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  • Simon Irvine

    Web Department Changes

    By Simon Irvine, in United Kingdom,

    Target Audience: All Members
    I am making some changes to the Web Department.  As you know web has been working as two teams over the past 14 months.  This has really had its benefits, for example, the expansion of CORE and the introduction of Flight Training Exercises where the two teams worked hand in hand in launching these.
    Over the next 12 months, we will be launching a new website, start the migration of CTS into CORE as well as the rollout of a new ATC plugin.  With this in mind, I have decided to bring the team back into one department for better accountability and more efficient project management.  I am delighted to say that Calum Towers will lead the new combined Web Services team. 
    Neil Farrington has decided to step down from the DSG.  I would like to thank Neil for his hard work and dedication for his time on the DSG and past few years in the web team, he will be missed.
    These changes will take place with immediate effect. 

  • Chris Pawley
    Target Audience: All Members
    We are delighted to announce that bookings have opened this evening for VATSIM UK Live! which is taking place on the weekend of the 4th and 5th of August at Conference Aston.

    Tickets are priced at £30 for the weekend, or £20 for one day. We have also worked with Conference Aston to provide options for on-site accommodation (incl. breakfast). For more information on pricing, or anything about the weekend, visit the Live! website.
    We have also provided more detailed information about the group lunch that we have organised this year. More information can be found on the website.

    Tickets are on-sale now and available to any VATSIM member. We look forward to seeing new (and not so new) faces at this year's event. The number of places is limited, so please book soon to be sure of a place!

  • Calum Towers
    Target Audience: All Members
    Unless you've been living under a rock, you will have heard of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) that comes into effect on May 25th.
    What you may not know is what it means, how it may affect you and why organisations of all sizes are flooding your inbox with "please click here to say we can contact you" links...

    I don't study the law... but what is GDPR?
    I don't either so I'll give you the key points!

    is the biggest shake up to data protection regulations in around 20 years and will apply to all EU citizens. ensures that organisations process personal data lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner. requires information that is processed to be adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary for the purpose for which they are processed. limits the time that personal data can be identifiable (linked back to a living person) to no longer than necessary for processing. demands that organisations process personal data in a secure manner. That is super boring interesting, but how does it affect me?
    If you're reading this, I presume you're a living person (go away Google bot...) so you are afforded important rights under GDPR. They are...
    The right to be informed - you get to know what information we are processing about you and why. The right of access - you can know and access the personal data we are processing about you. The right to rectification - if we store data that is inaccurate, you have the right to correct it. The right to erasure - in certain circumstances, you have the right to "be forgotten". The right to portability - you can obtain and reuse your personal data for your own purposes on other services. The right to object - you can tell us that you do not want your data to be processed. Note that the links provided above are descriptions aimed at organisations, but provide more detail on each right.

    So what is VATSIM UK doing about all of this?
    We mainly act in the capacity of a processor to facilitate your membership to VATSIM.net. That means that when you tell VATSIM.net that you want to be a member of the UK division, they pass certain information to us in order for us to give you access to our training system, forum and other services.
    However, we do collect some information directly from you. For example, your IP address when you connect to one of our services.
    We are creating two new policies to ensure that we are transparent about our use of your personal data; the Privacy Policy and the Data Protection & Handling Policy. All members will be required to agree to these before continuing to use our services. We expect these policies to be made available shortly.
    Queries regarding the data we hold on you, in the interim, can be requested via a Subject Access Request.

    As we do not receive a positive "opt in" from members to have other members email them through Core's "Email a Member" function, we will be disabling that for the time being.
    If you wish to communicate with other members, please use the Forum's Messenger.  Notifications for this can be configured here.

    Subject Access Request? Time to request all of my data!
    Steady on.

    One of the rights I spoke about earlier is "the right of access". This is facilitated via a Subject Access Request (or a "SAR").
    Whilst we are happy to review any SARs that we receive, there are a few things to keep in mind...
    We have the right to refuse to respond to manifestly unfounded or excessive requests. We have up to one month to provide the information. We can extend the deadline by a further two months where a request is deemed complex. Please also remember that everyone processing SARs are volunteers. If we spend our days completing these requests, other projects will suffer.
    If you believe that you have a legitimate reason to make a SAR, please email your request to sar@vatsim.uk. Guidance on writing your request can be found on the ICO's website.
    This post isn't designed to cover every question. It is simply here to inform you of what GDPR is, how it will affect you and what we are doing about it.
    Still got questions? I'm about on Slack, TeamSpeak and Email - just ask!

  • Chris Pawley

    VATSIM UK Live! 2018

    By Chris Pawley, in United Kingdom,

    Target Audience: All Members
    We are delighted to announce that this year’s VATSIM-UK Live! event will take place on the weekend of the 4th and 5th of August at Conference Aston.
    Live! is an annual real-world social event which is organised to allow VATSIM members, be that Pilots or Controller’s, to meet and work alongside each other. During the event, attendees will be working together in close proximity, which adds a new element to "as real as it gets".
    Our venue, Aston Business School, is home to a purpose-built conference centre and on-site hotel with plenty of space, and high-speed Internet for us to use. It's a great location in Birmingham city centre, close to road, rail and air links. During the weekend, we will be focusing ATC services at major (and not so major) airports so that members not in attendance will be able to enjoy the weekend too.
    Tickets will be go on sale in the next few weeks and will be available to any VATSIM member. We look forward to seeing new (and not so new) faces at this year's event. The number of places is limited, so when the tickets are available, please book early to be sure of a place!
    VATSIM UK Live! Organisers

  • Daniel Crookes

    Flight Training Exercises

    By Daniel Crookes, in United Kingdom,

    Target Audience: All Members
    VATSIM UK is proud to announce the launch of Flight Training Exercises!
    So, what is it?
    Flight Training Exercises is a new system that will allow you to track your flight whilst completing your chosen exercise. We are initially launching with 5 VFR challenges that will take you from the busy airspace around London Biggin Hill Aiport (EGKB) to the South-West coast of the UK. Whilst you fly through the skies, in the background, TFDi's 'smartCARS' application will track you track your flight monitoring aspects such as your current position, altitude, airspeed and much more!
    So, what is the point of it all?
    The aim of Flight Training Exercises is to provide a platform where people are encouraged to visit new places and fly different aircraft whilst completing different challenges.
    Want to know more, perfect! Click here!
    Is that it? Absolutely not!
    Now that we have our system in place, there is enormous scope for further development. Initially, we will continue to create and release VFR Challenges which will follow on from the current exercises. We plan to take this further by creating seasonal exercises, exercises based around events and eventually look to setup IFR exercises too. Did someone mention an Easter egg hunt?
    So, Who's behind it all?
    The Pilot Training Department has been working closely with the Web Team over the past ~18 months to produce this incredible system, and what a job it has been! I would like to express my thanks to @Calum Towers and @Neil Farrington for their incredible work over the development period, without them, this system would not have been possible. I'm also not forgetting @Anthony Lawrence who began the discussions with TFDi and laid the foundation work for the development.
    The initial development of FTE's required many hours of understanding how TFDi's smartCARS application could be used for tracking the flights. TFDi have shown a great interest throughout the development of FTE's and offered their full support. The Pilot Training and Web Team would like to extend our thanks for their continued support throughout this whole process, including the donation of the smartCars application to VATSIM UK.
    Had many notifications on your phone? That's their job! The Marketing Team have played a crucial role in getting this project seen within the community using just about anything they could get their hands on. A special thanks to @Alex Ashley for his work nearing the release of the system.
    Our final thanks goes to anyone involved in the testing of FTEs prior to its launch. There are too many names to list here, but your flights helped us refine the criteria to ensure it struck the right balance between challenging and fun.
    Keep your eyes peeled out on our social media for further developments!

  • Simon Irvine

    ATC Training Department Changes

    By Simon Irvine, in United Kingdom,

    Target Audience: All Members
    Unfortunately, Samuel James has decided to stand down as ATC Training Director.  Sam has been in post since October 2016 and has been instrumental in moving ATC Training in the UK to the next level.  Last year was one of our best for rating progression and this is in no small part to the work that Sam has put in, especially the implementation of the Training Groups from the old RTSs, the first stage of Central Training.  There is no great drama in Sam's departure and those of you who know him out with the network will understand his reasons for wanting some time off.  Sam is an absolute gent and I will personally miss his support on the DSG and boozy lunches in Edinburgh.
    I am delighted to announce that Andy Ford will take over from Sam with immediate effect.  Andy is one of our Senior Instructors who has lots of hand on mentoring experience and has been Acting TD for the past few weeks.  Andy is ready to hit the ground running and I look forward to working with him.

  • Simon Irvine

    Merry Christmas from VATSIM UK

    By Simon Irvine, in United Kingdom,

    Target Audience: All Members
    At this time of year, it's always good to reflect on the last 12 months and what to look forward to in the New Year.
    Firstly, I want to thank everyone who has helped the Division this year whether it be flying in for an exam, mentoring, helping with sector files, document writing, staff roles, the list goes on.  You have all had a part in making this a great year for the Division.
    Before we look ahead to 2018 let's have a quick look back at 2017 and thank some of the people that made our success possible.
    In the Community Department, we have started to roll out the UK Communities  including appointing community managers.  We have made it easier for people to contact us with a Live Chat service which has cut down on the number of tickets we receive and in turn, gives members a speedier answer to their questions.  @Barrie Joplin is the driving force behind Community and his help and support has been fantastic.
    In ATC Training we had 73 OBS-S1 passes in 2017. This is by far the most we have had ever and huge thanks to everyone involved in the New Controller process especially @Fraser Cooper and more recently @Oliver Rhodes . In the wider ATC space we had 49 exam passes including 5 area passes.  Central Training hasn't progressed as quickly as we would have liked but we are hoping that we can start to get moving with this again in 2018.  Thanks to the TGMs, TGIs and Division Instructors to keep the day to day training on course and of course all the ATC training mentors.  Thank you to @Samuel James  @Alex Beard , @George Wright and @Andy Ford who have managed the behemoth that is the ATC Training Department this year. 
    In Pilot Training, @Daniel Crookes and his team have had a sterling year who have seen mentoring sessions and exam passes grow from P1 to P4.  I would like to especially call out the great work done on the P4 course.  We have had great feedback on this from an international level in VATSIM.  This has been by far the most successful rating launch the Department has ever seen.  I would also like to thank @James Mack for his leadership of the PTD until earlier this year.
    Our newest Department is Marketing, led by @Layth Al-Wakil .  We have already seen some great advances in Social Media with great exposure of the Division on Facebook and Twitter thanks to @Loui Ringer .  We have also seen some fantastic events this year managed by @James Brierley at the start of the year and now @Trevor Hannant .
    This was our first full year of the Operations Department.  @Chris Pawley and his team made 102 commits to our repo, changing 281 files, adding 6427 lines and removing 6900 lines.  The team released 8 documents and have 22 in development.
    Our Web Team go from strength to strength.  I was heartbroken when my good friend @Anthony Lawrence stood down from the DSG this year, however, @Calum Towers and @Neil Farrington have taken up the baton and run with it.  As a Divison, we have had over 43,000 unique visitors to vatsim.uk, nearly 1 million page views on community.vatsim.uk, handled approx. 120,000 logins, to various services, through Core, sent around 200,000 automated emails, around 1400 different people have connected to TeamSpeak, using over 2TB of bandwidth and over 2000 files of code has been changed on Core with nearly 500,000 lines of code affected.  Calum, Neil and their team have done a fantastic job this year.
    A massive thanks to my deputy @Nathan Donnelly who has kept me sane and ran the place when I've not been here (and sometimes when I have been ).  Nathan has been a brilliant support since he came on board in the summer.
    Looking forward to 2018 we are launching a new website, a new controller client, more pilot courses, an exciting new pilot skills test unique to this Division, medium and long term planning for the EGTT FIR sectors, more airports to be included for Obs to S1 and powering up the Community Department.
    Finally, on behalf of the whole staff team, I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

  • Simon Irvine

    Recent Behaviour

    By Simon Irvine, in United Kingdom,

    Target Audience: All Members
    At the outset, I would like to point out that this post is targeted at a very few members however I thought it would be a good insight to everyone to let them see the behaviour that has been happening of late.
    Some of it has been pretty innocuous for example someone who attended the recent pilot careers event in London signed used a VATSIM UK staff email address to sign up for some information.  Some of it has been a bit more sinister, for example someone signed some of the staff emails up to a porn site and then infiltrated the staff email ring to let everyone know what they had done using unacceptable language.  We are obviously investigating this.
    This evening we had people screaming, shouting and playing soundboards in teamspeak.  Can i remind everyone that access to the teamspeak server is not a right of membership and I will have no qualms about permanently removing members from it who break the rules.  
    The staff simply don't have time to deal with behaviour like this.  It wouldn't and shouldn't be tolerated any any other walk of life, this includes VATSIM.