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Andreas, can you speak to the training and certification for the controllers you guys use for this effort in EUD? There seems to be a concern about the training load implementation might place on local facilities.

 

Andreas could do that, Kyle but it wouldn't apply over here. Eurocontrol is its own vACC in Europe (EuroCenter).

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Andreas, can you speak to the training and certification for the controllers you guys use for this effort in EUD? There seems to be a concern about the training load implementation might place on local facilities.

 

The training in VATUSA is lacking at GRP levels itself... not even taking into consideration anything more. Our training pre-mega center is in need of a m[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ive overhaul before a project like this should even be considered.

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Sure, Kyle.

 

Basically in Europe it is like this: in the past we only allowed Senior Controllers (C3) into this separate VACC, the EUC VACC. The reason for this was and is that we do not have a training department! So we relied on the fact that Senior Controllers are in general more mature and experienced and as such would be willing to self-study the airspace. Since GRP 2 has been introduced, we did lower our entry-requirement to C1, but you have to bring 75 hours of experience on local center-sectors within VATEUR. You can read more about the details here: http://www.euc-vacc.org/join.php

 

Basically all members of VATEUR (VATEUD, VATUK and VATRUS) are allowed to join EUC VACC as soon as they fulfil the requirements above. We have setup a system called "Sector Buddies". New members can ask those "Sector Buddies" for an introduction to a new sector of EUC VACC. Those "Buddies" will then talk to those "Newbies" about the general workflow in the relevant sector, about specialities etc.. Thereafter they will start an online-session those "Buddies" will look over the shoulders of our new members until they think that they are good control alone.

In addition to our "Sector Buddies" we do hold some docomeents to help ATCOs in those complex areas. They are called "HOS", which stands for "Handover Suggestions". These are not Letters of Agreement (LOA), but simply suggestions. In 99% of cases these are identical with LOAs, expect for the fact that we did not discuss them with the underlying facilites. We used the existing LOAs with their neighbours and also all the available STAR-charts and processed them. The result is this HOS, containing procedures (flightlevels and inbound-routings) for the most important airports below our airspace. This way we try to provide some sort of "local service".

 

We also do have one special sector: Maastricht. Maastricht includes the busy airspace of Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and as an option Prague and Reims. As a new member to EUC VACC you are not allowed to staff EURM until you have gained at least 30 hours on any other EUC-sector.

 

Checkout the HOS for EURM Maastricht or EURI Islands Control: http://www.euc-vacc.org/handoff.php

 

I hope I could answer the question to get an understanding of what we are doing. I have to say that things really work quite well and we are a happy bunch of people who stick together. It is a rather small group of controllers from all over Europe in one single VACC and we do have a good level of communication. I honestly think that those large centers are a win-win-situation for any region.

 

 

 

Another PS: I have to say that I am bit surprised by the negativity. I understand your concerns, but I would love to see some more open-mindedness. So far this project seems to be in the stage of "it's just an idea, let's consider it". If I were you, I would take it a step further. Give it a try not all over the continent, but in one of the corners. Prove that it works or that it does not work, the BoG should be open-minded on that as well.

 

But, please, don't draw these scenarios of doomsday, it simply is not true and it will not happen, although it is 2012 and the Maya calendar will end...

 

Seriously, we had lots of discussions about 2 years ago when we proposed to expand EUC VACC's coverage to the UK, Ireland and Iceland with this new EURI-sector. The negativity and pessimism was very pronounced, to say the least. But bit by bit we managed to convince the sceptics by delivering facts. One of the main concerns there was the drop in realism: would we be able to deliver the same level of precision in terms of descent-planning for pilots who needed to land at an underlying airport. That's why we created these HOS-docomeents to empower our ATCOs to do their job as good as possible.

The same can be done in the US. You can't tell me that you regularly have large numbers of pilots landing at all of your ARTCC's airfields. They are concentrating on the "main hubs" and certain regional airports. Cover these in such a HOS-docomeent, for the rest of the airfields apply your basic skills: the 3 degree descent path. That's the way we do it overhere, too, and it works out nicely in most cases.

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You know what though guys....even though these super centers may not be realistic, I still think you all will be able to take a hold of it and make it better. Your training compared to what is offered to us pilots is top notch, and I am sure you will learn a whole lot more if you volunteer for it.

I have yet to see a bad controller on, even the students sometimes I have a hard time telling when they are on.

 

And to answer a question asked to me, I would much rather have ATC in the "meat" part of my flight..but, that would only be if I had to make a choice of one or the other. Most of the time though, and a lot of other pilots are the same, will actually look for a CTR that is online before even a DEL,GND,TWR,APP combo. Reason being, they are in control of more of our flight. Jacksonville and Seattle are two areas that cone to mind. I can always count on CTR , even if not flying a larger aircraft, and they always provide a great service from the ground up. I single them out BTW not to compare them to others, but just that 99% of my flights are in their airspace.

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In my opinion, three major issues need addressing before this super-center idea could be considered:

 

-Pilots need motivation/reason to be able to improve in the U.S. division (the blind leading the blind needs to come to a stop, get educated and dedicated virtual pilots/ATC into positions where they can help VAs improve, lead training programs to fix these issues, etc.). The VATSIM pilot rating program is just far too generic right now, needs to be one for the US division, much like what Keith Smith created for ZLA (in fact, that's a pretty damn perfect example). With some minor adjustments to accommodate every ARTCC with a program like this and having knowledgeable controllers providing feedback along with the ability to have knowledgeable pilot feedback (possibly via a forum) would be a great start.

 

Note on why I feel pilot behavior/ability is an issue for our division:

 

My personal experiences with controlling on VATSIM have led me to believe that pilots from Europe and other parts of the world for that matter tend to be generally better and more dedicated to this hobby than U.S. based pilots. I could be wrong, but follow me for a second. Why you might ask? Flying is a much easier hobby to come by in the U.S. (especially in the GA sector) and it's cheaper than other countries. It's easier to get involved in it than parts of Europe. I think European pilots tend to be significantly more specialized when it comes to aviation and being involved in it. Even though this is all virtual, I still think that American idiocy tends to be higher in the division. For the reason that it's very easy to get involved in aviation here (not a bad thing at all) and generally speaking, Americans tend to be instant-gratification-seekers. These people need to be weeded off of VATSIM for things to improve. Again, another reason I wouldn't trust the "silent majority" opinion that much. Many don't know a good controller from a bad one because of lack of awareness right now. This also does zero to help our controllers in the division improve. They could be doing things wrong a lot, yet no pilot feedback is received because nobody knows that it is wrong. It's the blind leading the blind. It's another reason the Super Center idea should be tabled for now. Lets help these guys improve...

 

 

-Controllers need to become more standardized and better trained in the U.S. division. [EDIT] Learn from facilities that actually do an excellent job. Things such as SRS, VFR, practice approaches, local IFR, etc are just under-taught in so many places. Also, understanding what it actually means to own a target when working radar (ie: when an aircraft checks in on frequency from a handoff/communication transfer, controllers shouldn't be descending the aircraft until within their airspace unless LOAd otherwise, yet it happens regularly in many places). Get knowledgeable, dedicated people leading these places, have some form of controller standardization in the division (again GRP is far too generic, US specific necessary). QA check-ups on guys, maybe form a team of controllers to run these checks and provide feedback. Get the facilities working together more instead of 22 separate units. More standardization is needed to improve quality of ATC across the division.

 

 

-Network programming needs to be more encouraged, easier to access (less red tape to get through), dedicated developers willing to donate there time (and they are out there, in this very thread in fact) need to be provided the opportunity to help improve the way the division is organized, controllers need better tools to work with (IDS should be nationwide at some point, controller clients should be less "free-for-all" in nature in terms of color profiles, [edit]general functionality of the clients, realistic squawk mode should be mandatory, the same client should be used by all for the different levels of ATC for standardization/ease of training, etc). Improve the standardization, training becomes quicker, easier to accomplish, everyone gets on the same page with the little nuances that plague controller coordination across the division right now. This is being done at places like ZMP right now, this level of standardization, yet seems to go unnoticed by so many it's not even funny.

 

 

If these were to be accomplished somehow, then I'd start looking into the idea of a Super-Center. I think you'd find with the improved pilot quality, controller retention rate will become higher. Improved controller standardization would yield less fighting between facilities, more organization, more "seamless" ATC across the division, better experience for the pilots. Better network technology also contributes to the ability of the facilities to work better with one-another, improves event quality, and ultimately could yield the ability to more realistically handle a super-center position keeping those of us here semi-happy and provide a greater area of coverage to the pilots.

 

Does any of this make sense? The system is just broken where it sits right now... The dedicated are unable to get into positions to help lead a movement like this and there are too many politics preventing it. If anyone wanted to start a new freeware globalized network one day, this is how I'd start. Find a way to resolve the other issues instead of the band-aid fix of just implementing this super-center idea. It's truly [Mod - Happy Thoughts]-backwards.

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Andrew James Doubleday | Twitch Stream: Ground_Point_Niner

University of North Dakota | FAA Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) GraduateGPN_Horizontal_-_Tertiary.thumb.png.9d7edc4d985ab7ed1dc60b92a5dfa85c.png

 

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it is a disservice to our division and the way we do business.

I find it MORE of a disservice to withhold information. Plain and simple. My prior experience proves it:

 

During my extent as ATM within the division, I felt more left out of the division's operational decisions which affected my ability to effectively manage the facility by VATUSA for the vary reason of information not being disseminated until a decision was already made (i.e. by the way, here's a new policy). In that time period, how many staff meetings did the division hold for Air Traffic Managers (and [Mod - Happy Thoughts]istants) - Zero!

 

I do not trust that the current methods being used for the betterment of the division ARE actually being made for just that - the betterment of the division for its members. Only a few certain influential members:

 

The Founder took it upon himself to: build a sector file of selected ARTCC areas; work out a set of frequencies that would not conflict with current ARTCC operations; develop a POF file that would work in the VRC client; and finally, log on to a position labeled as ZMW_CTR on two occasions.

 

When the time comes and I feel [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ured I have arrived at the BEST decision for the division, its facilities and the membership, I will announce it.

 

There's a lot of 'I's in there, where do the facility managers fit in again? Going back to my previous experience...

 

[...]I'd prefer not to pander to the extremists who tend to frequent these boards and others.
[...]the current arguments are based only on the opinions of a sprinkling of vocal controllers

 

I do not consider myself a 'vocal controller' or even being labeled as an 'extremist' as you (and many people) have put it. If your "silent majority who matter" are able to speak up and voice their concerns, I fear they will be labelled as just another extremist.

 

In roughly the past 7 years, I have made 38 posts total on here. That works out to an average of 5.4 post per year. Might I qualify for that 'silent majority' with the experience of 1) being a former ATM and 2) being a dedicated volunteer member on this network for over 7 years?

Logan Gloss

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[...]I'd prefer not to pander to the extremists who tend to frequent these boards and others.
[...]the current arguments are based only on the opinions of a sprinkling of vocal controllers

 

I do not consider myself a 'vocal controller' or even being labeled as an 'extremist' as you (and many people) have put it. If your "silent majority who matter" are able to speak up and voice their concerns, I fear they will be labelled as just another extremist.

 

In roughly the past 7 years, I have made 38 posts total on here. That works out to an average of 5.4 post per year. Might I qualify for that 'silent majority' with the experience of 1) being a former ATM and 2) being a dedicated volunteer member on this network for over 7 years?

 

Your opinion is one of potentially thousands. It's valuable and important that you can have your opinion heard but I maintain there needs to be an evidence based approach to this rather than a wishy-washy "I think this will happen" melodramatic forum drama.

 

I'm neither for or against these proposals, I know when flying over America I'd like more coverage. I have just experience this turmoil before over in the UK Division. What happened is the same old people cropped up, (who were not brilliantly active) who opposed almost everything that could detract from the realism of "their" division and the power that they personally held over it's fate. Eventually the division staff got some bottle and invited the VATEUD Eurocontrol to cover VATUK airspace when local controllers were offline.

 

I haven't heard of any problems since. The "same olds" found something else to moan about and we have more service over the UK than we did before.

 

I've heard the, "our airspace is not like their airspace" stuff before too. The fears and worries, the "can't dos" and "impossibles" were proven wrong within weeks of Eurocontrol going live over UK.

 

Seriously guys. As Andreas has said, open your minds and try something new. If it doesn't work and there is evidence that it is harming the network. then VATSIM is not crazy enough to allow it to continue.

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If it doesn't work and there is evidence that it is harming the network. then VATSIM is not crazy enough to allow it to continue.

 

Because VATSIM's BoG/Founders fix a lot of things that need fixing... IE, the state of software development. A BoG member has admitted on the open forum that it's a problem.. but it seems that when you try to present solutions to fix it, they just shrug their shoulders.

 

From those of us "down here" at the bottom of the pyramid, it appears like the BoG doesn't listen nor care when they do things we don't like and point it out, even when solutions are presented. The response, "Well.. we don't know what to do." Okay, so TRY something. Ask for help. It seems like they'd rather just sit and pray that a miracle comes to their door step.

 

Most of us do not support it based on A) Controller deficiencies and B) pilot deficiencies. Pilots in Europe, as Andrew stated, are much more try-hard hobbyists whereas in the US, pilots are more instant-gratification. Unfortunately, this is not limited to VATSIM/aviation in general, it's the US in general. So again, while it may work for Europe... in the US, you're going to just cause more confusion than necessary. We need to fix A and B above before we consider such drastic combinations.

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Well if we're down for doing trials, based on the amount of traffic during some parts of the night, we should consolidate the entire USA. Using your logic, if you think your current idea would work flawlessly, I don't know why one high center for the ENTIRE USA wouldn't. You need to consider that the scale of things varies greatly from area to area and something like "super centers" isn't cookie cutter plan to help pilots out.

 

Especially with the ATC system in the United States, these super centers also just create an illusion of better ATC coverage. It would be very boring to work these positions as all you would ever say is "hello", "bye", "finish your climb", "start your descent - hopefully it's not way before or after your TOD - I have no **** idea". The amount of coverage can actually be much less in a sense with super centers unless they provide top-down (which is ludicrous, not even VATEUD does that). If all of my flights were: I talk to ATC 3 to 4 times over 1 to 3 hours is a lot more boring than half of my flights talking 12 to 15 times over a 30 minute to 1 and a half hour period.

 

In the end, it's a trade off: more coverage laterally (super-center non top-down), or more coverage vertically (top-down center). One way is an illusion of more coverage and ATC for a larger audience that might not even want ATC, or you can go and cover one center top-down for the people that actually want to be there in the first place. Why on earth would we plan to cater to people who are only on VATSIM to clock in hours or the like?

 

Maybe if pilots focused more on the ATC there wouldn't be this issue. If ZMP and ZID are staffed but ZKC and ZAU aren't for instance... maybe pilots who want ATC coverage could... well OH MY GOSH, I don't know fly from somewhere in ZMP to somewhere in ZID. But no, that would be culture shock for pilots, choosing to fly where ATC is rather than using VATSIM for the V part and not the AT or SIM parts.

 

But still... I'd be down for us trying it I guess, because unlike illicit drugs or cigarettes, there's no huge negative impact from trying it .

VATUSA, vZAU S2 / ORD Major Cert.

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IMO training standards in VATUSA will have just as much trouble getting p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed as this since not everyone agrees on exactly what those standards should be. what will happen to ZMP or the others if/when VATUSA decides that the standard will be below what they currently use (it can happen )

 

supposedly, GRP2 was supposed to be THE standard. thats what i thought anyway.

 

or are we talking about retention (dont confuse that with standards)

 

i do agree on one thing about the super centers, doing top down wouldnt be the best idea IMO, wont take long for the frequency to get congested, not to mention you will definitely run into trouble trying to handle the approaches into all those airports. enroute is doable for the super center, once you start involving local duties, i can see that going bad even on a lite traffic night involving multiple airspaces.

 

maybe in addition to the super center, do the idea of combined approaches as well for the ARTCC's

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maybe in addition to the super center, do the idea of combined approaches as well for the ARTCC's

 

I hope your kidding, because that's even more dumb than the super centers. Even if it was like Eurocontrol. Nobody wants this. If this happens, you will see even more active members leave. Probably the reason they want to do this anyway. Less active members=Less coverage. Whats the best way to increase coverage. Oh lets make Super Centers! Feel like Im talking about WalMart. Anyone know what aisle ZJX is on?

VATSIM Supervisor

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I don't know yet what I think about having these super centers being open all day, or when things are busy, but after a certain point in the night, what difference does it make?

 

The problem with this thought is what's the real point of putting this into use when there will be a very limited number of people that actually benefit from it anyways? By that point in the night, there are very few pilots in the air so what is a high only enroute controller going to provide to these guys as far as services? We would get to radar identify aircraft, climb them, descend them (most likely with a PD descent), maybe give a shortcut or some routing and switch them back to Unicom. 99.999% of the time, the controller wouldn't even have to worry about his top priority (separating aircraft) since there just isn't enough planes in the sky up above FL240 to create conflicts. This honestly just seems like a way to create an illusion of coverage when in fact, the controllers are actually providing very little services to the pilots.

 

I just can't see how all of the work needed to make this a reality with such little gain out of it can't be put into other much more pressing issues that VATUSA has on its table...

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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If I may add my thoughts about this,

 

  • 1. Creating fictitious center names with fictitious boundaries is going to confuse ANY pilot regardless of their experience.

  • 2. Frequency congestion for a super-center could quickly become an unmanageable mess that sounds like a citizens band radio.

  • 3. An unanticipated rush of pilots could overwhelm the controller, compelling them to log-off.

 

These are just the "high-level" problems I see with this idea, however I think we all can agree on the statement "A crowd draws a crowd". I believe in this because having a "center lit-up" on VatSpy not only encourages pilots, but our newer students wanting to work the terminal areas, or compelling our seasoned controllers to open up a TRACON.

 

Bryan please don't get me wrong as I like the idea to promote more pilots and ATC activity. However we should not stray too far in the direction (to coin Daniels phrase) of an "arcade game".

 

As we are all having a civil discussion about this idea, may I share my single idea for consideration:

 

Instead of creating super-centers, allow controllers to have multiple connections, and run multiple instances of VRC to open multiple positions.

 

I believe the benefits would be:

  • A. This would allow an increase in S1-S3 participation as they would be able to work more traffic and become more engaged in VATSIM.

  • B. The controller can "scale" their challenge by selectively opening positions they are comfortable with, and closing some if traffic becomes to much to handle.

  • C. As the S1-S3 controllers are online serving more local facilities, this might compel our seasoned C1-C3 controllers to get online knowing they are not the lone-wolf.

  • D. When pilots see 2-4+ consecutive centers with tracons and towers all lit up, voila' the cycle has started.

 

I think I mentioned this idea to Ross some years ago and (forgive me Ross, I'm an old man with a poor memory) he told me there was some issues with the voice library. Ross you can chime in anytime!

 

Apart from some of the philosophical debate in this thread, I'm in favor of ideas that will boost participation from both pilots and ATC*.

 

*Before anyone gets out the flame-thrower about the pilot quality, I believe the pilot-training solutions are discussed in a different thread!

Gerry Hattendorf

ZLA Webmaster

VATSIM Supervisor

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Anyone know what aisle ZJX is on?

 

Come again?

 

wow didn't think I was going to have to explain this joke... Super Centers.... Walmart... aisle.. ZJX was just a random ARTCC.. put it all together.. ARTCC's are part of an aisle. EX ZMA,ZJX,ZTL are aisle XXX. ZME,ZFW,ZHU are on aisle XXX

VATSIM Supervisor

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Anyone know what aisle ZJX is on?

 

Come again?

 

wow didn't think I was going to have to explain this joke... Super Centers.... Walmart... aisle.. ZJX was just a random ARTCC.. put it all together.. ARTCC's are part of an aisle. EX ZMA,ZJX,ZTL are aisle XXX. ZME,ZFW,ZHU are on aisle XXX

 

Oh.. lol. ZJX has been picked on a few times in here which is why I asked. lol

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I think I mentioned this idea to Ross some years ago and (forgive me Ross, I'm an old man with a poor memory) he told me there was some issues with the voice library. Ross you can chime in anytime!

 

I mentioned something similar earlier in the thread ... though it would have to be a single instance of VRC, modified to allow multiple connections. I really don't want to work on VRC anymore because it's written in C++ and I don't like C++ as much as C#. However, I might be willing to write an enroute client that could handle multiple connections.

 

Though I'm not sure it would be worth it ... I'm not really concerned about pilots learning who to contact in the event we do the super-center thing. My concern is similar to others ... if it isn't top-down, it's just an illusion of more coverage.

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

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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However, I might be willing to write an enroute client that could handle multiple connections.

 

Please. Thanks.

Ryan Geckler - GK | Former VATUSA3 - Division Training Manager

VATSIM Minneapolis ARTCC | FAA Miami ARTCC 

Cross the Pond Planning Team

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  • Board of Governors
However, I might be willing to write an enroute client that could handle multiple connections.

 

Please. Thanks.

 

 

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Matt Bartels
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Unless otherwise stated, opinions are my own and not representative of the official opinion of the VATSIM Board of Governors

 

 

 

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..because it's written in C++ and I don't like C++ as much as C#.

 

Got a bit spoiled on automatic garbage collection ehh?

 

However, I might be willing to write an en route client that could handle multiple connections.

 

I was thinking about a client that would be able to work with the existing sector files we have, to encourage new S1-S3's to be able to run multiple GND/TWR or APP sessions. If I understand the jist of this thread, isn't it the idea to encourage our membership to become C1+ in order to bump up our ATC online time?

 

Please understand Ross, I'm one of your biggest fans with the "professional grade" applications that you have freely distributed to the VATSIM community, and as a professional developer myself I appreciate the amount of time and effort you put into all your projects. My ideas might just be "pie-in-the-sky" ideas, but it's worth a shot.

 

Thanks!

Gerry Hattendorf

ZLA Webmaster

VATSIM Supervisor

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