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Is it time to abandon /t?


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Regarding a survey of members to find out what they think about /t, it's probable that a huge majority will not care if /t disappears.

But that's not the point. It depends on what kind of world you live in. If you have no hearing/speech disorders, /t is clearly inferior except for those with mic-fright who would use /r, but if you don't live in that world, your only options are to use /t or go away.

Is VATSIM going to increase the isolation and exclusion of a group of its members who already feel disenfranchised every day of their life? I hope not.

Alistair Thomson

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Definition: a gentleman is a flying instructor in a Piper Cherokee who can change tanks without getting his face slapped.

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Plenty pilots start out as /t only, and move on to /r and /v after some time. I can't be sure, but it is certainly possible that a few of those wouldn't have given the network a try if /t wasn't available to them.

I personally don't enjoy it too much either if many pilots are /t, as it does make things a bit more difficult, but that's just how it is. I'd rather have them be /t then not be connected at all.

By the way, if we want to stop pilots being /t, then let's also make sure controllers don't just send a clearance via private message to pilots who haven't requested a PDC (can a private message be called a PDC?). I know, it makes things easier, but hey, so does being /t for some pilots.

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16 minutes ago, Andre Almeida said:

By the way, if we want to stop pilots being /t, then let's also make sure controllers don't just send a clearance via private message to pilots who haven't requested a PDC

Can you clarify what you mean here? Pilots using text-only for comms and controllers using text for clearances are very different things.

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

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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Honestly I can't see a big difference. In my view the concept is the same.

There are ways to send a PDC other then a private message. A delivery controller choosing to send them via private message does so because he it unable to use the appropriate tools (or doesn't have tools for his controller client), or because he believes it's easier then giving out all clearances on frequency via voice. Unless there's a third reason I am missing for clearances being sent via private message (without the pilot requesting it).

A pilot being text only is so because he either is unable to communicate via voice, or because he believes it's easier.

Can't grasp why it should be forbidden for pilots to be text, for the sake of immersion and realism, but then it'd fine for controllers to send out clearances via private message left, right and centre. 

Edited by Andre Almeida
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46 minutes ago, Andre Almeida said:

Honestly I can't see a big difference. In my view the concept is the same.

There are ways to send a PDC other then a private message. A delivery controller choosing to send them via private message does so because he it unable to use the appropriate tools (or doesn't have tools for his controller client), or because he believes it's easier then giving out all clearances on frequency via voice. Unless there's a third reason I am missing for clearances being sent via private message (without the pilot requesting it).

A pilot being text only is so because he either is unable to communicate via voice, or because he believes it's easier.

Can't grasp why it should be forbidden for pilots to be text, for the sake of immersion and realism, but then it'd fine for controllers to send out clearances via private message left, right and centre. 

Ground controllers in a real world don't do clearance delivery, they control the ground. Typically, clearances are given by PDC's or a clearance delivery frequency. These PDC's are provided prior to the aircraft even arriving at the gate. They can also request it (they do request it,) from their flight computers within the aircraft. in this case, PDCs are acceptable (plus when have you seen an ATC give a VFR PDC for example, its not out of being lazy its out of efficiency) 

I'd rather be focusing on controlling the ground and when I have an open window spitting out a couple of PDC's, rather than having to work a voice clearance delivery at the same time. In my opinion, it should be up to the controller whether or not PDC's will be in use during a session, not at the pilots request. PDC's are not unrealistic and not out of laziness. More advanced networks (some in beta or probably paid) have in built ACARS systems instead of our "PDCs" but they are the same concept.

Edited by Nicholas Camperos
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51 minutes ago, Andre Almeida said:

There are ways to send a PDC other then a private message. A delivery controller choosing to send them via private message does so because he it unable to use the appropriate tools (or doesn't have tools for his controller client), or because he believes it's easier then giving out all clearances on frequency via voice. Unless there's a third reason I am missing for clearances being sent via private message (without the pilot requesting it).

There other ways, but they're not universally supported. Not every pilot has a working Hoppie client. Everyone can read text messages though.

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19 minutes ago, Nicholas Camperos said:

Ground controllers in a real world don't do clearance delivery, they control the ground.

Not actually true. EGPF (rw) has no clearance delivery ATC position, so Ground issues clearances. But that's really a side issue to the main one in this thread.

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Alistair Thomson

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Definition: a gentleman is a flying instructor in a Piper Cherokee who can change tanks without getting his face slapped.

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You need to differentiate whether it is a "Ground" controller or an "Apron". "Ground" is provided by the official ATC provider/authority, while "Apron" falls under airport management. That's why you call DEL for clearance (or request a PDC from them), before switching to "Apron" who will be managing your movements on the apron. Later on and depending on the airport layout, you will be contacting "Ground" when you leave the apron and enter the taxiway system of the airport.

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22 minutes ago, Nicholas Camperos said:

Ground controllers in a real world don't do clearance delivery, they control the ground. Typically, clearances are given by PDC's or a clearance delivery frequency. These PDC's are provided prior to the aircraft even arriving at the gate. They can also request it (they do request it,) from their flight computers within the aircraft. in this case, PDCs are acceptable (plus when have you seen an ATC give a VFR PDC for example, its not out of being lazy its out of efficiency) 

I'd rather be focusing on controlling the ground and when I have an open window spitting out a couple of PDC's, rather than having to work a voice clearance delivery at the same time. In my opinion, it should be up to the controller whether or not PDC's will be in use during a session, not at the pilots request. PDC's are not unrealistic and not out of laziness. More advanced networks (some in beta or probably paid) have in built ACARS systems instead of our "PDCs" but they are the same concept.

I am not saying PDCs are unrealistic. I am saying throwing them out to everyone via private message is.

I've had it happen a few times already that I've connected at an airport, filed my flight plan, and within a minute vPilot beeps with a private message from XXXX_DEL giving me my clearance, all whilst my aircraft is still cold & dark. What is that _DEL controller if not a /t ATC? His job is issuing clearances, and he issues them all via text.

There are appropriate ways to request PDCs, and to issue PDCs. Doing it via text message to everyone is - from an outside point of view - to make the controllers life easier. It saves time, and avoid frequency congestion. Very good reasons to use it. Not overly realistic though. Just like /t. Not realistic. But there are good reasons to use it.

 

12 minutes ago, Tobias Dammers said:

Everyone can read text messages though.

Indeed (if we're - for the sake of argument - ignoring the blind pilots). Same applies to the ATC, they can read text messages as well. 

This was a few days ago: https://prnt.sc/y6q9dt . Would I have rather had the 8 /t aircraft be /v, or at least /r? Yes, no doubt. But was it the end of the world them being /t? No. If they prefer to fly /t, and enjoy doing so, then go ahead, I'm happy for every aircraft flying in my airspace, be they /t, /r or /v. Wasn't as fun for me as it could have been, but that's just how VATSIM works. Not everyone here is a professional pilot with hundreds of hours of experience. Some members haven't even flown 10 hours yet, and are still shaky with their phraseology. Text is a great help.

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Interesting topic. Voice should be encouraged but text should always be a back up . There are reasons why people are using text legit or not.

I am sure that we have encountered  ATC and Pilots whose English is really not great and sometimes they go to text. How many times have we been  given instructions that we don't understand  and resort to text.

As a pilot text is a pain, but it works all the time unlike voice.

Nebojsa

 

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2 hours ago, Andre Almeida said:

Honestly I can't see a big difference. In my view the concept is the same.

The big difference is that using text for PDCs makes everyone's life easier and does not in any way have a negative affect on the controller's ability to provide services. Indeed it has a positive effect. A pilot using text for all communications, on the other hand, often has a negative impact on not only the controller but also other nearby pilots.

Also, as has been said previously, PDCs by private message are realistic in that clearances are often delivered by text in the real world. Whereas the you don't see text being used for vectors to a busy final in the real world. Obviously some pilot comms are moving to text in the real world, such as instructions in the enroute environment delivered by CPDLC. That again is a very different thing from trying to do all pilot comms via text. It just doesn't work out well in many situations like the busy final approach controller.

Note that I'm not advocating for removing /t ... I'm sort of on the fence about that. I just wanted to respond to your notion that if we don't let pilots use text, then we shouldn't let controllers use it either. That, in my opinion, is a non-sequitur.

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

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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3 hours ago, Alistair Thomson said:

But that's not the point. It depends on what kind of world you live in. If you have no hearing/speech disorders, /t is clearly inferior except for those with mic-fright who would use /r, but if you don't live in that world, your only options are to use /t or go away.

Is VATSIM going to increase the isolation and exclusion of a group of its members who already feel disenfranchised every day of their life? I hope not.

I think your reply speaks to a different question than the one being debated here, so I just want to be careful to note the original proposal was not to eliminate /t for the disabled.
 

In fact, it would leave /t in place for those who need it, but make /r (at minimum, /v preferred) required for everyone else.

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11 minutes ago, Ross Carlson said:

I just wanted to respond to your notion that if we don't let pilots use text, then we shouldn't let controllers use it either. That, in my opinion, is a non-sequitur.

I concur with Ross’ interpretation and thoughts on this aspect.

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2 hours ago, Ross Carlson said:

I just wanted to respond to your notion that if we don't let pilots use text, then we shouldn't let controllers use it either. That, in my opinion, is a non-sequitur.


Well I think text should always be there to serve as a backup for everyone regardless of if it’s phased out or not. As mentioned it has its use with PDC but it also serves as a backup in the event of hardware issues or equipment failure. Until we manage to invent a way for controllers to use light guns on the network, text should, and will always be around (as a fail safe if nothing else).

Josh Jenk

CZVR I1 controller

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Just now, Josh Jenk said:


Well I think text should always be there to serve as a backup for everyone regardless of if it’s phased out or not. As mentioned it has its use with PDC but it also serves as a backup in the event of hardware issues or equipment failure. Until we manage to invent a way for controllers to use light guns on the network, text should, and will always be around (as a fail safe if nothing else).

Well /t/ doesn't really apply to PDCs. Those happen via private chat to not block the frequency.

As for text only being a backup, that makes sense I guess, but making it so they aren't "dedicated" /t/ from the beginning of their flight when they filed their flight plan will make a big difference. I don't think the goal is to disable the text feature on frequencies as a whole, just make it so that people aren't tagged from the start as text only (with the exceptions of those who state they are uncapable of when creating their account or something like that,) as a whole.

I'm not a tracon controller so I don't have any experience with such situations, but I am sure nobody would mind a private message saying "hello my headphone just stopped working I can only communicate through text while I get it fixed."

That is very different than just being text only from the start, which should be avoided as a whole unless there is an actual valid reason for you to be doing so (valid does not include your convenience, rather so your ability to use the network via an audio device)

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There’s a bit of irony that I’ve missed so far that just struck me. Not necessarily good or bad, just ironic.

It seems from the sentiment I’ve read so far that VATSIM is unwilling to say, “If your microphone broke or isn’t usable to produce good quality sound, you must log off until you fix it.” Instead, keeping text as a backup for whatever trouble might befall a pilot.

Yet there are other services where you would not be allowed to log on without a mic, or fly with an unintelligible audio quality.

Which of those networks would we expect to be commercial? My first instinct tells me that customer service would drive the commercial company to act in the way VATSIM does, building a backup for every nuanced problem a customer might have.

Yet, it is the opposite. I don’t think it changes this discussion, but an interesting thought.


 

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, Jason Cochran said:

In fact, it would leave /t in place for those who need it, but make /r (at minimum, /v preferred) required for everyone else.

The essential problem here is defining "who needs it". It is not up to VATSIM to define "who needs it", as that would be a massive invation of your privacy. I would think there would be problems also with GDPR in the EU, if you needed to send your medical or other papers to VATSIM. Come on - that is not going to happen. So in the end it is up to you as user on VATSIM to define if you need it or not. You can only encourage people to use /v or /r.

Or you can remove /t and abandon a lot of people - I hope this is also not going to happen.

BTW I'm alway on /v 😉

Torben Andersen, VACC-SCA Controller (C1)

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13 minutes ago, Torben Andersen said:

I would think there would be problems also with GDPR in the EU, if you needed to send your medical or other papers to VATSIM.

I previously mentioned that my idea is to simply force someone to attest. I’m sure nobody wants to review paperwork from a doctor. I’m not suggesting that.

So, if you force people to attest, they will have to blatantly lie to use text without qualification. That alone, in my estimation, would reduce the numbers significantly. I wouldn’t lie about such a thing.

 

Edit: Please ignore this box below... I can’t delete it using my phone’s browser. Ugh.

13 minutes ago, Torben Andersen said:
Edited by Jason Cochran
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1 hour ago, Jason Cochran said:

So, if you force people to attest, they will have to blatantly lie to use text without qualification. That alone, in my estimation, would reduce the numbers significantly. I wouldn’t lie about such a thing.

 

 

I think you misunderstood me - I would never ask anyone to prove somehow that you are entitled to use /t. On the contrary. I'm trying to say that it is up to the user to decide wether or not he/she should use /t. There is no need for more paperwork in VATSIM. When signing up for membership you commit yourself to adhere to the rules on the network (over 13y, behave polite etc.). And naturally also use /v or /r as preferred form of communication. What I don't understand is how you would enforce a requirement to use /v or /r for those who are able? I my opinion you can't do that, unless you invade the privacy of people.

So we're back to, what VATSIM already does: Encourage all to use /v or /r if able.

Edited by Torben Andersen

Torben Andersen, VACC-SCA Controller (C1)

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14 hours ago, Andreas Fuchs said:

You need to differentiate whether it is a "Ground" controller or an "Apron". "Ground" is provided by the official ATC provider/authority, while "Apron" falls under airport management. That's why you call DEL for clearance (or request a PDC from them), before switching to "Apron" who will be managing your movements on the apron. Later on and depending on the airport layout, you will be contacting "Ground" when you leave the apron and enter the taxiway system of the airport.

I was listening LiveATC from TNCM a week ago. There the Tower handled the "Ground" and Delivery very efficiently. I guess they do not even have a regular Ground. It was interesting to hear pilots asking for clearance to somewhere in US and after that them asking "are you also handling the ground?" and he replying "Yeah, I am doing DEL, GND and TWR today".

btw I am all for /v but understand someone having to use /t.

Edited by Lauri Uusitalo
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This can happen at airports during times of low flight demand, e.g. late at night, sometimes during the day, happens during COVID a lot. In some places one ATCO will control APP, TWR, GND and DEL. Larger airfields that have apron control may keep that one open, too, but I am not sure.

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I keep seeing the "medical paper" point, please understand, I don't think it is needed for anyone to send a doctors not to use vatsim.

Simply when they create their account (or when they receive an email survey from vatsim for already existing users,) they check a box right next to the "I accept and agree to the terms of service" saying "I am unable to use any voice receiving or transmitting services on the vatsim network."

By checking on that box, their account now has stated they cannot use /r and /v, and that is alright. People who CAN use /r and /v will not check it, and therefore not be able to regularly use /t. People who do check it will be able to use /t at their will. If they lied? so be it, but it atleast helps reduce the numbers.

There is no need for an acceptance process, but simply stating you are unable makes a HUGE difference compared to simply being able to chose to use the service or not at your own will. If they need /t, they check the box and we call it a day, no questions asked.

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To be fair, I've experienced delays even being /r. In fact at least a couple controllers have made me go /t when I had filed /r because supposedly they somehow find mixed comms confusing and prefer either pure text or pure voice. I can remember at least two times when I had to go text. On my first flight when I didn't know how to turn down aircraft sounds and simply couldn't hear the frequency. The second time when my son had pulled the headset plugs from the computer and I noticed that just after I had fully set up the plane. I'd have to restart my sim to fix this but I had no time for that.

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27 minutes ago, Dace Nicmane said:

To be fair, I've experienced delays even being /r. In fact at least a couple controllers have made me go /t when I had filed /r because supposedly they somehow find mixed comms confusing and prefer either pure text or pure voice. I can remember at least two times when I had to go text. On my first flight when I didn't know how to turn down aircraft sounds and simply couldn't hear the frequency. The second time when my son had pulled the headset plugs from the computer and I noticed that just after I had fully set up the plane. I'd have to restart my sim to fix this but I had no time for that.

Hm not sure about that. I have never had an issues as a controller with receive only. If anything the biggest issue I would have with that is the controller clients don't specify whether you are /t or /r in the text boxes, so that may cause confusion, but its just a matter of bad habit when checking the aircraft. As for the audio, your right, having the text feature can be a life saver when there are audio issues, but the idea isn't to make it so there is no text frequency its just so that people don't willingly fly dedicated as text pilots. 

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