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8.02 Activity Requirements for Minor Fields


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8 minutes ago, Nicholas Lascko said:

Matt, you know that 2 hours a week isn't a requirement anywhere and you are blowing that out of proportion.

I am, but if the concern is about atrophy and controllers being rusty then it stands to reason that if I just got signed off I'm going to lose a lot more in less time than I am as someone who's been active for years. This is why we are trying to find a way to balance out real life and what we really need as opposed to what we think we need.

8 minutes ago, Nicholas Lascko said:

honestly, this restriction should absolutely not be included in the final copy of the policy as it is red tape just to add red tape.

There is room to come to a compromise here. One of the big problems is we have no standardization at all throughout the network. This is one of the areas where we can start standardizing some things.

9 minutes ago, David Solesvik 1341101 said:

we require people to control 3 hours every quarter (i.e. every 3 months).

I would say that's far too much for a busy guy like me who is lucky to be able to control 1 hour every few months. Yet many of us busy people can still perform well enough. Especially at a place like Gander Oceanic where I'm likely a visitor and still have to maintain an activity requirement elsewhere. See how those hours start ballooning for a hobby?

 

9 minutes ago, Joshua Borges said:

As a pilot I have seen some rusty controllers that don't control often and it is noticeable.  Inexperience with procedures and ability causing undue delays and a general unsatisfing flying experience on the network.

You're also a controller and know what's good and what's bad. I'm more interested if the what's bad is really that bad for the general pilot, barring egregious things.

Matt Bartels
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2 minutes ago, David Solesvik 1341101 said:

I think there is a considerably smaller chance of this happening if the controller is fresh and up-to-date with their controlling skills.

I think an overall good number would be a certain amount of hours every month or every 3 months. The way we currently have it in Gander Oceanic, is we require people to control 3 hours every quarter (i.e. every 3 months). I think this is a relatively good and generous number. The timespan is fairly big to allow the controller to spend those 3 hours over a huge timespan and the 3 hours are also fairly generous but they get the job done, as the controller is able to control for a long-enough duration to at least be able to stay as up-to-date as possible with local procedures and also without losing much of their controlling skills. 

An hour a month seems reasonable. That's the requirement at ZAB (although ours is worded 2 hours every 2 months, but same concept). My controllers seem to have no issue making that work (hell, I have some controllers that are pushing 50 hours a month). Those that don't make it work are removed. The knock-on effect of this policy is my roster will be 200 members long, which is not ideal or manageable (especially since 150 of those members will be inactive).

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ALEXANDRA ROBISON
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Quote

You're also a controller and know what's good and what's bad. I'm more interested if the what's bad is really that bad for the general pilot, barring egregious things.

 

And how do those pilots know if the controller was previously inactive or not? Either way, if it was a bad experience for them, they're probably not gonna cause a fuss and if they do, they would leave feedback at the respectable sub-division. 

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

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2 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

I would say that's far too much for a busy guy like me who is lucky to be able to control 1 hour every few months. Yet many of us busy people can still perform well enough.

Considering you have 20 hours controlling within the past year (12 months), 1 hour a month doesn’t seem outrageous, even for a “busy guy” like yourself. 

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3 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

I would say that's far too much for a busy guy like me who is lucky to be able to control 1 hour every few months. Yet many of us busy people can still perform well enough. Especially at a place like Gander Oceanic where I'm likely a visitor and still have to maintain an activity requirement elsewhere. See how those hours start ballooning for a hobby?

Curious how someone who doesn't have the time to control 1 hour every few months has time for his BoG duties? Those are far more demanding, no?

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13 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

Alright. Meet me in the middle here. We started out wanting to get rid of activity requirements entirely because the thought is that it's better to have a controller online than unable to connect because of some arbitrary number we thew out at the local level where we can kick you out if you don't meet it.

Notice how we started with 1 hour a year. There is plenty of room to find a middle ground.

If I've been a controller for 10 years does that mean that I don't have to worry about atrophy severe enough to impact my ability to control my home minor fields after i brush up on SOP after 2 years? If I just got signed off, do I get kicked for inactivity if I don't control 2 hours a week to make sure that I got it?

The example of the controller causing the go around. That's unfortunate, but it could happen to anyone. We all make mistakes and that's why this is a learning network.

I'd really like to hear from some pilots on their experiences. Part of me things that as controllers we think that our little errors are bigger deals than they really are.

 

My opinion might not hold as much weight as other people here who have been on the network for years and understand the GRP way more than I do, but if we are trying to find a middle ground, I think a currency of 1 hour a year is atrociously low. I agree with others here. If the goal is to try to find a middle ground, there needs to be a higher bar. Requesting LOA from ARTCCs, FIRs, or divisions is relatively easy and not time consuming if it's necessary. It's unfair to those who control frequently if another controller gets on after being off for 6+ months and they're rusty or inexperienced on changes to the procedures of the ARTCC/FIR. 

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1 minute ago, Matthew Bartels said:

You're also a controller and know what's good and what's bad. I'm more interested if the what's bad is really that bad for the general pilot, barring egregious things.

I'm also a pilot.  Pilot in real life since the concern now seems to be about balancing real life with a virtual one.  

This is a network with both pilots and controllers where both are supposed to be equal.  This particular policy deals with controllers.  It's specific to controllers taking long leaves of absense in the face of trying to allegedly set standards for competency.  With all equal why would you need to specifically ask a pilot?  Why would you exclude a pilots opinion simply because they are a controller?  If thats the case then why would you specifically ask only a pilot to speak about a document and section specifically for a controller?  Is it to try and find ways to justify an unpopular policy decision thay would seem to only benefit a few?  Who are the few that this would benefit?  Is it people that just want to hang around and have a title? 

JU of ZLA

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I disagree with the 1 hour per year asking with just about everyone else in this thread. 
1. you are allowing freshly trained students to grab a rating, leave, then come back and not remember anything which will cause more issues. 
2. It is reducing the artccs uptimes since no one is “required” to control other than hopping on and just doing one hour on a super slow day and hopping back off. 
3. there are Leave of Absence options available everywhere I have seen if life comes up. I haven’t met a single staff member who is unwilling to work with someone as long as the controller actually approaches them ahead of time about it. 
4. This feels like it is opening so many doors for poor feedback and subdivisions being recognized for “bad” controllers, which no one wants. 
5. Looking at pilot things (kind of unrelated to vatsim). Each virtual airline I have seen requires one flight per calendar month. You’re gonna be spending >1 hour on that flight. Why should controlling be any different?

 

 

I see where you are coming from with being busy, but the training team puts a lot of time into students, I’d rather them be successful than just fail because they aren’t being held to a standard that will keep them proficient. I would say the minimum it should be if we want to bring it down so low is at 1 hour every month or quarter. Something more often than year. 

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6 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

I would say that's far too much for a busy guy like me who is lucky to be able to control 1 hour every few months. Yet many of us busy people can still perform well enough. Especially at a place like Gander Oceanic where I'm likely a visitor and still have to maintain an activity requirement elsewhere. See how those hours start ballooning for a hobby?

Finding 3 hours within 3 months seems reasonable to me. We have controllers who are able to maintain the requirement by controlling 1 3-hour session throughout the entirety of the quarter.

I did also forget to mention that those who have the effort and motivation to spend 2 minutes to e-mail the FIR Chief to ask for a waiver to the quarter due to acceptable circumstances can also get that waved. It seems that everyone here is agreeing on this.

C1-rated controller

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

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Here's a crazy idea. Remove the policy from GCAP altogether and let each subdivision create their own activity policy as they see fit. If a controller is unhappy with an activity policy at a particular subdivision, they can move to a subdivision with a more lenient policy. One size fits all policies like this are not the solution with a global network like VATSIM.

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ALEXANDRA ROBISON
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Also,

Quote

See how those hours start ballooning for a hobby?

Well, not if you only have to do that maximum 4 times.

And if you are so busy, then you shouldn't be getting those visitor validations if you don't have enough time to invest in the visitorship.

Edited by David Solesvik 1341101
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Gander Oceanic Operations Director & Instructor | VATSIM Spain Events Director & Operational Assistant | Eurocontrol West Sectorbuddy

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12 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

I would say that's far too much for a busy guy like me who is lucky to be able to control 1 hour every few months. Yet many of us busy people can still perform well enough. Especially at a place like Gander Oceanic where I'm likely a visitor and still have to maintain an activity requirement elsewhere. See how those hours start ballooning for a hobby?

And yet you are trying to restrict visiting.  Which I am all for. 

But as you have pointed out, you beleive a fully trained controller can read an sop and self certify that they can control perfectly fine.  In that case don't you think a controller can recognize when they are a busy guy like you and should not visit a lot of facilities so all of that time doesn't balloon for a hobby?  

JU of ZLA

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3 minutes ago, Ben Lindsey said:

Considering you have 20 hours controlling within the past year (12 months), 1 hour a month doesn’t seem outrageous, even for a “busy guy” like yourself. 

20 hours in 3 ATC sessions in 7 months. By the discussions here I should be hopelessly unable to work a control position. Yet the session I had last month I was perfectly fine. Sure I made some mistakes, but I make some mistakes every session.

7 minutes ago, Alexandra Robison said:

Curious how someone who doesn't have the time to control 1 hour every few months has time for his BoG duties? Those are far more demanding, no?

I'll let this one go as intent is hard to read from text but it seems awfully aggressive and not productive to the discussion. Perhaps the reason I personally don't have the time to control is that my real world responsibilities limit my time, therefore any extra time I have goes into my BoG duties?

 

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4 minutes ago, Alexandra Robison said:

Here's a crazy idea. Remove the policy from GCAP altogether and let each subdivision create their own activity policy as they see fit. If a controller is unhappy with an activity policy at a particular subdivision, they can move to a subdivision with a more lenient policy. One size fits all policies like this are not the solution with a global network like VATSIM.

Aha! The you don't like it, leave mentality that the BoG is always accused of 🙂

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Matt Bartels
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1 minute ago, Matthew Bartels said:

I'll let this one go as intent is hard to read from text but it seems awfully aggressive and not productive to the discussion. Perhaps the reason I personally don't have the time to control is that my real world responsibilities limit my time, therefore any extra time I have goes into my BoG duties?

I'm not going to speak for anyone else here but I think the point is that you being a busy guy with those responsibilities still manage to control and meet most facilities active requirements.  Meaning that you yourself being busy with your added responsibilities show that a year of once controlling isn't needed. 

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JU of ZLA

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Just now, Matthew Bartels said:

Aha! The you don't like it, leave mentality that the BoG is always accused of 🙂

Isn’t this a public review period? I feel like this discussion has a majority of people going one way, but you are just saying you are too busy, so it makes sense for it to be so low. 

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3 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

Aha! The you don't like it, leave mentality that the BoG is always accused of 🙂

I thought this was a public review/input period. Apparently my legitimate suggestion is being dismissed by the Marketing and Communications VP. What amazing communication skills. My suggestion nowhere said "if you don't like it, leave". It suggested allowing subdivisions the latitude to determine their own activity requirements, and allows all controllers the freedom of choice.

Edited by Alexandra Robison
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ALEXANDRA ROBISON
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I think the answer to the question is baked into the GCAP Draft.

8.01 A VATSIM Air Traffic Controller is responsible for remaining current on local policy and
procedures to continue operating a control position for which they are authorized.

Reading 8.02 it looks great! If they are knowledgeable on new changes that took place within those 12 months then that's great but I think that's an abnormal case, hell it takes me an hour alone to get an understanding of a Major Endorsed TRACON Airspace.

 

8.02a. What is this section trying to accomplish? From my shoes it appears that VATSIM thinks there are currently too many restrictions on controllers who are attempting to return from a hiatus. Has that been an issue in the past? I was the ZDV TA for a little under a year and didn't have a single case of controllers coming back and complaining about having to get training again rather they were asking for it. "It's been a while since I've controlled I need a refreshed at least." Seems like that paragraph is trying to solve an issue that doesn't exist and by doing so its creating more of a burden on other controllers trying to work with someone that doesn't know the procedures.

 

When I became ZDV TA we had very outdated documents and LOAs. If you were to come back a year later and try to control the same position, you wouldn't have the slightest clue what was taking place. Every Major SOP has been rewritten, new center splits, new ramp, all new SIDs and STARs. New New New and New...

 

Just seems overdone, I could align with something more along:

8.02(a) A controller is considered active provided they remain current by completing at least one ATC session
within the rostered division or sub-division of at least 1 hour duration within the preceding 3
calendar months, are an observer who is actively seeking training, or is a VATSIM Staff Member
at any level performing duties for the network.

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9 minutes ago, Bobby Melton said:

there are Leave of Absence options available everywhere I have seen if life comes up. I haven’t met a single staff member who is unwilling to work with someone as long as the controller actually approaches them ahead of time about it. 

Again. The problem is that the last thing a person needs to worry about when stressed out is remembering to get a leave of absence from their hobby. This piece right here is one of the big reasons. I forget to ask for that leave because it's literally the last thing I'm gonna think about, now I'm removed for inactivity, now I'm not going to be bothered to become active again because getting certified again is too much work.

I get and understand many of the concerns here.  What we are looking for is a middle ground between protecting your interests and protecting the interest of the general controller. I don't care how rusty you've become, if you tell me that you can't work a couple of aircraft at a small non-complex airport after 6 months or so after briefing yourself, then perhaps you shouldn't have been certified in the first place.

 

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Just now, Matthew Bartels said:

Again. The problem is that the last thing a person needs to worry about when stressed out is remembering to get a leave of absence from their hobby. This piece right here is one of the big reasons. I forget to ask for that leave because it's literally the last thing I'm gonna think about, now I'm removed for inactivity, now I'm not going to be bothered to become active again because getting certified again is too much work.

I get and understand many of the concerns here.  What we are looking for is a middle ground between protecting your interests and protecting the interest of the general controller. I don't care how rusty you've become, if you tell me that you can't work a couple of aircraft at a small non-complex airport after 6 months or so after briefing yourself, then perhaps you shouldn't have been certified in the first place.

 

These aren't small, non-complex airports. KABQ is a minor, and is a *difficult* airport to work. Even if I make it a restricted airport (something I plan on doing), it is still subject to 1hr/12mos. You're acting like the only airports that fall under this policy are in BFE and get 1 plane a day, when they are very much not. KELP is the same way. There is no way I would be okay with someone who hasn't controlled in 6 months trying to control ABQ without a refresher session.

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2 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

Again. The problem is that the last thing a person needs to worry about when stressed out is remembering to get a leave of absence from their hobby. This piece right here is one of the big reasons. I forget to ask for that leave because it's literally the last thing I'm gonna think about, now I'm removed for inactivity, now I'm not going to be bothered to become active again because getting certified again is too much work.

I get and understand many of the concerns here.  What we are looking for is a middle ground between protecting your interests and protecting the interest of the general controller. I don't care how rusty you've become, if you tell me that you can't work a couple of aircraft at a small non-complex airport after 6 months or so after briefing yourself, then perhaps you shouldn't have been certified in the first place.

 

So writing an email for 2 minutes is that big of an issue apparently, if you can't meet 1-3 hours per 3 months?

As I said before, controllers should also be responsible enough to know that if they've been away for a long time, that when they go back they have to do a familiarisation. An LoA just makes it a lot easier for both parties. 

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

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1 minute ago, Matthew Bartels said:

Again. The problem is that the last thing a person needs to worry about when stressed out is remembering to get a leave of absence from their hobby. This piece right here is one of the big reasons. I forget to ask for that leave because it's literally the last thing I'm gonna think about, now I'm removed for inactivity, now I'm not going to be bothered to become active again because getting certified again is too much work.

I get and understand many of the concerns here.  What we are looking for is a middle ground between protecting your interests and protecting the interest of the general controller. I don't care how rusty you've become, if you tell me that you can't work a couple of aircraft at a small non-complex airport after 6 months or so after briefing yourself, then perhaps you shouldn't have been certified in the first place.

 

If you are so concerned about asking for recertification, I will take this from my own administrative policy: "Any controller who is removed from the ZOB roster due to inactivity may reapply by submitting a transfer request on VATUSA’s website. If accepted, they will need to undergo the following: a. Controllers who return to ZOB after being inactive for less than 6 months, will retain all their certifications without any additional checkout/exam." Other VATUSA ARTCCs have this policy in place as well. We have your middle ground and it has been local policy for ages.

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7 minutes ago, Alexandra Robison said:

I thought this was a public review/input period. Apparently my legitimate suggestion is being dismissed by the Marketing and Communications VP. What amazing communication skills. My suggestion nowhere said "if you don't like it, leave". It suggested allowing subdivisions the latitude to determine their own activity requirements, and allows all controllers the freedom of choice.

No. What I'm saying here is how is if you don't like our policy go somewhere else a solution that is in the spirit of this? That's the if you don't like it leave mentality.

I'm open for productive discussion. One key aspect of this entire policy is that it's going take some things and make them standardized. Because what happens if you decide that your activity policy is going to be 2 hours a week? You can tell me all day that that is excessive and unrealistic, which it may be, but giving latitude for each individual facility to make their own policy can and has lead to local policies on that level of ridiculous.

In general this policy is setting more guardrails than it is putting in hard limits. Those guardrails are what are going to need tweaks, and they will not be as loose as some would like.  So for example, we could say something like activity requirements can not be any stricter than 1 hour every six months, but that doesn't mean that your facility can't go to 1 hour a year.

Matt Bartels
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5 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

Again. The problem is that the last thing a person needs to worry about when stressed out is remembering to get a leave of absence from their hobby. This piece right here is one of the big reasons. I forget to ask for that leave because it's literally the last thing I'm gonna think about, now I'm removed for inactivity, now I'm not going to be bothered to become active again because getting certified again is too much work.

I get and understand many of the concerns here.  What we are looking for is a middle ground between protecting your interests and protecting the interest of the general controller. I don't care how rusty you've become, if you tell me that you can't work a couple of aircraft at a small non-complex airport after 6 months or so after briefing yourself, then perhaps you shouldn't have been certified in the first place.

 

Again, how often is this really an issue?  

Are these fringe cases where life is happening and people can't work with a facility for a plan of action or is it happening all of the time? 

Where is this issue of real life happening and people worried about their virtual life coming from?  This, as you have pointed out, is a hobby.  People have to stop hobbys all the time for real life.  Then get back into them.  The FAA requires I fly a plane every so often... Oh wait it's 3 months, to carry passengers.  Even the great all knowing FAA thinks currency is an issue.  

Middle grounds have been proposed.  Nothing more then 3 months.  That's my proposal.  

JU of ZLA

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Just now, Alexandra Robison said:

These aren't small, non-complex airports. KABQ is a minor, and is a *difficult* airport to work. Even if I make it a restricted airport (something I plan on doing), it is still subject to 1hr/12mos. You're acting like the only airports that fall under this policy are in BFE and get 1 plane a day, when they are very much not. KELP is the same way. There is no way I would be okay with someone who hasn't controlled in 6 months trying to control ABQ without a refresher session.

The same here, with Oceanic. Oceanic is completely different to normal enroute control. It's a different world of control. Different procedures, position reports, oceanic clearances, separation minima, not to mention phraseology. I would definitely not be OK with having someone hop on it every 6 months as well.

C1-rated controller

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

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1341101

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