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A Strong Case for a Mandatory P1 for Pilots


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January 2017 was the 4th anniversary of me joining Vatsim. Throughout those 4 years, I have enjoyed highly accurate and professional ATC services, which have made my flight sim experience far more realistic and sociable than it would have been otherwise. 

 

However, what is definitely marring this experience, is the presence of pilots who either have no idea of what they are doing, or don't want to learn and try to deliberately cause trouble and frustration for others.

 

I understand that Vatsim is, within reason, a learning environment and I strongly support open access to it. However, I say within reason, because it does require a basic level of knowledge in a wide range of aviation related topics, to be able to effectively fly on a network where real world procedures are simulated with a high degree of fidelity, and with many other pilots. Common examples of situations where a lack of sufficient knowledge has caused problems include:

 

Inability to understand ATC instructions: This causes delays and frustration for both pilots and ATCs, controllers have to repeat and explain instructions on frequency, hindering the flow of communications between competent pilots and ATCs. Furthermore, the instructions are then disobeyed, leading to obstruction of taxiways, runway incursions, and further frequency jams due to the repetition of instructions.

Not filing valid flight plans: Leading to a game of "ping pong" between the offender and ATC, causing delays. 

 

Failure to use charts: This is particularly a problem for radar and ground controllers. If a pilot is not using a STAR or using the incorrect SID for example, ATC have no way of predicting the aircrafts movement, making separation a nightmare. On the ground, not using charts results in using incorrect taxi routes and taxying to the wrong holding points. Misuse of progressive taxi also wastes ATC's time.

 

Ignoring ATIS: ATC have better things to do than keep repeating the active runway to everyone who asks.

 

Incorrect runway usage: Especially at unstaffed airports. Going around due to someone lining up facing towards you is not fun.

Misuse of UNICOM: Not announcing intentions around traffic leads to other pilots not being able to predict an aircraft's movement, and maintain separation. On the flip side, getting constant notifications due to pilots misusing UNICOM for "chit chat" is equally annoying.

Poor radio telephony and etiquette: Not only is it slightly cringeworthy at times, but it does test the patience of pilots and ATC alike when a message has to be repeated 3 times before the pilot asks for text chat. As a pilot, I also find it tedious when I cannot put in a request due to the radio frequency being unnecessarily busy, or when I am rudely stomped over.

 

The situation is getting worse. More and more people are joining the network not knowing anything, and expecting a busy controller, who would rather be guiding traffic, to explain everything on frequency. ATC are not paid, and Vatsim is their hobby too! If they lose enjoyment in it, due to going through a lot of training and exams, only to have to deal with the incompetent all the time, we could well see a severe reduction in ATC coverage.

 

What I propose is to make holding a P1 rating mandatory for connecting to the network as a pilot. I think this would be an effective and fair solution for the following reasons:

 

It requires only basic knowledge: Vatsim will still be an accessible learning environment, but it is reasonable to expect a certain level of knowledge. Real life example: there is a reason why universities require certain grades to even start courses.

 

The exam is quick and simple: Vatsim will not lose members, those who have been on the network for years can easily get the rating by filling out a multiple choice test in less than the time it takes to prepare a 737 from cold and dark. You can try it here: https://flightsimacademy.org/course/view.php?id=16

It will free up ATC time and resources: Controllers will have more time to... actually control. They will also enjoy themselves more. Furthermore, supervisors will be able to spend more time helping those in need, rather than kicking runway spawners and trouble makers.

Only those who genuinely want to learn will be able to join the network: Trolls generally can't be bothered to learn the material and do the exam. While some may slip through the net, the number of those whose sole aim is to annoy people will drop. They will probably pick an easier target.

 

Events will run smoother and be more enjoyable: This should be self explanatory.

 

New members would still be able to observe: Connecting as an observer can be a good way to gain insight into the workings of the network, without being disruptive.

It is fairer on ATC: As I mentioned earlier, we ought to take our hats off to Vatsim ATCs. They are voluntarily providing a service for us and carry out a lot of training to do so. In return, they should expect to be able to enjoy themselves. Whilst maintaining accessibility for pilots, it is only fair that pilots have some degree of competency too.

 

 I have made a petition for this, in order to demonstrate a will among the vatsim community for this to happen. Should we get enough signatures, I intend to present it to the board of governors to make my case. 

 

If you agree with me on this, you can sign the petition here:https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/make-p1-mandatory

 

Flight Sim Academy have a P1 course, geared towards equipping pilots with sufficient skills and knowledge to fly on the network, accompanied by a simple multiple choice exam: https://flightsimacademy.org/course/view.php?id=16

 

Happy Flying

Tom David

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I fully agree. I just posted something on the same topic: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=73173

 

I was talking to a fellow controller tonight who had been patiently and painstakingly explaining which SID to fly to a couple of pilots, which they read back and agreed to, only to find them doing something completely different after taking off. He asked himself "Why do I put up with this? It's like self-torture..."

Martin Loxbo

Director Sweden FIR

VATSIM Scandinavia

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is it that time of year again?

 

Ernesto, I know that this kind of thing has been mentioned before many times, but it is starting to get serious. From the many conversations I have had with vatsim controllers, it is clear to me that the very people who volunteer their time to make Vatsim exist, are starting to get fed up. With this petition, I intend to demonstrate just how desperate members are for this measure to be adopted.

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yes but you have to realize those are the exact same points that people have been making since 2001 when VATSIM opened.

 

the network will not do mandatory training, why waist the momentum arguing a dead point, instead of arguing for alternatives that will probably be more likely to be accepted.

 

personally ive always been in favor for mandatory training for those that face CoC violations or other supervisory issues. either take the training, or take the suspension.

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is it that time of year again?

 

Yeah, sorry that people who devote countless hours to learning and studying for tests have some different views on the network's direction. Didn't know that wasn't allowed.

 

Maybe the reason it keeps coming up is that there is an actual issue and management hasn't properly addressed the cause? If it's been coming up since 2001, then there is a problem.

Ryan Geckler - GK | Former VATUSA3 - Division Training Manager

VATSIM Minneapolis ARTCC | FAA Miami ARTCC 

Cross the Pond Planning Team

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is it that time of year again?

 

Yeah, sorry that people who devote countless hours to learning and studying for tests have some different views on the network's direction. Didn't know that wasn't allowed.

 

Maybe the reason it keeps coming up is that there is an actual issue and management hasn't properly addressed the cause? If it's been coming up since 2001, then there is a problem.

 

100% agree that an issue exists and needs to be addressed but if you look back at past discussions the admins have made it clear they have no interest in making a change. The current system of voluntary programs is the best we will every have.

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is it that time of year again?

 

Yeah, sorry that people who devote countless hours to learning and studying for tests have some different views on the network's direction. Didn't know that wasn't allowed.

 

Maybe the reason it keeps coming up is that there is an actual issue and management hasn't properly addressed the cause? If it's been coming up since 2001, then there is a problem.

 

100% agree that an issue exists and needs to be addressed but if you look back at past discussions the admins have made it clear they have no interest in making a change. The current system of voluntary programs is the best we will every have.

 

That devastates me.

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I joined VATSIM some months ago but I was enough aware of the minimum requirements I had to meet in order to stay online not causing troubles so I had an immediate positive feeling of it.

 

Then I joined VATITA ATO and got my P1 rating and, after this experience I absolutely commit that a minimal training should be mandatory.

The purpose of this rating should be "you have to know enough to be able to stay online without causing troubles and be aware of what you are your intentions and where they will you lead", that means that, ie, if you have never flown to Iceland (great place!) you should at least know that you have to read how to behave in its airspace before picking up your things and take off.

 

I also noticed that if I haven't had the opportunity of flying some routes immediately I wouldn't have understood if VATSIM and online flying was good for me and I would have never joined a school.

 

I think that it could work in this way:

 

- every new pilot has a period (let's say 6 months) during which he/she gets acquainted with the network, procedures and understands how thing works understanding if the network is good for him/her. During this period he/she is not obliged having neither any instruction nor any rating.

 

- after this period the pilot has to get at least P1 rating to continue flying, otherwise he/she won't be allowed anymore to connect to the network.

 

This would let people continue join vatsim freely and would "filter" those who are really interested in flying and learn from those who are occasional pilots keeping the freedom we are having today intact.

Considering also the fact that P1 rating is quite easy to be achieved I think that people would welcome a policy like this since it is not demanding and, with a really small barrier, would let everyone go with his/her pace.

 

I would not limit other kind of flights or actions on ratings since I think that if you have P1 rating you are enough aware of what you can do and what you cannot do and eventually what you have to study in order to comply. (I like oceanic flights but I will never have the time to get oceanic rating ) So I would let people free to choose if join schools or not for upper levels

Lorenzo Stobbione

P1 Rating - VATSIM Online Pilot

P2 Rating - VATSIM Flight Fundamentals

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I disagree with this. This not real world. This is a game to have fun with.

 

Do you think controllers shouldn't have to go through training then?

Ryan Geckler - GK | Former VATUSA3 - Division Training Manager

VATSIM Minneapolis ARTCC | FAA Miami ARTCC 

Cross the Pond Planning Team

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I disagree with this. This not real world. This is a game to have fun with.

 

Do you think controllers shouldn't have to go through training then?

 

I don't care. This not real world and should be treated as such. Vatsim has rules in place, it does not need anymore rules. I obey the rules vatsim has in place.

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  • Board of Governors

This is a great post. Unfortunately it falls on ears with fingers stuck in them.

 

The one thing I want to see but will not happen is a very basic 5 question entrance exam on the CoC and pilot etiquette that must be p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed prior to being issued a CID.

 

This filters the people that can't be bothered to read 3 paragraphs and thus can't be bothered to learn as Vatsim members. For the founders, it's all about numbers and inclusion so it will never happen.

Matt Bartels
VP: Marketing & Communication
## vpmkt (at) vatsim.net
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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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The one thing I want to see but will not happen is a very basic 5 question entrance exam on the CoC and pilot etiquette that must be p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed prior to being issued a CID.

 

Hear hear! Excellent idea.

Martin Loxbo

Director Sweden FIR

VATSIM Scandinavia

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What about dedicating one day every week, possibly on a smaller area/airport, as "beginner friendly", where pilots and/or controllers are allowed to make more mistakes than what would be expected at other airports, at other times? (Or staffing two airports to enable simple A->B flight plans for beginners)

It could also lower the barrier to entry for beginners. Some people who are genuinely interested in learning how to fly properly on VATSIM may be intimidated by the prospect of getting yelled at for doing things wrong, or ruining the fun for others.

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What about dedicating one day every week, possibly on a smaller area/airport, as "beginner friendly", where pilots and/or controllers are allowed to make more mistakes than what would be expected at other airports, at other times? (Or staffing two airports to enable simple A->B flight plans for beginners)

It could also lower the barrier to entry for beginners. Some people who are genuinely interested in learning how to fly properly on VATSIM may be intimidated by the prospect of getting yelled at for doing things wrong, or ruining the fun for others.

Great idea, but not really hitting on what's being expressed here. I'd say even fewer people would attend an event for beginners than just take am exam sadly.

 

Going on what Matt said, simple things like "Tower is the only controller online, who do you contact for clearance" and a question about connecting onan active runway is less than too much to ask for. I'd be surprised to see hiw many people read the COC when they first joined.

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I disagree with this. This not real world. This is a game to have fun with.

 

That right there is the attitude most folks seem to be taking, but failing to understand that even 'games' have rules that must be followed.

If the Controllers who volunteer their time must go through training to get their ratings, then Pilots if they want to fly on the network should be required to take whatever training is required to fly on it. Should be room for improvement for both. That way the 'game' would be fun for those who want to play, and the hobby (for those of us that actually come on to learn and get knowledge out of it) would be more enjoyable.

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I agree there maybe a need for some entrance quiz, however also believe that would have a negative effect on VATSIM membership and development in the long term.

 

As a counter argument could I offer this position;

 

Controllers are like sport umpires, sales [Mod - Happy Thoughts]istants, and most pursuits in life. When you agree to do these things 99% of the time you are expected to have a higher level of knowledge than the player, shopper, or whatever they may be. As a controller the pilots expect that you guys have a good operational knowledge, and for the most, I would say pilots are happy that VATSIM has ATC training.

 

I think that VATSIM is a fantastic environment, even with allowing pilots to fly with 0 experience. However that may be the very reason you guys can be frustrated also, because if it gets to difficult for the pilot they log off.

 

I knew next to nothing when I joined VATSIM, and I think if we made it for those with a higher level of knowledge at entry we would loose in the long term. Everyone has to start somewhere. Let's welcome them in, and educate.

Sean

C1/O P3

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I have never, in almost twenty years of flight simulation flying, considered this a game, although I guess technically it is.

 

even 'games' have rules that must be followed

 

Even the Call of Duty genre of games, and those to me are far more "game" than "simulation", have rules. Friendly fire is not tolerated and can promptly end your mission or objective. "Team killing" can get you kicked from the server.

 

So why shouldn't VATSIM also have rules. Rules because to some it is far more than a game. Rules because even to those who consider it a game, they accept "rules" that XBox imposes in their "games", so why not on VATSIM as well?

 

You cannot fly or control on VATSIM and expect "no rules/no fouls" and then go on XBox, snipe your buddy and "laugh" when you get kicked.

 

Randy

Randy Tyndall - KBOI

ZLA I-11/vACC Portugal P4

“A ship is always safe in the harbor. But that’s not why they build ships” --Michael Bevington ID 814931, Former VATSIM Board of Governors Vice President of Pilot Training

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I knew next to nothing when I joined VATSIM, and I think if we made it for those with a higher level of knowledge at entry we would loose in the long term. Everyone has to start somewhere. Let's welcome them in, and educate.

 

So basically status quo. Got it.

 

We aren't asking for a lot here guys - a basic, "did you read the rules of the network" test would suffice. Your initial pilot quality increases as the mistakes like connecting on a runway, improper unicom usage, and others go down. A mandatory P1 rating would be awesome, but it's a step that should be looked at after a smaller step has been taken.

Ryan Geckler - GK | Former VATUSA3 - Division Training Manager

VATSIM Minneapolis ARTCC | FAA Miami ARTCC 

Cross the Pond Planning Team

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Users are already required to select whether or not they have read the info. If the thinking is that having a few more boxes to further state the same thing, is going to change things, we're fooling ourselves

 

Saying you've read the docomeents is not the same thing as proving you've read the docomeents.

Ryan Geckler - GK | Former VATUSA3 - Division Training Manager

VATSIM Minneapolis ARTCC | FAA Miami ARTCC 

Cross the Pond Planning Team

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