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Why are Solo Endorsements mandated?


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Hello, 

I am curious as to why solo endorsements have become mandated. My ARTCC does not use them, and I have not seen any issue in the training flow. If a controller is competent enough to be on the network solo, what is the purpose of making them come back a few months later for more training? Shouldn't they just be given the rating in the first place? 
I think it makes more sense for a major endorsement. The controller will be alright, but giving them time to work solo at a major airport allows them to get experience working heavier traffic loads, before a mentor makes sure that they are good enough. 

In my eyes, the minor certification ensures that you know how to control. A controller with only a minor endorsement is able to perform their duties well and correctly. A major certification just ups the complexity and business. That requires more experience with managing busy frequencies, as well as prioritizing transmissions. A minor controller has the time to do research, a major controller does not.

To summarize, I don't think the solo endorsement should be mandated. I think it can be an option, but should not be required.

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I think solo endorsements would be facility dependant.  Larger facilities use solos to help training staff bandwidth and help students progress quicker through the training.  Instead of a student being denied the ability to work a position that isn't exactly at the competent level for a position, they can practice the position while waiting a month or more for their next training session.  They can spend that time practicing the concepts instead of multiple sessions trying to get a hang of the positon. 

Taking solos away would unnecessarily prolong the training bandwidth for both students and teachers. 

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JU of ZLA

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That would be great, but the current wording is "Divisions and Sub-Divisions are mandated to utilize Solo and Visiting Controller Endorsements by global policy," which offers no flexibility, unless the division sets the length of the solo endorsement to be zero days, which seems like a very convoluted work-around

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4 minutes ago, Ralph Pollak said:

That would be great, but the current wording is "Divisions and Sub-Divisions are mandated to utilize Solo and Visiting Controller Endorsements by global policy," which offers no flexibility, unless the division sets the length of the solo endorsement to be zero days, which seems like a very convoluted work-around

I agree.  Having it mandated does not account for individual facility needs.  My guess is they meant that in a different way and needs to be reworded.  

JU of ZLA

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The mandate exists to get controllers on position. You may be done with your training and waiting on an OTS / CPT slot for full certification. You may be "good enough" to work but need some more time to be fully certified. Whatever the reason, solo endorsements provide that avenue to get on position.

The key point being that you should not be restricted from working the next position if it's some administrative hurdle that's keeping you back.

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Matt Bartels
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3 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

The mandate exists to get controllers on position. You may be done with your training and waiting on an OTS / CPT slot for full certification. You may be "good enough" to work but need some more time to be fully certified. Whatever the reason, solo endorsements provide that avenue to get on position.

The key point being that you should not be restricted from working the next position if it's some administrative hurdle that's keeping you back.

And I agree with the intent.  But some facilities apparently don't even need to or use solos so mandating it in a blanket statement might not be in line with the overall intent.  Either way for my facility we use solos extensively so I am all for them, especially with the strain on our training department. 

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JU of ZLA

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In ZBW, we don't use solos. The OTS is essentially just another training session, so it's at most like a week extra. It just seems silly to update a division-wide list and go through a whole thing because you're planning on the next session being an OTS. It's not a big thing. I think it would be better to be optional.

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That's a week that that controller who's almost there can't control without his instructor. Sad.

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Matt Bartels
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10 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

That's a week that that controller who's almost there can't control without his instructor. Sad.

This seems pretty outlandish. If a facility chooses not to use solo certs for whatever reason, that should be their prerogative. Especially for complex airspaces, I can understand the desire for a practical exam before granting solo controlling privileges. Every facility is different, and the obsession with trying to make GCAP "one size fits all" is pretty short sighted. Yes, you increase controllers on the network, but their quality suffers in the long-term.

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ALEXANDRA ROBISON
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16 minutes ago, Alexandra Robison said:

This seems pretty outlandish. If a facility chooses not to use solo certs for whatever reason, that should be their prerogative. Especially for complex airspaces, I can understand the desire for a practical exam before granting solo controlling privileges. Every facility is different, and the obsession with trying to make GCAP "one size fits all" is pretty short sighted. Yes, you increase controllers on the network, but their quality suffers in the long-term.

I actually know that in Latvia vACC, they do an OTS to evaluate whether or not someone should receive their solo, then they do the CPT shortly after. But I agree, every facility is different as I've already expressed many times throughout this public review and in this case, the extra step seems a bit unneeded. But it depends from facility to facility as you say and placing every facility into one overall model throughout the entirety of VATSIM isn't something that should be done in my view. 

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1341101

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1 hour ago, David Solesvik 1341101 said:

I actually know that in Latvia vACC, they do an OTS to evaluate whether or not someone should receive their solo, then they do the CPT shortly after. But I agree, every facility is different as I've already expressed many times throughout this public review and in this case, the extra step seems a bit unneeded. But it depends from facility to facility as you say and placing every facility into one overall model throughout the entirety of VATSIM isn't something that should be done in my view. 

Yeah, our OTSs are very important for us to know whether someone will pass a CPT or not. We do one to issue a solo and one a week before the CPT. For us it is importan to train many high-quality ATCOs over a longer period of time, rather than 1 good ATCO quickly. But even so, we could live perfectly without solos (we use them at the moment) due to the way that our training is structured. It is always the student’s duty and interest to continue their training, thus solos aren’t really that needed for us either.

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2 hours ago, Matthew Bartels said:

That's a week that that controller who's almost there can't control without his instructor. Sad.

I issue a solo if it’s going to help someone learn, but this narrow view of students is disrespectful to the time and knowledge it actually takes to do this and disrespectful to the people who teach here. There are going to be barriers, otherwise it wouldn’t be VATSIM it would be FS Multiplayer and bad role play. If a controller doesn’t meet standards they should be trained until they can. Sometimes it means they need to have an opportunity to work the position more, other times it means they need to work with an instructor until they can get to proficiency. 

Either way, solo mandates either add an extra step (e.g. proficient to solo, proficient to rating), or let loose someone who is not ready to be let loose. This should be up to an individual sub-division, and if there is a consistent issue with a particular division or sub-division “holding back” people needlessly it can and should be addressed with them in a conversation about effective training methods and best practices. 

 

You’ve been very active here and among the discords, which is commendable, but short replies like this to valid points are really unbecoming and feel very dismissive. Are you here to provide background and debate or is this just for show?

ZLA DATM, I1

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9 hours ago, Alexandra Robison said:

This seems pretty outlandish. If a facility chooses not to use solo certs for whatever reason, that should be their prerogative. Especially for complex airspaces, I can understand the desire for a practical exam before granting solo controlling privileges. Every facility is different, and the obsession with trying to make GCAP "one size fits all" is pretty short sighted. Yes, you increase controllers on the network, but their quality suffers in the long-term.

Alexandra

I find your POV on this a little odd.

You're suggesting that by having a method whereby a controller, who you consider good enough to go through an OTS (and I would assume you would ONLY put them up for an OTS if you clearly felt they would pass) would potentially offer a sub standard quality of service if they were utilizing a solo endorsement?  That's somewhat inconsistent surely?  

I think it is a pretty standard standard in any kind of training, that there is value in a student being able to practice something they have learned.  On their own, without the glaring eyes of an instructor on them, so they might make the odd mistake, learn from those mistakes etc.  I have seen and used Solo's for a LOOONG time.  And have yet to see a scenario where it had a hugely detrimental affect on the quality of a facilities ATC as a whole.  Sure there will be mishaps here and there, but each and every mishap is a learning experience for the student.

As Matt, I believe rightly, said.  Making a student wait around for a week for an OTS with no opportunity to practice their craft before the OTS unless the Ins is available put's an unreasonable strain on training resources, and also does not setup the student for success.  So why wouldn't you do it?

I honestly do not see the risk to quality here, unless of course, you are not being appropriately careful with ensuring that those being put up for OTS are ready for it.  And I am sure that is not the case 🙂

Looking forwards to hearing your thoughts.

Thanks!

Phil

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7 hours ago, Matthew Kramer said:

I issue a solo if it’s going to help someone learn, but this narrow view of students is disrespectful to the time and knowledge it actually takes to do this and disrespectful to the people who teach here. There are going to be barriers, otherwise it wouldn’t be VATSIM it would be FS Multiplayer and bad role play. If a controller doesn’t meet standards they should be trained until they can. Sometimes it means they need to have an opportunity to work the position more, other times it means they need to work with an instructor until they can get to proficiency. 

Either way, solo mandates either add an extra step (e.g. proficient to solo, proficient to rating), or let loose someone who is not ready to be let loose. This should be up to an individual sub-division, and if there is a consistent issue with a particular division or sub-division “holding back” people needlessly it can and should be addressed with them in a conversation about effective training methods and best practices. 

 

You’ve been very active here and among the discords, which is commendable, but short replies like this to valid points are really unbecoming and feel very dismissive. Are you here to provide background and debate or is this just for show?

Matthew

As I said to Alexandra.  Very confusing.  You seem to suggest that a solo is a means to "let loose someone who is not ready to be let loose".  So nowhere in GCAP does it tell you HOW to use the Solo endorsement (unless I missed it).  What it does say is that it should be used as a tool.  HOW you use this valuable tool is up to you.  So, perhaps, as I noted to Alexandra, it can be used in such a way as allowing a student further practice time without the instructor breathing down their neck when their OTS is already planned and booked.  Surely, by that point, the notion of them being let loose when not ready should not exist should it?

Just a thought!

Phil

 

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10 hours ago, Matthew Bartels said:

The mandate exists to get controllers on position. You may be done with your training and waiting on an OTS / CPT slot for full certification. You may be "good enough" to work but need some more time to be fully certified. Whatever the reason, solo endorsements provide that avenue to get on position.

The key point being that you should not be restricted from working the next position if it's some administrative hurdle that's keeping you back.

You know what's a great way to get people on position? Having an activity requirement that is more strict than one hour a year.

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Nolan

12 minutes ago, Nolan Danziger said:

You know what's a great way to get people on position? Having an activity requirement that is more strict than one hour a year.

While I understand the sentiment.  There is already a thread for the activity requirement here

Let's try to keep everything collected in the right places otherwise this will quickly become messy and hard for folks to follow all the discussions happening.
Thanks 🙂

Phil

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We use solo certs at ZYZ all the time.  While someone may be "good enough" to run the airspace on their own, there are situations that we don't see very often while controlling, (VFR, minor fields, uncontrolled airports/airspace).  Now obviously we try to get them traffic in those areas while under supervision so we know they can work it before cutting them loose, but solo time gives them the opportunity to work more of that traffic, improve their skills, and gain some confidence/comfort in the position prior to an OTS without having to try to track down an instructor or mentor to supervise them.

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7 hours ago, Philip Dowling 813710 said:

I think it is a pretty standard standard in any kind of training, that there is value in a student being able to practice something they have learned.  On their own, without the glaring eyes of an instructor on them, so they might make the odd mistake, learn from those mistakes etc.  I have seen and used Solo's for a LOOONG time.  And have yet to see a scenario where it had a hugely detrimental affect on the quality of a facilities ATC as a whole.  Sure there will be mishaps here and there, but each and every mishap is a learning experience for the student.

As Matt, I believe rightly, said.  Making a student wait around for a week for an OTS with no opportunity to practice their craft before the OTS unless the Ins is available put's an unreasonable strain on training resources, and also does not setup the student for success.  So why wouldn't you do it?

 

They can practice what they have learned after they do their OTS and obtain their rating. Anecdotally, if I had been allowed to work on the network after my second to last training session, it would not have made an appreciable difference. As it was, I treated it as: I will work on the network once I have completed my training. Additionally, it is extremely infrequent that anything like what comes up in an OTS is present on the network. It's also not like I couldn't control, I had my S1. I also don't see any "unreasonable strain."  The student's opportunity to practice has been their previous training sessions. And for the reason you wouldn't do it, if it ain't broke, don't fix it

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1 hour ago, Ralph Pollak said:

They can practice what they have learned after they do their OTS and obtain their rating. Anecdotally, if I had been allowed to work on the network after my second to last training session, it would not have made an appreciable difference. As it was, I treated it as: I will work on the network once I have completed my training. Additionally, it is extremely infrequent that anything like what comes up in an OTS is present on the network. It's also not like I couldn't control, I had my S1. I also don't see any "unreasonable strain."  The student's opportunity to practice has been their previous training sessions. And for the reason you wouldn't do it, if it ain't broke, don't fix it

Ralph

We'll have to agree to disagree :). I am not a fan at all of the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" philosophy.  Because the definition of "broke" is in the eye of the beholder.  Any opportunity to improve what we do should always be exploited.  Not just because it's broken, but because it is better.

Phil

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I don't think solo endorsements have a place in our training flow. If the controller was ready to perform on the network, their last session would've been an OTS. OTSs aren't just a test, they're still a learning experience.

There must be a point where you define that the controller is good enough to control on the network, and I think that for us, that's the OTS. For other facilities, it's a different spot. 

Also, learning doesn't stop once the controller achieves their rating. I still ask questions long after I've passed the OTS. 

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I'm not quite sure what the difference is between someone who has a solo cert versus a full cert for minors only? They seem to offer the same privileges with one having a time limit. If someone is good to solo, why would they not be good to control under the new policy of "average day VATSIM traffic"?

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5 hours ago, Matthew Wurzbach said:

I'm not quite sure what the difference is between someone who has a solo cert versus a full cert for minors only? They seem to offer the same privileges with one having a time limit. If someone is good to solo, why would they not be good to control under the new policy of "average day VATSIM traffic"?

Typically, someone with a solo cert will only be approved to control one specific airport position (and its top-down positions if applicable) until they receive their full rating.

1341101

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On 7/21/2021 at 8:00 AM, Philip Dowling 813710 said:

Matthew

As I said to Alexandra.  Very confusing.  You seem to suggest that a solo is a means to "let loose someone who is not ready to be let loose".  So nowhere in GCAP does it tell you HOW to use the Solo endorsement (unless I missed it).  What it does say is that it should be used as a tool.  HOW you use this valuable tool is up to you.  So, perhaps, as I noted to Alexandra, it can be used in such a way as allowing a student further practice time without the instructor breathing down their neck when their OTS is already planned and booked.  Surely, by that point, the notion of them being let loose when not ready should not exist should it?

Just a thought!

Phil

 

Solo endorsements are a tool, but it is a tool that the GCAP says is mandatory. It's like telling somebody to build a bird house, they get a hammer and a screw driver to complete the task and it is mandatory to use the screw driver. The hammer might be the appropriate tool, the screw driver might be an appropriate tool, perhaps both are needed, but it turns out the bird house needed nails and not screws and you still have to use the screw driver. Solo endorsements are not always going to be an appropriate tool to use, sometimes it will be unneeded. 

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Ryan Parry - 965346

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14 hours ago, David Solesvik 1341101 said:

Typically, someone with a solo cert will only be approved to control one specific airport position (and its top-down positions if applicable) until they receive their full rating.

That doesn't sound like it's in line with the GCAP. Along with that, I'm not certain I see the need for that. At least in our ARTCC, the minor airports are not that complex, so it is not a big deal to switch airports. If it's different in yours, that's fine, but it's an example of why this should not be globally mandated

Edited by Ralph Pollak
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