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Airshows on VATSIM (restrictions and rules)?


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Hey everyone! I hope you all are doing well despite many of us being stuck at home. On that note I was thinking what better way to spend that time then to organize a fairly unique event. A few days ago I saw that the trailer for the virtualairshow group's "Wings over Tbilisi" event coming up next month on DCS and I thought, hey why not do something like that on VATSIM? From some research it looks like unofficial airshows have been done in the past but they haven't real had anything in the way of spectators. The rules surrounding the flying part of the event are pretty straightforward and, as long as it is coordinated with any ATC online, formation and "stunt" flying isn't prohibited ("B7 - Two or more pilots are permitted to fly in formation. If, for any reason, air traffic control instructs pilots to separate, the pilots must immediately comply with the request or disconnect from the network." -CoC). As for spectating, however, I know that VATSIM doesn't allow unattended connections or non-active callsigns. So at what point does connecting as an observer cross the line?

According to the pilot resource center these are the main points regarding observers: 

  1. "Log on to fly or observe, not to chat."
  2. "Non-active callsigns are defined as callsigns which are unrelated to any pilot, air traffic control position, instructor or designated staff engaging in administrative duties."
  3. "It is only when you cross the line between legitimate observing and using VATSIM as a chat program that you will be in violation of this rule."

So from points 1 and 3 it seems like logging in to observe the airshow is OK as its not being used to chat but to watch others fly. However, point 2 makes it seem like connecting to watch just for fun is not allowed as it isn't directly related to flying, controlling, instructing, etc.. Or am I reading point 2 too literally because logging in as an observer to watch indirectly relates to the pilots flying in the show?

If I can find a way to put an airshow together on VATSIM it would probably get streamed on twitch and/or youtube as well for those who might want to watch at a later time or don't feel like connecting to VATSIM (or who don't have a VATSIM account). However, I think it would be cool to give people the option to watch it live and have control of their own "view/camera".

Secondly, I was wondering what the rules would be on using an inactive/unused frequency to make announcements or play music over during the airshow? Would this count as "chatting" ("A16 - Members shall not carry out private conversations over any communication channels, frequencies, or resources, with the exception of private messages, while connected to the VATSIM Network. ... " & "C3 - ... An observer shall observe only and not communicate on any open text or voice frequency ...." -CoC)? If it would go against the CoC could an exception be made?

If I could get some official clarification from a supervisor or someone from the BoG on these questions that would be great!

Cheers!

Edit: For anyone just starting to read this thread, a show has been planned for July 10, 2021 (more on the second page of this thread)

Edited by Josh Jenk

Josh Jenk

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This isn't the "official" response you requested, but, there are two main limitations you'll hit. 

First, technical: since VATSIM position updates are only made every 1-2 seconds, you'll find it very difficult to hold formation, as the various pilots within said formation are not seeing each other in real time.  Also, sudden changes in attitude or direction are not rendered well for other pilots nor for spectators. 

Second, regulatory: on VATSIM it is not permissible to "close" an airport to traffic in order to hold an airshow, as would be done in the real world. 

Cheers,

-R.

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Hi Robert,

Thanks for the reply. I do appreciate the non official feedback as well. I’ve definitely thought through both these limitations. For the technical one, performing pilots (and whoever is filming for a stream) can connect to each other through joinfs which has almost 0 latency. I believe swift has the functionality to hide other aircraft on the network (although I still need to double check this) which the performers would do to ensure they aren’t seeing each other twice.

As to shutting down an airport that isn’t necessary. I will probably contact my local FIR where I control to try and host it at CYXX. It’s a relatively small airfield which attracts almost no traffic ordinarily. Even with the traffic that shows up because there is an event there they can be sequenced in between performances. That way it’s not shutting down the airport but just putting slot times in for departures and arrivals. In fact this is done irl at CYXX at their air show every year. After every few performances they have a break for 15 minutes or so to allow scheduled flights to arrive and depart.

Cheers!

Josh Jenk

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Interesting.  I don't use Swift, personally, so I wonder how that would work for attendees who use other pilot clients.  For that matter, I wonder if it would make more sense to do the fly-in portion on VATSIM and the airshow portion on JoinFS.

Anyway, some reference reading for you, from a couple years ago when something like this was tried once before:

https://forums.vatusa.net/index.php?topic=8056.0

That being said, I'm not saying you shouldn't try, nor am I saying I wouldn't attend if you did.  :-)   Just feeding you all the information so you can decide what your best foot forward is.

Cheers,

-R.

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(Unorganized) airshows not hosted by a VATSIM Certified vSOA are not permitted on the network.

This is due to a number of reasons:

Firstly, it would violate the Special Operations Policy §1.7 on War-games, Air combat maneuvers and possibly the formation flying restriction.

Secondly, you would ask Rob states effectively have to close an airport, which is in violation of VATSIM CoR §6.03c..

 

If you organize it, there is a possibility, but if we let everyone host them as they pleased, well.. 😛

Mats Edvin Aarø
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VATSIM General Manager: Member Engagement
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If you do not "close" an airport with your airshow (which has nothing to do with "war-games or air combat maneuvers"), I do not see an issue. People who would like to operate in and out of that airfield must be allowed to do so and as everyone will be on UNICOM such movements shall be coordinated. Not a big deal, me thinks.

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1 hour ago, Robert Shearman Jr said:

For that matter, I wonder if it would make more sense to do the fly-in portion on VATSIM and the airshow portion on JoinFS.

Interesting idea I’ll definitely consider that.

30 minutes ago, Mats Edvin Aaro said:

Firstly, it would violate the Special Operations Policy §1.7 on War-games, Air combat maneuvers and possibly the formation flying restriction.

That rule is very generic. Does it mean flying the overhead break is illegal if you’re not part of a vSOA? Also to my knowledge vfr formation flying is legal as long as you comply with ATC instructions. In addition I’m sure there will be a number of solo pilots where there is no formation flying. I wouldn’t really call it war games either. Manoeuvres at an air show are done to show the aircraft’s performance and capabilities. If the aircraft were dogfighting each other or something I would agree that is illegal. But I don’t think showing off an aircraft’s capabilities goes against those rules. 

 

37 minutes ago, Mats Edvin Aaro said:

Secondly, you would ask Rob states effectively have to close an airport, which is in violation of VATSIM CoR §6.03c..

 

See my reply to Rob.

15 hours ago, Josh Jenk said:

As to shutting down an airport that isn’t necessary. I will probably contact my local FIR where I control to try and host it at CYXX. It’s a relatively small airfield which attracts almost no traffic ordinarily. Even with the traffic that shows up because there is an event there they can be sequenced in between performances. That way it’s not shutting down the airport but just putting slot times in for departures and arrivals. In fact this is done irl at CYXX at their air show every year. After every few performances they have a break for 15 minutes or so to allow scheduled flights to arrive and depart.

It wouldn’t be shutting down an airport but rather timing any arrivals and/or departures between performers.

38 minutes ago, Mats Edvin Aaro said:

If you organize it, there is a possibility, but if we let everyone host them as they pleased, well.. 😛

Well yes it would be organised and I would get it approved to be done prior to the event taking place if I go through with it. And yes, I agree if you just had a blanket rule saying anyone could host an airshow it would get out of hand very quickly, hence why I created this forum topic.

Josh Jenk

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2 minutes ago, Andreas Fuchs said:

If you do not "close" an airport with your airshow (which has nothing to do with "war-games or air combat maneuvers"), I do not see an issue. People who would like to operate in and out of that airfield must be allowed to do so and as everyone will be on UNICOM such movements shall be coordinated. Not a big deal, me thinks.

Hopefully I can get some ATC online to help that coordination.

Josh Jenk

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The official ruling is no. Airshows are not permitted.

The audience would be in violation of CoC A9. Outside of the CoC violation though, like Rob said, the audience wouldn’t be getting anything out if it anyway due to the way the simulators render traffic on VATSIM.

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Unless otherwise stated, opinions are my own and not representative of the official opinion of the VATSIM Board of Governors

 

 

 

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In 2018 at the virtual Oshkosh event, ZAU hosted the vSOA Virtual Blue Angels for an airshow.  It ruffled feathers and caused a lot of drama with VATSIM and VATUSA management prior to and after the event.  In the end, they pulled it off, and it was one of the best things I have ever witnessed on the network.  Not to mention, those guys are amazing simmers.  One day, we'll look outside the box...errr...C.o.C again.

This wasn't from the Oshkosh event, but it is the same caliber show they put on there. 

 

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I can't edit my last post and wanted to add:

If there was ATC available it would be easy to slot in anybody who wants to fly in between the displays. As long as it is organised properly there could be coordination with us to not enforce A9 for those on the ground watching for the duration of the event.

As long as it isn't spur of the moment I don't think it is an issue.

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15 minutes ago, Callum McLoughlin said:

Can somebody provide a good reason why they're banned? As long as it is organised out of the way somewhere, who cares?

vSOA restricted activities are not banned, but restricted for members not affiliated with a VATSIM approved vSOA, for a very good reason.

Think for yourself what would happen if we were to give thumbs up for anyone and everyone to perform currently restricted vSOA activities, such as intercepts, air combat exercises and airshows as they please, without any form of professional planning or organizing to make sure it is a positive attraction.

Most activities relating to fighter jets and military aircraft are thrilling of nature, and thus members who aren't necessarily committed and engaged in learning the in's and out's of how it works would seek to perform these activities for "the heck of it". 

Currently, members have to go through training and qualifications in a structured manner in order to make sure they are not just aware of the rules and restrictions placed upon them, but that they can also act with a level of professionalism and skill which is expected of them.

I would personally LOVE to see more organized vSOA events in the future!

Mats Edvin Aarø
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VATSIM General Manager: Member Engagement
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The issue is that almost nobody wants to go through the unnecessary pain of becoming a member of a vSOA just to perform a few low passes, loopings and barrel-rolls at a small, civilian airfield.

Showing off some aerobatic maneuvers has nothing to do with "air combat" or "war games". Heck, we do this in gliders!

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7 minutes ago, Andreas Fuchs said:

The issue is that almost nobody wants to go through the unnecessary pain of becoming a member of a vSOA just to perform a few low passes, loopings and barrel-rolls at a small, civilian airfield.

Showing off some aerobatic maneuvers has nothing to do with "air combat" or "war games". Heck, we do this in gliders!

Personally this is how I see it as well but no need to get into an argument over it. As of right now I’m considering organising a fly-in, the airshow on joinfs offline, then a fly-out online after its over.

 

8 hours ago, Nick Warren said:

In 2018 at the virtual Oshkosh event, ZAU hosted the vSOA Virtual Blue Angels for an airshow.

I was (and still am) actually planning on asking these guys to perform. On that note does anyone know of other aerobatic teams on fsx/p3d/xplane? It doesn’t matter if they are on VATSIM cause the airshow will be performed offline. It also doesn’t just have to be fighter jets. Props, helis, commercial aircraft, and gliders are all a valid part of airshows. Also if anyone reading this is interested to perform as part of a team or solo (please have some experience in the aircraft you want to perform in) or helping out with recording/streaming the event to twitch/youtube, please respond here, pm me, or send me a message on discord (@Cakequest#3847). Nothing is confirmed yet but I’m just trying to gauge interest at this point.

Josh Jenk

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@Josh Jenk  I would very much recommend you to reach out to the Vice President Special Operations in order to get advice and prevent it from being a huge fuzz again again (the rules haven't changed since that time). 🙂 I hope something can be arranged!

Mats Edvin Aarø
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VATSIM General Manager: Member Engagement
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1 minute ago, Mats Edvin Aaro said:

@Josh Jenk  I would very much recommend you to reach out to the Vice President Special Operations in order to get advice and prevent it from being a huge fuzz again again (the rules haven't changed since that time). 🙂 I hope something can be arranged!

Thanks Mats. The reason for posting this forum prior to trying to organise everything was to avoid that “huge fuzz” as much as possible. I’ll definitely reach out to Roger and see what can be organised.

Josh Jenk

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On 4/23/2020 at 3:43 PM, Robert Shearman Jr said:

First, technical: since VATSIM position updates are only made every 1-2 seconds, you'll find it very difficult to hold formation, as the various pilots within said formation are not seeing each other in real time.  Also, sudden changes in attitude or direction are not rendered well for other pilots nor for spectators.

Actually, it’s 5 seconds. The pilot clients interpolate between updates to make it appear smooth (or, at least as smooth as it can be given the lag!). 

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4 hours ago, Mats Edvin Aaro said:

vSOA restricted activities are not banned, but restricted for members not affiliated with a VATSIM approved vSOA, for a very good reason.

Think for yourself what would happen if we were to give thumbs up for anyone and everyone to perform currently restricted vSOA activities, such as intercepts, air combat exercises and airshows as they please, without any form of professional planning or organizing to make sure it is a positive attraction.

Most activities relating to fighter jets and military aircraft are thrilling of nature, and thus members who aren't necessarily committed and engaged in learning the in's and out's of how it works would seek to perform these activities for "the heck of it". 

Currently, members have to go through training and qualifications in a structured manner in order to make sure they are not just aware of the rules and restrictions placed upon them, but that they can also act with a level of professionalism and skill which is expected of them.

I would personally LOVE to see more organized vSOA events in the future!

If there was an organised event it would be fine. VATUK had a derogation for years where members who were in contact with military ATC were permitted to undertake VSOA activities so long as they were under positive control.

Airshows are not inherently military activities either. Its aerobatics. You do not need to be a member of a VSOA to do aerobatics on VATSIM.

Let’s think outside the box a bit chaps. I don’t think anyone should take this conversation to be a ‘go right ahead’, however with some collaboration and teamwork, minimising any impact on others, I can’t see a reason why a way couldn’t be found to allow it. Even if case-by-case.

Edited by Callum McLoughlin
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I ran an airshow in 2005, 2006 and 2007 without breaching ANY Vatsim regs and that was Rule 1: We don't breach anything. It can be done and it was very successful but does take some doing. Prior to the first one a lot of work went into how to make sure Rule 1 was applied, all reviewed with the Divisional staff, and we had the then DCRM and SUPs controlling to ensure we kept in order. Gunnar will probably remember these. 

You do, however, have to be prepared to encounter the self-appointed Fun Police and their wooden spoons for agitating brown stuff 😄😄

 

 

Edited by Bill Casey
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Bill Casey

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I fondly remember the airshows at Sywell, Bill, and they were excellent. I've probably got some screenshots somewhere!

With some formal organisation and a heads up with the relevant people there's no reason why these couldn't be a success.

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So, Bill, how did you enforce rule A9? Just no observers allowed? Or did you allow people to watch given they were connected normally and had a valid flight plan filed?


As to the update interval of the pilot clients, isn’t that supposed to be drastically improved in the very near future?

Josh Jenk

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