Code of Conduct

VATSIM is an online community created for enthusiasts of flight simulation and air traffic control. One of the main goals of VATSIM is to create an environment which is fun and, at the same time, educational and a realistic simulation of procedures followed by pilots and air traffic controllers everyday around the world. To further these goals, account holders of VATSIM must comply with the following Code of Conduct. This Code sets forth how account holders are expected to conduct themselves.

VATSIM does not care to engage in the constant policing of its account holders. If a problem should arise online between two or more account holders which cannot be resolved by the parties in a quick manner or if it affects the enjoyment of VATSIM by other account holders or could hinder the operation of the network, the parties involved should check to see if a Supervisor or an Administrator is online to help resolve the matter.

Note: VATSIM Administrators and Supervisors acting in furtherance of their duties are exempt from certain sections of this Code of Conduct as defined by Supervisor Department Policies.

Read the VATSIM Code of Conduct Companion Document

A. General Rules of Conduct

  • A1 Account holders shall, at all times, be courteous and respectful to one another.
  • A2(a) To use VATSIM, you must first register as an account holder of VATSIM. Only registered account holders in good standing may observe, fly as a pilot, and/or provide ATC as a controller.
  • A2(b) Only registered account holders in good standing may connect to VATSIM or a VATSIM service, except as a guest where applicable.
  • A3 Without exception, an account holder may not permit or knowingly allow their VATSIM account to be used by anyone else.
  • A4(a) During the registration process with VATSIM, you must provide your real full name. Nicknames, callsigns or abbreviations are not permitted to be associated with an account holder's registered account. VATSIM reserves the right, in its discretion, to require proof of real name and proof of age from an account holder.
  • A4(b) Account holders shall connect to VATSIM using only one of the following name conventions:
    • (1) Their real, registered name (e.g., Joseph Smith, Joseph S.).
    • (2) An appropriate shortening of their given name, followed by their surname (e.g., Joe Smith, Joe S.).
    • (3) Their real given name. (e.g., Joseph).
    • (4) An appropriate shortening of their given name (e.g., Joe).
    • (5) Their certificate ID number.
  • A4(c) An account holder may append (new) to the end of their name until they are comfortable on the network to signify that they are a newer user (e.g. "Joe (new)").
  • A5 During your time as a VATSIM account holder, you must provide and maintain a valid e-mail address. This means that you must notify VATSIM of any changes to your e-mail address. Your e-mail address will not be shared outside the VATSIM organization without your express prior permission. Failure to maintain your e-mail address is grounds for immediate suspension of your VATSIM account, without notice.
  • A6 An account holder may register for and hold only one VATSIM account.
  • A7 An account holder shall only use software approved by VATSIM to connect to, or interface with the network. Approved Software. An account holder shall become familiar with the basic use of these programs prior to logging on to the VATSIM network.
  • A8 An account holder shall only make one connection to the VATSIM network during any given session, except as may be otherwise provided for in this Code of Conduct.
  • A9 Except as provided for in Section B3(b) of this Code of Conduct, account holders shall not leave their connections unattended. Account holders not actively participating in the network (ie connected as an observer) shall not log on for excessive periods of time.
  • A10 Account holders shall exercise patience and tolerance towards other account holders, especially where an account holder is less familiar with an area, or learning new skills.
  • A11 Account holders are prohibited from using any software, forums, newsgroups, social media streams, or mailing lists utilized by VATSIM and its officially recognized Regions, Divisions and their subdivisions to threaten, harass, stalk, or to otherwise violate the legal rights of others including expectations of privacy and publicity. This includes using the above resources to find, locate, or otherwise discover methods of contacting account holders for the purpose of threatening, harassing, stalking, or otherwise violating the legal rights of them. Further, account holders shall not publish, post, distribute, disseminate, or use any kind of defamatory, infringing, obscene, vulgar, profane, unlawful, or other types of communications, materials, or information. Individuals violating this rule are subject to the procedures set forth in Article I of the VATSIM.net Code of Regulations, which may result in removal from VATSIM and revocation of their account privileges.
  • A12 Account holders shall not connect to VATSIM with a callsign, or other identifier, that implies or designates a status they do not hold including, but not limited to, those reserved for, or generally used by, Founders, members of the Board of Governors, Supervisors, and/or any other network staff. Furthermore, account holders shall not state, imply, or otherwise communicate that they hold a status they do not.
  • A13 Account holders shall only connect to VATSIM as an observer, a pilot, or an air traffic controller. No other connection is permitted. Military, paramilitary or civilian government agency operations and/or activities must be authorized by an approved Special Operations Organization. Special Operations restrictions and procedures are defined in the Special Operations Policy.
  • A14 Voice is the preferred method of communication on VATSIM. Account holders should use voice if able to do so but must accommodate the use of text. Only unaltered speech is permitted to be transmitted.
  • A15 While connected to VATSIM, and when requested to do so, account holders shall respond to messages from, and comply with all instructions issued by VATSIM Administrators and/or VATSIM Supervisors.
  • 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.
  • A17 The re-creation of, or organization of events recognizing real world disasters, tragedies, or other such events, particularly those which resulted in loss of life, are not permitted. In addition callsigns that VATSIM has deemed prohibited shall not be used at any time. (View Restricted Callsigns)
  • A18 VATSIM welcomes account holders who wish to stream, record, or otherwise distribute their session for public viewing.
    • (a) The online network conduct of the account holder during the stream/recording remains subject to this Code of Conduct.
    • (b) If the account holder provides a link to their stream/recording either in their flight plan, or via other VATSIM operated medium, the entire stream/recorded session including informal mediums such as a stream chat are subject to this Code of Conduct.
    • (c) Account holders connected to the network who deliberately disrupt the stream/recording of another account holder are subject to immediate suspension from the network.
    • (d) VATSIM does not have the ability for its account holders to opt-out of being part of another account holder's stream/recording.

B. Pilot's Conduct

  • B1 A pilot shall not connect to the VATSIM Network on a runway or taxiway. If a pilot chooses to connect while airborne, said pilot shall ensure doing so does not cause disruption to other account holders.
  • B2 A pilot shall not pause while connected to the VATSIM Network except when operating under air traffic control, with the express permission of the controller. If the controller revokes the permission for any reason, the pilot shall unpause immediately
  • B3(a) Pilots shall monitor their flights at all times. It is the responsibility of the pilot to check for, and make timely contact with appropriate air traffic controllers. This includes making prompt contact when requested to do so.
  • B3(b) If it becomes necessary to leave a pilot connection unattended, the account holder is encouraged to disconnect from the network. Notwithstanding anything in this Code to the contrary, no pilot connection is permitted to be unattended for a period of longer than 30 minutes.
  • B4 Pilots shall utilize a transponder when required by regulation and/or procedure. Air traffic control may approve operations without a transponder.
  • B5 Pilots flying through uncontrolled airspace shall monitor VHF radio frequency 122.800 or other designated "UNICOM" frequency until they come under air traffic control coverage. Where another pilot may benefit, a pilot shall transmit their intentions on the designated unicom frequency.
  • B6 No flight may declare itself to have priority over another. Pilots are permitted to declare in-flight emergencies only when under air traffic control. If, for any reason, air traffic control requests the pilot to terminate the emergency, then the pilot must do so IMMEDIATELY or disconnect from the network. Pilots are not permitted to simulate any unlawful act including, but not limited to, declaring a hijack by any method, including entering a transponder code of 7500.
  • B7 Two or more pilots are permitted to fly in formation. If, for any reason, air traffic control instructs pilots to separate, the pilots must immediately comply with the request or disconnect from the network.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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:
    • (1) Holding position on the ground at an airport
    • (2) Flying a speed, heading, altitude or flight level
    • (3) Approach to land, either visually or flying an accepted instrument approach procedure
    • (4) When IFR, fly a cleared route by use of navigation aids / waypoints and fly to unplanned navigational aids / waypoints when instructed
    • (5) When IFR, fly a holding pattern
  • B9 A pilot operating their simulator using acceleration/deceleration functions must continuously monitor their connection, and ensure that they do not cause disruptions to other account holders. If operating in actively controlled airspace, the pilot must have the express permission of the controller to operate using time acceleration/deceleration, and if a controller requests a pilot to return to 'normal simulation rate', the pilot shall immediately comply.
  • B10 All pilots flying IFR shall submit a flight plan before flight. The IFR flight plan must contain, at a minimum, the aircraft callsign, departure airport, arrival airport, aircraft type, and requested route. All VFR pilots are encouraged, when appropriate, to submit a flight plan.
  • B11 Pilots may fly together through the use of a shared cockpit function. When pilots fly together through the use of a shared cockpit function, account holders are jointly liable for any infringement of VATSIM Policies.
  • 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.
  • 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

C. Controller Conduct

  • C1 Controllers who are new to VATSIM, or are otherwise unfamiliar with an airspace shall educate themselves by first observing operations and/or studying procedures used in that location.
  • C2 Controllers shall follow local rules and procedures. Controllers who choose to work in locations other than their requested and assigned location must follow the local rules and procedures at that location, and must be approved to control as a 'visiting controller' where required by local policy. Visiting controller status is governed by the Transfer and Visiting Controllers Policy
  • C3 When logging onto the VATSIM Network as an observer, an account holder shall use a callsign which ends as follows: "_OBS". Prior to the underscore an individual shall use their initials or a locally accepted observer format. Other observer callsign formats designating an official network staff role are approved. An observer shall observe only and not communicate on any open text or voice frequency, or provide air traffic control services.
  • C4 VATSIM recognizes the following suffixes for air traffic control positions. An account holder shall only use the corresponding facility type when connecting.
    • (a) DEL - (Clearance) Delivery
    • (b) GND - Ground Control
    • (c) TWR - Tower Control
    • (d) DEP - Departure Control
    • (e) APP - Approach Control
    • (f) CTR - Enroute (Centre) Control
    • (g) FSS - Flight Service Station. NOTE: Approved Flight Service Stations are specified in Appendix B of the VATSIM Global Ratings Policy
  • C5 Positions are occupied on a "first come" basis. Local facilities, with Division approval, may implement a procedure to book or schedule a controlling time within reasonable limits. Additionally, should a controller lose their connection to the VATSIM Network and return within a reasonable time period to find their position taken by another controller, the second controller shall relinquish the position to the original controller.
  • C6 Only approved positions and their corresponding frequencies may be opened by controllers. Controllers may only open a position they are authorized to, in accordance with global and local policy. See the Global Ratings Policy and the Transfer and Visiting Controllers Policy for more information.
  • C7(a) A controller may make no more than four additional connections to the VATSIM Network to provide an airport voice ATIS at facilities which have an ATIS in real life. There must be an accompanying text version, which shall always be in English. The ATIS shall be formatted in accordance with the ATC Frequency and Information Management Policy.
  • C7(b) A controller may make one additional connection to the VATSIM Network as an observer through towerview functionality of an approved pilot client. This additional connection shall be for the sole purpose of connecting a flight simulator to the network for an air traffic control tower view. The connection shall be made as an observer in the format of โ€œ(CID)_TVโ€ and shall not perform any action beyond connecting a flight simulator to the network. The airport chosen shall be a controlled airport under the controllerโ€™s purview with an operating control position.
  • C8 Controllers shall set an appropriate visibility range for their position. The maximum ranges for a given position are as follows:
    • Observers: 300 Nautical Miles
    • Clearance Delivery:20 Nautical Miles
    • Ground Control:20 Nautical Miles
    • Tower Control:50 Nautical Miles
    • Approach Control:150 Nautical Miles
    • Departure Control:150 Nautical Miles
    • Enroute (Center) Control:600 Nautical Miles
    • FSS Control: 1500 Nautical Miles

Controllers shall not set visibility ranges higher than the maximum ranges set forth above unless they have prior written approval from the VATSIM.net Board of Governors.


Epilogue - Remember, the primary goals of VATSIM are to educate, to provide a realistic simulation of flying and air traffic control and, most importantly, to provide a fun environment for everyone to enjoy our hobby. By following the simple rules set forth in this Code of Conduct, everyone is ensured of learning and making new friends from around the world. To all our new account holders, welcome! Enjoy!