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Cross The Pond 2020 - Feedback Thread


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1 hour ago, Magnus Meese said:

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.

I didn't mean that as a question that I need answered here, but rather, that answering these questions clearly beforehand would have helped reduce the confusion around Gander when technical problems got in the way of radio comms.

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As ATC and being my first CTP it was absolute blast. i think really the only thing that could have been better was that i saw some aircraft were departing a few minutes late from there gate so maybe in the future the time could be take off time or something a little different so some pilots don't get confused on it being a "push back time" . just something to think of for next year but other then that it was realy well done and cant wait till next week. thanks again VATSIM 

 

UNTILL NEXT YEAR

Zachary Collison

[email protected]

CZYZ Webmaster

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As a Toronto controller that has participated in over a dozen CTPs in the past,

This one was the smoothest by far from the controller perspective. The issues were few and far between.

  • Having easy access to slot times within our controller client was a game changer. Made prioritizing CTP traffic and getting them out on time easy.
  • Traffic level at each airport was far lower than it 'could' be. The lower traffic levels made airport operations easy!
  • Clear expectations to the community ("please avoid ocean hops or expect FL290 or below if no slot awarded") made everyone much more ready to handle everything that came up.

For those that said it was almost too quiet, you're probably right. This was the first year a number of new techniques were implemented:

  • Heavily enforced takeoff times
  • Gate holds until approaching departure time
  • Being able to distinguish non-event traffic and enforce a slow (6/hour) rate for non-event traffic
  • A higher number of airports diluting the traffic across a larger geographic area

But let's ask the enroute sectors that normally bare the brunt (Moncton, Gander, Shanwick) if they feel they could handle more.

Perhaps the measures this year combined were a bit too strict, but it made for a very successful event. Let's see if we can dial up the slots a little bit without straining the system to the breaking point again like so many past CTPs have done.

Great job Planning Team, controllers, and pilots. Everyone deserves a cold beverage after a job well done.

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Rob Nabieszko | VATCAN3

Director of Training, VATCAN

[email protected]

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No issues at EBBU as far as I'm aware! (Believe it or not, we were bored most of the time :-)), I hope that all technology worked fine and would like to thank the planning team. I would personally like the lottery system to be extended to the airports too. It's not that much fun as a vACC/ARTCC if you always have to provide en-route coverage, but never have one of your airports selected. 

I think that the long term goal should be that all airports that apply get included in the event and an unlimited amount of slots is provided. We're not there yet, but I'm happy that we're taking steps towards that goal by upgrading software and increasing the amount of airports, can't wait for the next edition!

Edited by Simon Vandersnickt
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Belux vACC mentor/examiner

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I felt bad for those who didn't get slots, but for those of us lucky enough to fly today, the event was a breeze.  Only major issue was losing the Track Y controller for the last 15 minutes in Gander Oceanic; a bit of confusion resulted when I tried to check in with Shanwick, but a "Contact-Me" from the correct controller soon sorted that.

I agree with the general sentiment that the traffic levels were almost *too* light, but I defer to Gander and Shanwick leadership before recommending they be ramped up for the next one.  Because of the reputation the last few CTPs had earned among controllers, I don't blame the organizers in the least for erring a bit on the side of conservatism for this one -- but, remember that the bottleneck is always the NAT capacity.

ATC did a fantastic job with no delays leaving Kennedy, and I was worked straight into Heathrow without a single hold either.  I planned my push at Kennedy about 25 minutes before CTOT and was airborne pretty much on-time (maybe about 5 minutes early, even).

I hope everyone's experience was as positive as mine -- so far based on the above, it seems to have been, for the most part -- and that the future of the event remains solid as a result. 

Edited by Robert Shearman Jr
typo smaahing

Cheers,

-R.

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Being one who did not get a slot for the event, I was perfectly fine with the system to ensure that everyone who does have a slot will be provided with proper ATC throughout the entire leg. ATC has its limits in capacity, so with this amount of requests not everyone can participate in the event. I am sure that the organizers will try to max out the amount of traffic, especially over the atlantic.

Nevertheless I think that what makes the CTP such a special event are all those crowded aerodromes with dozens of aircraft waiting in line for departure and holdings all around the arrival airports. I was checking the amount of traffic at several event airports from time to time just for fun and even though I was not participating, I was a little disappointed that the airspaces at the airports and the airports themselves were never really at the edge of what they could have handled. I don't think that I would have had this special event feeling if I could have participated.

What if the number of event airports would be reduced so that all the way from North America to Europe pilots feel like they are in the middle of something big?

Reading the other comments I get the feeling that apart from people being happy that it all went so smoothly, many virtual pilots also wished for a bit more chaos, or (if that's not wanted by the organizers) at least fully crowded airports and finals. 

Still thanks to all the people that work on this event being the best it can be! 

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I had no slot... and I wondered why. I was the lucky one that just came out of Toronto one minute before the event started. (That was my plan so that I don't block anyone with a slot) because of the amount of tracks, it was totally quiet over the whole route.

It was also possible for us to fly higher then FL290... don't know who came up with that idea, having a seperate track where only 10 planes are flying on and then putting them all on FL290 ???

On the view of many people I think it would have been possible to supply at least double the amount of slots. The work is done anyway.

As one of the very first one's I reached AMS and the controllers directly put me on the final, without any transition at all.

I don't know. Why limit it so much if more is possible?

Otherwise, thanks to all the controllers, I had a quiet but fun day. (Even tho the CTP feeling was only there at the beginning)

With that, have a good day!

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From a controlling point of view, yesterday was my worst CTP yet. It was an awful and completely disappointing afternoon, with me fighting the first 2 hours in somehow getting any of 3 frequencies to work. Finally after the 2 hours, and with the help from Néstor and Gary, I somehow managed to be able to talk to about half the pilots via voice - the rest still needed to be text. I still have no idea what the issue was, it was with our primary frequency that has been used plenty times without problems before, it should not have created any issues. I definitely will not be controlling CTP, or Oceanic in general for that matter, until I am sure whatever issue there was has been resolved.

On the other hand, being involved in the organization of traffic routing through Santa Maria, I must say this edition was great. The planning worked flawlessy, our neighbours were very cooperating with the procedures, and especially NY Oceanic helped a lot in making sure FL restrictions on specific tracks were followed, allowing for three tracks to without any conflicts and much effort.

I am not the right person to speak about the traffic load in Santa Maria - as I spoke more to the AFV guys then to pilots on my track - however from what I've been told by other controllers in Santa Maria if this wasn't the sweetspot it was very close to it. We were able to provide ATC to everyone, including non-event, whilst still having enough frequency time to verify for conflicts, analyse and accommodate requests, and having a couple minutes here and there for a short rest. Could a few more pilots have been put through Santa Maria? Most likely, yes. But we also don't want to talk non-stop for 7 hours. Having a few minutes of silence on the frequency is often much appreciated - and needed.

Edited by Andre Almeida
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Hello,

I participated in a few CTP events over the past years and I was curious how the new rules would affect the event this time.

So now after having flown from CYYC to EDDH I just want to share my thoughts.

What do I expect from a Cross-The-Pond-event?

  • First of all guranteed ATC coverage from start to destination.
  • An event really comes to live with a lot of chatter on the frequency. Allthough the traffic in the past months has increased a lot, it is often quiet on the frequnecy especially on long hauls.
  • Other planes on the airports and in the air. I want to see other traffic on the apron, probably wait some time in a queue for departure and then enroute have other planes on my TCAS display.

These simple things make a event different from the usual flight for me.

What are my experiences regarding CTP?

  • I enjoyed it every time!
  • Sometimes it was a little bit chaotic, but we are all humans, making errors and in taking things easy I enjoyed even these phases.
  • Probably there was not the capacity on the frequency to report every waypoint, but it was never quiet and so joyfull to me.
  • There was allways a lot traffic and it was usually handeled in a proffesional way, to seperate aircraft for the crossing. So a CTP was the first time for me to encounter enroute speed restrictions to arrive at the oceanic entry at the right time.

So how did CTP Eastbound 2020 perform?
First of all I want to say thank you to all involved. The planners, the Controllers and the other pilots - without you there would be no event at all.
This year I had a northern route via Canada, Greenland, Iceland and Norway to Germany. This northern route also some years ago lacked position reporting due to the availability of radar stations. I personally enjoyed more having more chatter on the frequency. This time it was very quiet - not as quiet as when you are crossing alone, but there could have been more talk. Other planes where visible at the departure and I followed one other plane over Canada until entering the Greenland Airspace. Then it went a more southern way and I was "alone" until passing the first waypoint of my arrival route. So my traffic feeling was just a bit over a common city-pair-event. Usually CTP had more the overload-event feeling ;-)

Regarding the lottery system I am uncertain. I see, that in the past, I was priviledged due to my timezone in catching a slot. Probably it would be better to increase the number of events than reducing participant counts. For example city-pair-events that include an atlantic crossing. So with more offers, the request might be fullfilled in a different way.

Regarding position reports I think my point of view is expressed above. Don't let it get to quiet on the frequency - that I allready have when flying long haul alone.

Regarding Communications I want to add, that there should be less points of information for an event. I prefer only to have one website and one forum where official announcements are made. I don't want to search countless websites of divisions, vaccs etc. I don't need twitter, facebook, pinterest and whatsoever. Information on discord is just short-lived and rushes by. Reduce to the max.

Last but not least the discipline of pilots is an imprtant factor in every event. After frequency change listen first and if there is a gap, then use it but don't interrupt allready running controller pilot interactions. Be patient and have fun.

Over all I enjoyed the CTP eastbound 2020 a lot - Thank you!

Best
Martin Wensky

 

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So i didnt fly this time. This wasnt due to the new slot system but other commitments. However i did vote on the airports as i like to use my voice. I have to say having the biggest airports automatically included is very welcoming which means that other airports can get added. I also think that having 8 departure and arrival airports is a lot more fun.

As far as new technology concerns i would have tested it first in a mini event before using it on something like CTP. i myself also like new technology so i hope that in the future a proper in aircraft CPDLC/ADS-C could be used. however i feel this should be based on aircraft capabilities. so if the aircraft doesnt have cpdlc then they should be offered voice posreps. and if a pilot requests that they want to do posreps via voice let them do that.

 

edit: it would be cool to have simbrief API integrated in the ctp website when the routes have been sent so that piots can create their briefing packages.

Edited by Koen Meier
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It´s an interesting perspective from pilot´s that they want to do the position reports. Sure it´s fun to do as a pilot, then throw off the headset, maintain SELCAL watch and then do another one in an hour or so. If you flip the view to the ATCO side, now imagine having to do constant position reports for the duration of your session, non stop check-ins and position reports. The frequency congestion would be astronomical and it´s just not humanly sustainable for such a long session, i.e. for 8 hours or more, we had the absolute minimum staff needed in Reykjavik CTA to pull our part and everyone´s butt´s were sore. There is a reason why ATCO´s are typically not allowed to sit on the scopes for an extended period of time without a break. That real world rule certainly started to make allot of sense towards the end of the event.

Having to do position reports would´ve easily flipped it over into unbearable. 🙂 Just something to think about. Do also consider that position reports in the real world are mostly non-existant south of 70°N due to ADS-C and CDPLC, so your experience is not unrealistic.

Just because the frequency is not jammed, certainly does not mean that the sector isn´t busy 🙂

 

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The event was a blast and allot of fun to partake in. I think it´s also important to note that without AFV this would´ve been impossible. Kudos to the AFV team!!

Now we just need landlines!! 🙂

 

One tip to pilots: When you call up for the initial check in - don´t just jump in with "ABC123with you"

Speak a little more slowly, be extra clear on your callsign, include your flight level ( sometimes got check-ins that were invisible to me because they were supposed to be in another sector and were thus altitude-filtered out), spending way to much time looking for you , meanwhile 5 other aircraft check in which also need to be handled... you see where I´m going with this.. ).

Keep situational awareness of where you are, so when you´re asked, don´t say "approximately 300nm east of Greenland (or whatever)... " if you just passed 65N030W at FL350 🙂

 

Edited by Halldor Bui Jonsson
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Best regards

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Halldor

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First of all thanks to everyone who has been involved. I really do appreciate the time and efforts to making such mega events possible!!!

I have participated in a a couple of CTPs in the past but this one leaves me with kind of mixed feelings. On the one hand it was by far the smoothest CTP ever, compared to sometimes at least partly chaotic CTPs in the past. On the other hand it was - let's say - a little boring. Do not get me wrong, I still love to fly CTP but what makes it unique is the huge amount of traffic. It's fun to see the others above and below on the same track. This time (I managed to grab a late slot TJSJ-LEMD which had just been released by amother pilot) I only had one a/c close mine, unfortunatly too high to seeing it on TCAS. So it was a bit like crossing north atlantic by myself. The absence of position reports (NY radio) even made me check my voice connection from time to time 🙂. It was a bit like a reallife nightflight in a remote area.
Judging from my experience I would say the number of slots at least on my segment could habe been increased by around 20% (any information about the number on no-shows available?).

Finally the lottery: I must admit it may be fairer to do it this way but it probably has caused a lot more frustration than the first-come-first-take we have had in the past. But luckily we have two CPTs, so why not make it both ways? So next time 'first come', then lottery and so on.

Best regards

Ulli

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A wonderfull experience.

Boston departure was calm and helpfull, TWR solved flightplan problems in minutes. == 100 points

Oceanic clearance  on NAT R didn't work, the Tool has its own life and worked even after refresh not for me. Heard from other pilots that they got clearance after minutes. But Gander Radio cleared the problem for me == 100 points

The way via NAT is in my opinion to calm - nothing to do, little voice traffic - a situation where it starts to be boring. I think Pos-Reps via a tool would help a bit to have something to do in the cockpit.

Overall a thumbs up for the engagement and all the preperation, even the lotterie for the slots is absolut ok.

So go for it for the next CTP, make the nattrak tool a bit better and we enjoy the next CTP.

tack sa mycket

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I thank your entire Team for handling such a complex event with such professionalism and organization. This was probably my  7th crossing...and I never lose my excitement for a day of flying w/thousands of others.

 

I thank you heartily for making this possible!

Mark Mayo/BVARTCC

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2 hours ago, Ulrich Karp said:

Finally the lottery: I must admit it may be fairer to do it this way but it probably has caused a lot more frustration than the first-come-first-take we have had in the past. But luckily we have two CPTs, so why not make it both ways? So next time 'first come', then lottery and so on.

My $0.02 on that matter: the lottery is hands-down the better system; what caused this "frustration" was mainly this quirk of the human psyche where anything you receive repeatedly will be perceived as a habitual right, and changing it feels like something is taken away from you. And so any CTP veteran who got used to just grabbing a slot ASAP when the booking opens would get this subtle feeling of being "cheated" out of "their" slot.

Apart from this weird psychological effect, the bottom line is the same in both events: some people get a slot, others don't, and those who don't will feel disappointed or frustrated. This cannot be helped; but the lottery at least avoids unfair advantages.

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The event was amazing, it was my first time flying transatlantic but didnt encounter major problems doing so thanks to the friendly controllers!

The only problem I encountered was that about every 5 minutes, I got disconnected from the AFV server. After about 20 seconds I reconnected automatically but it's pretty annoying, when a controller wants to communicate with you. 

 

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On 11/14/2020 at 9:14 PM, Rafael Franzese said:

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. 
 

A parking slot would be a great idea, someone parked on top of me.

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I had no ATC at all through Gander. I used NATtrack for the first time but used too soon when I did not have an ETA , so I think that's why I didn't get clearance , ( my fault I know). Was unable to resubmit my request when I had an ETA. Received clearance when nearly existing Gander  Apart from this I enjoyed the event.

Edited by Leslie Brownsword
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On 11/15/2020 at 4:21 AM, Paul Scharlau said:

It was also possible for us to fly higher then FL290... don't know who came up with that idea, having a seperate track where only 10 planes are flying on and then putting them all on FL290 ???

On the view of many people I think it would have been possible to supply at least double the amount of slots. The work is done anyway.

 

On the first point, it was decided to keep non-event at FL290 to stay out of the way of event traffic, This way there were no issues with crossing event routes and would be no conflicts, it had nothing to do with the level of traffic on your non-event route.

 

Doubling the slots is not possible, not without almost doubling the length of the event.  The work is not done when you are in the air, ATC tracks all the aircraft, watches for conflicts and resolves any issues.  Could traffic be increased a little in the current time frame, yeah, maybe, but nowhere close to doubling it.

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Ben Stevenson

Chief Instructor

Toronto FIR (CZYZ)

torontofir.ca

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Hello from Hamburg,

first of all, thank you very much for organizing this megaevent. For us it was a slightly different CTP indeed. Surprisingly we were more than able to handle the traffic. Especially the non-event traffic was significantly lower than expected. The request to avoid the event routes apparently kept many pilots away. It is up to others to decide whether this is the right way. In any case, we had expected a lot more traffic and were prepared accordingly. Provided that the non-event traffic is not higher than this year, 20-30 additional slots could certainly be made available for EDDH in the future. Nevertheless ... our ATCo´ s had fun and we hope that this also applies to the pilots who flew to Hamburg. Still, there are a few things that we feel need improvement. This affects less the Event itself than the planning in advance. As an airport, it is very helpful for us to receive slot lists very early, so that we know the timing of the departure and arrival times. This enables us to better adapt capacities to requirements. Why not just design the booking system so that all bookings are finalized and communicated to the event airports and the pilots a week of two before the event? Another point concerns the extremely short-term route planning every year. The route meeting takes place the evening before the CTP. Until then, we could also submit route suggestions via the spreadsheet. We have also based the occupation of the sectors on the routes to be expected. But none of this helps if the routes are adjusted again the next morning and we are then faced with a fait accompli. It would be better if we plan the “domestic routes” up to the entry points in advance and then assign the NATs at short notice. Maybe I think too simply, but it would take a lot of time pressure off.

Overall, we were really happy to be there and are already looking forward to the next events.

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So, with a couple days to let things sink in, some constructive feedback from my end, as a first-time CTP pilot (and also a bit of professional perspective from a programmer of 30 years).

First of all: this was by far the best and most impressive event I've been part of in my (relatively short) VATSIM career so far. Great work from everyone involved - organizers for making it happen, controllers for providing excellent service, the tech people for setting up all the infrastructure and software the event needed, and fellow pilots, with and without slots, for making this an incredible experience. Please take all the criticism to follow as minor things against an overwhelmingly positive backdrop.

With that out of the way, things that I think could be improved:

  • Communicate more clearly what the procedures will be for each oceanic sector. There was quite some confusion about these up to the day of, and conflicting information being distributed was part of that. If at all possible, make it clear beforehand where, when, and how people should request oceanic clearances, in what situations posreps are required, how those posreps are to be made, and how/when one should call in with oceanic control.
  • Refrain from deploying brand new software mere days before the event. The new nattrak tool would have been great to have, but decades in programming have taught me that "less than a week before showtime" is not the moment to deploy anything that hasn't been thoroughly tested. In fact, it's probably not the moment to do any deployments at all.
  • Make a safer mechanism for slot trading. Both sides dropping their slots at an agrees moment and then picking up the other one probably works fine when the first round of slot allocation is "first come, first serve", but the lottery changed the dynamics of when and how people acquire and drop slots and when people "camp" the booking site, and as a result, many people lost their slots entirely in trading attempts. Maybe this is intentional, with the risk involved disincentivizing trading, but still, this is pretty heart breaking, especially when it happens on a larger scale.
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I get that it takes a lot of (volunteer) time to arrange CTP and I think VATSIM did an outstanding job. I also get that a lot of people were disappointed they didn't get one of the limited number of slots.

Has VATSIM considered the model being used for Cross The Ditch between Australia and New Zealand? Although a shorter distance and only involving 4 airports (3 of them with only one runway), there are actually around 1400 slots available over the course of the event.

I would also encourage anybody who didn't get a CTP slot to join CTD. As it goes for 18 hours there should be something suitable for any time zone. Plus Aussie and Kiwi controllers are pretty chill. 🙂

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