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A Strong Case for a Mandatory P1 for Pilots


Tom Dowd
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Knowing the absolute basics yes, I agree.

Earlier in the thread, people were ranting about new people not knowing a specific sid/star.

But were they asked if they know how to do it.

Or was it a quick garbled canyouacceptthesupercalafrigic9adeparture rwy 9.

 

All a new guy hears is blah blah blah runway 9.

So he answers yes, because he knows what runway 9 is and doesnt want to piss off the grumpy controller.

He doesn't know what his equipment code means in his flight plan, pfskyplanner-g gave it to him.

 

So off he tootles in his default fsx 737 thinking he is doing the right thing, all of a sudden the departure controller is shouting and carrying on like a muppet. Because realism, new guy logs off in a panic and never comes back.

 

But hey, he p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed the exam and didnt log on sitting on the active.

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Jonathon, seems I may have missed the good crowd, but as a whole vatsim has been great.

I have something like 1200 hours on vatsim, and I shouldn't only highlight the bad bits, it's the internet and it happens.

 

But I'm trying (badly) to point out that the most vocal people who bang on about the lack of quality pilots are the same type of people I reference.

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Knowing the absolute basics yes, I agree.

Earlier in the thread, people were ranting about new people not knowing a specific sid/star.

Those people don't represent the majority of us. The core of this issue isn't about SIDs/STARs - I've stated various times in this thread that I don't care about those. What I care is whether you know that you can't spawn on taxiways or runways or if you know that you can't chat with other pilots or scream "HELP HELP HELP ENGINE FAILURE" 5 times down a busy ATC frequency. Both of which I've encountered in the past.

 

But were they asked if they know how to do it.

Or was it a quick garbled canyouacceptthesupercalafrigic9adeparture rwy 9.

That's also an issue with VATSIM itself. The voice codec is...well, rubbish. But that's another topic.

 

All a new guy hears is blah blah blah runway 9.

So he answers yes, because he knows what runway 9 is and doesnt want to piss off the grumpy controller.

He doesn't know what his equipment code means in his flight plan...So off he tootles in his default fsx 737 thinking he is doing the right thing, all of a sudden the departure controller is shouting and carrying on like a muppet. Because realism, new guy logs off in a panic and never comes back.

 

But hey, he p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed the exam and didnt log on sitting on the active.

Let me point out the issues with this example.

 

1. You should never accept instructions if you don't understand them. This is stated in the PRC and in multiple VATSIM training guides on the internet. It's standard procedure and has also been repeated many, MANY times as advice to newer pilots. This sort of thing would also be covered in an entry quiz.

2. Equipment codes don't matter on VATSIM, to be honest. That part is irrelevant.

3. Relating to number 1, if you accept an instruction without asking it implies you know how to do it. If you then go on and screw it all up, you throw a wrench into any departure ATC coordination plans (which matters a lot at busy airports), which understandably can get ATC in a bit of a twist. If you state in your flight plan that you're a new pilot and you ask for clarification/alternative instructions such as vectors when you first call up, all this trouble can be avoided.

4. ATC shouldn't be 'shouting' down a frequency. Where have you gotten the idea that they do? The most I've ever seen is a strict telling-off and a formal request to disconnect with a link provided to the PRC by the controller, and that was with a pilot who had continuously ignored and refused to acknowledge in the slightest ATC instructions for half an hour, if not more (since when I logged on until just after I took off). If an ATC is shouting down the frequency, they are in the wrong as well since they also have a duty to help newbies instead of kicking them off the network without a second thought, as you imply.

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Jonathon, seems I may have missed the good crowd, but as a whole vatsim has been great.

I have something like 1200 hours on vatsim, and I shouldn't only highlight the bad bits, it's the internet and it happens.

I completely agree. VATSIM as a whole for me has been fantastic. However, I and a lot of others have been noticing what feels to be a sharp increase in the amount of people who flagrantly disregard ATC, intrude on runways, continuously spam "HELP ENGINE FIRE" on a frequency... You get the idea. With such a quiz, those sort of situations would be mitigated because new pilots would find out through videos/the PRC that no, you actually shouldn't do that on VATSIM.

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We're in agreement there, Andrew. Not recognizing and professionally dealing with (as in helping!) new pilots is the description of a blatantly bad controller on VATSIM. You can be as hardcore on vectors and sequences you like, you're still not up to par if you can't deal with the new guys. VATSIM is a learning environment, period. The sid/star/ils mumbo jumbo should be way down the line.

 

Thus, the title of this thread is misleading, because a mandatory pilot rating in itself is not what we need here. It's what Jonathan and I have been talking about, something that solidifies the basic stuff. (In our opinions).

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The people jumping up and down in here are likely the same people who pm you online to tell you that x airline doesn't fly that route/aircraft in real life and that I'm ruining their life, then call a sup when they are told to shut up and mind their own business.

Quite an [Mod - Happy Thoughts]umption

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hes not far off no not all of them, but spend some time on some of the VATSIM social media pages like the facebook page, youll see some of the very attitudes some of us are talking about. the forum is a well controlled place these days, thankfully, compared to some of the other pages. even as hard as the network admins have worked to control those other pages, the mohicans can go wild pretty often. its a bit more controlled to even a year ago, but doesnt take much to get them going. if you post a screenshot with even one switch out of place, they are on you telling you what a complete moron you are for not doing it right lol there are some real peaches around the network and some will do exactly what Andrew mentioned, send you a PM complaining about your flight

 

i pray for some of them but hes definitely not far off with that comment

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I'm sure that those people exist, but, they don't invalidate the sentiment that new members who don't know anything about aviation and have no desire to learn it have no business on VATSIM. I think we can all agree that procedural knowledge somewhere in between 0% and 100% is acceptable. Arguing only the extreme cases dilutes the validity of the discussion.

Cheers,

-R.

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the sentiment that new members who don't know anything about aviation and have no desire to learn it have no business on VATSIM.

 

well heres my problem with that. VATSIM has and as far as im aware will always be open to all. those users may not have a desire now to learn, but many of those eventually turn around and decide to do so. so while it may be some users opinion that they dont belong here, thats not the sentiment of those that founded this network. and ill quote part of the founders letter below which they had to write the last time people were up in arms over the same issues.

 

to end, yes sir they absolutely belong here, that gives us at least the chance to bring them around. it may take weeks, months or even years. but some do come around. certainly worked with me, i had no clue what i was doing probably my first year on the network (then SATCO), but eventually i decided to take it further and thankfully a few old timers were happy enough to share their knowledge with me. that wouldnt have happened if hurdles had been put in my way to get to that point. we still see users with 8 and 9 numbered ID's coming back, often with the same comment of them once being immature and now want to get back into it and do it properly. if we wouldve simply banned them from the start, they wouldve never had the chance to try the network to start. i compare that to that child that walks into a hangar one day and asks the guys there "hey is that a Boeing!" and they laugh at him and tell him to go away. rather then doing what many actually do and teach him a little, and build that interest in aviation even further. the opportunity to do this is lost if we simply turn those types of users away

 

The core principles of VATSIM are found in the preamble to the Code of Conduct. Above all else, VATSIM is supposed to be an environment which is fun and, at the same time, educational and a realistic simulation of real world aviation. VATSIM is supposed to be an INCLUSIVE rather than an EXCLUSIVE community. That means that the entertainment, educational and realistic simulation aspects of VATSIM have to work together and otherwise complement one another. No one aspect should have any greater importance over or be pursued to the detriment of any of the other core principles.

 

This also means that while we strive for realism, we must be willing to make compromises in that regard. The reason for this is that there is an important difference between the real world and the VATSIM world that some in our community are failing to grasp or choosing to ignore. The real world aviation community comprised of real world pilots and ATC is an exclusive community. No one is permitted to legally fly or control in the real world before they have undergone extensive training. That is simply not the case in VATSIM as we are an inclusive community.

 

There will always be people of differing age, backgrounds and starting knowledge about piloting and ATC when they join VATSIM. We are observing a growing trend of intolerance towards new members who are not as educated in piloting and ATC as other senior staff and members might be which goes against the inclusiveness aspect of VATSIM. Further feeding this unwanted fire are those staff members who are openly creating a culture of exclusivity through the implementation of overly stringent rules and training regimens for ATC, all in the name of realism. What this has in fact resulted in is a shift away from the fun and educational aspects of VATSIM (i.e. removing the balance we tried so carefully to create) towards a more heavily weighted realism aspect. The perception and/or justification is that this is a great benefit to VATSIM as we are making things “as real as it gets”. While this might be acceptable if this resulted in no effect on the fun and education aspects, this has clearly not been the case.

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I don't agree with your interpretation. I believe the open letter makes the case against those that you mentioned before, i.e. the people that get upset if you fly a route that UAL doesn't fly using a UAL callsign, or using a different aircraft type or a non-RNAV route whereas the real thing does.

 

However:

VATSIM is supposed to be an environment which is fun and, at the same time, educational and a realistic simulation of real world aviation.
There will always be people of differing age, backgrounds and starting knowledge about piloting and ATC when they join VATSIM.
(emphasis added)

Where in there do you see the notion that we have to put up with people who have no interest in learning how to do things realistically? I'm not saying they need to come in perfect. I'm saying they need to come in with the understanding that they're expected to learn as they go, and not simply go.

Cheers,

-R.

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where do you get the notion that we shouldnt put up with these users? in fact its even covered in the CoC. so not sure how youre interpreting it in that way.

 

in fact if you read further into that letter, #3 specifically where they talked about the beginning of the training program, they mentioned incentives for people to go through the program. to this day i believe we have failed in this aspect and is probably while even though the program has attracted plenty of users, it still falls a bit short of attracting users that actually need the help but reluctant in some way. there arent any real incentives for some of the more troubled users to be attracted to the program. adding some more incentives may help get those users in. maybe discounts on certain products, gift cards. etc.. pretty common form of attracting users to walk in the doors. free slurpees work for me! point is though the only way we are going to attract those types is if they actually get something in return, for them , knowledge isnt the attraction for those types of users, but the side affect is definitely a plus for the network we've taken someone who was reluctant or didnt want to go through it, and now they have. with any luck theyve retained at least some of it at the end. win win in my book

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A. 10. Since this is a learning environment, there are times when a pilot may encounter a new air traffic controller who is in the process of learning his airspace and/or general air traffic control procedures. The same may be true of the controller who may find himself issuing ATC to a pilot flying online for the first time. Everyone should remember to exercise patience and courtesy to these new pilots and controllers. (emphasis added)

... no mention of the ones who still don't know how to comply with instructions after the tenth or 100th time, because they have no desire to do so...

B. 10. A pilot, to the best of his or her ability, should make all attempts to comply with valid air traffic control instructions.

... no mention of the ones who have no intention of complying because they don't get what we're trying to do here...

{epilogue} Remember, the primary goals of VATSIM are to educate, to provide a realistic simulation of flying and air traffic control and, most importantly, to provide a fun environment for everyone to enjoy our hobby. (emphasis added)

Still not seeing "we have to put up with people who aren't here to learn"

 

You and I are reading the same exact docomeents and arriving at the exact opposite conclusions. At this point we'll just have to agree to disagree, man. I think if we're going to keep up the pretense that this place is a learning environment we ought to at least back it up with some attempt to teach. You don't think so, fine; guess I won't change your mind.

Cheers,

-R.

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Not sacrificing -- balancing. That's the word the open letter specifically used. Right now due to the advent of pilots coming in with less of a base of knowledge than they used to in eras past, I think the balance is shifting away from some semblance of realism in the name of all-inclusiveness. We need to shift that balance back so that inclusivity is still tempered with a desire to simulate aviation realistically. Making some form of education, no matter how cursory it is, a mandatory part of the enrollment process achieves that balance, or at least it makes the network's goal of fun yet realistic a bit more clear.

Cheers,

-R.

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Honestly, this entire thread just pains me to read.

 

Asking people to p[Mod - Happy Thoughts] an exam on the PRC or even just the CoC isn't exactly a huge deal. It forces a new member to expose themselves to the rules of the network rather than clicking a "yes" button. Will it hurt membership? Maybe but I don't care. I don't want to share this network with people who don't care about following the rules, sorry. I'm all for educating new members, after all that's how I've gotten to the point I am at, but there is a distinct difference between a new member wanting to learn and somebody that just doesn't care. This isn't the FSX multiplayer server. I don't get why there is a big controversy about this rather small change (that only affects new members).

Ryan Parry - 965346

VATUSA Western Region Manager

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Seems to me that the last few posts here are running a completely parallell discussion. We don't need ratings, schooling or anything like that. It's not about forcing out newbies. It's not about excluding anyone below a certain level of dedication or ability. It's about making sure that people who register are routed in such a way during that process, so that they actually understands that they're not just creating a user with any odd FS multiplayer group, but instead are shown where to acquire the basic information should they wish to expand their horizon, and what not to do to ruin the experience for others. That is all.

 

I fear that bringing back the drivers license analogy will derail the thread faster than a TGV on tram tracks, but I just want the new members to know where the front seat of the car is and which side the wheel is on before they put the ride mode in Sport and step on the throttle.

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...which side the wheel is on...

Left? Right? It depends :mrgreen:

 

I think Jon, Rob, and Magnus have more or less captured the general sentiment that members of the network are feeling. An exam on the COC with guidance to further research, as proposed by them, seems the best suited to keep VATSIM both inclusive and promoting education, while mitigating the effects of the check-box.

 

I thought I'd address a few other things that came up in the technicality sense.

1) Cheating - I don't think there's a whole lot of variety of question types that are possible. For that reason, a question bank would be limited. The only real thing we can do is randomize the choices and questions every time. Another thing that might be beneficial is having the questions stored as images? It makes the user take an extra step before copy-pasting into Google.

2) Language - the COC is in English. As long as the questions are not oddly worded, the exam should be able to be completed with the same level of English that is required to read the COC.

3) Guidance - I think that every question should have a "hint" feature, which would send them to the right page to find their answer. Sure, it does the searching for them, but it also means that they'll have to read a paragraph or so to find the answer. EDIT (0304Z): The purpose is to get them to read the material, not to hold them back/delay them searching for it of course.

Edited by Guest

Josh Glottmann
Deputy Air Traffic Manager
Oakland ARTCC
[email protected]

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The people jumping up and down in here are likely the same people who pm you online to tell you that x airline doesn't fly that route/aircraft in real life and that I'm ruining their life, then call a sup when they are told to shut up and mind their own business.

Quite an [Mod - Happy Thoughts]umption

hes definitely not far off with that comment

'Not far off' doesn't cut it here. He's making [Mod - Happy Thoughts]umptions about particular people (the ones participating in this thread) that we're har[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ing other members when he doesn't have any proof of it. That's disrespectful. He can't have any knowledge what PMs we are or aren't sending.

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no thats called a generalization, and in fact hes doing the exact same thing everyone else is doing. he didnt say he was directing it at anyone in this topic specifically. just as some people are lumping and mixing new pilots with "undesirables"

 

if people are going to start taking things personally, honestly the discussion is done. if we're beyond that point already, then as Kyle (the VP of the network) has already clarified where the network is going with the ideas, anything further should be proposed to them if you want it.

 

posting here is simply for debate, if you want the work done, someones got to put it down and put the work in to propose it

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I thought I'd address a few other things that came up in the technicality sense.

1) Cheating - I don't think there's a whole lot of variety of question types that are possible. For that reason, a question bank would be limited. The only real thing we can do is randomize the choices and questions every time. Another thing that might be beneficial is having the questions stored as images? It makes the user take an extra step before copy-pasting into Google.

2) Language - the COC is in English. As long as the questions are not oddly worded, the exam should be able to be completed with the same level of English that is required to read the COC.

3) Guidance - I think that every question should have a "hint" feature, which would send them to the right page to find their answer. Sure, it does the searching for them, but it also means that they'll have to read a paragraph or so to find the answer. EDIT (0304Z): The purpose is to get them to read the material, not to hold them back/delay them searching for it of course.

 

Adding to your points:

 

1 - Another solution might be to de-validate the test if one exits the tab (i.e. changes focus to another tab/window). I don't really think any anti-cheating measures are really necessary, though - most people have the moral integrity not to, in my opinion, and even the process of searching for information to put in the quiz gives people exposure to the information that they wouldn't have received if they had simply clicked 'Connect' right after registering to the network..

 

2 - Agreed. To those who say that such a test would have to be in many languages, the PRC, CoC, and all current methods about learning how VATSIM work out of local vACC training guides are in English. If you expect people to learn in English without a quiz but then say that we can't have a quiz because of the effort it'd take to translate it, isn't that a bit hypocritical?

 

3 - Nothing more to say here. Excellent suggestion.

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  • Board of Governors

I thought I'd address a few other things that came up in the technicality sense.

1) Cheating - I don't think there's a whole lot of variety of question types that are possible. For that reason, a question bank would be limited. The only real thing we can do is randomize the choices and questions every time. Another thing that might be beneficial is having the questions stored as images? It makes the user take an extra step before copy-pasting into Google.

2) Language - the COC is in English. As long as the questions are not oddly worded, the exam should be able to be completed with the same level of English that is required to read the COC.

3) Guidance - I think that every question should have a "hint" feature, which would send them to the right page to find their answer. Sure, it does the searching for them, but it also means that they'll have to read a paragraph or so to find the answer. EDIT (0304Z): The purpose is to get them to read the material, not to hold them back/delay them searching for it of course.

 

Adding to your points:

 

1 - Another solution might be to de-validate the test if one exits the tab (i.e. changes focus to another tab/window). I don't really think any anti-cheating measures are really necessary, though - most people have the moral integrity not to, in my opinion, and even the process of searching for information to put in the quiz gives people exposure to the information that they wouldn't have received if they had simply clicked 'Connect' right after registering to the network..

 

As one of those old crusty grumpy controllers from the hyper-realism "dark ages" allow me to list what pilots can do to turn my frown upside down.

 

Fly a heading, maintain an altitude, not spawn on a runway, not accept an ATC clearance you don't understand, not tell ATC what you're "going to" do (ie. controlling yourself (bad attitude)), and show a willingness to learn the right way. I'll take a pilot at 0% who can fly a heading and maintain altitude who's willing to better his or herself everyday over a cocky 98% pilot who's going to do whatever he wants and disregard anything ATC says.

 

It doesn't seem like this is too much to ask to keep 98% of the controllers happy.

 

I can work with somebody who is unable to follow more realistic procedures and get them from point a to point b, in the hopes that maybe next time they'll be just a little bit better. Those little bits move that pilot closer to full competency every time they fly. I can't work with somebody that doesn't want to use ATC services and do it all on his own because he "knows better" than the controller. (Then why are you flying online?[A separate discussion]).

 

I couldn't care less if you cheat on an pre-enrollment knowledge check, because if you're going to cheat it means; A. You care enough to cheat. B. You will have read the correct answer to cheat. C. You will have read the correct answer a second time and selected it to complete your cheat.

 

As an aside, I don't consider going to an official source look up an answer cheating. It's an open book exam! Cheating would be getting the answers in the form of AACBDAAB and not taking a look at the actual questions. That's easily countered by not making the exam multiple choice in the ABCD format and randomizing the answers.

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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I don't consider going to an official source look up an answer cheating. It's an open book exam! Cheating would be getting the answers in the form of AACBDAAB and not taking a look at the actual questions. That's easily countered by not making the exam multiple choice in the ABCD format and randomizing the answers.

Amen. I don't particularly care if the students at VATSTAR read our lesson material (*), or get their answer from YouTube, Google, the PRC, their VA, some other VATSIM- or aviation-related site, or knew it already. The point is to see whether they know it. If they do, and they retain it just long enough to click on the correct answer, it's a win. If they retain it long enough to employ it in their next flight, it's a HUGE win.

 

(* Okay, I care A LITTLE, because I did single-handedly write all that lesson material myself over the course of a year and a half, LOL...)

Cheers,

-R.

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