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Visually Impaired Pilots


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Hello,

 

Recently when I've been controlling across VATUSA I have encountered numerous visually impaired pilots. These pilots insert in their remarks that they are visually impaired and are unable to do most things other Vatsim pilots can do. Obviously, if they are blind, they can not see their screen, so they can't do things like maintaining visual separation (etc). However, these programs the pilots use to fly are highly unpredictable. The pilot is unable to realistically control his aircraft in a timely manner. For example, if I ask the pilot to fly a certain heading the aircraft won't turn to nearest side of the heading that was inputted etc. Essentially, I have ended up having to provide m[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ive amounts of spacing for these aircraft due to the fact that when they are flying into busy airspaces they can come in close proximity with other aircraft causing the other pilots to enter a conflict situation.

 

Another example is that during a recent event I was controlling a visually impaired pilot spawned on the departure runway essentially cutting off the 17 other aircraft in line to depart the same runway. They did this without coordination with the air traffic controllers. Obviously on the Vatsim network prioritizing aircraft over other users. I agree that there should be some exceptions with visually impaired pilots but it leaves me curious.

 

Are there rules and regulations for flying visually impaired on the network? If so, what are they?

Owen Bliss

Event Coordinator

ZFW ARTCC

[email protected]

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Hi, Owen -- we have a few that fly in and out of ZDC pretty regularly and are a pleasure to work with. Typically they'll connect at a gate to get their clearance, but "taxiing" to the runway involves re-spawning there, with permission, when cleared to do so. The couple times I've done this where there have been a couple other planes already taxiing for departure, the visually-impaired pilot in particular I can think of has been perfectly pleasant when asked to wait until after the last of those aircraft has received his takeoff clearance, and the next aircraft in line behind the normally-taxiing pilot was completely understanding when I gave him his initial taxi clearance but informed him he'd be sequenced behind a visually-impaired pilot who would need to teleport to the runway.

 

That's the S2 perspective; I can't speak at all to their ability to comply with terminal area instructions. I presume that, just like any other VATSIM pilots, there are widely varying levels of competency.

Cheers,

-R.

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I've had the same experience as Robert Shearman: they've been nothing but courteous and helpful the times I've seen them. Always waited patiently until I gave them express permission to respawn to the departure runway. But then, I only control TWR and below, and I don't come across them very regularly, so that may factor into it. I do sympathize with having to manage a slow-responding aircraft during an already busy event, of course.

 

(Perhaps some controllers will "imagine" the blind pilot as being in a certain position in the conga line, and only give them permission to respawn once their imaginary plane has reached the holding point. I suppose others may let them reposition as soon as they're ready, essentially jumping the line. But if given the choice between getting to jump a line or having good eyesight, I'm sure they themselves would rather have the latter as well.)

 

Not sure about actual rules wrt to it, I do know the focus tends to be on inclusivity; like with hearing-impaired pilots.

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Perhaps some controllers will "imagine" the blind pilot as being in a certain position in the conga line, and only give them permission to respawn once their imaginary plane has reached the holding point.

Yeah, that's sort of what I was trying to describe. I make a mental note of where they would be in the departure sequence if they were taxiing normally, and will have them jump to the runway when it's their turn. And when the first pilot calls for taxi *after* them, I'll inform that pilot as soon as they push that they'll be in sequence behind the visually-impaired pilot, so they'll know what will happen ahead of time rather than think they're being line-jumped at the hold-short line. It's only happened a few times but nobody seems to have had any issue with me handling it that way.

Cheers,

-R.

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