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Global Air Traffic Controller Administration Policy Draft and Executive Summary

Matthew Bartels

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Matthew Bartels


Global Air Traffic Control Administration Policy 


1. Scope and Purpose

The VATSIM Global Air Traffic Controller Administration Policy (GCAP) has been established to increase access to Air Traffic Control positions for VATSIM members who wish to provide Air Traffic Control services whilst maintaining a standard of quality Air Traffic Control service that VATSIM has become known.

The Global Air Traffic Controller Administration Policy achieves this by outlining the knowledge and competencies required for each Air Traffic Service Rating, providing guidance on how a division may set standards to meet these competencies, as well as defining how and when Air Traffic Control Positions may be subject to additional restrictions beyond requiring an Air Traffic Service Rating.

1. Background

The VATSIM Global Ratings Policy (“GRP”) and VATSIM Transfer and Visiting Controller Policy (T&VC) have been the primary codified means for controlling the awarding of controller ratings, controller endorsements, visiting at other facilities, and transferring to other facilities for the last decade. However, over the last many years these documents have shown that they have not kept pace with changes in management, complexity of controlling, and both membership demographics and numbers. 

To that end a revised document was necessary which not only took into consideration lessons learned from the past ten years regarding these policies, but also to ensure that it could be easier updated in the future to adapt to changes the next ten years will bring. This was accomplished via formation of a panel of VATSIM Administrators, Region and Division staff, and other community members who represented a wide swatch of experiences, backgrounds, and expectations for what VATSIM is. 

2. Combination of Policies 

The GRP and T&VC policies contained many inseparable concepts, such as consolidation of ratings, airspace endorsement aspects, and controller assessments. To that end, the T&VC policy limits its application to the global and regional level leaving Divisions and Sub-Divisions to specify their own more restrictive policies. Combining the control of ratings, endorsements, and visiting/transfer concepts enables a way to define the regulation of such at all levels of the network’s governance while also providing both freedom to define policies as needed within the bounds of this single policy, and a concise flow of commonality to ensure a level application of the policy. 

3. Changes to Endorsement Structure 

The GRP endorsement structure recognized a major airspace structure along with a solo validation concept to allow controllers in the S2 and S3 Ratings to work airspace that would require the S3 and C1 Rating under limited circumstances. Application of the solo validation was varied between Divisions and Sub-Divisions, as such streamlining the process was necessary. To that end, various facilities which hold a Major airspace have decided to treat it as non-major, but for fear of losing the control over such from the authority which defines what is a Major there was a desire to not actually remove it from GRP Appendix A. To allow for facilities to have some control over their airspace a new restricted airspace category is proposed. This category allows sub-divisions/divisions (with approval and limitations) to have more complicated airports/airspace require a specific endorsement that is not as intense to certify as a major airspace, but requires some advanced understanding over that of a minor airspace. 

We also codify numerous event only or very limited use endorsements. The event endorsement allows a facility to test a major to the true aspects of what make it a major on a day-to-day basis versus the crush of event level traffic. While this may require a separate and higher level of instruction/testing from the facilities, they are not required to utilize it. The various limited endorsements enable, for instance, VA members holding an S1 to open a ramp position for instance with restrictions.  

4. Changes to Visiting and Transfer Controllers 

Training staff burn-out/over work due to a glut of visiting controllers, and a general overall increase in membership, have presented numerous problems for facilities. Reducing both serial visiting numbers by limiting how many facilities a controller can visit at, and limiting the minimal rating (S3 with an exception for long tenured S2) solves the need to, for instance, train a S1 who is visiting from one facility to another on subject matter that they did not really practice much at the home facility. While the consolidation period has existed, no real requirement for controlling was to ensure they honed it, and there is much learning to occur between earning an S1 and an S2 or S3 rating that needs to be built up well before piling on other facility’s complexities and nuances. 

5. Updates on Controller Evaluation 

Much ambiguity existed in the previous Appendix A, to address that it was deemed to remove as much country-specific language as possible and define broader concepts that facilities would further define to match their particular jurisdictional requirements via approved Rubrics. These Rubrics allow for students to know how they will be tested, and produce a manageable way to share training information and also ensure testing is fairly applied across the board within a facility.  

We also move away from a Global Standard for an Air Traffic Controller, instead prescribing a set of core competencies for each Air Traffic Service Rating. The standard to which these competencies must be met can be determined by each division, allowing for divisions to set a standard that works best for their individual needs.

6. Public Review Process

As the implementation of this policy is a large change from how VATSIM has operated the past decade, the BoG wants input from all of our  members in the final stages of this reform process. Within this subforum, we want to hear your concerns and suggestions for improvement. From this feedback, we will construct the final document which will be codified into policy.  Again, the end goal is to increase the ease of access to Air Traffic Control positions for our members, whilst also protecting the quality of service that we have come to expect. 




You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

Forever and always "Just the events guy"

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  • 2 months later...
Matthew Bartels

Revision 1 of the GCAP After Public Review is ready for the final comment period.

You can find the full text with change bars attached.

Key Changes

  • Section 2: Definitions for Activity Requirement, Currency Requirement, Live Training, and Practical Examination, Terminal Facility added or changed.
  • 4.02 Sub-Divisions and Divisions guaranteed at least 1 Restricted Airspace with the total number not to exceed 30% of all controllable aerodromes and approach facilities (rounded down).
  • 4.03 Divisions guaranteed at least 1 Major Airspace with the total number not to exceed 20% of all controllable aerodromes and approach facilities (rounded down).
  • 6.01 Removed global mandate to utilize solo endorsements.
  • 6.03 Mandated Solo Endorsement be made available for sub-divisions to use at their discretion.
  • 6.05(h) Small clarifications to use of Solo Endorsement.
  • 6.05(j) Increased maximum allowable Visiting Controller Endorsements to 3, added waiver for divisional training staffs who are conducting training in multiple sub-divisions.
  • 6.05(j)(x) Disallowed language proficiency requirements as a means of restricting visitors. Granted waiver ability of this rule to Regional Vice Presidents.
  • 7.07 Refined allowed requirements of Restricted Familiarization Courses.
  • Section 8: Major Revisions:
    • 8.02(b) A division or sub-division may set an activity requirement but it may be no stricter than 6 hours on any control position within that division or sub-division within the previous 6 calendar months.
    • 8.04 Major and Restricted endorsements may be subject to an activity requirement no stricter than 3 control hours on the endorsed major, or any restricted airspace within the division or sub-division within the previous 3 calendar months.
    • 8.07 Divisions are tasked with developing written policies and procedures for suspension of controller privileges
    • 8.08 Defined when a division or sub-division may conduct a competency check on a controller and how such a check must be conducted.
  • 9.01(d) Reduced the required hours prior to transfer to 50 (100 if they have utilized live training).

GCAP Public Review Rev 1.pdf

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You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

Forever and always "Just the events guy"

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