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VATUSA Suggestions


Jeff Thomas
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Hi all,

 

I'm a pilot so don't know much about controllers, but I'd like to make one suggestion if possible. I'd like to see more Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C towered airports around the USA. Especially becuase I like to fly VFR and I hate to fly a Cessna into airports like JFK or LAX just to get some radio time with a tower.

 

This is something on my wish list. Thanks for listening

 

- Carlos

--

Carlos F. Meneses

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Carlos,

 

That's a fair suggestion. Bare in mind, though, that in most ARTCC's, approach or ctr will provide tower service at Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C airports. So, if you see LAX_CTR online, don't feel you have to fly into LAX to get tower service, you could fly into KSBA, KONT, KBUR, KPSP (TSRA, but we treat as Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C) and KSNA. Now, if the CTR controller is swamped, you're not going to have a fun time...and in those cases, I agree, it's much better for the pilot if a dedicated tower (or local approach) controller is online.

 

Keith

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...If you see LAX_CTR online... you could fly into KSBA, KONT, KBUR, KPSP (TSRA, but we treat as Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C) and KSNA. Now, if the CTR controller is swamped, you're not going to have a fun time...

 

As it turns out I preffer to fly KSAN area, which us under LAX_CTR, for VFR flights. The times I can fly are always swamped with IFR flights. As you pointed out, it's not a fun time.

 

Also, I was chatting with a newbie VATISMer just right now and was thinking that having a handfull of Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C towers would help those newbies out. Especially those intimidated by all the BRAVO jargon.

 

Besides acquiring a Controller certification, what is required for anyone to put up a Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C tower on VATSIM? I'm hoping it's not over my head so one day I might give it a go (after I get certified as a controller).

--

Carlos F. Meneses

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Hi all,

 

I'm a pilot so don't know much about controllers, but I'd like to make one suggestion if possible. I'd like to see more Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C towered airports around the USA. Especially becuase I like to fly VFR and I hate to fly a Cessna into airports like JFK or LAX just to get some radio time with a tower.

 

This is something on my wish list. Thanks for listening

 

- Carlos

 

Carlos, I think the problem with Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C towers is that the traffic levels usually don't warrant someone opening them for hours...especially if/when they can open a Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] B tower instead and get loads of traffic. At the same time, pilots see these towers never being manned, and don't fly to those airports.

 

Besides acquiring a Controller certification, what is required for anyone to put up a Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C tower on VATSIM?

 

Not sure about the rest of VATSIM, but in ZLA, you can control Ground at any airport, and any Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] D Tower as an S1. To control Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C, you would either need to 1) P[Mod - Happy Thoughts] your Bravo Tower Checkride (which is also your S3 OTS if you don't already have it...would also allow you to control Bravo Towers), or 2) p[Mod - Happy Thoughts] your Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C Checkride, which allows you to control Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C Towers as an S1.

Bryan Wollenberg

ZLA!

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I also agree with Ross's earlier post on compromise.

 

Here at ZOB we have a great compromise (or at least I believe so) between restriction and quality.

 

One major thing that we do, that I would suggest to other ARTCC's, is to go over Center Radar procedures when the student is an S-3, this way they can be at the Center level as a C-1, instead of waiting to the C-3 level. Many ARTCC's don't allow people on Center until the C-3 level, and many allow them on at the S-3 level, both of which I believe aren't the best options. We felt that very often, S-3's who freely can control Center don't progress to a full Controller level, and that C-3 just would take too long. We felt it silly though that although someone is a "Controller" level, they're still really being watched over like a student.

 

We basically step people up from the ATCT to the TRACON, then to the Enroute facility. We use Certifications and Temporary Certifications, each one defined in our policies, giving different freedoms within the ARTCC. Because we have three Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] Bravo airports in our ARTCC, we have certifications for each of them, and have students choose one of the three to progress through the program. We encourage students to get certified at the other Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] Bravo facilities after they've finished training at their first TRACON.

 

We start S-1's out at the ATCT level, teaching Delivery, Ground, and Tower procedures. Once training has begun, the training officer can issue a Temporary Certification for a location, which allows that student to operate certain positions and get practice in when the training officer is not available. Once the student appears proficient, he is given the full ATCT certification, allowing him to control any Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] Delta and Charlie Tower as well, and is prepped for the S-3 and Voice exams.

 

Once the student p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]es those exams, we move on to Approach/Departure procedures/minima and local SOP. We issue again, a Temporary Certification for the TRACON level, allowing the student to practice and work certain positions. Once he is seen as proficient by his training officer, he will be given a full TRACON certification. This allows him to work any Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] Charlie, Delta, or other RAPCON in the ARTCC. He now also reads over Center procedures and SOP. Since Center basically is Approach on steroids (aside from a few minima differences), we just review over it while they are still working on Approach. After that is reviewed, and then prep begins for the C-1 exam and OTS.

 

Once the C-1 exam is p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed, the C-1 rating is issued along with a Center certification. The Controller's training officer can issue Temporary Certifications for the other Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] Bravo airports to allow the student to read SOPs and practice there. After that, the training officer is detached from the former student. The Controller is now free to progress how he wishes; since he is no longer attached to a specific trainer, he can get certifications from any training staff member.

 

The C-3 level is purely optional, or if the Controller wishes to be an Instructor.

 

-Steve O

ZOB TA

Steve Ogrodowski

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And as a student at ZOB, I must say I love the training program. It deffinetally dosen't take forever, but its not the easiest thing in the world either. In my oppinion it maximises the fun of controlling. Also, the certification system is great here. Again, its not the hardest thing in the world, but it makes sure that you are capable of controlling and following the correct procedures if your controlling.

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I don't know if anyone has suggested this, but why not get ride of the underscores (ie. BOS_V_CTR, LAX_V_CTR). It would just make it that much quicker for those of us who use text. I guess it's the holding the shift and hitting the - key that slows one down trying to .msg/.atis and such. I know this is a very minor thing compared to some of the other subjects thrown out here. Just my 2¢.

 

BTW, what's wrong with just having it BOSCTR or LAXCTR, why the extra characters?

--

Carlos F. Meneses

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Note that you can use the right mouse button to access a window in SB3 to retrieve the ATIS or open a private message window with a controller. Just right-click their entry in the list of ATC in range. Not sure if FSInn has something similar or not.

Developer: vPilot, VRC, vSTARS, vERAM, VAT-Spy

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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BTW, what's wrong with just having it BOSCTR or LAXCTR, why the extra characters?

 

The "V" stands for voice. It's very helpful, for example, when Tower is online. If he's on text, you may want to contact him a bit earlier if your a slow typer. If you see his "V" -- he's on voice. "VS" stands for Voice Student.

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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BTW, what's wrong with just having it BOSCTR or LAXCTR, why the extra characters?

 

The "V" stands for voice. It's very helpful, for example, when Tower is online. If he's on text, you may want to contact him a bit earlier if your a slow typer. If you see his "V" -- he's on voice. "VS" stands for Voice Student.

Nick, I could be wrong, but I don't think he was talking about the V. He's talking about the underscores. Instead of BOS_V_CTR, he wants BOSVCTR. I know he typed BOSCTR, but I think he meant to keep the V in there.

 

For that matter, are there even ARTCC's out there that let you control center without a voice rating? Do we even need the V on CTR?

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Note that doing away with underscores may cause problems with the ATC clients (a few of which are currently under development) which use the underscores to define the prefix and suffix of the callsign, and match it against entries in the POF file. This may or may not be an issue with ASRC as well, depending on how it p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]s callsigns.

Developer: vPilot, VRC, vSTARS, vERAM, VAT-Spy

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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For what it's worth - as a pilot, I find the underscores (or at least some kind of space between the components of the station name) useful -- especially when you've got a big long list of controllers online.

 

To me, BOS_V_CTR makes it easy for me to see what the position is whereas BOSVCTR is a bit too cluttered -- by itself it doesn't look too bad, but imagine if there are several sector splits, approach and departure controllers, tower, and del all online. The controller list might start to look like this:

 

BOSNCTR

BOSSCTR

BOSVAPP

BOSVDEP

BOSNTWR

BOSSTWR

BOSVGND

BOSVDEL

 

Suddenly it becomes more difficult to see what's what and find the station I'm looking for.

 

Lol, I guess it's a limitation of the way I p[Mod - Happy Thoughts] the callsigns.

Victor Sussman, VAC061

Virtual Air Canada

http://www.vacanada.org

Vancouver Crew Base

'Splendor Sine Occasu'

 

Victor Sussman, CDN115

Canadi>n Airlines Virtual

Toronto Hub

http://www.flycav.com

'There's a Goose on the loose!'

VATCAN P1

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To address it even further, you shouldn't be using say .msg lax_v_ctr or whatever to communicate with a controller anyway. If you have a question, or a request, or whatever, ask it on the main frequency unless told otherwise. Sending private messages to the controllers usually just annoy them, particularly when they're busy.

Bryan Wollenberg

ZLA!

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Valid point! I'm aware of the limited scope within which the .msg command should be used with regard to communicating with controllers. I was thinking more in terms of hunting through the list displayed in the ATC station window in Squawkbox.

 

I wasn't thinking of this at all from the perspective that I would want to send a private message, but more that when I want to check a station's ATIS or frequency. Say I'm approaching busy airspace during a fly in from an uncontrolled adjacent sector -- with the spaces in the callsigns, I can more easily scan through the list so I know, for example, (a) which CTR position I'm going to want to call and what his or her frequency is (I like to have it ready to go on my standby frequency well in advance of crossing into the airspace) or (b) examine the ATIS of any relevant APP or TWR stations if they're in range so I can begin planning for an arrival based on runway information and weather information. (Though the latter can often be obtained via the .metar command -- quite possibly one of the best features in SB3! )

Victor Sussman, VAC061

Virtual Air Canada

http://www.vacanada.org

Vancouver Crew Base

'Splendor Sine Occasu'

 

Victor Sussman, CDN115

Canadi>n Airlines Virtual

Toronto Hub

http://www.flycav.com

'There's a Goose on the loose!'

VATCAN P1

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I don't see why doing away with underscores helps. I see how it would make it easier to private message, but like Bryan said, pilots shouldn't private message controllers anyways.

 

There are two problems with it:

 

1) Without underscores, it makes it too condensed....I think it's more difficult to read.

 

2) Like Ross said, the ATC clients use the prefixes and suffixes separated by the underscores. The only way for ASRC (or other clients, probably) to discern valid callsigns is by checking the prefixes and suffixes. If there is any uncertainty, try signing in without underscores, and it will not allow you to transmit on the ATC channel. I signed in as "DTWAPP," and couldn't, just as if I were signed on as an "OBS" or "TA," it only allows active-position suffixes to transmit on the ATC channel.

 

--On that note, it's probably possible for the Pilot clients to strip the underscores from Callsigns in their display. That way ATC Clients could still function properly, but the Pilots could have an option to strip the underscores.

 

A couple ARTCC's have done away with the "V" in the callsign, because it is relatively unneccessary. Most controllers are on voice, and those who aren't, just don't put the RW code into their ATIS. So long as the controller has the RW server code in the top line of their ATIS, SquawkBox can auto-connect to the voice server. And even if you don't use the automation, you still see what voice server the controller is on. Every pilot should check a controller's information/ATIS before speaking with him. The ARTCC near us that comes to mind is ZNY. They don't use "V" in any of their callsigns, although most of their controllers are using voice.

 

At ZOB, we don't use the "VS" callsign; I think that is even more pointless than the "V." We don't need to see that you're a Voice Student; if you're controlling, you're controlling. Just sign on like everyone else, and if you have an Instructor/Mentor [Mod - Happy Thoughts]isting you, then they can use the "VI" or "VM" as appropriate.

Steve Ogrodowski

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The difference is that it save the h[Mod - Happy Thoughts]le of having extra characters for 99% of controllers.

Also, let's face it. Most of us care much more if a controller is on text. This would have it stick out more.

A voice controller would be: ATL_TWR

A text controller would be: ATL_T_TWR

 

This is something that we have discussed numerous times if memory serves me correctly and I might be wrong (it wouldn't be the first time) but the use of the "VS" for voice students is a VATUSA policy and it remains in effect. If an ARTCC wants to discuss changing that, then the ATM should probably talk to us.

 

As far as the "V" in the middle for the controllers with a permanent voice endorsement, Do we need it? Probably not besides the fact that some pilots look for voice controllers over text controllers, so, if you kill one, adding another isn't really solving anything is it?

 

JT

Jeff "JU" Turner

US Army Retired

http://www.skyblueradio.com

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Ok wait I'm confsued. I thought the VS was used during OTS exams only. I've always logged on as _V_ and I'm a S3.

Have I been doing this wrong?

 

Temporary voice endorsements (VS) become permanent if the student p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]es the Senior Student test with in 60 days...

If you are a senior student and have taken the voice test Joe, you are good to go.

 

JT

Jeff "JU" Turner

US Army Retired

http://www.skyblueradio.com

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Thank you all for your thoughts of my original post regarding the underscore. Your posts have shed a lot of light on this, what I thought was, an impertinent little character. Just some last thoughts, before I brain-wash myself into liking this extra character:

 

Note that you can use the right mouse button to access a window in SB3 to retrieve the ATIS or open a private message window with a controller...

 

Maybe so, but how about for us that don't have SB3. Does anyone know if XSB (for X-Plane) have similar shortcuts without having to resort to the keyboard. That is, until the author of XSB decides to make this a feature.

 

To address it even further, you shouldn't be using say .msg lax_v_ctr or whatever to communicate with a controller anyway...

 

Some controllers welcome private chats when they are not busy. I know this is not the case at certain ARTCCs such as LAX because of the sheer amount of traffic they have, and in such cases private messages would be an annoyance. I can think of many times when I didn't know certain procedures at KSEA or KIAH and the CTRs/TWRs there where more than happy to walk me thru it via .msg

 

As far as the "V" in the middle... Do we need it? Probably not...so, if you kill one, adding another isn't really solving anything is it?JT

 

Yes it would (IMHO). Having voice is the VATSIM standard, so why have the "V"? Those few ARTCCs out there that don't use voice for controlling, as mentioned by someone, should use "T".

 

OK, I'm done... ("underscores are my friends, I have to be tolerant of the underscore, embrace my fellow underscore...")

--

Carlos F. Meneses

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Having voice is the VATSIM standard, so why have the "V"?

Actually text is still the defacto standard since everybody can use text. VATSIM maintains an inclusive ethos.

 

The _V_ identifier and its use was addressed by the EC with the onus now being left at a local level. Oceania Region for example has dropped it in its entirety as has the UK.

Norman

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