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Most ARTCCs (in the US anyway) have gone nuts with the qualifications it takes to become a CTR level controller.

Oh really...like which ones? Being an S3 who has controlled a limited number of facilities, I don't know what your qualifications are to make such a statement like that. The GRP is in place to prevent what you say is prevalent throughout the division.

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how the ARTCC promotes people to C1 who aren't requesting training?).

 

Or any other rating for that matter I'm a prim example I can think of a few others as well that have no interest in moving past the currently held rating.

Richard Gerrish

Developer, STM Applications Group

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I apologize if this has already been brought up.

 

Most ARTCCs (in the US anyway) have gone nuts with the qualifications it takes to become a CTR level controller. What in the world is it going to take to become a Super Center controller? Give blood?

 

You want to increase the coverage at the CTR level? Don't make it so miserable to become a CTR controller.

 

I was going to stay out this topic but I have to make a comment on this one...

 

The qualifications to become a center controller is NOT the issue. The hardest position to get checked out on in any of the ARTCCs I've been at has been at the Approach level. When I was an Instructor, every student I ever had struggled with understanding the entire radar environment, being able to multi-task and stay 4 steps ahead of the aircraft. Just like in the real world, radar is not for everyone and about half would decide that they had a lot more fun working the tower so that's as far as they got.

 

The same issue goes into the transition from Approach to Center on here. At ZLA, only a few of the guys that are able to start training at Center are actually working on it simply because they don't have any interest working it. It isn't because the training is so hard up at Center, quite the opposite really. Ask any ZLA Center controller which was harder during training, SOCAL or Center and you'll get SOCAL each and every time. The problem is interest level, NOT the training program.

 

 

How can you increase coverage up at the Center level? The only idea I can come up with is to get away from the VATSIM-standard of starting at DEL and working your way up all the way to Center. If someone is very interested in Center, they may get burned out and quit before even getting to Approach. If they could start right away at the Center level, then they would be able to work what they really want to and eventually add on the other positions as they wished. Everyone wins in this scenario (pilots get another controller online and the controller works something he likes).

 

This OBVIOUSLY opens up a whole other can of worms but is it possible? Absolutely! Am I saying we should do this...not yet. I can't even sell myself on the idea yet but it's the only solution I can come up with now.

 

 

Nothing wrong with attracting pilots, and the action in and of itself is not damning the controllers. However, how about not being so pilot centric? Or, in better terms, why is there no impetus to require training for the pilots?

 

It's one sided, and THAT is the reason controllers complain. "We have to do this, so why not the pilots?" When something like this proposal comes along Brian, we as controllers have the tendency to feel we are not as important as the pilot numbers. Okay, so this is an attempt to address retention of C1s. I'm not sure how that works in the long run honestly. But as I said, all I see in this proposal is a constant repeating of "pilots pilots pilots pilots pilots."

 

If it's supposed to be 50/50, then start barking up the pilot quality tree. The controllers are way more invested in this network (time wise) than any pilot. Because of that investment of time (training) we feel we should be listened to. Pilot quality affects controller retention, thus pilot quality needs to be addressed. The issue of worrying about providing services to pilots is not a good place to start when thinking in the context of controller retention.

 

In either scenario though, the membership numbers will hurt. Be it pilot attrition or controller attrition there is an inevitable loss. I just think it's time the founders, BoG and everyone else on down start accepting the need to address pilot quality from a training requirement standpoint.

 

I personally am tired of placating to pilots who present a selfish attitude and consider themselves to be our "customers."

 

I would venture to say that if there was a "VATUSA NATCA" in place, this would be the exact statement I would want sent to the br[Mod - Happy Thoughts] representing controllers on this issue...

There is an art . . . to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

 

Benton Wilmes

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I agree, Andrew, and why nobody has addressed pilot quality for years absolutely boggles the mind. It IS a numbers game, and to an extent, that's very unfortunate. I have been (and continue to be) an advocate for mandatory training, testing, etc. of pilots. Unfortunately, that's up to the Founders to resolve.

 

Yet I see many other areas of the world NOT represented on there... hrm... The US, alone represents 30% of that list.

 

Correct, but this isn't a discussion regarding the rest of the world. 27% of ARTCCs are on that list. Not saying that's a bad thing at all. In fact, it's quite impressive. But 73% of ARTCCs are not on that list. There isn't another Division that comes anywhere close to having the number of C1+ folk that VATUSA has. VATUSA should almost be expected to dominate that list.

 

Harold, the evidence is there! The pilots specifically state in the surveys that they don't want to conduct the majority of their flights on UNICOM. Would staffing 200 towers in every ARTCC, or every single approach sector fix that? The only people that will be good for are the local VFR folk, and we know how many of those guys exist on VATSIM. While they might not specifically state that they want more enroute ATC, what the heck else could they possibly be requesting, when they say they're tired of being switched to UNICOM, and/or flying routes with no ATC coverage???

 

Instead of controlling high-altitude en-route centers to "fill in the pockets" between ARTCCs with little coverage, why wouldn't a super center controller just go train at the ARTCC that lacks coverage, especially if they already have a C1 rating?

 

I would guess it's for the same reason that C1's don't become VC's all over the place now; because they have to learn the entire airspace, major airports, certify at every single position from DEL on up, etc., etc.

Bryan Wollenberg

ZLA!

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Why can't we change some regulations to allow one controller to control all of the TWR positions, one to control all of the APP positions, and so on so forth? If you want more coverage, that's the way to do it.

 

Except that'll take years to do seeing the extremely slow pace VATSIM's technology is moving.

Ryan Geckler - GK | Former VATUSA3 - Division Training Manager

VATSIM Minneapolis ARTCC | FAA Miami ARTCC 

Cross the Pond Planning Team

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Why can't we change some regulations to allow one controller to control all of the TWR positions, one to control all of the APP positions, and so on so forth? If you want more coverage, that's the way to do it.

 

Except that'll take years to do seeing the extremely slow pace VATSIM's technology is moving.

 

That has already been done in several places, albeit without the super technology that would make it really cool.

Bryan Wollenberg

ZLA!

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If pilots are "so sick" of being switched to UNICOM, why is it that the majority of overflights we see at ZMP (and I'd wager that we see more overflights than most):

 

  • Away from the deck when we ping them;
  • Request time off the deck once they're under radar service; or
  • Request early releases to UNICOM so that they can go back to doing whatever they were doing before my presence on Center so unduly burdened them?

 

I'm sorry Bryan, but that's what I see every time I plug in. And I along with many of the other enroute-rated guys here have hundreds, if not thousands, of hours logged on scope in the last 12-24 months to back those observations up. We staffed ZMP for 10 days straight last year. Did it attract more traffic? Hardly. Movements at KMSP barely budged, much less at any of the other towered fields in our airspace.

 

I'd be interested in seeing the results of some of these extensive surveys the higher-ups have conducted. That would go a long way towards changing my stance on whether a combined high enroute sector is warranted in the US.

Dhruv Kalra

VATUSA ZMP ATM | Instructor | VATSIM Network Supervisor

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Why can't we change some regulations to allow one controller to control all of the TWR positions, one to control all of the APP positions, and so on so forth? If you want more coverage, that's the way to do it.

 

Except that'll take years to do seeing the extremely slow pace VATSIM's technology is moving.

 

That has already been done in several places, albeit without the super technology that would make it really cool.

 

Then can we get on that?

Ryan Geckler - GK | Former VATUSA3 - Division Training Manager

VATSIM Minneapolis ARTCC | FAA Miami ARTCC 

Cross the Pond Planning Team

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Then can we get on that?

 

On what? The technology? That's for the Founders and potential developers to work out.

 

Dhruv, the surveys I mainly speak of, are those such as the AVSIM survey, and other 3rd party surveys. The higher-ups haven't really conducted any formal surveys on the issue, as far as I'm aware.

 

The "Staff it and they will come" system absolutely works. I could give you countless examples in ZLA, as could many of your ZLA converts who went to ZMP. I have no idea why it didn't work in ZMP. Perhaps people just plain don't want to fly there. That's a sad reality too. I like ZMP. I like Hawaii and Alaska too. Those poor guys and gals could probably staff 24/7, and still not see anywhere close to the traffic that places like ZLA, ZTL, ZNY get. It's just a fact of geography and whatever else.

Bryan Wollenberg

ZLA!

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There isn't another Division that comes anywhere close to having the number of C1+ folk that VATUSA has. VATUSA should almost be expected to dominate that list.

 

I disagree, but it's all personal opinions. I'm a C1, but I enjoy terminal much more than enroute. So you'll see me spend most of my time on terminal positions. Why?

 

- Pilots don't bother to find my border, so I'm either forced to treat them as a NORDO pilot and bring them all around or waste my time trying to train them when there are thousands of resources they can use to see my airspace

- Pilots are AFK, a lot. The standard response is "Are they interrupting anyone? No? Let them be" from supervisors.

- Pilots that do respond, often times request to go AFK for up to 30 minutes at a time. (Yes, I have had several pilots ask if they can "step away from the cockpit for 30 minutes")

- Pilots that when instructed something so simple as "Descend and maintain 5000" take 3 minutes to begin descent, keep descending below that, or just start whacking out.

- Pilots that when they file SID XXXXX which states an initial climb of 5000, the person issuing the IFR clearance even goes out of their way and gives extra information (IE, the "maintain 5000" portions), and the pilot busts through it and right into another aircraft

 

I see these and C1 issues as a higher priority. But, when looking at mega sectors, I see areas within this side of the globe that could benefit from having these mega centers. Heck, lets look at everything on this side of the globe. Mexico is often offline, as is Canada. They have several FIRs, just like the US has more ARTCCs. In fact, more US ARTCCs were represented in that list than Mexico has in FIRs. South American has 1 that popped on last week's Iron Mic.

 

And yet, I see this proposition brought onto the 1 LARGE division on this side of the globe that routinely is staffed much more than everything else. How is this logical? While yes, our traffic counts are higher... those other areas see a lot more overflights. And overflights should be the targets of these mega centers as that is all they are useful for. They serve absolutely no purpose from everything else other than overflights. The fun stuff is vectoring for separation, all the way down to landing. Ultrahigh and even some High center sectors are, as many at ZJX (rw) told me on my visits, boring.

 

On what? The technology? That's for the Founders and potential developers to work out.

 

That would involve the Founders and BoG actively seeking developers to begin modifications. And sadly, unless approached by a developer interested, I don't see it happening. I haven't yet figured out why no one wants to even put feelers out there on software development for the network.

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That would involve the Founders and BoG actively seeking developers to begin modifications. And sadly, unless approached by a developer interested, I don't see it happening. I haven't yet figured out why no one wants to even put feelers out there on software development for the network.

 

have code will modify. but the catch is you have to have the source first or be willing to write a full client yourself and that is a daunting task. and there's no guarantee that vatsim will approve the use of the modded software

Richard Gerrish

Developer, STM Applications Group

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I see these and C1 issues as a higher priority. But, when looking at mega sectors, I see areas within this side of the globe that could benefit from having these mega centers. Heck, lets look at everything on this side of the globe. Mexico is often offline, as is Canada. They have several FIRs, just like the US has more ARTCCs. In fact, more US ARTCCs were represented in that list than Mexico has in FIRs. South American has 1 that popped on last week's Iron Mic.

And yet, I see this proposition brought onto the 1 LARGE division on this side of the globe that routinely is staffed much more than everything else. How is this logical? While yes, our traffic counts are higher... those other areas see a lot more overflights. And overflights should be the targets of these mega centers as that is all they are useful for. They serve absolutely no purpose from everything else other than overflights. The fun stuff is vectoring for separation, all the way down to landing. Ultrahigh and even some High center sectors are, as many at ZJX (rw) told me on my visits, boring.

 

Daniel, i think you may be a little misinformed with this one. This is something that was brought up to VATUSA, thats why the discussion was moved to the US section of the forum, and thats why it hasnt been done in mexico or the others.

 

its NOT because a founder decided to just do what he/she wanted with US airspace or because anyone thought we needed it more then others.

 

if VATMEX or any of the others bring that to their division, i'd be pretty surprised if they got any negative responses from their members as they would definitely benefit from it. is it possible they may do the same? its not out of the question, as im sure other areas would benefit as well.

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Daniel, i think you may be a little misinformed with this one. This is something that was brought up to VATUSA, thats why the discussion was moved to the US section of the forum, and thats why it hasnt been done in mexico or the others.

 

My point is: Why is this being done to an area that is routinely staffed over areas that aren't. I know why it's here, I'm pointing out the fact about why I see, let's just say Mexico for now, routinely not staffed unless it's Cross the Gulf time and I think I saw them 1 other time. This is being done to us, and most of us don't support it, yet all the areas that could actually benefit from this aren't being targeted.

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How can you increase coverage up at the Center level? The only idea I can come up with is to get away from the VATSIM-standard of starting at DEL and working your way up all the way to Center. If someone is very interested in Center, they may get burned out and quit before even getting to Approach. If they could start right away at the Center level, then they would be able to work what they really want to and eventually add on the other positions as they wished. Everyone wins in this scenario (pilots get another controller online and the controller works something he likes).

 

Personally I think this idea warrants further exploration. Over my time at ZBW, I've often had the same thought. Some folks just really want to do radar.

 

I'd be in favor of a system that let controllers train directly for CTR, directly for APP, or directly for Cab. (TWR + GND + DEL.) If a controller goes straight for CTR or APP, they would not be certified for Cab, so they wouldn't provide clearance, taxi, or local control. All fields in their airspace would be treated like we currently treat satellite fields. They would give basic IFR clearances and pilots would call when airborne.

 

The reason I think this idea has merit is NOT because it would increase enroute coverage for pilots. As I said earlier in this thread, I think pilots want local and terminal area control more than they want enroute control. Instead, the reason I think this idea could be of value is because it would help attract controllers to the underlying positions. In other words, it might get more controllers online faster, increase density of top-down coverage, and that will in turn attract pilots.

 

Personally, I love tower and approach. However, I generally don't like to plug in on tower unless there is a radar controller online. And I generally don't like to plug in on approach unless there is a center controller online. [Mod - Happy Thoughts]uming I'm not the only one that thinks this way, anything that will get controllers onto CTR and APP faster will increase overall top-down coverage.

 

Now here's the catch ... in order for this to work, I think we'd need to update our technology so that pilots would be able to distinguish between a CTR-only controller, and full top-down CTR controller. Probably the best way to do this would be for the full top-down controller to be able to have multiple callsigns and primary frequencies. So he would show up as BOS_CTR, BOS_APP, and BOS_TWR.

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

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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Ross, I love that idea. When I'm flying out of a top-down controlled field, there usually isn't enough traffic to make tower or ground truly necessary(don't even get me started on the absurd situation where DEL is the sole controller). That idea would increase coverage, but not really affect service, since radar services are often the most helpful.

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How can you increase coverage up at the Center level? The only idea I can come up with is to get away from the VATSIM-standard of starting at DEL and working your way up all the way to Center. If someone is very interested in Center, they may get burned out and quit before even getting to Approach. If they could start right away at the Center level, then they would be able to work what they really want to and eventually add on the other positions as they wished. Everyone wins in this scenario (pilots get another controller online and the controller works something he likes).

 

Personally I think this idea warrants further exploration. Over my time at ZBW, I've often had the same thought. Some folks just really want to do radar.

 

I'd be in favor of a system that let controllers train directly for CTR, directly for APP, or directly for Cab. (TWR + GND + DEL.) If a controller goes straight for CTR or APP, they would not be certified for Cab, so they wouldn't provide clearance, taxi, or local control. All fields in their airspace would be treated like we currently treat satellite fields. They would give basic IFR clearances and pilots would call when airborne.

 

The reason I think this idea has merit is NOT because it would increase enroute coverage for pilots. As I said earlier in this thread, I think pilots want local and terminal area control more than they want enroute control. Instead, the reason I think this idea could be of value is because it would help attract controllers to the underlying positions. In other words, it might get more controllers online faster, increase density of top-down coverage, and that will in turn attract pilots.

 

Personally, I love tower and approach. However, I generally don't like to plug in on tower unless there is a radar controller online. And I generally don't like to plug in on approach unless there is a center controller online. [Mod - Happy Thoughts]uming I'm not the only one that thinks this way, anything that will get controllers onto CTR and APP faster will increase overall top-down coverage.

 

Now here's the catch ... in order for this to work, I think we'd need to update our technology so that pilots would be able to distinguish between a CTR-only controller, and full top-down CTR controller. Probably the best way to do this would be for the full top-down controller to be able to have multiple callsigns and primary frequencies. So he would show up as BOS_CTR, BOS_APP, and BOS_TWR.

 

This is definitely the direction VATSIM should be moving in! One size does not fit all. Top down service forces controllers to start at DEL and work their way up. It is no different than a VA forcing pilots to start on a prop plane and fly routes between two Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] D's. Forcing controllers to start at DEL and work their way up is, in my opinion, a contributing factor to the low number of controllers when compared to pilots. Separating cab from TRACON from enroute could very well be the ticket to increasing ATC coverage.

Manuel Manigault

Division Director

VATUSA

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There might be exceptions, but I think the majority of new controllers would want to go straight for approach/departure as it appears to be the most attractive position (mind the "appears" - personally I love tower and would be happy if I could do that more often). So in your scenario, where would you get the guys for Ground and Tower services in future?

 

Alex

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And how will you provide DEL/GND/TWR-services as CTR/APP-only-controller, when you have got no controller below you? Will you just give pilots a "cleared to land and goodbye"?

 

No, it would be uncontrolled just like any other airport without an active local controller.

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