Get Started Today!

Step 1: Choose a Flight Simulator, Flight Controls, Headset
If you're already a veteran flight simmer, you can skip this step and proceed to Step 2. For those that are just beginning their flight simulator journey, the first thing you will need to do is decide which flight simulator you would like to use, and then buy a legal copy of the simulator. This is the only part of this process that you will have to pay for. The vaBase ACARS currently supports the following simulators. Clicking the name will take you to their respective website:

Once you have the simulator up and running, you will notice that you will be flying the aircraft by either a keyboard, mouse, joystick, or combination. For those wanting a more realistic flight experience, you will want to explore purchasing a flight control package which could include a control wheel, throttle console, and rudder pedals. This flight control package will need to be compatible with your simulator. There are many options available and you will need to research which is best for you. A good place to start might be to reach out on our Discord to see what everyone else is using for your particular simulator. In addition, if you are flying online and using ATC services through VATSIM, IVAO, or PilotEdge, you will want a headset (preferrably USB, non-bluetooth) as your default communications device.

Step 2: Sign-Up with Express Air Virtual
Time for you to join, if you haven't already done so. All you need to do is click here and fill in a short form telling us a few details about you. You will also need to join our Discord Channel if you haven't already. Please also be aware that you do need to be at least 16 years old to join Express Air Virtual. We take your data very seriously. If you want to know more about how we handle your data, please read our Privacy Policy.

Step 3: Download & Install XPUIPC or FSUIPC
If you are using the X-Plane simulator, you will need to download and install XPUIPC. For all other simulators, you will need to download and install FSUIPC. These free software programs will run in the background when you start your simulator and will assist in the tracking of flight data during your flight and communication of that flight data to the vaBase ACARS.

Step 4: Download & Install vaBase ACARS
The last step before jumping into the simulator is to download our Flight Tracking Software, vaBase ACARS. When you are logged into Flight Crew (top right on the website header), you can find this in the Downloads page or you can download it here. Please read the installation instructions carefully. Once this is installed, you will need to login with your Express Air pilot ID number, email and password.

Step 5: Download and Install Liveries (Optional)
At the moment, we have separate liveries for Express Air and Express Cargo which are available (for free) for the MSFS versions of the A320-200 (Fenix), A320-251Neo (FBW), Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, ATR 42-600, and ATR 72-600. If you purchased the Analog Steam Gauge version of the C208B for MSFS, then our liveries will also work for that version too. To download our free liveries, just go to the Operations drop-down menu and click Aircraft Liveries. From there, you can select which livery you want and download the zip file. There are plenty of YouTube videos that show where to put these files once you unzip and extract them. If you don’t wish to fly using our liveries, then that is perfectly fine too! As long as you’re flying an aircraft of the correct class, we don't mind which livery your aircraft is painted in. Just make sure you still use our EXPRESS callsign when flying online.

Step 6: Book & Dispatch Your Flight
Now, you need to pick where you want to fly to! You will start your first flight from the base you picked during registration. Don't worry, after your flight you can either continue from your destination, and do a flight from there, or use our Jump Seat tool to change your location instantly, giving you more flexibility to fly our range of routes. To book a flight, we suggest you head to our Route Map and select your current location. This will then show you all flights from that airport, and give you the information in a list below the map. Click the flight number to view more information. You do not need to fly your flight on the dates or times listed, you can fly them anytime. Just make sure to pick the correct aircraft type that you intend to fly. Don't worry about the registration, just use any provided. When you are happy with this flight, click the Disptach Flight button in the top right of the page. Once your flight has been booked, head to the Dispatch Center for more details on your flight.

If you are flying online with ATC, then all Express Air and Express Cargo flights are required to file an IFR flight plan regardless of weather. So, you will need to be knowledgable about IFR flight planning, departure procedures, standard terminal arrivals, and the various approaches at your destination. Some pilots prefer to use a free service like Skyvector to help them plan their IFR flights and then download their flight plan. They will then use Little Navmap to open their Skyvector flight plan, and convert it into a compatible flight plan which they then load into their aircraft once their simulator is up and running. If you are a SimBrief user, in conjunction with Navigraph, then we recommend clicking Dispatch via SimBrief to get an experience that you are more familiar with.

Dispatch via SimBrief (Optional). You can use this tool if you already have a free SimBrief account. Click the button and then you will be presented with flight details. You must leave the aircraft ICAO the same. You can customize other values to your liking. You need to delete the Route box and leave it blank if you would like SimBrief to generate you a more up-to-date routing. When ready, click Dispatch Flight. You will now be presented with your flight information. Click Actions in the top right to download your flight plan PDF and also pre-file your flight plan to IVAO or VATSIM.

Step 7: Prepare Your Flight
Everytime you want to fly with Express Air or Express Cargo, you must use vaBase ACARS to track your flight. So, open the vaBase ACARS application and log in. You should see your dispatched flight. Enter any missing information like alternate airport, altitude, and the route of your flight plan. Do NOT click 'Start Flight' yet. Open your simulator and load the aircraft into the sim. Once on the ramp, add fuel to your aircraft and then click 'Start Flight.' The system will remind you of this every time you start a flight. Once you have clicked 'Start Flight' in vaBase ACARS, then you can minimize the program to your taskbar and just let it run in the background. Do NOT close it. If all is working well, after a few minutes, your aircraft should show up on our Live Flights page.

Step 8: Fly Your Flight
Showtime. If you are flying online with ATC, your callsign will start with 'EXPRESS' regardless of whether you are flying an Express Air (EXA) flight or Express Cargo (EXC) flight. The difference is that Express Air will have a 3-digit flight number and Express Cargo will have a 4-digit flight number. So, for example, if you dispatched flight EXA384, you would use the callsign EXPRESS THREE-EIGHTY-FOUR when communicating with ATC. For flight EXC1023, you would use the callsign EXPRESS TEN-TWENTY-THREE when communicating with ATC. You should never use the aircraft registration number or your pilot ID when filing a flight plan or communicating with ATC (with the exception of the Tours - in which case you should use your Pilot ID when filing a flight plan or communicating with ATC). Always use the flight number for the flight that you dispatch. We love to see photos and screenshots of you flight, so make sure to take plenty of pics and head over to Discord to show off your exploits.

Step 9: Officially Logging Your Flight
When you land at your arrival airport (or your designated alternate airport), you need to taxi to an appropriate stand or parking area, and shut down all engines. Once all engines have been shut down, then vaBase ACARS will allow you to end the flight. Before you close the simulator or exit the plane, open vaBase ACARS from your taskbar, and make sure to click End Flight. If all is well, this will confirm your flight has been logged. Once you have had this success message, you can then close vaBase ACARS and exit the simulator. It can take up to 10 minutes for the system to review your flight report, and once it has, this will show in your logbook and on your Flight Crew dashboard on the website.

Step 10: Get Involved, Get Social & Get Ranked
We want to build a dynamic community of pilots who love to fly passenger flights, cargo flights, or both! We encourage you to fly our schedule, but we also have several Flight Tours (Hawaii and Alaska) available for you to enjoy. Check them out and see if you'd like to complete one or both of the tours. We also have our Discord and Social Media for you to engage with. So, find some cool routes, get those miles logged, gain experience and level up through the Ranks to become the most experienced pilot at Express Air Virtual.

Flying Online or Offline?
We welcome virtual pilots who wish to fly either online or offline. We understand flying online with other pilots and ATC on networks such as VATSIM, IVAO, or PilotEdge can be intimidating for those who don't have a lot of experience. It is much more difficult to fly while communicating with ATC and takes quite a bit of experience to become proficient, but flying the Cessna C208B can help ease the ATC learning curve since it is a much easier aircraft to fly when starting out. You can find more information about the online networks by clicking their names:

Need Help & Support?
We're here to help with any issues, questions or queries you have. They can be flight sim related, Express Air related or just aviation in general. We may either answer your question or direct you to tools and resources which may help you. You can contact us by using the email button below and we will respond to you that way. We aim to respond to your message within 12 hours. However, during high demand periods or holidays, we may take up to 48 hours to respond. We're all volunteers here.