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Visiting controllers hard restrictions reducing event staffing


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If you are already certified completely as a visitor, why is there a restriction on how many facilities you can visit?

I understand the need to reduce overall training load for visiting controllers, however if a C1 has been certified in 3 ARTCC's or FIR's for a year and has all possible training visiting another facility, it will not cause anymore training requirements for the sub-divisions they are already in and only for additional facilities.  Overall while they will need extra certification, the increase in rostered people will reduce the stress of staffing positions for event airports and adjacent sub-divisions event staffing.

Ultimately I believe it should be up to the divisions to decide if they want to enforce rules on how many sub-divisions a controller can visit.

You can argue that visiting more than 3 sub-divisions reduces knowledge and proficiency on those positions.
I would argue that having more controllers available to staff events that are increasing in traffic levels as the network grows is more important than making sure a controller is familiar with every sub-division they are visiting.

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For the events piece:

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6.05(j)(xi) A Division or Sub-Division may temporarily waive the requirement for Visiting Controller and Event Endorsements for any airspace within their division or sub-division for individuals if necessary to provide additional staff for an event.

 

PHIL HUTCHINSON
Assistant to the Vice President
Europe, Middle East and Africa Region

 

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That sounds like an exception for something like the ACE team in the US, which is only utilized in exceptional circumstances. I think what Collin is talking about is the difficulty of finding controllers for all of the events that happen. Even with FNOs every two weeks, we have to find staffing frequently, which can get difficult, because controllers don't want to be working events every week supporting our neighboring ARTCCs. 

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I agree on this. I think the arbitrary limit on 3 visiting controller endorsements is a bit too much of a hard restriction. I transferred from VATPAC to ZOA and hold a VC in the UK and Italy, while also in the process of ensuring that I have VC status from my original area of Australia.

This means I have already hit the limit of 3 despite having not had to receive any in person training in those divisions. Perhaps instead of an arbitrary limit of 3 divisions forever, a system could be put in place to limit how long in between each VC endorsement. Similar to how you can only visit 3 months after a region transfer, you can only apply for VC somewhere 3 months after you were endorsed elsewhere

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Ralph is correct on my intent. 

Temporarily waiving the requirement will only allow someone who has little knowledge of the airspace to control. 
Having someone on the roster will far improve the level of service at the facility than someone who has not been trained or been certified for positions taking over because of a lack of roster home and visiting controllers able to control an event.

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On the other hand, my facility receives tons of Visiting Requests that just totally suck up our training resources. Folks who are “serial” visitors and end up taking up slots and time before quickly moving on to some other facility with no real way to enforce the “50%” rule. Not to mention our rotating list of C1 visitors is far and away less dense than our S1-S3 crew who often camp out on the only popular airports our home controllers can learn at. 

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ZLA DATM, I1

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2 minutes ago, Matthew Kramer said:

On the other hand, my facility receives tons of Visiting Requests that just totally suck up our training resources. Folks who are “serial” visitors and end up taking up slots and time before quickly moving on to some other facility with no real way to enforce the “50%” rule. Not to mention our rotating list of C1 visitors is far and away less dense than our S1-S3 crew who often camp out on the only popular airports our home controllers can learn at. 

Exactly this.   Waiving the requirements for an event covers this issue.  In the last year there have been serial visitors that have visited about every facility they can at the lower levels taking a great deal of resources from home facilities.  

Where as someone transferring becomes part of the facility and ultimately folds into the new home facility.   Visitors would still need to demonstrate the ability to perform at the home facility to get an endorsement.  

JU of ZLA

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4 minutes ago, Matthew Kramer said:

On the other hand, my facility receives tons of Visiting Requests that just totally suck up our training resources. Folks who are “serial” visitors and end up taking up slots and time before quickly moving on to some other facility with no real way to enforce the “50%” rule. Not to mention our rotating list of C1 visitors is far and away less dense than our S1-S3 crew who often camp out on the only popular airports our home controllers can learn at. 

And I understand where you are coming from.  My ARTCC stopped accepting visitor applications during COVID due to the influx of students.  However that should be at the discretion of the division and/or the ARTCC/FIR.  I do not believe that Vatsim should be governing the maximum facilities you can visit for all divisions which differ widely across the world.

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Just now, Collin Koldoff said:

And I understand where you are coming from.  My ARTCC stopped accepting visitor applications during COVID due to the influx of students.  However that should be at the discretion of the division and/or the ARTCC/FIR.  I do not believe that Vatsim should be governing the maximum facilities you can visit for all divisions which differ widely across the world.

I discussed this before, and I agree with this. I think it should be up to the local facility and as per a local regulation, to judge on an individual basis and based on the current situation at that facility with both local and visitor request, to what extent the facility should accept visitors as this varies greatly from case to case. Whilst this regulation may benefit a few, I think a global regulation which controls this on a global basis is less beneficial than a local restriction.

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C1-rated controller

Gander Oceanic Operations Director & Instructor | VATSIM Spain Public Relations Director & Operational Assistant | Eurocontrol West Sectorbuddy

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1341101

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2 minutes ago, David Solesvik 1341101 said:

 

I discussed this before, and I agree with this. I think it should be up to the local facility and as per a local regulation, to judge on an individual basis and based on the current situation at that facility with both local and visitor request, to what extent the facility should accept visitors as this varies greatly from case to case. Whilst this regulation may benefit a few, I think a global regulation which controls this on a global basis is less beneficial than a local restriction.

It'd be great to have the ability for local facilities to make restrictions on visitors.  

JU of ZLA

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7 minutes ago, Joshua Borges said:

It'd be great to have the ability for local facilities to make restrictions on visitors.  

I've already explained this on discord. Trying to put all of the divisions and sub-divisions under one model isn't exactly ideal because people are different, facilities are different and a lot of the issues that currently stand with visiting and training dept. strains are managed very well by local sub-divisions on a local basis, where the facilities are able to judge for themselves what is best for them, their students and visitor interest as well. 

 

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C1-rated controller

Gander Oceanic Operations Director & Instructor | VATSIM Spain Public Relations Director & Operational Assistant | Eurocontrol West Sectorbuddy

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1341101

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1 minute ago, David Solesvik 1341101 said:

I've already explained this on discord. Trying to put all of the divisions and sub-divisions under one model isn't exactly ideal because people are different, facilities are different and a lot of the issues that currently stand with visiting and training dept. strains are managed very well by local sub-divisions on a local basis, where the facilities are able to judge for themselves what is best for them, their students and visitor interest as well. 

 

Yea sorry don't sit on discord too often.  Basically I agree that giving facilities local control of restrictions would be great.  Overall though something needs to be done about the tons of visitors facilities have had in the last year. 

JU of ZLA

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Just now, Joshua Borges said:

Yea sorry don't sit on discord too often.  Basically I agree that giving facilities local control of restrictions would be great.  Overall though something needs to be done about the tons of visitors facilities have had in the last year. 

If a facility is overwhelmed with visitor requests and aren't able to process all of them, especially if they conflict with the progress of local student training, facilities should be able to (and a lot of them currently do) place restrictions on who can actually visit their facility. Maybe not by hours, but I know many facilities that have either closed out visiting completely due to the congestion of local training, or have placed rating restrictions (e.g. C1+) on who can visit. But, not all facilities are that busy and overwhelmed with training and a lot of facilities are able to provide visitor validations for S2s, or even S1s.

I think that the current system makes visiting quite a bit too complicated. You can't really use one procedure for something (in this context, visiting regulations) throughout the entire world. That's like using FAA procedures in Europe, or ICAO procedures in the US - it simply won't work and will be very hard and complicated. 

C1-rated controller

Gander Oceanic Operations Director & Instructor | VATSIM Spain Public Relations Director & Operational Assistant | Eurocontrol West Sectorbuddy

[email protected]

1341101

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Shutting doors in the face of visitors on the local level does exactly the opposite of what we want to achieve, which is improve access to ATC. There are places that haven't taken visitors in years. By setting limits on who can visit and how many places, it forces the controller to be more careful in choosing where they can visit. Add in the restricted and major endorsement requirements and you end up with a situation where facilities can protect the quality of control at the places they care about the most, whilst still allowing people to control places where being 100% correct is not as critical.

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Shutting doors in the face of visitors on the local level does exactly the opposite of what we want to achieve

But with the current draft of GCAP, aren't you also shutting doors in the face of S1s and some S2s and to those who already have 3 visitor-statuses? Like I said, there's always a reason as to why facilities choose to close access to visitors. It's not exactly ideal.

Hence, I would like to propose the following: Force all sub-divisions to open visiting (as GCAP does now), but allow those facilities to limit visiting to a specified rating on a local-regulation basis. That way, busy facilities can limit visiting to S3 or C1 to balance out high local training requests and the less busier ones can limit them to S2 or even place no limits and allow S1s to visit as well. Like I said, there's still many facilities that are able to facilitate visiting and S1s and S2s who aren't able to visit will still sit for months at the same facility, waiting for training and they eventually lose interest in controlling the same place and without being able to visit, they don't control. That's also how you "lose controllers". 

Edited by David Solesvik 1341101

C1-rated controller

Gander Oceanic Operations Director & Instructor | VATSIM Spain Public Relations Director & Operational Assistant | Eurocontrol West Sectorbuddy

[email protected]

1341101

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13 minutes ago, David Solesvik 1341101 said:

If a facility is overwhelmed with visitor requests and aren't able to process all of them, especially if they conflict with the progress of local student training, facilities should be able to (and a lot of them currently do) place restrictions on who can actually visit their facility. Maybe not by hours, but I know many facilities that have either closed out visiting completely due to the congestion of local training, or have placed rating restrictions (e.g. C1+) on who can visit. But, not all facilities are that busy and overwhelmed with training and a lot of facilities are able to provide visitor validations for S2s, or even S1s.

I think that the current system makes visiting quite a bit too complicated. You can't really use one procedure for something (in this context, visiting regulations) throughout the entire world. That's like using FAA procedures in Europe, or ICAO procedures in the US - it simply won't work and will be very hard and complicated. 

The problem is those restrictions aren't always up to the local facilities and require additional approvals.  So, no the current system doesn't exactly work in that way. 

JU of ZLA

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3 minutes ago, David Solesvik 1341101 said:

But with the current draft of GCAP, aren't you also shutting doors in the face of S1s and some S2s and to those who already have 3 visitor-statuses? Like I said, there's always a reason as to why facilities choose to close access to visitors. It's not exactly ideal.

Hence, I would like to propose the following: Force all sub-divisions to open visiting (as GCAP does now), but allow those facilities to limit visiting to a specified rating on a local-regulation basis. That way, busy facilities can limit visiting to S3 or C1 to balance out high local training requests and the less busier ones can limit them to S2 or even place no limits and allow S1s to visit as well. Like I said, there's still many facilities that are able to facilitate visiting and S1s and S2s who aren't able to visit will still sit for months at the same facility, waiting for training and they eventually lose interest in controlling the same place and without being able to visit, they don't control. That's also how you "lose controllers". 

Yes but the problem with what you are talking about is an S1 can visit everywhere and still not be able to control much because they need further training at the home facility.  So the visiting everywhere doesn't solve the problem you mention.  

The other issue that needs to be considered is facilities that place arbitrary restrcitions that shouldn't.  This has happened before so you also run the risk of local facilities becoming unattainable by some unless they transfer.  

JU of ZLA

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To be brutally honest. A S1 has absolutely no business visiting anywhere. They are learning Delivery and Ground techniques and they need to focus on mastery in one place, not complicating their learning by learning different ways of doing things somewhere else as well. The same goes for a standard S2 who is learning the basics of tower and how they interact with the terminal controllers. The S3 is about the first place that you really start getting a strong grasp on things and know how to compartmentalize your learning to where you are able to branch out. But there are those who have no interest in radar which is why we allowed the exception for "Long Tenured S2s"

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Matt Bartels
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2 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

Shutting doors in the face of visitors on the local level does exactly the opposite of what we want to achieve, which is improve access to ATC. There are places that haven't taken visitors in years. By setting limits on who can visit and how many places, it forces the controller to be more careful in choosing where they can visit. Add in the restricted and major endorsement requirements and you end up with a situation where facilities can protect the quality of control at the places they care about the most, whilst still allowing people to control places where being 100% correct is not as critical.

What you are actually doing is the opposite of this.  By limiting the number of facilities you are visiting you incentivize visiting facilities with more controllers already in it leaving the smaller facilities behind.

Would you rather visit an facility that is more popular and has more controllers or an facility that is less popular and has less controllers?

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2 minutes ago, Collin Koldoff said:

What you are actually doing is the opposite of this.  By limiting the number of facilities you are visiting you incentivize visiting facilities with more controllers already in it leaving the smaller facilities behind.

Would you rather visit an facility that is more popular and has more controllers or an facility that is less popular and has less controllers?

I can't make that decision. Only the controller can. It's not always about traffic counts and popular airports.

Maybe those popular places have massive waitlists for training. Because the airports that they're going to want to work are going to be the restricted and major ones.

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8 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

I can't make that decision. Only the controller can. It's not always about traffic counts and popular airports.

Maybe those popular places have massive waitlists for training. Because the airports that they're going to want to work are going to be the restricted and major ones.

But let's be honest and realistic here - most and nearly all controllers will still go for the more busy and popular airports. If you're visiting somewhere outside of your local facility, you want to experience something different to what you already experience. And in a lot of cases that I personally have seen, that's traffic. Even if it's not traffic and if it's fun procedures, it's still worth nothing without a high amount of traffic. So I'm sorry, but in my view, 75% of the time, it is about traffic levels.

C1-rated controller

Gander Oceanic Operations Director & Instructor | VATSIM Spain Public Relations Director & Operational Assistant | Eurocontrol West Sectorbuddy

[email protected]

1341101

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I don't see this playing out much differently than it does today to be honest. The traffic chasers are still going to flock to the traffic places and those that want to visit places because of friends or general interest will still do so. What it does stop, is the "badge collectors" who are going to sap the limited training resources in your facility to never control a position there again.

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Matt Bartels
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11 minutes ago, David Solesvik 1341101 said:

But let's be honest and realistic here - most and nearly all controllers will still go for the more busy and popular airports. If you're visiting somewhere outside of your local facility, you want to experience something different to what you already experience. And in a lot of cases that I personally have seen, that's traffic. Even if it's not traffic and if it's fun procedures, it's still worth nothing without a high amount of traffic. So I'm sorry, but in my view, 75% of the time, it is about traffic levels.

 

I'm gonna tell you guys a little story about a guy named Don Fiveash. Some of you who have been around here a long time may remember the name, but for those that haven't, it's a good story, especially when it relates to the perception of "more busy and popular airports". Posted from the ATM at the time in ZLA, in 2006:

https://forums.laartcc.org/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=5624

Don (FH) Fiveash was a great friend to ZLA who passed away over the weekend of May 13, 2006.

His contribution to the Los Angeles ARTCC in the areas of pilot training, controller training, and VFR awareness was monumental. At a time when most pilots and controllers had their sights set on working big towers, approach and center, Don chose to staff the tower of one of his old stomping grounds, Santa Monica (KSMO), a small field just a few miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Night after night, he plugged in for hours at a time, providing wonderful, friendly service to the one or two pilots that would show up. Word quickly spread that on any given night, a fun little field was being worked by a knowledgeable controller who would bend over backwards to help people out with the basics of flight, be it pattern work, phraseology, or just how to fly the plane.

Don quickly developed of following of pilots, and later, other student controllers who elected to work Santa Monica in his absence, rather than KLAX. The VFR movement at ZLA quickly gathered steam, and simply wouldn’t have happened if Don hadn’t picked up the torch.

He was also an avid mentor to our student controllers, working countless hours showing students the basics, and then later, the finer points of running a tower properly and efficiently.

At the time, because of his actions and willingly forgoing staffing up KLAX or KLAS or somewhere big, he focused on KSMO, a small field just north of KLAX that at the time barely had a 5000ft. runway. He did it so much and concentrated on smaller (read: general aviation) traffic, that more times than not during his time on VATSIM, KSMO had more traffic than KLAX. Yes, you read right: a small GA field had more traffic flying to and from it than one of the biggest airports on this network.

It's no joke that we stole from the movie Field of Dreams: If you staff it, they will come.

While the common perception is that if you want traffic you have to go to where the traffic is (meaning, our network is based on pilot demand), that isn't true, as pilot's can't do much without us controllers as well. But the common misconception is that a controller can not generate traffic elsewhere outside of those busy airports, which is wrong. Don did that to the point where we at ZLA had quarterly events that featured only our GA fields, and they were able to get plenty of traffic, even at times eclipsing our big 3 airports: KLAX, KLAS, and KSAN.

My point: sometimes you don't need BIG to generate traffic; you can play it like the Walmart effect: get smaller aircraft, but make up the difference in volume. It all comes down to not only how you do it, but if you want to do it. And if you want to so you don't have to be in the pack fighting for limited time at a major airport, you can definitely find a way.

BL.

 

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Brad Littlejohn

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Off topic, but the FH story always hits me in the feels. A true embodiment of what our network is about. We forget that sometimes.🥰

Matt Bartels
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Unless otherwise stated, opinions are my own and not representative of the official opinion of the VATSIM Board of Governors

 

 

 

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10 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

Off topic, but the FH story always hits me in the feels. A true embodiment of what our network is about. We forget that sometimes.🥰

 

I agree, but not necessarily offtopic. The issue with visiting controllers is that they want to go to the major airports where the traffic is at, which is creating the congestion for resources that the staff at that particular facility has. However, when they have their choice of other airports, they can do what FH willingly did, and generate traffic that way. He had others that followed in his footsteps and did the same thing, regardless of in their home facility, as a visiting controller at KZLA, or otherwise. That recipe can be repeated throughout the network, using what he did as a template. That is why I brought that up.

BL.

 

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Brad Littlejohn

ZLA Senior Controller

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