In May 2024, IVAO welcomes three new divisions: the Lebanese, the Canadian and the United States ones.‌‌ These are actually two comebacks, as the US and CA divisions have already existed in the past. Then, the Canada and United States have been merged in the XA. The Lebanese FIR was a part of the XM division.

As we often say, IVAO is a big family made up of aviation enthusiasts. The divisions are on the front line, as they are local communities within this big family. They are the place where members exchange ideas, via Discord, where they benefit from trainings, exams but also events and lots of other activities.

In other words, the divisions and their staff members are the first point of contact with IVAO users.

But let's face it, creating a division is a lot of work because everything has to be built from scratch. There are many regulations to respect and constant coordination, throughout the process, with the Executive Council and IVAO HQ staff.

To better understand the process, which takes place mainly behind the scenes to not spoil the surprise, Virtual Sky interviewed two new directors: Charbel for the Lebanese division and Jordan for the Canadian one.

How long have you been working on opening your divisions ?

Charbel: "Looking back at the first version of the proposal document, it was dated February 2023, exactly one year prior to submitting the final version to HQ. Surely, the intention of having a Lebanese division goes back earlier than that. I have to admit that it was a one man-show until I initiated contact with today’s core elements of IVAO LB: Ahmad Dayeh and Elie Berberi in September 2023, followed by Rayan Sharara in March 2024. These compatriots have been referred to me by George Hamaty, a Veteran and friend from IVAO, who counseled me during the process. It is worth noting that the day I contacted the above-mentioned people, I didn’t take it lightly: I wanted to convince them that we deserve to have our division, that we are capable of it, so I prepared for it and had ready in my bag: a Discord, a website, 10 tours, 2 documents (VFR and IFR Procedure Manuals) and the proposal document. Their morale and enthusiasm skyrocketed. Today, I can proudly say I am the one that has to keep up with them!"

Jordan: "Since we got the green light for division creation, we have been working on opening our division here in Canada for 3 months. However, the original proposal for Canada goes back a couple of years with one failed attempt, but persistence and keeping that IVAO spirit kept us focused on our goal."

‌What were the main challenges you had to face?

Charbel: "As we’ll discuss it further down, Lebanon was part of XM.

Our first supporters for the creation of the Lebanese Division were the Lebanese in the XM division, and definitely the ones in other divisions. But we had to remain below radar for the whole time until the proposal was submitted. Nevertheless, to be able to progress, one must be able to trust people with information and responsibility without necessarily knowing them. Part of my job was to approach Lebanese people, and ask them if they would support the division creation or not, and in both cases, keep it confidential.

Also, IVAO came a long way for 25 years. We have now bylaws and regulations to follow, set there for a greater good and harmony. One of the challenges I can state evolves around me where I had to aim for my ADC + SPP to be able to make Director. In Feb 2023, I was still AS3 and PP.

But If I had to sum it up, I would say the hardest challenge is to find the right people for the right job, with the right motivation and motives! Staff members are here to serve, not to rule."

Jordan: "Our biggest challenge by far was making sure that after the split of the XA Division, that both divisions would be staffed for success. We had to ensure that not only we were staffed, but that the staff we chose were the best for the job."

Lebanon was attached to the XM division and Canada to the XA division. So these were regions where there was already an active division. In this context, why did you want to separate from these multiple country divisions to create your divisions?

Charbel: "I could tell you the evident reason, as stated above, that no one knows our country and would work for its interest more than us Lebanese: in terms of aviation culture, events, flights, procedures, openness to the eastern and western cultures equally. But one has to think rationally: the main reason is the understanding of the purpose of an MCD (Multi-Country Division).

An MCD functions as a one-way street, providing centralized essential service to separate countries. Its core mission is to cater to the needs of two or more neighboring countries that may not yet have the necessary resources to operate independently. A successful MCD is characterized by its dedication to nurturing each country's infrastructure and capabilities, preparing them for eventual safe separation and autonomous operation. Lebanon, having reached readiness, has successfully taken flight on its own."

Jordan: "This is a very easy question to answer. We want to ensure that the North American region is represented by our two Countries and has a better opportunity to grow. 33 FIR Regions combined, almost one quarter of the network FRA’s but a very little amount of opportunity to showcase with HQ Events. Splitting XA is a way to double the amount of events that can be showcased in our region. It also takes the amount of burden from ATC Ops teams on managing the sectorfiles. There are a lot of positives to this question, the US and CA Divisions will work closely together to showcase the region more often and together whenever possible."

A division is a small community within the large IVAO family. Do you agree with this statement and do you already feel this spirit of exchange between the members of your divisions?

Charbel: "While I acknowledge the role IVAO plays in fostering bonds between people and cultures, my personal interpretation of the terms "community" and "family" may differ slightly. In my view, family bonds hold a deeper significance compared to community ties. Thus, I would express it inversely: A division represents a close-knit family within the broader IVAO Community. Allow me to elaborate: Despite our small but increasing number on Discord, the Lebanese contingent has never been more engaged and active. Beyond aviation, we share a common language and numerous similarities. What truly sets IVAO apart as a community is its ability to unite these diverse families and cultures under the umbrella of aviation and shared human values, setting a commendable example for others to follow."

Jordan: "We are already seeing a great community flourish within our Discord. We have members from all over the IVAO community popping in and saying hello, but what we have noticed already is the amount of Canadians that have joined now knowing we have our own dedicated community. So this is giving some members a home for them within the IVAO family. Maybe a home they never really had."

Now that your divisions are officially created and visible to all IVAO members, what are the next challenges to overcome?

Charbel: "A division life starts after it is launched; this is the hardest part. Keeping the standard up where they should be, leading by example, tying good relations with the neighboring divisions, be attractive and courteous, interest more people to join us, whether Lebanese or not. A nice moto that I remind myself with: Trust us, and we’ll deliver! But trust is earned and kept afloat."

Jordan: "We want to streamline our training processes. Simplify the first steps as ATC and get the users on the scope gaining actual experience at a facility. We always hear 2 of the same complaints “Oh there are no pilots so why control” & “No ATC so why should I fly”. We aim to break this barrier by a “Build it and they will come” mentality. Our focus, lighting up those scopes and as often as possible."

During the creation process, you collaborated with your divisional staff, with the executive council and the IVAO HQ's staff. How did this coordination go with all these people?

Charbel: "No one in IVAO is working for money, which has its pros and cons. Starting by the cons: things might be slower than we would like, in times of division staff excitement about their division launch. Coming to the pros: Everyone is passionate about their job, no one is obliged to provide. Collaboration, support and help we got from HQ, were coming from the heart, and based on sense of sharing against nothing in return. I personally feel fortunate to have been part of this exclusive experience in close and direct contact with HQ, for not every day a division is created on IVAO."

Jordan: "A great amount of communication between the Executive and the HQ Departments started off in a workgroup chat. I had direct access to everyone that I needed to speak to, and they had access to my team members to coordinate onboarding processes. Local Services made the whole process easy and without any hiccups. We all somewhat settled on a launch date and worked from there. Overall I was very impressed with the process."

Can you explain to IVAO users the specifics of your divisions?

Charbel: "Lebanon is a jewel to its people, although being more than 15 million living outside of Lebanon and only about 4 million inside, many Lebanese come back to visit the family at least once a year. Our division might be small reflecting real-life numbers, but that country is so tailor-made for us! Its presence on the international scene is kept alive by the Lebanese diaspora, by their professionalism and success. Our division is based on a multicultural population, combining 18 communities just like in real life. We promote respect and diversity. Apart from providing a unique user-friendly interface, simplified for everyone, we do propose a training program like no other, tailored made for every person all the while respecting high quality standards.Our staff members are devoted and accessible people in service of the division and its members, promising an exquisite experience beyond our borders!"

Jordan: "At IVAO Canada, you will see a great community always helping each other build their online career. We are friendly, welcoming and fun."

The United States division

The US division did not have to go through the whole process of creating a division, as its return is the "happy consequence" of the creation of the Canadian division. The North American region once again has two divisions.

But the US division still had to work on its reopening, which required staff involvement. Work was carried out to make major changes to their website and their visual identity.

From a logistical point of view, several questions arose: how to distribute the XA members between Canada and the United States? How could we ensure that the progression of XA ours was preserved? What to do with the XA's GCAs? Here are the answers to all these questions

  • By default, members of the XA became members of the US division. To join the Canadian division, a classic division transfer request must be made

  • The progression of tours started in XA is preserved, they are managed by the US division. The CA division has a lot of new tours as well

  • The XA GCAs became by default US GCAs. To become a guest controller in the CA division, a request has to be made via the CA website

Virtual Sky welcomes the Lebanese, Canadian and United States divisions!

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