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Events getting too unrealistic


Roman Renner
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Newbie opinion here: This week's KBUF - CYUL crossfire was my first event participation and I totally loved it.  Yes, Buffalo never gets that kind of traffic in real life, but boy was it fun and energizing to see so many planes buzzing around and to hear the COM so busy. Even the 10-15 min of lineup at the runway weren't that bad, as it was pretty entertaining to watch the stream of planes coming in for landing, some having to go-around, some totally missing the centerline and landing on grass, and all the associated chatter and little jokes around that on COMs.

ATC was really patient and professional, and they were very accomodating with GA planes looking for quick VFR takeoff in between the jets, from secondary hold positions.

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I still think it is a good suggestion to have a list of slots. I remembered at IVAO you had to sign in for an actual scheduled flight, out of a list that represented the actual in- and outs from and to a particular airport. So for realism I downloaded a matching livery for a matching aircraft to perform a real scheduled flight. Which was nice, but one has to be so kind to unsubscribe from a slot when you cannot join, so that it becomes free for another user. It is also more realistic, because you don't end up tail-to-tail with three aircraft of the same carrier flying from and to the same airports at almost the same time. Ha. 

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7 hours ago, Sander Cedee said:

I still think it is a good suggestion to have a list of slots. I remembered at IVAO you had to sign in for an actual scheduled flight, out of a list that represented the actual in- and outs from and to a particular airport. So for realism I downloaded a matching livery for a matching aircraft to perform a real scheduled flight. Which was nice, but one has to be so kind to unsubscribe from a slot when you cannot join, so that it becomes free for another user.

The biggest risk I associate with a slot system is the under-utilization of airport and airspace capacity when people cannot make their slot times. Yes, canceling one's slot reservation is the appropriate thing to do so that others may sign up, but there are going to be situations where something happens last-minute and a pilot is unable to cancel his or her slot. 

7 hours ago, Sander Cedee said:

It is also more realistic, because you don't end up tail-to-tail with three aircraft of the same carrier flying from and to the same airports at almost the same time. Ha. 

This is arguably the most realistic method of operation. Airlines are constantly descending (pardon the pun) on their respective hub airports in a relatively short time span, multiple times a day, every day of the week. That's why the real world has several types of traffic management programs such as metering, MIT, EDCTs, and if it gets really bad, ground stops. Fortunately, VATSIM has been working on implementing some of these programs for the various events that take place on the network in order to manage sector loads and airport demand. The idea of course is to minimise the amount of delay that users experience.

On 1/4/2021 at 6:24 PM, Kirk Christie said:

They dont have regular mass fly in events in real life, on that basis the very concept of a fly in event event is unrealistic.

I saw this comment earlier and it stood out to me precisely because I think there are a great deal of real world fly-ins all over the world. AOPA, for example, has three or four fly-ins a year throughout the US; EAA has their AirVenture at OSH; there's Sun 'n' Fun in Florida. Then consider the number of general aviation pilots that like to get together on the weekends and fly to their favorite airport for breakfast. I can't imagine that there aren't equivalent fly-in events happening outside the US, though I could certainly be wrong. 

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7 minutes ago, Dustin Rider said:

This is arguably the most realistic method of operation. Airlines are constantly descending (pardon the pun) on their respective hub airports in a relatively short time span, multiple times a day, every day of the week.

I think Sander's point was that you don't usually get a line of aircraft all from the same airline all departing at the same time and all going to the same destination. That last part is the key.

9 minutes ago, Dustin Rider said:

I saw this comment earlier and it stood out to me precisely because I think there are a great deal of real world fly-ins all over the world. AOPA, for example, has three or four fly-ins a year throughout the US; EAA has their AirVenture at OSH; there's Sun 'n' Fun in Florida. Then consider the number of general aviation pilots that like to get together on the weekends and fly to their favorite airport for breakfast. I can't imagine that there aren't equivalent fly-in events happening outside the US, though I could certainly be wrong.

There are also major sporting events that result in a fly in. However, those events, plus the ones you mentioned, are dominated by GA aircraft, not airliners like we get during VATSIM events.

Developer: vPilot, VRC, vSTARS, vERAM, VAT-Spy

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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And then there was today’s FNO at KATL, 50+ departures,  240+ arrivals, 28 controllers, not a step over, clean descents and vectors, I was lined up with 3 other guys in final. To ZTL, freakin awesome job!!

 

if we give ground holds it’s unrealistic, if we give holds in the air it’s unrealistic, I wonder how many actually fly or know about what happens in the r/w? I agree, folks only have a few hrs to fly, but we can’t accommodate everyone now, can we? We try our best. There are events like what some mentioned above and ZTL, then there are some where the controller forgets u and u r on a vector away from the airport and flying between 2 acft criss crossing. U win some u lose some. Please don’t forget it’s a hobby and enjoy what u can!!

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When is your next Flight||VATSIM HitSquad Member, ZOA/ZAK/GANDER/P1

 

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Enjoyed the Atlanta event today myself. Only waited maybe 10 minutes in line for the runway outbound (heard some holding 20 mins as I was pushing back, but it cleared by the time I got there). and the ATC was pretty spot on.

Flying into or out of busy airports is going to lead to delays. It might be something that's unusual at back of nowhere town airport. But in some parts of the world "Ground hold" "Ground stop" "Number 11 for the runway" and holds are just a thing that happens. (well it did before 2020, and hopefully will again one day).

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Trent Hopkinson YMML. www.youtube.com/musicalaviator WorldFlight 2002,2008,2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2015

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Never in all my years in VATSIM did I ever think we would get to the point where people are complaining about it being too busy. 🤣 I think its marvellous! Over time, there will be more rated controllers and the ability to split sectors right down will increase. As ever, if you’re short on time and attend an “overload” event at a large airport, that is a poor choice on your part.

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3 hours ago, Callum McLoughlin said:

As ever, if you’re short on time and attend an “overload” event at a large airport, that is a poor choice on your part.

Hi Callum,

we are not talking mainly about "overload" and "real ops" events, or even Worldflight. It is about simple weekly events that can be overcrowded these days. Usually everything runs fine, almost everyone can accept waiting at the gate for 15 minutes. I rather wait at my parking position than in line on the taxiway with engines running. That's why we have these slots (CTOT) in RW Europe. If then, however, a groupflight joins with 10 or 15 pilots, the delays tend to become exponential. Everyone is free to fly where he or she wants, it's all fine by me. I just wish that ATCOs would then temporarily switch from "SOPs save the day" to "creative and tactical clearances save our weekly event" to push out as many pilots as possible in the shortest time possible. It does not have to be an SID all the time, just give radar vectored departures to maintain positive separation. In our virtual world we have the privilege of being able to be more creative than the harshly regulated real world, although in the real world certain tricks and techniques can be used to squeeze more traffic in and out of airports, within certain limits. Last week, Geneva ATC gave us a visual approach into runway 04, although this was, because it was so quiet 😉 On the way out we got a shortcut almost direct to our destination, awesome.

Edited by Andreas Fuchs
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The term „overload“ is about to become obsolete anyways as more and more events escalate to an „overload“.

It‘s all cool that many have experiences and examples that waiting in line with 10 other aircrafts at the holding point, but that seem to be just examples. I personally can’t say that I experience horrendous delays on a regular basis in the real world. There are tons of reasons for delays, but a sudden and unexpected rise in traffic loads is barely one of them.

also „don’t fly to events if they’re too crowded“ isn’t really an argument for the issue and I assume that’s also not the message we want to tell with events.

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3 hours ago, Roman Renner said:

also „don’t fly to events if they’re too crowded“ isn’t really an argument for the issue and I assume that’s also not the message we want to tell with events.

With all due respect it does seem like an argument for the issue. VATSIM isn’t gonna be banning pilots from flying in events any time soon. If you are planning on flying into an event like an FNO, expect major delays. If you don’t like that, fly elsewhere. There’s always non-event ATC available in non-event areas so why not take advantage of that? That’s the great thing about VATSIM. You can go wherever you want and have a decent chance of finding ATC or other traffic for you to coordinate with. But at the same time, let’s be honest who doesn’t love the thrill of sitting in a holding pattern for 20 minutes😝?

Josh Jenk

CZVR C1 controller

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With all due respect it does seem like an argument for the issue.

You're definitely right if you're happy with the current traffic load during events. Without counting every single post in this thread, I would say about half the people commenting here find events are too crowded. For them this is just a killer argument which ends any further discussion. Also I can't really make friends with the thought that the event calender becomes a "where not to fly" calender, at least for me and some others 😃

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If you don’t like that, fly elsewhere. There’s always non-event ATC available in non-event areas so why not take advantage of that?

That's what I'm doing most of the time. Fortunately, there's more and more ATC coverage outside of events and that's great to see. Nonetheless you always need some luck that there's still ATC online at your arrival airport after a 2+ hour flight.

But as I said, this shouldn't just be a thread about just my opinion and I also don't want to spread any bad vibes for people who love events. I just wanted to see if anybody else has the same impression as me and what could be done to handle the increasing amount of traffic. It seems like many people feel the same, but probably not the majority at the moment. Maybe the traffic load will balance naturally as some thought or maybe the increasing number of active members will lead to more people being annoyed by events.

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The massive influx of new users from COVID followed by MSFS2020 has resulted in ATC training backlogs pretty much network-wide.  As the ratio of controllers to pilots re-stabilizes, events with three, four, or more focus fields might start to become the norm. 

Edited by Robert Shearman Jr

Cheers,

-R.

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12 hours ago, Robert Shearman Jr said:

The massive influx of new users from COVID followed by MSFS2020 has resulted in ATC training backlogs pretty much network-wide.  As the ratio of controllers to pilots re-stabilizes, events with three, four, or more focus fields might start to become the norm. 

Indeed; ATC population lags significantly behind pilot population due to stricter training requirements - you can become a VATSIM pilot in 30 minutes, but controlling takes more training.

We'll also have to wait and see how many of those new members will actually stick around - it could very well be that, even with an ongoing pandemic, we're back to much lower active pilot counts within a couple weeks. Time will tell.

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Good point, I didn’t think about that. With waiting times of several months it will take some time until balance between pilots and ATC has reestablished. That will hopefully give us even more opportunities to choose from besides the events. However, as events are usually fully staffed and more controllers won’t create more ATC stations, there probably won’t be any improvement in regards of events.

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1 minute ago, Roman Renner said:

Good point, I didn’t think about that. With waiting times of several months it will take some time until balance between pilots and ATC has reestablished. That will hopefully give us even more opportunities to choose from besides the events. However, as events are usually fully staffed and more controllers won’t create more ATC stations, there probably won’t be any improvement in regards of events.

There are plenty more ATC positions that can be opened up to support these events.

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7 hours ago, Roman Renner said:

Good point, I didn’t think about that. With waiting times of several months it will take some time until balance between pilots and ATC has reestablished. That will hopefully give us even more opportunities to choose from besides the events. However, as events are usually fully staffed and more controllers won’t create more ATC stations, there probably won’t be any improvement in regards of events.

... unless, like I said, you start creating events with three or four focus fields rather than one.

Cheers,

-R.

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On 12/29/2020 at 11:31 AM, Robert Shearman Jr said:

VATUSA is starting to do a better job at flow management for Friday Night Ops events, but the flip-side is that pilots get upset that DEL or GND is telling them they have to wait 30 minutes to depart for the event field (to join their coordinated spot in the arrival queue) so they pull the move described earlier in this post wherein they disconnect, depart, and reconnect airborne, effectively sidestepping our efforts to regulate the stream into the FNO airport and "jumping the line."

A better solution, at least in the US, is -- if you want good traffic levels but not insane ones, fly to and from airports in sectors *adjoining* the event host, which will almost always staff up and have decent traffic. Not sure whether that holds true outside VATUSA or not.  Maybe others can comment on that. 

The FNO seems to be getting very popular. I have done 3 over the last few weeks and I think the airport chosen plays a big part in it. A couple weeks ago when KATL hosted, it was not bad, some delay vectors enroute but handled well. Following week at KMSP, ground stops as far west as Denver (my APU got a workout sitting out on a de-ice pad for 40 minutes) and then delay vectors getting in. Departures out of MSP where +45 min. Tonight at KPHX, it was bad for inbounds. Over an hour on the ground at KLAS before getting a release time. When I got to KPHX, they were in a ground stop for departures. I was going to head out to DEN but logged off and called it a night, way to long to wait to get out. As I type this at 0305Z there is 66 departures and 108 arrivals for PHX, 41 arrivals and 27 departures from KABQ. The event was supposed to end 5 minutes ago. This is getting out of hand fast it seems. Not sure what the answer is.........

Edited by Eric Fisher

Eric

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6 minutes ago, Eric Fisher said:

Not sure what the answer is

The answer is to plan for delays and be patient. I flew LAS-PHX tonight, waited about 30 minutes for departure, and had a great flight into PHX, with lots of aircraft out my window on parallel approaches. Loved it. The wait at LAS is a small price to pay for the fun of flying into a very busy airport where the controllers aren't going down the tubes.

Great job ZAB!

Developer: vPilot, VRC, vSTARS, vERAM, VAT-Spy

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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2 hours ago, Eric Fisher said:

{...}  I think the airport chosen plays a big part in it. A couple weeks ago when KATL hosted, it was not bad, some delay vectors enroute but handled well. Following week at KMSP, ground stops as far west as Denver (my APU got a workout sitting out on a de-ice pad for 40 minutes) and then delay vectors getting in. Departures out of MSP where +45 min. Tonight at KPHX, it was bad for inbounds. Over an hour on the ground at KLAS before getting a release time. When I got to KPHX, they were in a ground stop for departures. {...}

Weather is also a factor.  "Operation Deep Freeze" (Minneapolis) and "Escape the Cold" (Phoenix) were both conducted while major storm systems were rolling through.  I don't remember what the weather was like for the Atlanta one.

Edited by Robert Shearman Jr

Cheers,

-R.

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14 hours ago, Robert Shearman Jr said:

Weather is also a factor.  "Operation Deep Freeze" (Minneapolis) and "Escape the Cold" (Phoenix) were both conducted while major storm systems were rolling through.  I don't remember what the weather was like for the Atlanta one.

KATL was better because they had 3 runways for arrivals and 2 for departures. Places like KATL, KORD and KDEN do much better.

Eric

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Jeremy, I am a data maven and really appreciate all the data and corresponding analysis.

One thing that I continue to note, and this has been going on for years, is that traffic is still quite solid at midnight Eastern US time (04 or 05Z, depending on season), and often times beyond.  I continue to appreciate (very much) the many facilities that recognize this, and staff up in shifts or otherwise ensure staffing through at least that time, if not later.  The fact that many facilities do their best to staff to meet pilot demand is excellent.  As an aside, though, I continue to be massively puzzled at why facilities generally advertise ending times at 11pm, or even 10pm, Eastern.  Regardless of the advertised end time, though, it is smart and admirable of the facilities that work hard to ensure enough "clean up" staffing that supports the traffic that desire to fly in the event.

I agree that COVID has made things extremely "interesting" for the community in terms of volume.  But I do believe that, since August, MSFS has contributed to that as well, and where some COVID impact may be waning, MSFS has picked up that slack.

Thank you for all you, your team, and all the facilities do to ensure the best possible outcome for our community!

Don Desfosse
Vice President, Membership

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2 hours ago, Eric Fisher said:

KATL was better because they had 3 runways for arrivals and 2 for departures. Places like KATL, KORD and KDEN do much better.

Yeah, and if we could magically build more runways everywhere that’d be fantastic, but the reality is not every field is equipped to handle 300-ish arrival operations in a 4.5 hour period.

There are active discussions across VATUSA right now with how to better balance the FNO concept with the traffic demands. The last year has been a unique challenge in that respect to say the least.

Dhruv Kalra

VATUSA ZMP ATM | Instructor | VATSIM Network Supervisor

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Well, as suggested before, temporarily (COVID will not go on forever) create a transparent airport slot system. ATC knows how many departures and arrivals they can handle and those slots are just the result of this. This way pilots would know whether it would be feasible to fly such a city-pair, or not. Some will be happy to wait on the ground for 30 or 40 minutes, others would like to use that time inflight and choose a different city-pair. A completely factual view at things. I know, you have those "ground stops" that are something similar. Does vATC in vUSA actually tell pilots how long the waiting time will be, so they can make an educated decision?

And, maybe, it's time to apply some Worldflight-procedures. Current traffic-levels on city-pairs remind me very much of Worldflight and with a bit of flexibility (1 NM separation on final, land behind traffic still on the runway etc.) you could fit most people in, minimizing those ground stops. Oh yes, I am very much aware that you guys are not in favour of this stuff, but I honestly think that we have the privilege of "playing" in this virtual world where we can stretch the limits, bend the rules and get the job done to the amazement of pilots. Oh, and it is fun as well. Don't forget: we are just moving bits and bytes here, nobody can ever get hurt. At all.

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