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I appreciate the opportunity that /t afforded to those with limited means over the past 20+ years, but with the recent increase in traffic and major technical advances, there's really no reason to kee

Something I would be curious to know: how many of those controllers posting here that text is “too workload intensive” go firing off unsolicited text PDCs to pilots when it starts getting busy? S

Discouraged by whom? A small group that use the network and feel inconveniced by its use?

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On 2/6/2021 at 12:36 AM, Kirk Christie said:

Discouraged by whom? A small group that use the network and feel inconveniced by its use?

"A small group" is not necessarily accurate if you take into account the opinion of controllers. I've seen a large amount of controllers bring this up, as well as controllers that even decide not to work in events because of this. 

Try working 70-100 heavy arrivals into TNCM with 30% text pilots, a single runway that requires backtracking, holdings, at least 15 MIT, in an airspace with a single approach sector. It's a nightmare if everyone's on voice and impossible with the large number of text pilots. 

With that being said, the other thing that needs to be taken into consideration is the internationality of the network. Not everyone has a native Floridian English like OP does. Many have problems speaking or even understanding it on voice. I know everyone is expected to speak and understand English on the network, and on paper that sounds great. But in the reality of things, there's a large number of members that can't comfortably speak English and would feel much more comfortable using text. I remember working San Juan Center, an FAA facility that requires English communications, and getting pilots starting to speak Spanish on voice and when I mentioned the real world language restriction of the facility, they would switch to text. 

In fact, I personally have issues understanding some of the European accents from time to time. Not enough to switch to text but enough to understand how someone with an English slightly more broken than mine would. 

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Ernesto Martinez

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Wow.. This topic again. With that, time for a little story.

Back some 20 years ago as a newbie S1 in my sector, we had no choice but to start out using text. This wasn't only just so we could get used to the phraseology being used in our division (US), but so we could make sure we could use every single function of the ATC client at the time (ProController). It wasn't until we took and passed our S1 exam, S2, exam, and S3 exam before we even got to a voice exam to use voice!

Why? So we could make sure we had down our phraseology and what we were doing in various positions that our rank would allow (S1 = Del/Ground, S2 = Tower, S3 = Director/Approach/Departure/TRACON). Again, why did we do it this way? Because we had the ability to accommodate anyone and everyone that flew: voice capable, text only, or otherwise. When we got to using voice, we also had to remind ourselves to never forget about those that are /t. 

What that "use every single function" meant was the ability to use ALIASES. That made everything so much easier for the controller, to the point where I ran our combined LAX_APP sector (for the entire southern California basin area) all over text during one of our biggest events. And not a single pilot missed a beat.

Wash/rinse/repeat through various other controller and pilot clients (ASRC, VRC, vSTARS, etc. etc.), and the functionality is still there. Right now, I have to ask the question: for those wanting to abandon /t, have they thought about using aliases for what they do? 

I'll even go deeper, which forms the basis of my reply in this thread for now would be around the umpteenth time in the time I've been on the network: Has anyone thought about how abdicating this could cause some form of segregation? If VATSIM is all about inclusion, I can recall a good 10 or more situations as a controller where I had no choice but to use /t, whether it be as a failsafe (from voice comms being hijacked by other people), as a helpful luxury (the pilot flying while reading his children a bedtime story to get them down after a long day), to an absolute necessity, when we had an entire fly-in of pilots who were all HEARING IMPAIRED.

In a stinging rebuke, I've seen some feedback left from when a text pilot was ignored to the point where when the controller was to get back to them, the controller totally forgot them to where not only was the pilot outside that controller's airspace, but was outside of that controller's COUNTRY, all because they prioritized /v over /t.

That is NOT good, nor something we should even consider advocating.

We should NOT have to segregate/isolate/signal them out based on what disability people have, or whatever needs they have during their flight, as long as they are able to adhere to calls we give, and operate their aircraft safely within the rules of the network. In short, we're taking for granted the ability to use voice, in which a lot of people can and will have ample justifications as to why they don't or can't. We should exclude them from the network, as they are our clients as well.

BL.

 

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Brad Littlejohn

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2 hours ago, Brad Littlejohn said:

Wow.. This topic again. With that, time for a little story.

Back some 20 years ago as a newbie S1 in my sector, we had no choice but to start out using text. This wasn't only just so we could get used to the phraseology being used in our division (US), but so we could make sure we could use every single function of the ATC client at the time (ProController). It wasn't until we took and passed our S1 exam, S2, exam, and S3 exam before we even got to a voice exam to use voice!

Why? So we could make sure we had down our phraseology and what we were doing in various positions that our rank would allow (S1 = Del/Ground, S2 = Tower, S3 = Director/Approach/Departure/TRACON). Again, why did we do it this way? Because we had the ability to accommodate anyone and everyone that flew: voice capable, text only, or otherwise. When we got to using voice, we also had to remind ourselves to never forget about those that are /t. 

What that "use every single function" meant was the ability to use ALIASES. That made everything so much easier for the controller, to the point where I ran our combined LAX_APP sector (for the entire southern California basin area) all over text during one of our biggest events. And not a single pilot missed a beat.

Wash/rinse/repeat through various other controller and pilot clients (ASRC, VRC, vSTARS, etc. etc.), and the functionality is still there. Right now, I have to ask the question: for those wanting to abandon /t, have they thought about using aliases for what they do? 

I'll even go deeper, which forms the basis of my reply in this thread for now would be around the umpteenth time in the time I've been on the network: Has anyone thought about how abdicating this could cause some form of segregation? If VATSIM is all about inclusion, I can recall a good 10 or more situations as a controller where I had no choice but to use /t, whether it be as a failsafe (from voice comms being hijacked by other people), as a helpful luxury (the pilot flying while reading his children a bedtime story to get them down after a long day), to an absolute necessity, when we had an entire fly-in of pilots who were all HEARING IMPAIRED.

In a stinging rebuke, I've seen some feedback left from when a text pilot was ignored to the point where when the controller was to get back to them, the controller totally forgot them to where not only was the pilot outside that controller's airspace, but was outside of that controller's COUNTRY, all because they prioritized /v over /t.

That is NOT good, nor something we should even consider advocating.

We should NOT have to segregate/isolate/signal them out based on what disability people have, or whatever needs they have during their flight, as long as they are able to adhere to calls we give, and operate their aircraft safely within the rules of the network. In short, we're taking for granted the ability to use voice, in which a lot of people can and will have ample justifications as to why they don't or can't. We should exclude them from the network, as they are our clients as well.

BL.

 

It is agreed nobody should be left behind. Throughout this thread many solutions to this problem have been brought up, and so, per the discussions of this thread nobody would be left out. I advise you check out this post which summarizes the ideas to solve the problem, including encouragement to move from /t/ to /v/ or /r/ when able, or a system that helps filter out those who chose it out of a choice that is presented to them rather than a need. 
 

Also be sure to read the couple of messages right below, there was some good points you may want to read up on.

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There is still a line to walk when the goal is providing service to "everyone." For instance, is VATSIM responsible for accommodating blind players? What about those with reduced mental ability? 

For all of the high talk and soap boxes, you will never include everyone. It is a physical impossibility. By the very nature of aviation it is exclusive, ditto for flight simulators and really all of life's pursuits. The reality is you have to make hard decisions about where to draw the line. Having a pseudo-erudite, absolutist position using buzzwords doesn't accomplish anything.

As an aviator, CFI, VATSIM controller and pilot, first responder, and 30 year flight sim enthusiast, based on all my life's training and experience, I have mixed feelings. The issue is you have a few competing points of view:

1. Pilots able to operate as in real life - these pilots do not need special assistance due to being capable of operating realistically. They do not need any allowances/special accommodation. They are best served by making the experience as realistic and immersive as possible. This is the majority of pilots on the network in my experience. 

2. Pilots who need temporary accommodation for voice communications, but not the entirety of the flight - unable to fly unless allowed to step away from their simulator temporarily or be away from their headset/microphone temporarily. Will always have to make some concession to realism/immersion due to needing to pause/time accelerate, use text, or otherwise not operate realistically. A small, but significant number of pilots. 

3. Pilots with a significant impediment to using a headset/microphone for the entirety of the flight. Best served by providing significant allowances to depart from real world procedures and practices. Realism will never be possible due to limiting factors. Present, but in a smaller percentage than in the general population. 

4. Controllers - best served by emulating realistic ATC procedures and having pilots who can operate realistically and comply with instructions in a timely and correct manner.

Groups 1 and 4 are both the largest groups and the two groups that share similar goals. They will benefit most from operating realistically and any concessions made to groups 2 and 3 will necessarily impact service (in the form of realism, timeliness, and/or immersion) to groups 1 and 4. Likewise, not making concessions to groups 2 and 3 will reduce or eliminate service to them. The question becomes a philosophical one. Which moral/ethical viewpoint do you subscribe to? A utilitarian would likely argue that the best course of action would be to serve the vast majority at the expense of the few. An egalitarian would argue that all individuals should be served equally even to the detriment of the majority. Most people fall somewhere in the middle of this continuum. 

I would also remind everyone that the network today is not the network of 10 years ago. Changes will have to take place or the quality of service will decline due to the large increase in user volume. This is not a negligible point to consider.

My personal preference is that the network emulate real life since that was its intent from the start. Text when VATSIM began had more to do with a lack of hardware and bandwidth than anything else. These problems have been largely solved by a proliferation of cheap headsets and bandwidth.

If a move towards maximum realism is impractical, at least a move towards utilizing more realistic procedures not fewer would be preferable. To this end, I would advocate for requiring voice communication with exceptions for circumstance. Deviations would be allowed only for the limitations of hardware, software, or physical condition.

The main benefits of this change would be to create a more uniform environment for ATC to operate in and a more realistic and timely experience/service for pilots.

The main people who would be impacted by this change are actually group 2 and not 3. However, group 2's limitations are more a matter of personal commitments than physical impairment. This is less concerning because almost everyone will agree that it is proper and fair for individuals to devote the same attention and effort to something as the rest of the group. Anything else is selfish and taking advantage of the kindness of others. In this scenario, group 3 could continue to be served as they always have been, eliminating the largest moral quandary while also eliminating the largest portion of the issue. This seems to be the best compromise for all.

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8 hours ago, Mike Sweeney said:

Brad has nailed this in one word, aliases.


 

Aliases are hard to work with and annoying. They are not flexible - but forms to deal with text pilots is not the issue. The issue is the amount of people using /t/ in ways that negatively affect others for reasons that one may not consider very valid. One must at least consider encouragement of /r or /v to be an options? Telling pilots who select /t/ "Text only is available to all users, but it is encouraged to use receive-only or voice communications when able."

I see a repeating pattern with this thread where people keep skipping the whole center part off it where everything is addressed, including ways to solve the /t/ problem and how to make sure people with disabilities are not left behind. I see no point in continuing to bump this thread to the top if it just remains as big essays of things that have already been solved, then having to be addressed again, so I do hope whichever BoGs read the thread pay attention to some of the least restricting and more encouragement/educational options such as the talk about the survey to see reasons as to why people use the option in the first place, as I think those seem to be the best option for a solution to please all sides. I'd be more than happy to volunteer with the poll if extra hands are needed.

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7 minutes ago, Matthew Wurzbach said:

Do you have any formal education in survey design? The last survey was competed biased and invalid from an academic point of view.

No I am yet to take any courses on online polls. There is no reason for the poll to be biased or false though. All it is is asking people who use /t/ (the first question being, do you use /t/ on vatsim,) to state the reasons they use it. That way vatsim knows the main reasons why people use /t/ so they can focus on providing educational resources to those areas, whether it be being new to the network or a matter of audio configuration - etc. I don't see any way for the poll to be biased if it is pulled off properly. 

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3 hours ago, Nicholas Camperos said:

Aliases are hard to work with and annoying. They are not flexible

Not true. Aliases just require regular use of them to stay current. And they can be very, very flexible, because you can insert lots of variables in them.

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34 minutes ago, Andreas Fuchs said:

Not true. Aliases just require regular use of them to stay current. And they can be very, very flexible, because you can insert lots of variables in them.

I mean you are right aliases are an amazing tool - I am not saying they are not (compared to typing everything out by hand.) But, If I had to chose between a world where I had to use aliases or not, though, I would chose to not. As for the flexible comment, that may just be a limitation of the ways I use my aliases but sometimes I find it easier to type out what I am trying to say because the alias won't word it right.

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Like Andreas said, the key is to "stay current" with the aliases. If you don't use them a lot, then you end up just manually typing your instructions, because in the moment, that's faster/easier than looking up the alias and its syntax. It's been a while since I controlled on a regular basis, but when I did, I found that there weren't really enough text pilots for me to keep current on the aliases, with the exception if the very common ones like IFR clearances, approach clearances, and simple turns/climbs/descents. For everything else, I would usually type it out.

These days, with AFV, it seems there are even fewer text pilots. At least that's the way it seems to me. However, I realize that my perspective on the issue is somewhat limited, because I'm nearly always participating as a pilot, and only during busy events like FNO. I just don't see the controller interacting with text pilots nearly as much as I recall from years ago. Maybe text pilots stay away from busy events? Maybe there are more of them outside of the US?

Anyway, just putting in a vote for keeping /t, but encouraging /v or /r as much as possible, and also encouraging controllers to keep current on the use of aliases.

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

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Quick anecdote from this evening:

- Flight filed as /v/ checks in using text.
- I type "do you have voice?"
- The pilot responds that unfortunately he does not.
- I see his flight plan remarks says he's new to voice and might be shy to use it.
- I reply that his flight plan says otherwise. 🙂
- The pilot responds that his mic is broken.
- I ask if he can hear me.
- He says he can.
- We continue with /r/ 🤩

That's a lot of work just to figure out someone's voice/text status. Maybe the v/r/t status needs to be made more prominent to help pilots set the correct status for their flight?

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Martin Loxbo

Director Sweden FIR

VATSIM Scandinavia

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17 hours ago, Nicholas Camperos said:

It is agreed nobody should be left behind. Throughout this thread many solutions to this problem have been brought up, and so, per the discussions of this thread nobody would be left out. I advise you check out this post which summarizes the ideas to solve the problem, including encouragement to move from /t/ to /v/ or /r/ when able, or a system that helps filter out those who chose it out of a choice that is presented to them rather than a need. 
 

Also be sure to read the couple of messages right below, there was some good points you may want to read up on.

 

9 hours ago, Nicholas Camperos said:

Aliases are hard to work with and annoying. They are not flexible - but forms to deal with text pilots is not the issue. The issue is the amount of people using /t/ in ways that negatively affect others for reasons that one may not consider very valid. One must at least consider encouragement of /r or /v to be an options? Telling pilots who select /t/ "Text only is available to all users, but it is encouraged to use receive-only or voice communications when able."

I see a repeating pattern with this thread where people keep skipping the whole center part off it where everything is addressed, including ways to solve the /t/ problem and how to make sure people with disabilities are not left behind. I see no point in continuing to bump this thread to the top if it just remains as big essays of things that have already been solved, then having to be addressed again, so I do hope whichever BoGs read the thread pay attention to some of the least restricting and more encouragement/educational options such as the talk about the survey to see reasons as to why people use the option in the first place, as I think those seem to be the best option for a solution to please all sides. I'd be more than happy to volunteer with the poll if extra hands are needed.

 

5 hours ago, Andreas Fuchs said:

Not true. Aliases just require regular use of them to stay current. And they can be very, very flexible, because you can insert lots of variables in them.

 

Exactly. If I can greet a pilot, tell them they are following traffic 3 miles ahead, give the wind, and landing clearance with only typing 5 characters and selecting the aircraft who called in, there is no way an alias should be hard, or harder than typing in "ABC123, Los Angeles Tower, you are following traffic 3 miles ahead, wind 250 at 15. Runway 25L, cleared to land."

Again, this comes down to knowing how to use the clients in question and knowing all functionality in the client, instead of relying on something that may be a luxury to us that some others do not have. 

I guess I have more than first hand experience in taking something like a sense for granted, being with someone who is blind. It's a huge wake-up call to what things we do and don't take for granted.

 

3 hours ago, Martijn Rammeloo said:

A good set of aliases can take care of > 95% of all situations.

Depending on your TAG setup, TAG manipulation also is a powerful tool.

Experience and maintaining proficiency take care of the rest.

Martijn

 

 

 

 

Again, totally agreed. that fly-in when everyone was hearing impaired? Not a single go around, missed approach, delayed vectors, nothing, and this was into Las Vegas, which when landing south on the 19s parallel to the casinos isn't an easy task.

The point with the options presented is that we would be asking those pilots to point out reasons why they are /t, which goes to segregate them, or provide the means for them to be segregated. VATSIM has never been in the field of being "separate, but equal", and nor should VATSIM ever be that way, just because we single out the need, or in cases, the disability. That's wrong.

 

BL.

 

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Brad Littlejohn

ZLA Senior Controller

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10 hours ago, Nicholas Camperos said:

No I am yet to take any courses on online polls. There is no reason for the poll to be biased or false though. All it is is asking people who use /t/ (the first question being, do you use /t/ on vatsim,) to state the reasons they use it. That way vatsim knows the main reasons why people use /t/ so they can focus on providing educational resources to those areas, whether it be being new to the network or a matter of audio configuration - etc. I don't see any way for the poll to be biased if it is pulled off properly. 

It's not that simple. 

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1 hour ago, Brad Littlejohn said:

 

 

 

Exactly. If I can greet a pilot, tell them they are following traffic 3 miles ahead, give the wind, and landing clearance with only typing 5 characters and selecting the aircraft who called in, there is no way an alias should be hard, or harder than typing in "ABC123, Los Angeles Tower, you are following traffic 3 miles ahead, wind 250 at 15. Runway 25L, cleared to land."

Again, this comes down to knowing how to use the clients in question and knowing all functionality in the client, instead of relying on something that may be a luxury to us that some others do not have. 

I guess I have more than first hand experience in taking something like a sense for granted, being with someone who is blind. It's a huge wake-up call to what things we do and don't take for granted.

 

Again, totally agreed. that fly-in when everyone was hearing impaired? Not a single go around, missed approach, delayed vectors, nothing, and this was into Las Vegas, which when landing south on the 19s parallel to the casinos isn't an easy task.

The point with the options presented is that we would be asking those pilots to point out reasons why they are /t, which goes to segregate them, or provide the means for them to be segregated. VATSIM has never been in the field of being "separate, but equal", and nor should VATSIM ever be that way, just because we single out the need, or in cases, the disability. That's wrong.

 

BL.

 

It's deaf. Hearing impaired is outdated and considered offensive now. 

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17 minutes ago, Matthew Wurzbach said:

It's not that simple. 

Well unless you, or anyone else, happens to have a masters degree in creating a google form poll and can prove me otherwise, I don't think there is much issue with asking text pilots to submit a questionnaire in regards to why they made that option. Purpose of it being to see what some big reasons are so that vatsim can focus on educational and encouragement efforts to move people who are capable of /r/ or /v/ to do so.

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16 minutes ago, Nicholas Camperos said:

Well unless you, or anyone else, happens to have a masters degree in creating a google form poll and can prove me otherwise, I don't think there is much issue with asking text pilots to submit a questionnaire in regards to why they made that option. Purpose of it being to see what some big reasons are so that vatsim can focus on educational and encouragement efforts to move people who are capable of /r/ or /v/ to do so.

I do have education in this area yes. 

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1 hour ago, Nicholas Camperos said:

Well unless you, or anyone else, happens to have a masters degree in creating a google form poll and can prove me otherwise, I don't think there is much issue with asking text pilots to submit a questionnaire in regards to why they made that option. Purpose of it being to see what some big reasons are so that vatsim can focus on educational and encouragement efforts to move people who are capable of /r/ or /v/ to do so.

 

 

I hate to put it this way, and it is going to sound absolutely horrible, but it is the only way I can say it. Do you realize that what you are asking for is the same thing that was used in Europe during WW2? You're asking them to label themselves as something that would make them ashamed to be able to fly on this network because of shyness with using their voice, a disability, or otherwise. That is not in the nature of this network, nor has it ever been in the nature of this network, just because some people aren't willing to figure out how to accommodate them to the best of their abilities. 

I know I sure l would not want to have that type of label applied to me because I am not comfortable with using my voice on the network or if I had a disability. While I appreciate the purpose behind what you are trying to do, what also needs to be taken into account are the adverse affects of what such a thing will do. If that in any way proves to be the detriment to people here and causes them to not be able to enjoy our network, then what you are proposing should not be done.

Instead, what should happen is that we should educate both pilots and controllers as to what functionality each of their respective clients have, and make sure that they can use them as best as they can. Remember: /V and /R are luxuries on our network, not necessities. To be able to communicate with everyone here, we need /T. We don't need /V or /R, which is why when I was coming up as a controller, we emphasized everything we could do with /T, and controlled that way. If that is a hard thing to do, then perhaps it is time for those controllers and pilots to have a refresher into what they can do with /T and how to accommodate. 

Again, we should not be segregating or isolating our pilots and controllers because of a luxury that we may or may not have.

BL.

 

 

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Brad Littlejohn

ZLA Senior Controller

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17 hours ago, Matthew Wurzbach said:

For instance, is VATSIM responsible for accommodating blind players? What about those with reduced mental ability? 

I don't know how you choose to interpret the word "responsible," but the fact is that we outright CAN and certainly DO both of those things. 

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-R.

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22 minutes ago, Brad Littlejohn said:

 

 

I hate to put it this way, and it is going to sound absolutely horrible, but it is the only way I can say it. Do you realize that what you are asking for is the same thing that was used in Europe during WW2? You're asking them to label themselves as something that would make them ashamed to be able to fly on this network because of shyness with using their voice, a disability, or otherwise. That is not in the nature of this network, nor has it ever been in the nature of this network, just because some people aren't willing to figure out how to accommodate them to the best of their abilities. 

I know I sure l would not want to have that type of label applied to me because I am not comfortable with using my voice on the network or if I had a disability. While I appreciate the purpose behind what you are trying to do, what also needs to be taken into account are the adverse affects of what such a thing will do. If that in any way proves to be the detriment to people here and causes them to not be able to enjoy our network, then what you are proposing should not be done.

Instead, what should happen is that we should educate both pilots and controllers as to what functionality each of their respective clients have, and make sure that they can use them as best as they can. Remember: /V and /R are luxuries on our network, not necessities. To be able to communicate with everyone here, we need /T. We don't need /V or /R, which is why when I was coming up as a controller, we emphasized everything we could do with /T, and controlled that way. If that is a hard thing to do, then perhaps it is time for those controllers and pilots to have a refresher into what they can do with /T and how to accommodate. 

Again, we should not be segregating or isolating our pilots and controllers because of a luxury that we may or may not have.

BL.

 

 

Well I was trying to stay out of this debate for as long as possible but I feel like I need to throw my 2 cents in here. I really don't see how sending out a general and anonymous survey is labeling anyone. For example, Navigraph has a huge survey every year and they ask for people's average income. Just because someone has a lower income doesn't mean that that question is targeting them in any way.

I think we can all agree that we want as many people on voice as possible and as few on text as physically possible without excluding everyone. I think a survey like this is a great idea and it will allow the BoG to understand why the majority of people use text instead of /v or even /r. If, for example, we find that mic fright is overwhelmingly the primary reason of pilots using /t then maybe the BoG can come up with new training material for both pilots and controllers to encourage pilots to take the leap into the world of voice communication. If, on the other hand, they find that for example people are using text because of a hearing impairment, then maybe there isn't much that can change. The point I'm making is you don't know what you're going to find until you try. An anonymous survey shouldn't be offensive in any way. If you feel you're being targeted, don't do the survey. It wouldn't have to be a compulsory thing.

I also hate to say it, but the network has changed so much even in the few years I've been here, and I can only imagine how much it's changed since 20 years ago. With that, the technology has changed and improved leaps and bounds (others have already gone into details on this so I won't repeat that here). Many of those improvements now allow us to to start to consider transitioning away from text, although not entirely abandoning it. Aliases are great, but someone has to come up with them which is very time consuming, and most controllers who hop on one or two nights a week or help out at an event here or there don't have the time to both make and thoroughly learn how to use the alias file. So with all due respect, I don't think that expecting controllers to be efficient in or even (to go to an extreme) enjoy handling text pilots is entirely reasonable.

As others have already said, I think a balance can be found between benefiting controllers and including everyone on the network. It just requires people (on both sides of this debate) to think a little bit outside the box and be open to suggestions presented by the other side.

 

Josh Jenk

CZVR C1 controller

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