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Tobias Dammers

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Posts posted by Tobias Dammers

  1. This sounds like sloppy ground controlling - if you don't request a specific parking, they should assign you a suitable one. Some controllers will go so far as to pick one that the real-world equivalent of you flight would use, matching on airline (giving you a gate that "your" airline would also use IRL) and departure airport (e.g., in Europe, Schengen-area flights will often use different terminals or concourses than non-Schengen flights). At the very least, though, they should give you a gate or apron that fits the aircraft type and type of traffic (cargo / commercial pax / private).

    However, if you fly with a private callsign (tail number, like N320AB) rather than a commercial one (ICAO airline code + flight number, like DAL123), they may have assumed that you're a bizjet, and those do go to the South apron at KSMF.

  2. On 2/11/2021 at 11:54 AM, Andreas Fuchs said:

    Guess what, like in the real world we do NOT say "proceed direct DELTA KILO BRAVO", but we say the name of the VOR: "proceed direct to DinkelsbĂŒhl". I am used to spell it after being asked to say again, but slowly and surely frequent fliers on that route know it already.

    Meanwhile, the Dutch seem to have given up... making foreign pilots say "Schiphol" and "Spijkerboor" would just be too cruel, so it's just "Sherra Pappa Leema" and "Sherra Pappa Yankee" 😆

  3. 51 minutes ago, Andre Almeida said:

    There are ways to send a PDC other then a private message. A delivery controller choosing to send them via private message does so because he it unable to use the appropriate tools (or doesn't have tools for his controller client), or because he believes it's easier then giving out all clearances on frequency via voice. Unless there's a third reason I am missing for clearances being sent via private message (without the pilot requesting it).

    There other ways, but they're not universally supported. Not every pilot has a working Hoppie client. Everyone can read text messages though.

  4. My $0.02 on the matter: How about starting on the "education" end of things before breaking out the big guns ("disciplinary action" or whatever)? No need to force anything onto anyone if you can make them do it voluntarily.

    Start with loudly and clearly promoting voice as the preferred mode of communication; present voice as the default mode to new pilots, throw out a bunch of official statements about the state of affairs, call it a policy change if you like - the key goal is to silence the lore and rumors that are making rounds. Lots of pilots out there believe that voice unicom is frowned upon, lots of pilots don't understand the burden text comms put on a controller.

    If that turns out to be insufficient, the next step I would take is allow controllers to prioritize voice users. You'll still be served as a text pilot, and if you're using text due to some kind of disability, technical issue, or other legit reasons, and say so in your remarks, I doubt a controller would make use of this unless absolutely necessary, but if you use text for other reasons, then you may be treated as a second class citizen, similar to what it's like to fly in a big event with pre-scheduled slots as non-event traffic: you'll still be served, but you may experience extensive delays and such. Obviously controllers would have to be briefed about this, and that could also including the kind of advice Andreas hinted at: when you encounter a pilot who you suspect is using text out of mic fright, kindly ask them to switch to voice if possible.

    Flagged accounts, I believe, would send the wrong message. First of all, some legit reasons to go text-only are situational, such as the home situation requiring silence (think young parent doing a quick hop during a well-deserved break when the kids are finally asleep), or temporary hardware breakage. How does one flag such an account? And second, to people who need to go text-only due to things like hearing or speech issues, having to go through a vetting process to get an official stamp on their disability before being able to participate might give a negative signal - if that were me, I would feel a lot more welcome if I could just state my situation in the pilot remarks and that would be that. I don't have any such disability though, so maybe I'm overthinking here.

    • Like 1
  5. Have you tried the Swift discord? The devs are quite active there, and pretty helpful. The setup is intimidating, and a usability train wreck, but in the end it's not rocket science, and once you're past that hurdle, the program works just fine.

  6. 2 hours ago, Kevin Giles said:

    Yeah I was a bit off runway heading while climbing to about 1200 as instructed. TBH I was climbing quite quickly and more worried about overshooting the altitude and failed to realise the wind was pushing me off.

    I suppose there are a number of reasons I am uncomfortable: -

    1. I hate to cause problems for others, even in my general life. As I said, some people take this really seriously and I don't want to spoil their flights by making them wait or go around or avoid me.

    2. I don't want to look incompetent. I have flown quite a bit on the sim so usually know what I am doing, but just got flustered with trying to be so careful to listen and reply and keep to altitude. I felt like an idiot who didn't deserve to belong to "the club".

    3. I don't know how others would react - especially if I am breaking the rules without knowing it.

    As I said, the GND at Jersey was a really nice guy and my tutor friend has helped me gain confidence by doing some ATC with me but doing it with strangers and plenty of traffic, was genuinely scary for me. I'm not a young chap who feels indestructible, rather I am older and only really want to do this as a hobby.

    I would love to stick with computer ATC but I have not found one that deals well with VFR, especially circuits.

    Sorry If I come over as a wimp but that's ok. I'd rather be calm and wimpy than overconfident and stressed out. We're all different personalities.

    Don't be so hard on yourself.

    That tower controller was probably taking "firm controlling" a bit too far; if they barked at you, it was probably at least somewhat uncalled for. It's normal to be talked to in a somewhat stern voice when quick responses are required, and diverging from your assigned flight path in a critical flight phase kind of merits that, but still, there's no reason to positively bark at you or call you out. Just "Cessna Alpha Bravo, you are left of the assigned flight path, turn right NOW" should do.

    Also keep in mind that most controllers are mostly used to IFR traffic; the vast majority of VATSIM flights are airliner operations, and so when the odd VFR flight comes around, they don't always know how to handle it as well as they handle those tubeliners. And in a way, VFR can be more difficult: with an airliner, it's set takeoff thrust, 80 knots, V1, rotate, V2, positive climb gear up, autopilot on, retract flaps, and then watch the aircraft do its thing and occasionally twist the ALT knob and push FLCH - but flying patterns in a Cessna, you'll be hand-flying the whole thing, so on top of talking to ATC and finding your way, a sizeable portion of your brain is busy just flying the aircraft.

    Then, causing problems: everyone makes mistakes, and we've all been fresh beginners who made a LOT of mistakes. Here's just a small collection of things I did wrong on VATSIM in my relatively short career so far (by no means a complete list):

    • Forgot to set QNH before departure and ended up flying at the wrong altitude
    • Forgot to set the autopilot lateral mode to "FMS", and made a sharp left turn right after takeoff when I should have been turning right
    • Fat-fingered the speedbrake mid flight, stalled, and crashed into the mountains
    • Missed my exit on the taxiway and had to get a new taxi route from the ground controller to get me out of that mess
    • Upon changing the FMS route, failed to notice that the FMS had jumped back to the start of the route, and made a 180° turn back towards the departure airport, flying back into the APP controller's airspace, who promptly contacted me and asked me what was going on
    • Dialled the ILS frequency for the wrong runway into the NAV radio
    • Failed to read the approach plate properly, attempted to intercept the glideslope from too high, overshot the beam, and had to go around. Twice. Controller then offered to get me down on an NDB approach, which, knock on wood, I nailed on the first attempt.

    I've also been held on the ground, or forced to go around, due to other people's mistakes. That's quite alright, it happens, it's part of the experience, I don't mind, as long as it's not gross incompetence, like repeatedly spawning on a runway, or trying to fly into Midweek Madness with a complex airliner you've never flown before. Making mistakes like this is part of being "in the club", and as long as it's not too wild, dealing with human errors may even spice things up for controllers and other pilots. Like this one time when I was descending towards my destination, and there was another pilot who had issues with his FMS or some such, and the controller decided to treat it as an emergency; me and two other flights were asked to "expect to hold at {waypoint} for approx. 5 minutes" - at this point, my first thought was not, "man, what an idiot, this sucks", but "oh, cool, this is something different for a change".

    Now, if this flight was a not-so-nice experience for you, let me tell you that it's not normally like that. Most controllers I've had the pleasure to fly with are extremely well-mannered, patient, and professional (ironic, since they're not getting paid for it, but oh well). Jersey has a reputation for being friendly to beginners and relatively easy going as far as traffic levels are concerned, but they're staffed fairly regularly, so that would be a good choice; there are regular "First Wings" events targeted *specifically* at beginners; there are events with a focus on VFR, and you can expect controllers to be prepared for the task; any of these would probably make for a much nicer experience than this one, even if you make similar mistakes.

    And finally: VATSIM is supposed to be (among other things) a learning environment; as long as you learn from your mistakes, you're good.

  7. COC, legalities and technicalities aside, I think the gist of it is that VATSIM is about simulating ATC and flight, not a tow truck or ground logistics simulation, and a line has to be drawn somewhere. There's a bit of a gray area somewhere between "pushing back from a gate" and "driving a catering truck around the airport"; as far as I'm concerned, what matters is the spirit of the rules rather than the letter.

    So I'd say towing an aircraft farther than a normal pushback out of the gate is OK, as long as it serves the operational purposes of an actual flight, within reason, and within plausible typical operations at that airport. E.g., if you're flying a bizjet out of its home base and spawn at a maintenance hangar, then I don't see why you shouldn't tow the aircraft from the hangar to a position from where it can taxi on its own power. In the "nose-to-nose" scenario, I'd say that's technically an "emergency", which means that the usual restrictions on those apply. Same for many other situations in which towing would be required IRL. If you want to drive a tow truck for the sake of it, then I'd say please don't, for the same reasons we don't want people driving followme's, catering trucks, crew buses, etc., around the airport.

    One thing to keep in mind with all this is that towing is a lot slower than taxiing (~7 knots vs. up to 30 knots), so if you're towing an aircraft on a busy taxiway, you will almost certainly be in someone's way.

  8. It's OK to be disappointed - someone said there would be coverage, and that didn't happen. It's the wording, and the lack of empathy, that icks me.

    By all means, be disappointed, and express your disappointment, but keep in mind who runs these events, and what they receive for it in return. It's like inviting all your friends to a party, but then the caterer messes up and you end up ordering pizza instead, and your friends all go "I'm very upset about this party, you promised a shrimp buffet, but all I got was pizza, despite the text on the invitation you sent me. This is the second time I get invited to a free no-show shrimp buffet this month. Please don't invite me to any more parties if you can't get me my free shrimps."

  9. Personally, I find it quite disgusting to see people take free stuff for granted like this.

    Someone has put dozens of hours of unpaid labor into a thing they love, and they invited others to join and enjoy the fruits of that labor for free, no strings attached; then something doesn't go as planned, and some of those who were invited send emails like this one. That's just... idk... it's like walking into a store that offers free samples, but they ran out and so you throw a fit and demand to "speak to the manager".

    • Like 2
  10. 12 hours ago, Robert Shearman Jr said:

    The massive influx of new users from COVID followed by MSFS2020 has resulted in ATC training backlogs pretty much network-wide.  As the ratio of controllers to pilots re-stabilizes, events with three, four, or more focus fields might start to become the norm. 

    Indeed; ATC population lags significantly behind pilot population due to stricter training requirements - you can become a VATSIM pilot in 30 minutes, but controlling takes more training.

    We'll also have to wait and see how many of those new members will actually stick around - it could very well be that, even with an ongoing pandemic, we're back to much lower active pilot counts within a couple weeks. Time will tell.

  11. That is correct; the bluebell models are for your own viewing pleasure, and shouldn't affect how your own model is transmitted on the network. The latter is configured like here; I presume you have done this correctly (i.e., selected "B738"). Note specifically that what matters is the type you enter when connecting: the one in your flight plan is what ATC gets to see when they look at your flight strip, but when other sims render your aircraft, the one you connected with is the one they will use. Online maps such as SimAware or vau.aero may pick up the one from the flight plan though (which explains the "NULL", and why you get the correct one after filing a flight plan), so this isn't necessarily the best way to troubleshoot this. I'm afraid I don't use xsquawkbox myself, so I can't replicate, but if you have selected the right type when connecting, then that only leaves two possible culprits - xsquawkbox itself, or whatever model mapping happens on the other side (i.e., on your friend's computer).

    What you can do to narrow it down:

    1. Find someone other than your friend, who has a working vatsim setup, to report your apparent aircraft type back to you. If it's a 737-800, then the problem is model mapping on your friend's end, if it's an Embraer, then the problem is on your end.
    2. Ask your friend to spawn in a busy airport that has a bunch of 738's around; if those other 738's are also shown as Embraers or other incorrect models, then the problem is model mapping on your friend's end.
    3. Try a different pilot client. Swift, for example, supports X-Plane on all supported OSes. If that solves it, then the problem is either with XSquawkbox itself, or with the way you use it (i.e., double-check that you're selecting the correct type when connecting, and if so, maybe consider reporting this as a bug against XSquawkbox).


  12. 1 hour ago, Josh Jenk said:

    Depends what the focus field is. If you’re trying to get your c172 into an overloaded class B airspace, not likely gonna happen. Most likely you’ll be told VFR isn’t being accepted at the focus field and asked to remain clear of the airspace. On the other hand there’s plenty of events that encourage or promote VFR flying and those are often underrated on the network considering how much fun they are.

    IME, the VATSIM policy to "accommodate if at all possible" is usually adhered to rather religiously, and I have yet to hear a controller say "VFR is not accepted". You will probably get vectored heavily, and you may need to fly a lot of orbits and get a very short final on a short notice, and experience long delays in general, but IME controllers will do their best to get you down between the tubeliners. I saw some brave soul bringing a Bonanza to Gatwick Midweek Madness once, and while they were kept at an intersection holding point for 45 minutes, they did get them out eventually, and while the controller sighed a lot, they never said "you can't fly here" (and the Bonanza pilot was cool with the delay, too). Even airports that do not service GA at all IRL will often do so on VATSIM.

  13. 1 hour ago, Robert Vanderkam said:

    But If I'm asked to change my approach or arrival on descent, I will try but when things go wrong, there's often nothing to do except disconnect if I don't want to ask the ATC to hold my hand trying to fix a FP with an unfinished aircraft. At least I can fly on VATSIM again. Comments appreciated and welcome.

    You can still request vectors to final and tune the ILS freq manually, no?

    • Like 1
  14. Use the callsign they are listed as in your pilot client, vatspy, or whatever you use to find active stations. Though you won't be scalded for addressing center as "ground" or "delivery", they'll just quietly correct you by responding with their correct callsign explicitly.

  15. It is very common for ATC to change SIDs in Europe, to the point where, in most places, you aren't even supposed to file a SID, but rather just put your first enroute fix, and ATC will then assign you a SID. This is because most European SIDs are runway-specific, so in order to determine the correct SID, you need to know what the active runway is, which you often don't when you file. Some airports also have separate sets of SIDs depending on traffic flow, which in turn may depend on day of week or time of day (for noise abatement reasons), or active runways at nearby airports. The SID will be assigned as part of your IFR clearance though, and is extremely unlikely to be amended after.

    STARs and transitions are given during descent, and are equally unlikely to change after, but for the same reasons as SIDs, you don't usually file them, but wait for ATC to assign them.

    • Like 1
  16. My approach is that I won't file a flightplan when connecting as observer: being in observer mode already means "I'm just observing, please ignore me"; whether I will be flying or not is completely irrelevant, because as long as I'm an observer, it is 100% clear that no interaction is required or intended.

    When I want to spectate while being visible on the network, for whatever reason (which is extremely rare), then I WILL file a flight plan, because the expectation is that when you spawn at a gate, you will at some point file a flight plan and fly, and having a flight plan that says "EHAM-EHAM just spectating, will not actually fly" makes it clear and tells the controller that they don't need to hold their breath.

  17. IMO, changing routes after the fact is enough of an integral part of normal operations that it's a reasonable demand.

    And besides, if you can't comply, then you can file "no SID/STAR" and request vectors. This is a bit unusual for airliners, and you may experience some delays if things are busy, but it's perfectly fine as far as rules go.

    In fact, an FMS isn't mandatory at all; what *is* mandatory is being able to fly according to your flight plan - ATC doesn't care *how* you do it, as long as you do it. I have, in fact, flown published (non-RNAV) procedures in a steam-gauge DHC6, doing all the navigation the oldschool way - the workload is higher, but it works just fine. The difference is of course that if you fly an airliner, the *expectation* is that you're using an FMS and automating most of your flying.

    • Like 1
  18. On 1/4/2021 at 11:24 AM, Andreas Fuchs said:

    It is actually a Dutch gentleman who created the Hoppie server and keeps it running. VATSIM staff is in direct contact with him and he has assured VATSIM that he is not intending to close the service any time soon.

    On top of it, some efforts are being made in the background, something's coming. It won't be tomorrow, nor in two weeks (tm).

    Well, I, for one, am holding back on diving into Hoppie support for the Flightgear E-Jet I maintain; it's all unpaid open-source work, and I'm unwilling to sink a lot of time into a project that might be obsolete a few months from now. If those "background efforts" were happening in a more visible way, I could make more informed decisions, and maybe even add Hoppie support now, but design it such that a switch to a different backend would be easy (if not trivial) - but knowing nothing at all means it's better to wait and see.

    • Thanks 1
  19. So AFAIU, the situation is that the Hoppie system is the closest to a working system that we have, and probably the one that enjoys the most adoption. But it has a couple of intrinsic problems:

    • It is a third-party effort, not linked to or affiliated with VATSIM in any way, and this means that there is no proper coordination.
    • The Hoppie system isn't exclusive to VATSIM, or even linked to the VATSIM network in any way; Hoppie traffic from other networks, or even people using ad-hoc connections between their sims, cannot be distinguished from Hoppie traffic intended for the VATSIM network. AFAIK, it's not a big issue right now, because callsign clashes across networks are relatively rare, but if VATSIM traffic and Hoppie adoption were to pick up, this won't scale well.
    • The people (might even be just one person) running the system is keeping it alive, but there's not a lot of active development, and the server could go away anytime.
    • Hoppie clients tend to be standalone, so that means you need juggle 3 applications at once: the Hoppie client, the VATSIM client, and your sim. Doable with a decent multi-monitor setup, but if you don't have that luxury, it can be a hassle.

    And then there's the rumours about VATSIM getting CPDLC support built into its protocol in the (near?) future, which makes it less attractive for developers to sink time into Hoppie support - after all, once VATSIM-native CPDLC is rolled out, it will immediately render any such effort obsolete. Then again, it may very well take a year or more to get proper CPDLC into VATSIM, and if you already have a generic CPDLC implementation in your aircraft model, adding an HTTP backend to connect to Hoppie isn't actually that big a deal (and once VATSIM CPDLC is a thing, adding another backend would be relatively straightforward too).

  20. On 1/1/2021 at 3:31 PM, John Stockton said:

    P0 here. I totally agree with you. If ATC has to pass tests and be trained online, I think pilots should have to do the same. This would make online flying a smoother experience for both sides of the radar.

    The problem with this is that we would be left with a very small number of active pilots on the network.

    Some back-of-the-envelope math. At any given time, we typically have about 10x more pilots than ATC on the network, and this ratio is roughly on par with what makes for a desirable experience on both sides - if 25% of these pilots are under active ATC surveillance, then that means that each ATC is handling 2.5 flights at once on average, which is pretty OK. I believe that the vast majority of pilots on the network does not have a pilot rating, and I think it's reasonable to assume that many of those who don't have one would, if pressed, leave the network rather than go through the certification process. I wouldn't be surprised if making pilot ratings mandatory would instantly cut the pilot population down to maybe 20% or so, and that would mean that the average ATC would rarely see more than one flight at a time in their sector.

    Which makes me think that the occasional incompetent pilot is probably the lesser evil.

  21. 13 hours ago, Grant Williams said:

    I was thinking something like a v-speed calculator - since not every plane can calculate that and it is sometimes a guessing game for simmers.

    Sounds like a great project to get you started, except for one caveat - V-speed calculations are different for each aircraft type, and the algorithms are not generally public information. For the E-Jet I built for FlightGear, I ended up typing over V-speed tables from the FCOM, and programming multidimensional lookups into those - this isn't difficult at all, but very tedious. And that was just 5 aircraft types, with only two sets of lookup tables (because E170/E175 are largely the same, as they share aero surfaces and engines; and so are E190/E195/Lineage 1000).

    A similar project you might consider is a "swiss army knife of aviation-related calculations" - think things like calculating pattern entries, wind corrections, all sorts of unit conversions, descent calculations, you name it. You can start with one tool, and add more as you go.

  22. 22 hours ago, Jim Rish said:

    When I made my jabs and insults at your airbus' 380, I meant it. Don't presume to dance around the subject with your ambiguous caveats. Your airbus' 380 is simply the disaster, not only in design and concept, but in plain economics. I don't see how they can possibly recover from such a monumental blunder.. You people had better do a bunch of hauling to try and make up for that disaster.. As the Tom Berenger character says, in the movie, when playing the Paul Bryant role: "you're gonna work now.."  Airbus' 380 is the absolute epitome of the white elephant of aviation. Period.

    And none of this is relevant.

    Again, this isn't about which aircraft is "better", and the only one trying to insult people on purpose here (and failing, in case you hadn't noticed) is you. I don't care what your opinion is on any aircraft type, I'm just trying to explain to you why the STARs used on VATSIM in 2020 may not be suitable for Concorde. Well-meant advice; take it or leave it.

    On a side note: it's not "my" A380, and I have absolutely no opinion on its economic merits, its significance for the history of aviation, or how cool or uncool it is to pilot that thing. (Well, actually I do, but none of them matter in this discussion, so I'll keep them to myself).

    And with that, I'll resort to eating popcorn as this thread keeps unraveling.

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