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Perhaps time to rework the whole FSS - Radio - control agency confusion


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Hi

I´m not sure if this is a technology limitation with the FSD servers.

The whole BICC_FSS, CYQX_FSS and EGGX_FSS - Iceland Radio, Gander Radio - Shandwick Radio (just to name a few...) - acting as direct control agencies under the callsign of their respective radio's is somewhat feeding into the misconception that the units behind them are control agencies. Obviously they are not.

Now that we have HF support via frequency aliasing in AFV, isn´t it time to consider using these facilities in the way that they work in real life ? I.e. relays between the actual ATC units and aircraft? I realize this would perhaps be limiting in staffing abilities, but to me at least, it somehow needs to be clear that there´s an actual ATC unit behind the clearances.

Could the current technology stack VATSIM uses be expanded so that CTR ( not FSS) has the required visibility range to accommodate large areas such as the above, without having to resort to somewhat hacky ways of jumping on as a radio, pretending to have an ATC unit behind it or even worse, just acting as one?

I´d love to log on as BIRD_CTR and actually cover all the sector (control wise) with a supporting BICC_FSS relaying clearances. In the absence of the later, I´d just dish them out myself ( without resorting to HF) via text or CPDLC.

There´s an opportunity to improve and educate here in my opinion.

Just some food for thought.

What say you?

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Best regards

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Halldor

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For Gander/Shanwick IRL, all voice communications happens through a radio operator, and the oceanic controller receives a typed relay from the operator. Voice is still relatively common, and a large percentage of the clearance requests happens over HF, although of course CPDLC is slowly taking over. In this way the controller has more time to control as they aren't dealing with the voice communications However, oceanic controllers are still responsible for CPDLC communications, and if a pilot sends a datalink, the controller receives it on their scope and they interact with it themselves, i.e. it's not relayed through a separate controller. The staffing on VATSIM as you say is an issue however making separate radio operators impractical, and thus the best way that we can be as realistic as possible is to combine the operator element with the controller element.

1 hour ago, Halldor Bui Jonsson said:

...acting as direct control agencies under the callsign of their respective radio's is somewhat feeding into the misconception that the units behind them are control agencies. Obviously they are not.

It somehow needs to be clear that there´s an actual ATC unit behind the clearances.

Could the current technology stack VATSIM uses be expanded so that CTR ( not FSS) has the required visibility range to accommodate large areas such as the above, without having to resort to somewhat hacky ways of jumping on as a radio, pretending to have an ATC unit behind it or even worse, just acting as one?

I'm not quite sure what you mean by this. The controllers aren't black holes, accepting clearances and other requests without doing anything with them, they are operating as an actual control unit providing a surveillance and conflict resolution service. Do you mean that there is some confusion in terms of naming and callsigns? Could you please clarify this?

We realise that Gander/Shanwick are about ten years behind on the technology stack here on VATSIM, and we are actively developing some new tools designed to align to the IRL standards (they are insanely cool 😋).

Cheers,

 

Edited by Andrew Ogden
Clarification
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Andrew Ogden | I3
Gander Oceanic OCA Chief
VATSIM Web Developer

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

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To clarify, I was mainly referring to the confusing terms of naming and callsigns. A pilot sees _FSS - and it´s the agency from where they get their clearances. I´m nit picking at the actual login.

I think it would serve better to be able to log in as CZQX_CTR for example and then simulate the radio, rather then logging on as the radio and simulating the control unit. One reason for this would be flexibility. This way you open the possibility of opening up a CZQX_FSS and have someone work in the capacity as a radio operator and actually provide that relief from HF as the real world unit is intended to do. This would of-course hinge on the coordination between the two. Doing it the other way ( opening up a control unit and having the pseudo radio operator fall back to just radio operation) does not really seem like the way to go.

These are just points for discussion though. I realize that to effect this change would mean changes to the FSD (impossible?) as well as possibly AFV so it might not find any grounding on pure technical issues.

I worked as a radio operator at BICC 2015-2017 before moving onto other things and know first hand how ATC would not really be feasible in lots of traffic and having to work the HF. CPDLC /ADS-C and ADS-B has taken much of the load today but theres still a reason to keep the two separate.

I´ve seen the tools you mentioned and I must it looks absolutely awesome and as close to GAATS+ as I think is possible on VATSIM 🙂

Edited by Halldor Bui Jonsson
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Best regards

--------------------

Halldor

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2 hours ago, Halldor Bui Jonsson said:

To clarify, I was mainly referring to the confusing terms of naming and callsigns. A pilot sees _FSS - and it´s the agency from where they get their clearances. I´m nit picking at the actual login.

I think it would serve better to be able to log in as CZQX_CTR for example and then simulate the radio, rather then logging on as the radio and simulating the control unit. One reason for this would be flexibility. This way you open the possibility of opening up a CZQX_FSS and have someone work in the capacity as a radio operator and actually provide that relief from HF as the real world unit is intended to do. This would of-course hinge on the coordination between the two. Doing it the other way ( opening up a control unit and having the pseudo radio operator fall back to just radio operation) does not really seem like the way to go.

Ahh, I see, I do agree. There is definitely room for discussion on that front, of course, it would only work if two controllers wanted to log on at the same time, but nonetheless I think it's something to explore for every-day and medium-sized-event traffic levels, provided we have the numbers and controllers want to simulate it. That's the primary thing, it hinges upon controller coordination, and being VATSIM there's always going to be the so-called 'normal' mode where we have to combine both positions to be able to provide the service. It's a set-up option that can be made available, however.

Not sure about FSD or AFV, but I would assume it would involve one controller logging on and operating the radio, and another controller monitoring the scope and responding to the changes (may even be possible, with a bit of technical improvement, to simulate the 'typed' radio messages to the controller). I don't believe there would be any changes required.

The problem with the callsigns is that CZQX_CTR belongs to Gander Domestic. An alternate callsign would need to be thought out. We already have _DEL positions too, for the times that we wish to simulate having a 'planning controller' separate to the Enroute controller. Open to suggestions on what callsigns should be used, because you're absolutely right, the oceanic controller is an Enroute controller, and the _FSS callsign doesn't reflect that distinction. It implies that it's more of an 'overhead information' station, which in reality it's much more than that. Also happy to discuss whether _DEL is an appropriate suffix for the planning/clearance controller.

Those are just my thoughts. I'm all for this discussion, it sounds like it could be potentially exciting!

Cheers,

Andrew Ogden | I3
Gander Oceanic OCA Chief
VATSIM Web Developer

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

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