Friday, December 11, 2009

Virtual Piloting

This picture is taken from MCA's (MidContinent) website:

Part of MCA's motto: Virtual Airline, Reality based and Reality focused

No, this is not another rant about my 'sim' sessions. I received a very positive email a few days ago and the topic of virtual airlines came up. I heard of people around the world flying on their Microsoft simulators, but never did I hear of something like this. What a concept! I thought I'd promote their site and who knows, a few of you out there may want to enlist.

Love the book, great job! I'm a flight simulator pilot for the only known FAR Part 121 compliant simulated carrier, MidContinent Airlines. We actually follow the FARs and have current real-world dispatchers releasing and following our flights. Just wanted to say "Hi!" and tell you that I really enjoy both your book and your blog.

Capt. Doug

Hi Tim. Thanks for going out of your way to email and thanks for the kind words. So MidContinent Airlines is a virtual airline? Maybe I could post something on my blog about what you guys do, because I'm certain many of my readers/followers are aviation enthusiasts to the Nth degree. They would love to hear more about this.

Capt. Doug. MidContinent Airlines is a FAR Part 121-compliant (the only one that is, as far as I know) simulated/virtual airline for pilots of Microsoft Flight Simulator 9/X who want an experience that is "as real as it gets". Our dispatch releases and flight following are performed by actual, current FAA-licensed dispatchers. The CEO and founder, Mike Collier, is a dispatcher with USAirways. The fleet is based on a "what if" merger between America West (which Mike worked for for 10 years) and USAirways (his current employer), which as we know has actually happened. Pilots are 'hired' and trained using Part 121-compliant training documents based on actual, real-world documentation. Studies for the new pilots include Ground School and IOE programs and takes several weeks to complete on average. At the conclusion of ground school tests both in writing and by means of a check flight assure the management that the new pilot can successfully and safely operate a flight according to FAR 121 regulations and airline procedures. Pilots hire on and fly one fleet type/type rating only. Unlike most virtual airlines, where a pilot can choose what he wants to fly for each flight, and where to fly, at MidCon pilots are hired to and fly only one fleet type. All flights are dispatched using releases formatted according to real-world requirements and in many cases are tailored to actual current flight conditions by a licensed dispatcher. Also, pilots must qualify for CATII/III and for ETOPS flying, by means of tests and/or checkrides. Pilots must demonstrate that they can read a dispatch release, and contact is maintained with the dispatch office before, during and after the flight. Also, practical knowledge of meteorology, ATC procedures and phraseology, navigation, CRM, and aircraft-specific training including recurrent training are provided. We have a small but dedicated group of pilots who are excited to be part of an organization that is radically different from 99.9% of the virtual airlines out there.I am currently a B737 first officer with MidCon. I have extensive simulator experience with a variety of Boeing and McDonnell Douglas aircraft. I have also spent time assisting in the training program in the past. Oh, I almost forgot that our captaincy upgrades are about as thorough as the real-world ones, and upgrades are based on company needs and proven professional ability, not on a certain number of flight hours as most VAs do it. If you'd like any more info about MidCon, I'm sure Mike would welcome your questions at or you can just write me as well.Thanks so much for your message. I really do enjoy your book and blog!
T.H F/O MidContinent AirlinesB737

Capt. Doug

F/O T.H Interesting stuff! Wow, you even went through a virtual merger. I went through a real one and it wasn't pretty.


Andrew said...

Ya i believe there is another one that mimicks Southwest...very interesting concept, can't imagine the energy that goes into that

From the Flight Deck said...


I'm amazed how in-depth the operation is. Working with real flights plans, dispatchers, etc. Now there's dedication.

Capt. Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

Recieved this email from T.H

A lot of airlines have virtual counterparts, but I've yet to see one that does what MCA does. We've actually had real-world AWE, WestJet, and SWA pilots in our ranks in the past, and they said it was sometimes too much like work!