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Tobias Dammers

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Posts posted by Tobias Dammers

  1. 48 minutes ago, Diego Vasquez said:

    If the spirit of the policy or the feeling of the organizers is somehow in disagreement with the current wording (i.e, the between the lines "just don't" you suggest), please whoever needs to discuss please do, agree and amend the event rules.

    IMO the wording is 100% in line with "please just don't". A firm but kind request not to.

  2. 10 minutes ago, Andreas Fuchs said:

    To be fair, I have never really experienced any trouble at those airports, even with "too much" traffic. Our ATCOs at VATSIM are really good and they will handle it. I personally cannot remember doing any holding before landing, during CTP events.

    From what I've gathered, the biggest problem will be the domestic airspaces on the oceanic boundary, especially Shannon, where most of the traffic will be leaving oceanic airspace.

  3. 47 minutes ago, Kirk Christie said:

    There is no need to read between the lines, the post is black and white and quite simply state's we dont recommend it.

    Much like, it is recommended you wear your seat belt when seated on the plane when the sign is not illuminated, its is not a requirement. There is no mention of banning, or changing the rules.

    There is no need to try and read into what has been said.

    You are entitled to read it any way you want, but passing your beliefs of as a probable situation, when you are not the authority on the subject is somewhat reckless. 

    OK, so let me clarify.

    This is not just me reading things into it; I have talked to some of the event organizers, and they have explained their stance and why they put that paragraph there.

    VATSIM rules and policies do not allow banning or otherwise forbidding users from flying in any airspace at any time; hence, no such attempt is made.

    However, previous years have shown that catering for non-event traffic, or even encouraging it, is not sustainable - the situation on the non-event track got completely out of hand in the last edition, and the 700 or so slots that will be provided this time represent the maximum that can be handled with the available controllers and airspace structures. Hence, this edition makes no attempt at facilitating non-event traffic; no ATC will be provided in oceanic airspace, and domestic airspaces may hold non-event traffic as long as it takes, on the ground or in the air. Domestic ATC will be provided to non-event traffic to the degree that is humanly possible and required by VATSIM rules, and that's it.

    Still, if 2000 people decide to fly without a slot, that won't be enough to prevent an unmaintainable situation, especially in the Shannon airspace, where most of the event and non-event traffic will leave oceanic airspace, and hence, the event organizers request, in the kindest possible way, that people who don't have a slot don't fly transatlantic during the event. It is not just a statement of facts; it is a request, which is why it says "we ask you to refrain from", and not "we do not recommend".

    So far, none of this is my personal opinion; this is just what's been explained to me, and frankly, I don't think it is difficult to infer it from the text as it is written.

    What *is* my personal opinion is that when the people who put in the hard work give everyone a fair shot at obtaining a slot, including the promise of giving those who don't get a slot this time priority treatment next time, and urge those who don't get one to refrain from flying, doing it anyway is disrespectful and selfish, as you contribute to making the event too stressful and less enjoyable for those who get to participate, and put future editions of it at risk.

    This last bit you are free to disagree on, but the rest is just what it is.

    • Like 2
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  4. 16 minutes ago, Kirk Christie said:

    You have a reference for this statement? 

    If you read between the lines, it should be somewhat clear:


    Therefore, we have decided that we need to focus our Oceanic resources to provide the best service possible, so for this event we are asking you to refrain from flying transatlantic if you do not obtain a slot for the event. We cannot enforce this – because as usual, all VATSIM pilots are welcome to fly where they wish, when they wish. Even so, it is important that our community understands that we will not be able to cater for pilots without a slot in the oceanic airspace, and as such, ATC coverage can not be provided for non-event participants, and pilots flying without an event slot may face extensive delays on the ground and in the air.

    It's worded politely, but it basically says "don't fly transatlantic during the event unless you have a slot"; it may not be entirely clear to non-native speakers of English, but this isn't the kind of "asking" where "no" is a socially acceptable answer. "We cannot enforce this, but..." pretty much means that if it *could* be enforced, it probably would. It also suggests that if you choose to ignore this advice, you will not get ATC over the ocean, and in domestic airspace, you will be held indefinitely in order to keep event traffic flowing.

    I've also talked to some of the organizers on discord, and essentially the answer to any question regarding flying transatlantic without a slot, even on routes outside the NATtrack system, or at lower or higher flight levels, is "just don't".

    They can't ban transatlantic flights without changing VATSIM rules, which is not something anyone should want, so the next best thing is this - stern advice to refrain from it.

    There's definitely a bit of cultural friction here - in some cultures, this can be read as "go ahead and fly; we won't provide ATC over the ocean for you, but other than that, no problem", while in others, it's basically a (soft, social) ban, pretty much "we can't punish you if you do it anyway, but if we could, we would".

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  5. 5 hours ago, Robert Shearman Jr said:

    Additionally -- if you do happen to want to buck the system and fly transatlantic on CTP day, fly whatever track you want -- because as has been said, there won't be any Oceanic controllers online managing non-event traffic.

    No, please don't do that. Even if controllers ignore you, you may still trip people's TCAS, and while there won't be any ATC for you in oceanic airspace, you will still increase workload in the bordering domestic airspaces, especially Shannon.

  6. Pilots without a booking are "strongly encouraged" not to fly transatlantic on the day of the event. It's not so much a request as it is the next best thing short of an outright ban.

    It's not technically forbidden, but it might as well: there will be no ATC service in oceanic airspace for non-event traffic; the official answer to pretty much any question about flying CTP without a booking seems to be "just don't".

    Please be a good sport about it and respect this; you're not getting any ATC over the ocean anyway, and domestic ATC will probably prioritize event traffic, so what you get is just a lousier version of a transatlantic flight you could make any other day, and you will be "that person" who helps ruin it for everyone.

  7. That's subject to how it's implemented sim-side though.

    AFAIK, VATSIM does not simulate this kind of TCAS interaction, so it might not actually work out exactly like it would IRL - the TCAS on either side does not have a way of telling the TCAS on the other side its serial number and what it intends to do.

    The rules by which TCAS implementations make those decisions are fairly well-defined though, so even without this communication, the advisories on both sides should normally match.

  8. 5 hours ago, Kirk Christie said:

    Some context.

    The question was asked answered on Discord by the OP, the filed STAR was for a South Flow runway operations at an airport in the USA, the airport however was running a North Flow, which has a different STAR, which is why the OPs STAR was changed. 

    Reviewing the arrival weather would give you an indication of what flow an airport may be in when you get there.

    However the gist of it is that you ALWAYS need to be prepared to have your STAR changed by ATC. It's standard procedure in Europe to the point that you don't even file one and just rely on ATC to assign it; but even in the US, all sorts of things can happen that cause ATC to amend your flightplan with a different STAR, such as switching runways at your destination.

  9. If you're under ATC control the whole time, do what you've been cleared to do, don't do what you haven't been cleared for, and call in if you suspect that you should have gotten a clearance but haven't.

    This is why STARs tend to have clearance limits marked on them, and why these clearance limits have holds defined for them: if you reach the clearance limit without any further clearance, then you need to enter the hold.

    Eventually, one of three things should happen: either the controller clears you for a specific approach procedure ("cleared for the ILS 27L approach"), or they start vectoring you.

    In the first case, you are authorized to fly the procedure as published, down to minimums, at which point you must have received a landing clearance or go around. In the second case, just fly by those vectors and trust ATC to get you onto the ILS, or into whatever position you need to be for a non-precision approach; at any point, you are authorized to maintain the cleared heading, altitude, and speed, until further advice.

  10. 2 hours ago, Robert Shearman Jr said:

    Additionally, and this applies to flying CTP in anything from a default jet to a fully-"study-level" payware add-on: understand that there is always, ALWAYS, more than one way to accomplish what you've just been asked to do by ATC.  Mach hold acting up?  Convert it to IAS.  VNAV not working right?  Put it in VS hold and manage the power and climb/descent rate by hand.  Can't seem to amend the route to a shortcutted fix up ahead?  Eyeball your heading from your present position and use HDG mode.  Can't program the hold?  Again, HDG mode is your friend -- fly to the hold fix, dial in a heading 180 degrees from the inbound track, count to 60 once you reach it, and then turn and track back to the fix again.  FMC not accepting your approach assignment?  Dial it into the NAV1 and fly it by the needles.  Absolute-worst-case, SHUT THE AP OFF AND USE THE AILERONS, ELEVATORS, AND THROTTLES.

    Hah, sounds like someone has watched Children Of The Magenta Line...

    • Like 1
  11. On 9/27/2020 at 1:39 AM, Stephen Pelly said:

    As someone new to VATSIM I was wondering what happens when the center controller signs off and the center closes. Should I then contact the nearest airport approach controller (even though I am out of their circular control area), or am I on my own at that point?

    The way it's usually done is that a controller who is about to close stops accepting control of new aircraft arriving on frequency for a while (5 minutes or so), hands over everyone who is about to enter other controlled airspaces, as well as everyone who will be under the responsibility of some other controller after they close shop, and then makes a call like "All stations, all stations, XYZ center is closing, monitor unicom 122.8".

    You should *not* contact the APP controller unless you're in their airspace (both laterally and vertically), or about to enter it, or explicitly been handed over; stay on Unicom until entering or approaching controlled airspace, or until a controller sends you a contactme (which sometimes happens before you enter controlled airspace, e.g. because a controller is currently not very busy and might as well pick you up early). Then again, if you're unsure whether you should contact or not, the worst thing that can happen when you do is that the controller tells you that you're not in their airspace, and who to contact (if not unicom).

  12. In Europe, you would generally file a flight plan without SID and STAR, but such that the first and last fixes are endpoints for SIDs and STARs; ATC will then assign SIDs and STARs along with your runways (you get the SID and departure runway from Delivery, and the STAR from Center or Approach as you get close to your last enroute waypoint). If your aircraft can't reliably fly STARs, put "NO SID/STAR" in your remarks, and request vectors to final.

    That's all assuming there's ATC available throughout; if there's not, what I think most people do is pretend you're being controlled and do what the controller would have made you do, while announcing your intentions on Unicom, insofar as they are of interest to anyone in the area (if in doubt, assume they are). So you'd come in, and you'd check the airport information for the active runway, and then either select a suitable STAR (best guess, really) and fly it, or "vector yourself". If you're not following a STAR, and you want to announce your intentions, you might report your position and expected runway (e.g. "inbound from Southwest, 20 miles out, expecting ILS runway 12"), this should give people enough information to figure out whether a conflict may arise.

  13. IIUC, this is because it uses a lot of specific information about EHAM to make it work. They do things like scrape real-world schedules and such to figure out where an aircraft would go IRL, and the rules for that are different for each airport. It could be done for other airports as well, but you'd have to redo most of the work from scratch for each one.

  14. Just make your own challenges. Find some challenging approaches, fly "interesting" routes, fly IFR procedures in a Cessna, land a DHC-6 at Saba, fly into and out of Isafjördur, whatever you think might be fun.

    And if you don't enjoy the flying anymore, then just don't fly. It's not a job, you're doing it for fun, so if it's not fun, stop. No shame in that.

  15. One thing I want to add: When, as a pilot, you notice that the frequency is busy, it's good form to also scale the agressiveness of your calls by urgency.

    Like, say, a controller is handling top-down services from CTR all the way to GND and DEL, and you've just been handed over from an adjacent sector - clearly you don't need to make your call within the next 10 seconds, but for that flight on short final who has been asked to report runway in sight, it could make the difference between a successful landing and a go-around. The controller knows you're coming, they have probably spotted you long before you even got handed over, and if there's anything urgent, they'll go "{your callsign}, are you on frequency" or something - otherwise, you can assume that it's OK to just continue your cruise and wait for a quiet moment to call in. OTOH, if you're the pilot on short final who is really eager to get that landing clearance, proactively keying in at the first chance you get is more appropriate.

  16. 12 hours ago, Robert Shearman Jr said:

    If only everyone did!  LOL... 

    Yeah, oh boy. The sad thing is, those who cut the line will still usually get their clearance before those who wait their turn. Something like:

    • KLM123: "Request clearance"
    • EHAM_DEL: "KLM123, you are cleared to *blah blah etc.*"
    • DLH456: *patiently waits for KLM123 to read back clearance*
    • KLM123: *reads back clearance*
    • EHAM_DEL: "BAW1, ready to copy?"
    • BAW1: "go ahead"
    • EHAM_DEL: "BAW1, you are cleared to *blah blah etc.*"
    • KLM123: *patiently waits for BAW1 to read back clearance*

    And given enough pilots like BAW1, this can go on for quite a while.

    • Like 1
  17. As a general rule: don't file or accept anything you're not comfortable flying.

    If your aircraft doesn't have RNAV equipment, file a flight plan with an appropriate equipment code, file a route that doesn't require RNAV, and, just to be sure, put "NON-RNAV" or something like that in your remarks section.

    Your aircraft *can* fly SIDs and STARs (just not RNAV ones), as already stated, but if YOU are uncomfortable flying them with this aircraft, then don't file any SID or STAR, and put "NO SID/STAR" in your remarks.

    And then when you're flying, the magic words are "unable" and "request vectors". Worst case you'll be asked to hold or divert, but the general policy is to accommodate if at all possible. Remember, you're the PIC, it's your responsibility to fly the aircraft and judge what is possible and safe and what is not. It's no different from saying "unable" when asked to climb faster than aircraft performance allows.

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  18. 9 hours ago, Brandon Emsee said:

     Just had my first successful VATSIM flight tonight from KLAX to KSFO in a SF-50. Took me 10 minutes to get the courage to call up Clearance, but got easier with each radio call. Navigraph saved my bacon when Approach switched my landing runway as I was intercepting the localizer, I was able to find the chart quick for the new runway and made it down in one piece. Shout out to West Coast ATC. 

    That's a bit of a bold move, normally approach shouldn't change your landing runway after clearing you for the ILS. I'd probably reject and risk being asked to go around,  unless it was just a side-step to a parallel runway on the same approach and I was confident I'd make it comfortably.

  19. The way I interpret the rules and customs on the network:

    • The policy is to accommodate whenever possible. If you can't fly SIDs or STARs, you'll get vectors - just note that ATC may have to delay you, vector you onto a suboptimal route, put you in a hold, or ask you to divert, if things are very crowded.
    • In order to accommodate, though, ATC needs to know what you can and cannot do. The magic word is "unable"; but you also want to file a flight plan that you are comfortable executing, and use the "equipment code" and "remarks" fields to indicate the limitations of your aircraft. And don't just write "FS2020"; you can't expect controllers to know by heart all the limitations of all aircraft types in all supported sims. Write "UNABLE RNAV", "UNABLE SID/STAR" or some such instead.
    • Flying the aircraft however is your job; you are expected to figure out how to follow ATC instructions, they will tell you what to do, but not how to do it. At the very least, you should be able to fly a heading, altitude, and airspeed, perform a visual approach and landing, and be aware of your aircraft's performance limitations. Beyond that, ATC will assume that you are able whatever your aircraft type can usually do; if you cannot do that, or you are uncomfortable doing it with the tools at hand, the magic phrases are "unable" and "request vectors".

    Note that VNAV or a working FMS aren't required for the vast majority of ATC instructions you will get - almost all STARs, SIDs, transitions, approaches, and other procedures can be flown manually, or with simple autopilot modes (heading hold, VOR/LOC, altitude hold, FLCH), it's just more work. Planning your descent is something you should do anyway; ATC won't do it for you (and they can't, because they don't know the performance limitations of your aircraft in its current configuration, nor your mission parameters).

  20. 16 hours ago, Richard Lee said:

    The problem is finding a decent airport diagram.  I usually have to Google it and the quality of the airport diagrams always vary and sometimes, my airport diagram isn't consistent with the ATC controller's diagram.  For example, I saw that OPKC airport didn't have much traffic so I went there to try it out as my first flight.  The airport diagram that I downloaded didn't show a taxiway J.  When I asked the controller to request a taxi to the runway, the controller told me J, E, A as the taxiways.  However, when I checked the airport diagram that I downloaded, there was no taxiway J. So I had not idea how to taxi (and hold short) of the runway because taxiway "J" was not in the airport diagram that I downloaded.

    I wish there was a really good site where we could download good airport diagrams and it's consistent with the airport diagrams the ATC controllers use.

    There are a few good sources, depending on the country:

    • My first stop is the website of the relevant VACC. Most publish the charts they want you to use there; some even go through the trouble of adapting the official charts for flightsim use, e.g., they may add frequencies found in some sims that are no longer used IRL, or remarks about flightsim-specific procedures.
    • Failing that, find the official AIP website for the country. Many countries publish them for free; the UI is often atrocious, but you'll get what you want.
    • For the US at least, Skyvector has SVG approach plates for many airports - just hover over the airport name in the Flight Plan window, and you should see a list of charts.
    • For the airport diagrams, especially taxiways, OpenStreetMap can also provide useful information: for many airports, especially large ones, taxiways and runways are marked, and sometimes it'll even show gate numbers.
    • Like 1
  21. 1 minute ago, Andreas Fuchs said:

    Say again, I did not understand you.

    Let me repeat my previous post: when you are cleared for a "visual approach", then you can maneuver visually as you like. If ATC wants you to follow a certain trajectory, then they have to tell you! When I fly to Nice in the real world, we sometimes ask for and get cleared for a visual approach to runway 04L. In this case, ATC always issues the condition "remain clear of Cape D'Antibes" to make sure that people stay over the sea and do not overfly this peninsula due to noise-restrictions. Apart from this, you can do whatever you want to do, it's a visual approach. This is a completely different thing from the RNP A approach that is followed by prescribed visual manoeuvring tracks to runway 04L - they are mandatory and are to be followed, this is NOT a visual approach.

    Bad example maybe.

    But what about this one:


    Clearly, this is a visual approach, and equally clearly, it gives specific instructions you have to follow upon being cleared for this approach: maintain R128 inbound BOS until reaching the Boston Lighthouse. You can't do "whatever it takes" until that point, and you cannot fly, for example, this one instead:


    So yes, normally you can maneuver visually as you like; but when you're cleared for a specific visual approach that has restrictions, then you have to obey them.

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