1. Real-time interaction. "Back in the day," virtual airline pilots would complete their legs in empty skies, because the early-generation sims offered no alternative. Later, pilots could interact with artifically-generated air traffic. Now, pilots can interact with one another in real-time; and interacting with air traffic control and each other is part of the novelty of flying in a muliplayer environment.
2. Convenience and non-burdensomeness. Convenience for a global community of virtual pilots is difficult to achieve, but weekend days in the afternoon (UTC) was a popular timeslot for other FlightGear Multiplayer events, so it was a natural choice for TransGear events as well. Since its inception the times have been adjusted slightly in an attempt to accomodate the largest possible user-base; however, there are a few regions for which the times are not particularly accessible. As for the frequency of gatherings, a monthly event seemed to be frequent enough to avoid being forgotten, without being so often as to be a burden or to dominate the FlightGear Multiplayer landscape.
3. Realism, to a realistic degree. Flying a jet transport requires technical and procedureal knowledge far beyond that which appeals to most of the casual simulator crowd. Our Pilots' Handbook and Communication Handbook outline the basic procedures we use; many are adapted and 'watered-down' from the real-world, and in some cases, following exact published procedures are optional. Our focus is more on the interaction between pilot and air traffic control than on the rigors of perfect flight procedural adherence -- to a large extent it is up to each individual pilot how stritly they wish to follow real-world protocols. Navigation may be done by any preferred method, but to assist new pilots in learning to fly by realistic IFR routes, pre-made waypoint lists are available on the Charts and Resources page, and a Flight Planning Guide has been developed for those who wish to learn to create flight plans on their own.
4. Voice-based communication. Typing and flying isn't just annoying; it can cause crashes. Often times when you think you're typing a chat message, you may not be in the message composition dialog, and you'll be changing control settings, accellerating time, moving control surfaces, deploying gear or flaps at inappropriate and/or dangerous speeds, etcetera. Even the pre-canned chat messages are not fool-proof, nor do they cover the full range of communication needs in controlled airspace. FGCom has recently benefitted from the efforts of some new volunteer programmers, and has taken some major strides in becoming more universally user-friendly.
5. Open membership. We are a non-exclusive event, open to anyone in the FlightGear community, subject to a couple of very loose requirements as listed in the Membership section. In fact, we have no official membership. When each new month's schedules are posted and announced in the forum, please feel free to volunteer for any flight you wish. If you have questions, ask them. We'd love to have you.
I don't believe in creating a custom livery for my airline. Custom liveries are pretty, I guess, but the way FlightGear implements them means that they are only visible to those who have downloaded and installed them. Those who have not will possibly see the blue-and-yellow "Cannot Load Model" placeholder glider, or will simply not see anything at all. It's just not worth it. I much prefer that we all use the default liveries on whatever equipment we choose, so we can all see each other. I keep a list of approved equipment with download links so that we can all ensure we can see each other properly. If you would like to request a certain aircraft model to be added to the list, contact me on the forum or e-mail me.
The current stewards of TGA are:
Lukosius was charged with planning the events, including selecting the type of event, hubs, and official spoke airports for each hub. To be sure, this is the most labor intensive role in TGA.
Redneck took over as the Air Traffic Controller manager and handles auditions and assigning ATC personnel for each event. He also manages the approved aircraft list, and vets any new aircraft before they are added to the official list.
Yourgod was already hosting the TransGear website for Rob, so he took over as maintainer for the official site, and writes much of the custom scheduling software for the event.