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Eurocontrol Islands Removal


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Hello everyone,

Effective today, 7th March 2021 the position Eurocontrol Islands (EURI) will be closed. This heavy and difficult decision comes after some unprecedented times for VATSIM and the Europe region, through which we have seen an exponential increase in traffic numbers, numbers of sectors online at any given time and the complexity of both those two factors from an operations perspective with all the consequences from them. When combined, those factors make the position an extremely complicated one, as well as unneeded given the goal of the EuroCenter vACC of increasing ATC coverage across the Europe region. This is the result of long discussions between all involved parties and is a unanimous decision.

I am pretty sure not everybody will be happy with this decision - and trust me this was not an easy decision. But I am convinced it is the right one.
We had very good discussions with all involved parties and we all do believe this is the right step for the future.

If you have any questions or feedback please feel free to get in touch with the staff via the EUCvACC discord or [email protected]

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NICK MARINOV
Assistant to the Vice President
Europe, Middle East and Africa Region
Senior Network Supervisor
VATEUD Division Director (Acting)
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The Brits won! ūüėĄ

Seriously, EURI has always been a complex position and with current levels of traffic induced by COVID I sincerly hope that we will be able to discuss about it again once everyone has gone back to work and to school and when we will be back to more normal and manageable levels of traffic.

What I did not enjoy about this decision is that it was apparently discussed behind closed doors, instead of consulting with those who might be interested in controlling this position.

Edited by Andreas Fuchs
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10 hours ago, Nick Marinov said:

We had very good discussions with all involved parties and we all do believe this is the right step for the future.

With "all involved parties" I take it you mean ATC wise. Eurocontrols FSS positions are meant to provide ATC for pilots in areas above FL245 where no local ATC has logged on. I know several FIR directors, who are not happy with these positions, as they are not found in the real world. But for me as pilot, I would rather fly with ATC provided be EUC than having no ATC. To my knowledge I have not seen the closure of EURI (or other EURx positions) debated here or anywhere else. So the "involved parties" does not include the "customers" = the pilots. I think that is sad.

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Torben Andersen, VACC-SCA Controller (C1)

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Under involved parties, all the involved FIRs are understood. It is expected that FIR staff, as those closest to the pilots, are aware of the views for their respective local facility. However, point is taken onboard,

NICK MARINOV
Assistant to the Vice President
Europe, Middle East and Africa Region
Senior Network Supervisor
VATEUD Division Director (Acting)
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Could you please explain how to come with "constructive critisism/feedback" on a subject, which clearly has been decided, without discussion amongst "the other half", eg. the pilots ? If you want involvement from pilots, you need to ask them as well as the ARTCC. Naturally a decision has to be made and the Division is the "office" to do it. While some persons (controllers as well as pilot) will be disapointed and some will be happy, it would be prudent to ask the community (and not only the ARTCCs) for oppinions before claiming "all involved parties" has been heard. Nick's answer is sufficient for me, but I'm having a hard time on your asking for constructive criticism - in fact, I really think this is exactly what I've done.

regards

Edited by Torben Andersen
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Torben Andersen, VACC-SCA Controller (C1)

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Hi Torben,

My message was not specifically directed to you, but to everyone.
You are right, the decision has been made - but that does not mean that feedback can't be taken into consideration anymore should anything change in the future.

The decision, as Nick already explained, was not made by a unique person but agreed by all involved parties. Asking the community, yes I agree, but that is the job of each vACC Director as they are the first point of contact for the members of every vACC. It is up to them to judge whether the entire vACC community is to be informed of such events.

So perhaps that could be a feedback point for us to take onboard: "encourage the vACC Directors to involve their community more, especially when it comes to such delicate topics".

MATTIA TORTI
Division Deputy Director
Network Supervisor
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4 hours ago, Torben Andersen said:

With "all involved parties" I take it you mean ATC wise. Eurocontrols FSS positions are meant to provide ATC for pilots in areas above FL245 where no local ATC has logged on. I know several FIR directors, who are not happy with these positions, as they are not found in the real world. But for me as pilot, I would rather fly with ATC provided be EUC than having no ATC. To my knowledge I have not seen the closure of EURI (or other EURx positions) debated here or anywhere else. So the "involved parties" does not include the "customers" = the pilots. I think that is sad.

I totally agree that there should be far more genuine "customer" consultation with decisions, in fact any at all would be nice. I don't agree with your pilot's views re EUR though, EURI was unwanted by the UK pilot membership when it first appeared (there was far more pilot input to the UK fora back then). I well remember the efforts people went to to avoid EURI completely!

The demise of EURI is very welcome IMO as a pilot-only.

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Bill Casey

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10 minutes ago, Bill Casey said:

I don't agree with your pilot's views re EUR though, EURI was unwanted by the UK pilot membership when it first appeared (there was far more pilot input to the UK fora back then). I well remember the efforts people went to to avoid EURI completely!

The demise of EURI is very welcome IMO as a pilot-only.

Let's just agree to disagree. I'd rather have atc when flying online, than not. Back in the days when EURI was made, upper sectors over UK, was not often manned. Now it is a lot better, but I still fly into UK airports (or overfly the UK) with no atc coverage. EURI does only cover areas not covered by local atc already, so EURI does not take any traffic away - perhaps on the contrary. What I've always seen on VATSIM is, the more atc, the more traffic. Having as many area "lit up" as possible is not a negative thing to achieve in my book.

regards

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Torben Andersen, VACC-SCA Controller (C1)

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44 minutes ago, Koen Meier said:

For me to understand @Torben Andersen you like making two very short chats with atc while getting an 500nm direct. One checkin chat which gives you the direct and a checkout when leaving the sector.

if you are lucky you'll have only two calls, right. But sometimes we send you direct somewhere, instruct descents/climbs, even headings happen in case of potentially conflicting traffic. And some really enjoy listening to all the ATC/pilot chatter on a busy frequency, surprise surprise!

Apparently some members prefer flying without ATC, it puzzles me.

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1 hour ago, Koen Meier said:

For me to understand @Torben Andersen you like making two very short chats with atc while getting an 500nm direct. One checkin chat which gives you the direct and a checkout when leaving the sector.

I think Andreas put it very well: "But sometimes we send you direct somewhere, instruct descents/climbs, even headings happen in case of potentially conflicting traffic. "

 

Torben Andersen, VACC-SCA Controller (C1)

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2 hours ago, Andreas Fuchs said:

That's very nice of you. Always at your service...

How can you be against ATC services when you are a member of VATSIM?

I don't think he is against ATC. I think he is against unrealistic ATC on VATSIM, which is where I find myself into.

I never flew with EURI online or even controlled alongside, but people who did always complained that people who were approved on this sector never followed the standard agreements and would just descend everyone to FL240. The London FIR is one of the busiest in the "virtual world" and having someone not respecting those standard agreements puts pressure on the other sectors, and further on the Approach controllers.

I don't know why everyone is making such a big deal out of the fact that a position that was barely controlled has been removed.. the UK airspace gets quality ATC almost all day, but not always at Center level, since let's be honest, most of the C1s are over 18 years of age and have other commitments, as it is the case with other controllers.

To sum it up, I'd like to have a quality service, not a service.

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When I say this I believe that I speak on behalf of the majority of VATSIM users (both ATC and pilots) but the whole ideal of Eurocontrol is flawed from the outset. Correct me if I'm wrong but the whole idea of these quite frankly mega unrealistic positions (on what is supposed to be a realistic simulation network) was to improve ATC coverage in Europe in the days where traffic was much quieter and ATC much more uncommon. These days the majority of divisions/vacc's are much more active which makes Eurocontrol in a sense redundant.

From the ATC perspective controlling adjacent to Eurocontrol there comes many issues:

  • Handoff order: Often very late, way past the sector boundary making descents/arrival clearances in time near impossible.
  • Compliance with LoA's: Non existent, from listening to people that have been trained on these positions agreements with adjacent sectors are not taught in training which causes all sorts of problems in busy airspace's such as London.
  • Separation: Very rare that this is done correctly, normally level separated only not considering the consequences of two aircraft on the same airway going to the same airport with 0 lateral separation.
  • Coordination: Private messages can go unanswered for ages because they are too busy managing the workload of what would normally be controlled by 5 different countries and 20 different FIR's (Especially bad during mentoring sessions)
  • Use of Identification in none mode S airspace: Always seem to be giving squawk 1000 to us in the UK which is completely inappropriate and causes us yet more work to re-identify that aircraft!

From the pilot perspective:

  • Frequencies with over 40 aircraft on (completely unrealistic in the real world for a controller to be maintaining the safety of that many planes in the air) make it impossible to call up for ages.
  • Always having to call up for descents because the controller isn't actually controlling the frequency more reacting -> leads to being too¬†high by the time the descent has been given.
  • Being given a direct varying between 500 to 1500 miles - even in free-route airspace this is completely stupid at times, pilots may as well file GPS direct if EURW is online!
  • Loud overcrowded frequency 9 times out of 10 for the entire duration of your flight - not good for the ears!

 

Eurocontrol had its place but considering the above and recent traffic levels I and many others would like to (at a minimum) see restrictions of when it can be opened and have a major improvement in the training for these huge positions.

Edited by Jonas Hey
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2 hours ago, Andreas Fuchs said:

That's very nice of you. Always at your service...

How can you be against ATC services when you are a member of VATSIM?

Andreas,

Earlier in this post you pleaded for your opinion to be recognised before a decision on EURI was made although now you have made a sarcastic comment after Bill has stated his opinion? 

The service provided by EUR control on a busy day is abismal.. 

There is my opinion ūüėČ

 

Ta

Edited by Matt Hardy
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1 hour ago, Jonas Hey said:

When I say this I believe that I speak on behalf of the majority of VATSIM users (both ATC and pilots)

First problem - we actually do not know this. It's you belief, but noone have tried to make some kind of survey on this.

1 hour ago, Jonas Hey said:

Correct me if I'm wrong but the whole idea of these quite frankly mega unrealistic positions (on what is supposed to be a realistic simulation network) was to improve ATC coverage in Europe in the days where traffic was much quieter and ATC much more uncommon. These days the majority of divisions/vacc's are much more active which makes Eurocontrol in a sense redundant.

On this we can agree - in a sense ūüôā

1 hour ago, Jonas Hey said:

From the ATC perspective controlling adjacent to Eurocontrol there comes many issues:

You are absolutely correct - off cause there will be issues. Especially if you expect EURx to mirror one-to-one the services given by local ctr. If you on the other hand acknowledge that limitations exists, then it is possible to make a working solution. But only stating that EURx is unreallistic - implying that the rest of our great network is realistic, is not a fair comparison. Plenty of issues exists, if you compare RW atc with our system. Years ago you hardly ever saw UK controller do top-down. Today we live with that, as we all want atc (well, almost all). But it is a nessescity, if we would like more than just rudimentary atc, as we're not able to man all positions at all times. The need  for EURx is markedly less than earlier, but still needed, IF you want atc coverage widely.

 

1 hour ago, Jonas Hey said:

requencies with over 40 aircraft on (completely unrealistic in the real world for a controller to be maintaining the safety of that many planes in the air) make it impossible to call up for ages.

You have the exact same problem, when trying to call London Control.

1 hour ago, Jonas Hey said:

Always having to call up for descents because the controller isn't actually controlling the frequency more reacting -> leads to being too high by the time the descent has been given.

Oh, but you have. Atc is not flying the aircraft. You as the pilot is responcible for a timely request for descent, not ATC.

 

1 hour ago, Jonas Hey said:

Eurocontrol had its place but considering the above and recent traffic levels I and many others would like to (at a minimum) see restrictions of when it can be opened and have a major improvement in the training for these huge positions.

Can't disagree on the need for training. A restriction on when it can be opened? Well, if local ATC opens a CTR position the need for EURx position disapears.

regards

Torben Andersen, VACC-SCA Controller (C1)

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10 minutes ago, Torben Andersen said:

Can't disagree on the need for training. A restriction on when it can be opened? Well, if local ATC opens a CTR position the need for EURx position disapears.

What happens when the EUR position covers multiple UIR positions? How should EUR position react when only one of those UIR position becomes active.

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38 minutes ago, Torben Andersen said:

First problem - we actually do not know this. It's you belief

I never claimed for it to be certain, that's why I said it's my belief that i speak on behalf of the majority of VATSIM users, not all.

39 minutes ago, Torben Andersen said:

But only stating that EURx is unreallistic

This wasn't my only point against Eurocontrol so not sure what you are getting at here?

40 minutes ago, Torben Andersen said:

You have the exact same problem, when trying to call London Control.

This exemplifies the point that I have just made, If small London sectors have an issue with traffic numbers how on earth can anyone sit here and back the use of EURx over areas 20 x the size! More to this - recently restrictions have been placed on what sectors can be opened when for London to try and prevent such high workload on a single frequency, things are being done.

43 minutes ago, Torben Andersen said:

You as the pilot is responcible for a timely request for descent, not ATC.

I would really like to argue this, if this was the case on any sector it would just consist of pilots calling for climb and descent (Which Eurocontrol basically does!), this is not the job of the pilot, it is that of the controller. For sure in some cases pilots may need to call up for descent if they reach TOD with no clearance but in the many places I visit as an en-route controller (VATSCA included) the controller should be actively giving descents and climbs as required. Otherwise are they really controlling at all or just reacting?

46 minutes ago, Torben Andersen said:

if local ATC opens a CTR position the need for EURx position disapears

By restrictions I am referring to times of day/weekend restrictions on when Eurocontrol can be opened not if local ATC comes online. 1 FIR opening is unlikely to solve the many issues I listed in my above post.

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2 hours ago, Koen Meier said:

What happens when the EUR position covers multiple UIR positions? How should EUR position react when only one of those UIR position becomes active.

Not an issue - planes flying through a sector contact that sector and when leaving the sector contact the next approbiate controller, EURx or whoever.

Torben Andersen, VACC-SCA Controller (C1)

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2 hours ago, Jonas Hey said:

against

My text was "But only stating that EURx is unreallistic - implying that the rest of our great network is realistic, is not a fair comparison."

 

2 hours ago, Jonas Hey said:

This exemplifies the point that I have just made, If small London sectors have an issue with traffic numbers how on earth can anyone sit here and back the use of EURx over areas 20 x the size

because EURx does NOT provide the same level of control as a local controller. Perhaps the APP sectors in EGxx are higher than what I'm used to, but in EKCH app only covers up to FL195. So EURN does not give inb clearences to APP, unless coordinated so.

2 hours ago, Jonas Hey said:

would really like to argue this, if this was the case on any sector it would just consist of pilots calling for climb and descent (Which Eurocontrol basically does!), this is not the job of the pilot, it is that of the controller. For sure in some cases pilots may need to call up for descent if they reach TOD with no clearance but in the many places I visit as an en-route controller (VATSCA included) the controller should be actively giving descents and climbs as required. Otherwise are they really controlling at all or just reacting?

You are welcome to argue. But is is still the pilot, who flies the plane. It is naturally a coorperation between the two and any request from either should be considered. But each plane has different performances and you do not know if a plane is so heavy, so he can't climb at the rate you want. Or descent at a rate you would like.

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Torben Andersen, VACC-SCA Controller (C1)

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This seem to be a HOT issue - and we are probably not agreeing on the issue. I've stated my point of views, so I'll leave it at that, so refraining from further discussion.

cheers

Torben Andersen, VACC-SCA Controller (C1)

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