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One of the constants in commercial aviation is refreshment and renewal. You might arrive at the gate in an airplane full of delayed passengers. But the airplane is turning for an on-time departure to a holiday destination. Suddenly, the seats are refilled with smiling families and excited holiday-goers. One shift ends. Another begins.

Refreshment is a constant theme in business, organizations, and communities like ours too. Personalities, goals, technology, and other aspects of an organization must continually regenerate. But there also must be continuance: a central theme that makes the organization what it is. For us, that theme has always been the spirit of community that BVA brings. It’s how we can meet for the first time at an event like FlightSimExpo and feel like we’ve known each other for years. It’s how we can spend our evenings, weekends, and holidays plugged into a computer without feeling alone.

Such is the Administration Team’s perspective on a year that involved twists, turns, but ultimately continuance of a strong tradition of excellence. Join along for our annual tradition: exploring the year that was, and looking at how new leaders and new ideas will build on time-tested themes in 2019.

This year, we held our bi-annual Member Satisfaction Survey. The survey, which received replies from almost 200 BVA members, helped shape the goals you’ll read about later in this article. In the survey, members told us that the BVA experience meets their expectations, and that the controllers, events, and services that are offered are appreciated. Most of our members connect from the U.S. East Coast and range in age and aviation experience. While 38% of members still use FSX (or FSX:SE) as their primary simulation platform, more members are switching to P3D (34%) and X-Plane (27%). And almost 85% of members rated their experience with the community as “Excellent” or “Very Good”:

Staying connected is important. That’s why, in response to member feedback, we launched a community-wide Discord server in April. A compliment to our Member TeamSpeak, Discord has become a living forum board for our members to share photos, plan shared flights, organize ATC staff-ups, and interact with our staff and administration. Today, you can reach all our staff through Discord, by email, in TeamSpeak, and through the forums, making the community more accessible than ever. While the community survey is run once every two years, we welcome members to share their ideas and suggestions with us regularly. Our Contact Us page provides various options to get in touch with us, including anonymously, and members are always welcome to post on our forums, speak with any of us in TeamSpeak, or message us on Discord.

We all remember what it was like to be new to online flying—there’s a lot to learn. That’s why we’ve worked hard to make the new pilot experience as easy as possible. Through the Getting Started Guide, new and returning members are walked through the steps needed to configure their simulator and connect to the network. In 2018, we enhanced the process with the launch of Fly AI (FLAi), an FSX and P3D model matching solution for VATSIM. Created by BVA members Matthew Miller and Szymon Puzdrowski, in conjunction with Ryan Parry and vPilot developer Ross Carlson, FLAi offers members who connect through vPilot a realistic, immersive depiction of other traffic on VATSIM. Pilots using FLAi will see other aircraft as they were intended to be seen, with correct liveries and accurate aircraft types.

Innovations like FLAi make events much more immersive—and we hosted more than our fair share of them! In fact, BVA held an average of about one event per week in 2018. Participating in both directions of Cross the Pond and the Holland-America Line, working with our neighbors in the Northeastern Corridor, Not So Bermuda Triangle, and Northeastern Holidays FNOs, and bidding goodbye to the Cape (K90) TRACON were the type of realistic, busy, and experiential events our community is designed to create.

We were also honored to welcome home ZBW I1 controller Don Desfosse, who retired as VATUSA1. On February 25, flights departed VATUSA’s virtual headquarters in Oklahoma City for Boston, and controllers from ZFW, ZME, ZID, ZDC, ZNY, and ZBW all staffed up to provide full, gate-to-gate coverage during this event. Wondering what a BVA event looks like? Check out this timelapse of arrivals breaking out of the clouds and landing on Runway 4R during the event.

As you’ll read in this edition of the Informer, our 60 Hours of ATC event in December saw more than 1,000 operations at Boston. Boston Tower, Boston Approach, and Boston Center were also the three most-staffed facilities across the entire VATSIM network for that week, sweeping the Iron Mic awards.

But our biggest two events of the year are where the community really shines. In June, more than 40 of our members came together—live and in-person—in Las Vegas for FlightSimExpo 2018. Members enjoyed a dinner at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville restaurant and spent hours together on drives through the desert, visits to the Hoover Dam, plane spotting at the airport, late nights in the casino, concerts and shows, and countless other activities.

Boston Virtual ARTCC has been proud to work with FlightSimExpo from its outset. The community provided the volunteers that stuffed bags, managed registration, and ran the logistics at the Las Vegas event this summer. BVA was also part of the major online ATC presence from VATSIM and VATUSA on display at FlightSimExpo. Our controllers participated in a weekend-long staff-up of the Las Vegas area, and VATUSA lit up America by staffing every single Center on Friday night. BVA and FlightSimExpo are proud to work alongside VATUSA in a partnership that promotes our hobby, and online aviation, to simmers around the world.

Just a few weeks later, our controllers got together again, this time near the site of the real-world Boston Approach facility. From 12-7pm ET on August 11, controllers staffed up Boston and many of our satellite airports live from New Hampshire for Boston Tea Party. In addition to the extensive ATC coverage, during Tea Party Poker, members and VATSIM pilots had the chance to win one of 13 prizes from FlightBeam, FS2Crew, HiFi Simulations, Just Flight, QualityWings, TFDi Design, and X-Crafts.

It takes a skilled set of pilots and controllers to do what we do. Large events like Tea Party, FlightSimExpo, Friday Night Operations, and the many others we host each year push our airports and airspace to the limits. That’s why training is a big part of what we do.

For pilots, BVA offers the Pilot Ratings Program, a VATSIM-authorized ATO. In 2018, 10 more BVA members completed all 26 PRP flights, bringing the number of members who have completed the entire program up to 23. Completion of the full program is an impressive accomplishment: 436 BVA members have flown at least one flight in the program, and there have been more than 3,700 pilot ratings issued since the program’s inception.

In addition to the self-study PRP, we’re also proud to offer Ground School to our members. This interactive series of one-hour seminars covers a variety of engaging aviation topics, from holds to IFR approaches to VFR closed traffic. You can join us in the Member TeamSpeak as the program will continue later this month.

For controllers, BVA’s ATC training program is designed to take enthusiasts with no real-world aviation knowledge or experience and give them the tools, training, and experience they need to control effectively on the network. In 2018, we added 3 Mentors and 1 Instructor to our training staff, helping to provide even more training availability for students. The increase, along with the dedication of our ATC Training Staff, has enabled the community to issue 88 ATC certifications this year. On average, a new certification takes a controller approximately 24 days, and between 3-6 sessions with a trainer.

Keeping procedures up-to-date is an important responsibility. The FAA clarifies and changes procedures on a routine basis, which then need to be reflected in our world. In addition, this year saw airspace changes around Boston when the Cape TRACON, which provided radar/approach services in the Cape Cod area, was amalgamated into the Boston facility. BVA mirrored the change, which took effect in our virtual sky the same day as it did in real life.

This is all made possible by the incredible staff of volunteers that support the Administration Team on a day-to-day basis. Whether it’s replies to support requests, Logan Informer development, assigning pilot ratings, training controllers, or any of the other “behind-the-scenes” tasks that take place, the Administration Team relies on a dedicated team of volunteers to keep the community running as well as it does.

In 2018, we also saw refreshment and renewal in our administration. In fact, this year was the most active year for administration changes in recent history. Szymon Puzdrowski joined the Administration Team as Webmaster, a role in which he is working toward the development of several exciting new projects (keep reading, if you haven’t fallen asleep yet.)

Following the resignation of Air Traffic Manager Camden Bruno in July, Ian Fisher had a brief but positive and impactful tenure, offering some much-needed outreach to other VATUSA facilities during the second half of 2018. Now, Clif Whitten, one of BVA’s longest-serving controllers, leads the community into the new year as ZBW Air Traffic Manager.

Clif now works with an Administration Team that, in the past few weeks, has interviewed candidates for Training Administrator, Events Coordinator, Social Media Manager, and Treasurer. Former Events Coordinator Krikor Hajian was promoted to Deputy Air Traffic Manager in late 2018, and outgoing Training Administrator Evan Reiter is BVA’s new Community Manager following the departure of Phil Coyle, who leaves the community with more than 10 years of service in various administrative roles.

The Administration Team is excited to be able to offer so much opportunity for our membership to get involved and is humbled by the number and quality of applicants that have submitted thoughtful applications and interviewed with us. We look forward to announcing the new leadership positions early in the new year.

With the support of a larger Administration Team, we have established the following goals for the community in 2019. These goals were developed through input from members, the 2018 Member Satisfaction Survey, and in discussions with VATUSA and VATSIM:

Website & Technology

-The replacement of our current website and forums with a more modern, flexible system (more information about that is available later in this Informer)
-Refresh the Logan Informer with new visuals, and review the benefits of a new format or delivery mechanism for this newsletter

Community Activities & Events

-Continue to support FlightSimExpo, BVA’s largest member meet-up of the year
-Run Tea Party, participate in Cross The Pond, and continue to provide regular and special events that are engaging, realistic, and offer busy airspaces for pilot and controller interaction
-Review the effectiveness/relevance of the Virtual FBO and Scenery Design Team

Member Training

-Continue to provide the Pilot Ratings Program and maintain its status as a VATSIM ATO
-Review the possibility of expanding the Pilot Ratings Program ATO to incorporate P1/P2
-Offer Ground School to BVA members once every two weeks

Donations & Financials

-Provide more consistent tracking of donations and financials

Air Traffic Control

-Add a “familiarization” session following the Class C Ground certification to help with orientation and retention of new controllers
-Provide a series of training videos designed to help new controllers preview and experience the training process for new certifications
-Maintain a roster of 65-75 active controllers, with improved tracking of currency and activity to ensure the roster remains active
-By maintaining the current ATC Training Staff (12 Mentors and Instructors), maintain a 30-day or less average for the issuance of new certifications
-Maintain the quality of our ATC documentation, exams, facilities files, and procedures to ensure consistency with real-world procedures

Through these goals, our recent member survey, and our regular interaction with the community, the Administration Team looks forward to continual refinement, improvement, and refreshment while maintaining the continuity that makes BVA a great place to spend some free time.

One shift ends. Another begins. We thank Camden, Ian, and Phil for their contributions, and look forward to welcoming three new A-Team Members in early 2019. We close the books on an event-filled, training-oriented year, and open a new chapter that will feature better technology, enhanced training experiences, and a new leadership. But through all that, the continuing spirit of the community remains: the drive for excellence, the passion for aviation, and fun of coming together.

Whether you spend weekend afternoons cranking out Pilot Ratings Program flights, are up late vectoring in that last arrival, spend your breaks between flights updating SOPs, or travel across the country to hang out and play flight sim—thank you for everything you do for the community, and for aviation.

Happy New Year from Boston Virtual ARTCC’s Administration Team! See you on the network.

Read full article >

Challenge: VFR Cross Country
Wednesday, January 9, 8-11pm ET
Regional Circuit: KPSM-KOWD
Thursday, January 17, 8-11pm ET
GA Fly-In: New York State
Tuesday, January 29, 8-11pm ET
To see all of our upcoming events, please visit the Events Calendar
Christmas at ZBW: Round 5
By: Alec Liberman

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the land
Less than ten planes a’flyin, but the towers were manned
The radars were turning, the coffee was flowing
Outside, the wind was ferociously blowing.

Full ground stop at Boston; a Nor’easter prevailed
And all of the Menzies de-icers had failed!
Up in the tower, Krikor inhaled cake
In the dark room at Nashua, “no, turn left, for Pete’s sake!”

The aura was stressful - ‘twas a tumultuous year
Leaders coming and going, the mood was quite drear
At last, our very own Clifton stepped up
ATMing from home with Sniffer the pup.

We turn back to Nashua, where the mood was still grim
Stockings hanging with coal - chock full, to the brim!
“Who’s naughty? Who’s nice?” taunted the jingling bells
Meanwhile, at Boston, Krikor still smells.

A STARS screen lit up, a target appeared
To himself, Nunn on Center quietly cheered
He paused, he sighed, so ended his glee
For Moncton, again, gave him a stack of three.

“Separation by sound… ‘do you see him, there, eh?’”
Rolling eyes at his neighbors, his hair turning gray
Though, one of the targets diverged from the rest
It was Saint Nick halfway through his journey west!

“Ho ho ho”, he called in, “and good evening to all!”
“We’re in moderate rime, I think Rudolph just stalled!”
Josh, forgetting about separation by speeds,
Said “Cleared direct OOSHN, turn on your bleeds.”

Santa armed the approach, shortcut in hand
“Gear down, flaps fifteen!”, getting ready to land
He picked up the glideslope, and rode it right down
A descent rate so fast, Camden’s pants became Brown!

He touched down like butter, RQ rolled his eyes
“Why does his gear come down whenever he flies?”
HI from the tower: “contact ground now, point-niner”
Between bites of his morning burger from the diner.

Santa shut down at Siggy, and out Krikor ran
His ramper’s urge telling him to empty the can
Jay gave Santa a wave as he taxied for battle
Preparing to take his Airbus to Seattle.

The ground crews rolled up and unloaded the gifts
While DDOGE and AM took two swigs from their fifths
The clouds started clearing, the vis’ goin up
CO logged on and yelled loudly “whasssuuuup!”

The fuel trucks arrived and began the onloading
Cam, meanwhile, was knocked out and snoring
Soon Santa picked up his clearance to Phoenix
Some plane spotter heard him and needed a Kleenex.

Nick started his engines and got a face full of smoke
He must’ve forgotten to set the engines to “choke”
Ground control had connected: a friendly new member!
“Runway Two-Two-Right, taxi via Bravo, November.”

The other pilots gave way - the Mace squadron, too
I took over A90, sipping Dunkin cold brew
Santa completed the Before Takeoff flow
He turned on his wipers, preparing for snow.

Down the runway he sped; “V1, now rotate!”
His sleigh lifted off, full of his special freight
He climbed and he climbed into the dark, now-clear night
Showering gifts to every child in sight.

I gave Nick to Center, whose speech might’ve been slurred
“Josh, are you drinking?” “What? Nooo, that’s absurd!”
Nunn took the handoff and cleared Nick up to cruise
Secretly pounding down more of his booze.

Nick leveled off at three-zero-zero
It’d be a full year ‘til the return of our hero
He flew away and away, spreading more of his cheer
And with every gift given, Raabe cracked open a beer.

Nick crossed into New York, the handoff accepted
He showered more gifts than we had expected
His contrails - pure snow; ‘twas a magical sight.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night.

Read full article > 

Member Input Requested: Proposal for a New Website and Forums
By: Szymon Puzdrowski

As 2018 comes to a close and we begin setting goals for ourselves for 2019, one of the prevailing issues that comes up is the reliability of our website.

While it has faithfully served its purpose for the last 4 years, our current website ( is complicated to maintain and uses outdated technology that is contributing to reliability issues. It also limits us to a narrow selection of hosting providers and stifles the development of cool new features.

We recently made a post on our forums seeking input from the membership on upgrading to a more modern forum engine, and integrating portal/website resources into that same system. This will enable us to quickly, but effectively, replace our website with a modern and more reliable system.

We encourage you to read the forum post, check out the demo site, and share your feedback!

 Read full article >

Naivraph's FlightSim Community Survey Results Released!
By: Evan Reiter

In November, Navigraph launched an ambitious effort: to create the largest-ever survey of flight simmers. Boston Virtual ARTCC and FlightSimExpo both partnered with Navigraph in this effort, alongside a range of the largest and most impactful developers in the simulation community.

The results are in, and more than 15,000 simmers from around the world have spoken!

“The typical flight simulator enthusiast is a 43 year old male from the United States. He flies simulators 2-3 times per week for about 5-10 hours in total and was introduced to flight simulation 20 year ago. There is a 27% likelihood he already has some sort of pilot license. If so, he was introduced to flight simulation before he pursued his pilot license. Moreover he has a bachelor’s degree, is full time employed, makes 50,000 USD per year before tax, and spends about 250 USD on software and 200 USD on hardware annually. He prefers X-Plane 11, but Prepar3D v. 4 is also popular.”

We thank the many BVA members who took the time to respond to the survey. For those who are interested in learning more about what the simulation community is thinking: check out the summary, or download the full report.

Read full article >
Boston Virtual ARTCC's 60 Hours of ATC Event
By Krikor Hajian

From November 30 at 11:00am until December 2 at 11:00pm, Boston Center was staffed continuously for our annual 60 Hours of ATC event. During this time, Boston saw 512 departures and 570 arrivals, while other airports in ZBW were lit up throughout the event too.

In addition to what ended up being more than 60 hours of continuous coverage, we also hosted VATUSA’s Friday Night Operations event. As you can see from the graphical depictions of the event below, Friday was one of the busiest periods during the event, and in fact rivalled the real-world airport arrival rate at times during the event.


Although we had only planned to staff Boston Center for the event, it was incredible to see how many controllers dedicated time to staff other positions at Boston and around the ARTCC. This dedication resulted in Boston winning not just one, but all three Iron Mic awards for the week of November 26 – December 2. (Iron Mic is VATSIM’s award for the facility with the most hours of staffing in a week. It’s extremely rare for a facility to sweep all three categories (TWR, APP, and CTR). The last time ZBW did this was in 2011.)

During the week that included 60 Hours of ATC, Boston Tower was staffed for 48 hours and 58 minutes, Approach for 78 hours and 25 minutes, and Center for 84 hours and 55 minutes. That’s more than 50% uptime!


But more important than the staffing, the hours, and the traffic was the fun we enjoyed during this weekend. Whether it was getting together in person to control the overnights, watching members complete Pilot Ratings Program flights, or seeing some of our Class C and D airports lit up, the real fun of the event is the chance for so many of us to come together and do what we love!

Congratulations to our pilots and controllers for another successful 60 Hours of ATC! We’ll be ready to do it again in 2019.

Read full article >

Ground School Continues in January
By Evan Reiter

Ground School returned to the Member TeamSpeak on Monday, November 19, featuring a discussion on Radio Communications. The session, led by real-world pilot and ZBW controller Alec Liberman, drew a lively crowd and featured participation and discussion on phraseology, including examples. Since then, we held our second session (on Weather) on December 3.

Ground School continues this January, featuring VFR Procedures on January 7, and IFR Clearances later this month.

The sessions all take place in our Member TeamSpeak. Each 1-hour Ground School seminar is designed to bring members together and share discussions around common virtual aviation learning topics.

Please join us on Monday at 7pm ET in the Member TeamSpeak for the next session. You can find server connection information and a detailed connection guide on our website.

Read full article >

FlightSimExpo 2019 Registration is Open Now
By Evan Reiter

FlightSimExpo is BVA's biggest annual member meet-up of the year. In 2018, more than 50 of our members joined 1,100 simmers in Las Vegas for FlightSimExpo. In addition to 45 exhibitors, 21 speakers, and an action-packed weekend, members had the opportunity to meet face-to-face during this unique celebration of simulation. Many of our members also volunteered to run registration, create conference bags, and manage the logistics of the show.

The event runs June 7-9, 2019 at Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld.

Registration for FlightSimExpo 2019 is now open! Although the discounted advance registration tickets are now sold out, members can register for the same price as last year: $70.

Register at: Please list your Organization/Affiliation as "Boston Virtual ARTCC" so we can track BVA member registrations and stay in touch about community activities.

Registration includes two-day event access, entrance to seminars, morning refreshments on Saturday and Sunday, and free appetizers and drinks during the Saturday evening event social.

FlightSimExpo 2019 will introduce more exhibitors, larger networking space, a second speaker room, and Captains' Corner, a series of educational seminars on Friday, June 7. Captains' Corner is available is an optional add-on you can purchase with conference registration.

BVA members will be staying at the event's host hotel, Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld. Most of us will arrive in the morning on Thursday, June 6, and stay until Monday, June 10. The special FlightSimExpo group rate is $114/night (plus taxes and fees), which gets attendees 50% off parking, complimentary in-room bottled water, restaurant discounts, free transportation to nearby attractions, plus much more! Visit to book your room.

For members flying to the event, FlightSimExpo has negotiated discounts of up to 10% with Delta, 10-15% off fares with WestJet (use code C66NM80), and more! Visit the FlightSimExpo website to learn more about travel deals and event discounts.

As the event approaches, we'll provide more information about how BVA members can take part in the event. We expect the community's membership will be able to participate as pilots or air traffic controllers in our integrated demonstration booth, and as event volunteers.

If you have any questions, and for more information about BVA’s presence at FlightSimExpo, please visit our forums.

We look forward to seeing you in June!

Read full article >

Multi-Engine Aircraft

Last month's question was:
What is the minimum control speed's (VMC) significance with regards to a multi-engine aircraft? How is it calculated, and how does it change with altitude?

Answer: VMC, the minimum control speed, is incredibly important in multi-engine aircraft because it is the speed below which directional control cannot be maintained following one or more engine failures. It applies only if at least one engine remains operative. It is calculated through flight testing during aircraft certification. The primary reason for loss of control below VMC is due to the propwash generating lift on the wing with the opeartive engine(s). This lift may be enough to roll the aircraft over, even with full opposite aileron. VMC decreases with altitude gain, due to thinner air, decreased engine thrust, and less propwash.

Challenge question: you are given the clearance: "Skylane 2JB, runway 29, cleared for the option." What does this clearance mean, and what can you do?

The answer to the challenge question will be included in next month's Pilot Tip. 
December's contest winner will be featured alongside January's winner in the February edition of the Informer!
You can always find current and archived editions of the Logan Informer on our forums.

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