Step Climbs Extra Option (East/West/Even/Odd routes/FLs)

Hey there, so I just got this OFP-with step climbs selected, it’s starting me @ FL310, then FL330, then FL320, then FL330 again. It would be great if we had a Step Climb option to tick Eastbound/Odd levels or Westbound/Even levels, I’ve noticed it does this a lot in Europe but I don’t fly there much-not sure what their SOP is. Vatsim just wants to have you Odd Levels if your flight goes East of the departure and Even Levels if it’s West. This flight is SLIGHTLY East, so I’ll probably remain at FL330 if not up to FL350 before the end. Derek-if you have any advice on this I’d appreciate it. I know I can turn off the steps but for a longer flight like this the A321 def needs the step.


I think VATSIM basically tries to follow real world procedures as much as possible. It’s true that the basic rule is Eastbound = Odd, Westbound = Even. But technically speaking, if you have a route that alternates between Eastbound and Westbound along the way, you’d be expected to alternate between odd and even altitudes, like SimBrief did in your flight plan. The regulations from different countries aren’t always clear when it comes to this, but every real world flight planning system I’ve seen operates this way.

Put another way, it isn’t the “average” direction between the airports that matters, but the direction you’re flying at any given moment.

Of course, once you actually take off, you would do what ATC needs/asks you to do. On this flight, it’s very likely that ATC wouldn’t bother asking you to change to an even altitude for such a short period. But they might need to if they had other traffic coming the other way, for example.

Europe is totally different. There are some FIRs (and even specific airways) that use completely different altitude rules. For example, over most of France, the rule is Northbound = Even, Southbound = Odd. SimBrief takes all of this into account, which can certainly result in a lot of altitude changes when crossing Europe. This is true for real flights as well.

One day I would like to separate the “Stepclimbs” option into 2 options. Perhaps one option for actual Step climbs, and one to enable airway/airspace altitude restrictions and rules. It’s a big change to the underlying code and therefore probably won’t be done in the near future.

As for what you can do in your example, if you want to keep step climbs but maybe remove the brief step-down: Generally what I recommend is to generate the flight plan, and on the OFP Summary page, copy the Route text near the top. For reference, your flight had the following:

MHITO1 FUNDI UM335 UDNET/N0468F330 UM335 LEPON/N0468F320 UM335 ARNAL/N0469F330 UL465 TBG UM674 QIT DCT

I would copy that route, go back to the “Edit Flight” screen, and paste it into the Route box. Then, remove or edit any step climbs as required. So in this case, we could simply remove the step down to F320 at LEPON.


Also, set the Altitude option to the initial altitude that was shown in the OFP Summary page (FL310 in this case). Doing so will automatically disable the Stepclimbs option, but that’s fine since we’ve manually entered them in the route now. Now, regenerate your OFP and it should follow the initial altitude and step climbs you defined, which means the step down will be removed.

Best regards,

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Thanks so much Derek

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