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Being Ignored By CYYZ Center


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I was conducting a flight from KMKE to CYYZ on the evening of 3/15/2021. I filed a VFR plan before departing KMKE and choose CYYZ because Center was online. The callsign I had for the flight was AA3178. I was tuned to the CYYZ Center frequency well before entering his airspace and was quite entertained by the conversation happening on frequency. There was a United 777 with some sort of emergency situation going on where a fuel dump was required. Once I entered the airspace I tried to contact Center multiple times and received no reply from the active controller. I would like to mention that the conversation between the United pilot and the controller continued after I was in the airspace. I am newer to Vatsim and enjoy having a living person give me vectors for my approach, as I am not sure exactly how to use VNav or whatever its called for a standard approach via STARS. I usually make a note of this in my Remarks section while sending my flight plan. It could have been an issue with my mic input but typically I have no issues communicating with controllers so I doubt this was the issue. The Radio panel was also configured in the correct manor.  Shortly after the United flight had landed safely the Center controller went offline. Long story short I struggled to get the plane down and ended up crashing short of the airport. I know that there was defiantly some pilot error on my behalf, although after talking with a friend of mine we agreed that this could have been avoided if the controller could have given me vectors. I Understand that Vatsim is realism focused and isn't really "beginner friendly" so to speak, but being ignored by a controller shouldn't be an issue for a user who enjoys using the network casually.    

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You were most definitely 100% not being ignored by the controller.

Before I get into why that is the case, seeing as you say your a beginner, let me drop some knowledge to help you out.

  1. If your intent was to file an American Airlines callsign, the proper and ONLY code for that would be "AAL" not "AA." AA is the IATA code, and that will only make controllers absolutely struggle in figuring out who you are because it is not the standard for callsigns, so do make sure to use "AAL" instead.
  2. You were flying "VFR." That stands for Visual Flight Rules. It may be different in Canada, but as far as I am aware, VFR aircraft don't fly any RNAV procedures such as a STAR. Nor would they receive vectors unless its some sort of class B or C airspace separation management. You would fly, well, visually, eyes and ears. Instead of being cleared for the ROBUC2 arrival or whatever, you would be given an instruction like "enter left downwind for runway xx." (very important that you understand the traffic pattern concept for VFR flying.)
  3. Fun fact (not related) - ATC was not created for VFR aircraft. The beauty of VFR is that everyone can separate themselves without a problem. The reason ATC exists is for IFR (commercial) flying, as it allows there to be more traffic in one area, in a more efficient manner, and in worse conditions. ATC's VFR services are pretty much a courtesy, and therefore, a center controller is not required to give you any form of flight following services. If they are too busy, they can simply state they are unable and you must switch back to Unicom.

And finally, no, you were not ignored by a controller. I can tell you, there are two things that would be very annoying to a controller:

  1. A pilot constantly broadcasting on their frequency again and again (essentially blocking the frequency)
  2. A pilot doing something he has not received any clearance or instruction to do so

So knowing that, what is more likely to have happened is that the controller simply did not hear you. This happens a lot, and that's okay. You just have to configure your audio devices or whatever has to get fixed and the problem is solved. Though, if you are calling on a frequency and getting no response, the best thing to do is to open the text communication panel (or preferably a private chat,) and tell the controller "can you hear me? I am trying to contact you."

If the controller says "yes, shut up I don't want to hear from you," okay.. then maybe he is ignoring you and you should report him lol.
If the controller says "no," then he can't hear you, and your the one with the issue. 

Best solutions would be fixing your audio devices (preferred) or switching to receive only communications if unable to do so.


One important thing to keep in mind though, if you don't hear back from a controller, don't assume you can just do whatever. If you ask for landing clearance or approach clearance and you have not received an instruction from a controller, that means you are not allowed to take out that action, even if you claim the controller is ignoring you or can't hear you. Obviously this didn't apply here because your VFR landing was on unicom, but still, just keep that in mind as some pilots (as I've seen) think that if the controller can't hear them, the field is on unicom and they are free to do whatever they want.

I hope this helped clarify your issue, and hopefully from this you can learn a thing or two to prevent the same issue from happening again. Happy flying

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12 hours ago, Nicholas Camperos said:

You were flying "VFR." That stands for Visual Flight Rules. It may be different in Canada, but as far as I am aware, VFR aircraft don't fly any RNAV procedures such as a STAR. Nor would they receive vectors unless its some sort of class B or C airspace separation management. You would fly, well, visually, eyes and ears. Instead of being cleared for the ROBUC2 arrival or whatever, you would be given an instruction like "enter left downwind for runway xx." (very important that you understand the traffic pattern concept for VFR flying.)

That is correct. You may also receive instructions in class D airspace depending on controller workload. If the controller was busy dealing with an emergency, he may not have the time to provide class D service, especially if Mason was the only pilot in our out of his destination airport.

 

12 hours ago, Nicholas Camperos said:

Fun fact (not related) - ATC was not created for VFR aircraft. The beauty of VFR is that everyone can separate themselves without a problem. The reason ATC exists is for IFR (commercial) flying, as it allows there to be more traffic in one area, in a more efficient manner, and in worse conditions. ATC's VFR services are pretty much a courtesy, and therefore, a center controller is not required to give you any form of flight following services. If they are too busy, they can simply state they are unable and you must switch back to Unicom.

Just to clarify this, VFR traffic inside of class D airspace almost 100% have to be in contact with ATC unless they say otherwise. From the CARs (Canadian Aviation Regulations): "no person operating a VFR aircraft shall enter Class D airspace unless the person establishes two-way radio contact with the appropriate air traffic control unit before entering the airspace."

With class B and C airspace you need explicit permission from ATC to enter as well as a functioning transponder with mode C capability. VFR in class E and G are entirely optional for the ATC unit to provide flight following service in.

Anyways to go back to the original story, it sounds like center logged off well before you reached your airport. It wasn't that the controller or anyone else was ignoring you if that was the case but rather there was no one there at all to help you. In the same way that you are free to log on and off whenever you like, so is the controller. Regardless, welcome to VATSIM Mason. It's a steep learning curve but make good use of the forums and others in the community who are willing to help a new pilot. Even controllers can often give you tips on how to fly your plane or procedures at an airport if they're not too busy. You're welcome to come by and fly some VFR at Vancouver or the surrounding area sometime when I'm controlling (or anyone else) and we can give you some tips.

Cheers!

  • Like 1

Josh Jenk

CZVR C1 controller

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1 minute ago, Josh Jenk said:

That is correct. You may also receive instructions in class D airspace depending on controller workload. If the controller was busy dealing with an emergency, he may not have the time to provide class D service, especially if Mason was the only pilot in our out of his destination airport.

 

Just to clarify this, VFR traffic inside of class D airspace almost 100% have to be in contact with ATC unless they say otherwise. From the CARs (Canadian Aviation Regulations): "no person operating a VFR aircraft shall enter Class D airspace unless the person establishes two-way radio contact with the appropriate air traffic control unit before entering the airspace."

With class B and C airspace you need explicit permission from ATC to enter as well as a functioning transponder with mode C capability. VFR in class E and G are entirely optional for the ATC unit to provide flight following service in.

Anyways to go back to the original story, it sounds like center logged off well before you reached your airport. It wasn't that the controller or anyone else was ignoring you if that was the case but rather there was no one there at all to help you. In the same way that you are free to log on and off whenever you like, so is the controller. Regardless, welcome to VATSIM Mason. It's a steep learning curve but make good use of the forums and others in the community who are willing to help a new pilot. Even controllers can often give you tips on how to fly your plane or procedures at an airport if they're not too busy. You're welcome to come by and fly some VFR at Vancouver or the surrounding area sometime when I'm controlling (or anyone else) and we can give you some tips.

Cheers!

Yes in deed, thank you for mentioning that. ATC coms in those airspaces are not optional. 

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IF the center was able to hear you, I don't think this was the best intro to the VATSIM community. "Aviate Educate Communicate" should be more than a slogan. This would be the perfect example on how the controller could communicate some education to a beginner on the network. All replys above could have been given be the controller. At least (if the controller was about to log off) the controller could have made a reply like "I'm about to close. No atc is available. Monitor Unicom on 122.8", acknowledging he heard the pilot. But other circumstances may be involved here, that we are not aware off. Only the controller knows.

Torben Andersen, VACC-SCA Controller (C1)

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