Statement from FLAi

We’re sad to share with the community that Fly AI (FLAi) has been decommissioned. Website users will no longer be able to access FLAi files.

For many years, FLAi had allowed VATSIM pilots connecting with FSX and P3D to see other aircraft depicted with the correct livery and type. We’ve been proud to work with VATSIM Virtual Airlines, Worldflight teams, and others to make sure that custom liveries were available. However, we’ve been even happier to work with the freeware developers who created almost all of the models and repaints that were available in FLAi.

In December, a group of painters revoked our permission to use their work in our package. Together, this group represented about 90% of the liveries available in FLAi. Without liveries, there really is no reason to use FLAi on VATSIM. Furthermore, there was no clear path for MSFS compatibility for our package.

(We don’t want to try to summarize the past ten days of discussion trying to bring FLAi back. However, for transparency, we’ll share two elements of the discussion. First: a concern expressed was that a separate group was planning to use FLAi in a new project. The painters who are revoking permissions felt that this third-party group made FLAi as a conduit toward using work without permission. This third-party has since removed publicity and explicitly stated that FLAi won’t be required for any of its free products. However, that has not resulted in a change of heart from the contributors who want their work removed. Second: the only option the group of painters were willing to consider, outside of simply having all their work removed from the platform, was to distribute FLAi exclusively through their own free installer / flight plan downloads. After discussion with them, we decided that although this method might be possible, the result wouldn’t meet the standards our users have come to expect, and was likely to take a significant development and support effort. Ultimately, it’s been made clear that a version of FLAi that includes these painters’ work will never be permitted to go back online unless it is delivered exclusively through their own installer.)

Over the past few days, we’ve seen our well-intentioned product turn into heated discussions and strong disagreement. That’s never what FLAi was about. Our biggest success with this project was reaching more than 50 of the best freeware developers, asking for their permission, and including their best models and liveries into an easily-accessible package for users. As soon as we realized we didn’t have the freeware community on our side—and in fact, might even have been hurting the community we’re part of—we decided it was time to walk away.

The renewed interest in the community accompanying the release of MSFS is exciting to see. FLAi has never had a clear path to supporting MSFS and so in some ways it is a good time for a transition. Despite what some have expressed, it has always been our intention to work with the community, obtain permission, and provide credit for everything included in our work. As others seek to fill the void we’ve left in the community, it is our hope that they take the wishes of content creators into account in the way they act. Specifically, we hope VATSIM is able to gather a group of dedicated members to create and donate their own models and liveries for use in the community, which could represent a path toward re-establishing model matching for the network.

We know there will be several comments and questions. We have agreed that if we respond to those, it will be from our personal accounts, thus making this the last “official” post from FLAi. We won’t be responding to private messages sent to this account.

Over the past several days, we have received so many messages of support and thanks, both for us and for the original freeware content creators who helped make this possible, here on Facebook. During our outage, we didn’t receive a single negative DM; everyone was saying “thanks for letting us know” and “we hope you’re back soon”. In the interest of the community, we ask you to continue this spirit and please keep your comments on this thread polite, constructive, and respectful.

The words “we’re sad to share” at the beginning of this post don’t do the feeling justice. We’ve worked so hard to bring what we could to the VATSIM community, and we fought as hard as we could to keep it. We are glad to have been a small part of VATSIM members’ enjoyment for the past several years, and truly hope the VATSIM community comes together to continue what we started.

- Evan, Matthew, Ryan, Szymon

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