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VATUSA better than before?


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I havent seen anything new change. . . besides the return of the regional events, which, to no fault of Chris Reene's, is something that we already had in the past.

 

So I will have to essentially say no.

 

Now you guys have my answer.

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A year ago I would have said it was impossible for VATUSA to get any worse, but defying all odds, it somehow has.

 

NOTE: Many respondents seem to be misinterpreting the question. We are discussing the divisional "leadership" and the way that the division is run. I'm glad you love controlling and/or flying on the network -- I do too -- but that's not really the point. Unless you are on an ARTCC's staff, or have been in the past, you won't have any direct dealings with VATUSA and thus won't really be able to answer the question as posed. I don't agree that a thread is "useless" just because only a limited number of people would be able to offer an opinion, and there are plenty of "what's your favourite aircraft/airport/etc." threads elsewhere to which all the noobs can post.

Marc Sykes

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Well, as an "outsider" I can safely say that most of the time I´ve had tons of fun when flying in american airspace ("american" being US in this case, although I had great flights in Canada as well already). Just last night two friends from the SAG and I flew a short hop from KSEA to KSFO, and we had a great time. After dropping a couple of sixpacks of german beer over the Corvallis VOR we were even given our desired cruise level and no more speed restrictions... Tomas (the CTR controller) was awesome and we had some good laughs over the frequency.

 

Of course there are also flights that were not as good as usual. For example last week, when we flew from Newark to Cinncinnati (oh man, I hope I spelled that one right, lol) and were basically ignored by every single controller, which led to our party of five circling in various holds for hours. It became so bad that two of us (including me) actually had to declare a PAN because we were cutting into our fuel reserves. Of our flight of five, only one aircraft made it into Cinncinnati, and only after declaring an emergency due to low fuel. The rest of us disconnected because we were getting way too frustrated for our own good, something that has never happened to me before on Vatsim.

 

Other than that I have always had an awesome time in the States though, and I really don´t know why it should have been better a year ago. I reckon this is a case of some underlying politics, right? If so, why don´t you guys just play with open cards and say what bothers you. Everything else is a bit childish IMHO and not worthy of this great hobby of ours.

 

Because remember guys, it´s still just a hobby. Nothing more, nothing less.

Cheers,

Andre Koch

Director VACC-SAG

[email protected]

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You are asking for a measurement.

 

However, you do not establish a baseline to compare against. You also do not establish success criteria for truly driving out the answer you seek.

 

If you say (this is JUST AN EXAMPLE), one year ago, VATUSA:

 

1) Was not using RVSM

2) Did not have divisions

3) Had a website

4) Had an automated testing/promotion system

5) Was staffed XX% of the time

6) Had 1M air operations per month

7) Signs on 10 new controllers per day (that was the average # of people taking the basic test)

 

Now list your success criteria for what you would deem "better":

1) VATUSA has RVSM

2) VATUSA has a new website

3) VATUSA needs division directors

4) VATUSA should have an increase of 10% in new controllers -- 11 controllers

5) VATUSA should have an increase in staffing by 50%

 

Comparing against the criteria:

1) Yes

2) No

3) Yes

4) Yes

5) Yes

 

Looks like a yes to me (using this EXAMPLE) --> this is a not a true representation only an example.

 

Only when you define the parameters for which you would like to measure success can you fully answer your question. Anything else is simply hearsay and opinion and irrelevant to your quest.

 

So although the original question is vague, I believe it is an important one that we as VATUSA members should ask of our leadership to define goals and objectives by which we can measure their effectiveness as leaders of the organization. Otherwise, aren't we simply still playing the popularity contest and good ole boy network game?

 

Shouldn't each ARTCC Chief define their goals and objectives when they are appointed? Should the Chief decision process allow for public review of those plans?

 

Now, those of us who have been around awhile know these types of things sound really good on paper, but in the end they really only waste time, because unless we are willing to act on the results, then why bother asking the question in the first place?

 

 

Sorry for the long winded post, but you asked a really vague but pertinent question, that could have a good answer if re-asked in the correct frame.

 

Jeff

Jeff Thomas

VP-IT

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If so, why don´t you guys just play with open cards and say what bothers you.

 

Because when we do that, we get threatened with termination from our ARTCC jobs and suspension from the network. (And this was the result of postings to a *private* forum that only VATUSA staff and ARTCC chiefs can read. Imagine what would happen if we posted the same complaints to a forum like this that more than .1% of the membership can read.) That's actually one thing that has remained consistent for the past two years that I've been dealing with VATUSA, although it's become a lot worse recently.

Marc Sykes

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I see. We had a similar problem some time ago in real life. You see, in real life I am a franchisee of a very large sandwich chain. We here in Germany had huge problems with pretty much everything, be it cost of goods, very bad meat quality, service levels of our distributors or the lack of support of the mother company in the States. Basically, the only thing that worked really well was the weekly deduction of the franchise fees.

 

Things were getting very frustrating, and everytime someone spoke up he was being marked as being illoyal to the chain and as a denigrator of the "family". People who complained too much were inofficially not given support anymore, leading to a number of stores actually having to close down. At the same time, the chain communicated the image of being an awesome franchise opportunity to the outside world.

 

So anyway, things were getting seriously frustrating, and it´s gotten to the point where nobody really dared to speak up anymore for fear of retaliations. That´s when a few of us from all over the country came together and secretely organized ourselves. We set up a national forum, elected a national franchisee board, set up letters of complaints and then went public with that (well, within the mother company that is, not "really" public of course). Our thought behind it was that they could let down one or two stores, but not every single one within the entire country. There was just no way for them to do that, both for financial and for image reasons.

 

And lo and behold... it worked! All of a sudden we were being heard, representatives from all over the world hastened to establish a good relationship with us, suppliers no longer ignored us, and things turned for the better. We suddenly became somebody overnight, and when we spoke up, people listened. We started to demand things instead of asking for them.

 

When this works in real life, why shouldn´t it work in virtual life as well? If all of you are unhappy with the way things are run, why don´t you get together and speak up with one voice? What is there to happen? It is impossible to terminate every single person from their ARTCC jobs without the entire system breaking down. If you all really agree on this topic, go ahead and stand up to your beliefs.

Cheers,

Andre Koch

Director VACC-SAG

[email protected]

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Wow, I'm going to agree with Ross.

 

I'm not saying that I agree with everything that's going on in VATUSA (because I don't), but no one seems to want to give these guys some time. As far as I can tell one of your ZLA boys was picked to be VATUSA3. I'm personally looking forward to what he will be for the training dept., ZLA has always had high quality controllers (which means high quality training) and I'm sure Jim will bring a ZLA influence to VATUSA's overall training style.

 

Again, I don't agree with everything, but it's far to early to be forming some sort of revolt...

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Stop posting "immediatly"? What does that mean -- stop posting obvious spelling errors?

 

In any case, it's not about how many "boys" each center gets to nominate to the VATUSA staff; it's about how the division works as a whole: to what extent, if any, there is discussion and consultation on policy decisions; how dissents and disagreements are handled; and to what extent, if any, constituent ARTCCs are allowed to be self-governing within the larger divisional structure. None of these issues has anything to do with how many representatives ZLA has versus other ARTCCs.

 

Andre has some good points, and his proposed solution would work if the ARTCCs involved weren't in direct competition with each other and didn't, as a result, generally not see eye to eye on anything. It's a lot easier to get a bunch of individual Subway (just a hypothetical, I have no idea if this is actually Andre's franchise or not) locations, spread out all across the country, to co-operate with each other than it is to get the McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, and Wendy's that are all on the same street corner to work together. Unfortunately, since VATUSA's centers are all gunning for the same "customers" (pilots) and have vastly different approaches to every major issue, they're unlikely to be able to unify enough to unseat anyone, even if they are all dissatisfied in one way or another. This is especially true when there is a concerted effort to isolate and quarantine the most active dissidents to prevent them from being heard, as there is in this case, which is what has led to these kinds of posts showing up here (and in other public forums) in the first place.

Marc Sykes

Toronto ACC Trainee

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Pretty tough question here, I’m not sure if it was meant as a serious question for some introspection by our division or as an attack, but I do have an opinion on this topic which I will now present.

 

Before I do let me just say that I’ve been involved with the Network (in its various formats) for over 6 years now. I’ve actually been INVOLVED. I’ve been exposed to the goings on at many different levels and I’ve seen a lot of good and a lot of bad. I’m not so involved right now and I’m not really in the loop. What I’m trying to say is that these are my personal thoughts, feelings, opinions – based on what I know or think I might know.

 

If anyone reads this and thinks they are being attacked – they are not. Despite differences I might have with person A or person B – in the end I have a lot of respect for anyone who is currently taking, or has in the past taken an active role in our community.

 

Here goes:

 

I think that despite the hard work of some people and the best intentions of many others - that our Division in general has not necessarily declined over the past few years but has failed to make the necessary changes to policy, infrastructure, personnel, and attitude that are required to fuel exponential growth. It feels as if we are stagnant.

 

I think we need to look across the pond at how things are done in by the folks in the European division. Those guys have in my opinion have policies that change based on the “lay of the landâ€

Ian Elchitz

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Marc,

 

Sorry about posting that, guess I'm not one of those people who picks at the grammar in stupid forum pictures.

 

Ian,

 

Good post. When I posted I didn't mean to attack anyone, I was just trying to put a different light on things. As to what Ian said, I don't think starting threads like these helps the cause. If we want to have more "unity" in VATUSA then these kinds of things need to stop. Talk to Jeff Turner about it, as regional director I hope that he would listen to any constructive criticism about what he's doing. Overall though I don't topics like these help.

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I believe that the Europeans do this out of necessity, simply because they must COMPETE for every new member and that they must COMPETE to keep every existing member. If they don’t have their acts together – some other network will kick their butt up and down the boardwalk. I also think that if we don’t get our acts together sometime soon – we will get kicked when a serious competitor shows up in North America.

 

Ian nailed it. VATUSA has been spoiled over the years with no competition. Well, I have news for you, the "other" guys are making plans right now to take a big bite out of VATUSA. They are talking and planning.

 

We need to understand why:

 

1. CTR time is down almost 13% from this time last year.

2. Promotions to controller are extremely rare (only 8 in the last month)

3. People stop ATC training after S1.

4. Certain ARTCC's are declining after years of success.

5. Retention and recruiting efforts are not keeping pace with expected attrition of controllers.

 

These are real issues that need answers and the continual squabbling over who owns what in the VATUSA sandbox is getting a little ugly. No one person is going to solve all the issues with VATUSA. The only option is a collective effort centered around open minds and a willingness to participate in a give and take resolution.

Richard Jenkins

richard(a)vatsim.net

"It's all fun and games until the cops show up."

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In any case, it's not about how many "boys" each center gets to nominate to the VATUSA staff; it's about how the division works as a whole: to what extent, if any, there is discussion and consultation on policy decisions; how dissents and disagreements are handled; and to what extent, if any, constituent ARTCCs are allowed to be self-governing within the larger divisional structure. None of these issues has anything to do with how many representatives ZLA has versus other ARTCCs.

 

 

In my recent experiences in dealing with VATUSA staff are that they are very much one sided toward who they deem their friends when it comes to resolving a conflict in an ARTCC. Its an "I scratch your back you scratch mine" mentality. When some of the lower members of the staff make recommendations to higher members of the staff, those recommendations get ignored, p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed over, or "I'll look into it" (weeks p[Mod - Happy Thoughts] with no result).

 

On a positive note the staff seems to be active compared to the old one, but I think we replaced powerless with power hungry.

 

So in closing on the topic, I don't think that the higher VATUSA staff members aren't interested in the average members ideas or wishes. I think that they are more concerned with what benefits them personally

 

It's just a game. It's just a hobby and there are some people out there in charge that take this WAY to seriously. Perhaps its because they aren't in a management position in real life and now in some weird twisted way have the power now... *shrug*

 

Marc if you aren't already I suggest that you find a way to get on someones good side up there inorder to the the results and answers you seek.

 

Talk to Jeff Turner about it, as regional director I hope that he would listen to any constructive criticism about what he's doing.

 

Thanks Justin, this made me chuckle based on my experiance this is highly unlikely

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Nick

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Folks,

 

#1. I'm not in a policy making position as VATUSA6. I'm simply the webmaster, so take this as my opinion and nothing more.

 

#2. I can't believe some of the things I'm reading in this public forum by senior VATUSA staff members. Seems some of you have a do as I say not as I do attitude here. I say that because a couple of you are bringing what seems like personal gripes with certain VATUSA members out in the open. If a pilot did that on these forums, you would be the first to tell them that they shouldn't be posting their gripes here and that they should contact so and so who is in charge of said facility. If you have this much of a "Problem" with the current status of VATUSA bring it up to the staff. In my short tenure at the website director helm, this certainly hasn't come across my inbox (if it was posted on the vatusa list, where it SHOULD BE POSTED). That is Two-Faced and those of you doing just what you say you shouldn't on this topic are "TWO-FACED!"

 

#3. As you have already stated, many changes are taking place. Just because you don't see results immediately (This isn't the fast-food joint mind you) doesn't mean a thing! We are hard at work on many new initiatives. I know for a fact the training aspect of VATUSA is undergoing changes and I can't wait to see them.

 

#4. If you have real suggestions on what you think would improve VATUSA send them in. I know they will be heard, evaluated and implemented if feasible and sound. On a directly, personal note, this is why I asked all the Chiefs for their "wish list" on what the website could offer. I received four (4) emails out of how many ARTCC Chiefs??? and not one from those of you gripping here that no one listens to you.

 

That's it from my end.

-----Original Message

Thank you,

Lance W.

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Hundreds of Real-World Airlines and Routes for you to fly at www.ndbair.com

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Ian makes some excellent points here. However, let's also be honest about what prompted the original question. The controllers and staff at ZLA are angry and upset. Why? Because at some point in the past, under a different administration, they were asked to stop being so aggressive in the way they were hosting and advertising events. It was also implied that, because they had an EXCELLENT staff, they were stealing all the good controllers. Other ARTCC Chiefs were jealous and getting upset because the hard work that ZLA was putting in was paying off. They were kicking everyone's butt around the block when it came to the quality of their training program and the amount of activity that everyone saw on the scopes. Is that ZLA's fault? No. Does ZLA want to dominate VATUSA with their opinions and have VATUSA run things they way they want them to be run. I don't think so.

 

But notice that outside of ZLA, most of the responses so far have been that VATUSA seems to be improving. How can that be when ZLA is so unhappy? It's because things change. Staffs change. And VATUSA is beginning to make a serious effort at helping every ARTCC get its act together.

 

You want a plan?... OK. That is a perfectly reasonable request. The plan is to help every ARTCC thrive. The plan is to create an ATC environment that gets pilots juiced up to fly, and controllers motivated to log on and have a good time while they learn a thing or two about the airspace they are attempting to control. There isn't any reason an ARTCC should feel they have to "compete" for traffic or controllers. Will some ARTCCs have larger memberships? Of course, that is a natural reflection of the real world. There are more people and airplanes flying from Atlanta, New York City, Boston, Chicago... and yes... Los Angeles. It is only logical that the centers that service those airports will have more traffic and attract the attention of more controllers because of those higher traffic levels. But that doesn't mean that a less populated area doesn't have some fun flying. How many pilots regularly take on the mountain ranges surrounding Salt Lake City? How many pilots have experienced an approach to Honolulu? There's good stuff to be had by all. So the plan is to help those facilities that need help. The plan is to allow every ARTCC Staff to fulfill its vision. The plan is to inform pilots that every ARTCC has something that makes it unique. And the plan is for everyone to learn something about the thing that brought us all here. Air Traffic Control on one side of the scope, and Aviation (and the act of aviating) on the other.

 

So, what is it that you want ZLA? You want VATUSA to stay our of your business so that you can host a major event every week? You want VATUSA to mind its own business when it comes to reviewing the policies you put in place at your ARTCC? Would that make you happy? Would we then be getting 'rave' reviews about our performance? Very unlikely. The role of VATUSA will change, as it must to accomodate the changes in our membership. The role of the individuals who step up to help guide VATUSA must consider EVERY member of VATSIM. This is a global organization and there are many divergent interests. VATUSA must act responsibly to the total membership. Should we slow that process down by asking the entire membership of VATUSA for a consensus? That isn't going to happen either, because that is not the way good governance works. The voice of those who need help must be heard equally to the voice of the strong and dominant.

 

The problems of the past need to be consigned to the past. Let's move forward, shall we? Let's learn from the mistakes that have been made and correct them. Unless, of course, you like to wallow in the errors that others have made and cling to them to rationalize your own anger.

 

It's fine to ask the question that Josh Hjemvick asked, but it also was asked to bait a response that supported his view that all things VATUSA are evil. Keep in mind, Josh... there is more than one side to every story. Let's move past this and hear what would make you all smiles. What is it, Josh, that you want from VATUSA? You never know, you may get what you wish for. Imagine if every ARTCC hosted a major event every week. Imagine if every ARTCC had a crack staff and a flourishing membership. THAT IS THE PLAN. Is that going to happen next week? No. This is a BIG organization, and a lot of consideration for EVERYONE needs to take place. Give the new guys a chance before you make a quick [Mod - Happy Thoughts]essment about a VATUSA staff you may not know very well.

 

Michael McClelland

VATUSA7

Director Air Traffic - Western Region

Michael McClelland

ZMA-C3

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Michael,

 

If you are under the impression that my post has anything to do with ZLA's position on anything then you are incorrect.

 

If you think that I am bitter or upset about anything you are also incorrect. Under no circomestances should you [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ume that anyone who has an affiliation with or is a member of ZLA has the attitude you portray here. Some might - not all do.

 

What you have presented is not a plan at all - they are goals. They are excellent goals which I completely agree with. I can only [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ume that when VATNA put a new VATUSA leader into place that the decision was based on someone with a plan which shared some of VATNA's and VATSIM's vision. I can also only [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ume that anyone else brought into the administration has a plan.

 

These plans should be shared with the membership. Is everyone going to agree with them? Absolutely not. From my perspective - working towards a poor plan is better than working towards no plan at all.

Ian Elchitz

Just a guy without any fancy titles

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Ian makes some excellent points here. However, let's also be honest about what prompted the original question. The controllers and staff at ZLA are angry and upset. Why? Because at some point in the past, under a different administration, they were asked to stop being so aggressive in the way they were hosting and advertising events. It was also implied that, because they had an EXCELLENT staff, they were stealing all the good controllers. Other ARTCC Chiefs were jealous and getting upset because the hard work that ZLA was putting in was paying off. They were kicking everyone's butt around the block when it came to the quality of their training program and the amount of activity that everyone saw on the scopes. Is that ZLA's fault? No. Does ZLA want to dominate VATUSA with their opinions and have VATUSA run things they way they want them to be run. I don't think so.

 

I am so glad you wrote that last 3 sentences, Mike. I was about to go postal. Seriously, we at ZLA don't want to dominate things as people think we do. I admit, that we have been rather aggressive. In looking back at the past couple of years on VATSIM, ZLA has gone through its own trials and tribulations, raged against itself, and came out of all of it with renewed vigor and drive to get back to doing what we (and I hope all of us) do best: fly and control to the best of our abilities. One of the things that has carried on through all of this, though, has been reputation. It's the same type of thing that ZNY has when Yuri Soares or Ernie Alston was chief there (I believe he was at the time; apologies if I have it wrong).

 

It's mainly coming down to living up to that reputation that a person or place has, and exceeding it. but also, it is about being brothers and having the big brother help out the baby brother when they need it. But what do you do when the little brother feels slighted and jaded? Lashing out at the Big brother isn't going to help things. Doing that just fuels bitterness and anger, which was what happened.

 

But notice that outside of ZLA, most of the responses so far have been that VATUSA seems to be improving. How can that be when ZLA is so unhappy? It's because things change. Staffs change. And VATUSA is beginning to make a serious effort at helping every ARTCC get its act together.

 

This, I find rather preposterous. This takes into [Mod - Happy Thoughts]umption that one person speaks for all. Rather.. presidential (I'm not making this political, don't get me wrong). I do believe things are improving from an end-user stance. In fact...

 

I am going on record and agreeing with Lance. Yes, you heard it. I'm agreeing with Lance. Change, regardless of who you are, what you have, what you do, does take time. Take quitting smoking. You can easily say that "from this second forward, I will never smoke again!" Quick change, yes? But the battle just started, as you have to deal with the nicotine addiction over an extended period of time. That time is where the REAL change comes in. We need to give that time for change to take place. Patience.

 

You want a plan?... OK. That is a perfectly reasonable request. The plan is to help every ARTCC thrive. The plan is to create an ATC environment that gets pilots juiced up to fly, and controllers motivated to log on and have a good time while they learn a thing or two about the airspace they are attempting to control. There isn't any reason an ARTCC should feel they have to "compete" for traffic or controllers. Will some ARTCCs have larger memberships? Of course, that is a natural reflection of the real world. There are more people and airplanes flying from Atlanta, New York City, Boston, Chicago... and yes... Los Angeles. It is only logical that the centers that service those airports will have more traffic and attract the attention of more controllers because of those higher traffic levels. But that doesn't mean that a less populated area doesn't have some fun flying. How many pilots regularly take on the mountain ranges surrounding Salt Lake City? How many pilots have experienced an approach to Honolulu? There's good stuff to be had by all. So the plan is to help those facilities that need help. The plan is to allow every ARTCC Staff to fulfill its vision. The plan is to inform pilots that every ARTCC has something that makes it unique. And the plan is for everyone to learn something about the thing that brought us all here. Air Traffic Control on one side of the scope, and Aviation (and the act of aviating) on the other.

 

Very well said. I am one of those people you mentioned that go to the less used places when I fly. I haven't seen anyone fly to a lot of the smaller places in the country. The reason for that? Pilots want to do what the big boys do. Hop in that 747 and fly to LAX or JFK or ORD. Who cares about JLN, OMA, HLN, IDA, ESC, or SAW? No-one flies there!! (or so they think.) After doing all the flying to the majors, I've realized that those smaller unused fields are WAY over looked. They need the same traffic as the majors. But what do you do to bring light to those? That's where your planning begins. Let's get started.

 

So, what is it that you want ZLA? You want VATUSA to stay our of your business so that you can host a major event every week? You want VATUSA to mind its own business when it comes to reviewing the policies you put in place at your ARTCC? Would that make you happy? Would we then be getting 'rave' reviews about our performance? Very unlikely. The role of VATUSA will change, as it must to accomodate the changes in our membership. The role of the individuals who step up to help guide VATUSA must consider EVERY member of VATSIM. This is a global organization and there are many divergent interests. VATUSA must act responsibly to the total membership. Should we slow that process down by asking the entire membership of VATUSA for a consensus? That isn't going to happen either, because that is not the way good governance works. The voice of those who need help must be heard equally to the voice of the strong and dominant.

 

Somewhere along this, I'm seeing a shot taken at ZLA (though I know that isn't the intention). A lot of this, can and is taken out of context in response to Josh's original post. What needs to be done, is get rid of the monotony. Rage within the sector, rage within the region, rage within the division. This is what needs to change, full stop. Ian is right. VATUK, VATEUD, and VATEUR are whipping our right hand driving, jelly, not marmalade, Fehrenheit using, slackjawed butts all over the place, because with everything that has happened in the past 2 decades, they are more used to change than us, and can adapt easier. Case in point: Royal family to Communism to Perestroika in Russia vs. the US Constitution. Within a century, three types of goverment transition through a country where our government has been the same for over 200 years. We need to take a good look at what they are doing RIGHT, what we are doing WRONG, and a good long, hard look at ourselves and what we have done to get into this raging position we are in today, and do what we need to do to turn this around. Forget pointing fingers, forget he said/she said. Deal with the problem.

 

The problems of the past need to be consigned to the past. Let's move forward, shall we? Let's learn from the mistakes that have been made and correct them. Unless, of course, you like to wallow in the errors that others have made and cling to them to rationalize your own anger.

 

Agreed.

 

It's fine to ask the question that Josh Hjemvick asked, but it also was asked to bait a response that supported his view that all things VATUSA are evil. Keep in mind, Josh... there is more than one side to every story. Let's move past this and hear what would make you all smiles. What is it, Josh, that you want from VATUSA? You never know, you may get what you wish for. Imagine if every ARTCC hosted a major event every week. Imagine if every ARTCC had a crack staff and a flourishing membership. THAT IS THE PLAN. Is that going to happen next week? No. This is a BIG organization, and a lot of consideration for EVERYONE needs to take place. Give the new guys a chance before you make a quick [Mod - Happy Thoughts]essment about a VATUSA staff you may not know very well.

 

Michael McClelland

VATUSA7

Director Air Traffic - Western Region

 

One final thing..

 

Ian Elchitz, will you marry me??

 

BL.

Brad Littlejohn

ZLA Senior Controller

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