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New thread about realism vs. fun


Jeff Thomas
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But ultimately, it is the instructor or mentor who may understand the standard, but may have a "different interpretation" as to what the standard means in the context of their *comfort level*.

 

It's honestly pretty black and white, with very little room for interpretation. I.e. 1) Know how to issue an ILS clearance. 2) Know how to issue a Visual Approach Clearance. 3) Know how to handle non-precision approaches.

 

Now those examples are really simplified, but they illustrate a black and white with very little room for interpretation. Either the controller can do those things or he can't. There really isn't any grey area in between.

 

 

If given the opportunity, what would you as a ATM want to do?

 

a. Take a person and start them through the process of learning Enroute procedures, changes in ASRC, changes in phraseology, changes in separation standards, which means that not only do you now introduce basics, but also have to teach facility specifics......

 

or

 

b. Have them go to the academy to learn the basic Enroute rules, phraseology, ASRC setup, and then return them to their facility knowing that they are armed with new knowledge of the position they are working along with a basic understanding of what is required, thus shortening their training time?

 

 

B would obviously be great, and that's what the VATUSA Training Academy is going to provide for beginning controllers. If eventually the academy will provide that for all levels of training, all the better! But you still need a syllabus, a set of guidelines for each level.

 

My question is what specific basics are having to be re-taught? Are the ATC procedures being re-taught based on the 7110.65, or are they facility specific procedures that do not transfer from one facility to another?

 

Depends really. It is anywhere from having to reteach minor .65 phraseology issues, to having to teach a Center-certified C1 or C3 how to issue an ILS clearance properly, or how to vector properly, or issue holding instructions, etc., etc. it really just depends.

 

If the problem is inconsistency and controllers not knowing their basics, is it a standardization problem, or a problem resulting from a combination of mixing standardization with techniques?

 

It's most definitely a standardization problem.

 

 

For one reason the OTS depends on traffic.

And not every area can draw traffic for an OTS very well.

 

Point taken, and I agree that it's often very hard to test a student on EVERY possible aspect of controlling in a single OTS. But you at least know if they generally have a clue as to what's going on. While they might not be able to master something obscure like a DME Arc, they at least know the Approach basics. Everything else will come eventually with practice and experience.

 

What is happening, however, is not that the controller is messing up some complex procedure. What is happening (as I've mentioned several times) is that some Training Deptartments are allowing students to work various positions without even teaching them the bare minimums.

 

What we do in ZLA (and before I get bashed...I'm not in any way saying that the ZLA method is any better...I just speak of it because it's the method I know best), we have a solo signoff before a controller is allowed to work a position. That is, before a student is allowed to work Approach on his own, a Mentor or INS has a session or two with the controller to teach the basics of Approach. After that, the controller is turned loose to practice the more obscure things, and gain experience. Same goes for Center, Tower, etc. etc.

 

So if we say S1's cannot work APP anywhere in Vatusa. What happens to that guy in Anchorage ? Its going to take him a lot longer to get up to speed because he is working far less traffic in his area than say ZLA,ZTL,ZNY or ZAU.

 

Agreed. I'm not saying ban S1's everywhere from working approach. What I am saying though is that before allowing them to work approach, teach them the basics for working approach. This (apparently) isn't happening VATUSA-wide.

 

 

The Instructors are held accountable by the TA's, who are ultimately held responsible by the VATUSA Training Director.

In theory yes , but in actual practice that has never really been the case. You've already cited examples of this.

So how would it be different this time ?

 

You're absolutely right. In practice, it has never really been the case. We need to make it the case.

 

 

 

Ernie, Todd, great chatting with you guys! This is a very good discussion. Fred, nice to see we're seeing eye-to-eye on this one.

Bryan Wollenberg

ZLA!

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Bryan,

 

Since you used ZLA as an example, I'll use it as well. Not attacking, just pointing out differences.

 

The ZLA way of doing things works great, IF you have the instructors and mentors available to signoff on those positions. As Ernie would no doubt state, what happens when a student can't find an instructor or mentor to give him the check for the position he wants to work? He's stuck sitting at some place he's overqualified for because he's not allowed to advance.

 

This is the problem I was trying to make in earlier posts. It's all wonderful to say let's get all students signed off on each position before they're allowed to work it. I'd love nothing better.

 

ZLA has 9 people on it's roster rated above C3, and I don't even know if you guys use a mentor program. So I expect it's not that hard to find someone to give that Burbank signoff when neeeded.

 

But when you have 4 instructors and 2 or 3 mentors, and 40 students on your roster, it's difficult to have that time available to give to each student.

 

So, you have to find other ways to train those people and still not hold them back from learning on their own.

 

Most ARTCCs maintain some sort of "self monitored training"....some are just more liberal then others.

 

And if you're having to teach a C1 or C3 how to issue an ILS approach, I would agree that it's definitely a problem.

 

The ONLY defense I would make for that controller's previous training is that perhaps they trained in a facility that rarely used ILS? So maybe they knew how to issue an ILS, but just didn't get much chance to use it?

 

I know in ZAB, we have something like 330 days a year where we can use visual approaches almost 24 hours a day. Anyone would get rusty if you never used that type of approach.

 

What's an ILS again?

Paul Biderman
ZAN DATM

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Awesome discussion!

 

 

One question....can Sweatbox solve this issue of traffic levels?

 

Can we get a standardized set of traffic metrics to measure aptitude regardless of facility?

 

Without getting into specifics of a sector, is there a number out there that we could say an S3 is good enough for Center, and S1 good enough for App?

 

Is the tool capable of providing this level playing field?

 

Jeff

Jeff Thomas

VP-IT

https://joinava.org

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One question....can Sweatbox solve this issue of traffic levels?

 

Absolutely ... see my post a few replies back. We've been doing APP OTSes with the sweatbox for a few years, and are now doing TWR/GND/DEL OTSes in the sweatbox as well. (Using TWRTrainer, which will be available to all of VATSIM soon.) We haven't done CTR OTSes in the SB yet, but that's only because we haven't taken the time to draw up suitable scenarios yet.

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

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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Sorry, I should have been clearer Dan. I wasn't really responding to your comments directly, but to the general direction of comments I've heard in this "debate" over the years.

 

Roger that. Actually, my apologies at reading your post the way I did... Need to stop reading and replying to posts when I'm aready rushed for time to get out the door.

 

What's an ILS again?

 

I Love Sangaria.... Oh wait.. wrong forum...

Edited by Guest

-Dan Everette

CFI, CFII, MEI

Having the runway in sight just at TDZE + 100 is like Mom, Warm cookies and milk, and Christmas morning, all wrapped into one.

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Awesome discussion!

 

One question....can Sweatbox solve this issue of traffic levels?

 

Can we get a standardized set of traffic metrics to measure aptitude regardless of facility?

 

Without getting into specifics of a sector, is there a number out there that we could say an S3 is good enough for Center, and S1 good enough for App?

 

Is the tool capable of providing this level playing field?

 

 

To echo what Ross said, that's one of the prime intentions of the tool. Depending upon how much thought you place into the creation of the scenario, you can really accomplish any goal you have. I've seen scenarios where you get slammed right from the outset, and ones where it's calm and uneventful at first, but if you don't pick up on a few items early on, it will snowball and be a nightmare later on. On the other end of the spectrum, I've used it just to say "OK, we're going to just practice vectoring. I want you to put these three aircraft on the localizer at the same time" with nothing else going on at all.

 

It's an incredible tool, and will fit the bill with what you asked. However, I'd caution against using pure "numbers" as a measure of student capability. I've found the "number" of operations a controller does is about #4 or #5 on the list of items I'm looking for in an OTS.

 

Cheers,

-Dan Everette

CFI, CFII, MEI

Having the runway in sight just at TDZE + 100 is like Mom, Warm cookies and milk, and Christmas morning, all wrapped into one.

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Ross,

 

Are the ATC sim's able to mimic any airfield or facility?

 

This would then solve the problem of a lack of traffic in a place like Oklahoma City. If I'm not mistaken, I believe its a pretty simple airspace, and probably one of the reasons its used at the real FAA academy. Once I leave school, I'll only be there for a few months, tops, and obviously don't want to spend more time learning a larger airspace. Wouldn't using it in conjunction with a VATUSA program be very similar. You would bring new students in, and they'd be able to run scenarios on a Tower or Approach (i.e. learn how to vector for a simple ILS). Once they leave and decide on the complexity of airspace they want, that ARTCC takes over. With the sim, you can boost those traffic levels but keep the airspace details to the basics. Was just wondering if we could do that a place like OKC? (keeping the realism aspect in focus)

 

Joey V

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Yeah, you can use ACSim and TWRTrainer at any airport. Keep in mind, though, that there is only one public sweatbox server, so you shouldn't be generating traffic for an airport that is not part of your area, otherwise you might interfere with training already going on there.

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

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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Not to offend anyone, again, but I'm slowly seeing signs from administrators that they are sticking their heads into the sand again. Let's get past ignoring the issues that are being brought up, simply because you do not think they exist.

 

Bryan brings up some excellent, and certainly valid points. These points need to discussed, and not just thrown to the curb like so many suggestions or critiques from senior controllers of VATUSA. Let's try to keep that in mind powers at be.

 

The training advisory board would be a great idea, even better if its not ONLY instructors from each facility, but also mentors and other senior controllers who have been around the block for longer than 9 months. Excellent suggestion BW.

 

A standard training regiment at the "Academy" for all new controllers would be great, and makes excellent sense, and I sure hope the execution is done properly. Otherwise we will find ourselves right back here, on this forum, discussing the execution.

CMEL.CSEL.IA.AGI.CFI.CFII.MEI.CRJ2.FO.Furloughed

Part of the Acey 80

 

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Good comments by all.

 

I guess that I am having a hard time explaining my point so let me draw a parallel.....

 

For those of you who are real world pilots, I am sure that you would agree that even though your instructors taught you procedures as required by FAA curriculum, you may have had some instructors that took a particular lesson to the extreme, and others that did not. That is the gist of what I am saying about ATC. You are absolutely corrent that it may be written in black and white, but how that is translated from the instructor to the student is different.

 

Just like CFI's, ATC intructors whether in real life or VATSIM have comfort levels, things they want to see. One perfect example is vectors. The 7110.65 gives you the conditions, rules and guidelines regarding vectors, but how you vector is based on what? It is based on how you are taught, which is based on how that instructor was taught, as well as through pratical experience. Is there a perfect way to vector? Maybe, maybe not. The key, however, is when the trainee issues a vector does the trainee understand, (1) the reason they are giving the vector, (2) the effect of the vector, (3) the affect of the vector in relation to other traffic, (4) the applicable rules [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ociated with the vector?

 

Anyway, I am enjoying this alot. It is good to see that everyone who has commented feels there needs to be some type of standard across the board. How that standard comes about, is based on how all of you see it in your respective roles. Just remember that whatever is decided by this group, you must not forget the human element factors in regards to the people who ultimately will teach and mentor controllers.

 

Regards,

Todd Cox

Founder, VUSN

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Yah know come to think of it I've listened at ATC in Miami, L.A., K.C. and Orlando and most of the time you can hear differences in what they do...I think sometimes vatsim tries to be a little to realistic wich means being realer than real...how REAL is that? and how fun?

The thoughts and/or words or any general things that are expressed above are not a direct reflection of the views of the actual poster myself, Rey Lopez, and should be disregarded and left unread.

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Yah know come to think of it I've listened at ATC in Miami, L.A., K.C. and Orlando and most of the time you can hear differences in what they do...I think sometimes vatsim tries to be a little to realistic wich means being realer than real...how REAL is that? and how fun?

 

Thats exactly why we are one of a kind.

Max Tribolet

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It is a good topic Jeff, and I agree that I hope people can keep it civilized.

 

There's a difference between "realism" and "insanity".

 

When a student 1 puts in hundreds of hours working XXX_GND/DEL, and cannot find someone willing to teach him the skills needed to become S3, that's a problem.

 

When a facility goes so restriction happy that it can't provide CTR staffing on a regular basis because none of it's active people are "qualified", that's a problem.

 

At the same time, if a facility is letting new S1s work APP at their busiest tracon with no training or testing, that's a problem as well.

 

Bottom line is VATSIM is a hobby. It's not a job. People don't get paid. People don't put years into school or hours behind a stick to use VATSIM.

 

There's a level of skill that the network as an entity should be providing, and I believe in the vast majority of cases, we're at that level of skill. Those who say we're not are the "extremists" who want to exclude the casual user and make VATSIM a training laboratory for real world pilots and controllers.

 

Without the casual user, VATSIM would be a pretty empty place. Let's not run them off.

 

I'm glad you adressed this. I've been a victim of this since day one. I originally joined Vatsim as a controller back in 2001. Somewhere around 2002 I quit controlling... then rejoined as a controller and quit again. The reason is simple. I studied for the tests and spent my valuable time preparing my self so I could get the opportunity to control and nothing ever went how I was TOLD it would.

 

I'm still an S1. I rejoined again this past January and didn't get a chance to start training until 2 weeks ago. I soloed for DEL and GND the day I started training, and would have soloed for TWR on my third day had my Mentor not had to leave. What a difference one person makes. With my new mentor it has taken an additional two weeks to solo at TWR, but the "training" took three ten minute sessions? In those two weeks I have over 50 hours controlling ground and delivery. I don't understand everyone's logic here. I quit those times in the past because of the frustration this makes me feel. It takes away the fun and makes it feel bureacratic. Too much red tape for the sake of EMULATING the real world on the ADMIN level. I am a firm believer in real world ATC being trained to VATSIM controllers, but see no purpose in emulating realworld admin of the ARTCCs and training programs. Get these guys who are interested in ATC and teach them ATC as fast and proficiently as you can and we all win.

 

It adds insult to injury when I fly into these ARTCCs and the S3 at APP has perfect phraseology but doesn't have a clue that TRACONS get appropriate spacing through timing and planning without having to turn a plane off course 8 times. I bet if you surveyed every APP controller online tonight and asked them how many miles do you lose per 45 degrees of turn they wouldn't know the answer nor how to apply it. I know alot of people would say I'm taking things too seriously but my point is I know these subtleties from studying and didn't get to solo at tower for four years!

 

As for how it affects the online experience let's take a scenario from a few weeks ago. (I fly often as well)

 

I was flying into an airport that is supposed to have some of the best VATUSA controllers. This facility has two parrallel approaches that for this discussion we will call runways 36R and 36L. All aircraft from the left are to be vectored to 36L and all traffic from the right to 36R. There were 4 planes in the airspace and a TWR and CTR controller on so the APP workload was minimal. I was coming from the left and was [Mod - Happy Thoughts]igned Visual 36L and opposite traffic coming from the right was [Mod - Happy Thoughts]igned V36R. After the controller turned both aircraft to base, meaning head-on with 1,000 foot seperation, he forgot to give me my turn to final. I called his attention as I p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed over the localizer and then he [Mod - Happy Thoughts]igned me the visual 36R and gave the other aircraft the visual 36L. How can this be allowable. He spoke perfect phraseology but couldn't keep track of his aircraft and switch our runways when the traffic load was zero. This is common as a pilot on Vatsim.

 

Another situation I witnessed involved an APP controller who had 20 arrivals all from the same gate spaced by the center controller 10 miles in trail. There was a TWR controller online that day as well. These were the only arrivals, I was observing in ASRC. He could not keep everyone in one neat stream. He had to vector a few planes around when all he had to do was control their speeds and let them compress. I wanted to cry. I understand alot of times pilots screw things up, I've been one of them before, but I was listening in on his voice and watching the scope and everyone did what he instructed them to.

 

So you see the problem being debated isn't that there are or are not enough controllers or it is or isn't realistic enough. The problem is everyone I've seen in a position of authority at ARTCCs is more focused on phraseology than solid decision making. People forget that the FAA's definition of the purpose of ATC is to provide for the safe and expeditious flow of air traffic, with minimal hinderance and limitation imposed on the pilot. ATC's job is to say "how can I get this guy to his destination as quicly and safely as possible with minimal interference while following procedures and restrictions?" not "did i say it realistically?"

 

My first mentor sat with me for two hours in a private voice room and went over scenarios with me. He was the aircraft and I had to use phraseology to respond to him. When we was confident in my phraseology we logged into a busy DEL, then GND position and he gave me some OJT. I had my solos that night. That's how it should be. The only reason it should take longer than a week to solo a controller is if he's unable to demonstrate proficiency at something... until the instructor/mentor feels the controller is ready for live traffic at that position he's training for. Those 20 question exams need to be trashed. They accomplish nothing. I would also change position restrictions and certify controllers by airspace cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts]es.

 

90% of ATC is decision making and the other 10% is Procedure. Phraseology falls under procedure. Teach phraseology... get it down... then teach them how to execute them their purpose as a controller, teach them their airspace, and let the rest come from experience. If they don't get experience (and guidance) then what's the point of even having them on the roster... they won't be active because they will lose interest and find something else to do with there time. Something they feel they are making some progress in.

Regards,

JX

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I don't understand what you mean by "simulating real-world admin." Many ARTCCs try to teach the procedures of their real-world counterparts yes, but to my knowledge there is no ARTCC that has copies of the ARTCC real-world administration. Real-world administration of an ARTCC and [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ignment of controllers and their training is fairly different than what most ARTCCs around here have. We do incorporate restriction systems because of the usual complexity of the airspace we are copying.

 

For a restriction system to be successful, it needs an active training staff. This lies with the TA of a facility to keep an active training staff for the type of program that he and his ATM wish to maintain. The training staff in relation to a restriction system is directly proportional. As the restriction system grows in complexity, the training staff activity and performance must go up as well. If the training staff performance is dropping, the restriction systems must be adjusted appropriately.

 

Each ARTCC has to find its balance point between the realism and simplicity. Not to put more focus away from students, but an ARTCC has to build up its training staff with several dedicated controllers before really opening up to its students (find four interested and active controllers, and push them through the ARTCC training program to become Mentors). Then you can have better-than-average provisions for your students.

 

There are, unfortunately, a few ARTCCs that do not have the right balance, or proper training staff/resources to provide students with an expedient growing process. These ARTCCs tend to put too much emphasis, yes, on phraseology and precise procedures. You are correct, many people need to realize that it's about a controller's ability to react, reason, and decide how to best respond to a situation, not about adhering precisely to procedure all the time.

 

There was a post, I think by Jeff Clark, either in this thread or another, that gave a good real-world perspective. Instructors need to help the students along, but then need to be able to free them up and walk away, when they are sure that the student is capable of separating aircraft and maintaining a safe traffic flow. I agree with this philosophy and wish that others would ease up on their restrictions also.

 

Now for a little bit of a gripe.

 

I bet if you surveyed every APP controller online tonight and asked them how many miles do you lose per 45 degrees of turn they wouldn't know the answer nor how to apply it.

 

And I bet this not that important, as it is, either. I've never known that, and I've been virtual controlling for four years now as well. I can use my instinct and know how a specific plane is supposed to react and maneuver. And given VATSIM pilots, depending on their skill level, whatever the answer is from that rule, it probably wouldn't be correct or useful. Are you suggesting that controllers should be required to know things such as this? I think this is hypocritical insomuch as adding on "things a controller must memorize/know" as opposed to making it less complex.

 

How can the runway situation you describe be allowable? Simply, controllers aren't perfect, certainly not VATSIM controllers. If this is a new student, then he's not going to have the experience behind him to anticipate turns and make perfect vectors. Everyone makes that mistake at least once or twice. And even if we had a training-system less focused on phraseology, how would such a thing be taught? It can't be taught. I can advise a student "you should turn aircraft to the localizer at this point"...but how else does he learn but get on and control? Or shall we be keeping students restricted to only control with an Instructor, so that the INS can tell the student what to do at every moment?

 

I challenge you to find me ten or fifteen different Approach controllers who can keep 20 aircraft in line and perfect when trying to operate approach and vector these aircraft to an approach. It's a very difficult job for any VATSIM controller to do, given that there are weather conditions and discrepancies from pilot to pilot.

 

You have some valid points, but you also make a lot of generalizations. If you were restricted at one ARTCC, I'm sorry for that. But you didn't have to stay at that ARTCC the past four years, you could have done some research and moved to a less restrictive ARTCC. Believe it or not, there are several ARTCCs that have good and fair programs. There are some points that you make that are very idealistic that are difficult to accomplish in the VATSIM environment. Along with believing in a simpler training system, this is something you must understand and realize.

 

The written exams help reinforce information and regulations that are taught to a student. There don't have to be many written tests, but there do have to be some, as in the situation of rating advancements. Again, to get a good training system put in place, you must have a good training staff behind it. Most of the problems are not with the restrictions systems, but with the training staff. Changing how you implement restrictions [to airspace cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts]es as opposed to positions (DEL, GND, TWR, etc..)] doesn't change how well the training staff provides for students.

 

Good night, and good luck.

Steve Ogrodowski

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I don't understand what you mean by "simulating real-world admin." Many ARTCCs try to teach the procedures of their real-world counterparts yes, but to my knowledge there is no ARTCC that has copies of the ARTCC real-world administration. Real-world administration of an ARTCC and [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ignment of controllers and their training is fairly different than what most ARTCCs around here have. We do incorporate restriction systems because of the usual complexity of the airspace we are copying.

 

I mean the process of running an ARTCC that I have seen used is not neccessary to accomplish the mission. Real world ATC has a distinctly different mission...safety and efficiency. Vatsim is a place for hobbyists to gain experience and knowledge in a fun environment. I haven't seen an ARTCC yet that demonstates this in their process.

 

For a restriction system to be successful, it needs an active training staff. This lies with the TA of a facility to keep an active training staff for the type of program that he and his ATM wish to maintain. The training staff in relation to a restriction system is directly proportional. As the restriction system grows in complexity, the training staff activity and performance must go up as well. If the training staff performance is dropping, the restriction systems must be adjusted appropriately.

 

I agree. I think you've hit this on the head, but I think training staffs I've seen miss the point above.

 

Now for a little bit of a gripe.

 

Quote:

I bet if you surveyed every APP controller online tonight and asked them how many miles do you lose per 45 degrees of turn they wouldn't know the answer nor how to apply it.

 

 

And I bet this not that important, as it is, either. I've never known that, and I've been virtual controlling for four years now as well. I can use my instinct and know how a specific plane is supposed to react and maneuver. And given VATSIM pilots, depending on their skill level, whatever the answer is from that rule, it probably wouldn't be correct or useful. Are you suggesting that controllers should be required to know things such as this? I think this is hypocritical insomuch as adding on "things a controller must memorize/know" as opposed to making it less complex.

 

There are two types of controllers: The ones who want to learn real world control and the ones who want to play a multiplayer computer game.

 

I'm not suggesting anything. My point is that the training system is flawed by it's focus. I see C3's all the time who suck at approach with more than 3 aircraft at the same time. It is annoying as a pilot and frustrating as a trainee who has been through hell with the training system of several ARTCC's. I'm not saying controllers need to learn this if they can demonstrate a feel for it, but I would prefer if they did because it is a fundamental part of the decision making process for a real world controller. What I'm saying is training staffs focus on things that aren't as important when you look at it in prespective with Vatsim's purpose. Phraseology's purpose in the real world is for safety and airspace procedures are for efficiency. The purpose those two things serve in Vatsim are for simulation to enhance the pilot's online experience. What serves Vatsim's purpose? Does a controller in Vatsim understand why an airspace is designed the way it is? Do they understand the procedures they implement? Do they know why they say or do what they were trained to do? For the most part no. That is my point. They are robbed of the opportunity to "gain experience and knowledge in a fun environment."

 

How can the runway situation you describe be allowable? Simply, controllers aren't perfect, certainly not VATSIM controllers. If this is a new student, then he's not going to have the experience behind him to anticipate turns and make perfect vectors. Everyone makes that mistake at least once or twice. And even if we had a training-system less focused on phraseology, how would such a thing be taught? It can't be taught. I can advise a student "you should turn aircraft to the localizer at this point"...but how else does he learn but get on and control? Or shall we be keeping students restricted to only control with an Instructor, so that the INS can tell the student what to do at every moment?

 

1st of all the guy was a C3, and a mentor. That is besides the point. I think you're missing my vision. Your questions asking how can this be taught are exactly what I was trying to say. Here on Vatsim, where safety is not a life and death factor, you have to let these guys get online and control even if they're not 100%. But they need to be reveiwed periodically without their knowing for refreshers or individualized help on any issues they are having. I think the problem with the scenario I gave had NOTHING to do with the controller not knowing where to turn them. He knew EXACTLY where to turn them. The problem is he's never been trained to have a workflow. In the real world controllers are taught scan methods to reduce the chance for errors. That's not something you memorize but something you do from good habit. The lack of it is like learning how to walk without being taught the most important part of walking, at what point in your stride and balance each foot should be moved... do you follow?

 

I challenge you to find me ten or fifteen different Approach controllers who can keep 20 aircraft in line and perfect when trying to operate approach and vector these aircraft to an approach. It's a very difficult job for any VATSIM controller to do, given that there are weather conditions and discrepancies from pilot to pilot.

 

I am being totally fair here. The guy had spacing at 10MIT of 20 aircraft all coming in sequence, and only two turns to issue, base turn and turn to intercept. His erros were not caused by lack of procedural knowledge but never practicing good workflow. If he just said the exact same thing to each aircraft at the same points in their flight paths he wouldn't have had a problem... they were all VA pilots who knew what they were doing. Everything went downhill because he slowed an aircraft to 200 and either FORGOT the guy behind was at 250 or FORGOT he slowed the lead guy. He didn't have a clue how to fix this and all went downhill from there.

 

You have some valid points, but you also make a lot of generalizations. If you were restricted at one ARTCC, I'm sorry for that. But you didn't have to stay at that ARTCC the past four years, you could have done some research and moved to a less restrictive ARTCC. Believe it or not, there are several ARTCCs that have good and fair programs. There are some points that you make that are very idealistic that are difficult to accomplish in the VATSIM environment. Along with believing in a simpler training system, this is something you must understand and realize.

 

This happened with 3 different ARTCC staffs.

 

The written exams help reinforce information and regulations that are taught to a student. There don't have to be many written tests, but there do have to be some, as in the situation of rating advancements. Again, to get a good training system put in place, you must have a good training staff behind it. Most of the problems are not with the restrictions systems, but with the training staff. Changing how you implement restrictions [to airspace cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts]es as opposed to positions (DEL, GND, TWR, etc..)] doesn't change how well the training staff provides for students.

 

You're right about things not changing if the training staff quality sucks but that's an issue that VATUSA should make it's priority.

Here's an idea and I want everyone's opinion on it...feel free.

 

Give Certifications as follows

 

cert 1 All VFR airspaces (S1) ALL AIRPORTS (This is kind of like the new ATC training program opening tomorrow)

cert 2 Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] D (S1) ALL AIRPORTS

cert 3 Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C (S3) ALL CL[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C AIRPORTS

cert 4 Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] B (S3) TRACON SPECIFIC

cert 5 Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] A (C1+) ARTCC SPECIFIC

 

Cert 1 teach basic ATC & phraseology, how to use ASRC/VRC, VFR phraseology and Operations, ground operations/phraseology, and clearance DEL. The controller would now be able to control at any airport DEL or GND, and any tower in VFR airspaces in the USA without annoying any pilots.

 

quickly advance to:

 

Cert 2 teach more in depth tower procedures and IFR procedures...

 

quickly advance to:

 

Cert 3 teach facility specific DEL, GND, TWR procedures of the facilities within the controllers home CL[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C airspace. The controller should now know when and how to issue instructions to pilots to follow airspace procedures as required for that CL[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C airspace. Because he should already understands DEL, GND, TWR, he'll focus on the procedures of the airspace. Introduce radar control, teach the basics of approach and departure. To get Cert 3 the controller should know how to issue all approach clearances using proper phraseology, understand VFR control and flight following, & be able to keep basic spacing if neccesary. Teach him a basic habit forming work process.

 

Cert 4 Now we want him to understand the what to do when's of approach control. Everything here is based on the TRACON he's controlling and he must qualify to control the workload that is expected. If he can't handle heavy traffic, keep training him with less traffic until he get's good enough to advance. Before receiving Cert 4 he should have absolute control of his airspace and show confidence in his decisions. Mistakes are allowed but he shouldn't be missing turns to final with 2 airplanes on the screen. This is the stage where he learns all sequencing, spacing, and vectoring techniques. Speed control and timing should be developed here as much as possible.

 

Cert 5 He should learn all the IFR procedures for his ARTCC. He doesn't have any need to learn any new skills because before Cert 5 he should already have all the techniques needed to control his airspace.

 

While the controller is training for each CERT I think he should be able to control during certain hours unsupervised and during the restricted hours with a mentor. I would change the mentor system to have mentors [Mod - Happy Thoughts]igned to Cert levels, and each trainee would change mentors with each new cert. This exposes them to multiple philosophies and controller methods, and would make the mentors more efficient. Think of it as the ATC conveyor belt.

 

Does anyone think this would improve things? I think the result would be more new controllers online controlling at more airports hoping to get to the airport they really want. I think controllers would advance quicker.

 

And if anyone says this is idealistic that's the point. To figure out the ideal way and how to implement it, not say that would be ideal but it'll never work because it's too ideal.

Regards,

JX

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There are 2 issues nobody ever wants to address head on when these types of conversations happen.

 

1: We have just as many "young adults" on this network as we do older folks, if not more. It's hard to ask a 14 year old kid to perform ATC duties as well and as mature as a 34 year old.

 

Don't go crazy on me. I know that's a generalization. Some 14 year olds are no doubt smarter and more mature then 34 year olds. Heck, I'm 40 going on 12 sometimes.

 

I'm just saying in general, people want VATSIM to go crazy training our controllers like "real world" controllers, but I challenge you to show me 1 teenager working in a real world control tower, tracon, or center facility in the world.

 

People want us to treat VATSIM as a learning environment and not as a game, but for a large portion of our users, it is only a game and we can't change that view by making it more restrictive.

 

So because of that, we have to make our training programs work for both the 14 year old and the 34 year old. That's not an easy goal to accomplish in any setting.

 

Am I saying we should throw out all the rules and restrictions and become an extension of the Zone, just to accomodate everyone?

 

Of course not. But, I am saying that the collective training programs and those who administer them on VATSIM must ensure they are accessible to all of VATSIM's users.

 

2: This is an all volunteer organization. Nobody gets paid to work on VATSIM or on VATSIM related projects.

 

Real world controllers get paid (yes, they absolutely deserve more pay, but they do get paid ). VATSIM controllers do not.

 

Real world controllers have work schedules they must adhere to. VATSIM controllers do not.

 

You cannot ask a 100% volunteer organization to completely emulate a real world organization. It just can't work.

 

A real world controller will I'm sure face sanctions if they do not perform their job in a satisfactory manner, and could even lose their job.

 

As ATM of a virtual ARTCC, what recourse do I really have to ensure my instructors are available enough to satisfy the training needs of my facility? What can I do about controllers who sign up to work events and then never show up, or even worse, leave in the middle?

 

Last time I checked, I can't fire anyone really (yes, I know about suspensions, but they don't really apply in these situations).

 

So really there are only 2 ways an ARTCC has control over the people who work under it. Ratings restrictions, and the threat of suspensions or loss of ratings for controllers who don't do their jobs.

 

The problem on VATSIM is that too many facilities go overboard with these control methods, especially the use of ratings restrictions.

 

In the end, their ratings restrictions, while no doubt established with good intentions, become nothing more then an "ole boys club". Either you are friends with someone with authority to promote you, or you don't get promoted.

 

Now, regarding the availability of training in some facilities over others....

 

Yes, I made the point that it's possible to work many hours and never get promoted because you can't find an instructor, and that of course varies facility by facility.

 

But it's also a 2 way street. You have to ask for training. We can't read minds.

 

I see all too often people complain about "I've been in my facility for 6 months and nobody has trained me". Yet, they have 10 hours of OBS time in that 6 months, they never made a forum post in their facility or dropped an email to the facility instructor/admin staff, and then they come out and start complaining that they can't get trained.

 

Or, they simply transfer to another facility, sit around for 6 months, and then do the same thing again.

 

Those of us who are able to train are WILLING to train, but we can't do it if we don't know someone wants training! We've made the effort to provide a training environment for people to take advantage of. Now people just have to step up and use it.

 

Finally, Mr. Caban....

 

While I certainly agree 100% with some of your comments, I do take issue with others.

 

Yes, it appears the ARTCCs you've been a member of are restrictive, but I guarantee you there are facilites out there in VATUSA and elsewhere that are less restrictive.

 

And I also guarantee that there are people on the facilities you've been a member of that are getting training and are being promoted.

 

You state that at least twice you've started trying to learn ATC then quit because you got frustrated. How do you think that looks to your training staff?

 

Take an individual who gets a job, quits, gets another job, quits again, and then comes to you asking for a 3rd job? As a perspective employer, and therefore trainer, how eager would you be to invest valuable time and effort into that employee?

 

In the real world, companies invest real capital in the training of their employees in the form of time and money.

 

On VATSIM, we invest capital too, in the form of time and effort.

 

The common thing between VATSIM and real world in this case is that we both expect a reasonable investment be made by the trainee as well.

 

So I understand you're frustrated, and it's quite possible that you've gotten a raw deal because you've had trouble getting promoted, and I hope you get S3 soon if you're qualified to do so.

 

But I think it's not fair to make general statements that the training on VATSIM is flawed just because people have trouble getting promoted.

 

I'm not trying to attack you Joe. I'm just asking that you look at the situation from all angles.

Paul Biderman
ZAN DATM

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I know this is off topic but in every situation where I got tired of the situation it was because I was stood up multiple times for an OTS, mentor session, or testing. I did everything I was asked or told. I spent my TIME studying, I took and p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed my online tests, and when it was time to move beyond that I was left hanging every time. I've had to raise hell just to get up to TWR, and will continue to raise hell! It is definitely who you know here...and I don't know anyone.

 

I agree with you on points #1 and #2 so I have nothing to say about them.

Regards,

JX

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You're in the wrong ARTCC Joe. I've never experienced anything like that at my ARTCC. I know the only reason I'm still an S1 is that due to my busy real world schedule I haven't had the time to finalize the last bits of training with my mentor, who has gone out of his way to be available any time I requested training. I also really enjoy terminal services, especially tower, and while I want to improve my skills and ascend in the ranks, my real world time committments don't allow it, and frankly I'm a pretty happy camper where I am. I'll get my S3 just as soon as I get the time to complete a few last time in position requirements, and get the last little bit of my book training completed. I've found an ARTCC that understands me, I understand them, and both sides bring value to the table. This makes everyone happy! They get a controller who is fairly seasoned (though certainly not perfect ) in tower and below (and is happy doing that), and I get an ARTCC that allows me to have a ton of fun moving airplanes around. Win win!

 

There is an ARTCC out there for everyone. From the "make it to the letter like the real world" controller to the "lets have fun and try to push traffic as safely, and realistically as possible without being overly burdensome or restrictive" controllers, there is an ARTCC out there. Perhaps you should have a frank and positive discussion with the various controllers in various ARTCCs to find out what that ARTCC is really like, and then make a finalized decision based on those discussions. Hopping willynilly around (or taking years to then come back and hop around) isn't helping you one bit. It's not helping you to have fun, and it's not helping you to be a better controller.

 

Trying to impose burdensome restrictions to make all the ARTCCs the same would be highly damaging. There are some folks who thrive on knowing every regulation in the book and moving their traffic in exact accordance with the regs, and other folks that thrive on moving traffic around pretty close to the book, but still safely and efficiently. I've flown in ARTCCs where maybe the phraseology and methods weren't perfect, but the controllers were moving an amazing amount of traffic expeditiously, safely and quickly, to ARTCCs that were perfect by the book places where the controllers were regulation robots that were creating more problems than they were solving, and vice versa.

 

This is a hobbiest network. Yes, a good amount of emphasis is placed on the real world procedures, but many of us work full time jobs during the day and don't need an evening job (at least not an unpaid one). I for one do not want to sit around every evening with the FAR/AIM in my lap memorizing regs simply to work tower - I want to get home and have some leisure time and maybe push around some airplanes. For maximum success, you need to cater to the folks that want to have fun in a reasonably realistic way as well as the perfectionist contingent that wants everything perfectly by the book. Would you rather receive a few extra vectors as a pilot, or be landing on UNICOM at a busy Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] Bravo primary with other pilots that just don't see the need to announce their intentions (there's always one or two )?? While I agree providing poor service isn't necessarily better than no service, at least with poor service there is an opportunity to train the person giving poor service to give better service, whereas no rear-end in the seat means pilots are on UNICOM, and until you find another rear end to put on the scope, they'll remain on UNICOM.

 

As a pilot, if you're seeing incredibly poor performance from a controller, send a positive, constructive message privately to the ATM of the ARTCC you experienced the problems at. Tell them what the problem was, who the controller was, and allow that ATM to have the training instructor sit down with the controller in question and discuss technique, etc. Don't just swallow it and get frustrated. There may be a reason the controller wasn't quite doing well (perhaps like Paul said he's brand new on the position, or just having a bad day), or perhaps the controller really does need a quick refresher! The training staff at the ARTCCs need to know when a controller needs some polishing, and also need to know when a controller is doing a brilliant job. Without that feedback, they have to be around and notice the problems personally, which will greatly slow down the process of fixing the issue and training a controller to do a better job.

 

Seriously Joe. Don't try to change the entire system to be more restrictive (which, by the way, heavily restrictive rules sounds like what you've been having a problem with all this time) because over 4 years you've have a personality clash with one or two ARTCCs. Really sit down, research each ARTCC, and find the one that matches your personality and learning type. If you don't, you're doing a disservice to yourself, and a disservice to the hundreds or thousands of pilots you would be able to serve if you were to find your niche. You sound like you've really got a lot of the core competancies down and have the potential to be a great controller! I know you'd be a valuable [Mod - Happy Thoughts]et to any ARTCC. But first you need to figure out the exact niche you're looking for, and then find the ARTCC that fits that niche by talking to them first, then joining them after you're sure they're right for you.

 

Good luck, I hope to see you happily on the scopes somewhere in the near future.

 

[EDIT]Joe, I know you agree with some of the above points regarding not being a full time job, just wanted to restate them for others that don't believe this. [/EDIT]

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*golf clap* to Gary. The bottom line is that there is an ARTCC for every kind of controller, from the hobbiest to the 'I'm getting my letter from the FAA in a few days'. Lets not change that.

 

It goes beyond that. In the "ideal" VATSIM, every ARTCC/FIR would be able to provide a positive environment to all controllers, from the hobbyist who wants to have fun, to the real world controller who for some crazy reason, wants to do this stuff in his off hours.

 

As ATM at Albuquerque, I strive to bring that balance to my facility. I hope management at all facilites and above are striving towards this same goal.

Paul Biderman
ZAN DATM

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now i don't know what your talking about. You weren't listening. This discussion is about the balance between realism and fun and how to attain that, not about what issues I've had in the past. I'm simply explaining what had drained the fun out of it for me as a controller and what I think would've help the process. I was pointing out that I quit controlling to signify what other new controllers may or may not feel and may or may not go through. I was pointing out flaws in controller performance to signify how it affects my level of fun as a pilot... because I fly and control as many others here do. I have no issues with anyone here, nor do I want to impose restrictions...which is why i say you don't listen. I said the opposite. Let's keep it fun and simple.

 

Read all my posts to understand what the one you reaad meant. It was a direct response to someone else.

Regards,

JX

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I know this is off topic but in every situation where I got tired of the situation it was because I was stood up multiple times for an OTS, mentor session, or testing. I did everything I was asked or told. I spent my TIME studying, I took and p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed my online tests, and when it was time to move beyond that I was left hanging every time. I've had to raise hell just to get up to TWR, and will continue to raise hell! It is definitely who you know here...and I don't know anyone.

 

now i don't know what your talking about. You weren't listening. This discussion is about the balance between realism and fun and how to attain that, not about what issues I've had in the past. I'm simply explaining what had drained the fun out of it for me as a controller and what I think would've help the process. I was pointing out that I quit controlling to signify what other new controllers may or may not feel and may or may not go through. I was pointing out flaws in controller performance to signify how it affects my level of fun as a pilot... because I fly and control as many others here do. I have no issues with anyone here, nor do I want to impose restrictions...which is why i say you don't listen. I said the opposite. Let's keep it fun and simple.

 

Read all my posts to understand what the one you reaad meant. It was a direct response to someone else.

 

In reference to this point you made:

 

You're right about things not changing if the training staff quality sucks but that's an issue that VATUSA should make it's priority.

 

Direct quote to someone else? So therefore this statement, and everything after it, doesn't apply to your ideas? That's what you're saying by stating 'it is a quote to someone else.' That quote is a valid statement you publicly posted, therefore it means something, and that is what Garry is referencing. And Garry is absolutely correct, too. To have VATUSA take your system of certifications (or any other system) and force it upon all ARTCCs could cause a collapse of the entire system.

 

And personally, I don't think the system of certifications would be advantageous either. I think current ones, focused at specific facilities provide the best learning opportunites. Why? Because cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] Delta airports just don't get enough traffic. And if there are ten students, each one who can staff a different cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] Delta, how can they focus enough traffic at one to start getting experience? That's why most certification systems, if not all, start with a single facility, whether it be a Bravo or Charlie airport. Then, the student can expand their skills to all of their ARTCC Charlie and Delta airports. It seems backwards from a real-world perspective, but is the only one that is truly advantageous on VATSIM.

 

And as Garry says, and I said, you should have done some research about other ARTCCs to find out what their systems were like. You also stated that you found 3 ARTCCs that had problems. That's 3 of 20. Did you bother to find out about the other 17, or did you just draw the conclusion that all of VATUSA was flawed? Again, I'm sorry for your grievance, but: did you send any kind of dissatisfaction notices to your ATM/DATM/TA or to VATUSA staff? Rather than go somewhere else and flourish, you quit. You didn't signify anything except that you didn't want to control. Rather than go somewhere else and move up the ranks, to be able to show your former ATM what you were capable of, you gave up. I don't think quitting was showing anyone, or representing what other students felt. In fact, many of the other students may have wanted to quit, but they didn't!

Steve Ogrodowski

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Our responses were addressed specifically to what you posted as being challenges under the current system. My intent was to point out that there may be value in having a full range of ARTCCs from the super serious to the "have fun" to the blend between the two, and that one can find an ARTCC that suits their style without going through four years of hell. After all, if I were a very serious "getting my letter from the FAA next week" kind of controller, it might be easier for me to work in an ARTCC that is full of like minded people, and vice versa.

 

I feel I did listen to your posts very well. I saw a situation in which you were pointing out problems you experienced, and was responding with ways in which someone experiencing those problems can fix them. You'll also notice my edit posted just after my original post saying I saw where you said you agreed with those viewpoints, but needed that in there for newer folks that might feel another way.

 

We agree, fun and simple is best, if that's fun for you. Fun and simple might not be fun for a very serious controller - it might be annoying to a by the book controller to work with folks that are operating out of a different rulebook so to speak. That's where the balance between fun and realism comes in.

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You also stated that you found 3 ARTCCs that had problems. That's 3 of 20. Did you bother to find out about the other 17, or did you just draw the conclusion that all of VATUSA was flawed?

 

With respect, but how many different ARTCCs should he have tried? I've never been interested in controlling, but if I got similar negative experiences over three different ARTCCs it would be reasonable to conclude that they were all like that. By means of analagy, if you got food poisoning at three different McDonalds, would you try the remaning 14,997 North American locations before drawing your conclusions?

 

Cheers!

 

Luke

... I spawn hundreds of children a day. They are daemons because they are easier to kill. The first four remain stubbornly alive despite my (and their) best efforts.

... Normal in my household makes you a member of a visible minority.

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I don't exactly think that analogy fits here, though because this is not like a fast-food chain. This is something that you are devoting time and effort into over a general span of three-months. You don't spend three months at one time eating in the same McDonalds, do you? You need to be thorough, and there's only 20 choices, not 14 thousand.

 

Plus, no one would reasonably expect someone to drive for three days to the McDonalds he feels is best. This also is different because this organization is web-based, and you know precisely where to go to try to find information. You can find ARTCC websites and use e-mail and chat online, and never leave your home to have to conduct research on ARTCCs.

 

I understand what your point is, Luke, but researching ARTCCs is much more comparable to researching what College you wish to attend.

Steve Ogrodowski

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