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ATC: how to approach beginners on the network


Mats Edvin Aaro
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It's also COMPLETELY OKAY to not be ready for something, get flustered, disconnect, and try again later!  Nothing wrong with not being perfect at handling realistic but challenging last-minute changes the first few times they happen to you.

If a controller's job was only to clear you to fly your programmed route every time without ever needing to make changes, where's the sense of accomplishment in that?  The second-best feeling on VATSIM as a pilot is eventually getting to that "Come at me, bro, I'm ready for anything" moment.  The absolute best one, though, is getting to that moment and then something happens to prove you wrong.  😉

Cheers,
-R.

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5 hours ago, David Feigenwinter said:

assigned me at the same time a direct-to which was NOT part of the arrival route, and expected me to be at a specific FL at a given waypoint

Next time just tell the controller that you need that waypoint spelled out letter by letter. You can then simply insert it into your FMC and start making your preparations/calculations. Once this is done you can take care of the STAR.

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The advice you have received is very good.  And, remember, ATC generally does not have any need to look at flight plans for airborne aircraft, so are likely not to see your note.  Still it does help to put it in there just in case the ATC does see it.  And, yes, if you get flustered, it's absolutely OK to say on frequency that, "I'm sorry, I'm really new at this, and could use some help."  Most importantly, YES, DO COME BACK!

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Don Desfosse
Vice President, Operations

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I had an Bad experience on June 22nd. I took part at the Event: ATC Trainees Dusseldorf, as a new pilot. First thing was: Ground told me to reconnect with DLH instead of LH ( Lufthansa). I reconnected with DLH. Second: Ground told me to make a complete new Flight plan with DLH instead of LH. I found this very blaming! All ATC : as a beginner it costs overcoming to take part at the voice channel with all other members being experienced. I really had the feeling to quit with Vatsim After my first experience . And if you say : speak slower or with reduced speed, shouldnt matter or if you forget one letter. Having the feeling being blamed makes no fun and due to this experience I don’t want to take Part in such Community. And the words of Mr. Fuchs mentionned above makes it not better and makes also no sence to me 

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5 hours ago, Philipp Kirchgessner said:

I had an Bad experience on June 22nd. I took part at the Event: ATC Trainees Dusseldorf, as a new pilot. First thing was: Ground told me to reconnect with DLH instead of LH ( Lufthansa). I reconnected with DLH. Second: Ground told me to make a complete new Flight plan with DLH instead of LH. I found this very blaming! All ATC : as a beginner it costs overcoming to take part at the voice channel with all other members being experienced. I really had the feeling to quit with Vatsim After my first experience . And if you say : speak slower or with reduced speed, shouldnt matter or if you forget one letter. Having the feeling being blamed makes no fun and due to this experience I don’t want to take Part in such Community. And the words of Mr. Fuchs mentionned above makes it not better and makes also no sence to me 

Hey Philipp

Maybe some explanation why the atc was asking you to do this: the callsign is important for the atc to know who you are, if you are connected as Dlxxx they will call you "delta lima xxx" and this will lead to confusion as you would probably respond to and listen out for "lufthansa xxx" and lufthansas callsign is dlh

 

This explains why he wanted you to reconnect as a different callsign. The flightplan on vatsim is tied to the callsign you connected with, so you need to resend the flightplan with the new callsign so the atc can see your flightplan, otherwhise the system wont correllate the flightplan to the new callsign and your route will not show up on our atc scopes.

 

If you are ever in doubt about why an atc has asked something of you, if the frequency is not busy, just ask on frequency and if the frequency is busy ask via private message. The reply mitght take some time if it is busy and the atc is task saturated, as private messages are a low priority in high workload but it will be answered eventually.

 

Also a good place to get answers to general questions is the pilot training channel on the vatsim discord.

 

If you want a good training airport, come on a non-event evening to geneva, it is a not so complex airport with often some atc coverage and most of the time not to much traffic.

Hope to see you on the network again

Louis

 

 

 

 

 

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Being told something is wrong (and is a very very easy fix!) is not blaming someone. Everyone makes mistakes, even those with 10000+ hours. It is all part of the network. 

 

As it probably was not explained to you by the controller at that time, allow me to do that now. The two-letter airline codes (and three-letter airport codes) are IATA codes and that's what you usually see at airports, your boarding pass, etc. So mostly for passengers. The three-letter airline code (and four-letter airport code) is the ICAO code. This is used by pilots and controllers. So that's DLH instead of LH, KLM instead of KL, BAW instead of BA. Or EHAM instead of AMS, EGLL instead of LHR and EDFF instead of FRA. 

 

Changing a callsign (and then if seems your flight plan was incorrect as well as you mentioned) is very easy and costs a few seconds. That's not blaming, that is the educate aspect of the Vatsim slogan. 

 

Know that it's okay to make mistakes, especially that since you're new on Vatsim. That should make you feel blamed for mistakes. Except maybe if it was a very avoidable mistake, such as the required knowledge of your plane (heading, altitude, speed and stopping at a point on the ground) as mentioned in the Code of Conduct rules. And even then, mistakes happen. Just take it as feedback (nobody's perfect!), learn from it and improve your next flight. That's the best for everyone. 

Edited by Thimo Koolen
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ACCNL5 (Assistant Training Director) - Dutch VACC

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I understand what everybody makes mistakes and that you may learn. But why ATC Frankfurt before didnt say anything to my Flight Plan also with LH ? I feel, thats not the right Community. If you make misstskes you can say it in a more friendly way . I think this Community is not good for me. I will quit my membership, was a interesting experience….
all the best for you all guys. 

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10 hours ago, Philipp Kirchgessner said:

I took part at the Event: ATC Trainees Dusseldorf, as a new pilot.

I think perhaps VATSIM's sign-up process could / should do a better job of explaining that the words "event" and "new pilot" generally do not mix.

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Cheers,
-R.

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1 hour ago, Philipp Kirchgessner said:

But why ATC Frankfurt before didnt say anything to my Flight Plan also with LH ?

Because controllers will not usually look into your flightplan until you make contact, especially in a busy event.

1 hour ago, Philipp Kirchgessner said:

If you make misstskes you can say it in a more friendly way

I wasn't there, but I suspect that what they said was not in fact blaming or unfriendly; it's just that the way controllers speak on frequency is optimized for brevity, clarity, and conciseness. With 12 pilots waiting for their IFR clearances, and only one being able to speak at any time, there simply is no room for lengthy explanations or courteous fluff.

We don't say "Hey, uh, Lufthansa 123, I need you to go left now please, make it a 050 heading, can you do that for me? Thank you!" - we say, "Lufthansa 123, turn left heading 050". Because it's shorter, clearer, and the small things add up.

So, before you rage-quit, maybe give it another try, start with a simpler flight from a less busy airport, learn from your mistake, maybe listen in to some real-world ATC to get a better idea of what's expected - IME, this is a very inclusive, friendly, and welcoming community, but maybe you just came with the wrong expectations.

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Yes I know, I also talk in the short way you do with ATC. But if you get the answer: right, but I need a new flight plan with laughing in the background gives me a bad feeling, with all others listening. But you are right: I have a wrong expectation with that.. 

 

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As I said, I wasn't there, so I can't tell what happened. Maybe they actually were being rude; but if that's the case, then you've run into an unfortunate exception. My experience has been overwhelmingly professional and disciplined so far.

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4 hours ago, Robert Shearman Jr said:

I think perhaps VATSIM's sign-up process could / should do a better job of explaining that the words "event" and "new pilot" generally do not mix.

The new member orientation is very clear about that.  Alas, we find that some percentage of people "read to pass test fast and quickly forget" instead of "read to understand and ensure proper foundation to positively contribute to the community".... 😞

Don Desfosse
Vice President, Operations

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3 hours ago, Tobias Dammers said:

So, before you rage-quit, maybe give it another try, start with a simpler flight from a less busy airport, learn from your mistake, maybe listen in to some real-world ATC to get a better idea of what's expected - IME, this is a very inclusive, friendly, and welcoming community, but maybe you just came with the wrong expectations.

This is excellent advice.  An event, unless it is one that is specifically planned for new pilots, which we do hold from time to time, is no time to try something new.  Dip your toes in the new pool slowly before jumping in. 

I hope you reconsider and give it another try.  It's really a great community with a lot of helpful people.  Not perfect, but the expectation of our community is that we all try to do well, learn from our mistakes, and try to do a little better with every session (flying or controlling).

Our normal advice is that if you have identified an opportunity for controllers to improve, find the facility's website and look for a place to send feedback to the facility's leadership team.  That's the best way to give feedback on how the controllers may have been more helpful.

Again, I also hope you will reconsider and give it another try.  

Don Desfosse
Vice President, Operations

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While I agree that its not conventional to fly with LH instead of DLH, I disagree with the ground controllers approach to the situation. The ground controller has no authority to tell some one to leave the network and change their call sign.

This happens all the time, I often see QF and QANTAS123 etc when I'm controlling, and I am guilty of doing it myself back when I joined the network I have never told some one to log off and change their callsign, nor was I ever told to log off. There is no harm, nor impact on anyone else on the network if that person continues their flight with that callsign. You can of course point the person to the relevant section about choosing a callsign in the my.vatsim.net training academy, but as a polite message.

Something along the lines of.
"Hey before you fly next time would you mind having a read of this about choosing a callsign"

This allows the person to continue their flight this time, and prompts them to read up on the preferred process. I say proffered because there is no correct or incorrect way to select a callsign. 

Its simple, non confrontable and usually gets a better response from the pilot.

Telling some one to log off and change any thing, implies authority that some one doesn't have, and results in a bad first experience, it doesn't allow people to grow.

Edited by Kirk Christie
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Kirk Christie - VATPAC C3

VATPAC Undercover ATC Agent

Worldflight Perth 737-800 Crew Member

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9 hours ago, Kirk Christie said:

The ground controller has no authority to tell some one to leave the network and change their call sign.

This happens all the time, I often see QF and QANTAS123 etc when I'm controlling, and I am guilty of doing it myself back when I joined the network I have never told some one to log off and change their callsign, nor was I ever told to log off. There is no harm, nor impact on anyone else on the network if that person continues their flight with that callsign.

Thank you Kirk! That‘s exactly the point. Feeling being excluded as a new member making a basic misstake. 
 

20 hours ago, Don Desfosse said:

The new member orientation is very clear about that.  Alas, we find that some percentage of people "read to pass test fast and quickly forget" instead of "read to understand and ensure proper foundation to positively contribute to the community".... 😞

I passed the the test and made this misstake… but not on purpose. So in your opinion I dont contribute positively to the community? Dont worry…. I wont be part of this community soon any longer….I am just waiting for the answer from the member service, then it’s done….

I really dont have the courage anymore to take part in v pilot due to my experience how you may be treated when also making a basic misstake as a beginner. And also that I may not contribute positively to the community even I passed the test making this misstake. 
So why did I write then here in the forum? 
I hope that future new members may not have this treatment….

 

Edited by Philipp Kirchgessner
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There is in fact a consequence when flying with a "wrong" callsign - apart from the otherwise allready mentioned on you expecting one call sign (Lufthansa) and the controller using another (Lima Hotel): In euroscope the automatic gate assignment is/can be based on callsign. When you fly into an airport using DLH ("Lufthansa"), the automatic gate assignment will give you a free gate amongst those normally used be Lufthansa in the said airport. If you fly LH, the program is not able to asign you a gate, which then places the task on the tower/gnd controller.

Having said that, it is in my viewpoint not the biggest of problems for a controller to handle - but nor should it be a major problem for you to handle. So I think it is making it a storm in a glass of water to abandon VATSIM on this ground. But it's for you to decide. Believe me - you'll encounter more challenging task on VATSIM than this.

Edited by Torben Andersen
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Torben Andersen, VACC-SCA Controller (C1)

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Philipp, I was replying to another member, not to you.  He and I are well aware of the issue we were discussing.  It was not directed to you.

You seem to take things very personally.  This is a community.  While some forum threads may indeed be discussions that end up being one-on-one discussions between two members, you posted in a community with over 800,000 members, over 115,000 members active in the last 6 months.  So, yes, when you have thousands of people reading the forums and commenting, the comments may not just be about you.  Especially when a reply specifically quotes another member.

In any case, you don't need to wait for member services.  I'll give you the answer right now.  There is no need to "quit" anything.  You are free to walk away and simply not use your account.  After some time, if unused, it will change from Active status to Inactive status.  You are happy to come back to the community whenever you like.  Or not.  Your choice.  As I said before, we are a community that believes in learning from simple mistakes and improving.  I'm sorry the experience was not what you expected.  Should you choose to try again, and I hope you will, simply come back and try again.

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Don Desfosse
Vice President, Operations

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Hey Don, 

yes I am a more sensitive person. In my job that helps me a lot, but I know that this can also annoy people. I think more than everything is said about this topic and I will shut my mouth. Thanks for the Information. I didnt knew that memberships exist that cant be quit 😁😁

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4 hours ago, Philipp Kirchgessner said:

I really dont have the courage anymore to take part in v pilot due to my experience how you may be treated when also making a basic misstake as a beginner. And also that I may not contribute positively to the community even I passed the test making this misstake. 
So why did I write then here in the forum? 
I hope that future new members may not have this treatment….

Hallo Philipp,

you seem to be quite sensitive. When you want to take part in aviation - no matter whether it is only virtually with us or any other network, or in the real world - you will need to get this under control. Aviation is super-focussed on safety and the only way to achieve this is by being direct and frank. Little or no courtesy. Courtesy can be used after finishing a flight in the briefing-room or in the bar. As you seem to be a German fellow, I highly suggest becoming a member of VATSIM Germany and connect to their Teamspeak-server. You will encounter a lot of people there that you can talk to, even the controller(s) that did not treat you "nicely", or what you (mis-?)understood.

 

You wrote

On 6/23/2022 at 11:04 AM, Philipp Kirchgessner said:

But why ATC Frankfurt before didnt say anything to my Flight Plan also with LH ?

Some controllers still have the motivation and patience to correct such things, some don't. Maybe the guy in Frankfurt relied on the hope that another member would have enlightened and educated you about the callsign-code and after having told people for the hundreth time, his patience was gone.
I usually inform pilots about the fact that they are using an invalid callsign-code and ask them to correct it. In 99% of cases they thank me, disconnect, correct the callsign and return a few seconds later. A complete non-event. Why was it so stressful for you?

On 6/23/2022 at 1:40 PM, Philipp Kirchgessner said:

But if you get the answer: right, but I need a new flight plan with laughing in the background gives me a bad feeling, with all others listening

I never EVER heard anyone laughing about something like this. Maybe we'll have a good laugh when someone does not follow instructions and ends up hitting a mountain, yeah! But not about a flightplan.
I think you completely misunderstood the situation and took the "laughing in the background" as directed towards you. I am 99,99% sure that it was not directed at you. Have you considered that some controllers sit at home, sharing the room with other family members? Maybe his brother/sister/father/mother was watching/reading something funny in the background, hence the laughs. They were NOT directed at you.

So, please don't feel alienated by your first experience. As others wrote above, just jump into it again. Fly to and from less crowded and less complex airports. If you want to stay within the German speaking area, consider using secondary airports such as Bremen, Stuttgart, Leipzig, Köln, Geneva, Linz, Salzburg. You'll find ATC cover, but less busy controllers, hopefully. Less busy controllers = more time to explain.

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On 6/24/2022 at 3:30 AM, Kirk Christie said:

There is no harm, nor impact on anyone else on the network if that person continues their flight with that callsign.

That's not entirely true though.

In principle, you can of course pick any callsign you want, and it's technically not wrong to be Lima Hotel One Two Three. But technicalities aside, in cases like these, it's often obvious that what the pilot intended was not actually to be Lima Hotel One Two Three; they actually meant "Lufthansa", and that's pretty clear, especially if they then call in as "Lufthansa One Two three". As a controller, you now have three choices:

  1. Play stupid. Address them as "Lima Hotel", and when they call in as "Lufthansa", tell them you have no flightplan. Great confusion will ensue.
  2. Roll with it, just address them as "Lufthansa" despite filing and connecting as "Lima Hotel". This will make life easier for the pilot, but create more work for you and all other controllers who are about to handle them. And, most importantly, the pilot will not realize they're doing anything wrong, and the next time they connect, they will likely file as "Lima Hotel" again.
  3. Educate the pilot. When things are calm, you can take the time to explain the difference between IATA and ICAO airline codes and all that, but in the heat of a busy event, this is an unreasonable expectation, so you need to get the message across as efficiently as possible. "Negative, your callsign is incorrect, Lufthansa should be Delta Lima Hotel, please refile your flightplan and reconnect" is about as concise as you can make it.

So in all 3 cases, harm is done - in the first case, you confuse the new pilot for no good reason, in the second case, you add workload without solving the underlying problem, in the third case, you address the underlying problem at the expense of coming across as confronting. Solution 3 is the only one that doesn't impact anyone else on the network.

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