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When Controllers Just Log On...


Jon Wilder 1268033
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...is there any way that we can set up a policy for controllers that they have to allow something like 10 minutes from login time for flights which are already in the departure/arrival phase at login time to get out of the way before they start contacting pilots? These two phases are the most critical of the flight when you have a lot going on, and when you've already set up the aircraft for a certain runway, you may already be holding short ready to roll or already on or about to capture the localizer, you're doing all of your pre-takeoff/approach/landing checklist, etc...and they're like "Please contact me on...".

 

Some of them get huffy if you don't contact them straight away, or if you're already taxiing back to a gate after a landing there's no point in even trying to message them. Just leave them alone and give them a few minutes to get off the movement area. Some of them even act like they've been online the entire time and you didn't comply with some instruction that you should've known...but you were never given any instruction because they weren't even online until 30 seconds prior.

 

Can we please get rid of the God complex that some of these controllers have? I think waiting 10 minutes after login time to allow departure/arrival phase flights to complete is a more than reasonable request.

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Yeah, I think this is an area where common sense should, but probably doesn't always, prevail. There's always an awkward period of time between when you first connect, and when you truly have control of an airspace.

 

I normally try to look at where people are in relation to my airspace or an approach, and not bother anyone unless they're above 10K and I'll have something meaningful to tell them. Pending some sort of obvious conflict (like when you connect and people are on approaches for opposing runways), I don't see why the policy you've suggested couldn't be applied.

 

The trouble is that VATSIM probably can't make a network-wide policy on the issue. Perhaps as a starting point you might consider approaching the individual facility (through feedback) when you encounter issues. That being said, I'm interested to see what other feedback comes from the powers that be on whether this is a concept that could be disseminated more widely than your post.

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Evan Reiter
Boston Virtual ARTCC/ZBW Community Manager

 

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I am with you guys there. We just need to spread common sense.

 

When I connect and I have pilots taxiing out for departure or about to start their approach, I still ask them to contact me ASAP, but I will not impose any clearance on them that will differ from their current intentions, unless this would put them into conflict with other pilots. That normally works. As a pilot I still enjoy being picked up on final approach and receive a landing clearance.

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This falls on the various training departments, imo. On VATSIM, just as in real life, new controllers expect positive control of everyone all of the time, and anything else is confusing at first, possibly causing agitation. The notion of allowing for common sense and human factors isn't necessarily on the top of their list of priorities at first.

 

On the other hand, tuning a frequency and saying something along the lines of "ABC123 at position and level, request to continue " should only really take anyone 10 seconds, in addition to getting done with whatever you were doing previously. Barring air taxi and runway manoeuvring <2000agl, just get it done. If the freq is busy with a dozen pilots checking in, monitor while doing more important stuff.

 

10 minutes is definitely far too excessive.

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Pilot flying with ATC online, on Final approach.

APP: ABC123 contact tower 120.5

ABC123: Tower 120.5

 

Pilot flying with ATC online, approaching the departure runway.

GND: ABC contact tower on 120.5

ABC123: Tower 120.5

 

Pilot flying with no ATC, on final approach, ATC comes online.

ATC: Please contact me on 120.5

ABC123:

 

Pilot flying online with no ATC, approaching the departure runway, ATC comes online.

ATC: Please contact me on 120.5

ABC123:

Why is it both situations are very similar, but only the second station annoys the .... out of everyone?

 

You can manage a frequency change when ATC is online, but not when ATC comes online

Kirk Christie - VATPAC C3

VATPAC Undercover ATC Agent

Worldflight Perth 737-800 Crew Member

956763

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Pilot flying with ATC online, on Final approach.

APP: ABC123 contact tower 120.5

ABC123: Tower 120.5

 

Pilot flying with ATC online, approaching the departure runway.

GND: ABC contact tower on 120.5

ABC123: Tower 120.5

 

Pilot flying with no ATC, on final approach, ATC comes online.

ATC: Please contact me on 120.5

ABC123:

 

Pilot flying online with no ATC, approaching the departure runway, ATC comes online.

ATC: Please contact me on 120.5

ABC123:

Why is it both situations are very similar, but only the second station annoys the .... out of everyone?

 

You can manage a frequency change when ATC is online, but not when ATC comes online

Kirk I guess it depends entirely where they are on the approach, obviously a contact me at 5nm is going to be far more reasonable than at 1.5nm getting ready to touch down. I reckon I'd be suitably p***ed off if the APP controller handed me off to tower at 1.5nm, just as I would be without any ATC.

Andrew Ogden
Gander Oceanic OCA Chief
Vancouver FIR Senior Instructor

Visit us: https://ganderoceanic.ca
Contact: [email protected] 

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I have the same opinion as Andres.

 

If I see an aircraft is already at the holding point I give them a squawk and QNH, and that's it, won't bother them with a SID and make them fiddle with their FMC. They will most likely get a direct once airborne anyway. If they're on final/turning final they get landing clearance, if on approach they get vectors to the runway they're already approaching ([Mod - Happy Thoughts]uming no conflict with other a/c). The easy-ish things that don't force them to make drastic changes to what they have planned.

 

I still give them ATC services though, I don't just let a/c below a certain altitude do their thing on UNICOM as I might have someone taxiing contact me, and then I have to guess what the guys approaching are doing.

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Pilot flying with ATC online, on Final approach.

APP: ABC123 contact tower 120.5

ABC123: Tower 120.5

 

Pilot flying with ATC online, approaching the departure runway.

GND: ABC contact tower on 120.5

ABC123: Tower 120.5

 

Pilot flying with no ATC, on final approach, ATC comes online.

ATC: Please contact me on 120.5

ABC123:

 

Pilot flying online with no ATC, approaching the departure runway, ATC comes online.

ATC: Please contact me on 120.5

ABC123:

Why is it both situations are very similar, but only the second station annoys the .... out of everyone?

 

You can manage a frequency change when ATC is online, but not when ATC comes online

Kirk I guess it depends entirely where they are on the approach, obviously a contact me at 5nm is going to be far more reasonable than at 1.5nm getting ready to touch down. I reckon I'd be suitably p***ed off if the APP controller handed me off to tower at 1.5nm, just as I would be without any ATC.

 

Yes you are right. I had a GND controller send me a contact me as I was touching down at LSGG, I ignored it, and contacted him when I exited the runway, to which the instructions he gave me were taxi to the gate of my choice, then logged off, note if you will that the controller in question only logged in while I was on final approach.

 

A number of things in that above situation, raises the eyebrow, but not enough for me to, get concerned over, worry about it, or write a forum post about it. (note this was a few years ago)

 

The solution, Ignore it, contact the controller when you can, if they call a SUP on you, advise them of the situation, a reasonable SUP will tell the controller to use more common sense.

Kirk Christie - VATPAC C3

VATPAC Undercover ATC Agent

Worldflight Perth 737-800 Crew Member

956763

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At least on Center, I always wonder how some controllers are able to send contact me messages within the first 60 seconds after log in. To be honest, I mostly need about five minutes to get some kind of picture and am happy when not too many pilots call in during that time

 

But my all time favorite as a pilot is getting frequent contact me messages from delivery or ground when I am at the gate preparing my flight

 

Alex

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But my all time favorite as a pilot is getting frequent contact me messages from delivery or ground when I am at the gate preparing my flight

Well, I controlled EDGG_E_CTR today and dealt with ground traffic at EDDF on top of a busy frequency. Out of 6 departing pilots who were still parked up at EDDF, 3 began to push or even taxi on their own, without contacting me for ATC clearance. One poor guy, who promptly reacted to my contact-request, stopped his taxi and unfortunately I took a long time to issue his clearance up to the point that he gave up and logged out. Note: this was about 1 hour into my online-session... there are many pilots who are not aware of the top-down-concept or who are not aware what ATC is responsible for what sector/airport. Hence the contact requests. One request should be enough and as a courtesy, as a pilot, I change to the requested frequency and let ATC know that I will contact them when ready (to acknowledge the receipt of the message).

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But my all time favorite as a pilot is getting frequent contact me messages from delivery or ground when I am at the gate preparing my flight

 

Alex

 

When that happens, I call them on the radio, and state that I am responding to their contact me, and ask them what they want.

 

They usually respond with, just letting you know I am here, I usually say, I know I can see you in the pilot client. I make it process to check for ATC prior to pushing back.

Kirk Christie - VATPAC C3

VATPAC Undercover ATC Agent

Worldflight Perth 737-800 Crew Member

956763

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  • Board of Governors

Agreed and actually Magnus' suggestion perhaps highlights something worth remembering which is that the default "contact me" message is quite direct and infers a certain level of urgency to comply which is not always necessary. I can see why some pilots (particularly those more inexperienced on the network) may be "spooked" a bit by it...

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Vice President, Pilot Training

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  • 3 years later...

I realize this is an older post, but I think this is a good topic; and perhaps could use continual refreshment... perhaps eventually a sticky format. 

 

My opinion in general on this is,  if ATC logs on to uncontrolled airspace, all pilots are monitoring and communicating via UNICOM, as per the regs.  I would like the controller to log on, check their airspace, get situated and form their mental plan.  At which point, when they are prepared to take on aircraft, make a general call on UNICOM.

Broadcast:

"All a/c in this area, (atc) is now online,  please contact ****_**** on ###.## when able."

or

"Aircraft on arrival into #### please contact ****_**** on ###.## when able. "

 

Adlib as required; the point I'm bringing up, is if you request me to interrupt what I'm in the middle of (and I certainly would prefer having actual atc 99% of the time - so we are grateful!), don't send me some tiny text I cannot even see, use your voice, give me the frequency, that way I am able to tune my radio and contact you in a simple efficient manor. 

 

Just like in the real world, I don't know that Bob is going down stairs for coffee, or that Susie just came up from a nap on the couch.  Unless you have fixed business hours like real atc,I don't know when or when not you will suddenly pop online or offline, just as you don't know when I will.  I don't know who or when people log on in VATSIM, I simply use the radio and fly the plane. 

 

I understand VATSIM, living in the computer world, has always accommodated the use and requirement of text, but I come to VATSIM, to stimulate flying (IRL), not to fly with a laptop on my lap. 

 

Not trying to complain or argue... just being thorough in order to express my opinion.  I feel we are finally transiting towards vocals and not text; but I will be happy the day text is banned and disbarred from VATSIM. haha lol

(Real pilots down have to text atc 😉 ... well, okay,  they kind of do now; but let's switch roles, give the real pilots the texting, we'll take the archaic vocal frequencies)

 

Just my two cents (worth about 1/64 of a Canadian Penny)

In My (virtual) Hangar:

C172 :: C-FXMY

M20M :: C-GRYR

Baron 58 :: C-TVUY

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A couple things to keep in mind here ... first, controllers can't always see the callsign for aircraft that are not squawking an assigned beacon code that correlates their target with a flight plan. For these aircraft, they use a keyboard command that auto-generates the "please contact me on xxx.xxx" message.

Second, UNICOM voice range is too limited for a controller to be able to reach everyone in their airspace.

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

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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hm.  I did not realize your second point.  Perhaps there could be a coded 'Controller Unicom' that would extend to their limits and beyond.  Perhaps it a pipe dream.  You certainly don't want to broadcast to the entire VATSIM network, but Aircraft soon to be entering your AO also need notice. 

 

There's definitely a way/ fix to this.  I'm supporter to changes in this direction; casting my vote as it were. 

 

Thank you for the knowledge. 

In My (virtual) Hangar:

C172 :: C-FXMY

M20M :: C-GRYR

Baron 58 :: C-TVUY

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My personal opinion is that it doesn't need fixing.  When a controller comes online and I don't notice in a timely fashion, and they're ready to talk to me, they send a contact-me, and I contact them.

In my nearly 12 years on the network, the number of times an "overzealous" controller has "overused" the contact-me, I can count on one hand.  In all such cases I ignored the request until I was ready to call them -- and when I did so, the interaction proceeded uneventfully from there.

(That's been my experience; surely your experience and your opinion of the importance of the matter may vary.)

Cheers,

-R.

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Another vote for "this doesn't need fixing".

Remember that as a pilot, you are responsible for prioritizing workload items, and that includes responding to contact-me's. If I receive a contact-me during my takeoff roll, I will continue my takeoff, stabilize in the climb, clean up, AP on, AT on, and *then* I will dial the controller's frequency into my radio and contact them. Aviate, navigate, communicate. And if they were to call a supervisor on me in the meantime (which has happened exactly zero times so far), then I'd have to trouble explaining what happened.

You don't have to bend over backwards to accommodate ATC - if ATC makes unreasonable demands, push back. Just keep it professional.

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I fear everyone's mistaken my comment...

I'm not saying I don't want to communicate with ATC; on the contrary, I just would prefer the use of a radio (explicitly).  Maybe in everyone's setup they are fit for texting, I am not; I have setup my system (work in progress... to the best of my ability) to emulate a real airplane cockpit.  Pilots do not fly with keyboards on their lap.

 

That's all I'm intending to convey.  Sorry if my input is worthless, but why the heck are we even using radios in the first place if we're not intending to be as real as we can get.

 

I mean we have strict guidelines about non Military a/c landing or flying places (that says not game like to me vs reality-simulation).  But then that line of emulation is bent when we say "Well we could create a solution, everything is possible in this day and age with computers... but we actually PREFER, to make this more cumbersome for users and force them to use a mouse and keyboard".

 

In order for me to see and interact with a text message the steps I must follow are:

turn on wireless keyboard

press the alt key

select modules -> fsuipc

press the windows key

(meanwhile my airplane is a ghost flying by itself on a live server)

get mouse in hand

turn on mouse

click on Swift

navigate to appropriate menu (for some reason - I must be the only one - the swift menus do not fit on any of my screens; it is FAR too large, it literally spans all of my monitors (independent screens, not spanned or cloned), in which I have to view separate parts of the window on different monitors like looking through a piece of Swiss Cheese peeking at a piece of world class art hidden behind a wall with holes in it.)

read the text

click on fs

click on fs main window

press esc

click on continue flying

exit fsuipc

AND hope my system didn't crash.

Then tune my radios and contact - all while flying an airplane - (which isn't super easy)

 

or

 

Like I'm suggesting:

radio announcement heard, frequency and atc callsign understood

tune radio

call atc

 

All I'm saying is two steps is simpler than, more than two steps.  Plus it's (imo) closer to the real deal, which is why I am here to begin with.

 

Sorry if I'm out of line.  I just don't understand why no one agrees with my logic here.  But to each their own, and you are just as much entitled to your opinions and preferences.

 

I'll keep my mouth shut from here.

 

In My (virtual) Hangar:

C172 :: C-FXMY

M20M :: C-GRYR

Baron 58 :: C-TVUY

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2 hours ago, Ryan Renz said:

I just don't understand why no one agrees with my logic here.

Might be because in your first post you didn't describe the ridiculous hoops you have to jump through just to read a "contact me" message from a controller. I think you've identified the real problem here.

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

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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