I am new to VATSIM, but have been flying online on another network for many years. I have done offline transatlantic flights, with lots of time acceleration. But recently on VATSIM, I am seeing lots of flights crossing the Atlantic, and very often an Oceanic Control is also online. So naturally, I want to try that, too.
My question for you guys who fly transatlantic is: how do you do it? I’m not into big airliners, I mostly fly a Citation Longitude, which takes about 6.5 hours from Dublin to Bangor. What do you guys do during that time? Do you use time acceleration in your sim? (obviously not while ATC is online!)
Do you disconnect over the Atlantic when no ATC is online and go do something else?
Real-world pilots obviously have a lot to do even in cruise flight, but I am afraid that I might get terribly bored during a 6 hour flight through the night with nobody to talk to.
Any information about your experiences will be very helpful.
Here is what I do, and I’ll even do this with airliners, though if I go private/bizjet, I’ll use something like the Embraer Lineage 1000 (E195).
I’ll do a KLAS-EGLC, or KLAS-EGSS run. I’ll start at say, midnight. Spend the 45 minutes flying out of the terminal area, engage the AP, get to cruise altitude, make sure everything looks okay, then disconnect. That 45 minutes to an hour should put me somewhere between Salt Lake City and Denver. No time acceleration needed neither on nor off the network.
Then I go to sleep.
Sleep normally 8 - 9 hours. By the time I wake up and get myself together for the day and reconnect, I should be somewhere off the coast of Ireland or between Ireland and the UK. I reconnect, refile my flight plan, and contact the closest suitable ATC, and continue my flight.
I do it this way because by the time I wake up and am at the controls (which should be the early afternoon on the west coast USA), it should be evening in the UK, and their busiest time of the day, especially on Sunday.
I’ve been doing this for years and seems to work the best. Why stay up all night if you don’t have to? Let the sim do the work for you.
It all depends on at what time of day (your local time) you want to perform this kind of flying. If you want to do a day flight (your local time), then there will be lots of things that you can do while being enroute. You can watch movies/films, complete your mail correspondence, make phone calls, do a bit of housework, prepare/eat a meal etc… Time can pass quickly.
In the real world, when we cross the Atlantic or on other long flights we try to keep ourselves busy, too: having a conversation with colleague(s), reading, eating, napping (one at a time…), get up and stretch legs. And all of this while we verify that our navigation is correct, all aircraft parameters are nominal, communication with ATC and the company etc…
Very important: when you engage in activities away from your flight simulator, make sure you do it within hearing range of your computer, because you need to be able to react to SELCAL at any time.
If you can’t be around your computer for extended periods of time (>30 minutes within inactive airspace), better disconnect from VATSIM and reconnect only when you come back. Don’t forget to submit your flightplan again when you return online.
I guess I better get a wireless headset then, so that I can hear SELCAL while I am cooking.
Are there any rules about how fast I need to be able to respond to SELCAL?
I guess that is my main problem about being away from my computer while I am flying: the controllers make my experience so much better, I want to be as respectful of their time as possible. If I took too long to respond to a call, or even failed to do so completely because I am currently cleaning my bathroom, that would (in my mind at least) be very disrespectful of me.
Is it OK to reconnect within controlled airspace? For example, if NAT isn’t online when I leave, but then opens later while I am still inside their airspace, can I just connect and say “hello, I’m here, too”? Should I connect as an observer first and message them?
The above stated “procedure” is only applicable when you are flying inside “remote airspace”, for example the NAT HLA (North Atlantic High Level Airspace). After making contact with ATC there you will perform a SELCAL-test and only then will it be permissible to step away until a) you reach your next reporting point or the airspace boundary or b) the ATCO needs your attention and will alert you with a SELCAL. An acceptable response time for a SELCAL is maybe 1 to 2 minutes, not more.
When you are flying in any other airspace with ATC, SELCAL is NOT used and you cannot just step away without seeking prior permission from ATC. It is usually fine to request 2 or 5 minutes away, but anything that goes beyond 10 minutes is not really welcome, exceptions may apply.
It depends. As often, there is no single valid answer to this.
Case 1: you want to connect within a big piece of airspace where it is unlikely that you are going to cause an issue to other pilots: yes, just connect, select your transponder ON, re-submit your flightplan and call up ATC. Should not be a problem.
Case 2: you are flying in a busy piece of airspace, for example overhead London or in Germany. Yes, you may connect in cruise, but you may want to connect in OBS (observer) mode first, as this will enable you to see and hear everyone else, but they cannot see you (=cannot cause separation issues). Now you can either elect to send a private chat message to the controller in question (if you know who it is) and state your flight level, approximate position (in relation to a waypoint or VOR) and your intention. He can then tell you to go ahead and connect in normal mode or ask you to change level etc.
If you see that the controller’s airspace is not busy, it should be okay to just connect in normal mode and then contact the controller after re-submitting your flightplan.
Thanks for the detailed explanation!
Even if VATSIM seems to be much more permissive with respect to leaving the cockpit or connecting enroute that That Other Network™, I would never think about simply reconnecting inside a busy airspace, you can be sure of that. Simply because I wouldn’t like it if I were the controller and a pilot did that.
We rather see people disconnect and come back online when they need to leave their computer for a longer period of time…Reconnecting is not an issue, just choose the situation wisely.
ITA did something like that last year. See Both Pilots Flew the Airbus A330 Asleep – Airways