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Why are Solo Endorsements mandated?


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Solo Endorsements are a good thing.  It allows the student to apply what they have learned on the live network unsupervised.  If a student has been authorized by their Division/Subdivision to work a control position without the proper rating (because their rating is one below), they must have a Solo Endorsement.  Otherwise, they would technically be in violation of CoC C6.  The SUP would have no other way of knowing the Division authorized the student to work the position.  The alternative would be to have the student not practice on the live network on the position until they passed their OTS.

In other words, I do not read this section of the GCAP as mandating that every Division/Subdivision assign a Solo Endorsement to each and every student prior to conducting an OTS.  

Manuel Manigault

Division Director

VATUSA

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Not that anything I’ve said is popular, but what I’ve been reading about solo endorsements is not in line with the intent. It’s supposed to be used as a training tool. We’re not looking for perfection or even sign off worthy at this point. We’re looking for a student that knows the basics and is “good enough” to control during off peak periods. Maybe they have a few sessions to go before OTS, but they can at least get more exposure to the position instead of having to wait for their next instructor session.

Matt Bartels
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3 hours ago, Matthew Bartels said:

Not that anything I’ve said is popular, but what I’ve been reading about solo endorsements is not in line with the intent. It’s supposed to be used as a training tool. We’re not looking for perfection or even sign off worthy at this point. We’re looking for a student that knows the basics and is “good enough” to control during off peak periods. Maybe they have a few sessions to go before OTS, but they can at least get more exposure to the position instead of having to wait for their next instructor session.

As a mentor, I am not and will not be comfortable sending a controller off to control if they are not ready for their full certification.  Anything can happen on the network and if I do not feel like they are able to handle anything that happens I will not certify them and they shouldn't get a solo. 

My students usually do not have to wait long between training session.  At most 1 week unless there are exceptional circumstances where I or my student is not available for over a week.  

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Just because you don't feel confident with something, or it's not used within your subdivision/division, doesn't mean it's not working elsewhere. Just to give you an example:

In Poland (Polish VACC), we use solo endorsements, and they can't solo on our biggest/major airport: EPWA Warsaw Chopin Airport. It's complex, and busy usually, so it's no go with solo. Any other airport, outside event time, are usually very quiet. They can log into these positions (making our VACC more "lighten up"), and in the same time keep training in calm environment. If the mess something up there, they will probably notice, and traffic flow is not high enough to make further complications. You could say, that if he is ready to take solo positions, why not grant the rating? Because sessions on bigger airport (mentoring sessions on EPWA) still shows problems, that have to be resolved. Issuing rating without major endorsement approval was discussed within our VACC, but personally it's a no-go for a simple reason - rating provides your skills are sufficient enough to control certain position on any given airport. What would happen, if this person, locally limited to control outside major airport, decided to transfer/visit other VACC/Division? It would show, we are sending off incompetent people.

Mateusz Zymla - 1131338

VATSIMer since 2009, IRL pilot rated.

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I genuinely still don't understand why sub-divisions with their own training procedures and training steps can't just decide on whether or not they want to use solo validations. I don't understand why they have to be forced. Sub-divisions clearly know what is better for them and their students. Yes, perhaps in places without solos, students aren't able to control but we still need to focus on quality over quantity. In the end, the overall result that sub-divisions get is still more than fine. I see absolutely no issues with local sub-divisions not using solos as part of their training program. It still works. GCAP just forces them to change their structure to something they don't want to use. In the end, how is this a pleasant experience for divisions and sub-divisions, as well as instructors and mentors who have to work around regulations they don't find useful? It's also not the best experience for pilots and if you mention staffing, well, we're still able to staff up airports on a daily basis and especially during events as well. Everything is fine and I see little issue with how it is right now. But forcing sub-divisions to use something they are genuinely against is just toxic in my view and won't help at all.

Edited by David Solesvik 1341101

C1-rated controller

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

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4 hours ago, David Solesvik 1341101 said:

I genuinely still don't understand why sub-divisions with their own training procedures and training steps can't just decide on whether or not they want to use solo validations. I don't understand why they have to be forced. Sub-divisions clearly know what is better for them and their students. Yes, perhaps in places without solos, students aren't able to control but we still need to focus on quality over quantity. In the end, the overall result that sub-divisions get is still more than fine. I see absolutely no issues with local sub-divisions not using solos as part of their training program. It still works. GCAP just forces them to change their structure to something they don't want to use. In the end, how is this a pleasant experience for divisions and sub-divisions, as well as instructors and mentors who have to work around regulations they don't find useful? It's also not the best experience for pilots and if you mention staffing, well, we're still able to staff up airports on a daily basis and especially during events as well. Everything is fine and I see little issue with how it is right now. But forcing sub-divisions to use something they are genuinely against is just toxic in my view and won't help at all.

No subdivision is being forced to use Solo Endorsements per the GCAP for each and every student.  If a subdivision wishes to have a student with a lower rating work a position that requires a rating one higher than their current one prior to their OTS, they have to have a Solo Endorsement.  This is for that student's protection to comply with CoC C6.  This is very different than the Event Endorsement.  Divisions could choose not to use the Event Endorsement.  This decision would not mean that members could never work events.  By not taking advantage of the Events Endorsement, a Division would not be able to verify via training that a member can handle event level traffic since endorsement/ratings training (other than events endorsement) can only take into account average traffic.

Edited by Manuel Manigault

Manuel Manigault

Division Director

VATUSA

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43 minutes ago, Manuel Manigault said:

No subdivision is being forced to use Solo Endorsements per the GCAP for each and every student.  If a subdivision wishes to have a student with a lower rating work a position that requires a rating one higher than their current one prior to their OTS, they have to have a Solo Endorsement.  This is for that student's protection to comply with CoC C6.  This is very different than the Event Endorsement.  Divisions could choose not to use the Event Endorsement.  This decision would not mean that members could never work events.  By not taking advantage of the Events Endorsement, a Division would not be able to verify via training that a member can handle event level traffic since endorsement/ratings training (other than events endorsement) can only take into account average traffic.

 

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6.01 Divisions and Sub-Divisions are mandated to utilize Solo and Visiting Controller Endorsements by global policy.

GCAP says that it is mandated by global policy.  Where is this global policy that mandates it?  Based on the interpretation that we have been told to use this means that every student must go through the solo process for all ATS training

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What the GCAP is saying here is that endorsements are optional for adaptation by the division, except Solo and Visiting Endorsements.  These must be made available.

The intent is to let a controller get on and control when they have covered the book learning and just need to practice.  Does the controller know how to do the basics but you don't think they are able to pass the CPT yet? Give them a solo, let them practice!  A bigger use case for solo as at the major level. You've taught them the major but they need to get more experience for that Major CPT. Let them control and get that experience!

Matt Bartels
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1 minute ago, Matthew Bartels said:

What the GCAP is saying here is that endorsements are optional for adaptation by the division, except Solo and Visiting Endorsements.  These must be made available.

The intent is to let a controller get on and control when they have covered the book learning and just need to practice.  Does the controller know how to do the basics but you don't think they are able to pass the CPT yet? Give them a solo, let them practice!  A bigger use case for solo as at the major level. You've taught them the major but they need to get more experience for that Major CPT. Let them control and get that experience!

And to answer my question described above, why is this something that cannot be optional for divisions and sub-divisions to use? 

I see absolutely no issues with local sub-divisions not using solos as part of their training program. It still works. GCAP just forces them to change their structure to something they don't want to use. In the end, how is this a pleasant experience for divisions and sub-divisions, as well as instructors and mentors who have to work around regulations they don't find useful? It's also not the best experience for pilots and if you mention staffing, well, we're still able to staff up airports on a daily basis and especially during events as well. Everything is fine and I see little issue with how it is right now. But forcing sub-divisions to use something they are genuinely against is just toxic in my view and won't help at all.

C1-rated controller

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

[email protected]

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Ok. Let's use your ZBW example. You say that they will just certify somebody on the next session as a surprise. Ok great. Where was the CPT for that? As GCAP reads as CPT is required for award of the rating. 

Let's ignore that for a moment though. If the student is going to be certified next week, then what changed between this week and next week that mandated full certification?  Is the student really that much more proficient after 1 week, especially not having controlled? Why make them wait another week for a full certification when you could let them out and get some practice now.

 

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On 7/22/2021 at 12:43 PM, Ryan Parry said:

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. 

Ryan

I see what you are saying.  Not sure I entirely agree, but agree there is definitely going to be a wide variety of situations that might occur that might prove you very right.  So flexibility in that regard would always be better than a more stringent approach 🙂

Phil

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24 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

Ok. Let's use your ZBW example. You say that they will just certify somebody on the next session as a surprise. Ok great. Where was the CPT for that? As GCAP reads as CPT is required for award of the rating. 

Let's ignore that for a moment though. If the student is going to be certified next week, then what changed between this week and next week that mandated full certification?  Is the student really that much more proficient after 1 week, especially not having controlled? Why make them wait another week for a full certification when you could let them out and get some practice now.

Yes, ZBW does not announce OTS's as other sub-divisions may.  It puts an unnecessary stress on the controller that is not present during day to day controlling.

The thing that changes between sessions is the controllers self review based on feedback in training reports.  

I do not believe in CPT's.  The only time I think on the network training should be used is during high traffic periods or during center training which is often too intense for an instructor to run a session in the sweatbox.  You can not test a student on the network with random traffic that is often minimal the same way that a mentor can test a student in sweatbox scenarios that are engineered to test the students full capacity.

While a CPT may be good in other divisions where certification levels differ than in VATUSA, some ARTCC's in VATUSA including ZBW we certify students to a new rating such as the S2 at a Class C/minor Airport such as Portland (KPWM). Signoff on the network in the form of a CPT would not provide the student with a true practical test that can be offered in a sweatbox environment which we have used to certify hundreds of students over the last few years.

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1 hour ago, David Solesvik 1341101 said:

And to answer my question described above, why is this something that cannot be optional for divisions and sub-divisions to use? 

I see absolutely no issues with local sub-divisions not using solos as part of their training program. It still works. GCAP just forces them to change their structure to something they don't want to use. In the end, how is this a pleasant experience for divisions and sub-divisions, as well as instructors and mentors who have to work around regulations they don't find useful? It's also not the best experience for pilots and if you mention staffing, well, we're still able to staff up airports on a daily basis and especially during events as well. Everything is fine and I see little issue with how it is right now. But forcing sub-divisions to use something they are genuinely against is just toxic in my view and won't help at all.

David

As I just said to Ryan.  I don't agree with you.  However, I am sure there might be circumstances where, perhaps, a rigid interpretation could be detrimental.  However.  I would have to disagree with any point of view that Solo's are not useful as a "generalised" statement.  I think on an individual basis, they may or may not be useful.  Example.  Me.  If I were to be in a Sub Div that did not allow solo's.  Well.  Actually I wouldn't be in one as I would not tolerate that method of training.  However, another person may be absolutely fine with that as they want to be hand held the whole way.  So I agree in the sense that there needs to be flexibility but not for the same reasons you want it.  I think it should be down to the individual as to whether a solo is something they would find of value to them in preparing for their OTS.

Keeping in mind we are here to help educate, I think we need to ensure the widest variety of tools are available to all our instructors and mentors to ensure that students have the maximum chance of success.  I have seen some instructors/mentors in this very thread indicate they would NEVER give a solo to a student before an OTS.  Which to me is quite intentionally disregarding that students individual needs in favour of "i know what's best".  Which is an anarchic point of view.  I do not necessarily think we should force anyONE to DO anything.  I think what we should be doing is to ensure all sub-divisions at the very least make the option available.

If a person chooses not to use it, that is very much their prerogative.

Phil

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1 hour ago, Matthew Bartels said:

As GCAP reads as CPT is required for award of the rating. 

Let's ignore that for a moment though. If the student is going to be certified next week, then what changed between this week and next week that mandated full certification?  Is the student really that much more proficient after 1 week, especially not having controlled? Why make them wait another week for a full certification when you could let them out and get some practice now.

I didn't actually realize the CPT had to be on network. I would be in favor of changing that. My personal experience has been it's not really necessary. Even if you were concerned about quality, it strays from the GCAP vision of "more access to controlling via less training requirements". Scheduling and running on-network CPTs are time intensive and can be a barrier for new controllers. Do we really care about a CPT for aerodrome controllers working minor fields outside events? I personally don't. I think a trainer can generate a realistic scenario well enough in Sweatbox.

As far as the second paragraph, I don't think much changes regardless of a short stint on the network. The training at VATSIM is never going to emulate real life. I think that's why many of us forego the solo and just give people the cert. If you're good enough to solo, might as well be good enough for the cert. The quality control will come in via the restricted, major, and event endorsements. A person with a handful of solo hours will be a better controller, no doubt, but I don't really grasp what sets that person apart from a full cert'd individual who has no real life ATC experience or training. They are both going to be very green and learning constantly. I haven't seen a practical difference. The same effect is achieved by the full cert'd person just putting in hours at the position.

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6 minutes ago, Collin Koldoff said:

Signoff on the network in the form of a CPT would not provide the student with a true practical test that can be offered in a sweatbox environment which we have used to certify hundreds of students over the last few years.

Collin

I just want to be sure I got this right.  So you are suggesting that a practical test, in the sweatbox environment where the a/c are being driven by the instructor.  Making perfect rate turns when instructed to do so, likely making perfect descents, when instructed,  is a more valuable practical tests than live on the network.  Which is filled with pilots making turns at imperfect rates and descents at seriously imperfect rates?

I wonder, how your hundreds of controllers, are able to cope when presented with the reality of the network upon gaining their rating?

 

I'd honestly love to agree with you.  But we're dealing with an imperfect network with an awful lot of imperfect pilots which makes it VERY hard to simulate reality in a "sweatbox" environment.  Which is one of the primary reasons I think OTS's on the network are critical.  As well as live practice on the network.  Mixed, of course, with the sweatbox sessions as you mention.

Phil.

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In ZNY, we have certified thousands of controllers using only sweatbox for a decade. The only situation when we do CPTs are when they are about to move on to center, after spending hundreds of hours practicing. CPTs are a useless thing for training. They don't provide enough traffic on a normal day for the exam to count for anything, and when you are promoting 3-5 controllers PER WEEK, doing CPTs for every single one of them, becomes completely unmanageable. 

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Karl Mathias Moberg (KM) - C3/I1
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ZNY Air Traffic Manager

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10 minutes ago, Philip Dowling said:

I just want to be sure I got this right.  So you are suggesting that a practical test, in the sweatbox environment where the a/c are being driven by the instructor.  Making perfect rate turns when instructed to do so, likely making perfect descents, when instructed,  is a more valuable practical tests than live on the network.  Which is filled with pilots making turns at imperfect rates and descents at seriously imperfect rates?

A mentor can very easily control the rates in the sweatbox and create imperfect pilots. 

What you are telling me is that in a single CPT you can generate intense traffic situations similar to situations that are uncommon but are necessary to test a student on using people that are not controllable in their actions?

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3 minutes ago, Karl Mathias Moberg said:

In ZNY, we have certified thousands of controllers using only sweatbox for a decade. The only situation when we do CPTs are when they are about to move on to center, after spending hundreds of hours practicing. CPTs are a useless thing for training. They don't provide enough traffic on a normal day for the exam to count for anything, and when you are promoting 3-5 controllers PER WEEK, doing CPTs for every single one of them, becomes completely unmanageable. 

To add on to this, Sweatbox scenarios let us target very specific scenarios that are not uncommon on the network but wouldn't reliably appear in a CPT. For example, you can't reliably generate ties between aircraft being handed off live on the network whereas it's trivial to program that into a scenario file. The Sweatbox simulators we use are able to randomize speed variations and different delay/reaction times to by pilots to turn and descent instructions. As an instructor, I also purposefully give bad readbacks, delay executing a turn, or turn the wrong way in order to teach how to handle those on the network. The Sweatbox provides a controlled environment in which we are guaranteed to be able to hit all of the certification requirements.

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New York ARTCC

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13 minutes ago, Karl Mathias Moberg said:

In ZNY, we have certified thousands of controllers using only sweatbox for a decade. The only situation when we do CPTs are when they are about to move on to center, after spending hundreds of hours practicing. CPTs are a useless thing for training. They don't provide enough traffic on a normal day for the exam to count for anything, and when you are promoting 3-5 controllers PER WEEK, doing CPTs for every single one of them, becomes completely unmanageable. 

Hey Karl

Interesting.  You bring up a good point, with that level of activity I can see where CPT's for every one of them on the network is going to be challenging to get sufficient traffic to be able to do a viable CPT.  That's definitely an aspect to this I didn't think of.  You guys are busy! 🙂

Phil

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6 minutes ago, Collin Koldoff said:

A mentor can very easily control the rates in the sweatbox and create imperfect pilots. 

What you are telling me is that in a single CPT you can generate intense traffic situations similar to situations that are uncommon but are necessary to test a student on using people that are not controllable in their actions?

Collin.

Actually yes.  But I think Karl brought up the more poignant point around activity level.  I can totally understand now, when you are processing (assuming you are in the same boat as NY) that many CPT's a week, that doing it on the network simply wouldn't be viable.  From that aspect, it does make sense.

Phil 

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29 minutes ago, Philip Dowling said:

Collin.

Actually yes.  But I think Karl brought up the more poignant point around activity level.  I can totally understand now, when you are processing (assuming you are in the same boat as NY) that many CPT's a week, that doing it on the network simply wouldn't be viable.  From that aspect, it does make sense.

Phil 

3-5 per week fits with what we've averaged over the last 12 months. 

 

I am interested in how you create the same environment on the network as we can in the sweatbox.

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Jonathan Halverson (HS) - 1049778

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1 hour ago, Philip Dowling said:

David

As I just said to Ryan.  I don't agree with you.  However, I am sure there might be circumstances where, perhaps, a rigid interpretation could be detrimental.  However.  I would have to disagree with any point of view that Solo's are not useful as a "generalised" statement.  I think on an individual basis, they may or may not be useful.  Example.  Me.  If I were to be in a Sub Div that did not allow solo's.  Well.  Actually I wouldn't be in one as I would not tolerate that method of training.  However, another person may be absolutely fine with that as they want to be hand held the whole way.  So I agree in the sense that there needs to be flexibility but not for the same reasons you want it.  I think it should be down to the individual as to whether a solo is something they would find of value to them in preparing for their OTS.

Keeping in mind we are here to help educate, I think we need to ensure the widest variety of tools are available to all our instructors and mentors to ensure that students have the maximum chance of success.  I have seen some instructors/mentors in this very thread indicate they would NEVER give a solo to a student before an OTS.  Which to me is quite intentionally disregarding that students individual needs in favour of "i know what's best".  Which is an anarchic point of view.  I do not necessarily think we should force anyONE to DO anything.  I think what we should be doing is to ensure all sub-divisions at the very least make the option available.

If a person chooses not to use it, that is very much their prerogative.

Phil

Phil,

I personally am not against solos and I think solos are quite crucial, at least in all of the places where I have mentored. I will never, ever be against solos. However, I also know that different places (such as ZBW) have different training procedures and I can understand that if a training program is structured in a way which does not include solos, it clearly works best for that sub-division. I'm a visiting controller at ZBW and I know that Boston has some really really great controllers, so those controllers must have gone through a really strong training program. What I am saying is, I don't want sub-divisions to be forced to use something that conflicts with their current training system. That's why I said that these things should be regulated on a sub-divisional level and if this is abused too far, then this should be dealt with appropriately on a divisional or regional level. But I just think it would be very toxic if divisions were forced to do things one way, when something worked just fine for them before.

David

Edited by David Solesvik
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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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Maybe this is addressed so I'll apologize if it's off topic, but I want to ensure that using solos for some positions doesn't mean using them for all positions. Likewise, that having solos for some positions doesn't mean a student has to have a solo first. 

There is not much use in a minor ground solo, and there's likewise no use in a major tower solo if the student demonstrates competency during the session. Giving divisions the ability to use solos is crucial. Mandating they use a solo in some capacity is fine if not overbearing, but mandating all positions have a solo period would be right out.

ZLA DATM, I1

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31 minutes ago, Matthew Kramer said:

here is not much use in a minor ground solo, and there's likewise no use in a major tower solo if the student demonstrates competency during the session. Giving divisions the ability to use solos is crucial. Mandating they use a solo in some capacity is fine if not overbearing, but mandating all positions have a solo period would be right out.

There is and there isn't. Is the student at a point in their training where they can handle (to pull a random number) 90% of all the scenarios they might see? Is it going to be a couple of weeks before that student gets another session in which time there is going to be a degradation in skillset due to lack of practice? 

If the answer is yes, then why not let them out on a solo so they can start getting some practice on their own? No they're not going to be perfect, but we got to let them out of the nest at some  point. So many discussions on other mediums have been about student responsibility for their training, and not just being given things. So give them the opportunity to have to sink or swim and figure out things on their own while they wait for those final tune up sessions before being granted the full certification.

It's obvious a revision to wording here is necessary for intent.

The intent is that a training department not hold a controller back until they're 100% ready to work every position. This is why the endorsements are out there. You can "protect" your quality of control by requiring higher and higher needed knowledge where it's really needed. If they're "good enough" but need just a bit more polishing, get them out on a solo cert.

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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