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Virtual Airlines: What Exactly Are They?

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Last updated Tue, 14 Feb 2017 16:13:42 GMT
Originally posted on Mon, 11 Aug 2003 10:35:15 GMT

Virtual airlines are just like their real-world counterparts, except they are online and use pilots who use flight simulators!  They usually reflect the same routes, flights, aircraft and other attributes of their real life counterpart.  Flying for one of these could really bring your flight simulation experience to life and add another dimension of fun or realism to your flights.  You're not just flying for fun; your flying hours and experience will be added to your roster.  You can also be given specific routes and flights to complete and build up your earnings for your VA.

With each VA having its own rules, regulations and styles it’s something that can really be for everyone if you’re willing to take some time to look through the huge amounts out there. Some are tiny with just a few members throughout, while some span massive numbers that take part over the whole world! 

KLM Virtual

One of the most pivotal additions to the world of simulation was the inclusion of flight simulation. They’ve been around for close to two decades now on a mainstream level, and have become a pretty big part of the simulation community because they offer such a unique take into flying.

No video game touches the realism of flying an aircraft with the same precision, so it makes sense that flight simulators have become massive for those who want to get a bit more flight experience under their belt.

However, just as people take to playing many video games online in large groups or clans, people have formed what are known “Virtual Airlines”. Driven entirely by their member groups, virtual airlines allow users to heighten their experience drastically and are aimed to give a close depiction of what being part of an airline is actually like through the manner of a virtual environment.

It’s part role-play and part simulation, allowing the user to really take their experience to a new level and witness something that adds another layer of realism to the whole experience. 

The purpose

Delta Virtual Airlines

Image shows a screen capture from the Delta Virtual Airlines website.

Virtual airlines have been popular for a very long time, going back to the early versions of flight simulator and the use of the Internet for the general population.  They give a sense of achievement and purpose while flying.  You are able to complete flights that are assigned to you by the airline you are signed up with and build up your profile and roster.  You can also interact with fellow virtual aviators and pilots of your airline, which gives a sense of community and by joining a VA is like becoming a member of a "club", so to speak.

For many people, this is exactly what they need to help improve their own flight experience and quality. Whether it’s a genuine pilot or just a flight enthusiast, this extra step into taking your flight simulation more seriously can be the perfect solution to becoming a better pilot. The various different ranking structures, performance indicators and even personalities between members means that you can spend weeks just trying out for different VAs until you find that you feel comfortable around.

Some even look for you to have a high level of training before they’ll let you in – this isn’t just for people who want to mess around, it’s for those who want to see how they deal with added pressure in the simulation environment. This different variety gives it a much stronger feeling than other clan systems in video games as it lets you really be around passionate individuals who all want to take it seriously and actually hit targets, and become better virtual pilots along the way.

If you want to make your flight simulation more enjoyable for the long-term, you should really consider looking into joining a VA at one stage. It’s the next step that takes you a little bit closer to the real thing, as you’ll be expected to perform at a consistent level all the time.

Types of VA's

There are a few types - most of them are based on real life counterparts such as British Airways, Virgin and Delta; while others could be completely made up and imaginary.  You can fly for a commercial type VA, which would provide you with assigned routes and flights.  There are also a few military airlines or squadrons that you can join if you are more interested in military aviation and flying fighter jets and aircraft.

It all depends on what your own preference, or real-life occupation, makes you feel more comfortable with. The majority of fictional VA’s have far more control and freedom bout them as the rules, structure, performance barometers and overall style of the VA will be entirely up to the most prominent members of the group. With no ties to stick to, this means the variation of aircraft used can be far more expansive. They are the most commonly seen as most people prefer to have this overall level of control, taking on extra aspects like management and preparation of everyone’s schedules and tasks to make it even more immersive.

Real world equivalents are very popular as well, though, especially the VAs out there based on smaller companies. They follow the real-life structure, style and aircraft choice of the real thing and even try to offer the same routes and performance indicators to ramp up the realism that little bit more. While in the past there have been clashes over copyright usage, many airline companies actively participate inside their real-life VA equivalent!

The military organizations are vast in size and in number, and operate using proper military ranking and aircraft. These tend to have specialist doctrines such as naval aviation, and tend to be smaller and limited in size to allow for the same close camaraderie that the real-life equivalent of their operation would have. It helps to boost social interaction and development alongside your fellow virtual pilots. 

Join the VA experience

Why not join a one today?  It can greatly enhance your simulation experience and bring a new lease of life to your flights.  You can interact with the community and become part of the club that is a VA.  It's fun and exciting, plus you can also compete against fellow pilots by clocking up your flying hours and flights completed. 

Some of the biggest selections out there can be found through virtual flight communities, such as our own right here at Fly Away. We have various styles of virtual airlines to pick from and across the internet there are thousands to look at. All you need to join into a VA is;

  • A legitimate copy of a Flight Simulator product, varying from FS98-FSX and X-Plane depending on who you choose to fly with and what the overall standard of specification throughout the group is

  • A consistent internet connection that allows for easy and rapid communication and reply, when possible, to your colleagues and fellow pilots

  • A set standard of skill within the flight simulator, with the level varying depending on who you join – some look for high-level pilots, others are happy to help polish up your skills

The easiest way to actually find a virtual airline is through some simple web searching – forums and specific VA Corporations are setup across the internet so looking around can be fruitful, and will allow you to find an airline team that plays to a similar standard and has the same personality style and ambition as you do. This helps make it easy to find a long-term virtual association right away.

There are hundreds of airlines to choose from, most of them based on their real life counterparts.  Whether it's a small state run airliner or a huge global airline you're interested in; you're sure to find one to suit your needs using our list below.

The Benefits of joining

  • One of the most important aspects of joining up with a VA is that it allows you to improve your own skill level whilst meeting new pilots and like-minded people, as we’ve looked at before now. But the key aspect of actually using a VA is that it adds something entirely new to the game – competition and pressure. It’s no longer just a simulation that you can restart and perfect over the course of the night, ignoring mistakes along the way!

  • Flight simulation can be a bit of a specialist subject, so being able to get involved in a community that’s as passionate and dedicated to aviation as you are can be hugely rewarding. You’ll be able to talk openly with like-minded people about the pros and cons of anything you wish, making it easier than ever before to really get involved in flight simulation like never before – if you feel like your aviation love is a solo passion, you’ll find kindred spirits aplenty across the various VAs out there you can join!

  • Instead, you’ll find that you are now consistently asked to be able to perform at a high level, and in a pressurized environment. You won’t be able to make mistakes, go the wrong way, lose your bearings or act in a way that wouldn’t be befitting of a professional pilot – it’s all about getting the result. For many people, the one thing that flight simulations is a clinical edge to keep you coming back for more – this gives you just that

  • Add in the realism that it brings to the table, and being part of a VA can really help boost your replay value of any flight simulator out there. You’ll also be expected to carry realistic conditions and settings in your game, so you’ll need to use real weather apps to make the settings play out appropriately. This can be great fun for anyone who wishes to really take their own challenge to the next level, and helps to really expand on the overall experience

  • Another big reason to consider joining a VA is the heightened learning capacity you’ll get. Not only will you be flying a regular aircraft and becoming a master at using it, you’ll be able to get assistance and aid from your colleagues as you fly. Questions that bother you mid-flight that you never get to find out an answer to can be answered quickly mid-game with the help of constant chat features when flying. You’ll have direct access to talented pilots who understand the importance of getting the actual simulation side of things right down to the last millisecond

  • For anyone who wishes to refine their overall flight game, this is one of the easiest ways that you can do just that. You’ll be working to deadlines and it’ll almost be like a second job if you go to a demanding enough VA, but it’s the perfect tool for heightening the full experience and giving yourself something new to try out, something that truly brings out the very best of your piloting skills!

List of notable airlines

Below in our bullet pointed list are some airlines we have selected to be featured on this page.  You may click on each one to view more information about them and choose whether to sign-up with them or not.

If you own a virtual airline and would like to have it featured on this list, please contact the Fly Away Simulation support team by opening a ticket here.  You will need to provide a few paragraphs outlining your VA and some images for the article page we will create for you.

Promotional video example

Below is a promotional video from Transavia Virtual Airlines.  Transavia do not have a website of their own, however they are part of the Dutch Virtual Airline Group.

Hearing your comments

We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.  Let us know what Virtual Airline you fly for, how often you fly and whether you enjoy it or not!  Feel free to also post reviews of any of the VA's out there.

Ian Stephens

About Ian Stephens

Ian Stephens is a Flight Simulation enthusiast with a keen interest in aviation and technology. He has been writing for Fly Away Simulation for over 9 years.

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12 comments

Leave a Response
GeorgeTue, 24 Jan 2012 15:03:48 GMT

14 years flying V airlines

Pro MemberIan StephensMon, 25 Jun 2012 18:35:32 GMT

Wow George, that's a long time. What version of FS did you start with? What airline do you fly for?

Kevin StuparykFri, 18 Jan 2013 05:29:28 GMT

Hey cool, my name is in the delta screen cap :) BTW great airline to fly for, their ACARS system is top notch, the folks are friendly and you will become a better fs pilot if you choose to fly for them. or their Air France sister airline, they both use the same ACARS system etc.

Jonathan AgyemangSat, 09 Mar 2013 19:35:11 GMT

Hi Ian, I am more than interested, any guide lines to select the best out?

Pro MemberNetSlutSun, 29 Sep 2013 13:21:35 GMT

New here, can I point out that the Channel Express and Air Wales websites have been hacked?

Pro MemberIan StephensSun, 06 Oct 2013 14:02:44 GMT

@NetSlut - Thanks for letting me know. The Channel Express seems fine, but the Air Wales website has been removed from the listing.

Pro MemberBrian MasonSat, 26 Oct 2013 18:43:51 GMT

Yes unfortunately quite a few VA websites were hacked that day But our's was operational again within 12 hours of the site being hacked..

Pro MemberSirxamocSat, 04 Jan 2014 00:03:25 GMT

I fly with a great bunch of guys who like flying and want to talk with other pilots. If you don't want to get pidgeon holed, try us out at : http://www.fedexvac.org/

Kirtan pandyaFri, 18 Apr 2014 10:27:52 GMT

I'm too the greatest liker of aircrafts and want yo be a pilot currently but i'm a student so i cant. i love aircrafts!

LouisSat, 27 Jun 2015 04:23:50 GMT

I fly for Aer Lingus as a virtual airline on their transatlantic routes, with the A330. Now I fly the 757-200 across the pond.

HarrySun, 02 Aug 2015 17:03:57 GMT

Can anyone help me start up a AC? I need help with creating the skins and i need help with web sites plus recruiting. My airline is called Air Metro or Aéro Métro Its my own AC and i made a Virtual County call Isla de Metro AKA Metro Islands. I am pretending to be a President in a virtual would and i am making a VA VTC and also a VT ( VA = Virtual Airline VTC = Virtual Trucking Co and VT = Virtual Trianlines. Please email me if you're intresting in helping or joining. Thanks

Pro MemberMohammed Iqbal KarimjeeThu, 11 Aug 2016 12:35:43 GMT

I can not Speak as I had a Stroke a while back.

I Flight Simulator and I'm am trying to play X-Plane. Please help as I can not sign in to Flight Simulator each time I try it is telling me I'm wrong. I can not get into Steam Support as they need my password which it won't except.

JANE

(MOHAMMED IQBAL KARIMJEE)

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