Getting Started with the VATSIM ATC Application

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Getting Started with the VATSIM ATC Application
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Getting Started with the VATSIM ATC Application

The previous article in this series, An Introduction to the VATSIM Air Traffic Control Simulator, provided an overview of the VATSIM application and suggested benefits realized through its use.

This article will take you through the process of creating a new VATSIM account. Once you login to your new account, you'll be guided to the New Member Orientation Course.

After reviewing the information provided in this four-part course, you'll need to take the associated mandatory exam and pass with an 80% or greater score to gain access to the VATSIM ATC network.

What is VATSIM?

VATSIM (short for the Virtual Air Traffic Simulation Network) is a free online Air Traffic Control (ATC) simulation Cloud platform that enables virtual pilots in MSFS to communicate with VATSIM ATC enthusiasts in selected airports and airspaces worldwide.

What Roles do VATSIM Controllers Fulfill?

VATSIM Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) prevent collisions between virtual simulated aircraft and expedite air traffic while maintaining an orderly flow of traffic. ATC duties, areas of control, and various responsibilities are divided between various controller positions.

Clearance Delivery. Provide aircraft with IFR and VFR clearances.

Ground. Controls the movement of aircraft on taxiways.

Tower. Controls the movement of aircraft on runways and near the airport.

Approach/Director/Radar. Controls the movement of departing, arriving, and transitioning aircraft in a large radius around an airport or area.

En-Route/Center/Control. Controls aircraft at cruise altitudes and provides ATC services over a large defined area.

VATSIM Account Creation

Create VATSIM Account

To begin the MSFS-VATSIM installation and configuration process, you'll need to create a new VATSIM account by following the directions on the Join VATSIM web page.

Prior to creating a new account, all new VATSIM users are required to review and agree to the terms documented in the VATSIM Code of Regulations, Code of Conduct, and User Agreement.

Review and ensure you understand and agree with the VATSIM terms of use, prior to submitting your VATSIM new account registration form request.

Step 1. Review Code of Regulations

Member Ratings. Of note in the VATSIM Code of Regulations is the Ratings classification that VATSIM uses to rank knowledge, experience, and skill levels of VATSIM users.

On acceptance of a VATSIM membership application, a member is assigned a rating of Pilot/Observer.

  1. Administrator (ADM)
  2. Supervisor (SUP)
  3. Senior Instructor (I3)
  4. Instructor (I1)
  5. Senior Controller (C3)
  6. Enroute Controller (C1) Center
  7. TMA Controller (S3) Approach/Departure
  8. Tower Controller (S2) Tower
  9. Ground Controller Student (S1) Ground/Delivery
  10. Pilot/Observer (OBS)

Members who wish to provide air traffic control services must contact their assigned region for details on training, testing and promotion to the appropriate rating.

Maintaining Membership. To maintain membership, members must log on and use network as a pilot and/or a controller at least once during the previous calendar quarter. 

Step 2. Review Code of Conduct

Of note in the VATSIM Code of Conduct:

  • General rules of conduct for Observers, Pilots and ATCs.
  • Important information governing the behavior of Pilots and ATCs when logged-into VATSIM

Step 3. Review End User Agreement

Note in the VATSIM End User Agreement:

Required Mailing List.  The VATSIM NOTAM list is a required list for all members. Continuous subscription to the VATSIM NOTAM LIST by members of the VATSIM network is required. This list is for announcement purposes only and the posting of messages.

Step 4. Create a New VATSIM Account

Review VATSIM Registration Information:

Based on the VATSIM Registration Information provided, note that:

  • As a new VATSIM user, you will be required to complete the New Member Orientation and Exam.
  • You will be issued a VATSIM ID, which you'll need to note and document for safekeeping, as this ID is required for VATSIM support services.
  • You will be required to select a Home VATSIM Region and Division.  This region and location will be used for ATC training.

Step 5. Submit Completed VATSIM Registration Form

After reviewing and agreeing to all VATSIM terms of membership, complete and submit the registration form.

 For my Region and Division, I chose "Americas" and "United States".

Login Validation of VATSIM Account

Once you've received your VATSIM Certificate Identification (CID) via email, log into VATSIM to confirm that your login credentials have been received.

According to the VATSIM website, it may take a few days for your login credentials to propagate to the VATSIM server in your selected region.

Getting Started with New Member Orientation

When you can login to VATSIM, complete the New Member Orientation Course to learn VATSIM basics. This will orient you with the VATSIM application and provide you with enough information to begin your VATSIM educational journey.

Next Up: The VATSIM New Member Orientation Program

In the next article, we explore completing the VATSIM new member orientation program, a mandatory part of becoming a member of the VATSIM community.