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New to Vatsim / General question...


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Greetings everyone!

Years of flying with X-Plane 11 and now MSFS 2020 very excited to finally try a live service like VATSIM.   I have used Pilot2ATC for a while and think I am ready for the next step.   I have done some reading and seen some videos showcasing Vatsim flights, but wanted to ask something.. 

Please correct me if I am wrong..  but, it seems like the key to a nice, fully covered IFR flight would mean I would need to use VAT-spy (which I have) and to look at where the controllers are currently.  I would want to make sure that my flight plan is 100% inside of a currently covered area.   I can see already that different times of the day, different parts of the world are busy.

This also brings up my question..  If I take off from an airport with a controller (say ground, and tower) and then there is no center operator, and maybe no tower at the destination.. this means what?  I am left totally silent for that remainder of the flight?   Is that correct?   Which then means, I would just follow my plan and descend myself etc.  with no controller.?

If that's the case.. I have to then ask.. why would anyone want to be in that position?   To me this would be terrible and a HUGE lack of the experience.  So, I just want to be sure I understand how to get the best experience from this platform.    I tried searching for a video that shows how to kinda look at the coverage map and plan a flight based on coverage (seems like thats the smart thing to do, if what I said is correct?)

Just want to check my understanding 🙂

EDIT - When I look at the VAT-Spy map.. and I click on ATC tab, and I see the large blue outlined areas.. what does this mean exactly?  Does this mean if I fly within that defined block, I will have full coverage?    Because I see other blocks that have no blue outline, and yet show controllers active?

 

Thanks everyone!

Edited by Travis Harris
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Yes, VATSIM ATC coverage comes and goes.  There are a lot of ATC positions and not enough trained members to staff them 24/7.  If you want guaranteed coverage, PilotEdge offers that -- but only during certain hours and in a limited coverage area.  And, for a monthly fee. 

If you want a higher probability of VATSIM coverage, look for scheduled events.  VATSIM and VATUSA both have published event calendars. 

Edited by Robert Shearman Jr

Cheers,

-R.

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The blue outlined areas indicate Center / Enroute coverage.  APP/DEP would be represented by smaller circles, and local controllers (Tower, Ground, Delivery, ATIS) are represented by T/G/D/A icons at the individual airport. 

Center will cover all ATC duties at all lower positions within their area, usually, if those lower positions aren't covered by someone else. 

Cheers,

-R.

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There is VATBOOK, a worldwide ATC booking system. Quite a few VACC homepages display ATC booking data for their area of control (e.g. https://www.vatnz.net/ scroll down). Also, you can use freeware programs like Qutescoop (https://forums.vatsim.net/topic/28027-qutescoop-updated-airspace-and-airport-data-available/) and vroute (https://vroute.net/) to display all those bookings on a global scale. US controllers rarely use this system to publish the expected up-times, unfortunately, but Europe, Asia and Oceania are good in booking.

I personally use Qutescoop all the time to check for the VATSIM status and I mainly plan my flights according to entries in VATBOOK and during Events (https://vats.im/events).

Edited by Andreas Fuchs
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Thank you all so much for the reply's!  This is great info to have.   Yes, I can see now the difference between something like Pilots Edge and this.  They are two different things aimed for different people.   If I wanted 100% coverage (during the operating hours) and am okay with only flying in the western USA than I think for $20/mo PE is the best option for me.    But, in the meantime I would like to give VATSIM a shot.  I just know that the first time I go for a flight, and I dont have full coverage for ATC it will not be a good experience for me 😕   So, I just wanted to learn what the best way to avoid that would be. I will check out that booking system and see how it goes!   Thank you all so much again, \

Happy landings.

T

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Hi Travis, welcome to VATSIM! 

One piece of advice I'd offer is that, although events do offer guaranteed ATC coverage, they usually attract a lot of traffic. It might not be best to plan your first flight into an airport that is hosting an event because the radio traffic and workload would be much higher than an average evening. 

Do you fly in the U.S. often? If so, I don't think many VATUSA facilities are using VATBOOK at this stage. However, you can sometimes find "expected" ATC coverage available on websites. For example, if you visit www.bvartcc.com, you'll see we have an idea of when to expect coverage on the top left of the homepage. Alternatively, when you're ready to fly, you could look on VatSPY to see who has logged on recently and check their controller info (right-click) or just login and message them to get a sense of when they might be closing. Since we're all volunteers, plans can definitely change. However, I think most people who open a CTR tend to staff for at least 2 hours. 

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Evan Reiter
Boston Virtual ARTCC/ZBW Community Manager

 

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46 minutes ago, Andreas Fuchs said:

In what region of the world would you usually fly?

Oh, for me I don't care.  lol.  I live in Miami, FL. (USA).  But, I rather have the full ATC vs. worrying about where it is I fly.  Part of the fun of the sim, is to explore new places etc.  So, I am always open.

I do love Austria,  especially LOWI and that general area.  But, again I am open to anything with full coverage.

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Ok, fair enough. Then let me re-phrase my question: in what time-frame do you usually fly, in zulu-time? I live in Central Europe and I am usually active between 1800z and 2100z and that's the time when most ATC will be on in Europe, too. Check the bookings, you'll see most of them for these times, too.

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