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New York ARTCC PDC Software


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The New York ARTCC is pleased to announce the release of our long anticipated Pre-Departure Clearance (PDC) software. This is arguably the most realistic and fully functional PDC software on VATSIM. Come depart JFK, EWR, LGA, PHL, TEB, or HPN in the next few weeks when there are controllers online and you will experience the new software for yourself!

 

Go to http://nyartcc.org/prc and scroll to the bottom of the page to read a training module on the software and how it works!

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Just a comment -- I think this makes things harder for pilots who use FSX in fullscreen mode. You still have to use the radio to request it, and still have to read it back, but now you also have to exit fullscreen, bring up your browser, and type in the URL manually. (If you click a hyperlink when fullscreen, your browser takes focus and FSX doesn't handle the "lost focus" message properly. It gets minimized but still thinks it's running and won't let you switch back to fullscreen -- very aggravating!). Then when you return to full-screen, sometimes the graphics are garbled and you have to reset them by changing settings back and forth. Just seems like more work.

 

Have you seen how virtual Atlanta does it? That seems easy for everyone involved (after you file the flight plan, they PM you with the clearance and you don't need to request it on the radio or read it back).

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Just a comment -- I think this makes things harder for pilots who use FSX in fullscreen mode. You still have to use the radio to request it, and still have to read it back, but now you also have to exit fullscreen, bring up your browser, and type in the URL manually. (If you click a hyperlink when fullscreen, your browser takes focus and FSX doesn't handle the "lost focus" message properly. It gets minimized but still thinks it's running and won't let you switch back to fullscreen -- very aggravating!). Then when you return to full-screen, sometimes the graphics are garbled and you have to reset them by changing settings back and forth. Just seems like more work.

 

Have you seen how virtual Atlanta does it? That seems easy for everyone involved (after you file the flight plan, they PM you with the clearance and you don't need to request it on the radio or read it back).

 

Chris, thanks for taking the time to leave feedback in regards to our PDC software. We like getting feedback about it, so improvements can be made when possible.

 

When designing the PDC software, we did investigate a number of different "issues" that may be deemed problematic by pilots. We considered the full screen issue and the possible inconvenience [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ociated with it. What it came down to, however, is the benefit of having the PDCs on our website outweighed the negative aspects. Let me briefly explain why.

 

When looking at the way virtual Atlanta ARTCC does it, I experimented with ALIAS file PDCs here at ZNY. Here are some of the problems I ran into:

1.) VATSIM has a character limit on private messages, thus a lot of the PDC was getting cut off when I attempted to send it to a pilot and, in my opinion, breaking the PDC into multiple messages was not an option.

2.) New York's airspace is extremely complex requiring many departure procedures, climbs, and configuration changes. To create an ALIAS file with all the potential clearances a controller could encounter would almost me impossible to create. Atlanta uses all RNAV departures and they rarely change. They have two configurations... east and west... with one airport. We have three major airports within 20 miles of each other with a dynamic interaction.

3.) The format of a private message PDC, such as ATLs, is not as realistic as the output we able to produce with our system. I fly for an airline real world, and what we produce here at vZNY is word for word VERBATIM to what I see everyday from real world ATC.

4.) When pilots get a PDC in the real world, we have to request it. The PDC doesn't just show up. There are certain unusual circomestances where the PDC will just automatically deliver, but the majority of times I have to push a button on my MCDU ACARS unit to request clearance. As such, vZNY requires the pilot to call clearance delivery for the PDC on VATSIM. This simulates the "request."

5.) Readbacks are required here at vZNY because that is how they do it in the real world at New York airports. When I am working, after I receive a PDC from LaGuardia Tower, I am required to call them back and confirm the Climbout and Squawk code.

 

Ideally, the PDC would not be sent through a website, but rather your PMDG MCDU, or whatever addon you are using. Unfortunately, we have not yet figured out a way for this to work.

 

Let me give you a few tips that you may not have thought of yet.

1.) Copying down the hyperlink is not required. Just go to nyartcc.org and on the top bar click "Pilots" and then click "Pre-Departure Clearances." When you request clearance, all you have to do is have this page open and you can view your PDC without clicking on a link through your flight simulator.

2.) Use an iPad or tablet to view the PDC.

3.) You do not have the read back the entire clearance. Just read back the climb out, squawk code, and departure procedure. "LaGuardia Tower, N101CD LaGuardia 4 Departure, Whitestone Climb, 1101."

 

Anyway, I hope that answers some of your concerns.

 

Let me ask you a question. If you had the option to sign up for our PDC service to receive the PDC through e-mail, would this help you more?

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One final thought Chris that I forgot to mention. You asked what the benefit of the system is?

 

The added benefit of PDCs is simple.

 

For Controllers:

- It decreases frequency congestion and mitigates errors.

- If we change a procedure internally, the PDC system automatically reflects that change.

- The PDC system automatically derives a lot of the data to ensure accuracy. It looks at a number of different factors to determine a correct clearance. This lessens the amount of work a controller has to do.

 

For Pilots:

- It provides a text clearance that is printable.

- It keeps things realistic.

- It lessens the time on the ground, which when new controllers are working, can sometimes be long time.

 

These are just some of the positive aspects I have noticed.

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If you could do it like Atlanta does and send the PDC after pilots file their flight plan (without a need to request it, which when you're busy can take a lot of time and multiple requests), and maybe make a subpage nyartcc.org/pdc which is a simple list of current PDC's which is mobile-friendly (quick to load), then fullscreen users could use their ipad or phone and just click on their callsign to get it. I think that would be a lot better.

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Chris, there is a page to view all current PDCs and it is mobile friendly.

 

http://nyartcc.org/pdc/all

 

In regards to sending the PDCs without request... we will take it under advisement. Perhaps it is something that will change in the future.

 

That page isn't mobile friendly -- it crashes my iPhone. It has lots of top and side graphics, with unnecessary buttons and boxes.

 

How about just list the current PDC's in simple HTML? No fancy graphics or boxes, just a list of callsigns?

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Crashes your iPhone? Loads perfectly fine on all my devices. Tried it on iPhone 5, 4, iPad 3, Nexus 5 and 7.

That's good it works on your devices, but it doesn't on others. I think it's because they're using ajax which doesn't work on every device (there's no reason they need ajax for this), and they're having the client directly query the database (big security risk and also no reason to). If they used simple HTML links to a text-only clearance, it would work on more devices and this could maybe get more traction.

 

Also I hope they reconsider simply PM'ing the PDC in-game. That would avoid having to go out of fullscreen or having to mess with your phone. The text limit is large enough to allow pretty much anything but a long full route clearance. It's worked well for vZTL anyway.

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At ZTL (and several other ARTCCs), the way around the text limit is usually done by sending 2 (or more) messages. Leaving the sim to pick up the PDC is certainly NOT required. If you cannot or do not want to open a new window or use a secondary device for whatever reason, do not by any means feel obligated to do so.

Davor Kusec

Air Traffic Director | Northeast Region VATUSA

Supervisor | VATSIM

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The text limit was just one reason why vZNY decided not to go through private message. There are a many more reasons mentioned above.

 

But Davor does bring up an excellent point, you can still receive a voice clearance in lieu of the PDC. This is true on VATSIM and this is true in the real world as well. Just ask for a voice clearance instead or say, "unable PDC."

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Crashes your iPhone? Loads perfectly fine on all my devices. Tried it on iPhone 5, 4, iPad 3, Nexus 5 and 7.

That's good it works on your devices, but it doesn't on others. I think it's because they're using ajax which doesn't work on every device (there's no reason they need ajax for this), and they're having the client directly query the database (big security risk and also no reason to). If they used simple HTML links to a text-only clearance, it would work on more devices and this could maybe get more traction.

 

Also I hope they reconsider simply PM'ing the PDC in-game. That would avoid having to go out of fullscreen or having to mess with your phone. The text limit is large enough to allow pretty much anything but a long full route clearance. It's worked well for vZTL anyway.

 

AJAX? Not a security risk and should not affect any device whether they can load it or not. AJAX is not on any PDC pages and either way, when you load any page, you are going to query the database.

 

I'd have no problem adding a simple HTML page, but I would rather fix this page. I'm just not seeing where it's crashing your device.

Dimitri Trofimuk

Webmaster - Instructor (I1)

Philadelphia Facility Coordinator

New York ARTCC

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Javascript is indeed required to view actual PDCs (at least, Chrome emulating an iPhone 5 with Javascript disabled wouldn't navigate to the PDC when clicked). But really... if you're using a device without Javascript, you're either a) a tin-foil hat wearer who trades Web 2.0 interactivity for "privacy", or b) using a device whose browser software was written around or slightly after the time when the typewriter was invented.

 

I'm just not seeing where it's crashing your device.

 

One item that could be considered for optimization is the 2.9 MB, 3496 × 1223 image (home2.jpg) that took 4.12s to load on a low-latency, >30Mbps connection. (Not that this should "crash" a mobile device... but it's definitely highly undesirable for one.)

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Javascript is indeed required to view actual PDCs (at least, Chrome emulating an iPhone 5 with Javascript disabled wouldn't navigate to the PDC when clicked). But really... if you're using a device without Javascript, you're either a) a tin-foil hat wearer who trades Web 2.0 interactivity for "privacy", or b) using a device whose browser software was written around or slightly after the time when the typewriter was invented.

 

One item that could be considered for optimization is the 2.9 MB, 3496 × 1223 image (home2.jpg) that took 4.12s to load on a low-latency, >30Mbps connection. (Not that this should "crash" a mobile device... but it's definitely highly undesirable for one.)

 

I know that image is big, but it won't prevent you from loading the page but yes, very undesirable.

Dimitri Trofimuk

Webmaster - Instructor (I1)

Philadelphia Facility Coordinator

New York ARTCC

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Javascript is indeed required to view actual PDCs (at least, Chrome emulating an iPhone 5 with Javascript disabled wouldn't navigate to the PDC when clicked). But really... if you're using a device without Javascript, you're either a) a tin-foil hat wearer who trades Web 2.0 interactivity for "privacy", or b) using a device whose browser software was written around or slightly after the time when the typewriter was invented.

 

Number of browsers written within the last few years puke on certain javascript calls. Even IE9 (released March 2011) pukes on some things. Something to keep in mind. There shouldn't be any reason javascript is required to view a PDC... yes, database calls are required so the html files wouldn't need to constantly be regenerated on the backend just to keep things more sane. However, clicking a link to view the PDC shouldn't require javascript in any form.

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As I understand, CPDLC clearances become more and more a factor in real world, so it's great to see we are trying to find a way to simulate that on VATSIM as well. One question, though: In real world, are CPDLC clearances really being read back on the radio?

 

With you current procedures, I don't see the benefit for pilots. The workflow only changes from "Request Clearance on radio - receive clearance on radio - read back clearance on radio" to "Request Clearance on radio - switch window - receive clearance via browser - switch window - read back clearance on radio".

 

I always thought that CPDLC clearance in real world are acknowledged by a simple click on the FMC. If you'd find a way to do that via the browser, it would certainly be also a benefit for the pilots.

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CPDLC is a different system than PDC. In the real world, the CPDLC system is mainly used for oceanic communications in replace of HF radio communications. PDCs are received via ACARS and so regardless of whether your system is CPDLC capable or not, if it has ACARS, then it can receive a PDC.

 

That is neither here nor there though. Your true question is the readback. The readback requirement simulates a real world New York specific procedure that requires a pilot read back the climb and squawk code due to the complexity of clearances and airspace. Remember the primary purpose of PDCs are for mitigating errors, not for lessening the pilot workflow.

 

However, having said that I am very interested in your idea of acknowledging the PDC on the website itself. Maybe we could create a feature that allows the pilot to accept the PDC without talking to ATC. I will continue to ponder this idea.

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