Beta testing, and what it's all about

Greetings pilots!  I wanted to take some time to post about the Beta testing group here at MetroAir Virtual Airlines that some of you may or may not be aware exists, give everyone some insight into what the group is all about, and give a glimpse into what it’s like to be in my shoes.  MetroAir has had a formal beta testing group since pretty close to the beginning of the airline (forum posts date back to August 2007) and it has gone through many iterations of members since then.

For those who aren’t aware, beta testing is a form of testing within the software development world where a programming team releases what should be close to a production level product to a limited group of people to help validate a relatively bug free set of deliverables.  Within MetroAir, that mainly includes a list of anything and everything that can be found within your download center of your pilot profile (aircraft, both new and updated versions, paints, ACARS, etc).  The typical process for a new or updated file to land on the downloads page follows these steps:

  1. A need for the update is identified
  2. Research is done into what all the update will entail, and the update is planned out
    – This can include investigating a problem people are reporting, investigating incorrect parameters in the existing package, etc.
  3. Updates are made to the package (this could be in the form of updating flight dynamics, finding a new panel, updating an existing panel, updating a model, etc)
  4. I’ll test the updates in both FS9 and FSX until I can’t find any obvious bugs.  This usually means flying a few test flights in the updated aircraft, or flying some flights with the new ACARS, etc.
  5. If I find any issues, return to step 3.
  6. Once I can’t find any more issues, I package up the update and make it available to the beta testing team.
  7. The beta testing team will then download and use the update for the next several weeks.  We ask that beta test team members are able to make use of the update or new package several times within the 2-3 week testing period to ensure more coverage.
  8. If any issues are found by the beta testing team, return to step 3.
  9. Once beta testing goes smoothly and the release is found to be relatively bug free, a new package is created for the final deliverables and posted onto the website.

As you can see, there are quite a few steps to the beta testing process as we here at MetroAir want to give our pilots the very best available.  It is hard work, but we believe our pilots deserve the best.  If you have the desire to help out, feel you can commit to being able to test on demand as required, and report meaningful feedback in a timely manner, then please, send me (Matt Dissinger) an email at matt.dissinger AT and let me know you’re interested.  I’ll make sure to keep a tally on everyone who is interested and may pull you in when a new package is ready for testing!


Matt Dissinger is the Chief Technology Officer for MetroAir Virtual Airlines. Matt joined the airline in January 2011 after a 3 year sabbatical from flight sim and joined the staff in April of 2011.