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Our Message to Vatsim Controllers

General notes

Blind pilots, a community of flight sim enthusiasts who have little to no useful sight, are able to fly IFR on networks such as Vatsim using our screen readers, and programs such as talking flight monitor, community driven projects that read our FMC,, panels and instrumentation in popular aircraft such as the pmdg series. All the output we receive from the simulator and such addons is purely auditory. As a result, we are able to fly with accuracy and precision once airborne. We are unable to taxi the aircraft at this moment in time since the necessary taxiway data is not exposed to talking flight monitor according to the developers of this project.

Many blind pilots will use the callsign BVI, callsign Vision (yes we thought it was funny too). This links back to our virtual airline for blind pilots, BVI Virtual. The airline often helps to support and train new pilots, as well as holding frequent events. It is our hope that controllers will continue to see the BVI callsign frequently and therefore will easily be able to identify that the flight in question will have the requirements as outlined below.

Note that not all blind pilots will use this callsign, and although BVI Virtual attempts to support it's pilots significantly with regard to vatsim, we are not ultimately responsible if a blind pilot does not follow instructions. We believe in the same high standards as many of you.

Clearance notes

We therefore will kindly ask to reposition to the runway threshold when our time comes in the departure flow. Some blind pilots may request to pushback, whilst others will reposition directly from the gate. The decision is often made dynamically depending on traffic levels, since we cannot see where the pushback system is taking us. We may particularly wish to start on stand if the pushback instructions would require customised pushbacks with programs like GSX, since we are unable to visually create a pushback to specific lines.

Blind pilots will note the need for the reposition in the flight plan remarks. If a controller reads and notes this, it’s helpful to let us know that you will coordinate with other relevant sectors when we obtain IFR clearance. If we do not have this indication, we will likely drop a private message to the relevant sectors, such as ground and tower, to notify them of our requirements, and then continue based on the instructions we receive.

We are able to accept CPDLC messages without issue as well. If a blind pilot requests a CPDLC through the Hoppie ACARS system, we will include a copy of our flight remarks in the comment section of the IFR clearance request.

Takeoff requirements

We do not ask for any special treatment and are happy to wait for our slot in the departure flow. If it seems prudent to have a blind pilot use a differing runway to accommodate our request however we are also open to this.

We are unable to reposition to given holding points, and thus we will appear directly on the runway. The reposition itself will only take a matter of seconds and so there is no expected delay for traffic that may be holding behind us. We would expect blind pilots to be ready for departure as soon as they reposition.

We expect that, when on unicom, blind pilots will make a clear call announcing their intention to reposition in around 30 seconds to 1 minute and asking for any other traffic on or approaching the runway to call, in which case they should hold and coordinate. If no other traffic responds, the blind pilot will likely assume the runway is clear, given the code of conduct requirements that pilots both pay attention to, and announce on, unicom. If it transpires that there was indeed traffic on the runway who did not call back in response, we strongly believe the blind pilot is in no way responsible.

In flight notes

Regarding traffic alerts, Talking Flight Monitor does have a traffic radar system which allows us to view other aircraft. We will be unable to confirm visual contact with these aircraft and increased guidance from the controller, especially if a conflict with other aircraft is possible, would be appreciated given our situational awareness may be slightly degraded.

approach notes

We are unable to accept visual approaches, and will often advise the approach controller of our request on first contact especially if it appears as though visual approaches are acting as the primary approach for other pilots in the area.

Blind pilots also prefer ILS approaches where possible since the aircraft can provide more automatic guidance down to the runway, whilst RNAV and other non-precision approaches often have higher minima with the expectation that the pilot will have sighted the runway. We are able to perform RNAV approaches, all be it with the potential for slightly less accuracy on touchdown. A blind pilot may therefore request an ILS approach to a runway that is not the primary arrival runway, if the winds are suitable for such a request and if traffic flow permits. We will however be happy to attempt other approaches if an ILS is not possible and generally anticipate these attempts having a high success rate, unless an approach requires a fully visual segment. Since we have no visual contact with the runway, we do rely on the fmc or the ILS. Therefore, you may find, as a controller, a blind pilot, if failing to intercept the ILS, requests re-vectoring rather than continuing visually. Some simulators can, as you know, be Finicky about capturing the ILS, p3d in particular at further distances, and so a rare situation may arise where a blind pilot misses the intercept.

Landing notes

Some pilots may choose to disconnect after rollout, whilst others may request to reposition over to a stand. Again this is often a dynamic decision made based on current perceived workload for the controller.

Parting message

Overall, us blind pilots have flown on vatsim for many years, participating in large events such as Cross the Pond, Cross the Land, and everything in between in various continents. Whilst each individual has a differing skill level, we pride ourselves on always giving our best on the network, and the BVI Virtual airline particularly provides support to pilots as they learn on the network. Certainly, having the screen-reader speaking along with ATC can be challenging, but the skill of separating out these various auditory inputs is something we gain over time. It is thanks to the cooperation of controllers such as yourself that we are able to participate along with thousands of sighted pilot counterparts to enjoy our hobby to the greatest extent despite some of the limitations we face technically.

We firmly believe that providing adequate accommodations for those with disabilities is something codified in the vatsim code of conduct, even if in rather general terms, but it over the years any difficulties we may have initially faced have slowly disappeared leading to an experience that is 99% positive, so thank you to our fellow pilots, the wonderful controllers, and to the sups who have supported us on the odd occasion on this matter.

vatsimmessage.txt · Last modified: 2023/12/28 01:03 by declan