially if done tastefully and tactfully and with permission). However, It would be in very poor taste to send up a MIG and try to bring down KAL007.

 

Oh.. and that playing copycat? Someone did try that with the 9/11 callsigns, and the media did pick up on it. Thankfully, he wasn't aware that there were any online sim networks, so we dodged a bullet there.

 

BL.

Brad Littlejohn

ZLA Senior Controller

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In short, should a person log on with Clipper 103 and fly from London to New York, its not the worst but should they also include the fatal incident then it will get our attention.

 

Should, during their flight somebody take offence and raise it with a Supervisor then those feelings would be conveyed and hopefully the member would reconnect with a different callsign. Its even possible that they knew nothing about the history and had chosen the callsign randomly or because those are their initials.

Norman

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It's more than just that, though. There was motive and copycats at play that if exploited could have signaled the end of this network.

 

Those 6 particular callsigns were relevant when FS2000, FS98, FS2002, and XPlane were the preferred sims for VATSIM and its predecessor, SATCO. And at that time, the flightsim community was just starting to really take off (pun intended) in popularity, especially when it comes to flightsim networks.

 

With that said, people were already gaining piloting experience, even if rudimentary for handling an aircraft. You could buy a yoke, throttle, comm panel, and pedals easily, and in short order, have a mock representation of a B737, B757, or B767. So someone could easily gain some experience with that flight deck and could operate the plane (or at least, that was what would have happened if the FUD spread)

 

Finally, those particular 4 simulators have one thing in common: All of them have the World Trade Center depicted in their scenery.

 

All of that put together means that we could have had some copycat idiots recreating all of 9/11, callsigns included, using a flightsim on a flightsim network. Imagine the storm that would have hit the media if that occurred.

 

So yeah.. those were instantly banned, and for good reason. Now, that isn't to say USA427, VJA592, ASA261, SWA1318, or any others weren't tragic, because they were; As mentioned before, it is the intent of those 6 incidents that is of concern.

 

I could see trying to recreate UAL232 to investigate what happened and what caused that accident (especially if done tastefully and tactfully and with permission). However, It would be in very poor taste to send up a MIG and try to bring down KAL007.

 

Oh.. and that playing copycat? Someone did try that with the 9/11 callsigns, and the media did pick up on it. Thankfully, he wasn't aware that there were any online sim networks, so we dodged a bullet there.

 

BL.

 

I see your point, and I agree with the sentiment, but it seems to me the issue then is more pilots misbehaving and wilfully disrupting things than specific callsigns. I can see where you're coming from, but the issue in my mind is more that there are flight numbers which don't need to be used (because they encourage misbehaviour) outside of the 9/11 flights - to name a few: MH370/MAS370, MH17/MAS17, 4U9525/ GWI9525. Are they the same caliber as the events that day? No (though the GermanWings was also intentional), but if people want to fly between AMS-KUL there's no reason for them to intentionally use MAS17 as a callsign.

 

I can see how JAL123 could be easily made up randomly.

 

As for feeling offended, I've never understood this. How can you be offended by someone flying a callsign, especially when it's done respectfully (in memory of...)?

 

The callsign in and of itself is not so much offensive as (as Brad also stated) they're pretty clear markers for people wanting to misbehave. I'm sure there are exceptions, but I wouldn't buy a pilot who connects as MAS370 and says he knows nothing about that flight. Even so, other parts of the world have strong [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ociations with flight numbers - e.g. MH17 resulted in a day of national mourning in the Netherlands and the disaster was very wide reaching within the country (I myself happened to be cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts]mates with one of the p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]engers years ago) - which can evoke emotions just as well as the infamous 9/11 flights.

 

I'm not saying immediately go out and ban every single person connecting with a flight number of an aviation accident. I just agree with the sentiment that the list could/should be expanded with a few more especially notorious or recent examples. And if there are banned callsigns to begin with, why not just refuse connection to people attempting to connect with those callsigns? (I say just, and I understand it's a lot of programming, but as an idea...)

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if there are banned callsigns to begin with, why not just refuse connection to people attempting to connect with those callsigns? (I say just, and I understand it's a lot of programming, but as an idea...)

 

I may be wrong but I have a feeling this is exactly what happens anyway.

 

As others have mentioned, it's more that those particular callsigns are particularly notorious and have a history of immature people thinking it would be 'funny' to recreate those flights (which also happens to be relatively low-effort and low-time investment to do).

 

Something like MH17, on the other hand, is not really something that is easy to 'replicate' in a multiplayer environment in the same way that flying in to a building is and thus I'm not aware of any issues around people fooling around with that callsign and the same goes for most other aviation accidents -- they are just not as 'attractive' to the trolls.

 

Obviously that doesn't meant to say that no other callsign should ever be added to the banned list, but I think the question is whether there is an actual problem of misbehaviour (which with the 9/11 callsigns there sadly very much is) as opposed to simply banning on principle.

Vice President, Pilot Training

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if there are banned callsigns to begin with, why not just refuse connection to people attempting to connect with those callsigns? (I say just, and I understand it's a lot of programming, but as an idea...)

 

I may be wrong but I have a feeling this is exactly what happens anyway.

 

As others have mentioned, it's more that those particular callsigns are particularly notorious and have a history of immature people thinking it would be 'funny' to recreate those flights (which also happens to be relatively low-effort and low-time investment to do).

 

Something like MH17, on the other hand, is not really something that is easy to 'replicate' in a multiplayer environment in the same way that flying in to a building is and thus I'm not aware of any issues around people fooling around with that callsign and the same goes for most other aviation accidents -- they are just not as 'attractive' to the trolls.

 

Obviously that doesn't meant to say that no other callsign should ever be added to the banned list, but I think the question is whether there is an actual problem of misbehaviour (which with the 9/11 callsigns there sadly very much is) as opposed to simply banning on principle.

 

Ah, that makes sense. I got the feeling initially that it was specifically those callsigns because of the events of 9/11 and their impact, but I can see the reasoning now.

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I'm not saying immediately go out and ban every single person connecting with a flight number of an aviation accident. I just agree with the sentiment that the list could/should be expanded with a few more especially notorious or recent examples. And if there are banned callsigns to begin with, why not just refuse connection to people attempting to connect with those callsigns? (I say just, and I understand it's a lot of programming, but as an idea...)

 

That is my point. Why is it up to VATSIM to play psychologist, and determine who should feel sad and or offended when they see or hear a call sign on the network? If the pilot is flying within the CoC, the call sign is irrelevant.

 

Your highlighted comment is exactly what I'm talking about. You have a flight number that you say is a trigger for you, but other call signs shouldn't be banned, presumably, because they don't affect you in the same way. Should really be all or none.

 

Why should VATSIM even get involved in trying to make such a decision?

 

Should VATSIM create an ad hoc committee to accept requests from members who wish for a call sign to be banned, and then hold court on that request?

 

Tim

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Why should VATSIM even get involved in trying to make such a decision?

 

See my post above. In this particular instance, not because of the callsigns themselves or concern about what people might feel but in response to the fact that there is/was a history of 'comedians' logging on as one of the 9/11 callsigns and recreating the event.

 

This hasn't been an issue that I am aware of with any of the other callsigns so there is no need to restrict them.

 

Simple as that.

Vice President, Pilot Training

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This hasn't been an issue that I am aware of with any of the other callsigns so there is no need to restrict them.

And yet they are restricted, just not on the list. Or is this no longer the case? Can you now fly a JAL123 from Tokyo to Osaka if you land it safely? A17 isn't quite clear about this.

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This hasn't been an issue that I am aware of with any of the other callsigns so there is no need to restrict them.

And yet they are restricted, just not on the list. Or is this no longer the case? Can you now fly a JAL123 from Tokyo to Osaka if you land it safely? A17 isn't quite clear about this.

 

Who says they are restricted?

Vice President, Pilot Training

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That is my point. Why is it up to VATSIM to play psychologist, and determine who should feel sad and or offended when they see or hear a call sign on the network? If the pilot is flying within the CoC, the call sign is irrelevant.

 

It isn't VATSIM playing psychologist that is the issue. It is VATSIM being proactive against any media backlash from some idiots trying to simulate these incidents at home, and on top of that, think that they are getting their training at home to learn how to do this in the real world, let alone real world planning for such an incident. That is what happened with Mossaoui when he was caught for his part of 9/11. They used sims to plan how they were going to carry out the flight portion of their actions. In this case, it is better for them to be proactive in their defense of the network than to be reactive in the network let alone flightsimming getting a bad name.

 

Your highlighted comment is exactly what I'm talking about. You have a flight number that you say is a trigger for you, but other call signs shouldn't be banned, presumably, because they don't affect you in the same way. Should really be all or none.

 

Most are, but I will agree that it comes down to notoriety. Everyone remembers a UAL93, AAL11, or AAL179, KAL007, PAA103, etc.. but not many would remember, say CAL610, UTA772, or ANZ901. It comes down to societal/cultural impact, and that is fair means for their basis.

 

Why should VATSIM even get involved in trying to make such a decision?

 

See the above. It is up to the br[Mod - Happy Thoughts] at VATSIM to protect the integrity of the network, not let it be driven by FUD from those that don't understand the flightsim community. That's what almost got the network into serious trouble around 9/11, and thankfully the m[Mod - Happy Thoughts]es didn't catch onto it thanks to the other issues going on.

 

Should VATSIM create an ad hoc committee to accept requests from members who wish for a call sign to be banned, and then hold court on that request?

 

Tim

 

They do. It's called the BoG. We can submit those to a member of the BoG or VP, and they discuss it as well as your justifications for banning or keeping a particular callsign. After that, they give a decision and we're set.

 

BL.

Brad Littlejohn

ZLA Senior Controller

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Who says they are restricted?

 

Code of Conduct section A17

 

The re-creation of, or organization of events recognizing real world disasters, tragedies, or other such events, particularly those which resulted in loss of life, are not permitted. In addition callsigns that VATSIM has deemed prohibited shall not be used at any time.

The first sentence is a general ban on recreating flights, the second is the specific callsign reference. Both parts need to be considered

0

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VATSIM Senior Supervisor (Team 1)

Have a question or concern? Email me at [email protected].

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Well, technically it doesn't say that callsigns of crashed flights can't be used, it says disasters may not be recreated. If I'm landing my aircraft safely at the destination airport, I'm not recreating the disaster, I'm recreating one of the many flights before the disaster that completed successfully... under that callsign.

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Who says they are restricted?

 

Code of Conduct section A17

 

The re-creation of, or organization of events recognizing real world disasters, tragedies, or other such events, particularly those which resulted in loss of life, are not permitted. In addition callsigns that VATSIM has deemed prohibited shall not be used at any time.

The first sentence is a general ban on recreating flights, the second is the specific callsign reference. Both parts need to be considered

 

Exactly.

 

Well, technically it doesn't say that callsigns of crashed flights can't be used, it says disasters may not be recreated. If I'm landing my aircraft safely at the destination airport, I'm not recreating the disaster, I'm recreating one of the many flights before the disaster that completed successfully... under that callsign.

 

Correct.

 

There are a list of callsigns which are restricted, which are shown in the link - which AFAIK has not changed substantially since the old version of the CoC. There is also a general prohibition on recreating accidents etc, but no specific prohibition on the use of any callsigns other than those specifically mentioned.

 

I don't think any of this is new, hence why I was confused when you said that other callsigns were restricted before but now aren't... AFAIK there has never been a specific restriction on callsigns beyond those which are mentioned. There has however always been a general ban on recreating accidents and disasters, so nothing has changed...?

 

Of course, whether the use of a callsign is in itself sufficient to fall under the 'recreating an event' banner is a question of interpretation. Personally given that there is already a specific list of banned callsigns, my own interpretation would be not (otherwise why have a separate list) and that with the exception of the specific callsigns noted it is the activity that is the issue, not the callsign (a bit like special ops where you can log on with a military callsign in a military aircraft if you wish but it is what you do subsequently that determines whether your activity falls under special ops policy).

Vice President, Pilot Training

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Of course, whether the use of a callsign is in itself sufficient to fall under the 'recreating an event' banner is a question of interpretation. Personally given that there is already a specific list of banned callsigns, my own interpretation would be not (otherwise why have a separate list) and that with the exception of the specific callsigns noted it is the activity that is the issue, not the callsign (a bit like special ops where you can log on with a military callsign in a military aircraft if you wish but it is what you do subsequently that determines whether your activity falls under special ops policy).

 

Sorry, but I don't see any room for interpretation in the policy; The re-creation of, or organization of events recognizing real world disasters, tragedies, or other such events, particularly those which resulted in loss of life, are not permitted. Loss of life stops it right there. Technically, there are more than 550 restricted callsigns based on that policy statement.

 

But to your comment about it being more about what you do with it that determines things, is exactly my point. Why does VATSIM have to be our collective conscience in a few instances, and then say "whatever" with the rest. The whole restriction is silly IMO. That is what supervisors are for. If someone wants to fly a tribute flight using UAL93, then good for them. I hope it gives them peace when they do it. If someone wants to be a jackwagon and re-create the demise of UAL93, then .wallop them, and off the network they go.

 

So, is it OK to fly with the callsign UAL093, or UAL930? We will all know what it means. Maybe we should ask for the VATSIM BoG to ban the numbers 9 and 3 from the network? Ugh....

 

Tim

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So, is it OK to fly with the callsign UAL093, or UAL930? We will all know what it means. Maybe we should ask for the VATSIM BoG to ban the numbers 9 and 3 from the network? Ugh....

 

Tim

 

UAL930 is a regularly scheduled flight from SFO-LHR. Should we alert the FAA?

Ryan Geckler - GK | Former VATUSA3 - Division Training Manager

VATSIM Minneapolis ARTCC | FAA Miami ARTCC 

Cross the Pond Planning Team

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Um... You *ARE* the FAA... How exactly do you alert yourself? Eh, on second thought, never mind, I really don't want to know....

Don Desfosse
Vice President, Membership

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Um... You *ARE* the FAA... How exactly do you alert yourself? Eh, on second thought, never mind, I really don't want to know....

 

We just meow really loudly on guard. Gets the front desk's attention

Ryan Geckler - GK | Former VATUSA3 - Division Training Manager

VATSIM Minneapolis ARTCC | FAA Miami ARTCC 

Cross the Pond Planning Team

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Sorry, but I don't see any room for interpretation in the policy; The re-creation of, or organization of events recognizing real world disasters, tragedies, or other such events, particularly those which resulted in loss of life, are not permitted. Loss of life stops it right there. Technically, there are more than 550 restricted callsigns based on that policy statement.

 

I'm perplexed as to how you have leapt from

 

"Recreation of events recognising real world disasters"

 

To:

 

"Flying with a callsign [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ociated with a real world disaster".

 

If that was the intention then that would have been written: the CoC is generally pretty plain English. Instead what is written is "in addition "

 

It is really very clear: there are a small list of callsigns which are restricted because history has proven that nobody used them to do anything other than be an imbecile. It is not about being a "collective conscience", it is about saving the time of the volunteers who supervise the network by cutting the imbeciles off at source.

 

Other than those callsigns that are restricted, you can fly with any callsign you like provided that you do not fall foul of the first part of the statement.

 

I'll say again: this is nothing new, this clause has been in the CoC for nigh on 20 years without any issue or confusion so I am baffled as to why it is an issue now.

Vice President, Pilot Training

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Hi,

 

Back in the day a real possibility of VATSIM being closed existed. As such a conscious decision was made and we have remained resolute in that. Even Microsoft recalled and released a new version of their sim without the twin towers such was the potential fall out from all of this.

 

You are more than welcome to fly whatever callsign you like - any at all. The caveat being that if its one of those listed then that flight will have to be offline. There is no room for negotiation in that respect.

Norman

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