After a lot of consideration and debate, SimAirline.net will close on 30 April 2010. I made this decision by myself with the full understanding and support of the rest of the management team. There are many reasons why I feel this is the right decision to make:
1) I will no doubt have to step back at some point in the future, whether for career, education, or family reasons. It would be better to stop on my own terms rather than be forced into it. I can recognize when someone is on the way out from the management team. I can see that in myself and don't think it’s respectful to you to lead an organization that I'm less than fully committed to.
2) SimAirline.net was a fine use of my time as a hobby when I was not in the workforce and hoping to someday join the airline industry. As part of it today, I now have an unbalanced life—I leave my airline job during the day for a virtual airline job at night.
3) I want to be able to take trips and do other things in life without feeling guilty or encumbered by SimAirline.net. Today I am forcibly tied to running SimAirline.net.
4) As our airlines and projects have gotten bigger and more complicated, our management team has shrunk, leaving a gap in capability. This gap has been unfilled and worsening for the last three years. In addition, we have not been available to finish the Pilot Roster System. Finally, Avsim's hacking this year was another major blow and put a lot of things into perspective for me.
Can someone else can be found to manage SimAirline.net? There is no clear succession plan today, nor do I think we can devise one that will ensure the same quality and longevity. I also don't think it's appropriate to sell the organization or hand it off to someone outside that doesn’t have a full understanding of all the good work we have done.
We have accomplished a great deal over the years, but I think we all agree that SimAirline.net's best days are behind us, and the truly respectful thing, for you and for the brand, is to close it rather than see a gradual decline. Our final innovation and contribution can be an orderly, premeditated, and civilized closing. I have thought through many of the details of how a shutdown would work and have a clear picture of what it would look like.
Why 30 April 2010? I would have preferred to close at the start of the Northern Hemisphere summer schedule in late March, but recognizing that our first flight was 22 April 2000, I thought it would be worthwhile to keep the organization open for a full ten years.
Rather than make our final six months one of sadness, we plan on celebrating our achievements. We’ll have a special Viewpoint section to review our history and its successes and failures. I sincerely hope you’ll continue with us to the proud end.
Since you doubtless have many questions, I’ve answered a few of them below. You surely have others, so you can ask by posting a comment below, emailing me, or asking on our Message Boards. Of course, we also encourage your thoughts and response to this announcement.
I hope, after some time, you will also come to agree that this is the best course of action. I want to thank you all for your support of SimAirline.net over the years, and especially to our management team who have given their time and talent so freely for you.
What will happen to my flight hours?
Everyone that has been on the Pilot Roster since we released our new system in 2006 will have their hours listed on our website, which will remain open for several years afterwards in order to allow you time to find a new virtual airline home.
What will happen to the website?
We will keep an archived version of the site online so anyone can view it if they wish. The Message Boards have also fostered a great community, and that will remain open through at least the celebratory dinner (see below). We will also have a Facebook fan page so pilots can stay in touch.
When will the last PIREP be filed?
The last PIREP will need to be filed no later than 2359 GMT (1959 EDT) on 30 April 2010. No PIREPs after that time will be processed.
Will some parts of SimAirline.net stop now?
Yes, we will stop updating some aspects of SimAirline.net now. These include Destination of the Week, management hiring, designing new route maps and terminal maps, development of a classic Northwest Virtual, adding additional discontinued flights, and creating aircraft that we do not currently offer. We will of course continue to update the remainder of the website content through April.
So is 30 April the very end?
No, we plan on having a celebratory dinner of some kind at the Airliners International 2010 convention in New York City next August. We hope to see many of you there, and will announce more details in the coming months.
What will happen to money that pilots have contributed over the years?
We currently have nearly $500 in reserves, and can spend $200 to keep the site open for two years or $350 for five years. We have not decided how long to keep the website open, but would like to use the remainder to purchase thank-you gifts for the final management and moderating team. I hope you will contribute to this cause, either directly or indirectly by purchasing SimAirline.net-branded merchandise (we'll soon have special merchandise honoring our 2000-2010 history). If you feel misled and would like to receive a past contribution back, please let me know and I will work with you to try to arrange a fair payment.
What will you do?
I plan on using my newfound free time to travel more, volunteer and become more involved at church, spend more time outdoors, read history, literature, and commentary. I would be happy to become involved in other flight simulation endeavors after SimAirline.net closes.