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VATUSA Suggestions


Jeff Thomas
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With a new set of leaders on board at VATUSA, and personally knowing they are going to be moving ahead with some design decisions, I thought I would take the time to publicly ask for items (some of these I know are on the list already

 

1) Single Sign-on to the VATUSA website and all the subcomponents (testing, statistics, ARTCC membership, etc)

 

2) Cater more to PILOTS. Most of the ARTCCs and VATUSA tailor their websites, it seems, to the controllers in the ARTCC and not the pilots. "Staff it and they will come" only works if there is a THEY...and pilots are the THEY

 

3) Along with that, it would be nice if the ARTCCs followed the same web template (standard?) for laying out their websites to allow easier finding of information, i.e. charts, policies, training, etc. Right now they are all pretty close, but sometimes I have to dig around to find something that, IMHO, should be very available. Some general overriding layout would be most beneficial.

 

4) Re-examine the rating/promotion system for controllers. Personally, I think there are too many restrictions on where and how a person can control and that is leading to a downward slide in controllers online. I'm not saying throw it all away, but come up with something that works....sorry I don't know what that is ... I just know that the difference between a C3 and S3 is a test. I have seen lots of people come along and zoom through the tests only to be terrible controllers in the end....

 

5) An integrated events calendar across the board so that if I log into the vZAU website, I see the same exact events I would if I logged in the VATUSA website... then bubble that up so I could see the same ones globally at VATSIM.

 

6) A group flight type of board system. I remember the old flight boards where you could link up with some folks and do a bit of group flying...nothing really formal, but maybe something to coordinate some folks... Somewhere where I could post a quick message saying, "Hey, flying KDTW to KORD in about 15 minutes....anyone want to come along?" I don't know but it might have merit. I know we have the ATC Board, but I'm not sure it is publicly used very much. Maybe just make it more well known...a PR compaign...??

 

Anyway, I know you guys have tons on your plate (seeings how I held that plate for so long and didn't do anything but these would be nice suggestions from a member....maybe someone else has some ideas to help the community as a whole.

 

Jeff

Jeff Thomas

VP-IT

https://joinava.org

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Hi Jeff,

 

You mention a lot of the stuff that Lance and Craig are working on. Single sign on for testing and stats, the ATM's now have access to their ARTCC stats upon demand, or it's very close. Chris at ZBW made this suggestion and it was a great one.

 

Craig Merriman came up with some good ideas to come to the pilots along the lines of a newsletter that they can subscribe too as well as some other things that Chris Renne wants to do, to include a new event calendar that is easier to use and some sort of feed (I don't understand the jargan) to where a ARTCC website can pull information right from our site to theirs so that it is always up to date.

 

The training department, as I mentioned before is really doing a complete overhaul, I expect it to take a few months or more to complete, but, I'm sure that Jim is reading this information and will respond. Those are genuine concerns and I agree.

 

Keep those ideas coming folks, we're here to support you as I mentioned to the staff in our first staff meeting a few weeks ago, so, let's hear it, if you don't want to post it here, no problem, send it to me and I'll make sure that it gets to the right person.

 

JT

Jeff "JU" Turner

US Army Retired

http://www.skyblueradio.com

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Dont know if this is the place for it, but..... How about a rule that makes it that if a canidate is capable( not handicapped) , that to get to the TWR position, they have to get thier voice rating. It is annoying to switch to text on final ( I know all the suggestions to aid in this such as pretype it). As well it is also annoying to have a APP on text. If they are text because they are unable at that time I understand but if they are unable because they arent signed off, well then they shouldnt be on APP. Dont want this to sound negative , it is just a suggestion. I do not control so I have NO idea how much is involved. Thanks

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1) Single Sign-on to the VATUSA website and all the subcomponents (testing, statistics, ARTCC membership, etc)

 

This is good.

 

2) Cater more to PILOTS. Most of the ARTCCs and VATUSA tailor their websites, it seems, to the controllers in the ARTCC and not the pilots. "Staff it and they will come" only works if there is a THEY...and pilots are the THEY

 

As is this.

 

3) Along with that, it would be nice if the ARTCCs followed the same web template (standard?) for laying out their websites to allow easier finding of information, i.e. charts, policies, training, etc. Right now they are all pretty close, but sometimes I have to dig around to find something that, IMHO, should be very available. Some general overriding layout would be most beneficial.

 

I don't think this really matters.

 

 

4) Re-examine the rating/promotion system for controllers. Personally, I think there are too many restrictions on where and how a person can control and that is leading to a downward slide in controllers online. I'm not saying throw it all away, but come up with something that works....sorry I don't know what that is ... I just know that the difference between a C3 and S3 is a test. I have seen lots of people come along and zoom through the tests only to be terrible controllers in the end....

 

Not quite sure it's the restrictions that are leading to the decline of controlling. There are plenty of ARTCCs controllers can join where there are really no restrictions in place; p[Mod - Happy Thoughts] the test, you get your rating. And then there are ARTCCs with restrictions for those who actually want to learn ATC. If anything, I would like to see the restrictions at the first facilities I mentioned INCREASED, so that pilots receive the same quality ATC regardless of where they fly in VATUSA.

 

5) An integrated events calendar across the board so that if I log into the vZAU website, I see the same exact events I would if I logged in the VATUSA website... then bubble that up so I could see the same ones globally at VATSIM.

 

The individual ARTCC websites should not be a grandstand for promoting VATUSA events. That's what the VATUSA website is for. The individual websites should remain as they are now...promotions for ARTCC-specific events.

 

Thanks,

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Bryan Wollenberg

ZLA!

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.... Right now, you play a hit or miss game as a pilot. You either receive great ATC, or your service is non-realistic and horrible. There seems to be very little in between....

 

How have you come up with this??? I've flown to a number of ARTCC's and have felt I recieved the same quality ATC as yours. If I had to rate the quality, I'd say your ARTCC would be at the top of the list; but the bottom of the list ARTCC is in no way "non-realistic and horrible".

 

I'm sorry, I'm just going to have to come right out and say it sir. Reading your posts (not just this one) I get the impression that you feel that if it's not done ZLA's way, then it's "non-realistic and horrible"; to quote you again. Just an impression, but all's I've got to go on is how your posts come across.

Jason Harris

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Jason, to clarify my position, it's in no way a "My way or the highway" type thing. Do I support ZLA? Yeah! We have a great thing going for us, and I think there is a lot that can be learned from the success we have on the West Coast. We've worked our butts off to get to where we are...it wasn't just handed to us.

 

Is that the ONLY way to run things? No way! Like you, I have received FANTASTIC ATC all over the country, and have controlled next to some top-notch controllers in the bordering ARTCC's. I'm not saying that anything that isn't done ZLA's way is "non-realistic and horrible."

 

However, you might agree with me? I recently came across a Senior Controller, in a certain ARTCC with not much of a training program, who did not know how/when/under what circomestances he could issue a visual approach clearance.

 

Another example is a Controller (C1) who could not figure out how to issue an IFR clearance to save his life.

 

Controllers who do not RADAR Identify aircraft.

 

Phraseology? Forget it! I've heard more 10-4 Good Buddies from ATC than I have from pilots.

 

I've had controllers crash me into mountains because they don't understand MVA's, or even know what MVA's are.

 

Is any of that stuff acceptable to you? From C1's and C3's? It doesn't take much of a training program in ARTCC's to teach this stuff to their controllers. But it isn't happening. That's the kind of non-realistic and horrible service I'm referring to.

 

Jeff asked for opinions, and I'm giving them...that's all. I don't hold some ZLA elistist view. I would just like to see quality ATC throughout VATUSA...and in some places, it's just not happening. It's a benefit to pilots, controllers, and VATUSA to have a quality program. I'm sure Jim Johnson has some great stuff lined up for VATUSA training. Can't wait to see what he has in store.

 

Thanks for your time...

Bryan Wollenberg

ZLA!

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Thank you for clarifying Mr. Wollenberg I just took issue with the (to paraphrase) ATC is either great or horrible statement. I felt it was inflammatory and inaccurate.

 

BTW, I think ZLA does a FANTASTIC job of teaching and controlling. Have really enjoyed my flights in your ARTCC...no BS. And, I agree controllers work their butt's off to get thier rankings. Please keep in mind, though (you just knew that was coming ), all things equal (eg training and how hard the controllers work) there are a few ARTCC's that will ALWAYS get more traffic than others. Plain and simple truth; but as you mentioned, not a reason to forego good training.

 

Looking forward to my next flight in ZLA!

Jason Harris

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Another example is a Controller (C1) who could not figure out how to issue an IFR clearance to save his life.

 

So this is really the crux of the problem with the rating system that I tried to ellude to earlier. Whether you are a C1 or S1 really doesn't matter because its SCOPE TIME that really seasons a controller.

 

I have seen guys who were S1s jump on and know exactly what they are doing...because they do it in real life or for some other reason. I have also had C1s like you say, could not vector themselves out of a wet paper bag.

 

I also said I'm not sure what the answer is, and maybe this is one of those cases where a change....any change....migtht help.

 

Jeff

Jeff Thomas

VP-IT

https://joinava.org

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Another example is a Controller (C1) who could not figure out how to issue an IFR clearance to save his life.

 

Whether you are a C1 or S1 really doesn't matter because its SCOPE TIME that really seasons a controller.

 

Jeff

 

But how were they allowed to progress to C1 in their training program without knowing basic stuff they SHOULD have learned as an S1? That's my point.

Bryan Wollenberg

ZLA!

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Another example is a Controller (C1) who could not figure out how to issue an IFR clearance to save his life.

 

So this is really the crux of the problem with the rating system that I tried to ellude to earlier. Whether you are a C1 or S1 really doesn't matter because its SCOPE TIME that really seasons a controller.

 

I have seen guys who were S1s jump on and know exactly what they are doing...because they do it in real life or for some other reason. I have also had C1s like you say, could not vector themselves out of a wet paper bag.

 

I also said I'm not sure what the answer is, and maybe this is one of those cases where a change....any change....migtht help.

 

Jeff

 

And we won't fix the C1 issue until training standards are stronger and require more scope time. Because trust me, if someone wants it enough, they will do the required training so that they can get the precious scope time.

CMEL.CSEL.IA.AGI.CFI.CFII.MEI.CRJ2.FO.Furloughed

Part of the Acey 80

 

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Oh Jason, call me Bryan. Mr. Wollenberg is my Dad. ha ha!

 

I agree with everything you noted, 100%. I've edited my original post to take out the "inflammatory" comment. You're absolutely right...I see how that could have been taken the wrong way.

 

Of course there will always be certain ARTCC's that get more traffic, just due to the nature of the popular airports or whatever. I'm just all for equalizing training so that regardless of where people go, they have a similar experience, and receive great ATC across the board.

 

As always, looking forward to your next flight through ZLA.

Bryan Wollenberg

ZLA!

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Not sure if this is what some of you were talking about before, but I'd like to see different ranking "achievements." For example, you have to wait 30 days to get a promotion in most cases, or to even be looked at in an OTS...I'd rather it be done by the amount of time spent controlling. Whether that takes you a week or two months to achieve X hours on Y position, that would probably make people more prepared for higher positions.

Nick Bartolotta - ZSE Instructor, pilot at large

 

"Just fly it on down to within a inch of the runway and let it drop in from there."

- Capt. Don Lanham, ATA Airlines

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Nicholas,

Good idea. The only thing I worry about there is the guy who logs 8 hours in the middle of the night without any traffic.

 

 

So I wonder if there is a way to track the number of "ops" a controller has per shift.....?????

 

I doubt we could track the aircraft he/she controlled, so you bring up a good point about that. Although chances are if the mandatory (and uniform minimum bar set for all ARTCC's) was set pretty high, so you're bound to get at least one track

Nick Bartolotta - ZSE Instructor, pilot at large

 

"Just fly it on down to within a inch of the runway and let it drop in from there."

- Capt. Don Lanham, ATA Airlines

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I doubt we could track the aircraft he/she controlled, so you bring up a good point about that. Although chances are if the mandatory (and uniform minimum bar set for all ARTCC's) was set pretty high, so you're bound to get at least one track

 

Well, we COULD..

Mike Evans

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Mike,

You're such a darn tease

 

Is this something you are planning, or is it something one of us could figure out easily?

 

I imagine it would be fairly easy to trend when a controller is on shift how many aircraft he/she TRACKs.... I suppose if I F3 a target, the system must know that I "have" that a/c. Consequently when I drop track it or hand-off it can decide monitor that as well.

 

Would that be something inside the server, or does ASRC do that I wonder?

 

Jeff

Jeff Thomas

VP-IT

https://joinava.org

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Josh, I can understand where you are coming from, and I agree, but....

 

What would you do when the servers, as we all know and love them, decide to stop communicating or whatever it is they do. We all know that many times, the data server will not communicate with the other servers. Heck, all you have to do is go look at your VATSIM stats and you can see this.

 

What would you do if this were to happen during a time when a new controller is busy? Say they had 25 aircraft come in over time, but the server only shows 5. What do you do then? Here's another example. What about delivery, ground and tower controllers? For the most part, none of them ever track an aircraft, how would you show that they controlled them?

 

Just my thoughts on the subject. I could also be way off with my info, so take this with a grain of salt.

 

 

Mike, mind telling us how it's possible? You have me curious now.

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I think one of the largest issues we face is finding the right balance between realism and having some fun. There are definetly pros and cons on both sides - some ARTCC's want it as real as it gets, others want it as fun as it gets. Some pilots tell us better poor ATC than no ATC - others will tell us if the ATC is what they define as "sub par" they will fly elsewhere or off line.

 

I guess even more than finding the right balance, the problem might be defining something that allows different centers to co-exist while sitting at different points on that line.

 

I agree with the others here that our rating definitions are vastly different from one ARTCC to the next. This is nothing new - I'm starting to think that we need to make a RADICAL change in how we train our controllers. Unfortunately, I'm not sure what the change needs to be only that we need to make one.

 

Whether we lean to more of an "arcade style" of controlling or "as real as it gets" - there are bound to be many people who are upset. With this said - we need to try one side of the fence or the other - and stick with it for a period long enough to determine if its the right or wrong direction. We can't just give up on it 6 weeks in because "it's too hard" or "too different".

 

Whatever plan Jim unveils for us in the next month or so - we will need to band together and support it for at least a year - anything shorter than that would not give us enough information decide.

Ian Elchitz

Just a guy without any fancy titles

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With a new set of leaders on board at VATUSA, and personally knowing they are going to be moving ahead with some design decisions, I thought I would take the time to publicly ask for items (some of these I know are on the list already

Jeff

 

Good topic Jeff.

 

One thing that I think we need to look at (and I apologize that I don't have any suggestions for how to improve this) are the hoops a new member must jump through to start controlling.

 

I know this is something that has been tweaked many times over the past few years, but quite often we see the same posts on the various forums about transferring divisions, how to select an ARTCC, where to take tests, etc.

 

I know that it's impossible to make it 100% idiot proofed - and that probably for every post we see about poeple with problems - there are 10 who make it without any issues.

 

I just think it's something we should take a look at - with some integrated p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]words it might be a lot easier. Too bad there isn't a way to authenticate userID's with Vatsim (using the CID and Vatsim P[Mod - Happy Thoughts]word).

Ian Elchitz

Just a guy without any fancy titles

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While we're on the website subject again...thanks for reminding me Ian.

 

If I'm not mistaken, isn't the S1 written test still titled "Pilot/Observer" test or something like that? It even confused me the other day when a student asked about it. Should it be named "Student Test" or "S1 Test" or something to that extent, because there really is no test to be a pilot/observer, right?

Bryan Wollenberg

ZLA!

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One of the thing's that ZLA has had going for it recently is our influx of eager new S1s/S3s. Lately these guys have been begging for more training with some manning SMO or LAX for hours on end almost every day. I'm not sure where this motivation comes from but it is great to see students that really WANT to move up and get better. What do you guys think? Would decreasing stagnant rosters by requiring students to train and move up...or get out...be a good way to keep a controller base strong?

 

Maybe stronger filtering of students to begin with. Make sure these guys understand the intricacies of controlling well before they apply for the observer test. A lot of the very realistic virtual airlines for example are loaded with disclaimers on their application pages: "UNDERSTAND, pilot candidate, that we FLY ONLINE; UNDERSTAND, pilot candidate, that you have to p[Mod - Happy Thoughts] a relatively rigorous checkride to get in; UNDERSTAND, pilot candidate, that we use realistic FAR Part 121 flight operations and expect, for example, NO 2x/4x, NO autoland on every flight...etc..etc." Maybe some sort of grandiose caveat before new controllers get into it could weed out people that thnk it's just like hopping on the zone and slewing your aircraft next to Meigs Tower. Even better, maybe once the new controller makes observer, require a mandatory ASRC OBS session of seniorcontroller working center somewhere to give him/her an idea of what a controller is really looking at and. Just some random ideas...

Christian Renne

Events Director/VA Liaison

VATUSA (5)

[email protected]

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