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Events with no or nearly no ATC


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Hi all,

the last years one can recognize a large increasing number of events advertized with nice pictures, mentioning many VACCs and even a slot booking system. And thereafter when joining the event as pilot most or even all is to fly on Unicom, no ATC online. In my opinion there should be some kind of quality management for advertized events, some criteria for a minimal ATC coverage also enroute. It would be better, to have less, not so many parallel events side by side, but the remaining ones with better quality and ATC coverage. 

What do you think?

Regards Rainer

Regards Rainer

ATCo S2 VATGER RG München - exPTD4 - oldP5 new P2- PTD 2-6

See You in the skies...

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There's currently an event between Rio de Janeiro and Lisboa airports, but unfortunately there is no ATC for the ocean crossing, nor Sal, nor Dakar are online. I assume that this is what Rainer is referring to.

Edited by Andreas Fuchs
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Atlântico was staffed, not sure if the entire time, but they were definitely online at some point.

However Dakar and Sal unfortunately were a no show. As far as I know they were asked for staffing several weeks ago. There is not much that can be done if they either forget or have no controllers available. 

Unfortunately every event overflying another countries airspace carries some unicom risk, as neither the departure nor the arrival countries can be certain all enroute sectors will be covered. Especially since events are sometimes planned months in advance. I would assume very few people could commit to controlling months in advance. Therefore, events are planned, enroute sectors are asked for ATC, and then it's a case of hoping for them to cooperate and be online.

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16 minutes ago, Andre Almeida said:

However Dakar and Sal unfortunately were a no show. As far as I know they were asked for staffing several weeks ago. There is not much that can be done if they either forget or have no controllers available.

Had we known, we could have called in "Team Worldflight" 🙂

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I did not want to point on one special event, I recognized that several times last months or years and it is not my intention to blame special organizers. I assume they all had good intentions. I think, there should be more communication and organization to take benefits from having some less events in number, but more in quality. I think, it is disappointing for the organizers, too, to have done the work and later at the event there is no really somehow complete coverage. 

Yes, as WHT3RJ I participated at the „It takes 2 for Tango“ event today and coverage over the ocean could have been some better. But there have been much worse examples in the past, the service in Brazil and at the Canarias was very good and friendly. As said: I do not want to blame someone special and therefore do not want to mention the events in the past I mean, I only want give the advice, not to put the efforts in too much parallel events when there are not enough controllers available to supply all of them sufficiently.

Regards Rainer

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Regards Rainer

ATCo S2 VATGER RG München - exPTD4 - oldP5 new P2- PTD 2-6

See You in the skies...

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Let me offer my take on this issue.

Oceanic is, unfortunately, often the second to last priority for Enroute controllers'. In many ways this is due to the fact that oceanic participation is usually an afterthought, Enroute controllers have their own division to participate in and put before oceanic, which I think is fair enough, however this really only scratches the surface of the problem.

Time and time again, my events team puts in countless hours of their own time and effort into organising what we think is an awesome event, whether that be Takes Two to Tango or Cross the Pond Lite or Oceanic Online, and then controllers are no-shows. The pilots clearly want to fly them, if I had a dime for the number of messages/emails about "where's the ATC" I'd be able to fund my pilot training 😛.

Not only do the pilots get disappointed that controllers don't show, it reflects poorly on the divisions/facilities who have put the months of effort into organising the event, begging controllers to show (we began organising Takes Two to Tango in October), who are then told "your event was bad", "no controllers showed", "the ATC participation was a disgrace", etc.

From a couple of surveys that we have done, it appears the lack of pilot education on oceanic procedures seems to be the main problem and frustration for oceanic controllers, but I'm at a loss at how we can go about solving this. It's a classic paradox, the pilots don't like to fly because oceanic ATC is hardly online but oceanic ATC doesn't like to participate because the pilots have either a) no idea what they are doing or b) simply don't log online to fly oceanic, and until it's addressed in some way we're going to continue to have events where oceanic ATC participation is minimal or just non existent. It's not that we don't have enough controllers, we could staff oceanic very comfortably 24/7 if the controllers wanted to.

My $0.02.

Cheers,

Edited by Andrew Ogden
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Andrew Ogden
Gander Oceanic OCA Chief
Vancouver FIR Senior Instructor

Visit us: https://ganderoceanic.ca
Contact: [email protected] 

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hi, my two cents.

My experience organizing events is always to ensure ATC in the arrival airport(s) and departure airport(s). This is the most priority. Then, if I have the contact or can contact other divisions in order to have enroute atc I will do.

The longer is the flight of an event, the most difficult is sometimes to coordinate enroute ATC. Even the oceanic ATC can be easy to coordinate for the event because you will need maybe one or two areas. But if you have an event flying over some countries you need to contact every one, wait for the answer, etc.. so most of the time you won't have any 100% confirmation about the coverage during the fly.

So at this point you have to decide, to go on with the event although you have no ATC en route because you dont have the confirmation or cancel the planning of the event.

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Félix Zapata (1245159)

vACC Director (ACCSP1)

VATSIM Spain (a.k.a VATSPA)

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Hey Rainer,

I was the one who came up with Takes Two To Tango, with the other participating vACC’s and Divisions, because of a Google form I sent out wanting to hear what people wanted, one of those ideas was that event, so I started planning what was gonna happen months in advance contacting and planning out what was needed of the divisions, routes, airports etc, the participating divisions promised ATC to be on, however doesn’t give a guarantee, as per Andrew said, it’s very frustrating for Controllers on Oceanic Positions with pilots that lack Oceanic Procedures, Controllers not controlling cause of Pilots not understanding and Pilots not understanding cause of no controllers. It’s not a lose lose situation, like we can obviously do a tutorial video for Pilots to watch which can help, however won’t be a massive factor with how things can be, with Pilot knowledge etc. All I hope for out of the event is despite places not logging on, at least you got some enjoyment out of it, if you have any feedback you can always message me privately on discord or email and I’m happy to take on suggestions. Email: [email protected] 

As anyone would, I’d hope things will change with time and things become better, and we can get more oceanic events besides Cross the Pond people will fly and control for.

Tyler :)

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Tyler Hindle | C1

Gander Oceanic OCA Events and Marketing Director

Gander Oceanic OCA Instructor

Visit us https://ganderoceanic.com

Contact: mailto:[email protected]

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Hi all,

once again: I did not mean it aimed especially to the „It takes 2 to Tango“ event. In this case I would have told that to one of the organizers via private message. I had good fun during the event. All participants would have been pleased by some more oceanic coverage, but that was not such a big thing.

In the past I had seen many events advertised - and then not a single position above APP covered. I even had examples, when in spite of a booked slot all, yes: all! controllers went offline at the moment I wanted to request clearance - with the exception of the ones of the destination covering the last ten minutes of a 4-hour flight. That is no fun, when it tooks two days to prepare the flight and install and get working special sceneries. 

I believe to recognize a tendency, that many want to have their own event, work on it with good intention on their own, but do not work together with all VACCs the event leads through, which will sure cause compromises to keep them all with their own intentions in the game. In my opinion less in number, but more in quality would give better benefit. Once again: „2 to Tango“ is not the one I see as an example for that.

I would appreciate if VATSIM would give the expectance, that an advertised  event should offer full enroute coverage and coverage fur the complete event time. Sure that won‘t succeed in every case. It is not our profession, we all do it for fun. Events with ATC organized only at DEP and DEST should tell that explicitly when advertising. A good example for that is this one: https://www.vatsim.net/events/venture-milan-hamad

@Andrew, Tyler: Pilots do not have sufficient opportunity to get familiar with oceanic procedures, that is demotivating for the controllers and therefore the pilots have even less opportunity to learn...and so on and so on, I agree with you, a vicious circle. We should cut that. But once again: That was not the thing my post was aimed to. 

Edited by Rainer Jurczyk 1058643
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Regards Rainer

ATCo S2 VATGER RG München - exPTD4 - oldP5 new P2- PTD 2-6

See You in the skies...

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Maybe, just maybe, it would be a good idea to open up the West African oceanic airspace for all controllers who are allowed to control Gander, Shanwick, Santa Maria and Atlantico (Brazil). In case of a no-show, the gap could be filled without too many complications, for such events. This would be a solution until the point that local controllers will be available to staff this piece of airspace regularly and reliably.

 

The observation that Rainer has made, has happened to me in the past as well, last year I think. Advertised event, hardly any local ATC on or they disconnected early/showed very late. That is a bit disappointing, but I personally have come across such a situation only once or twice. Sh*t happens.

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On this part of the topic:

@Andrew, Tyler: Pilots do not have sufficient opportunity to get familiar with oceanic procedures, that is demotivating for the controllers and therefore the pilots have even less opportunity to learn...and so on and so on, I agree with you, a vicious circle. We should cut that.

probably tried already, but as a suggestion anyway: maybe in the event-notes add an extensive briefing with step-by-step actions & R/T for the pilots?

Greetz,

Fritz

 

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1 hour ago, Andreas Fuchs said:

Maybe, just maybe, it would be a good idea to open up the West African oceanic airspace for all controllers who are allowed to control Gander, Shanwick, Santa Maria and Atlantico (Brazil). In case of a no-show, the gap could be filled without too many complications, for such events.

This would be interesting. Would definitely help, seeing as local controllers seem to be non-existent, or at least very inactive. 

It has happened before that non-Dakar/Sal controllers staffed those airspaces. Last event passing through that area (Bridge to South America) we received permission for Sal to be covered by Portuguese Oceanic controllers, whilst Dakar would be controlled by Brazilian Oceanic controllers.

However, whilst saying "All Oceanic controllers in Gander/Shanwick/Santa Maria/Atlântico may control Dakar/Sal during events" would be great, some kind of previous training might be needed, at least for Sal. Several airfields are inside that airspace, and even though Santa Maria controllers are familiar with having airports in the middle of the Oceanic airspace, Shanwick/Gander/Atlântico controllers may not be (unless we ignore the Islands, and the authorization would only be for enroute traffic).

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Clearences from Gander/Shanwick are normally/often given when the aircraft is in the air. Perhaps it might "confuse" such a controller to be called from an airport on the ground to request oceanic clearence. This however is quiet common when departing Iceland/Greenland/Faroe Islands. Perhaps this was the reason for the comment. However, I hardly ever control Oceanic airspace anymore (BICC endorsed). I think we need a tool for making sure the spacing is correct. I can easily give clearence, telling the airplane to be at OCA entry point at xxxxZ, but without being certain, that the spacing will be correct for the whole crossing. But that is for another tread.

Torben

Torben Andersen, VACC-SCA Controller (C1)

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12 hours ago, Rainer Jurczyk 1058643 said:

@Andrew, Tyler: Pilots do not have sufficient opportunity to get familiar with oceanic procedures, that is demotivating for the controllers and therefore the pilots have even less opportunity to learn...and so on and so on, I agree with you, a vicious circle. We should cut that. But once again: That was not the thing my post was aimed to. 

I think whilst it wasn't the aim of your original post, it falls under the same category of "events without ATC" and is still relevant.

 

Here's an example of what I was talking about before. Pilots want to fly, but everything then gets piled onto us when controllers are no-shows, despite the countless hours of event organising time.

image.png.85e7c3117c815ec653f05c7c7dbb5cb4.png

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Andrew Ogden
Gander Oceanic OCA Chief
Vancouver FIR Senior Instructor

Visit us: https://ganderoceanic.ca
Contact: [email protected] 

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Personally, I find it quite disgusting to see people take free stuff for granted like this.

Someone has put dozens of hours of unpaid labor into a thing they love, and they invited others to join and enjoy the fruits of that labor for free, no strings attached; then something doesn't go as planned, and some of those who were invited send emails like this one. That's just... idk... it's like walking into a store that offers free samples, but they ran out and so you throw a fit and demand to "speak to the manager".

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I agree with Tobias, one issue we had with Cross the Land last year was that we had partial enroute coverage on the routes between Europe to the Middle East. Yet in the feedback pilots still enjoyed the event regardless because they had some ATC coverage, be happy that you still had ATC.

You need to understand the planning that went through the event, months of planning, emails, discussions to all make this happen and things don't always go to plan especially on VATSIM. Trying to get hold of certain people to coordinate ATC is quite hard because there are different people for different tasks, and not everyone can control 24 hours a day 7 days a week for events. You're promised ATC coverage and then something comes up, well tough luck move on and enjoy what's left of the event.

We can also turn this around when we get pilots that constantly request specific events and when we then plan these events and no one flies then who to blame? The pilot? Kind of a backstab move.

Edited by Chriss Klosowski
CHRISS KLOSOWSKI
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3 hours ago, Tobias Dammers said:

That's just... idk... it's like walking into a store that offers free samples, but they ran out and so you throw a fit and demand to "speak to the manager".

I work in bulk sale. We offer free stuff a lot - and that kind of thing happens all the time, I kid you not. Not one promotion like that where nobody gets pissed because they felt entitled. It is human nature apparently to weigh your own expectations over the logistics on the other side.

That said, I do have at least some understanding for the pilots that get a little cranky. A flight like Brazil - Portugal takes what I would presume to be an increased amount of planning on the pilot's part (having no idea about or interest in oceanic crossings myself) and is quite a commitment for a hobbyist pilot if you look at the flight time that he goes into because of the (not unreasonable, please) expectation that coverage will be provided the way it was announced. These guys are simply disappointed and I think they have a right to be - not that this gives anyone the right to become so belligerent about it and yell at other hobbyists, but I think it reflects positively on the network itself that these pilots had such expectations since those don't come from nowhere either. They're used to enjoying such high standards around here, which is a good thing. Some people just don't know how to handle a setback in an appropriate way.

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It's OK to be disappointed - someone said there would be coverage, and that didn't happen. It's the wording, and the lack of empathy, that icks me.

By all means, be disappointed, and express your disappointment, but keep in mind who runs these events, and what they receive for it in return. It's like inviting all your friends to a party, but then the caterer messes up and you end up ordering pizza instead, and your friends all go "I'm very upset about this party, you promised a shrimp buffet, but all I got was pizza, despite the text on the invitation you sent me. This is the second time I get invited to a free no-show shrimp buffet this month. Please don't invite me to any more parties if you can't get me my free shrimps."

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That example is a little skewed, to make it fit a little better, you'd be serving your guests nothing. Or maybe an entrée and a dessert when you promised them a full meal - so they didn't eat any dinner, they show up hungry, now they have to stay pretty hungry until they get home. They planned around what you said you'd provide and then they didn't get it. And even though you're offering it for free, they'd be annoyed.

Again, I wanna make sure you don't get me wrong here, I'm not trying to defend any of the people in the examples that were quoted or anything, just trying to mediate a little bit. Whenever two sides are peeved at each other, reaching a mutual understanding is near impossible.

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Stop making me hungry!  😉  Now I want shrimp, pizza, and a bunch of free samples! 😉

 

I think what event coordinators should be taking from this is that if they are planning and advertising an event between X and Y, they should be very actively working to guarantee full staffing between X and Y.  It's what our community is hoping for (and unless published otherwise, expecting).

 

For some places in the globe, that is easier than others, due to a variety of reasons.  However, event coordinators should strive to ensure that level of staffing, coordinating in plenty of time with all intermediate facilities, and ensuring with all of those facilities that staffing is in place 3 days prior, and again 1 day prior.

 

Failing that, the event should be very clearly publicized as "staffing planned at X and at Y, but you may not get staffing in between". 

 

Just my thoughts/personal opinions.

Don Desfosse
Vice President, Membership

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3 hours ago, Don Desfosse said:

Failing that, the event should be very clearly publicized as "staffing planned at X and at Y, but you may not get staffing in between". 

Maybe such a notice could never do any harm. One might argue it's a bit of a shame you have to do it, but pointing that out can really only lead to positive surprises and nib any argument in the bud should something not work out.

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