Nowadays, short- and medium-haul flights still dominate in the VATSIM online scene. long-haul and transoceanic flights are known to be daunting and flight planning can present numerous challenges to even the experienced pilots -
Operating across multiple airspace environments and continents with vastly different route and airspace structures can present obstacles to unfamiliar pilots (e.g. RAD and IFPS within Eurocontrol).
Operations in oceanic areas feature special procedures such as ETOPS/EDTO; OTS systems (NAT/PACOTS); random routing, including in other novel airspace environments (e.g. AORRA, Russian Cross-Polar and Trans-East, Australia, etc.); special planning and communication procedures, among others. These are the most demanding real-world operational environments and can be daunting for someone without the vast amount of background knowledge (both aviation and non-aviation) needed.
Long-haul flights steps up the stakes in flight planning significantly and calls for procedures such as re-dispatch, and precise wind optimization + fuel planning. Small deviations in wind aloft data will have a huge impact on the fuel burn, and no one wants fuel issues to impact their long-haul experience. Plus heavier aircraft hitting their range will bring limiting performance issues that must be considered before takeoff.
Meteorological information around the globe is needed for a safe flight and landing; as well as for route planning and optimization. Where to obtain these info in a timely fashion to aid pre-operation decision-making, is the key.
Well don’t you worry, we got you covered! At Project Firmament, we have been organizing long-haul and transoceanic flights and events on VATSIM for years. Our footprints have been over 6 continents, 5 oceans and countless countries around the world. Now, with our experiences in these aforementioned areas, we want to help you to get started on the journey as well!
On VATSIM, pilots are often told what to do, but seldom why. Our mission is to build flight planning expertise in the pilot community grounded in real-world operations and enable a platform for the exchange of information.
Already an expert? Even better! I’m sure there must be something that we don’t know, and others may be able to learn a lot from your expertise!
While we do have a focus on long-haul operations, we are certain that many of the areas of expertise described above are universally applicable for all kinds of realistic flight operations. We look forward to seeing you here in person to find out.
Adapted from New Discord Server For All Things Flight Planning, Long-Haul and Oceanic [Link Updated] - Groups - VATSIM Community