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A Strong Case for a Mandatory P1 for Pilots


Tom David
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Back to our situation, wouldn't it be more feasible give the newbies a sort of "free p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]" of 6 months during which they are allowed to fly freely and they are encouraged to join a school and get a rating?

If, in 6 months they are able to get at least P1 they are allowed to stay, otherwise.. well, probably if they cannot even get P1 maybe they are not interested in learning and so they are out of VATSIM scope so I think VATSIM would be on the right side avoiding them to connect to the network.

See, here's the problem with that. Most new members are knowledgeable enough by month six that they have almost no violations (maybe a sleeping pilot here and there). The majority of significant issues (connecting on runways, not being able to control their aircraft/execute ATC instructions, etc.) happens before that.

Maybe it was just me, but when I was learning how to drive, I drove especially slow, and was fairly "scared" to even go 1 mph above the speed limit. A lot of the new pilots on VATSIM don't know there's a speed limit (metaphorically speaking) and will just start violating rules off the bat. I'm sure most don't do this on purpose, but they just don't know the rules. It's a lot easier to click the big "YES" button on sign up than to actually read the rules. Hence, why we need some immediate test.

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

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There is obviously some frustration.

 

I don't believe it is correct to say VATSIM is dead, dying, or cannot change. That is an opinion. VATSIM does not have any paid staff, everyone who puts there hand up to fill a position of authority does so for everyone's benefit (in the vast majority of cases).

 

In a community, if you see a need for change, then why not spend the time and do a project proposal. It has happened, when things get tackled the right way. Change is possible. If VATSIM changed every time there was a handful of people posting the same idea on the forum, we would be going round faster than a merry-go-round on steroids.

 

Forums are a great way of gauging community thought, but only a very small percentage of the community look at the forum.

 

People like Ross Carlson step up to the plate on behalf of the community. They spend inordinate amounts of time and effort preparing proposals, and software in his case, to benefit the rest of us.

 

Write a proposal, throw it up for community (forum visitor) comment, and then send it to the board. Simples......

 

VATSIM is us, it can change and has. It may be slow, but we are all volunteers.

Sean

C1/O P3

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Back to our situation, wouldn't it be more feasible give the newbies a sort of "free p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]" of 6 months during which they are allowed to fly freely and they are encouraged to join a school and get a rating?

If, in 6 months they are able to get at least P1 they are allowed to stay, otherwise.. well, probably if they cannot even get P1 maybe they are not interested in learning and so they are out of VATSIM scope so I think VATSIM would be on the right side avoiding them to connect to the network.

See, here's the problem with that. Most new members are knowledgeable enough by month six that they have almost no violations (maybe a sleeping pilot here and there). The majority of significant issues (connecting on runways, not being able to control their aircraft/execute ATC instructions, etc.) happens before that.

Maybe it was just me, but when I was learning how to drive, I drove especially slow, and was fairly "scared" to even go 1 mph above the speed limit. A lot of the new pilots on VATSIM don't know there's a speed limit (metaphorically speaking) and will just start violating rules off the bat. I'm sure most don't do this on purpose, but they just don't know the rules. It's a lot easier to click the big "YES" button on sign up than to actually read the rules. Hence, why we need some immediate test.

 

Agreed, this does not prevent mistakes... but maybe could be more smooth solution than an immediate barrier.

 

I also agree with Sean, probably a studied proposition would be considered.

Lorenzo Stobbione

P1 Rating - VATSIM Online Pilot

P2 Rating - VATSIM Flight Fundamentals

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Well, that is a barrier that should work but keep in mind that one could easily answer to the test with browser open.

 

and I would happily let them! It means that they looked something up and thus now have learned something about participating in our network!

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 know controllers who check VATSPY or other tools prior to their session just to gauge traffic. If they see a lot of incompetency coming in (very easily identified by callsigns and routes) they just don't bother to sign on. Not worth the headaches.
Wait, there are people who doesn't do this? Who? Why? Do these people enjoy suffering?
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Sean said it.

 

EDIT:

Forums are a great way of gauging community thought, but only a very small percentage of the community look at the forum.
This is of the important bits: we only catch a fraction of VATSIM's members with these discussions here. IMHO you can [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ume that maybe 5% of those "newbie horror pilots" frequent our forum here. That's the reality. Edited by Guest
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Interesting thread (despite being a semi-annual occurrence)

 

Having read through all of it (slow work day) a few thoughts cross my mind. I'll share them in the hope they're useful. Please pardon the length of my ramblings.

 

ATC training is required, and quite frankly that makes perfect sense as it is a hinge pin to the entire network being useful.

Currently, pilot training is not required and the debate is whether it should be (in some form, to some degree or other).

 

Unlike (most) ATC, it seems that we have several more types of pilots, so the question might be more about which demographic you're trying to help.

 

In the broadest sense, I see 4 types of pilot:

 

1> Trolls - These are the inconsiderate, malicious, guys who log on simply to be a disruptive PITA to all.

 

2> Incompetent -- Unfortunately, this category is too large -- it has subcategories -- Is this guy just going to be a troll? Is he just playing a "game" and is uncaring about aviation & procedure? Is he genuinely interested but unknowledgeable and untutored? Is he a dedicated learner trying to get up to speed? You simply can't tell with this group ... initially. All of them will bust radio calls, clearances, headings and procedures etc.

 

3> Competent -- This pilot, either P# rated or not, is basically fitting in, and clearly trying to do things right. Sure, he'll make mistakes, but he's trying, and (hopefully) gradually improving. Realistically, he probably is the guy who takes up a significant amount of ATC time with multiple readbacks, explanations, etc. This is the pilot you want to encourage to work on their ratings if possible as it will help clean up those mistakes.

 

4> Expert -- this pilot has it down. He may have RL aviation experience, or perhaps a rating or few, or if not, odds are good he's considered them. The mistakes are minimum, the procedures are correct, and he's a guy or gal that ATC enjoys dealing with.

 

So, first things first -- NO amount of testing, training, or cajoling will help with the Category 1 Trolls -- full stop. They'll click whatever they need to, google the bare minimum to p[Mod - Happy Thoughts] a "test", and then proceed with their "agenda" unabated. Weeding them out will *always* be a game of Whack-A-Mole.

 

Category 3 & 4 guys have probably been on several months already (or may have RL experience). An entrance / training requirement doesn't buy you anything there (imho), unless it is a push to earn P# ratings.

 

So, you're really talking about the "Incompetent" category here.

 

For the uncaring gamer, there are only 3 finite possibilities. 1 - they'll become a Troll. 2 - They'll remain incompetent until they get bored and move along (typically to some other "game"). 3 - Perhaps, a little spark of interest will occur, and they'll transition to the untutored sub-group. Once again, there's nothing much you can do with the first two options. Perhaps a .wallop might wake up the second guy, but the odds are probably fairly low. You're really hoping the 3rd guy is the one you have, and something will spark their interest up enough to motivate them to start the learning journey. The guy who's already interested, will probably move into the "Competent" category on his own with a few months of flying and knowledge of where the information he needs can be found, but a gentle push might help move that process along.

 

In these cases, I truly do think that a small "Free Intro Period" (30-60 days?) of no requirements whatsoever, would be valuable, followed by a small, self taken test (no more than 10 multiple guess questions) to [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ess their initial progress.

 

That gives plenty of time to try VATsim out for the non-aviation "gamer" to see if it interests him or not, and provides a gentle push to nudge the interested guy along, and perhaps even initiate him into the idea of ratings study. For an actual wannabe pilot, this small self-administered online test would not be a hardship, particularly if it's made easy and simple enough, and might build enough confidence to look into future ratings.

 

To my mind, the only guy it might turn away is the guy who already isn't all that interested in aviation anyway -- It certainly won't stop a troll, and the level of that particular test would be a snap for anyone with any significant sim (or RL) experience. Bear in mind that in order to even get ON VATsim, the burden of effort (installing your sim, downloading the client, registering, etc.) is already more involved than answering a 10 question online multiple choice test on VATsim / Aviation 101.

 

This seems like a pretty minimal / simple change to me, that may (or may not) help, but where the actual risk and effort to implement it is pretty low either way.

 

It might be interesting to have a sense of how many new people sign up / month, compared with how many of them are still flying 2-3 months later. That would, at least, give a minimal cost-benefit metric (ie retention) to see if it's even worth the effort at all, or whether that additional effort might have a positive impact or not.

 

 

Regards,

Jim

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[...] Vatsim training for pilots sucks.

 

There is always room for improvement. I will say though that in some cases a more adequate choice of words is definitely appropriate, given that some excellent efforts are being made in providing VATSIM approved pilot training by a variety of different groups: from Virtual Airlines to individual VATSIM Regions to even a single ARTCC and more. I hope that those members who have and still are trying hard and are putting in a lot of time and effort into creating and following through with pilot training courses don't place too much importance on what is quoted above. They deserve a huge thank you more than anything else!

Michael Mund-Hoym
Assistant to the VATSIM Vice President of Membership
VATSIM Network Supervisor


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I have seen some trolls, but honestly I don't see them that often. The last time I saw a troll was a month or 2 ago, and it was some kid just being ridiculous...

 

I just took my p1 rating now and p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed it. I only got 2 questions wrong, and the one question I didn't know. The other I got wrong was about execution of commands, in which I answered c (do both, or execute first if text) figuring that when you are voice, you usually can do both at the same time. But I still knew that doing what ATC says always comes first. The one I didn't know was what to do when no supervisor is online. I [Mod - Happy Thoughts]umed it was to ask for help on unicom, but I was wrong!

 

The thing is, though, it was easy for me to do as I've been on flying for a few months. I don't think, as a newbie, that I would have p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed the test. Not without guidance. I think, if anything, it would be nice to have people who can share a cockpit with someone new, and give them instructions. I don't think it's a small task, but I also don't think that many newcommers will p[Mod - Happy Thoughts] the courses, and it might frustrate some into not wanting to join...

 

I hope that makes sense!!

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The other I got wrong was about execution of commands, in which I answered c (do both, or execute first if text) figuring that when you are voice, you usually can do both at the same time.

 

Out of curiosity, what was supposedly the correct answer? As a controller it's very frustrating when pilots on voice take 10-20 seconds to reply because they decide to execute the instruction in their sim and only after reply on the frequency. More often than not it leads me to think that the pilot didn't get the transmission, so I give the instruction again. Or other pilots who are eager to get a word in will start talking. If you are on voice, reply straight away! You should be able to turn the heading knob or select a new MCP altitude while simultaneously pushing down your PTT and talking.

Martin Loxbo

Director Sweden FIR

VATSIM Scandinavia

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the answer is the same as real world. fly the plane first.

 

being on voice means you can often react and reply at the same time without issue, but thats not the answer as it can confuse some into thinking not to do the action until they can get a reply in, on a busy frequency it could cause problems.

 

always do the action first regardless if you can get a reply in right away (which online we all know radio etiquette is something desired but few have ) seeing the aircraft doing the action on the scope should confirm to the controller that it infact was received

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Sorry for the thread drift, but the problem with this answer is that I've had people deliberately delaying their response on voice until they've set everything up in the aircraft. Could be heading, altitude or speed change, or squawk code or direct to a point. This completely destroys the flow on a busy frequency.

 

When questioned why they are taking such a painfully long time to respond, they point to the "rules" saying you should fly the plane first. This is only true (speaking real life now), in the sense that you first get the airplane under control (aviate), you then make sure you are not pointing it towards a mountain for example (navigate), and only then you talk to ATC, cabin crew, company etc (communicate). It's not about delaying responses to routine transmissions. It would be a good idea for VATSIM to revise this question to make sure it reflects how you should actually operate!

Martin Loxbo

Director Sweden FIR

VATSIM Scandinavia

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A good thing I've found is to make sure you are prepared ahead of time for any changes atc will issue. Keep your heading indicator pointing in your current direction (as an example) so that if atc says "jet blue 1986 turn right heading 180", you know you can switch to heading hold immediately and then start turning the knob right until you reach 180. I would imagine a lot of new pilots don't do that and it makes it harder on them to follow the directions given.

 

For me it's uaually:

 

1. Get message from atc

2. Start to do what atc requests (so if told to turn right, start the turn)

3. Contact atc while adjusting aircraft.

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There's one thing I really haven't read yet, though Jim Hurts touched upon it: What is the motive behind any given pilot flying on VATSIM? Using Jim's categories of pilots, all but the troll have motive to learn how to fly on the network. It boggles my mind that any non-troll pilot would spend the time getting VATSIM access set up (the account, the software installed, the hardware required), then jump on the network with the desire to do whatever they please. That's the whole point of VATSIM, isn't it, as far as we pilots are concerned? Have a human presence behind the ATC, to make the experience as real as it can get.

 

Maybe that's the statement we need to get across to these new pilots. Reinforce the concept that VATSIM is trying to make the sim experience "as real as it gets", and it applies to pilots as well as ATC. Yes, it'll take patience on both sides. Yes, it takes work. Yes, there will be reading involved. Yes, that means saying "Unable" when they're unable, for matters of ignorance as well as capabilities. The ultimate goal is to cut those ignorant "Unables" down to a minimum, and make everyone's lives easier.

 

If their goal is to jump into the flight sim, achieve instant gratification, and disregard ATC... then why fly on VATSIM? May as well stay offline and ignore the programmed ATC.

 

Get that message across, weed out the trolls as best as possible, have patience with the rest, and make the pilot training as accessible and easy as possible. Easier said than done, but it is what it is. We may lose the pilots that don't want to put the time and work into being better... but did we really ever have them in the first place?

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as far as making the training thats available more accessible. how many, from the start of this topic, have reached out to some of the public ATO's to see what you can do for them as far as getting the word out and attracting more users to them, getting involved, etc...?

 

not talking about the VA ATO's, mainly cause those require you join them, which often tends to turn users away from those. but there are several public ATO's, like VATStar who have pretty good setups and im sure could use more

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how many, from the start of this topic, have reached out to some of the public ATO's to see what you can do for them as far as getting the word out {...} there are several public ATO's, like VATStar who have pretty good setups and im sure could use more

Thank you, and yes, we appreciate any outreach efforts anyone is willing to provide. We've still got openings for Instructors, as well.

Cheers,

-R.

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We have C1 rated controllers that still think they can push their luck when it comes to following procdures, policys and following the advice of senior staff members. What makes you think that mandatory pilot training is going to change the ways of new pilots.

 

 

Given that the OP has not responded to this thread since post 3, I dont expect any follow up to my question or statement.

 

What I do know is that at least 50% of the points raised by the OP can be debunked, because what is being asked is neither a requirement or a rule of the network.

Kirk Christie - VATPAC C3

VATPAC Undercover ATC Agent

Worldflight Perth 737-800 Crew Member

956763

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Well if you want to "debunk" nonsensical points of views of posters still active in this thread...

 

We have C1 rated controllers that still think they can push their luck when it comes to following procdures, policys and following the advice of senior staff members. What makes you think that mandatory pilot training is going to change the ways of new pilots.

Do a large majority of controllers fit that bill?

 

Put another way: Are there laws against stealing where you live? If the large majority of people follow those laws but a few criminals don't, would you argue that those laws don't help (since they aren't 100.0% effective) and thus their adoption way-back-when was a futile effort of bettering the overall situation?

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The same can be said about pilots, do A large majority of pilots fit the same bill?

 

Inability to understand ATC instructions:
Not always a pilot problem, some ATC speak to fast and are hard to understand, I still have trouble understanding some ATC instructions, not only that, but this problem is not limited to VATSIM.

 

Not filing valid flight plans:
What defines a valid flight plan? one that ends in SID's and STARS? one that ATC recognises because its always used? what about UPR's and OTS/FLEX tracks? are they not valid too? If i can fly the flight plan that I file, what makes it invalid?

 

Failure to use charts:
I use charts and I still get lost and make wrong turns, think this is only VATSIM problem? how about the 747 that ran into a building in South Africa, were they not using charts? or other incursions because an aircraft taxied down a taxiway that was not suitable for its size? how can you determine that some one is not using charts? are you sitting next to them?

 

Ignoring ATIS:
ABC123 runway 24 is in use.... how hard was that?

 

Incorrect runway usage:
Define the correct runway? the one that every one else is using? the one that has the best head wind? what about up to 5 knots tail wind? the one that is listed as preferred on the local SOP? the one that is in use on FR24?

 

Misuse of UNICOM:
What is the correct use of UNICOM? the code of conduct says I only have to monitor the designated unicom frequency when outside controlled airspace, so is my not using it a misuse?

Kirk Christie - VATPAC C3

VATPAC Undercover ATC Agent

Worldflight Perth 737-800 Crew Member

956763

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We have C1 rated controllers that still think they can push their luck when it comes to following procdures, policys and following the advice of senior staff members. What makes you think that mandatory pilot training is going to change the ways of new pilots.

 

As someone pointed out earlier, despite laws against thievery having been in place for practically all of recorded history, that doesn't stop some select individuals from trying to steal. Does that mean the laws shouldn't have been made? On that note, there are rules in the VATSIM CoC that forbid things such as disrupting an active frequency, yet some unsavory individuals still choose to do so - does that mean that those rules are useless and shouldn't have been implemented?

 

Inability to understand ATC instructions:
Not always a pilot problem, some ATC speak to fast and are hard to understand, I still have trouble understanding some ATC instructions, not only that, but this problem is not limited to VATSIM.

You're forgetting about pilots who simply don't know what an ATC instruction means (e.g. they don't know what to do when told, say, 'proceed DCT XYZ'), which could be rectified with studying of the PRC which would be the basis of any entry test for VATSIM.

 

Not filing valid flight plans:
What defines a valid flight plan? one that ends in SID's and STARS? one that ATC recognises because its always used? what about UPR's and OTS/FLEX tracks? are they not valid too? If i can fly the flight plan that I file, what makes it invalid?

Admittedly, there aren't regulations on VATSIM regarding flight plans such as those in real life, but you should still be filing a flight plan that properly follows airways and waypoints as a courtesy to ATC. Not doing so could be considered a disruption of enjoyment to other users due to the extra work necessary to handle such a flight, no?

 

Failure to use charts:
I use charts and I still get lost and make wrong turns, think this is only VATSIM problem? how about the 747 that ran into a building in South Africa, were they not using charts? or other incursions because an aircraft taxied down a taxiway that was not suitable for its size? how can you determine that some one is not using charts? are you sitting next to them?

Admittedly sometimes it's obvious if someone doesn't have charts, but there are times when you can tell when a pilot is truly lost and doesn't know when to turn and when a pilot doesn't have charts (for instance, Heathrow has many named holding points on its taxiways; without charts, there's practically no way for a pilot to know that they exist, which causes serious confusion and trouble for ATC.

 

My point is -

There's a difference between ignorance and indifference. Trouble is, many people think ignorance IS indifference. Sometimes, people just aren't proactive enough to seek out resources on their own. I've encountered many an ignorant pilot online - they don't know what to do but are willing to learn once pointed in the right direction. Indifferent pilots are simply unwilling to learn. Such a test would most certainly weed out the indifferent pilots while also helping the ignorant pilots learn and become helpful, contributing members of our VATSIM community.

 

I support the movement for a mandatory P1-esque entry test. Nothing too difficult - just a, say, 20-question quiz that has to be taken before access is granted to log on to the network. The test doesn't necessarily have to be done immediately after registering as a part of the registration process - pilots should be able to study for the test by looking at the PRC and existing online resources (or new ones - maybe VATSIM could make a set of official tutorial videos? Just a thought) and then take the test whenever they wish, after which their accounts are granted access to the network.

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you guys are starting to go into some dark places here to think on a similar topic on the social media pages complaining about pilots, one user also commented that he was also bothered when pilots contacted him via text one of those "damned if you do, damned if you dont" moments.

 

 

Such a test would most certainly weed out the indifferent pilots

 

sadly it wouldnt. it would be a bump in the road at most. by the same thought, you would think paying hundreds of dollars for an addon would cause folks to read a manual, yet they dont, its much easier to be spoon fed.

 

the big thing folks seem to be forgetting. many of the troubled users are already here. so unless you plan on dealing with those users, no amount of testing is going to change a thing, especially if we're going to somehow grandfather ourselves so we dont have to go through the same process (i wouldnt force anything upon anyone unless i have to go through it as well. creating an exception for those of us already here solves nothing) which this alone would again pretty much effectively kill off the network, not many old time users have any interest in going through such a program.

 

hell even having a membership fee as some have suggested in the past, wouldnt fix the issue with these types of users

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Such a test would most certainly weed out the indifferent pilots

 

sadly it wouldnt. it would be a bump in the road at most. by the same thought, you would think paying hundreds of dollars for an addon would cause folks to read a manual, yet they dont, its much easier to be spoon fed.

How would it not? We already do point people in the direction of information - the welcome email to VATSIM has instructions to read the PRC, CoC, etc. An entry exam would only be making sure that they actually have read it.

 

the big thing folks seem to be forgetting. many of the troubled users are already here. so unless you plan on dealing with those users, no amount of testing is going to change a thing, especially if we're going to somehow grandfather ourselves so we dont have to go through the same process (i wouldnt force anything upon anyone unless i have to go through it as well. creating an exception for those of us already here solves nothing) which this alone would again pretty much effectively kill off the network, not many old time users have any interest in going through such a program

Exactly - all pilots, current or new, should be asked to do it as a confirmation of ability. I could see an exception being made for current holders of a P1 (or above), but otherwise I don't see a problem with making current users take the quiz. I myself took my P1 about a year after I joined VATSIM, after I thought I had learned everything there was to know, and I still learned some important things in it (mostly, METAR/TAF distinction and reading as well as other weather information to be specific). For old-timers who know what they're doing, it should be a breeze - all a P1 is is a short written test that, at most, takes 5 minutes to complete if you know what you're doing. There's no on-network training or any of the other requirements featured in the higher-level courses. At most, all you have to do is review the PRC a few times - nowhere in the thread has it been suggested that VATSIM give people an entry test straight away as a part of the registration process without any chance to learn or review. What us supporters of an entry exam want is a simple test that has to be taken before the user is allowed to log on - is that so much?

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