Flight Simulator X: Flying for Virtual Airlines

Another part of the Flight Simulator experience, flying for a virtual airline can be a fun, rewarding pastime in the simulator world. This guide will tell you how to find, sign up, and fly for virtual airlines.

As an evolution of the simulator experience, many people have started virtual airlines, flying routes and competing for the same passengers. This is all possible through a program known as VAFS (Virtual Airline Financial System). VAFS (pronounced “vahfs”) serves as a black box for your simulator flight, logging events such as descents, climbs, and gear and flap extension. The program also generates a passenger list, cargo weights, fuel load, and an IFR flight plan for your aircraft. Every flight the pilot makes earns the airline virtual money. Depending on the length of the flight, the number of passengers, and the amount of cargo carried, the money earned can go from several thousand dollars of revenue to hundreds of thousands of dollars for international flights. To join an airline, there are a few things you need to do.

Joining the Airline:
Joining an airline is a fairly simple procedure. You simply need to find the airline’s website, usually through a Google search. I found mine, TransWorld Airlines Virtual, on the FSX multiplayer server’s chat. Once you’ve found your airline’s web page, there usually will be a tab labeled “Join ______.” If you click on this, it will usually have a few stipulations about how much time you have to have, what aircraft downloads you need, and what software you need. You will need VAFS, available at vafinancials.com, and probably TeamSpeak from http://teamspeak.gameserver.gamed.de/ts3/releases/3.0.2/TeamSpeak3-Client-win32-3.0.2.exe. Once you’ve downloaded all of this and sent your application to the airline, you just need to wait and get aproved. Sometimes they’ll have you do a check ride in the aircraft you are to fly, for example a Dash-8 or an MD-83. After being approved, you are now a pilot for the airline!

Your first flight:
VAFS has a page titled “View Flight Schedule.” If you click on this, it will show you all the flights you are assigned. Usually the flights will route you in a circle, flying from one airport to another and finally landing back at the starting airport. In order to link VAFS and Flight Simulator, you need to have both open at the same time. The first step is to open your Flight Schedule. Click on the first flight on the dispatch list, then open Flight Simulator. Using the Flight Schedule page as a reference, file an IFR flight plan with the airports on the Flight Schedule listed as the departure and arrival airports. Then, select the aircraft you are assigned to fly and whatever weather settings the airline has specified. Now you can click on Click to Start Flight in VAFS. This will take you to the page listing all of the flight information, from the aircraft type to the number of passengers carried. In Flight Simulator, select Fly Now! to get the flight started. Turn your engines off by hitting Ctrl+Shift+F1. Now, hit Alt+Enter. This will minimize Flight Simulator and allow you to select VAFS. On the VAFS menu, hit the Start VAFS ACARS>> button. Now the VAFS system is recording your flight. You can now fly just like any other IFR flight, taxiing to the runway, taking off, flying, landing, and taxiing to the gate. The ACARS system records every major event during the flight, including flap and gear extension speeds, g-forces, and landing speeds. Your performance is then automatically graded by the system. For instance, your rating might drop a few points if you extended your gear past 250 knots or landed too hard. Likewise, if you please the passengers by departing in poor weather or making the flight shorter.

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