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ATC Clarity / Comms - Pilots not understanding/receiving


Zain Khan
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Over these past several days when I control ATC positions on VATSIM there is a increasing trend where at times, don't know if it's EuroScope (my ATC client) or the pilots side but at times whenever I tend to give instructions on voice, pressing my PTT, my voice is observed to be transmitted but the pilot never receives the voice instruction and just never reads back, but 1 or 2 minutes later the pilot asks for clearance etc or requests again despite myself already given the instruction to the pilot,

 

Secondly another matter is where pilots ask to repeat the instruction again and as I tell again, the pilot [Mod - Happy Thoughts]umes I have given a different instruction than the one intended.

 

Nowadays I feel like ATC and Pilots are losing the really essential two way communications over time and as ATC repeats again and again and the pilot never gets it or never receives the instruction, it just gets depressing for the controller who tries effortlessly to give the instruction out, and once I had tried to control my Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C (TMA) airspace filled with about 4-5 aircraft, nobody was receiving my instructions and never read back.

 

Now imagine if that happened in real world ATC situations, and all aircraft never understood instructions, then what's the whole point of ATC? What's the point of securing the airspace to maximise safety? Where did the damn separation and sequencing efforts go?

 

VATSIM is designed as a serious hobby and for the ultimate realism, and as I try to be as very close to a real world controller as possible, pilots don't understand the airspace and instructions given to them, It's very disappointing to see ATC mishaps like this happening and pilots not being prepared for all ATC types, even for people like myself who try and replicate real world operations/procedures as much as possible and as well as heading beyond what controllers are trained for and introduce more complex ways of traffic management, such as time based separation and complex phraseology etc.

 

Sorry if this sounds like a huge rant that pilots never understand or receive even sophisticated air traffic control techniques or techniques which came straight from real world and are not included in SOP or training material, but nowadays despite more new and unprepared pilots are coming into this network, and IMO, I feel comms and understanding of even complex ATC instructions should be improved and we all should try and get pilots to receive and understand instructions. What disgusts me is that when pilots never understand these complex instructions and never bother learning. Most people like myself use VATSIM to prepare for real world aviation yet some of these pilots just like to not bother understanding instructions and learn about them and stereotypically just treat VATSIM as a place to just mess around.

 

Some people need to get their heads turned around and adapt to even the most realistic ATC that can be observed on VATSIM...

Zain Khan NZAA - 1345074

 

Enroute Controller (C1)

Pacific Oceanic Partnership Oceanic Endorsed Controller (/O)

VATSIM New Zealand

 

http://www.twitch.tv/zkaviator

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Zain,

 

Apart from anything else it sounds like your main issue is technical. If nobody is receiving your instructions, they have no means of acting upon them. I know I've experienced situations as a pilot where I've tuned a frequency and ostensibly been connected to a voice room as far as vPilot is concerned, but nobody on the channel could hear the controller, or sometimes vice-versa.

 

Unfortunately I've never really been able to reproduce this situation with any reliability so it's hard to know where the problem is. Often the controller using an alternative voice server solves the problem. Have you tried changing voice servers?

Vice President, Pilot Training

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Some of these technical difficulties also happen in real life. I was flying a Navajo (two crew) night IFR with thunderstorms around. Flying into an airport and the controller started getting pretty upset that he couldn't hear anyone replying to his "control" instructions. He finally deduced that his receiver had been zapped by lightning, and proceeded to have all aircraft confirm receipt of instructions by IDENT. It actually went quite smooth after that, it was a little odd getting an instruction from ATC and just pressing ident but it worked!

Mr.

VATSIM P2

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Hi Zain,

...at times whenever I tend to give instructions on voice, pressing my PTT, my voice is observed to be transmitted but the pilot never receives the voice instruction and just never reads back, but 1 or 2 minutes later the pilot asks for clearance etc or requests again despite myself already given the instruction to the pilot...
ok, but then you did not close the loop. If you issue an instruction and you do not get a readback within a reasonable time frame, then you need to repeat the instruction and/or verify that the pilot in question is actually receiving your transmissions. If a pilot does not make a readback it is still your "fault", because you did not confirm with him that he got your communication.

 

Quite often it is simply internet and network routers closing the ports of pilot or ATC clients that are needed for voice transmissions, namely UDP 3290.

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Not sure why, but I most often find the "can't hear ATC" issue pops up when I'm using P3D and vPilot. It's extremely rare when I'm using FSX/FSinn - to the point that I have heard the ATC ask if anyone can hear them, and it's become apparent after several exchanges that I'm the only one on frequency who can.

 

Whether this is a port forwarding issue, or a vatsim side server issue, might change from incident to incident, and is tough to troubleshoot if you are mid-flight without fully abandoning the flight. And if it's the Controller, or the server with the technical problem, that means there's nothing any one pilot can do. If there's more than 1 pilot having the problem - or if the pilot has been able to contact a different controller perfectly fine, then the pilot is less likely to try to reboot their PC mid-event. In that case, reverting to text might be a good idea.

 

Although the Voice servers sometimes have hickups like this where pilots/controllers can't hear each other, I have never, even once, in all of my 18 years on Vatsim/Satco, ever seen or heard of an instance when TEXT was not available

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Trent Hopkinson YMML. www.youtube.com/musicalaviator WorldFlight 2002,2008,2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2015

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[advertising] Text is soooo outdated! Use CPDLC! If your ATCO uses it... we are trying to promote it here at vACC Germany, EDDF/Frankfurt is offering PDC (through Hoppie's CPDLC Client) quite regularly. [/advertising]

 

Seriously, sometimes I just have pilots who do not listen out and react after my third call only. But then, others need a text message to be aware that they cannot hear me (and others on the channel?), but then promptly react. It might a port-issue.

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I have never, even once, in all of my 18 years on Vatsim/Satco, ever seen or heard of an instance when TEXT was not available

I've been on a frequency where text was not working. I think it was because it was ending with 5, not 0 (third digit after decimal).

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There are two separate parts of range so whilst you might see them they might not see you or vice versa. The change of frequency will be nothing more than a placebo.

 

Text is an absolute. As another person has stated, it *will* always work [Mod - Happy Thoughts]uming the ranges overlap.

Norman

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I definitely remember that there was a time where the last digit mattered and controllers had to standardize on using a zero instead of a 5 (or maybe vice versa?) so that clients could connect. I don't know how long ago it was or which clients required it.

 

I'm not sure about XSB.

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

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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It definitely did used to matter in the days of Pro Controller and SB: pilot clients could only see xxx.xx (and [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ume a 0 as the last digit) but the network was aware of all three digits and so if you set the frequency in Pro Controller to xxx.xx5 nobody would be able to tune to you.

 

I imagine it is probably still the case with the legacy clients like FSINN, SB, XSB etc.

Vice President, Pilot Training

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Controllers are still using 0. I was somewhat suspicious about the frequency ending in 5 because it looked different, so I tried it both ways, with 5 and 0 on my radio. Neither worked. Anyway, it's very easy to check. All that is needed is a pilot and a controller.

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It definitely did used to matter in the days of Pro Controller and SB: pilot clients could only see xxx.xx (and [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ume a 0 as the last digit) but the network was aware of all three digits and so if you set the frequency in Pro Controller to xxx.xx5 nobody would be able to tune to you.

 

I imagine it is probably still the case with the legacy clients like FSINN, SB, XSB etc.

 

I remember having this issue ~2011 as well.. pilots reported they were unable to get on my frequency when I used xxx.xx5 and as soon as I swapped over to xxx.xx0 all was well. Likely still an issue with non-vPilot clients.

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The trailing digit makes no difference. Whilst I know you say text wasn't working I am pretty confident that is not possible.

 

That's true of vPilot, but doesn't the last digit matter for one (or more?) of the legacy clients?

News to me too. In the UK, our positions list (distributed in Euroscope's extended sector file) all frequencies end in zero. If you connect with a 5 at the end, ES won't recognise the ATC position (because it's defined with a zero). We've always trained students to use the zero because 'some legacy clients' need it. This is confusing of course because we say the 5 at the end in 'contact' instructions for realism.

 

Mike

Mike Pike

VATSIM-UK

 
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News to me too. In the UK, our positions list (distributed in Euroscope's extended sector file) all frequencies end in zero. If you connect with a 5 at the end, ES won't recognise the ATC position (because it's defined with a zero)

 

That should be because of the setup in the sectorfiles - not the frequency list. To my knowledge we will still have to use the zero, as that's limited to the default FS setup, we have. I can't speak for XPlane, but the default aircrafts of FS would still only have 2 decimals.

Morten Jelle

VATSIM Network Senior Supervisor
VATSIM Membership Manager, Asia/Pacific Region

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Exactly. I'd like to be able to redo the sectorfile with frequencies ending in 5 instead of 0 to remove the confusion. Norman appears to be saying we could do that. The FS world has obviously moved on over the years. Is it true that the oldest pilot client/FS version that can still connect to the network will not fail to connect if controllers use for example 118.575 instead of 118.570?

 

Apologies if this is a slight tangent from the original subject but it is a cause of some misunderstanding in comms. A contact message sent by automatic text alias for example would have a zero at the end even though spoken with a five.

Mike Pike

VATSIM-UK

 
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Is it true that the oldest pilot client/FS version that can still connect to the network will not fail to connect if controllers use for example 118.575 instead of 118.570?

I believe it's not true. SB4, for example, would not tune a voice channel if the frequency ends in .xx5. I'm not sure how sending/receiving text messages on frequency works, as when I last tried it the only frequency available was an ATIS.

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Continuing the tangent (sorry OP)....

 

XSquawkbox had (maybe has?) a problem tuning the .025MHz frequencies as recently as 2016.

 

I have personally controlled a few XSquawkbox pilots who have been refused access to a certain ARTCC in VATUSA because they were unable to tune the correct frequency and ATC was unwilling to switch to any of the other 999999999 other possible frequencies, or light a separate text only frequency, or control via private message, or control via communication relay, or use lost comms procedures.

Steven Perry

VATSIM Supervisor

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