The End of An Era

Dear Members,

After a recent board meeting and a lot of soul searching, we have arrived at the unanimous decision to close down SkyTeam Virtual and simVA, and with it RDV & AFV as Virtual Airlines, communities and brands. From August 1st, 2018 onwards, these services and their related websites will cease operations as we shut everything down. Efforts will be put forward by us to facilitate in offering a way of downloading your personal Logbook and related Flight Data for those interested in a copy of their records; for details see below.

Why?
We have not arrived at this decision lightly but simply put, we have very limited resources in the way of engineering and spare time available to us in order to continue running the VA’s at the level of service and standards that we expect of ourselves.

Therefore, we feel we are no longer able to provide the level of service we once could and as a result this provides a negative impact on all of you, our valued end users. Things have been in decline for quite a while now and while this decision is a difficult one, we owe it to ourselves and to all of you to be realistic about the situation and our ability to turn things around.

We have concluded it is no longer sustainable for us to continue to go down this current path; as our current situation does not allow us to give the endeavor all that it needs in order to achieve what we want to achieve. Admitting this is hard, but after this self-evaluation we feel it is the right choice to make and the right time to make it.

We have always tried to be as transparent and straightforward as possible in our communication and our approach to things; this decision and the resulting announcement is meant to be no different. We hope it is perceived, understood and appreciated as such.

However, we also realize and understand this news contradicts everything else we have communicated, any promises we have made, and expectations we have set along the way; our sincere apologies for this. We understand any frustrations and feelings of disappointment this might cause among all of you, but we kindly ask only for your understanding in this decision and our reasons why.

We have learned a lot along the way, and have made some great friendships which we hope to continue in the future.

Logbook & Flight Data Download
On Wednesday, June 27th, 2018 we will be emailing everyone a link in which you can use to download your Logbook and all of your flight data in the event you wish to transfer it to another organization, or even just keep it locally for your own records. This data is yours and we feel it is expected and only fair we allow everybody the chance to obtain a copy of their personal flight records.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your and continued flying and ongoing support on this fantastic journey the past five years since RDV launched; it genuinely means a great deal to us.

Non-profit organization
As a group, non-profit organization and overarching ‘holding company’, ATG (Aviation Technology Group) will continue to exist, aiming to provide solutions and support to virtual and real world aviation companies, but in its current guise and combined with knowing our strengths and weaknesses, we feel that running Virtual Airlines is not an area where we are best suited, given the time and resource requirements to do so at the standards we strive for, and the wealth of lessons we have learned along the way.

Personal Statements

"More than half a decade ago when I first started RDV, all I wanted was a corner in the flight simulation community where I could fly with a high level of realism and not get involved in the politics and drama that plagues our hobby. And to that extent, I believe we were successful. Having over 9,000 active pilots in that time who cumulatively completed over 250,000 flights to me shows that we did something right and unique that was well appreciated.

As time went on we got more ambitious and quite frankly bit off more than we could handle on our own. We tried growing the team and, had periods where that was successful, but ultimately everyone has lives to live and we struggled to continue improving. We started stagnating, and knowing what where we wanted to take this community, we doubled down and pushed harder which ultimately became the straw that broke the camel’s back and began the downhill slide we are in today. We were never satisfied with what we had and always pushed harder.

We have been struggling for a while now, and I don’t think that’s a secret to anyone, but most of the original team has already moved on or had to leave due to real world obligations, and it’s time for the remaining few to do the same. It is truly a terribly bittersweet ending for me having started this program my final year of University and doing my best to keep up with it as I progress through my career. It has been an incredible journey and a life-changing experience for me I will never regret starting.

It was an impossible decision to shutter the doors and close this chapter of my life, but ultimately, I do believe it is the right thing to do out of respect for every member of the community. We simply can’t give it the attention it deserves, and it’s not fair - but an unfortunate reality.

I can only hope that this community has positively impacted your life in some way and that you enjoyed your time with us, however long it may have been. I look forward to maybe seeing some of you in the next chapter.”
— Lorenzo Aiello

"I joined RDV as a user during the first week of operations, back in February of 2014. It was my first Virtual Airline after being involved with flight sim as a hobby since 2008. As a fan of my home carrier KLM, it was the first time a Virtual Airline came along which aimed to simulate KLM operations in a way that suited my flightsim needs and matched the level of realism I tried to achieve, while still retaining a healthy balance in terms of flexibility and fun. I saw huge potential in this quirky, fresh new upstart that was RDV, so from the first week I started contributing by providing feedback and ideas with a goal of steering it towards what it could be. To my surprise, this was embraced and acted upon with a pace and openness which I had rarely seen within the flightsim community; progress was quickly being made.

A few months later in July of 2014, Lorenzo approached me with the question if I could help out with manually processing the rapidly increasing number of Flight Reports, so I joined the staff team and quickly began to help drive things forward from within. Since then, I have been involved in almost every aspect of building and running this thing. I also soon realized my vision and philosophy of ‘how I thought things should be’ matched with many on the team, but especially with Lorenzo. The results of this also resonated well with users, and together with user input, we quickly refined what I personally feel became our formula and philosophy for a successful VA.

We enjoyed that ride for a number of years, which due to growing pains was not always smooth and without friction (both among staff and with the VA in general). We made a lot of progress overall and did good things, but sometimes situations arose where it felt like we were taking ‘one step forward, two steps back’. Personally, I never allowed myself to be truly proud of what we were doing because from my perspective it never reached the levels of polish, perfection, depth, service and functionality that I had in mind, dreamed about and was aiming for. I would be lying if I said this wasn’t a bit frustrating at times. Looking back on these 4 years, I now realize is a shame to not have allowed myself to enjoy it more in the way that all of you, as users, seemed to enjoy what we offered.

Fortunately, I have learned a great deal these past 4 years. I gained valuable experience from doing this as a hobby in my spare time, which has directly translated to my professional life, for which I am extremely grateful. Combined with the journey as a whole and seeing the enjoyment you as users got out of it, I do not see this VA endeavor as a failure, or giving up, or it being all in vain; on the contrary. But I regret not being able to keep up what we had going for longer than we did. All good things must come to an end at some point, so I feel this is the right choice at the right time; situations change, lives change, times change.

Thank you all for this rollercoaster of a ride, it’s been truly great."
— René Dijkema

"I joined RDV over three years ago, flying my first flight on the 2nd of June 2015 and have enjoyed every minute of my flying. I joined the management team 17 months ago, initially as Technical Project Manager but also being involved in processing flight reports, uploading manual reports and answering support emails. When the decision was made to start up a new platform and call it simVA, I welcomed and was excited by the challenge and have given everything I possibly can to deliver a unique user experience.

There’s not a lot I can add to the thoughts of Lorenzo and René, who I am honoured to have got to know better over the past year and a half, in particular since October when we started hosting our weekly simVA project meetings.

I am sad that we were unable to realise our very ambitious dreams for the platform, but would like to wish all of our users the very best of luck in the virtual and real world careers following this as I know we have many who are undertaking pilot training, and would love to think that even the smallest involvement with STV and simVA may have helped encourage that love of aviation."
— Chris Dobison

Future
For those who have enjoyed what we brought to the flight sim community the past years, have liked our approach, and have enjoyed what we offered:

If you would be interested in being informed of any potential future endeavors from ATG as a non-profit organization or us as individuals, we would like to invite you to sign up to a mailing list where we can keep you updated of any future projects we have planned: http://eepurl.com/dySWHD

Whatever form future projects may take, we will be prioritizing sustainability with the small team that we have to in order to ensure long term sustainability.

Special Thanks
Lastly, special thanks goes out to every single individual who has helped us out on the staff team or contributed in any other way, shape or form. Regardless of the level of involvement or to what degree it might have been, we would like to offer our sincere thanks for helping us in making the last 5 years possible. We greatly appreciate all your time, energy and efforts put in during any period over the years.

Once again we would like to thank everyone for their support over the years, and wish you all the very best for the future where we hope to be able to fly alongside you again!

Wishing you smooth landings and strong tailwinds,

— Lorenzo, René and Chris.