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P0 Pilots and Flight Plans


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Hello. I'm an S1 with VATUK and I've been recently seeing a lot of people who are new to vatsim not knowing how to properly file a flight plan. Now I don't mind if they've used an invalid SID or not filed via airways since they know how to fix their issues and once fixed they generally don't do it again. Usually, this is them filing a flight plan with a invalid altitude for direction and no route filed, an example I've seen is EGCC-EGLL, FL300, no route. I always ask people to refile with a route but a lot of the time they don't know how to do this, I then link them to simbrief to find a valid route. But still a lot of people don't file via a SID and STAR and often just choose a VOR in the middle or complete random waypoints. To me, this is very concerning as how would an area controller deal with such routes, especially if they're as busy as London or New York.

This also concerns me because if some people cannot find a basic route, how are they going to even fly the airplane? Is there not something in the P0 exam that covers this?

To prevent this from happening further, does everyone think that in the P0 exam, for example people should be asked to find a route or file a valid flight plan for a destination filed A-B, possibly something simple like EGLL-EHAM, EKCH-EDDH something not too long. I think this would greatly reduce the amount of people on the network that don't know the basics of routing.

I'd like to hear other people's opinions on this matter.

Thanks, have a good new year.

Edited by Cole Edwards
thought the title better fit the topic
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  • Cole Edwards changed the title to P0 Pilots and Flight Plans

P0 here. I totally agree with you. If ATC has to pass tests and be trained online, I think pilots should have to do the same. This would make online flying a smoother experience for both sides of the radar.

N313GM, P0: XP11.55, Windows 10, Intel I7-5939K 3.5 GHZ, NVIDIA GTX980 4GB, 16GB DDR4 2400 RAM,

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I'm generally in favor of anything that promotes basic pilot competencies.  However, coming up with a valid IFR route is very different depending on what part of the world you're flying in, and I wouldn't consider it fair or helpful to ask US-based pilots to find resources for routing in the UK and vice-versa.  So, it wouldn't be as easy as you're making it sound, but, I agree with the general principle.

Cheers,

-R.

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The concept is sound, the difficulty would be implementation.

As Rob points out, this is very region-specific and not only that but there are usually several different ways to skin a cat and on top of that what's a valid route this month may change next month with the next AIRAC cycle... so it's very difficult to adminster automatically and a huge burden to keep the 'right' answers up to date.

Vice President, Pilot Training

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Is this something that can be solved with an alias file entry?

.norte Hello, I see that you haven’t provided a routing in your flight plan. This is required in order for controllers to accommodate for your flight. I advise using the flight planning service https://simbrief.com. More information can be found in the Pilot Learning Center: https://vats.im/plc.

Mats Edvin Aarø
Assistant to the Vice President - Supervisors
VATSIM General Manager: Member Engagement
[email protected]

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20 hours ago, Cole Edwards said:

But still a lot of people don't file via a SID and STAR and often just choose a VOR in the middle or complete random waypoints.

I only fly in Europe atm, and I (almost) never file a SID and STAR, intentionally at least. Simbrief usually puts something in there, but as it does not know what is the flow at the airport it may guess a wrong one anyway. And btw, it seems that SID and STAR are not prefiled to Vatsim anyway, even if they are in the Simbrief flightplan.

My procedure, and you should correct if wrong:

  1. create a plan (Simbrief)
  2. file via Simbrief->Vatsim
  3. Start xpilot/xplane/ASXP/etc etc
  4. log into Vatsim
  5. doodle around in the cockpit
  6. check the ATIS/weather to be ready for possible RWY/SID combinations
  7. request IFR clearance, there I will receive the current correct RWY and SID
  8. fill in the FMS
  9. off we go

Or should I first pop up at the airport and guesstimate the correct RWY/SID and only then file the plan? It may still not be correct and STAR would be anyway a guess.  And as I said, I would have to edit SID and STAR on the Vatsim prefile page as they are not there from the Simbrief.

Edited by Lauri Uusitalo
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17 hours ago, Mats Edvin Aaro said:

Is this something that can be solved with an alias file entry?

.norte Hello, I see that you haven’t provided a routing in your flight plan. This is required in order for controllers to accommodate for your flight. I advise using the flight planning service https://simbrief.com. More information can be found in the Pilot Learning Center: https://vats.im/plc.

While you are at it, you might want to take a look at this

https://www.vatsim.net/pilots/file-flightplan

and perhaps add a Simbrief link to this list

https://www.vatsim.net/pilots/resources

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22 minutes ago, Lauri Uusitalo said:

Or should I first pop up at the airport and guesstimate the correct RWY/SID and only then file the plan? It may still not be correct and STAR would be anyway a guess

Usually there will only be one SID from the departure runway to the exit point. At some airports there might be a couple of variants but you will end up at the same point. The most important thing when you are planning is that your route starts from a fix which is at the end of a SID and ends up at a fix which is the start of a STAR.

The SID is a means to an end - it is just a way to organise outbound traffic to certain fixes and cut down on R/T (so instead of the controller having to tell every aircraft "after departure climb straight ahead to ABC 2 DME, then turn right to intercept the 060 radial from XYZ, climb to 6000 feet" they can just say "XYZ2 departure" and you can read the rest for yourself). Likewise with the STAR.

As such normally if you have planned your route as such and checked the weather to see which runway is likely to be in use then you should have a pretty cast iron idea of which SID/STAR you are likely to get.

It is normally a better use of time before departure to programme and check as much of the FMS as possible, and for shorter sectors I would certainly programme the expected STAR and landing runway if it wouldn't delay my departure to do so rather than wait until the last minute when I am in the air and likely to be much busier. Likewise, having listened to the ATIS and knowing the departure runway I can select the runway and the SID I expect to get - if it changes then it's only about two button pushes to select a different one but if not then everything is ready to go and I can check the procedure that has been loaded against the chart without trying to compress that in to a short amount of time before pushback whilst also loading the rest of the route etc.

As for filing the SID/STAR in the ATC flight plan - this depends on the country. In the USA it is normal to do so, in Europe it depends - the UK used to say not to, now they don't have a position either way and in real life it depends on the operator and the settings in their flight planning software (BA usually do file the SID/STAR nowadays, for instance).

If you file a specific SID or STAR and the controller gives you a different one, no problem - you don't have to worry about the flight plan you filed because that 'belongs' to the controller once you send it off - it's a tool for them, so unless they specifically ask you to refile you can assume they have amended it to their satisfaction themselves.

In short - I would suggest that your order of doing things is mostly fine (certainly plan and file first). Then once in the flight deck I always say it is good practice to start by getting the ATIS/weather before you get engrossed in setting up the aircraft as this then gives you a good idea as to which runway/SID you will get (plus you can set the QNH on the altimeters etc).

Then you can programme and check the FMS with what you expect to get, request clearance and confirm/update the departure if required, then do a quick brief/final check that everything is set up and off you go!

Workload management and anticipating ahead are key - always look to 'get ahead' where you can when it is less busy so you cut down the chances that you'll be trying to do several things at once.

Vice President, Pilot Training

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4 minutes ago, Simon Kelsey said:

As for filing the SID/STAR in the ATC flight plan - this depends on the country. In the USA it is normal to do so, in Europe it depends - the UK used to say not to, now they don't have a position either way and in real life it depends on the operator and the settings in their flight planning software (BA usually do file the SID/STAR nowadays, for instance).

Thank you for your reply. I know the concept of SID and STAR, and I was more interested in the part you touched in the quote.

With my experience in prefiling via Simbrief, do I need to start manually adding SID and STAR or not (if flying in the UK)? As per the OP was implying. The tools themselves seem to drop them. How they are done in US in this case?

Or perhaps OP was actually complaining about lack of correct first/last waypoint in the plan, not the actual SID/STAR. Then I can understand the frustration.

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In the UK officially there is no right or wrong answer any more - file it or don't file it, whichever you want, both are correct (the AIP doesn't say you must file it, nor does it say you must not - which it used to a couple of years ago).

In my experience if a SID/STAR is planned as part of the route in Simbrief it will usually pass it to the prefile form, but I might be wrong?

My reading of Cole's post was that it was more to do with pilots not filing an appropriate initial/final waypoint as opposed to specifically typing the SID etc in to the FP.

 

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Vice President, Pilot Training

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1 hour ago, Simon Kelsey said:

In the UK officially there is no right or wrong answer any more - file it or don't file it, whichever you want, both are correct (the AIP doesn't say you must file it, nor does it say you must not - which it used to a couple of years ago).

In my experience if a SID/STAR is planned as part of the route in Simbrief it will usually pass it to the prefile form, but I might be wrong?

My reading of Cole's post was that it was more to do with pilots not filing an appropriate initial/final waypoint as opposed to specifically typing the SID etc in to the FP.

 

Yes. This is what I mean, to file a waypoint where a SID ends (example first waypoint in flight plan: SANBA then euroscope tells us SANBA1R) but I often get pilots where they file a first waypoint where no Sid ends in any circumstance at their departure airport.

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14 hours ago, Cole Edwards said:

but I often get pilots where they file a first waypoint where no Sid ends in any circumstance at their departure airport.

So you would just issue a radar departure. Its not required to follow a SID or Plan via A SID or STAR fix. They are a nice to have not a must have.

Kirk Christie - VATPAC C3

VATPAC Undercover ATC Agent

Worldflight Perth 737-800 Crew Member

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On 1/1/2021 at 3:31 PM, John Stockton said:

P0 here. I totally agree with you. If ATC has to pass tests and be trained online, I think pilots should have to do the same. This would make online flying a smoother experience for both sides of the radar.

The problem with this is that we would be left with a very small number of active pilots on the network.

Some back-of-the-envelope math. At any given time, we typically have about 10x more pilots than ATC on the network, and this ratio is roughly on par with what makes for a desirable experience on both sides - if 25% of these pilots are under active ATC surveillance, then that means that each ATC is handling 2.5 flights at once on average, which is pretty OK. I believe that the vast majority of pilots on the network does not have a pilot rating, and I think it's reasonable to assume that many of those who don't have one would, if pressed, leave the network rather than go through the certification process. I wouldn't be surprised if making pilot ratings mandatory would instantly cut the pilot population down to maybe 20% or so, and that would mean that the average ATC would rarely see more than one flight at a time in their sector.

Which makes me think that the occasional incompetent pilot is probably the lesser evil.

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On 1/1/2021 at 2:31 PM, John Stockton said:

P0 here. I totally agree with you. If ATC has to pass tests and be trained online, I think pilots should have to do the same. This would make online flying a smoother experience for both sides of the radar.

if pilots where to be trained like ATC and restricted in what they would be able to fly we wouldnt have a network like we have now. and it would be more like pilotedge to some degree. with P0 you wouldnt be able to fly commercial jets as those would atpl restricted. you could only fly on your own in GA single engine piston aircraft in VFR after you get P1.  P2 would allow you to fly IFR and P3 would allow you to fly multi engine aircraft but only in a businessjet setting. not sure i would want to be forced to train in order to fly. i might as well not fly on the network and fly offline.

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On 1/2/2021 at 12:33 PM, Lauri Uusitalo said:

With my experience in prefiling via Simbrief, do I need to start manually adding SID and STAR or not (if flying in the UK)? As per the OP was implying. The tools themselves seem to drop them. How they are done in US in this case?

 

On 1/2/2021 at 12:43 PM, Simon Kelsey said:

In the UK officially there is no right or wrong answer any more - file it or don't file it, whichever you want, both are correct (the AIP doesn't say you must file it, nor does it say you must not - which it used to a couple of years ago).

In my experience if a SID/STAR is planned as part of the route in Simbrief it will usually pass it to the prefile form, but I might be wrong?

 

 

In my experience planning stuff all around Europe, SimBrief typically gets it right. It will throw out the SID and STAR for your personal reference in any case but it will send to filing whatever is appropriate locally. If I depart a German airport to arrive at Zurich for example, SimBrief will file the SID as required in Germany but will automatically not file the STAR, which Swiss control doesn't want you to.

I don't think it's ever a good recommendation to just rely blindly on what SimBrief considers appropriate and it messes up occasionally indeed, but at least it's definitely aware of this particular thing.

Plus, if you have SimBrief pull up your routing for you, I don't see how there would be a way to have a discontinuity after departure.

Edited by Jonas Helkey
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15 minutes ago, Lauri Uusitalo said:

I can understand the requirement for controller training. As a controller affects to everybody on the network (under their area) but the pilot only him/herself (and perhaps ATC).

That’s pretty dismissive of the controller’s enjoyment. As great and patient as most of our controllers are, they’re still human and are doing this for their own enjoyment. You add up that one pilot over and over and over, and it becomes very unenjoyable for the controller. Pilots should strive to improve every flight on the network and take it upon themselves to seek further training.

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Unless otherwise stated, opinions are my own and not representative of the official opinion of the VATSIM Board of Governors

 

 

 

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Just now, Matthew Bartels said:

That’s pretty dismissive of the controller’s enjoyment. As great and patient as most of our controllers are, they’re still human and are doing this for their own enjoyment. You add up that one pilot over and over and over, and it becomes very unenjoyable for the controller. Pilots should strive to improve every flight on the network and take it upon themselves to seek further training.

It may sound dismissive, but I see it more like as a "greater reponsibility", in a positive way.

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12 hours ago, Lauri Uusitalo said:

It may sound dismissive, but I see it more like as a "greater reponsibility", in a positive way.

I don't want to sound like a jerk, but, try saying that after you have some experience providing ATC services on the network. 

Cheers,

-R.

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