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Cross The Pond 2020 - Feedback Thread


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  • Board of Governors

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We’d like to thank everyone who participated in Cross The Pond Eastbound 2020 today, whether as a pilot or controller. A huge thanks also to the many dozens of volunteers who make Cross The Pond happen: from the local facility coordinators, to the marketing team, to the Oceanic coordinators and of course our technical experts. It wouldn’t be possible without you.

This event was a little different for a number of reasons and in many ways it was an experiment in a number of initiatives to see how we can keep this event sustainable for the future. As always, there were a few hiccoughs along the way, but as the event draws to a close the initial feedback seems to be that the traffic levels have been more manageable than previously.

We’d love to hear your feedback, whether you were a pilot or controller. Please leave your constructive thoughts below – positive or negative – with as much or as little detail that you feel comfortable with.

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GUNNAR LINDAHL 
President
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The event was simply AWESOME!

I'm a first timer and got really impressed how you guys, all volunteers, made such a complex and huge moment so delightful.

From first information, going through registration, routing, website, tech tools, support and, most obviously, high level ATC, I had a very good time today!

Congratulations and thank you very much!

Cheers.

JP

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Thanks very much to all controllers that participated in todays event. Although my sim crashed midway, the event was very well organised and delays were minimum, I had no queue on departure from Kennedy and everything was very well handled.

I do think the event slots system works on a traffic level but also think there should be some more opportunity for non event traffic to fly since CTP is one of the biggest events. The natTrak tool and SELCAL worked well for departure.

 

Cheers for all the hard work today and I hope to fly westbound 2021!

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This was a fantastic event. Thanks to all the controllers, organizers and pilots! I flew CYYZ-EHAM on track V. Everything was very calm and professional on frequency, not many people stepping on each other like previous events. The ADS-B simulation for oceanic was fantastic and really freed up the frequencies. I had no hold or delays and departed and arrived on time. There were a few issues with the voice servers but nothing serious, much better than previous CTPs. Hoping to take part in CTP again next year.

FDX9285

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Loved the event!  Big thanks to all the professional controllers who did the best job with far more traffic than even real world controllers handle all at once!   Looking forward to the next event and the release of NATTRAK 2! 
 

Some slight feedback-don’t know if it’s possible:

-Instead of having to ask for a SELCAL check-perhaps having the pilot/controllers do it on initial check in?  Like:

Gander BAW214 FL350 Mach .85 SLOP 2nm right SELCAL ABCD.”

CONTROLLER SENDS SELCAL CHECK

”Tones ring” 

BAW 214 confirm SELCAL 

Perhaps I was supposed to do this anyhow?  But without the 2.0 NATTRAK I was a bit confused and we did revert to radio a little bit sort of? 
 

Other than that-and I’m sure this has been looked at-I’d say do a split event timing wise if the controllers can handle it (and or be cross trained worldwide) to accommodate more people/slots.... But I’ll wager that’s already been looked at multiple times.  

Outstanding work-thanks again to all who made this possible!  My first CTP since 2009!  
 

 

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Things to improve (from what I saw on my flight from KORD-EDDH)

1. Parking management. The airport never got full, KORD is a huge airport, and as such can hold hundreds of aircraft. I think if you guys added a stand with the slot and the times that you can use that stand (11:30-12:10, etc) it could increase the amount of aircraft that are able to depart. By assigning non-slots stands and runways it could also lead to more takeoffs (especially in KORD since it has more than 2 parallel runways). 

2. Not much a vatsim issue but pilot related, people were connecting 20 mins prior to their slot time, and since requesting clearance takes a long time during CTP, it would be advisable sending a message saying be connected 40mins prior to departure time. 
 

3. in more than 2 occasions I heard the controller saying that their client/ whatever was buggy and unreliable, this lead to further delays. fix the client 
 

4.  A person without a slot trying to depart from KORD (time 1130z) was told that his “slot” was at 1400z. Instead of having to do this, if the problem is spacing assign an extra NAT to non-event traffic that might be more further north or south of the event NATs. If the problem is the arrival, by talking to other FIRs that are not taking part in the event and persuading them to stay online could by itself reduce the number of people that want to fly from and to an event airport, to only from an event airport to a non event arrival airport. 
 

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From a domestic U.S. ATC perspective, this was the first CTP I can remember that we were not absolutely hammered. And when we're hammered, Moncton, Gander, and Oceanic have it way worse than the rest of us. 

Having spoken to several of our controllers from Boston Tower through to the enroute controllers, the feedback is that this year's event was so much more manageable in the past. Having fewer pilots on frequencies (the result of both adding more airports and reducing the number of non-event aircraft) really improved the system for everyone. It meant no delays for slot aircraft, reasonable on-frequency experiences for everyone that passed through our airspace, and hopefully contributes to making this a year-over-year event we can sustain. Although some might have missed out this round through the lottery system, I really hope those who chose not to fly realize how much better they've made the experience for those who did...and also hope they can take advantage of the chance to fly the next one.

From our perspective, we're most grateful to the pilots who didn't get a slot and followed VATSIM's advice to fly local hops around the area. You made this event from what is often a big strain on people's nerves into a more enjoyable experience. I hope the same holds true for the Europeans working the last few arrivals as we speak.

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Evan Reiter
Boston Virtual ARTCC/ZBW Community Manager

 

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My feedback as DLH133 from CYYZ (1343z) to LSZH:

1. Good service everywhere. Controllers had everything under control. No problems at all with nattrak. Just one suggestion: Make it display the clearance automatically without having to reload the webpage. A few pilots did not do so and thus though they have not received their oceanic clearance.

2. Big technical problems of the oceanic controllers. For 1.5 hours I did not have any ATC on track U. Obviously these hours were disappointing.

But the most important feedback for me is: At least on my route (departing in CYYZ until final approach) there was not enough traffic. It was really relaxed. No ques at the holding point (actually in the 5 minutes before me nobody departed), relaxed enroute controllers (besides the ones with technical problems), a bit busier in LSZH. So in my opinion, at least 30-50% more traffic would have been possible in CYYZ, enroute as well. I know the technical infrastucture was at its limit, but with a smoothly running infrastructure, more traffic would have been possible in my opinion.

So all in all it was fun, but I would have enjoyed a bit more "chaos", some delays, a few aircraft in front of me at the holding points etc. Not really chaos, but a bit more CTP event and high traffic feeling - I am sure you know what I mean.

David Kirchner
ATC Department Director

 

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Speaking as ATC from CYYZ, this was by far the smoothest CTP I think we've ever had.  The VATCAN plugin to identify event aircraft was a game changer for us.  I don't think we had any delays for event traffic and got everyone out that we could in an orderly way so as not to slam our friends to the east.  My only suggestion is around departure times, I did notice a fair number of planes departing about 10 minutes or so later than their scheduled time and I don't think it was due to any control issues but maybe a little ambiguity in the "Departure Time".  I feel like some pilots may take that as their pushback time and not wheels up time.  Maybe for future instead of calling it Departure Time, call it what it is, Take Off Time, this way they will know that is the time they should be rolling down the runway.  Other than that, and that's a minor thing, I think it was a beautifully run event and I definitely had a lot of fun.  Looking forward to the next one!

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Ben Stevenson

Chief Instructor

Toronto FIR (CZYZ)

torontofir.ca

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Speaking on behalf of all of us in Montreal when I say that the event went flawlessly. Pilots were professional, most pilots that did decide to fly non-event across the pond were understanding of the restrictions and sector splits and coordination was easy and clear. Having the routes decided early allowed for a great event on our side. Thank you everyone on the Planning Team for your hard work! Looking forward to seeing those initiatives mature for the 2021 Westbound edition.

 

JF

Jean-Francois Desrosiers

Controller - Montreal FIR

VATSIM Network Supervisor

 

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This was the first time I've ever taken part in Cross The Pond, and I have to say, it's by far the best event I've ever taken part in on VATSIM. It was brilliant having ATC all the way from JFK to Heathrow, and the controllers were so nice and understanding, even when I didn't understand the US pushback procedures at first, missed my departure slot, all the times I took minor breaks, and the missed approach in to Heathrow. I have never had so much fun on VATSIM, and I hope I can fly again next year (I imagine it'll be westbound as it seems to alternate, which will be fun, especially if Gatwick is selected).

I also want to say a huge thank you to all the controllers who dedicated their time voluntarily to help me and many others reach their destinations in an orderly fashion, without you none of this would be possible. And I also want to say a huge thank you to all the supervisors who kept everybody in check and, again, dedicated their time voluntarily to improve the experience for us pilots. And I also want to thank all of the people who weren't seen by anyone in this event, working behind the scenes to make sure everything ran smoothly and everyone enjoyed the event; I don't believe these people generally get the credit they deserve, so thank you so much to all of you as well for making this possible.

I have to say one final thank you to everyone who I haven't mentioned above who also made this event possible, and made this what was (in my opinion) the best event on VATSIM I'm proud to have been a part of. Thank you all.

Callum

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Awsome. Lottery was a good idea. Would be nice to know what percent of those entering the lottery received slots.

EXCELLENT event updates. A little sooner would help. Not complaining.

Seems like the new oceanic system/tech worked well and the traffic flow was smoother, at least along KATL-EDDH.

KATL and Oceanic worked hard on spacing and were very helpful to the bewildered (of which there were a few 🙂 ).

This is CTP 5 or 6 for me. Best ever! Can't wait for the next one.

Not a fan of Discord but I must say all the event communication event channels (even Discord) worked well.

We need an updated CTP orientation video on YouTube.

Stay safe.

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First-time CTP pilot here.

Big shout-out to the organizers and controllers, you folks pulled off an incredible operation.

Professional ATC, great job handling the rude, the impatient, the incompetent, and the uninformed. Awesome planning and logistics - I expected to be delayed at least 30 minutes on the ground, and an hour or so in the air, but actually got out of KBOS and into LSZH with zero delay. Absolutely amazing.

AFAICT, the lottery did a great job too; painful for those who didn't get a slot, but IMO the best, sanest, most respectful way of going about it. Please keep.

Some ideas for future improvement:

  • Communicate oceanic procedures earlier and more clearly. Where, when, and from whom do I get my oceanic clearance? Do I need to make posreps? How do I deal with loss of radio contact over the ocean?
  • Would be nice to have controllers at the departure airports, especially Delivery, log on a tad bit earlier.
  • Make slot trading less risky. I've seen several people lose their slot entirely when someone snatched it away under their noses while they were trying to swap it. I know, it's part of the "fun" that trades are risky, but still, it sucks for those who lose their slots this way.
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1 hour ago, Ross McDonagh said:

-Instead of having to ask for a SELCAL check-perhaps having the pilot/controllers do it on initial check in?

Perhaps I was supposed to do this anyhow?  But without the 2.0 NATTRAK I was a bit confused and we did revert to radio a little bit sort of?

SELCAL is used as an alternative to continously monitoring the radio, as such the pilot is responsible for testing it before use for every flight. IRL they also retest every new Oceanic/HF utilising FIR (possibly some exemptions in the NAT, not sure), but that's a bit excessive for VATSIM if you route through the various relevant FIRs without a landfall in between. If recieving clearance verbally, request the test after ATC confirms your readback is correct. If using any form of CPDLC, contact the relevant frequency at your discretion for the test. It does not matter if you use CPDLC or not, you must maintain either SELCAL watch or monitor the frequency. Phraseology is "... request SELCAL test ABCD", then a reply with "SELCAL recieved" when you recieve your chime. From now on, you can turn down the volume (but not leave the freq, as SELCAL is sent via the freq).

SLOP is not mentioned on the radio to ATC, it is 100% up to the flight crew which option to use and does not need a clearance nor a mention, ATC is not interested as it doesn't affect them. IRL crews of different aircraft can coordinate directly with each other on 123.450MHz if they want someone on levels above/below to change, typically for wake turbulence considerations.

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8 minutes ago, Tobias Dammers said:

How do I deal with loss of radio contact over the ocean?

Clearance recieved: Continue the crossing, if deemed safe by pilot. Clearance not recieved: Do not enter the OCA, squawk 7600 and divert domestically. The whole purpose of the OCA clearance is to provide you with separation against every other aircraft currently in or entering at any point during your entire crossing, in case of a radio failure.

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This was my first CTP here on VATSIM and it was very fun. My route was Toronto to Heathrow. Interaction with ATC was little during oceanic crossing though. Next CTP I would like to get a more southern route with to make position reports. But I know nattrak relieved a lot of the radio traffic so can’t complain. The only delay I experienced was into Heathrow (only 5 minutes). Other than that, the event was a great success! 

Insted of departure time I think it should say “Takeoff time” rather than “departure”. I noticed a lot of people asking if departure meant pushback time or takeoff time. 
Also I think a gate assignment would add to the realism and would actually make everyone depart on time reducing potential delays. 

Great event and look forward to the next! 

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7 minutes ago, Magnus Meese said:

SLOP is not mentioned on the radio to ATC, it is 100% up to the flight crew which option to use and does not need a clearance nor a mention, ATC is not interested as it doesn't affect them.

It was today for the event.  There was a NORDO guy in front of me at a slower Mach and I was overtaking him so when ATC asked me to climb or slow down... I volunteered to SLOP so I could keep rolling.  
 

I understand IRL the choice is for the crew and it randomizes the tracks a bit in RVSM and closer lateral spacing.  
 

Altogether an amazing event full of learning.  The only thing I heard a few times from ATC was folks having issues w their aircraft which ATC handled magnificent.   I even got screwed up and had to come off autopilot coming off my hold and that got me all messed up in the head even when I got it engaged again I had to take over and the London/Director guys were absolutely outstanding to me as I was bending over backward apologizing. 

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3 minutes ago, Justin Isham said:

Insted of departure time I think it should say “Takeoff time” rather than “departure”. I noticed a lot of people asking if departure meant pushback time or takeoff time.

“Slot time” IRL generally means a takeoff clearance and/or wheels up time iirc.  This is a solid idea-I noted quite a bit of the same-I planned for wheels up at my departure time for sure.  I was a bit late as there was building traffic on my taxi out.  But well within limits for a “real” op. 

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Hello

This was my first CTP. I am really impressed with the professionalism of everyone involved, the atc was just amazing. I did KJFK-LSZH and every comtrollor on the way was very calm and it felt like flying in the real world. I want to congratulate everyone who made this event possible.

I had no delays departing jfk and 30 minutes delay arriving in LSZH but nothing crazy, the frequency was calm, nobody stepping on each other, it was amazing.

I hope more slots become available to accommodate everyone next time, maybe including more airports could do the trick.

Thanks to all.

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23 minutes ago, Ross McDonagh said:

It was today for the event.  There was a NORDO guy in front of me at a slower Mach and I was overtaking him so when ATC asked me to climb or slow down... I volunteered to SLOP so I could keep rolling. 

Whoa. That is not what SLOP is for, it's just a layer of redundancy against aircraft accidentally climbing/descending to/through your level on the same track whether same direction or opposite. Anyone on your level requires the appropriate longitudinal and lateral separation no matter what SLOP alternative is being used. You were essentially involved in an airprox. Of course these things can occur in such a massive event, but just in case someone finds this in the future by searching for SLOP procedures: This should not happen.

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Absolutely an unbelievable experience!

My first CTP! and i did it without any surprise...!!

I flew from KBOS to EGLL on a Boeing 737-800 professional simulator with my pilots/friends (Luca, Omar and Luca jr.).. such a real feeling all over the flight. Many thanks to all the Vatsim controllers and to the entire staff. Guys You did a great job..It was >THE EVENT<!!  Everything was understandable, all the instructions made with easy language and make me so comfortable even i was a bit worry 'till the first contact for the clearance..

So happy and satisfied!

Again a big thanks to everyone and a mention also to all the pilots.. the average of professionally was much more than i personally expected!

SEE YOU ON NEXT ONE!

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