JHB Airlines


Pilot login

May we offer you a warm welcome to JHB Airlines

We are a small virtual airline with a free-flying policy. You may fly as often or as little as you wish, you can fly our scheduled routes and suggested tours, or you can just do your own thing an any aircraft of your choice, with only a few constraints such as complying with the rules and procedures of VATSIM or IVAO when flying on line. The most important rule is to make sure you do not spoil any other virtual pilot's enjoyment of the hobby. We also suggest reading our Operations pages before taking to the skies.

Why JHB Airlines?

Well, it's a long story. Although we are now based in the UK, JHB started life back in 1995 as the Johannesburg Hub of Noble Air. In 1998 the hub became a separate VA under the name of Johannesburg Airlines and focussed on flights around the African continent. By 2001 it became obvious that the majority of pilots flying for the airline were based in the UK and the decision was taken to relocate to new bases at Liverpool and Ronaldsway. The JHB name was retained for nostalgia.

In July 2004 it was decided to change the format of JHB and move towards an online operation. In this respect our target membership was those pilots familiar with Microsoft Flight Simulator, with reasonable flying skills, who up to then had not ventured into the online world with active Air Traffic Control (ATC) and live traffic - other online flyers - from all over the world.

Initially we joined FPI, a German based online flying organisation, and we shared many group flights with this simple to operate organisation. Sadly, they folded in 2007, so we joined IVAO. This move was very successful for a few years, but as often happens, enthusiasm and members fell away, until we were told by IVAO that we could no longer qualify for "Virtual Airline" status with them.

How JHB Airlines Operates

The airline is now primarily an "online" VA with pilots regularly flying on the VATSIM or IVAO multiplayer networks. IVAO is ideal for newcomers to this online world as it is not as busy as VATSIM and has a less formal atmosphere. We can show pilots who are accustomed to flying on their own how to operate in an interactive world where the default Flight Simulator ATC and AI (computer generated traffic) systems are replaced with live aircraft flown by other pilots — and with ATC being provided by online controllers whose hobby is providing Air Traffic Control.

The world of online flying can be intimidating for new pilots at first (you never know who's watching you!), but we expect this and can provide help and guidance through the forum to help pilots learn the real life procedures for flight in the UK. We do not provide formal training as we assume that most users have already developed the basic aircraft handling skills, but we can give guidance on radio navigational and procedural matters. With a little nerve (it can be scary talking to ATC for the first few times) and practice, pilots should soon reach a level of profiency at which they can fly IFR or VFR in the UK confidently, using procedures that are very close to real world flight procedures. After that they can venture further afield.


Realistic flight controls are a significant advantage for this hobby. A simple joytick can be effective, but separate rudder controls — pedals preferably, or a twist-grip joystick, make make a more realistic flight, particularly when landing and taking off in brisk crosswoinds. Not essential, but "nice to have" if funds permit, are switch panels and radios, which are available complete or in kit form. The internet will reveal all!

For online flying there is an additional item you need — a headset with a mike boom to communicate with other pilots and ATC. There are three types based on the connector: jackplug, USB and wireless (Bluetooth). If your PC has only one sound card, a USB headset can be a good choice, as they contain their own sound card. This means you can talk to ATC via the headset, with aircraft sounds coming from speakers – a more realistic effect than having all the sound coming through the headset.



VATSIM - Virtual Air Traffic Simulator, consists of a network of servers which permit flight simulator pilots to see each other and talk to Air Traffic Control. It is a sophisticated system which follows real world rules and procedures, and includes training schemes for both Air Traffic Controllers and Pilots, so that, should you choose to take your virtual flying seriously, it can genuinely be "as real as it gets". VATSIM uses third-party developed connection software, with vPilot being the most modern and easy to use. There is a huge amount of information available to help new simmers on the VATSIM website.


IVAO, the International Virtual Aviation Organisation, has an identical purpose to VATSIM, but operates in a somewhat different way. The IVAO pilot software (called IVAp) and the Air Traffic Control software (called IVAc) have been developed in-house, and can be found at http://www.ivao.aero/softdev/. Pilots also need the "TeamSpeak" voice software – found in the Voice Client Menu. Once IVAp is installed the window becomes part of your FS display but can be hidden if not needed. The voice software operates independently and sits on your taskbar. It only takes a second to set up with your headset and you are in action.


Although there are a variety of aircraft in JHB Airlines livery available here, for the FSX family including Prepar3D, and increasingly for X-Plane, you may choose any aircraft that you have in your collection for your flights. A vast number of aircraft are available from the larger FS Internet sites (AVSIM or Flightsim.com) for all major FS products. If you have a favourite, then we can arrange to create a JHB livery for it, although we cannot handle too many requests as the process is not simple.

The following points on aircraft should be noted:


There are aircraft in our fleet for "General Aviation" - small, often single-engine aircraft, and there are "regional" (medium range) turbo-prop and jet aircraft in our fleet.  Occasionally an aircraft you would like to fly in FSX which is stated to be available for FS2004.  However, it may work in FSX, so if it freeware, it is worth a try. The vintage Boeing 737-200 M-JHBM in our fleet list is such an example.


X-plane has fewer "easy" options than the FSX family. If you crash you have to start from your departure airport again. You cannot "slew" to a favourable position. In short, it's a more serious simulator and less of a game. This more "serious" approach often attracts flyers, therefore, who first started out with FSX but appreciate the tougher challenge in X-Plane to get it right without crashing!

Scenery for JHB Routes

Addon scenery is not necessary for JHB flights but pilots can install enhanced scenery from the usual FS or X-Plane download sites. Many UK pilots use the superb photographic scenery for VFR flights when flying within England and Wales and airports from UK2000, Horizon Simulation or the FSX freeware collection of airfields from Tony Meredith.

For X-Plane, the X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 12 default airfields are often sufficiently good as to make freeware less of a necessity than in FSX. However, there is a large amount of freeware scenery available from the X-Plane.org site. A huge ‘game-changer’ has been the recent explosion in availability of aerial photographs, digital elevation data, and open-sourced and crowdsourced geospatial data such as OpenStreetMap (OSM) which contains roads, railways and even building footprints. With suitable tools, these can be imported into X-Plane. Aerial photographs combined with free Digital Elevation Maps (DEM) can be used to create orthoscenery: photographic scenery that makes for a very realistic flying environment. The SimHeaven site contains scenery derived from OSM data including roads and buildings, while the Ortho4XP tool allows you to create your own photographic scenery. Compared to commercially available scenery, however, the aerial photographs are not colour-balanced with each other and so there can be mismatches between ‘tiles’, but it is free! If you don't have orthotiles (which can require a lot of disk space!) but want to improve the shape of the default landscape, you can download high-definition mesh scenery. Alpilotx.net created a set of free HD mesh files that can still be downloaded although development ceased in 2018.

Planning Flights

Aeronautical Information

Aeronautical information is always changing. Aviation charts and other data are created by each country's air navigation service provider (ANSP) and published as Aeronautical Information Publications (AIP) on a 28-day cycle called the AIRAC cycle. In PC flight simulators, however, the navigation data is static or is updated only infrequently. This means that becomes out of date, which is a problem especially when flying on-line as VATSIM and IVAO expects pilots to operate with the latest navigation charts.

Each ANSP nowadays tends to publish its AIP on-line and often for free. However, these data need to be gathered by the pilot manually from each ANSP, are not necessarily easy to work with and cannot be input directly into the simulator's navigation databases (and manual editing is impractical). Companies and organisations such as Jeppesen or Lufthansa LIDO therefore exist to compile information from each ANSP, package it as charts and navigation databases, and sell them to airlines and other users. For flight simulator users, Navigraph buys navigation data and charts from Jeppesen and repackages it expressly for flight simulators, with navigation databases for the Garmin and Flight Management Systems even tailored to individual payware aircraft, at a much lower cost than service to airlines (although not zero).

For basic information on airways and airports, especially in the USA, Skyvector.com has free VFR and IFR aeronautical charts.

Flight Planning Tools

Even with access to real world en route charts through a free service like Skyvector or from AIP data, a flight planning assistance tool is well worth obtaining. (FSX has its own built in planner but there are products that do the job much better. X-Plane does not have an inbuilt planner.) There are two good freeware flight plannings applications now available on the Internet.

Little Nav Map

Little Navmap is (as at the end of 2022) a freeware planner for FSX, P3D and X-Plane. Little Navmap collects its data from your simulator's scenery files and so its database becomes unique to your scenery collection, and it ships with a default navigation database that can be updated by downloading the latest AIRAC cycle from Navigraph for a fee.

You can use the Little Navmap map display and functions to plan your route with a few simple mouse clicks. Little Navmap can then save the planned route in a format which can be loaded into the autopilot and/or FMC and then, if you wish, automatically fly the planned route you have just created - not that that is actually much fun! In a sense Little Navmap is a GPS navigation system with lots of functions and possibilities depending on the system(s) you have and what you want to do. When flying online, you can also see on the map display, other aircraft on the network within a 40 Nm radius of your aircraft. Flying (IFR and/or VFR) is therefore made easy by using it as a real time moving map.

For information on the freeware Little Navmap see https://albar965.github.io/littlenavmap.html


Plan-G has been around for several years, and was one of the first, if not the first, map-based flight planner for all simulators. It is simple to use and can create flight plans for direct use in FSX or P3D. Its target audience really is General Aviation pilots, but it can be used for long-haul with some limitations. Details can be found on the Plan-G website.

Flights and Procedures

All flights should be logged. The PIREPs option on the main menu takes you to the form to record your flight. The result is emailed to the webmaster who adds it to the running record shown on the Pilots web page. The form includes error trapping to prevent simple errors. Flight times should be recorded as in real life from the time you start taxying (brakes off) until you come to a halt at your destination (brakes on).

Do not rely on the clock in FS to record your flight times.  The "World" tab in FSX gives UTC time as well as local time.  Use UTC times for your flights.

JHB Airlines keeps only limited data, so if you want full details of your flights such as times, day or night flight, visual or instrument flight, then keep your own records, plus backups. Hard drive crashes are not uncommon and some pilots have had the misfortune to lose all their valuable pilot records.


JHB Airlines does not give pilots assignments. Members are free to fly what they wish, where they wish. Pilots are welcome to start off with the flight packs listed on the Flight Pack page. However, controller coverage online is variable and manned controller positions may determine the routes that pilots choose to fly.

Still interested ??

If you are interested in flying with us, send an email to admin@jhbairlines.org.uk.

Upon receipt of a pilot application, you will be assigned a temporary JHB Pilot ID. New pilots will be required to fly at least two flights each of 30 minutes minimum duration in the first two weeks with the airline. They will have a further one week to submit their first Pilot Reports (PIREPs) for these flights. On receipt of the reports they will be validated and, if correct, the pilot will be given a JHB Pilot ID and the rank of Pilot Officer. If a pilot does not submit a flight report within one week period without a valid reason for not doing so, he or she will not qualify for admission to the airline. All new pilots must also join the JHB Airlines Forum.

Pilot Promotions

JHB Pilot promotions are based on hours flown. The current ranks and hours required are:

Rank Stripes Hours required
Flight Officer 0 - 10
Captain Over 10
Flight Captain Over 20
Senior Captain Over 40
Senior Flight Captain Over 80
Commercial Captain Over 150
Senior Commercial Captain Over 300
ATP Captain Over 500
Senior ATP Captain Over 750
Master ATP Captain Over 1500
Command ATP Captain Over 3500

Additional Awards

Global Rating -

Pilots who complete a round world flight will be awarded a G suffix to their Pilot ID and a gold star on their rank. The circumnavigation can be of any chosen route but total flight distance must exceed 20,000nm.


Before joining JHB Airlines, please read this Manual to be sure we are right for your flight simulation needs and expectations.

Contact us at admin@jhbairlines.org.uk

Do not hesitate to ask any questions..... JHB is a very friendly hub and all my pilots would respond to any questions you may wish to ask about the airline.