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Don't Man LA Center, Unless...


Lance Williams
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Let me preface this by saying LA Center did an amazing job tonight, handling three major airports all by himself.

 

With that said, I'd like to start my rant.

 

I vote that nobody be allowed to control LA Center unless they have LAS_APP, LA_APP and SAN_APP supporting them!

 

Yep, nobody can control LA Center until they have those three positions filled.

 

Why do you ask I request this? Well, one person alone can not handle that much traffic. It's simply impossible! A couple of us had to disconnect from VATSIM today, just to get going out of San Diego because he was too busy to give us clearance.

 

That's simply not fun. I would have preferred LA Center wasn't online and that's not why I joined VATSIM.

 

OK, that's just my crazy thought here. Nobody log into LA Center until you have at least LAS_APP, LA_APP and SAN_APP online, then we'll be good, ok?

Thank you,

Lance W.

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So basically you're saying that ZLA center should never be manned. Because with the exception of say TGIF, I've never once seen all three of those approach sectors online at once.

 

Sure... Man LA Approach first. At least then it's manageable. Having to disconnect from VATSIM so you can start your flight is not fun when one person is trying to handle 30+ aircraft as LA Center.

Thank you,

Lance W.

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I had the same thing happen the other week. LA was doing a bang up job, handling twice as much traffic as he should have, and not missing a beat but man I couldn't get out of LAX. It took me about an hour and a half to get my IFR clearance. Luckily I wasn't in a hurry

Fred Clausen, vZAB ATM

ZAB real life

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Lance, I understand your frustration, but what I don't understand is why you'd rather fly with no ATC than fly offline.

 

In other words, I think this should be allowed to be a self-regulating problem. If LA is too busy, people should fly offline or fly somewhere else. Why force yourself to wait for clearance if it frustrates you?

 

Asking LA CTR not to staff up isn't fair to the many pilots that CTR can handle in a timely fashion. Asking LA CTR to downgrade to a TRACON means that a large portion of ZLA will be unstaffed, so I don't see that as a preferable alternative.

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

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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Maybe do it like EuroControl in Europe, and have it handle aircraft only over a set altitude (240 in Europe) at controller discretion of course).

That way center can handle aircraft overhead while aircraft taking off and landing are on their own until they get up high at which point there should be less actions to be taken and a longer interval between them because of different climb rates.

Controllers can then just publish that fact in their controller message.

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When I work LA Center, I also find it difficult sometimes without the APP controllers.

 

There used to be a time when you could dependably have a LAS APP controller with you, but they're not around as much as they used to be. Perhaps the guys who run ZLA could "tweak" their rules or training program to increase the chances of someone opening them up.

 

IMHO, flying the LAX / LAS run is one of the best flights in the USA.

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Lance, I have a couple of hundred hours on LA CTR, and a good amount of that is solo. On countless occasions, pilots have gotten their clearances instantly...other times they wait 2-5 mins, rarely they'll wait 15 mins, and twice, I've had 2 pilots wait 30 mins. Generally speaking, it would be a disservice to the pilots to work LAX_APP instead of LAX_CTR, given the choice.

 

I agree with the previous suggestion. If you sense you're going to wait too long for the clearance, fly offline, or pick another place to depart.

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Hmmmm...should have flown a little later. We did in fact have Center, Socal, and Vegas Approach open...all night until Midnight local in fact.

 

Anyway...under normal circomestances, it's definitely not more traffic than a single controller can handle on his own, I can guarantee you that. It might take a little longer to get a clearance when a controller is handling 50+ aircraft at once, but oh well. That's just how it works when you fly out of someplace busy. Though Fred, 1.5h is a little much.

 

What has been happening lately is that LA (LAX specifically) has been absolutely inundated with newbie pilots who literally don't know how to fly their aircraft. This is easily doubling or tripling the controller workload and (like you allude to) is making it almost ridiculous to control Center by yourself with nobody else online. Of course, we have TONS of great pilots as well, but it's those who don't know how to fly their planes, don't bother coming up with a decent route, file GPS direct, etc. that are causing these crazy workloads.

 

So...what I recommend, if you're a good pilot and have a moment or two, and see controllers struggling with these pilots, message the pilots and offer help them out. Do you part in helping out. We can only refer them to the PRC so much. It's going to take proactive pilots (like you?) to get these guys flying efficiently in our airspace, so we can handle the rest of you guys better.

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Bryan Wollenberg

ZLA!

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Perhaps the guys who run ZLA could "tweak" their rules or training program to increase the chances of someone opening them up.

 

They're in fact already tweaked. Have the LAS TRACON Cert. (which you can get as an S3) and we allow Vegas Approach to be opened during off-peak hours (also by S3's). Not sure why it isn't getting staffed more.

Bryan Wollenberg

ZLA!

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I flew into LAX from HNL yesterday and was arriving about 5pm local, and the controller did a FANTASTIC job! I got his name down to so I could leave feedback at ZLA, Aaron Cannata. He easily had 10 aircraft on the ground looking for clearance, 5 on approach to LAS, 5 on approach to LAX, and 2 landing at SAN, yet he kept his cool the whole time and you could really tell he was making an effort to get everybody out in a safe and timely manner.

 

Like Bryan noted above, lots more new pilots seem to be flying in ZLA's skies, and yesterday to there was a pilot who started chatting over text on the frequency, "are there any young pilots out there?" - "how do you open a private chat box?" What surprised me was the controller actually helped him, which considering his traffic loads was really showing something about the attitude of ZLA.

 

The fact is, it's not really fair to the people who have worked really hard to get up to that CTR level, to have them need 3 TRACON's online before manning Center. If the controller gets to busy to handle the traffic, he/she can sign off or man elswehere. And if the pilots don't like the delay, they to can sign off or fly elsewhere. It's a compromise on both ends...(2 cents)

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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Lance,

 

I like what you said. Well at least to the end of the first sentence. You are right, the Center Controller did a great job yesterday when I flew into LAX. I have yet to see any controller in ZLA that does NOT do an excellent job.

That said, when you fly into or out of an aircraft-rich environment you have to expect delays. (When I fly out of Los Angeles or Atlanta in real life I expect delays, when I fly out of Moline,IL I am probably right on time). For that reason I seldom fly out of KLAX but rather start my flights at one of the surrounding airports.and head into KLAX, (KDEN,KSFO,KPHX,KDVT etc). This way the wait time is longer and I can still enjoy flying with lots of other company.

 

It seems like nobody seconded your motion, so I guess we can get back to flying

 

 

See you in the air.

 

 

N405HT

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Decided to make it easy for Bryan today. Was flying Concorde from LAX to Martinique but stayed offline until out of his area.

Didn't think he'd need more h[Mod - Happy Thoughts]les with over a dozen aircraft under his care ranging from heavies down to Cessnas, especially something as non-standard as Concorde with its abnormal climb profile.

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Lance, I have a couple of hundred hours on LA CTR, and a good amount of that is solo. On countless occasions, pilots have gotten their clearances instantly...other times they wait 2-5 mins, rarely they'll wait 15 mins, and twice, I've had 2 pilots wait 30 mins. Generally speaking, it would be a disservice to the pilots to work LAX_APP instead of LAX_CTR, given the choice.

 

I agree with the previous suggestion. If you sense you're going to wait too long for the clearance, fly offline, or pick another place to depart.

 

Hey Keith. Yep, you guys rock indeed. This was just one of my many random thoughts as I was flying offline, LOL. No biggy really, but I do like that EuroControl idea.

Thank you,

Lance W.

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I vote that nobody be allowed to control LA Center unless they have LAS_APP, LA_APP and SAN_APP supporting them!

 

Your kidding right? This idea is absurd. Sorry for the bluntness.

 

Your saying that for LA Center to be opened, i have to coordinate with 2 other controllers that are certified to work the tracon that are in a different time zone than i am(I am EST LA is PCF), get them to log on, and stay on as long as i feel like controlling. Did you really think about the logistics involved?

DPE / CFI / CFII / MEI (Gold Seal)

CP-ASEL, AMEL, IA, GLIDER, E170/175/190/195, CE-500

VATSIM Supervisor

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I think he was alluding to this post, which would basically make ZLA a high sector only dealing with enroute operations rather than handling approach and departure duties.

 

Oh. Well that's just absurd, and would increase workload even more, as you then have to contact and radar id the a/c departing from those airports anyway, i.e. if no approach control is online.

Bryan Wollenberg

ZLA!

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Wouldn't this be the same complaint if this were happening at any other sector? This is absolutely [Mod - Happy Thoughts]anine. This is like complaining that you shouldn't control at Melburne Center or Vancouver Center just because a lot of pilots are flying there!

 

Nail has alreday been hit on the head. We have been receiving an unbelievable amount of newbie pilots starting at LAX, who have no idea what they're filing, asking the same questions that are at the PRC. You don't fix that problem by limiting the parameters of a controller (prime example: the problem that the FAA has right now with not enough controllers), you fix it by educating pilots as well. Wouldn't you think that things would run smoother if everyone knew what they were doing and how to do it? Perhaps then, you would be able to get on your way faster. You've controlled before, and know how this is Lance. Think about it from that standpoint. Thank you for the kudos to ZLA, but honestly, you're going about it the wrong way.

 

Say you have a s[Mod - lovely stuff]e on your leg from falling onto a rock or something. Do you fix the wound, or tear off the leg and hope to get a new one? That is what you're asking here.

 

BL.

Brad Littlejohn

ZLA Senior Controller

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I think he was alluding to this post, which would basically make ZLA a high sector only dealing with enroute operations rather than handling approach and departure duties.

 

Oh. Well that's just absurd, and would increase workload even more, as you then have to contact and radar id the a/c departing from those airports anyway, i.e. if no approach control is online.

 

I agree, and would be against any such policy at any artcc.

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Can't say I've ever really had a problem working the center by myself and getting clearances out in a timely manner -- at least according to my definition of timely, which is 5-10 minutes if I'm really busy and there's no-one else to help. Now, you do run into some pilots whose definition of timely is more like 15-30 seconds, even if there are 30 aircraft on frequency, so inevitably there's some whining on a busy night, but nothing that I find particularly bothersome.

 

It's a hard position to work; some people can do it, most can't, no matter how much they practice or work on their skills. Unfortunately, it becomes somewhat circular: most controllers simply don't have the aptitude or skills to check out on Socal Approach, let alone L.A. Center, therefore it creates even more work for those who can. This is happening in the real world too, both in Canada and the United States; as centers get more and more understaffed, individucal controller workloads increase, it gets harder for new trainees to check out, and the understaffing gets even worse. There's not really that much that can be done, unfortunately, other than to identify the people who we think can make it as early in their careers as possible, and spend the bulk of our training time on them rather than the guys who are clearly not going to be able to cut it. There are, however, limitations to how much we can pursue this, given the inclusive and hobbyist nature of VATSIM. In the real world, if you are a trainee and fall behind, they kick you out; I can't do that to students here. Nor can I transfer them out to a different center with less traffic (at least not without their consent), nor can I recourse them into a different facility type (this doesn't happen in the USA, but in Canada you are trained specifically as radar, local, or FSS, and washed-out radar trainees frequently start again at the beginning in the local or FSS streams).

 

While I have no doubt that lots of folks, for their own reasons mostly unrelated to the concerns expressed here, would like to see ZLA unmanned a lot more often, it's not likely to happen. However, we'll continue to do the best we can with regard to recruiting and training new controllers, both to staff the TRACONs underneath center and to develop a skill set that's sufficient to handle center on their own, even during the busiest periods. Anyone who'd like to help with that is more than welcome to contact me or any member of our training staff.

Marc Sykes

Toronto ACC Trainee

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but in Canada you are trained specifically as radar, local, or FSS, and washed-out radar trainees frequently start again at the beginning in the local or FSS streams).

 

Did they change their policies again? When I was CT'd a year or so ago from the floor in WG, the MIT was saying that there are no more IFR --> VFR recourses. It used to be big, oh, 3-4 years ago, but as of last year they were trying to promote the EOCO program, and didn't want to burn potential spaces for recourses. Then again, he could have been giving me the company rub'n'tug, and trying to fill a TSS hole.

 

Greg

Greg Phelan

Director - Flight Training

VATSIM

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