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[24th April 2021] Cross the Pond Westbound - Discussion Thread


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We’re in the final phase of another Cross the Pond Westbound. Thank you to everyone who has contributed or participated. I still remember when we broke the 1000 simultaneous users in a CTP event sever

Cross The Pond: Westbound 2021 I am excited to open our discussion thread relating to CTP Westbound 2021. For those not familar, Cross the Pond (almost exclusively re

You are now able to submit your preferences to be entered into our slot lottery: https://ctp.vatsim.net/reservation. You have from now until 2300 UTC on 13th April to submit your preferences. I'm writ

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On 4/21/2021 at 9:28 PM, Sharadh Rajaraman said:

Most of the discussion about non-booked traffic I've seen are for transatlantic flights. Are there any restrictions against flying within the sets of departure/arrival airports, for instance, EGLL — EDDF, or KBOS — KATL (I think)? I presume this would affect airport congestion, but not much in the air, especially if we're going east within Europe, for instance. 

You might find your arrival airport will be congested and may experience holding. Bring extra gas and possibly have an alternate airport filed just in case. 

Craighton Miller (1273399)
Marketing & Communications Team

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CTP begins in under 12 hours!

If you have a slot you should now have access to see your route, level, SELCAL, track identifier and TMI. A reminder that many levels will have changed, so please re-check your level and don't assume it was what you had when you first booked. For your slot tomorrow, don't forget that your time is your takeoff time, so you need lots of time to get clearance and get to the runway.

Non-event Traffic Westbound

A reminder that we would really like for you to fly somewhere other than over the ocean. However the process for non-event is as follows:

  1. Please expect and plan for a long delay on the ground, especially if you are trying to fly to a busy east coast airport like JFK/BOS
  2. Load up on the ground at a stand. Don't put too much effort into a FP as we will almost certainly change it
  3. Contact your ATC for clearance. Expect a delay while they put your route on request
  4. Expect a re-route to be communicated via PM and to fly at FL280, 290 or 300 through Europe. Once you get to the ocean you will receive a service if we have capacity and you can request a climb once over the ocean. If however we don't have capacity, you need to remain at FL300 or below on your route.
  5. Expect a slot time some point afterwards (delay will depend on how many other people are trying to fly to that airport/through that part of Europe)
  6. If the delay is too much for you, then apologies, but we will ask you to continue the flight offline. You can of course be tactical in your non-event strategy. For example, if you pick a popular departure and popular arrival, your delay is going to be much much higher
     

Non-event Traffic Eastbound

We will not be providing oceanic service to eastbound traffic over the ocean, so you can expect unicom and no clearance delivery.

We would like you to fly via any of these 3 routings if you are flying during the event as it will deconflict you against any event or non-event traffic. Fly from FL310 or higher:
Z1    PRAWN 59N055W 61N050W 61N040W 60N030W 60N020W 60N015W DCT BALIX
Z2    JANJO 55N055W 56N050W 57N040W 57N030W 57N020W DCT SUNOT DCT KESIX
Z3    RAFIN 45N050W 47N040W 48N030W 49N020W DCT RODEL DCT EPUNA

Interact on the Day

Whether you are flying with us or not, you can interact with us on the day via twitter (@vatsimctp), or via the live blog in the community discord (ctp-live channel).

#vatsimctp

Edited by Kieran Hardern
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We’re in the final phase of another Cross the Pond Westbound. Thank you to everyone who has contributed or participated. I still remember when we broke the 1000 simultaneous users in a CTP event several years ago and it’s special to see over 2000 members on the network constantly for several hours despite us trying to limit the number of people flying.

 

You will find some feedback links below for pilots or controllers that took part, but I wanted to share with you some of my perspectives for the event and the challenges we continue to face.

 

The Goal

Because of its own nature, Cross the Pond creates a lot of opinions, a lot of desires and a lot of stress. Our only aim is to put on an event that can be enjoyed by as many as possible, whilst negatively impacting as few as possible.

 

This Year

We faced a lot of challenges this time around, not least of which was a change-around of many parts of our Planning Team following the ‘semi-retirement’ of 2 of our core members. As a returning member myself, recovering my “CTP fluency” has been tough and has led to a few oversights or delays in the overall process. Thank you everyone involved for bearing with me/us.

 

We also took on the challenge this year of trying to work to capacity limits, whilst simultaneously trying to grow the number of slots to allow more pilots to take part. This has led to changes to the way we’ve developed slots, handled non-event traffic and even the route planning process. We increased the number of event slots by 22% by comparison to Westbound 2020 and have distributed these asymmetrically to that goal.

 

Finally, we are in a position of a changing controlling environment across the Atlantic, which has required a lot of work and help from the teams in the various OCAs in order to get us to today’s event.

 

The Lottery

Our slot allocation process remains one of the most difficult and divisive topics each year. It is one we will continue to make edits with as time goes along, responding to its successes and failures.

 

We had over 2000 requests for slots this year and only 880 to give. This of course means that more people are disappointed than content. We get a lot of suggestions each time via feedback as to how we should make this a fairer/better process. This year we:

  • Published guidance and information about how to maximise your chances of a slot
  • Required pilots to interact with the website after booking their slot, otherwise resulting in them losing their booking before the event

 

We have already heard a lot of people request this event that our time slots be less restrictive and this is something we will be discussing in detail. If you have any other thoughts about ways to make this process functionally better (whilst ultimately remaining a random allocation), please let us know. 

 

The Practicalities

We are stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to non-event. We take the practical route that we simply can’t overwhelm the system with everyone who wants to fly on the day. Our non-event strategy is born out of this. We do understand everyone’s frustration with this and if we had a way to do this including everyone, we would be really excited to do it.

 

We get the suggestions almost every year that we should do the event more, or stretch it over a longer time span/multiple days. The practicalities of this are why we have never done so. For most of the core group organising, plus many of the staff at facilities, not to mention the controllers, the time and scale of organisation during the event hours can be exhausting. We don’t expand to multiple days or dramatically increase the hours because we know we simply can’t achieve that level of ATC staffing in several key areas. Ultimately we need our controllers to come back next year and so they need to get at least some fulfilment out of this too.

 

That being said, you are welcome to submit anything you want as feedback! It’s great to hear what people think of each time around.

 

Feedback

Pilots: https://forms.gle/eqSrJvZdphUbYfFD9

Controllers: https://forms.gle/fBEx2eaf6itNhPaq6

Edited by Kieran Hardern
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I posted this on the VATUK Discord, but, I'll post this here as well.

One for all those involved in controlling today.
Today was my first CTP as a controller, and, despite the uncertainty I felt coming into it, I enjoyed it. 
From the briefings that have been held through the past few days to familiarise those unsure of things with procedures, to the general atmosphere within the coordination rooms, everything has been  great. 
I know those at the top end will have been under a great deal of pressure, but, I feel it was working well.
I started the day on a non event airfield in the UK (Glasgow) and the Oceanic Clearances I had to get were dealt with quickly by the Flow Controller (it helped that at that point I could discuss the process going on with the controller, and this helped me understand it more). 
The pilots I spoke to at Glasgow were all appreciative of the efforts others were making, and this seemed to be the case as well at Manchester when I was on Ground this afternoon). 
The support from other controllers was readily available and appreciated, and this made my experience better.
I was told of one pilot who had a bit of a tantrum when he found out he couldn't change his callsign and had lost his slot, and decided to have a bit of a moan about the entire process. I know he's a streamer, so I'll watch it back later.
Anyway, thanks to those in charge and the other guys for the experience today. Hopefully, but the time eastbound comes around, I'll have my S2 and can play even more of a part.

Rob Terrace - EGCN

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I have but one criticism.

The lottery was NOT really announced anywhere I could find (facebook/forums/CTP Website)
I discovered the lottery by mere chance.

Otherwise, it was smooth.

Sadly my joystick cable developed a fault on short final which sent me in the ground nose first.

That is my end though 😉

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I haven't had the time to say my thanks to anyone yet, so I'll do it here. This year I took a different approach to Cross the Pond, I decided to give my hand to France for ATC and supervise the network on the side. Usually, people that know me would see me control Shanwick/Gander radio whenever I could for Cross the Pond but I decided to take a break from this in the last few editions due to the traffic levels, the number of people on one track, Euroscope crashing constantly, etc.

However, this year I was very surprised and amazed at how this has changed. The use of the flow control system in Europe helped regulate the traffic in and out and I think it did a fantastic job. 

Looking at previous images of Cross the Pond and now we can see that the traffic is more spread out than before which is fantastic and provides a lower workload for the controller. But I did hear in some areas that controllers were complaining about being on for too long cause the traffic was way too spread out or they were bored for a long period of time without doing anything.

I think Cross the Pond is taking a step in the right direction and with more tweaking and improvements the event will go to a far much better scale than it was before.

Lastly, thanks to all the people involved in the Cross the Pond planning team, the divisions and its vACCs it was a fantastic event!

CHRISS KLOSOWSKI
Division Director, VATSIM Middle East & North Africa  
VATSIM Network Supervisor, Team 5
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6 hours ago, Chriss Klosowski said:

I haven't had the time to say my thanks to anyone yet, so I'll do it here. This year I took a different approach to Cross the Pond, I decided to give my hand to France for ATC and supervise the network on the side. Usually, people that know me would see me control Shanwick/Gander radio whenever I could for Cross the Pond but I decided to take a break from this in the last few editions due to the traffic levels, the number of people on one track, Euroscope crashing constantly, etc.

However, this year I was very surprised and amazed at how this has changed. The use of the flow control system in Europe helped regulate the traffic in and out and I think it did a fantastic job. 

Looking at previous images of Cross the Pond and now we can see that the traffic is more spread out than before which is fantastic and provides a lower workload for the controller. But I did hear in some areas that controllers were complaining about being on for too long cause the traffic was way too spread out or they were bored for a long period of time without doing anything.

I think Cross the Pond is taking a step in the right direction and with more tweaking and improvements the event will go to a far much better scale than it was before.

Lastly, thanks to all the people involved in the Cross the Pond planning team, the divisions and its vACCs it was a fantastic event!

Something that was mentioned in the VATUK discussions, was that, for most of the last 12 months, we have been dealing with higher traffic loads than we've ever seen for regular events, due to COVID, and perhaps this has helped controllers deal with the workload that has been required to deal with CTP.

This isn't to say that there won't be learning points from the event, I'm sure there will be many things that come to light from the feedback that gets received. 

I've said already, that the workload for Oceanic was the limiting factor, although, I've seen comments from within the VATUK community, asking why more wasn't made of the Santa Maria and Icelandic Tracks, although, I'm sure, that will have been due to the available controllers and workload within Oceanic, especially given that a lot of the Controllers on Oceanic frequencies will have probably also covered domestic areas as well, and would have actually been pretty exhausted by the end of it all.

 

Rob Terrace - EGCN

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Just want to say I took part in my first CTP event yesterday and just really enjoyed myself from start to finish. Airport controllers got me away on time (thanks to all the guys at Dublin!) and from there on it went without a hitch. I overheard a few people having issues with flight plans / clearances once up in the air and the controllers couldn't have done more to help them out.

Please pass on my regards to all for the effort you put in. I just hope all the controllers enjoy it as well as the simmers!

In terms of traffic volume I thought the balance was just right from a pilot perspective. I didn't experience any significant ground delays or holding. I think there will always be criticism that more slots could have been given out in some places but then it could easily tip the other way where pilots experience delays / don't have time for their flight anymore etc.. and the criticism just tips back the other way. Personally I thought the traffic volume was just right

The 'vacuum' it creates for non-event simmers is unfortunate but I think most of us understand why that is. I remember finding out about CTP last year because I logged on to do some simming one Saturday and then discovering the craziness. Maybe some more client announcements in the run up to the even would be good to warn / make people aware of the upcoming event. I can imagine it probably does catch a few 'casual' simmers out. 

On the day it's a minority that get to take part but over the months & years it will be the majority that benefit and enjoy the event. The lottery system is definitely the way to go, albeit with a few tweaks. Being unlikely to take part in the event every time just makes it more special when you can take part is the way I see it & I'm sure most others do as well

Keep up the good work and long live CTP 🙂

 

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Those that left Europe for SFO after 1400Z -- Controller coverage started drying up nearing the end. ZOA stayed up but you could tell they were getting burned out. It turns into all day/night affair with regular VATUSA local traffic and then the long spread out line of traffic from CTP with those 10 to 12 hour flights getting spread out over their routing with aloft winds, speeds, etc... It's not a tightly bunched line like US east coast airports get due to the much shorter length of their flights.  With a 0100Z arrival or later for this 11hr flight I think on the next CTP eastbound, the very early time slots need to be weighted towards any airports on the US west coast and maybe even the Mountain Time Zone airports such as DEN.  by the time I landed (I left within 10 minutes of my TOT), most of the US east coast was logged off and flights done with save for MIA.

Eric

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Last Saturday, I was the 'Operational Planner' (OPL) at EHAM for the first few hours of the event. My job was to create a nice and steady departure sequence, trying to get booked flights at the right time at the runway. And to be honest: it was really boring this time 😞 . I understand that it is very hard to create a nice balance between the amount of booked traffic and the amount of non-booked traffic. I also understand that I was just a tiny cog in a very big machine, the oceanic positions being the traditional bottlenecks.

But, 123 booked departures (only 19 no-shows this edition, quite low!) and only a handful of non-booked departures in a five hour period, is really nothing to get excited about. As a matter of fact, after a few hours we changed our configuration to an off-peak scenario, using only a single runway for departures, and even that didn't cause any delays at all.


Again, after ten editions or so, I fully understand 'the bigger picture'. I only regret missing some of the 'CTP-chaos' on my side.

Cheers,

Martijn

Edited by Martijn Rammeloo
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Hello all,

first of all: Of course again a great event and my overall experience was good. So please don't get the rest of this post wrong. I flew EKCH-KDEN quite in the end of the bunch (1413z departure).

Service was great everywhere. First something that I've experienced quite a few times in all oceanic sectors: Please make sure on oceanic sectors that if you accept the "I will remain on SELCAL watch" you must use SELCAL prior to contact someone. I have done quite a few SELCAL checks and "I will remain on SELCAL watch" on VATSIM, but after these calls I've been called quite a few times without using the SELCAL ping before.

But now the more general and more important thing: EKCH was more or less busy (I guess not significantly more possible given the runway and gate capacity), but on all other frequencies - from climb out of EKCH to the gate in KDEN - it was very quite (Polaris, Rejkiavik, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Minneapolis, Denver). This includes but is not limited to the oceanic sectors (in my case Rejkiavik). I understand that with ADS-C there is not too much to do with traffic flying peacfully behind each other, but then - please make sure we do use the capacity that we have. I honestly felt that on my route including arrival in KDEN at least 1.5 times the traffic, maybe even twice, was possible.

Why do I think this is? I believe we still had a lot of no-shows, but in addition, we always have a lot of CTDs and other stuff happening to all of us, so even from the ones who depart not all reach the oceanic sectors or destination.

Maybe one solution is to use more departure than arrival airports, maybe some departure airports had more capacity, but in general: Please offer more slots to make the frequencies busier. Maybe some frequencys were busy (I think especially arrival frequencies at the east cost), but all frequencies that I had on my nothern route were not. This really makes these 10-hour flights with full ATC (so you can't step away too long) a bit boring. Especially in Canada and USA there was not more than one call on the frequency every few minutes. So I understand we increase slot numbers from CTP to CTP, but please, stick to this. We definitely have significantly more capacity. Given the fact that so many pilots did not get a slot I think it is in everyone's best interest to provide as many slots as we can.

Best regards,
David

Edited by David Kirchner

David Kirchner                                     VATEUD Logo
ATC Training Department Director
unnamed.png.7ea1021ee91ff68552c5250e96e78a5f.png [email protected]
unnamed.png.7ea1021ee91ff68552c5250e96e78a5f.png [email protected]

   
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8 hours ago, Martijn Rammeloo said:

Last Saturday, I was the 'Operational Planner' (OPL) at EHAM for the first few hours of the event. My job was to create a nice and steady departure sequence, trying to get booked flights at the right time at the runway. And to be honest: it was really boring this time 😞 . I understand that it is very hard to create a nice balance between the amount of booked traffic and the amount of non-booked traffic. I also understand that I was just a tiny cog in a very big machine, the oceanic positions being the traditional bottlenecks.

But 123 booked departures (only 19 no-shows this edition, quite low!) and only a handful of non-booked departures in a five hour period, is really nothing to get excited about. As a matter of fact, after a few hours we changed our configuration to an off-peak scenario, using only runway for departures, and even that didn't cause any delays at all.


Again, after ten editions or so, I fully understand 'the bigger picture'. I only regret missing some of the 'CTP-chaos' on my side.

Cheers,

Martijn

I left EHAM within 10 minutes of my TOT. Very well run operation you all have at EHAM. In fact, I think most European major airports on Vatsim run very very well. Speaking of boring? This was the most boring CTP event I have ever been on. The flows to SFO had like 50nm+ in trail spacing over Greenland and Canada. After I left EHAM, I literally saw 3 aircraft until I arrive in SFO. One was local UK traffic and two on the CTP route. That's it in over 11 hours of flying. The radio was not busy at all either. I agree with David, those Europe to US west coast or mountain time zone routes could have use many more slots. So boring, I will never do a CTP west of the Mississippi river again, there is no real excitement to it at all. 

Edited by Eric Fisher

Eric

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6 hours ago, Andreas Fuchs said:

Guess what, in the real world it is not that different! I guess the chaos of the past was more exciting 😄

The chaos for some was much less exciting...

 

Ryan Geckler - GK | Former VATUSA3 - Division Training Manager

VATSIM Minneapolis ARTCC | FAA Miami ARTCC 

Cross the Pond Planning Team

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