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Tobias Dammers

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Posts posted by Tobias Dammers

  1. "Cleared for the visual" means that you are supposed to fly a visual approach. You are allowed to use whatever navigation aids you want to achieve this, however, you must play by the rules of that visual approach, which means, in general, that you must maintain visual runway contact at all times - you can use an ILS beam to align yourself with the runway, but you may not trust the ILS beam as your primary reference, and upon losing visual contact, you must go around. If you use RNAV waypoint to align yourself with the runway, the same rule holds: you must not use the FMS as your primary navigation reference, you must go around the moment you lose visual contact, and you must make sure that the FMS doesn't fly a path that a pilot hand-flying based on visual cues alone wouldn't fly.

    On top of that, many visual approaches come with additional restrictions that you are required to obey, and ILS and other navigation aids may conflict with that. Take for example this approach into LOWI: https://charts.vacc-austria.org/LOWI/LOWI_Approach_Visual Approach_28032019.pdf - there is a localizer available (OEV), but it is offset from the runway threshold, and only intended for the intial portion of an ILS approach; which means that it is practically useless for a visual approach. You can use the localizer to supplement visual cues, but ultimately, the landing must be made visually.

    There are also cases where the visual approach, or the visual portion of an RNAV/RNP approach, is substantially different from the ILS approach, and being cleared for the visual does not authorize you to fly the different path that the ILS would have given you. For example, look at LFMN. You might be cleared for the ILS approach for runway 04R, which looks like this: https://www.sia.aviation-civile.gouv.fr/dvd/eAIP_10_SEP_2020/FRANCE/AIRAC-2020-09-10/html/eAIP/Cartes/LFMN/AD 2 LFMN IAC RWY04R -ILS LOC.pdf - essentially, a 21-mile DME arc, and then you turn directly onto the localizer course, intercepting whenever it gets into range. But if, instead, you are cleared for the RNP A approach (https://www.sia.aviation-civile.gouv.fr/dvd/eAIP_10_SEP_2020/FRANCE/AIRAC-2020-09-10/html/eAIP/Cartes/LFMN/AD 2 LFMN IAC RWY04 FNA RNP A.pdf), then there is absolutely no way you can use the ILS beam in any meaningful way, because you will be intercepting the extended runway centerline one mile before touchdown, way too short to get established, and trying to fly this approach based on instruments will get you in trouble fast - flying the RNAV waypoints down to the MAPT, and then continuing visually, really is your own choice here. Likewise, some airports have visual approaches with a prescribed flight path, and of course you are not authorized to deviate from that path.

  2. First things I would check:

    1. Are you on the latest swift version? If not, upgrade.
    2. Have you tried connecting to a different server? Sometimes, a server will reject your login, for whatever reasons, and just connecting to a different one solves the issue.
    • Like 1
  3. Think of the hyphen as working pretty much like in phone numbers - it is sometimes inserted when formatting, to aid readability, but it is not part of the phone number / callsign itself, and the actual systems processing the information will strip it out / ignore it. In a phone number, only digits, hash and star are recognized, and the plus sign carries a special meaning ("use whatever the prefix for international calls is in the country you're calling from"); everything else is removed.

    And just like in a phone number, where the hyphen can be re-inserted unambiguously based on the digits themselves, the same can be done with callsigns, because they all follow the same format.

  4. 48 minutes ago, Brad Littlejohn said:


    While I agree with this here, I also have to disagree to an extent, because you could be given direct to fixes or waypoints that you did not file, but are in your flight plan. Let me explain.

    If you filed a flight plan that includes an airway, for example, you could be cleared to a fix or waypoint that is on that airway, because the airway includes the fixes or waypoints you could be cleared directly to. For example, reference:




    If a pilot filed STAAV8.VERKN HVE J60 PSB.BUNTS2 from KLAS to KPHL, I, as a controller at ZLA, could clear them direct to LNK, IOW, JOT, or even DJB, and that would not be taking them off their flight plan. As they didn't explicitly type those waypoints into their flight plan when they filed it, they included those waypoints by including the airway. So if I clear them to a point further along on the airway they filed, they would not be deviating from their flight plan. They could go directly to that fix or waypoint, and still be on the plan that they filed. This in effect would be giving them a shortcut.



    Yes, but those are all still fixes that are on their flight plan, and will thus appear in the FPL page of the FMS (or whatever the page is called on the aircraft type in question).

  5. On 9/6/2020 at 3:52 AM, Matthew Bartels said:

    do note that you can use time compression on VATSIM in uncontrolled airspace. you can even use it in controlled airspace if the controller allows it. Reference VATSIM CoC B9

    Yes, but I would err on the side of caution with the "ensure that they do not cause disruptions to other members" part. If, as a pilot, I see you 40 miles out at a reported ground track speed of 200 knots, I will assume that it's going to be 12 minutes until you're here. If, due to 4x time compression, those 12 minutes actually end up being 3 minutes, and I have to take action to maintain separation, then that IS a disruption.

  6. 16 minutes ago, Mathew Thieneman said:

    * Clearance is probably the most intimidating aspect for beginners, in my experience. Writing it all down, and having my SIDs pulled up for the airport helped a ton. I also developed some shorthand to get it down quicker and don't be afraid to ask for a repeat.

    Totally. You can even take it a step further and anticipate the clearance you will get - it always comes in the same form ("{your callsign}, you are cleared to {destination} via the {SID} departure, [runway {number}], climb initially {altitude or flight level}, [expect {altitude} after 10 minutes}], [additional instructions], squawk {squawk code}"; some of these are optional and country-specific though), and you can usually guess almost all of it.

    So go ahead, gather the information you need to do your guesswork, and write down your expected clearance in shorthand: "EDDF ARNEM1V 36L FL60 1000" (leaving a blank for the squawk code). You know that 36L is the active takeoff runway, because ATIS said so; you know you will get an ARNEM SID, because that's what you filed; and because there's only one ARNEM SID from 36L, ARNEM1V, you can guess that that's the one you'll get; you know it'll probably be FL60 initially, because that's what the charts tell you to expect; you know your filed destination; and because you're flying a mode-S capable aircraft, and the entire flight is through mode-S-capable airspace (we'll be dealing with Amsterdam Radar, Rhein Radar and Langen Radar), you can expect to squawk 1000. (If you can't guess the squawk, just leave a blank).

    In other words, you already have the entire clearance written down. And NOW you go and request the actual clearance; as the controller reads it out, you just tick each item, and if you guessed right, you can rattle off the readback immediately. If you didn't guess right, correct the parts that are different, but it's rarely the whole thing.

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  7. 1 hour ago, Andreas Fuchs said:

    Hi, so I would not call this "shared cockpit", but rather "home cockpit" or "2 persons operating the same computer/simulator together".

    As mentioned above: as long as you don't miss ATC calls and as long as you behave, you'll be fine. Should the visiting pilot do "something stupid" and gets caught, the account of the ID-owner will be targeted. Just use common sense.

    For added realism, use the VATSIM account of the pilot-in-command... "simulated accountability"...

    • Haha 2
  8. Barring the advice of joining the mentoring program of your local VATSIM chapter, which is of course an excellent idea, some hints:

    • While the overwhelming majority of traffic on VATSIM are commercial IFR flights, you don't have to do those right away, starting with short local VFR hops is absolutely fine. Which means you can, for the time being, skip FMS handling, instrument navigation, STARs & SIDs, ILS, etc., and you don't need to know about airways either.
    • When planning your first flight, pick a mission that keeps you in your comfort zone: fly between airports you know well, use an aircraft you can fly in your sleep, and fly in an area where things are calm. EGLL-EHAM in a 747 on a Saturday evening is not a great idea; traffic patterns at your home base in whatever GA aircraft you've been practicing in are fine.
    • Connecting in observer mode is highly recommended: just spawn on the GA parking at a staffed airport and listen in on the traffic. This should get you a better feel for radio communications.
    • Practice critical parts of your flight offline before doing it online. This goes for routes, approaches, departures, navigation, but also for operating the aircraft. Again, fly an aircraft you are deeply familiar with on VATSIM; a C172 or similar is about perfect, and it's what real pilots start with too.
    • If English isn't your strong suit, you may want to fly VFR in Germany (assuming that German is your native language) - ATC in Germany will provide service in German as well as English.
    • VATSIM Germany also organize regular VFR events, which is a great opportunity to put your hand-flying and visual navigation skills to the test. Some of these events are focused especially on beginners, so you can expect extra attention there.
    • When flying VFR, you still need to be familiar with basic procedures, but there aren't a lot of those, and there is plenty of information online about those things. Youtube is a particularly rich source of information on these things, lots of flightsim enthusiasts and actual flight instructors explaining stuff. The good news is that VFR procedures are quite simple - they are all basically "fly the traffic pattern, and climb and descend as needed".
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  9. Quote

    A18 - VATSIM welcomes members who wish to stream, record, or otherwise distribute their session for public viewing. 

    (a) The online network conduct of the member during the stream/recording remains subject to this Code of Conduct. 

    (b) If the member provides a link to their stream/recording either in their flight plan, or via other VATSIM operated medium, the entire stream/recorded session including informal mediums such as a stream chat are subject to this Code of Conduct.

    (c) Members connected to the network who deliberately disrupt the stream/recording of another member are subject to immediate suspension from the network.

    (d) VATSIM does not have the ability for its members to opt-out of being part of another members stream/recording.

    ...is what the COC has to say on the matter.

    So if I'm not mistaken, this means that you are free to stream without further paperwork, as long as you keep playing by the rules, and if you post a link to your stream through any VATSIM channel, the scope of the COC extends to your use of the streaming platform.

  10. Some perspective from a relatively recent beginner (~100 hrs on the network):

    New pilots fall into different categories, and in order to effectively help them, it is probably a good idea to assess which category they fall into.

    Most new pilots will be in the "well-intentioned" category: familiar with the basic rules of the network, able to fly the aircraft at least in a non-stress situation, willing to follow advice, and at least somewhat prepared. The best help you can give these pilots is to speak slowly, keep your instructions short and piecemeal, offer vectors instead of complex arrivals, try to keep them out of the busiest hotspots in the airspace, expect slower reactions and more readback corrections and "say again"s, and generally be prepared for a little bit more hand-holding.

    Another category is "well-intentioned, but in over their heads". These pilots WANT to follow the rules and do everything right, but unlike the first category, they don't come prepared enough. They may have issues flying the aircraft, they may not have the charts ready, or they may be unable to read them, they may not be familiar enough with radio phraseology to correctly interpret your instructions, etc. IMO, the correct reaction here is to help them to your best abilities, and as workload permits, but when it becomes clear that they cause too much disruption, or that their intentions are too far beyond their abilities, as a controller you will do them and yourself a favor by asking them, kindly, to disconnect and try an easier flight in a less busy airspace, and maybe point them at some suitable learning materials (if you have the time).

    Then there's the "gamers" - people who expected vatsim to be like a typical game, where you can essentially just hop in and learn by doing. These people probably haven't read the rules, and may not even realize what a nuisance they are; they need some serious expectation management and/or a reality check. A kind but determined text message pointing at the relevant rule documents and "getting started" tutorials is probably the least painful way of doing that. If they keep disregarding, upgrade them to "troll" (even if they are not trolling on purpose, a gross misconception of what is expected of them will lead to the same practical problems, and the same priorities in handling them).

    Which brings us to the last category: "trolls" / "goofs". These are people who won't take ATC, the network, or other pilots, seriously, and they will not make any attempt at bettering themselves - they're just here to goof off. You can give them the benefit of the doubt and treat them like "gamers", but when that doesn't help (and if they're actual trolls, it won't), have them kicked off the network.

    This rough categorization, and especially the "well-intentioned" vs. "wrong expectations or outright troll" split is important, because the former group needs practical help and some slack to keep their workload manageable and their inevitable mistakes non-fatal, while the latter needs corrective measures ranging anywhere from expectation management to disciplinary action. Pointing a well-willing but somewhat overwhelmed first-time pilot at the CoC is a bit of a dick move when their problem is not that they don't understand the rules, but have trouble following every detail due to workload issues; and on the other side, ATC should not bend over backwards to accommodate a pilot who willingly and knowingly disregards ATC advice, whether out of malice or gross incompetence.

    And yes, the P0 rating should help with the trolls and gamers, but it's not foolproof, because anyone with a pre-P0 account can of course still log on and do some serious goofing.

    Oh, and just so we're clear: the treatment I have gotten from Vatsim controllers as a bloody beginner has been nothing short of excellent. I like to think of myself as having been in the "well-intentioned and prepared" category, and the treatment I got was completely appropriate, if not perfect.

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  11. On 8/26/2020 at 1:56 PM, Calum Stevens said:

    I recently looked into getting my P1.... Nah. way way too involved. It's basically the same time as getting my actual PPL in real life. so why wouldn't I do that instead? Seems a bit mad to me. Couldn't vat sim have smaller increments?

    Note that all pilot ratings beyond P0 are basically vanity badges - unlike flying IRL, you don't need the equivalent of a PPL to fly a Cessna on Vatsim, you can get your P0 rating and cross the Atlantic in a 747 the same day. The only reason to get ratings P1 and up is to increase realism for yourself, and maybe to actually learn something in a structured and somewhat realistic way (rather than scraping all that knowledge together from all over the internet and hoping it is complete and accurate). If you're not interested in those things, just keep your P0 and happily keep doing what you've been doing all along. Nobody will ask for your rating, except maybe if you want to join a VA.

    The P0 rating is absolutely trivial to achieve, and its main purpose, as I understand it, is to keep the amount of blatant and completely avoidable incompetency on the network to a minimum - i.e., it exists to avoid having people ruin the fun for everyone else by violating the most basic rules of the network just because they couldn't be bothered to read the introduction.

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  12. Re writing down your clearance:

    What I do is, instead of trying to write down the entire clearance as I receive it, I write down everything I already know, or what I can guess, before making my call. E.g., suppose I'm flying a route like: EHAM (SID) ARNEM (airway) TEBRO (STAR) EDDL. Now I get the ATIS, which tells me that the active takeoff runway is 06. From EHAM, there are only two SIDs that go to my first enroute waypoint, ARNEM: ARNEM2R and ARNEM2T. I know my callsign, I know my destination, and I can get the initial climb clearance from the SID chart. The only thing I have no idea about is the squawk code. So I write down: "KLM123, Dusseldorf, ARNEM2R, RWY 06, climb FL60, squawk ____". I could narrow down the SID further by listening in on the frequency until someone else gets an ARNEM departure; chances are I will get the same one. I do all that before requesting my clearance. And then when the controller reads out my clearance, I just tick off the parts I got right, and amend the parts I didn't - ideally, I'll just go "check, check, check, check, check, 2345".

    Preparation is key.

  13. Apart from vatspy, there are also these maps:

    Both give a good idea of the current activity on the network, though of course it is always possible that a controller logs off right around the time you pop up in their airspace.

    Another resource to watch is the event calendar: https://www.vatsim.net/events (or the "events" forum here, though that one isn't sorted by event date). Participating in events means that you can be more confident that the stations you expect are actually staffed when you expect them to be.

    In general, and outside of events, the busiest region by far is the UK, and the surrounding areas often have suitable destinations staffed for a nice short hop. The best time for flying in Europe is typically between 1700z-2000z during the summer months. I believe other regions have similar peak hours in their local timezones, but are less busy overall.

  14. 14 hours ago, Mats Edvin Aaro said:

    That is up to local and regional differences though. You can always right click and get the controller info, usually the position name is depicted there. 🙂 Or listen to what the other people are saying, or what he is calling himself!

    Yeah, this is what I meant by "published" callsign. Basically whatever the remarks / description on their frequency says. And ofc if they use a different one themselves, just go along with that.

  15. Right, so even without all the rule-waving, it is the pilot's responsibility to initiate contact; contact-me's are really intended as "Plan B", for when...

    • ...the airspace structure is such that it is not obvious which controller a pilot should be talking to (this can be the case when, for example, multiple controllers are logged onto the same kind of position, e.g. two TWR controllers at the same airport; but also when sectors are subdivided in a way that isn't straightforward for pilots to understand, e.g. in the German FIRs).
    • ...a controller wants to assume control a flight before crossing into their airspace from uncontrolled airspace; e.g., I have been picked up by EDGG (Langen Radar) coming from EHAM while still on the SID, long before reaching the FIR boundary, when EHAA was offline - I presume this is because the controller's workload was low, there wasn't going to be a handover anyway, so picking me up earlier made everyone's lives easier.
    • ...a controller has just logged on, and doesn't want to wait for pilots to notice. With the pilot clients I am aware of, there will be no alert in-sim, or even in the client GUI, when this happens, so a contact-me is an easy way to attract the pilot's attention.

    But the starting point is still that when you know (or suspect) that you're in controlled airspace, it is up to YOU to seek radio contact.

    The other thing is that when you fly in UNICOM airspace, there is a number of things you can do to prevent conflicts like these long before they happen, including:

    • ...monitoring other traffic in the area. Use a VATSIM map, the radar view in your pilot client (if any), tools like vatspy, etc. etc.
    • ...announcing your intentions, and monitoring UNICOM for others' intentions. It's possible that the other person neglects to announce, but if one of you does and the other is listening, the conflict should still become apparent.

    In general, it's best to assume that when no ATC is available, you, the pilot, become responsible for separation, so you have to do a bit of ATC work yourself. I like to mentally give myself clearances like a controller would: e.g., suppose I'm approaching my TOD, and there's no ATC, I'd think/say/mumble "Request descent, XYZ123", then I'd go check for traffic, and think/say/mumble "XYZ123, descend FL130" or whatever, and THEN I would initiate the descent. The moments where you would normally get a clearance (or request one) are typically the most critical checkpoints, so this is a natural way of checking for conflicts at critical points. And if there is traffic that might be affected, they are also points where announcing your intentions makes the most sense (e.g., "ABCD traffic, XYZ123 established ILS 01"). Of course there is no controller to resolve conflicts for you and call the shots, so you will have to negotiate this with one another, but IME it tends to work out fine in most cases.

    Panic log-offs are definitely avoidable.

  16. This just happened today; I was happily cruising along, but shortly before reaching my TOD, the controller handling me disappeared from the ATC list, and two others before me made requests for descent clearances that went unanswered. Having noticed the absence of the controller, I waited about a minute to make sure it wasn't just something like temporary packet loss, then made a brief "all stations" call on the ATC frequency about the situation and switched to UNICOM. Is this what one is supposed to do in such a situation? Or just quietly switch to UNICOM?

  17. XPlane is somewhat unique in how it handles low frame rates: when you drop below 20 fps, it will slow down the simulation rate. This means that when, for example, you're getting 18 fps, in-sim time runs 10% slower than real-world time, and this in turn means that all the time-related data your simulator produces (including velocities, airspeed, ground track speed, vertical speed, ETAs, etc.) will be 10% off, and your position will drift from your expected position at a rate of 10% your ground track speed. The experience is going to be terrible one way or another.

    Say the controller asks you to fly airspeed 200 knots, and you obey; your simulator says 200 knots, your autopilot is set to 200 knots, and your simulated aerodynamics will match the 200 KIAS regimen; but the controller will see you moving at 180 knots, and if they expect you to reach a target 20 miles away in 6 minutes, you will be 2 miles short still by that time. 10% is enough to make it a terrible experience, even though it's "only" 2 fps below the limit.

    Just reconnecting immediately does not make the situation any better - you're essentially bypassing (badly) the mechanism that was designed to protect everyone else from the incorrect simulation data coming from your simulator. Yes, the user experience sucks for the both of you, but the culprit isn't the "kick slow XPlane clients" mechanism, it's the fact that XPlane messes up the timing when the frame rate drops below 20 fps. The kicking mechanism is there so that the badness of the experience is limited, especially for the other people on the network who didn't ask for it and who can't do anything about it.

    You're being kicked off the network for a reason; address that reason - use a simulator that doesn't have broken timing (AFAIK, all the others (FSX, P3D, FlightGear) do it correctly down to about 1 fps or so), scale down your settings so that you can get higher fps consistently, or buy better hardware.

  18. There's no autorouting of frequencies; most controllers listen on one frequency, and it's up to you to tune to the right one.

    So when you first start up, you first check whether DEL is online; if not, you check GND, then TWR, then APP, then CTR, until you find a controller that is online. And then you contact that controller on their current frequency.

    However, top-down coverage (APP down to individual airports) isn't provided for all airports. Untowered airports are not generally covered at all, and for other minor airport, it is up to the controller whether they are willing to provide top-down. E.g., EHAM APP may or may not provide coverage for EHLE; if they do, then they will provide DEL, GND, TWR and APP for EHLE, if not, they will treat EHLE like an untowered airfield. When that happens, you are supposed to depart on Unicom, and contact the controller when entering their airspace. Sometimes, the controller will mention the top-down coverage they provide in their remarks, but not always.

    If unsure, you can also contact the controller (by private chat message or on frequency) and ask.

  19. RNAV means that your navigation equipment can follow arbitrary flight paths with sufficient accuracy. The navigation information for this can be based on a variety of sources: GPS/GNSS, classic ground station based area navigation (which is where the term "RNAV" comes from), etc.; it is generally augmented with inertial navigation equipment for faster responses and better precision. RNAV procedures are mainly defined as sequences of waypoints, each given as a lat/lon pair.

    Traditional, non-RNAV, procedures, by contrast, assume navigation equipment that can only perform limited navigation based on ground stations (NDB, VOR, DME), and defines the flight path based on headings to or from a station, radials, and DME readings. Enroute, non-RNAV aircraft can fly VOR-to-VOR, or on airways that follow VOR radials (in the latter case, you fly on one radial until intercepting another, and the interception point is your waypoint).

    For VATSIM purposes, two things are important:

    • Whether you are able to fly published procedures at all (which requires having the published information available, and being able to fly the procedures correctly, by whichever means); if you cannot do that, put "NO SID/STAR" in your remarks and/or request vectors.
    • Whether your aircraft is RNAV-equipped; if it's not, then ATC should assign you non-RNAV procedures only (and you are required to reject RNAV procedures when offered); if only RNAV procedures are available for the situation at hand, you will have to fly by vectors. Non-RNAV aircraft also cannot fly airways that can't be navigated without RNAV.

    IRL, procedures may have additional requirements, e.g.:

    • "FMS mandatory", usually because the procedure is so complex and/or time critical that flying it without the aid of an FMS would lead to unacceptably high workload, or human errors would quickly lead to unsafe situations.
    • "DME required", on non-RNAV procedures, means that DME equipment is necessary to correctly fly the procedure (e.g. because it involves a DME arc, or because you have to turn to a heading at a specific DME reading).
    • "GPS/GNSS required" may apply in areas where insufficient ground station coverage is available to make traditional RNAV possible.

    RVSM, then, is completely unrelated to SIDs and STARs; it only matters above FL290. In non-RVSM airspace, separation above FL290 is 2000 ft, so only uneven flight levels are used. In RVSM airspace, however, a vertical separation of 1000 ft is maintained above FL290. In order to safely do this, aircraft need to be specially certified for RVSM; practically all modern airliners are, and on vatsim, it's a non-issue (unless you want to willingly simulate the restrictions that come with flying a non-RVSM-certified aircraft into RVSM airspace, which means you cannot climb beyond FL290 there). RVSM has nothing to do with lateral navigation equipment, it's mainly about altimeter precision and autopilot capabilities.

    Anyway, if you're flying a modern airliner, then your navigation equipment is invariably "RNAV, GNSS, RVSM". If you can't fly (all) SIDs / STARs as published, add "NO SID/STAR" to your remarks - your aircraft is still RNAV certified, and you can still use RNAV for your enroute waypoints.

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