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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 9:45 am 
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Location: Kelowna, BC
To start I am not trying to step on any feet, throw stones or cause any problems, I'm just throwing out some suggestions to see if we can better CVA.
First I have been at CVA for just about nine years, a lot of people have come and gone, I've seen a lot of changes, but I have been wondering why our VA seems to be not growing, Other are growing. I looked at a few of the other Virtual Airlines and noticed that the ones that are doing well have well designed websites, ours is not too bad, information is easy to find, Ours can be a little difficult for the new members. If you want to download a plane there is no doubt the link you selected has what you are looking for, once you get there ours works. But I still look for a flight number to a flight I'm going to do, and get frustrated because I usually go thru it twice before I realize I'm on the Toronto Hubs routes. Looking at Virtual Air Canada there website is very clean and a great design. But the thing I noticed with all the ones that were doing well...
They were operating like a real airlines. They have a great rank structure, Flown hours and aircraft get a badge and ribbons for achievements, pins for IFR exams passed. How the rank structure fits in with there fleet. We don't seem to have any of that. we used to have a silver wings and gold wings, I don't see that anymore. I see new pilots flying CVA aircraft online and they don't have the hours for that type,
Yes we call ourselves a Virtual Airline but I think all we are is a bunch of people that fly online, have the same colours on the airplanes, and have the same three letters in our call sign and some of us fly online together on Saturdays. Sure some are going to say "I have a life at home" well so does everyone and everyone at those other VAs also have a life at home, and they gitterdone So my suggestion is to move toward operating like a real airline, CVA used to be Canada's top VA.
Lets get it back!

As of tonight....

Halifax Hub 6 Pilots 2 Inactive
Toronto Hub 13 Pilots 2 Inactive
Vancouver Hub 17 Pilots 9 Inactive

Cal Jordan (CVA371) :shutup:



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 12:31 pm 
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Cal I understand what you are saying, but in my opinion this VA is doing better in the last year then it ahs done in the previous four, our membership has grown.

Take a look at Halifax I believe after the clean up there was only two members. Now we have 6 and the two inactive are actually more active than some others. Terry is out to sea and does check in regularly when he can get his hands off the helm or the Captain Morgan. :D As for Marty he has occupied with his wife and home issues.

I do not think we should compare us to any other VA because we are unique and we have no way of comparing their data with ours, on membership and or their attrition status.
Yes there are some things here to be done and we want to know how we can make it better. As for the schedule, splitting it to avoid confusion is a great idea.

As for operating like a real airline, I think the relaxed atmosphere we have here is perfect. To do it any other way would be like telling our members to work. We have a rank system with badges. What you are saying about merits for i.e. (IFR badges) this is a project I am working on. But I have been waiting for the FSACARS to get integrated and working properly before I was to present this to my Boss. If you remember I spoke about it my campaign for President last year and I have not forgotten about it. As for the wings, they where integrated into the rank badges.
If members not flying the proper aircraft for there rank, well this we can not control or reprimand. Rules are to keep honest people, honest. :cool:

And in closing, this is Canada’s top VA you are here aren't you? It just the others do not know about us.
:thumbsup:



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 10:06 pm 
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Location: Ottawa
I'll put my 2c in....

I agree that the web site could be better. It's kind of clunky and certainly isn't easy to find things mainly, I think, becuase it needs a whole new design. But I'm not willing to do it, and I don't expect anyone else to. We are here to fly and the current web site work well enough for a club like ours. If someone did have time to improve it, I think Cal's comments are right on.

As for the club "attitude", I like the laid backness of CVA. I think it was like that when it was the best VA in Canada so I think it's something else that made it better than it is now. In my opinion, which is lacking in historical context, there's a lack of time spent on CVA work by the people here now as opposed to years ago. Chuck is doing amazing work, as are a number of others, but there aren't a lot of you to go around.

Again, I'm not complaining because I can't spend more time other than to try to help out here and there. For that reason, I think everything is just fine. But even though we are doing better than we have been for years, we could certainly stand to make it easier for new people to find a way in to basic membership and good standing, leading, possibly, to bringing more needed skills. A redesign of the web site would help that I think.

Rob



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CVA (established in 1997) is 16 years old this year!
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:44 am 
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Hey Cal,

Thanks for the input as it is through conversation such as this that helps keep our VA moving forward!

I think that there are 2 approaches of thought to this situation as you have raised it.

1) More like a real airline - There have been a few pilots in the past who have also made this comment. Some people who are here today and who have also left our VA over the years longed for similar goals. As a virtual pilot, many people long to take their experience to the max and replicate becoming a true pilot as they may never have that opportunity in life and this is as close as they can get. Being a real world pilot myself, I can appreciate that those thoughts as I know I will likely never fly an Airbus or Boeing 767.

2) Relaxed Airline - CVA always has been a more easy going airline with a set of rules that are more like guidelines than anything. We have tried over the years to provide a structure in which people have a flexible option. The rules document should be followed as posted on the website:

CVA Rules

This set of rules along with the routes for the various hubs have tried to provide the airline model you speak of. As well, we are flexible in terms of allowing people to fly any type of aircraft during our multi's, not enforcing pilots to fly a minimum number of hours per week / month, etc.

Is there a better way to do things? By all means - yes!

The website while it has provided us much of what we wanted over the years has become a little stale over time. This is why I began to revamp it slightly and we moved to FSAcars as well for tracking of pilots.

The problem with the website has been that we needed someone to help develop a new site and skills in this area have been limited so I have taken on the task myself. While I can program in PHP / MySQL it takes time - something I am short on. I'm ok with coding but not great with the graphics design end of things.

The badges are still in existence for pilots as you will notice from the VA Roster pages. The badge shows up along with their hours flown, etc. As well, if you click on a pilot to list all of that person's flights you will see the same badge there.

While the roster may not show a great number of people (around 40), we have over 100 people listed in our database. Many newer people who have joined simply have not chosen to fly online yet with FSAcars and so they do not show up until that request has been made. This was done purposely because many people join our VA and then simply disappear so no sense clogging the roster with people who don't want to be here.

On a personal note I would like to move to more of a real world airline base and have though about implementing a historical division based on the real world Canadian Airlines. While this would be a new division it would have modern and historical routes / aircraft in which a pilot could chose what they wanted to fly. Again...this is just an idea at this point but may 1 day happen.

I do NOT intend to change CVA from the heart of what it has always been - flexible. That is why we have so many long standing members here. It has been this flexibility and the forums and sense of camaraderie that has made this VA stand the test of time (going back to the late 1990's). We have been and continue to be successful in this regard.

Some may see this as failure because we don't have hundreds of active pilots or operate as a more strict VA based on the real world. To me, I don't see this because I don't judge success by how large of a VA we have (although that is always nice to have) but by the quality of our members and the knowledge they bring to our core group.

People who have wished for more of the "hard core" airline structure have been encouraged to pursue that with other airlines if CVA has not met their personal needs in this regard. We don't restrict people from being part of multiple airlines but it is always a welcome sight to have our pilots flying under our banner.

So....that being said....

Yes - I want to change the website to improve it and make things even more clear for all pilots new and old. Yes, I would like to have more of a real world airline feel and this may happen but not at the expense of what we have today, but that portion may become a new division.

Comments / Thoughts?



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 7:22 pm 
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While there is always room for improvement, and I understand what Cal is saying, I would also caution against 'over structure'. I say this because I've seen what happens when things get too demanding. I used to participate in the role of hub captain in another, long gone, VA. Even though the issues were different, the ever changing policies eventualy got out of hand to the point that no one could agree on anything.
I'm not in a position to judge the qualities of any given VA, some I like, some I don't like at all. But I can say that I really enjoy CVA for it's flexability, and it's one of the main reasons I'm here and shall remain so.

I'm relatively 'new' to this VA and understand the amount of fine work that all of you have put into it. I also apologise for my inability to add anything concrete to the site other than trying to fly consistantly, a webmaster I am not. But I'm learning a lot with Chuck Dickey's excellent assistance on top of his other, more important, duties and contributions. Once I break through some technical barriers of communication/getting on-line, I'll most likely always join in the multi's.

Many good ideas may be gleened from other sites that might offer some enhancement. I see a lot of 'route bidding', Some VA's have built in economies where virtual 'money' plays a role. Or special ops coinciding with world events and commendations awarded for those who participate, usually in an on-line format much like the multi's here.
One interesting example, though it was kinda 'out there', was a VA based on an economy where you started out with a 'virtual loan' used to purchase various freeware downloads, or routes. This Cargo VA consisted of a Sales flight-line of 'beaters' you bought to make 'money' for eventual aircraft upgrades, and, more often as not, parts. This style of course also created a need for new departments, such as virtual accounting, as well as others that sucked up a lot of time. I thought it was funny, if not a bit extreme. Idea wise, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

I'm sure with different idea inputs things will play out to provide for enhancements to the VA that will work for everyone.



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 5:41 pm 
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Location: Up here wishing I was down there.
I'm setting up a dual-boot Windows 7 with FS-X to see if DX10 is going to help frame rates, so I'm still not officially online yet (I haven't looked at FSacars yet). I've been putzing around in the Dash 8-100, learning more about flight plans, I'm reaching the point where I'll be comfortable opening my mike soon. The throttle quadrant arrived, hopefully the yoke and pedals will get here soon.

From a total noob's point of view, nothing is better than "simplicity". I can understand experienced pilots craving structure, I do to. I come from an online racing environment, organized many leagues, and I found out that the best league is the one that runs itself. We were 4 cars in my team and we all had a KISS paintjob, mine was Gene Simmons, hence where I got the nick Demon. But it was more than just a theme, it was the concept; keep it simple stupid.

As for the web site, I often have a hard time finding things. I have a suggestion; put all your download material on one page and list it in groups. I know it's important to have the history, text, whatever that is posted with the files, but sometimes you don't have the time or the need to read the text, all you want is the file. Also, if you are short on web personnel, trimming down only makes sense. One note about a web site, I absolutely hate it when I click on a download link and it doesn't work, or I can get to the same document from multiple pages.

What I usually do when I join a league is download EVERYTHING (Pilot Handbook, planes, checklists, flight plans, etc), then read through the web pages as I need them. I start with the Start Here area, start flying a bit, and then move thru the site as I gain experience or come up with questions or tech problems (FAQ, forum). Noobs can easily progress as they learn and advanced pilots can skip over or quickly glance through stuff until they get to what they want.

Structure does not necessarily mean complexity; ease of use and having everything at your fingertips is much more appreciated than having everything spread out like an Air Canada brochure.

Real pilots fly rinky-dink Cessna 172s for leisure on weekends don't they? I know I want to move up ranks, but I don't want to be forced to jump through hoops either. The best format I've seen yet is just managing hours, it's simple. I'm here to relax and have fun, not join the army.

I saw 1 flight in progress when I logged on to this sight, just 1, over a week ago, that's it. VAC always has flights going, and not surprisingly, they have over 1000 active members, we can count ours using our fingers on any one night. Just for fun, go to VAC and check their stats right now:
http://www.vacanada.org/

What does VAC have that we don't? If they have so many members, they must be doing something that "most" pilots want. Yeah, they have more ranks, they have special awards, they have a ladder system for airplanes, but I don't know exactly what it is that pulls in 244,403 members with 1,571 active members and 65,464 flights. I do think they're going overboard with the split between cargo and passengers, a 747 is a 747, that's an example of too much complexity.

But if CVA wants to survive and not fade away, you have to do something. There's a fine line between consistency and stagnation. But you can't just change for the sake of changing either (insert any political joke here), you have to move in the right direction and I'm sorry to say I don't have much to offer in that department.

All I can say is that I think the airplane ladder based on hours flown with the ability to fly any airplane "down" is an excellent idea. I would add two rungs at the bottom, small private jets, small passenger props and bush planes. Something like this:

Private jets:
Bombardier Learjet 45
Gulfstream G150

Small passenger props:
Cessan C208B Grand Caravan
Beechcaft Baron 58
Beechcraft King-Air 350

Bush planes:
Cessna 172
Cessna 172 on snow skies
De Havilland Beaver DHC-2
De Havilland Twin Otter DHC-6
Grumman Goose G21A

I know Air Canada doesn't have these divisions, but hey, you are a virtual airline no? Slap a paint job on them and there you go, eh! :D I tell you one thing, you'd have something VAC doesn't, a division for the noobs.



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 7:47 pm 
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Yeesh, never mind what I said about VAC up there. Looks like they're having some technical difficulties and their stats may not reflect reality:
http://tinyurl.com/cpnb92

I did take the opportunity to give us a plug. :D



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 7:55 pm 
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Hmm, it won't let me edit my post up there, anyways, I meant 3 rungs, but I want to rearrange them a bit. :)

Small props:
Land -
Cessan C208B Grand Caravan
Beechcaft Baron 58
Beechcraft King-Air 350
Bush -
Cessna 172
Cessna 172 on snow skies
Water -
De Havilland Beaver DHC-2
De Havilland Twin Otter DHC-6
Sea -
Bombardier CL-415
Grumman Goose G21A

Private jets:
Bombardier Learjet 45
Gulfstream G150

Of course not all these aircraft are necessarily available for FS-9 and FS-X. I'm sure we could find alternatives, these were just suggestions.

The airplane ladder looks appealing, these would add even more depth to the fleet. I don't think I've seen another virtual airline that serves the entire range of aircraft, this might be the little something we need to separate us from the rest.

All our hubs have beautiful bushland and waterways, it's a waste not to take advantage of them. Toronto even has a seaplane port and we're not even using that (I don't even know if we can, I'm just throwing ideas up in the air).



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:12 pm 
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Hello Robert,
Thanks for the plug with our VA.
I have been flyng on line for some time now. I have noticed that ACA is not as active as you may think. There are a lot of people who do not belong to that VA and use the ACA call sign. Therefore making their ranks look enormous.



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