The Complete Guide to Flight Scoring
Our Flight Scoring is a completely automatic process, however it has not always been transparent how it operates. Therefore, this post will give an overview of how it works.
The flight scoring is based on the data collected by VAS ACARS during your flight. It collects data about your flight at a set interval, currently 5 seconds. However, this value is configurable remotely and as such may change at any time. VAS ACARS will also send your data to the ACARS server at a set interval, currently 10 seconds. Using this data, the live flights page will be updated. This data is currently not stored or used anywhere else, so it is safe to fly offline, as long as VAS ACARS is recording.
As you may know, after every flight, your flight is automatically scored (usually within seconds). This is a score from 0-100 percent. Flights that have a score equal to or greater than 70%, will need to be approved by a staff member to be included in our flights list and in your flight hours. Flights that score below 70% are automatically denied, as are flights that are not complete, such as no takeoff, no landing, an incorrect start location or a crash, as reported by your flight simulator.
Each flight’s score is shown at the bottom of the page, where each individual item is listed. If you haven’t executed a
flight yet, you can use this flight as a reference, otherwise
you can of course use one of your own flights and compare the items against all items below.
The first section is General, i.e. these checks are executed during all phases of flight. Firstly, they check your pitch, bank and G-force. If they exceed the listed value, you will lose all of the points. The same is true when the simulator reports an overspeed or stall. You will also lose all points for the max service ceiling item when you exceed the maximum service ceiling as listed on the aircraft model page, for the flight listed above it would be this page about the Lufthansa Airbus A320, which lists the maximum service ceiling as 39,800 ft. For some of these items, a small grace period may be allowed.
An explanation of all phases
When you click Start Recording in VAS ACARS, the Pre-Departure phase is the phase you start in. In this phase, your plane should be in Cold & Dark configuration, i.e. your engines are off, your flaps and slats are up and your spoilers are stowed. All of these items are checked continuously, which means you will lose all points for the item when you do not fulfill the requirements for even a short amount of time. The parking brake check is of a different kind in that it only needs to be triggered once. This means your parking brake should be set, but the duration or timing does not matter. The last check is the ample pre-departure time. This check is a special check that is currently used no where else in the flight scoring. The number of points you get depends on the time you are in the pre-departure phase. You will currently get the full amount of points if you are in this phase for at least 10 minutes. If you are in this phase for only 5 minutes, you will only get half of the points and likewise for all other times.
The pushback phase starts when you start your pushback. If you have a roll-through stand, a pushback is not required and your pushback phase will be removed from the scoring and will not negatively impact your scoring. This is detected based your initial course on-ground.
If you are doing a pushback, make sure your engines are turned off when starting your pushback, as it is otherwise impossible to distinguish your pushback from your taxi-out, and therefore you will not receive any points for this phase. We are still looking into solutions for this problem, as you might want to start your engines early in icing conditions or other special circumstances.
After you have completed your push-back and your engines have started, your taxi-out phase starts. The maximum taxi speed is 30 knots, so please pay attention to this when taxiing. You should extend your flaps before or during the taxi-out, either one will give you full points. You should also have set the transponder to a squawk code given by ATC (or, if flying offline, an IFR squawk code) before starting your taxi. If the squawk code is still 1200 during your taxi-out, you will lose all points. You should of course also use your taxi light in your taxi-out.
When you are on the runway, and you start your take-off roll, the take-off phase starts. Before starting your take-off roll, you should turn on your landing and strobe lights. In the first few seconds of take-off, you should of course not pitch up too heavily, which is why there is a check for a pitch that does not exceed 15 degrees.
Once you are more than 35 feet AGL (Above Ground Level), you will transition to the take-off acceleration phase. You should retract your landing gear during this phase and make sure you stay below the maximum speed of 250 kts.
When you get above 1500 ft AGL, you are in the initial climb phase. In this phase you should retract your flaps and turn off your landing light. You will transition to the cruise phase when you get to 11,000 ft AGL.
The cruise phase is usually the longest part of your flight. It checks that you do not extend your landing gear or flaps or turn on your landing light.
The initial approach phase starts when you reach 10,000 ft AGL. Here we again make sure you do not exceed -15 degrees. If you do not get full points for this item, it means your descent was too rapid. We also check you extend your flaps and you do not exceed 250 kts. You should also turn on your landing light when you reach 10,000 ft, so that is also checked here.
When you get to 1,000 ft AGL, we again check your pitch, flaps and speed. We also check you have extended or extend your landing gear. You should also not use your speed brakes in the final phases of flight.
The landing phase starts when you get to 50 ft AGL. In these final few seconds, your vertical speed should not be too high, or you will lose all points for this phase.
Once you get to taxiing speed (30 kts), you will transition into the taxi-in phase. From that moment on, you should keep to the taxiing speed limit of 30 kts. You should also turn off your landing light, turn on your taxi light and retract your flaps.
The arrived phase only starts when you are parked at the gate and your engines are turned off and spooled down. Their N2 should be less than 5.0. If you don’t let them spool down, you will lose all points in this phase, as it is impossible for the system to detect you are arrived. When you get to this phase, the final few checks are performed, such as setting your parking brake, having retracted your flaps, having stowed your speed brakes and turning off your taxi and strobe lights. Ideally you have of course done this while the engines are spooling down, such that you can click Stop Recording in VAS ACARS when the engines have spooled down sufficiently.
Those were all the items on the list, so you can now better understand why you were scored the way you were.
For short flights, the flight scoring is slighly altered because most short flights do not reach 11,000 ft AGL and as such they would not be scored correctly. For flights that are less than 120 nautical miles great-circle distance, the following alterations have been made to the flight scoring process:
- The initial climb phase is skipped; when you reach 1500 ft AGL you will directly transition to the cruise phase.
- The cruise phase does not check flaps or the landing light.
- The initial approach phase is skipped; when you reach 1000 ft AGL you will directly transition to the final approach phase.
This means that there are fewer points to be earned on a short flight, and consequently a mistake will lead to a larger reduction in the flight score.
As in any system, there are still some problems we would like to resolve. The biggest problem at the moment is that not all addons are compatible with FSUIPC’s light detection, which means that the system misses lights that are turned on/off. However, the lights are only a small part of the flight score and therefore won’t get your flight denied.
There are some guides available for specific aircraft to fix some of their issues:
- FlightFactor A320 Ultimate for X-Plane
- IXEG 737
- PMDG. In general, PMDG aircraft are configured correctly automatically by VAS ACARS and usually only require a restart of your simulator.
Other aircraft do not need special configuration or are detected by VAS ACARS without any user configuration necessary.
If you spot any other problems, please create a support ticket, and we will try to help you as best we can.
The pilot points awarded to each flight are based on the flight score, your rank and your landing rate. First of all, we multiply the flight hours by your rank’s points per hour, as found here in the sidebar. Then, we will multiply it by your score, i.e. if you scored 94%, we will multiply it by 0.94. Lastly, we will award bonus points based on your landing rate. If the landing rate qualifies for this bonus, we will add one hour’s worth of your rank’s points to the score. This final calculation results in your flight’s Pilot Points.
If you have any other questions not answered in this (quite long) guide, please create a support ticket.