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Feedback and frustrations


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Hello,

 

I know there are more important things in this world, but i would like to share some points.

 

I find controlling very frustrating....I had not controlled in some time and getting back to it makes me wonder whether I will stick to it or not. There is a fair portion of pilots who don't make it particularly enjoyable to spend time behind the scope. I know we don't deal with professionals here, but still.

Over the last few days, I have tried to offer ATC service in quite a large area for pilots to have ATC enroute and enjoy themselves. Controlling a relatively large area during the day, at a relatively quiet time, I find myself doing the following....

Send multiple contact me messages to pilots who are entering my airspace and do not bother getting in touch. Sometimes it is 4 or 5 messages before they come on the frequency. This is a huge time drain and so distracting, you can't imagine...Sometimes they will cross the whole airspace without getting in touch. You then try to contact a Supervisor....there is none...or the supervisor asks for more info, etc.... Huge distraction when a lot of other things are happening.

Deal with pilots asking to leave the frequency for sometimes up to 20 -25 minutes.... While they are away, I get conflict alerts I have to deal with with the alarm screaming in my headsets....Very annoying. I can't plan for a conflict 20 minutes in advance. Also, as it sometimes starts getting busy, somebody asks to leave, somebody else comes back, steps on somebody else's communication in the process... A total mess. What if I go away for 20 25 minutes when controlling? Would you like that?

Repeat myself 3 or 4 times and send instructions by text for people to react to what I am saying to them.... They are probably busy doing something else and not paying attention to what is going on. 

Pilots flying in a group out of an uncontrolled airport and at the same level and very close to each other.....Another distraction to get the required separation in place.

Pilots connecting right in the middle of the airspace for various reasons... All of a sudden, in a busy area, you find yourself with a new aircraft you have not planned for, conflict alerts can occur, etc.... = a mess.

There are many other things.

I find it all very frustrating. My experience as a pilot on the network is much more relax than as ATC, but the network does rely on ATC to make it interesting.

I know ATC can be busy. I do really enjoy it when it gets busy and as it offers a challenge, but all the stuff above sometimes makes it unmanageable and so frustrating. ATC on the network is quite demanding, managing the scope is not an easy thing. i think pilots don't realise that...

I know there is no miracle answer to this, so...

 

Edited by Fred Navarro
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As a suggestion to pilot connection software (like vPilot, etc...), would it be possible to show pilots they are, or are about to enter, in an area covered by a controller? Worldwide coverage is a huge task, I know, so maybe done by regions or even more locally. A bit like Euroscope knows what sectors does what and what the coordination requirements are (in the .ese file). 

Is something like that technically feasible for the pilot connection software?

For example, a pilot is about to enter FIR B with ATC from FIR A with no ATC..... 5 minutes before entering FIR B, the pilot gets a notification in the software or the frequency shows up on the ATC list or something.....Basically have a function that tells the pilot about the ATC coverage in pretty much real time. 

This will remove the need for network status software like VATSPY or Servinfo, which are possibly not used by all pilots or are sometimes not showing exactly what area the controllers are in charge of....

This would save controllers from sending all these contact me messages and allow pilots to know who they are to contact without being prompted/chased by ATC.

 

Edited by Fred Navarro
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I can recognize the scenario you mention. Apart from urging pilots to be alert and pay attention to the frequency, I have no fix to these problems.

As for a software telling pilot for upcomming controlled areas - well, that's a hard one as it also should incorporate airspace designated an other controller. E.g. in the North Sea a large area belonging to Scottish Control is actually controlled by Danish ATC. Many pilots are not aware of this (perhaps rightfully so)  and are somewhat puzzled, when I ask them to contact me - and some don't! Or are irritated that I ask them to, as they are in uncontrolled airspace ( as seen from their perspective). Adding to this some FIR sectors are also divided by FLs, so an even more complicated airspace to handle by a software. Offcause it can be solved, but maintaining it, etc.... I think it ought to be easier to ask the pilots to skay alert 🙂

regards

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Torben Andersen, VACC-SCA Controller (C1)

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