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My first time on VATSIM


John McMurdo
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So I was sat at my PC all ready to go,  I was all set,  but the adrenalin was really starting to kick in and holding the mouse straight was a challenge - it is a good job I had a stick to fly with,  I thought.  I planned to contact ground to request clearance long before off-block time,  but I was so nervous, so I just carried on prepping the aircraft.

20 minutes until off-block time - I was all ready and had still not contacted ground. I was seriously considering just signing off and doing my flight offline,  time was ticking away, five minutes to go and I thought I will just go for it. So I requested clearance,  but was then told my route was not valid.

The ATC sent me a new plan through text but before I could write it down the text box disappeared,  I looked in the squawkbox settings under text box settings,  I could not  see a way to bring the text back.  I sat for 10 minutes contemplating my options,  waiting for a quiet spell in the ATC chatter before requesting the details again,  I managed to write down 3 waypoints before the text box vanished again.  Again,  I tried to figure out a way of bringing it back,  to no avail.  I sat and thought about what options I had, I did not want to bother ATC again,  so decided to just let them know I was having issues and signed off.

At least I did manage to talk to ATC and did not just chicken out - which I seriously considered at one point.

Now,  I am not sure why the flight plan was not valid,  I used simbrief for this particular flight plan, and I have no idea how to fix the text box issue, any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated,  as for now,  I'm grounded.

 

 

Edited by John McMurdo
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  • John McMurdo changed the title to My first time on VATSIM

Hello @John McMurdo and welcome to VATSIM

In case you are using the old Squawkbox client I highly recommend you to upgrade to a newer pilot client such as xPilot or vPilot depending on your simulator https://www.vatsim.net/pilots/download-required-software

I don't have personal experience with Squawkbox only with xSquawkbox and that has a key that you can map to reopen the text window, maybe Squawkbox has something similar in the key-bind settings?

Simbrief only lists routes that other Simbrief users have used in the past, it does not automatically validate them in any way, as such, it is quite common to get either completely invalid routes or old routes that are no longer valid. There is also no moderation in place which makes it possible to receive routes that are completely ridiculous. Tools like vRoute or https://grd.aero-nav.com/ that have human curated routes are usually better if you just check that they were updated/uploaded somewhat recently. Something I would recommend is to simply look at the route on the map. If it doesn't look right it probably isn't right. In Europe you can even run the flight plan through the Eurocontrol IFPS validation on their website, Simbrief even has a quick link to this.

image.png.489255a049a9fd0eead7e3665fb3b0d0.png

One thing that can cause issues as well is having out of date nav data in your FMC. If that's the case and you are unable to fly certain routes because they don't exists in your FMC, just message the controller and they should find an alternative route or give you vectors.

NB: If you are unsure about something don't forget you can always open a chat with the controller by typing .chat [CALLSIGN] or summon an online supervisor to help with .wallop

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Thank you for the tip, I looked in keyboard settings of X-Plane, and there was indeed an option set a key to toggle text window visibility.  I run Linux so I am pretty much stuck with xSquawkbox,  it seems to work fine,  minus the little text box issue which appears to have been solved.

I tried out GRD and the route it gave me, well the first 3 way points I managed to write down match up with what GRD says, so I think I will stick with that in the future 🙂

Tomorrow I will try again.

 

This was the original route I had planned

 

EGKK GURLU GSY MATUG MOVUM HAREM ELMOX PIGAB DKB LEVBU ANORA ALUTU EDDM

 

This is the one I found on GRD

 

MIMFO Y312 DVR UL9 KONAN UL607 MATUG DCT MOVUM T109 HAREM T104 ROKIL

 

 

Edited by John McMurdo
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46 minutes ago, John McMurdo said:

Thank you for the tip, I looked in keyboard settings of X-Plane, and there was indeed an option set a key to toggle text window visibility.  I run Linux so I am pretty much stuck with xSquawkbox,  it seems to work fine,  minus the little text box issue which appears to have been solved.

I tried out GRD and the route it gave me, well the first 3 way points I managed to write down match up with what GRD says, so I think I will stick with that in the future 🙂

Tomorrow I will try again.

 

This was the original route I had planned

 

EGKK GURLU GSY MATUG MOVUM HAREM ELMOX PIGAB DKB LEVBU ANORA ALUTU EDDM

 

This is the one I found on GRD

 

MIMFO Y312 DVR UL9 KONAN UL607 MATUG DCT MOVUM T109 HAREM T104 ROKIL

 

 

Your route starts at GURLU on the UK-French border. What you almost always must do is have the route begin at a common point that all departures to that direction go through. Those are usually the same points where the published Standard Instrument Departure (SID) Procedures end. In many places these points lie on the border of the Terminal Maneuvering Area (TMA) of that airport. Even if you have an aircraft that is unable to follow those procedures it is common that you will receive radar vectoring to one of those points. As you can see the route that you found on GRD follows airways instead of flying direct between each point in the flight plan. Depending on local regulations (flow control and such) certain airways/routes are required for certain routes. One of the more common places to have these restrictions are borders between different countries. Also you cannot fly from the UK to mainland Europe just anywhere, you must do so via specific routes that your first route doesn't comply with. There are Free Route Airspace (FRA) areas inside of which you are free to fly direct between any points without worrying about airways and such but London FIR is not a part of any of those. At Munich you have the same issue as with Gatwick, the route ends at some random point somewhere close to the airport. What you usually want to have is the route ending at a point from which a Standard Terminal Arrival Route (STAR) begins. In Germany you would usually fly a transition instead of a STAR but the same thing applies.

These are, of course, just general points. Making routes by yourself is pretty involved and requires you to know quite a lot about the local airspace and regulations. If you are interested in that ATC training is a good place to start.

Edited by Christian Kovanen
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Thanks for your help,  I left out the SID because I thought the ATC might give me a different one anyway (the one that I always use is HARDY 1X,  when using 26L) So if I had put HARDY as the first point the first leg at least might have been OK?

 

 

Edited by John McMurdo
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32 minutes ago, John McMurdo said:

Thanks for your help,  I left out the SID because I thought the ATC might give me a different one anyway (the one that I always use is HARDY 1X,  when using 26L) So if I had put HARDY as the first point the first leg at least might have been OK?

 

 

I'm only a visiting controller in the UK, but looking at the UK-France LoA it seems GURLU is not to be used for crossing the border. All possible crossings in the area have French destinations as conditions which strongly suggests flow control restrictions prohibit routing from the UK to Germany via France (or at least for this specific destination). Therefore, HARDY SIDs wouldn't work for this route. Instead of looking up Eurocontrol flow control procedures you can just run the IFPS validation I mentioned in my first post and it will list all issues with the route/flight plan.

Edited by Christian Kovanen
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11 hours ago, Torben Andersen said:

A route between EGKK and EDDM approved by Eurocontrol could be

ODVIK Y311 DVR UL9 KONAN UL607 MATUG DCT MOVUM T109 HAREM T104 ROKIL

cheers

With either route, for half of the waypoints I get a "Not in database" error. I suppose I am  actually going to have to subscribe to navigraph, although none of their apps work on Linux so I don't know if there are any work arounds for that. So frustrating 😞  I really thought I would be up in the air tonight.

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45 minutes ago, John McMurdo said:

With either route, for half of the waypoints I get a "Not in database" error. I suppose I am  actually going to have to subscribe to navigraph, although none of their apps work on Linux so I don't know if there are any work arounds for that. So frustrating 😞  I really thought I would be up in the air tonight.

The navigation database in your airplane has outdated data. Fixes, airways, land based navigation equipment, SIDs, STARs and others change from time to time. Services such as Navigraph provide you with the latest navdata to fix this. You don't need any of the apps you can download the navdata for your specific airplane from their website and view the charts online. All this is, of course, not required on VATSIM but will greatly improve your experience.

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I figured it was out of date,  of course it was never an issue playing offline, since simbrief appears to use out of date navdata too.  As you said, I think if I am to enjoy VATSIM to the fullest and avoid any more issues I will have to  get me a subscription,  €25 is fairly reasonable, even though I have already spent way too much on gaming this year!

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49 minutes ago, John McMurdo said:

I figured it was out of date,  of course it was never an issue playing offline, since simbrief appears to use out of date navdata too.  As you said, I think if I am to enjoy VATSIM to the fullest and avoid any more issues I will have to  get me a subscription,  €25 is fairly reasonable, even though I have already spent way too much on gaming this year!

On Simbrief you can change to a different airac cycle by clickingimage.thumb.png.5983ad41875995021035f57fab862b89.png

To access the latest data you need an active Navigraph subscription.

image.png.37d25216b6c164c874f4dc80574f9d36.png

Do note however that no matter what navdata you have in Simbrief the routes it gives you are still just what the last Simbrief user used and not checked for validity or anything of the sort.

Edited by Christian Kovanen
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44 minutes ago, Christian Kovanen said:

On Simbrief you can change to a different airac cycle by clickingimage.thumb.png.5983ad41875995021035f57fab862b89.png

To access the latest data you need an active Navigraph subscription.

image.png.37d25216b6c164c874f4dc80574f9d36.png

Do note however that no matter what navdata you have in Simbrief the routes it gives you are still just what the last Simbrief user used and not checked for validity or anything of the sort.Th

Thanks for the tip, I missed that. In the end,  I just copied and pasted the  route directly into simbrief and created an fms file directly from that, which my FMC seems to be OK with.

 

Edit - Just been re-entering a few routes which I had tried ages ago,  and since updating I have noticed that the planner includes airways which none of my previous routes had.

Edited by John McMurdo
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