Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Flying for Virtual United Airlines "VirtualUA"

Virtual United Website at www.virtualua.org

I feel a personal association with United Airlines.  Living in Central New Jersey, the sight of a United A320 or 737 cruising overhead is an everyday occurrence.   The United Express Q400 with it's  distinctive sound buzzing by.  Like bees in and out of a hive, so to fly the United planes in and out of Newark Airport (KEWR).   The airport is United's third largest hub.
Two United A320's meetup at KEWR's 22R

After obtaining a new computer for flight simming, I applied to Virtual United Airlines best known as VirtualUA.   What better way to flight sim than to simulate real world airline flying.  Virtual United (VirtualUA) contains a plethora of opportunities to fly different aircraft, on different routes.     Typical United aircraft are the Boeing 737-800, the Boeing 777, the Airbus A320 and A319.  Each of these aircraft have excellent representation in FSX.   The United routes take you all over the US from East to West coast with hubs at airports like KEWR, KIAD, KSFO, KDEN, and KIAH.   The US has some amazing and varied geography.   
A United Express Q400 departs from KEWR on its way to KIAD.

With VirtualUA pilots can fly for many of the different regional carriers associated with the United Airlines under United Express.  This is the brand name used by United’s regional carriers.  For example, the Q400 is currently operated by Republic Airlines out of KEWR, and flown under the United Express moniker.  Regional equipment varies from the typical small regional jets to turbo props such as the Dash 8 and B1900.  Obviously my favorite is the Dash 8 represented by Majestic Software.   
A United 737-800.

VirtualUA also allows pilots fly for Star Alliance partners along with codeshare.   As you can guess, this adds a lot of variety.

Flight deck of the 737 NGX.

VirtualUA does an excellent job of balancing realism and fun!   Pilots pick a hub, but are allowed to fly from other hubs.  Pilots are not required to fly on Vatsim like some other virtual airlines.  Pilots are also allowed to substitute similar aircraft per route.   There are also opportunities to fly airlines of days gone past!   To me this is a big bonus as I would love to fly the B377 Stratocruiser for a virtual airline.  
A United 737-800 lands at TNCM.

There are three basic requirements.  For starters, pilots must fly once every month (submit a pirep).  Second, once a pilot lands at a destination, he or she must take off from that destination.  So if I fly from KEWR to KIAD, them my next flight will be from KIAD.   The third requirement is that pilots can only fly aircraft they are qualified to fly. 
Flaps extended and ready for landing!

Like many virtual airlines, VirtualUA has setup a rating system.   From 0-30 hours a pilot is qualified to fly regional aircraft such as the Q400.  At 30-60 hours the pilot is allowed to fly the typical United fleet aircraft such as the 737 and Airbus A320.  Past 60 hours you can step into the larger aircraft such as the 777.   I like this system as it gives the pilot something to look forward to.
Landing an Airbus A320 at KEWR.    

Virtual United has gone through some growing pains.   This is to be expected as no one gets paid to set up and maintain a virtual airline.  It is a lot of work!  The people behind the scenes have been very busy to make sure the pilots enjoy their time with VirtualUA.
United Express Q400 cruises across NJ.  

 As of now the website is very functional, along with the ACARS and forum (Crewtalk).   Questions are answered promptly and there is a lot of opportunity.  The airline regularly uses Teamspeak for communication.  VirtualUA also includes other perks such as discounts on flight sim products, Vatsim training, and a points sytem.    This is a growing airline and I would recommend people join!  Its a great community.
Flight deck of the Dash 8.

We search for realism sitting at our computers in relaxed seats.   Daring to believe ourselves real airline pilots we pull up checklist, SID procedures, latest weather data.   While everyone may think us silly we know one thing.  We are not alone, we are part of a community, we are part of a virtual airline!

A United B377 returns to KSFO after a long trip from Hawaii.

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