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I see this a lot.... Is top down a thing of the past?


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Everything is workload permitting. You can be refused VFR entry into a Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] B if the controller is overloaded (I've had to do this before working N90 top down), you may have to wait a while for a clearance if things are busy in the air, etc.

 

I'm not sure how you jumped from what's written there in the controller info to not servicing text pilots, but that's not at all what that means. The 7110.65 (at least in the US) is what we go off of in terms of what services we provide in general. "VATSIMisms" like "Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] D services provided based on workload" are in the same spirit as the text of the 7110.65.

 

The primary purpose of the ATC system is to prevent a collision between aircraft operating in the system and to provide a safe, orderly and expeditious flow of traffic, and to provide support for National Security and Homeland Defense. In addition to its primary function, the ATC system has the capability to provide, with certain limitations, additional services. The ability to provide additional services is limited by many factors, such as the volume of traffic, frequency congestion, quality of radar, controller workload, higher priority duties, and the pure physical inability to scan and detect those situations that fall in this category. It is recognized that these services cannot be provided in cases in which the provision of services is precluded by the above factors. Consistent with the aforementioned conditions, controllers must provide additional service procedures to the extent permitted by higher priority duties and other circomestances. The provision of additional services is not optional on the part of the controller, but rather is required when the work situation permits.

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"The provision of additional services is not optional on the part of the controller, but rather is required when the work situation permits."

 

Very rarely, and only under extraordinary conditions, would cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] D services not be able to be accommodated enough to have to post it as a notification. When and if the controller gets overwhelmed, it's very short lived, and really doesn't warrant this type of comment in an ATIS.

 

Honestly, if my proposed flight is going to begin, or terminate at a cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] D, and I see that, I'm going to think twice about conducting the flight on the network.

 

A controllers level of workload is very fluid, and can't be predicted. Why throw out this blanket warning?

 

As far as text pilots go, it's common knowledge that most controllers don't particularly like them, because it's extra work for some, especially less experienced, or less organized controllers. I don't think it's far fetched for an overwhelmed controller to deny, or delay service to a text pilot. It's a slippery slope. If VATSIM allows preemptive airspace service denial, then who's to say how far it may spread over time?

 

Tim

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In the real world, we are allowed to shed workload depending on certain conditions - weather, frequency congestion, equipment issues, etc.; there's usually one controller working multiple cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C/D facilities at a time on the network. At some point, push has to come to shove and something has to give. You start from the least critical tasks and prioritize the important ones. In the network's case, cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] D services go first.

 

I'm not saying that this is the right thing to do on a regular basis, but the nature of the network and it's lack of controllers compared to real world causes it to be so at times.

 

Personally, I never deny cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] D service - you are, however, going to have to wait a bit for a clearance/taxi/flight following, or whatever you're going to do. In my experience, this seems to annoy pilots more than just flat-out denying service, so... *shrug*

Ryan Geckler - GK | Former VATUSA3 - Division Training Manager

VATSIM Minneapolis ARTCC | FAA Miami ARTCC 

Cross the Pond Planning Team

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As far as text pilots go, it's common knowledge that most controllers don't particularly like them, because it's extra work for some, especially less experienced, or less organized controllers. I don't think it's far fetched for an overwhelmed controller to deny, or delay service to a text pilot. It's a slippery slope. If VATSIM allows preemptive airspace service denial, then who's to say how far it may spread over time?

 

In response to this point specifically, it's not a "preemptive airspace service denial" in the way that your painting it, if I'm reading that correctly. The key point here is "workload permitting." Like I said above, everything is workload permitting. I will refuse handoffs for IFR aircraft into the primary airport if my workload is too high. This is common during events, which is why aircraft go into holding. It's not specific to Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] D airports or text pilots or whatever. If I can more efficiently serve more pilots by letting a text pilot wait a little longer, then I will do that. If I can accomplish the same by handling all the text pilots first while someone on voice waits for several minutes before I issue them a clearance with a long reroute, I'll do that.

 

[Mod - Happy Thoughts]uming controllers will handle text pilots last is not a valid [Mod - Happy Thoughts]umption. Are there controllers who don't like text pilots? Of course, but there are also controllers who don't like international pilots because they're difficult to understand, or because they don't understand FAA rules (and I'm obviously speaking from a US perspective here, because that's all I know). Is that a good attitude to have as a controller? Probably not, but that's not really relevant to the discussion here. To me, at least, it seems like you're making an issue of something that isn't one and reading too much into that line in the controller info. As far as I know, this "slippery slope" you're worrying about doesn't exist because the top of said slope isn't actually an issue. The top down model is still the procedure and the CoC still requires equity between voice and text users.

 

As to why this particular controller put that in their controller info, I won't pretend to know their personal experience. Maybe they've run into issues with people demanding service contrary to the duty priorities that are also in the 7110.65 and this is alleviating that by setting the expectations. Maybe not, again, I don't know. However, as I read it, it's not them saying "I don't want to deal with Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] D airports, so I'm just going to ignore them," rather it's letting pilots who may not be as familiar with ATC duty priorities know what to expect.

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I can understand Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] D services getting dropped when it’s busy, but that’s entirely dependent on controller to controller skill and comfort level working top-down.

 

I’m in the same boat as Ryan. I’m going to give you SOME level of service at every towered field. That being said, it may devolve to “runway xx, taxi via pilot’s discretion, Cross all runways, report ready for departure” instead of explicit taxi instructions unless I need them for traffic.

Dhruv Kalra

VATUSA ZMP ATM | Instructor | VATSIM Network Supervisor

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm a fresh S1, I'll be honest, I'm excited BUT I probably couldn't handle a full workload yet. Say for example the person writing this ATIS is fresh to their rating they literally may not have the experience (or confidence) to deal with a busy environment yet, I'd like to ask you if you'd conduct the flight without ATC full stop or a reduced service -IF- it was necessary.

 

Stay positive and I hope it works out for you,

 

also a side note: text pilots are actually very similar in speed to communicate with as voice pilots, all I have to do is select the aircraft, type maybe 4 keys and hit enter? Don't think that controllers type everything out manually and therefore can't be bothered to deal with text only

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  • 4 weeks later...

You bring up a good point Daniel, for text pilots, i definitely have an alias file i use to issue instructions, i'm not typing everything out, 3-5 letters and maybe a little editing, but definitely not typing the whole thing. I think the issue is a lot of pilots, don't follow the whole "Aviate, Navigate, Communicate" thing. They do it backwards, communicating first, this delays reactions, especially with text pilots as they are typing out their response. For instance, as an Arrival controller, when i want you to turn to a heading to intercept the LOC, i mean start your turn, pretty much now, or in very short order, not 3 miles from now. Which a text pilot, if they are typing back the instruction, then setting their AP to turn, it can take them that long, and by then, they overshoot the LOC.

 

While i can communicate almost as fast with a text pilot as i can voice, voice is still faster for 2 way comms. The one advantage a text only pilot gives me is i don't need to wait for them to readback instructions before issuing instructions to the next pilot, especially if the second pilot is on voice, it's almost like having 2 channels.

 

As for not being able to handle a full workload, you'll get there, it comes with time.

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Ben Stevenson

Chief Instructor

Toronto FIR (CZYZ)

torontofir.ca

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