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ATC hours of operations enforcement


Ariel Pinto
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As a relatively new virtual pilot I enjoy pretty much flying on Vatsim. But what is somewhat frustrating is that I usually choose the flight according to the ATC controllers online both at origin, en route and destination, only to find out (after configuring the aircraft, listening to Atis, etc) that they go offline or shutdown operations.

It would be very nice for Vatsim to enforce a minimum of xx minutes of hours for ATC controllers to stay online, or at least to state the time range they will be online. Otherwise is a bit frustrating after 2 hours of flying getting into a destination using Unicom frequency online.

I am not forcing anybody to stay online more than they want, but at least have some commitment from controllers to show the time they will stay online .

thanks 

 

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Hi Ariel,

that won't happen, for various reasons.

But: in some places there is some kind of gentlemen agreement and expectation that ATCOs stay on for a minimum of about 2 hours during prime-time (usually 8pm to 10pm local time) to avoid exactly what you find frustrating. Please note that nobody can enforce these minimum times, sometimes real world forces people to disconnect early, sh*t happens.

Events Calendar
On top of it, your best bet will be to mainly fly during events and weekly online-nights. You can find all or most of them in VATSIM's event calendar: https://vats.im/events

VATBOOK - ATC Booking System
And, finally, there is an ATC-booking system called "VATBOOK". Controllers can announce their ATC sessions through this database and there are quite a few VACC websites that offer this information somewhere (e.g. http://www.vacc.ch/ check the right side of the page). Also, Qutescoop can download and show all ATC bookings in tabular and graphical form:

 

Edited by Andreas Fuchs
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Normally, when I'm controlling (at the moment, Manchester, Gatwick, or Edinburgh), I stay online for a couple of hours. When I eventually get to S2 level, and can do tower stuff, thats when you may see towers in some areas of the UK manned for 8 hours or so. The bigger airports on the network have more regular control, as do the bigger 'areas', but, that doesn't do those of us who want to fly elsewhere any good.

Rob Terrace - EGCN

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When logging into Euroscope you're asked to insert a logoff time. This is not mandatory, but a service to the pilots. However, after sitting 3 hour "in the office" and planes are still coming into the airport, at some time you need to say enough is enough and log off. Naturally it is bad luck for pilots, who saw atc online, but this can't be helped. I always book the position in advance and sit in the announce period - traffic or not. Sitting 3 hours at EKBI and only handling 1 plane is not fun, but the only way to have pilots flying into minor airports is to make sure they are staffed. I do some flying in the US, but due to the time difference, I seldom have atc. It is simply a fact of life. But naturally atc should be online more than "a few minutes". My personal minimun limit is 1 hour, but normally I man a position for at least 2 hours and often 3. This is a hobby however and we do it in our spare time. Don't put more restrictions into it than need be. Instead of getting frustrated of not having atc, be positive and happy when they are online.

 

Torben Andersen, VACC-SCA Controller (C1)

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That's why it is a nice service to pilots if you add your expected up-time in your ATC-information. I normally state "Will be online AT LEAST until xxxx Z". This helps pilots to make a choice, apart from creating an entry in VATBOOK.

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I was online in Vatsim for the first time yesterday and just parked a C172 at Munich and listened a bit and clicked around in Vat-Spy and vPilot. The tower controller in Munich did that too, he had some information that he would be there until at least xyz o'clock.  But overall, it was around 18:00 UTC, there were many aircraft but very few controllers. I guess that's just what it is during work days.. Later I did a short VFR flight in the US and when I announced me taxiing to the runway someone else immediately replied he was on downwind.. nice first smile :D

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