At the July 16 meeting of the VATSIM Board of Governors, updates to the VATSIM Code of Conduct were approved. These changes will come into effect at 0001z on August 1, 2022.
We are always looking for ways to elevate the enjoyment of the network, and after input and consultation with our users, the Board of Governors has approved these changes with that intent. These are changes that are beneficial for both pilots and controllers alike, and will be supported with supportive educational content across the network. Through a continuous improvement process, additional tools are consistently being developed to further enhance everyone’s VATSIM experience. As always, lots of resources for pilots are available at https://my.vatsim.net/learn, and free resources for flight planning and charts across the web, including for example Simbrief and Chartfox.
Most of the changes were editorial in nature, clarifying and codifying current practice on the network. More meaningful changes were made around pilot preparation and conduct on the network as we continue moving towards an environment where pilots are expected to be more prepared when flying on VATSIM. The full text of the new Code of Conduct will be published shortly at Code of Conduct. Below is a summary of some of the more meaningful changes:
Use of voice communications on VATSIM:
Old Section 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. The guard VHF radio frequency (121.500) shall not be used.
New Section A16: All voice and text communications frequencies are for operational use only. Account holders shall not carry out private conversations over any communication channels, frequencies, or resources, with the exception of private text messages. The guard VHF radio frequency (121.500) shall not be used.
Rationale: Reinforces that voice frequencies on VATSIM can only be used for operational reasons.
Old Section B8: A pilot must comply with all agreed (read- back) air traffic control clearances and all issued instructions, or notify air traffic control without delay if unable to do so. Additionally, compliance with the following ATC instructions is mandatory, unless operational safety (e.g. TCAS conflict resolution) is compromised:
- Holding position when on the ground at an airport.
- Flying at a speed.
- Flying a heading.
- Flying at an altitude or flight level.
New Section B8(a): A pilot must be familiar and proficient with the operation of their aircraft prior to connecting to the VATSIM network and shall comply with all agreed (read-back) air traffic control clearances or instructions. Where unable to do so, such as where operational safety is compromised (e.g. TCAS conflict resolution), air traffic control must be notified without delay.
New Section B8(b): A pilot is expected to undergo reasonable preparation for their intended flight and potential diversions. This includes basic familiarization with arrival/departure airports, departure/arrival procedures and their planned route. This includes familiarization with airspace structure to prevent infringement of controlled or restricted airspace.
New Section B8(c): A pilot shall be expected to promptly comply with basic air traffic control instructions that are applicable to their flight rules. These include:
- Holding position on the ground at an airport
- Flying a speed, heading, altitude or flight level
- Approach to land, either visually or flying an accepted instrument approach procedure
- When IFR, fly a cleared route by use of navigation aids / waypoints and fly to unplanned navigational aids / waypoints when instructed
- When IFR, fly a holding pattern
Rationale: Places additional onus on pilots and their proficiency when flying on the network, and especially when flying under instrument flight rules.
Flying during events:
New Section B12: During events and periods of high traffic, a pilot may be issued traffic management initiatives (e.g., ground stops, Expect Departure Clearance Time (EDCT), Calculated Takeoff Time (CTOT), etc.). When such an initiative is in effect, a pilot is obligated to abide by the initiative. A pilot shall not circumvent these initiatives.
Rationale: Pilots disconnecting on the ground and reconnecting in the air to avoid traffic management initiatives has the potential to disrupt controllers during high-traffic events. This new section is to help mitigate those problems.
Use of real-world weather:
New Section B13: Pilots are encouraged to utilize current real- world weather at all times. Pilots must utilize at least the following current, real-world weather parameters throughout all phases of flight: (a) Winds, (b) Pressure, (c) Temperature
Rationale: Previously user could set their weather to any settings they wished. Use of real world weather settings makes it easier for air traffic controllers to manage traffic.