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Getting Started with VATSIM


  • Visit to download XSquawkbox (XSB). This software is an X-Plane plug-in that connects you to the VATSIM networks.
  • Unpack the supplied files and place them in your X-Plane /resources/plugins folder.
  • Download and install all available CAX aircraft.
  • Download CAX CSL Package from Hangar/Add-Ons page, unzip it and follow the installation instructions.It will enable to see CAX aircraft while flying on VATSIM


  • Register for a VATSIM account. Take note of your id and password.
  • Start X-Plane. Go to the Rendering Options menu and set the Number of Aircraft to Display to at least 8.
  • Go to the XSB menu under the Plugins menu and set up a Push to Talk key, either on the joystick or keyboard.
  • Complete the audio set up portion of XSB.


  • Position your aircraft on the ramp at an airport with ATC coverage (based on the info from VATAWARE).
  • Select the "Connect..." option from the menu. Enter your VATSIM ID, password, and the IP address of the server to connect to. You will also need to select the Make and Model of the aircraft that most closely matches the one you're flying.
  • Once connected, select the Squawk Standby option under the XSB menu.
  • Select the Show Who's Online option to get a list of nearby ATC. A few seconds after connecting, the list will be updated. Tune your COM1 radio to the appropriate frequency, to listen in to the chatter on text and voice.

Getting Started

  • Now that you're connected, listen in to ATC for a while. Get a feel for the flow of communications.
  • A good idea for a first flight would be to do a VFR flight, remaining in the traffic pattern at the airport. This will get you comfortable talking on the radio, without trying to fly a complex route in a complex airplane.
  • File a VFR flight plan by going to the Send Flightplan option. Enter a route of LOCAL. Make reference to the fact that you're new by entering 'NEWBIE' in the REMARKS section of the flight plan.
  • Contact ATC, tell them who you are, where you are, and what you want to do, then follow their instructions.
  • For a sample transcript of how to interact with ATC for an IFR flight, visit the Sample VATSIM Transcript page.

Some 'Do's and Dont's'

  • Do not exceed 250 KIAS (indicated airspeed) below 10,000ft.
  • Do not pause in flight without the permission of ATC.
  • Always position your aircraft on the ramp (not a taxiway or runway) before connecting to VATSIM.
  • Contact ATC, tell them who you are, where you are, and what you want to do, then follow their instructions.
  • File a flight plan EVERY TIME you conduct an IFR flight, regardless if ATC is online or not. You never know when they will show up.
  • Squawk standby while on the ground, until ready for takeoff.
  • Squawk 2200 when conducting IFR fights without ATC service.
  • Squawk 1200 when conducting VFR fights without ATC service.
  • Don't report "ready for takeoff" unless you're truly READY to go. ATC expects you to execute your takeoff roll very quickly after you are issued the takeoff clearance.
  • Execute ATC actions, and THEN respond. For example, if ATC says "5 from DUMBA, fly hdg 260, descend and maintain 4,000 until established, cleared ILS 28R approach", you should adjust your heading, and start your descent, then respond.
  • If ATC issues an instruction to another aircraft, wait a reasonable amount of time for the aircraft to respond before making a transmission yourself. This will eliminate many, many voice collisions on the frequency.
  • In the USA, "flight levels" exist at FL180 and above. The altimeter should be adjusted to 29.92 when at or above FL180. Below that, refer to the altitude in thousands/hundreds of feet, and use the current altimeter setting.