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8.02 Activity Requirements for Minor Fields


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Controlling is not just reading SOPs after being away and you remember how to control.
The act of vectoring and sequencing is something that is not easy to put down then pick back up 10 months later with just a review of SOPs.  

I am going to give an example from my home ARTCC that I think is a great system.
My home ARTCC requires 60 minutes every 30 days.
If the last controlled for 60 minutes was:
1-6 months, the controller must email the ATM with intent to return and familiarize with SOP/LOA changes
6-12 months, the controller must complete an informal re-certification session with a training staff member
12+ months, they must follow transferring/visiting certification process which involves a checkout for the top minor position and training for the major positions.

This policy requires controllers to remain proficient on position and it allows relatively easy re entry if a controller loses currency and wishes to rejoin.

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I am listening. 1 hour per month is not something that we’re willing to entertain, that’s far too much when life gets in the way. Notice how above I suggest something about making the requirement 6 months.  Just because you personally don’t like the suggestion doesn’t mean that the process is all for not.

We need to have discussion and explain our reasonings and defend our initial thoughts to get an understanding of what we are hoping to achieve. Which at the end of the day is getting rid of needless barriers to controlling on our network.

Matt Bartels
VP: Marketing & Communication
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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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1 minute ago, Matthew Bartels said:

I am listening. 1 hour per month is not something that we’re willing to entertain, that’s far too much when life gets in the way. Notice how above I suggest something about making the requirement 6 months.  

Is the issue with 1 hour per month that it is a monthly requirement, or that you consider 1 hour per each month in a given period to be too much? Putting it in a more clear way, would 6 hours over a 6 month period still be too much?

Edited by Andre Almeida
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Based on this forum thread’s responses so far, it appears to me at least that the public has done their job of public review and is highly dissatisfied with it. That given, it is highly apparent that the public that reviewed it wants it changed, and that we should do. Simple, right?

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Ryan Dituro

ZNY S3/Training Staff/Facility Engineering Staff

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The monthly requirement.  I can do 6 hours in one month or 1 hour each month if we did a 6 in 6 type thing.

with a monthly requirement, if the controller has real life get in the way, or just flat out forgets to control it’s goodbye. That’s not right.

Matt Bartels
VP: Marketing & Communication
## vpmkt (at) vatsim.net
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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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So 3 hours over a 3 month period, or 6 hours over a 6 month period would be acceptable, as that would allow the controllers to take a break (for whatever reason that may be) for some time, without immediately being culled from the roster?

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4 minutes ago, Ryan Dituro said:

Based on this forum thread’s responses so far, it appears to me at least that the public has done their job of public review and is highly dissatisfied with it. That given, it is highly apparent that the public that reviewed it wants it changed, and that we should do. Simple, right?

You would think…

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2 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

I am listening. 1 hour per month is not something that we’re willing to entertain, that’s far too much when life gets in the way. Notice how above I suggest something about making the requirement 6 months.  Just because you personally don’t like the suggestion doesn’t mean that the process is all for not.

We need to have discussion and explain our reasonings and defend our initial thoughts to get an understanding of what we are hoping to achieve. Which at the end of the day is getting rid of needless barriers to controlling on our network.

Again, just remove the mandate altogether and let the subdivisions dictate what they want. You still have not provided me with any real example of a time the BoG had to step in on an overbearing activity policy. And even if someone does at some point, handle it case-by-case. Stop acting like this is a necessary policy.

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ALEXANDRA ROBISON
Air Traffic Manager, Albuquerque ARTCC
VATSIM Senior Developer
 
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4 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

The monthly requirement.  I can do 6 hours in one month or 1 hour each month if we did a 6 in 6 type thing.

with a monthly requirement, if the controller has real life get in the way, or just flat out forgets to control it’s goodbye. That’s not right.

I think you’re vastly overestimating 1) how understanding most senior staff members are to “real life” situations. And 2) how difficult it is to either request LOA or rejoin after inactivity. 

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There is definitely a disconnect between currency and activity, as noted by a few people above. A C1+ controller logging in to a ground position once a year would be considered an active controller as per this document, while not a current controller. My suggestions would be as follows:

- Remove anything to do with activity/active controller. Make this about currency and not activity. I don't want a controller that's active, I want one that's current for their rating. (Which, by definition, means they also have activity)

- Make the requirement that a controller must log in for (X hours over X months) at the position they are currently rated for. This would avoid any C1's hopping on to ground for an hour to stay "active." Not that this likely happens often, but it covers off the possibility of using this method to undermine the system and that they can still do the job their rating says they can.

- I do agree that the 1 hour per 12 months is a little loose. I also understand the BoGs issue of pleasing the masses while keeping it friendly to people who don't have a lot of time to invest. It's a hard call to make. My recommendation would be that this isn't something that is a "one-size-fits-all" and should be driven down to Divisional level for final call. Divisions could give their sub-Divisions the freedom to decide what they would like to use for currency management (with approval from Division), or use a blanket value that's valid for the Division as a whole. This is where I can see different standards stood up, but there's likely a valid reason for that as the traffic levels in certain minor airspaces could be rated event level in others. For example, a quiet night in Boston is likely busier than an event in Edmonton. I think there's too much difference between divisions and sub-divisions to blanket currency at the VATSIM level.

Cheers,

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3 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

with a monthly requirement, if the controller has real life get in the way, or just flat out forgets to control it’s goodbye. That’s not right.

I specifically want to focus on this:

“if the controller has real life get in the way, or just flat out forgets to control it’s goodbye.”

In terms of “forgetting to control” most places have systems to prevent this. In my ARTCC at least, before the “axe” is ran, emails are sent out to the people on the list informing them of their axe status and they are given an opportunity to provide an explanation and/or get the required hours for the month, which covers the “forget to control” part. On the topic of “real life getting in the way”, many divisions have an LOA (leave of absence) system that controllers than place themselves on for a specified period of time, usually no questions asked, which prevents them from being axed due to activity when real life prevents them from getting those required hours. In my mind at least, one hour a month would be a perfectly reasonable requirement. Given that most training sessions are one hour in most places, if they have time to attend rating training or currency training, they should also have time to control, correct?

just my thoughts

Ryan Dituro

ZNY S3/Training Staff/Facility Engineering Staff

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4 minutes ago, Ryan Dituro said:

I specifically want to focus on this:

“if the controller has real life get in the way, or just flat out forgets to control it’s goodbye.”

In terms of “forgetting to control” most places have systems to prevent this. In my ARTCC at least, before the “axe” is ran, emails are sent out to the people on the list informing them of their axe status and they are given an opportunity to provide an explanation and/or get the required hours for the month, which covers the “forget to control” part. On the topic of “real life getting in the way”, many divisions have an LOA (leave of absence) system that controllers than place themselves on for a specified period of time, usually no questions asked, which prevents them from being axed due to activity when real life prevents them from getting those required hours. In my mind at least, one hour a month would be a perfectly reasonable requirement. Given that most training sessions are one hour in most places, if they have time to attend rating training or currency training, they should also have time to control, correct?

just my thoughts

We have procedures for this as well. As a sub-division, we require monthly hours commitment. At the end of the calendar month, a tally of hours is taken, and members who did not meet the currency requirement are sent an email/notice that their hours weren't met. They are then given the next month to meet the monthly requirement (the first month is a warning). After two months, every effort is made to contact the member and figure out if there's an issue, if they need some time away, etc, before any trimming from the roster is performed. Every effort is given to provide an LOA if it's required for whatever reason. The only time that anyone would actually be removed from the FIR is a complete disappearing act and going NORDO for months without any answers to multiple attempts at communication via email/discord/etc.

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8 minutes ago, Ryan Dituro said:

I specifically want to focus on this:

“if the controller has real life get in the way, or just flat out forgets to control it’s goodbye.”

In terms of “forgetting to control” most places have systems to prevent this. In my ARTCC at least, before the “axe” is ran, emails are sent out to the people on the list informing them of their axe status and they are given an opportunity to provide an explanation and/or get the required hours for the month, which covers the “forget to control” part. On the topic of “real life getting in the way”, many divisions have an LOA (leave of absence) system that controllers than place themselves on for a specified period of time, usually no questions asked, which prevents them from being axed due to activity when real life prevents them from getting those required hours. In my mind at least, one hour a month would be a perfectly reasonable requirement. Given that most training sessions are one hour in most places, if they have time to attend rating training or currency training, they should also have time to control, correct?

just my thoughts

Expanding on this, not only do we send a million notifications to users about to be removed, we also allow anyone who is removed to transfer back in within 6 months with zero penalty and they retain all their previous certifications, training history etc. no questions asked.

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Karl Mathias Moberg (KM) - C3/I1
https://nyartcc.org
ZNY Air Traffic Manager

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I think we need to ultimately talk about why VATSIM regulations are in place instead of giving the Divisions the right to choose their own currency policy.

Setting a max currency instead of a min currency restriction seems backwards to me.

I could stand by VATSIM saying a Division's policy must enforce AT LEAST 1 hour of controlling every 12 months.
This puts it up to the division to enforce more strict policies if they feel the need to do so.

You can not create a policy that governs all of VATSIM and expect every division and sub-division to be treated the same

My last point is this.  The people responding to this are controllers.  If letting people go a year without controlling is not bad at all, then why are controllers who could benefit from this fighting it?

I don't want to generalize or call anyone out but I believe that many of the BoG are disconnected from the in's and out's of division/sub-division staff, training staff and being a non-staff member of a sub-division.  This forum is a great place for the BoG to be more connected to this and the problems that staff members face within their sub-divisions.  But the forum is only effective when the BoG listens to what the community is trying to say.

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What I'm getting from the BoG side here is that you all seem to be thinking that we sub-division staff are all waiting at calendar month +1 day to drop the axe on unactive controllers. I can assure you that that isn't the case, at least in my FIR, and from comments I've seen, most others. As mentioned above, the bar is set for monthly hours currency that seems fair to everyone, as the policy was discussed with division and sub-division members and everyone agrees to it upon joining as part of the SOPs. I have never received a complaint that our minimums are unfair or unobtainable in any way, especially since any controller can request an LOA for any reason at any time. If someone "forgets" to request an LOA, they aren't immediately cut - they are contacted and every effort is made to accommodate them in a way that works for their life/schedule. We're not out here trying to kick people out just for the heck of it.

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23 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

This is your ability to correct the problem right here.

It says it requires substantial documentation to show the controller is deficient.  As things work right now it's nearly impossible to please region or vatsim that a controller is deficient.  This strains, not improves, division and sub division staff on something that can be taken care of with a few session to check competency.  

As I mentioned before, this policy is for division and sub Divisions to verify competency but then in the text takes away abilities to maintain that competency.  

Instead of giving Divisions the tools and ability to ensure standards are maintained, this takes it away.  If the overall goal is to get more people on the network in a niche saturated market, why not adopt IVAOs policies if the BoG truly doesn't care about a standard of quality that VATSIM claims to try and maintain?  We can change the new slogan to Aviate, Degradate, Communicate? 

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JU of ZLA

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 The policy as it stands does two things 1) Inflates numbers only the bog cares about

2) adds SIGNIFICANT strain to senior staff and training staff and division staff to enforce currency and revoke certification. You'll have a ton more remedial training requests, and it will be a huge pain to get approval to do it. So you burn staff out faster and/or they give up

Creating red tape and causing MORE senior staff burnout should be a non starter. Sure, great, you've added a ton of s1s and s2s. Now where is that senior staff to support it? Oh they quit because of burnout you caused in policy. Now there's nobody to train those shiny new obs and s1s that pad your controller count.

 

Then what?

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1 hour ago, Matthew Bartels said:

The monthly requirement.  I can do 6 hours in one month or 1 hour each month if we did a 6 in 6 type thing.

with a monthly requirement, if the controller has real life get in the way, or just flat out forgets to control it’s goodbye. That’s not right.

Matt, I think the issue here is the grumpy cat display picture. If you get a happy cat picture instead we might not argue this point anymore   😄

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21 minutes ago, Skylar Macminn 1037247 said:

 The policy as it stands does two things 1) Inflates numbers only the bog cares about

2) adds SIGNIFICANT strain to senior staff and training staff and division staff to enforce currency and revoke certification. You'll have a ton more remedial training requests, and it will be a huge pain to get approval to do it. So you burn staff out faster and/or they give up

Creating red tape and causing MORE senior staff burnout should be a non starter. Sure, great, you've added a ton of s1s and s2s. Now where is that senior staff to support it? Oh they quit because of burnout you caused in policy. Now there's nobody to train those shiny new obs and s1s that pad your controller count.

 

Then what?

Well the clear response to that is make pathways for new obs to skip S1.  That and allowing controllers the ability to train and certify themselves.  I think I could do that too in the old MS flight simulator online days with FSX.  I used to launch shuttles as a controller right from LAS.  Cleared direct Space.  

JU of ZLA

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19 minutes ago, Cody Newman said:

Matt, I think the issue here is the grumpy cat display picture. If you get a happy cat picture instead we might not argue this point anymore   😄

Honestly, this might be a joke, but that profile picture really doesn't put a good face on someone who should be the VP of communication. First impressions have a lot of weight. 

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Karl Mathias Moberg (KM) - C3/I1
https://nyartcc.org
ZNY Air Traffic Manager

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2 minutes ago, Karl Mathias Moberg said:

Honestly, this might be a joke, but that profile picture really doesn't put a good face on someone who should be the VP of communication. First impressions have a lot of weight. 

Agree. My avatar actually has an expletive in it that I specifically edited out for use on public forums like this.

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ALEXANDRA ROBISON
Air Traffic Manager, Albuquerque ARTCC
VATSIM Senior Developer
 
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Hi Matt,

My question is, why are the BoG are taking a hard line stance at this while the majority of people who control on the network are against it?

Would you be able to give us some insight on:
What actual number of active membership does this actually affect?
At the core of this policy, why are we lowering the standards for controlling hours? 

I understand this has been addressed on another section but my guess is that it only affects a small subset of membership, and that it is scattered throughout the network. This seems like a "micro management" policy. Each division and subdivision on VATSIM has unique characteristics that are specific to each area. Throwing in a blanket requirement that will handcuff day to day management of divisions will only increase workload on the staff. Wouldn't this be contrary to your point that people have real world obligations and those who make the time and commitment to the network would be loaded with more administrative duties when these issues arise. 

In real world interactions, the board of directors of a company sets a vision for the company and guides the executives in their vision, they don't get into the granular details that the lower level managers deal with on a day to day basis. Successful companies TRUST in their people to follow that. They have controls in place that would prevent mistreatment or abuse to the employees. You have the pulse of the controllers right now and right here, we're giving you the feedback that we believe would be the most beneficial for all. No one here is saying that they will just cut people from the roster without throught to the indivudual, and evidenced by senior staff that posted here, they take every available measure to ensure someone stays current. 

This policy, as it stands, will not only create more work for the all volunteer staff and quite frankly to put it bluntly, its a slap in the face to the people who put the time and effort in make this network what it really is when the overall tone has been pretty dismissive about the suggestions. It seems like this policy will cause more issues and dissent among the people who put in the time and effort, who are probably your most active controllers on the network.

I've been around long enough to see good management and bad management policies. If you're seeing this much pushback on this from respected members of this community, then holding onto something so unpopular will only create more problems than it aims to solve. 12-24 hours in one year as a minimum is a good starting point, your middle ground can be every 6 months as most policies are geared towards that anyway.

Let your local administrative teams determine their own policies. No one here wants to gut their entire roster and have minimal ATC coverage which in effect will attract less pilots. We just want quality controllers who still have the desire to do this. In my short time on the network, I've seen controllers come back from hiatus and NONE of them balked at the prospects of getting remedial training, the majority have even welcomed it. Don't we want controllers who are proactive in providing good service to pilots? In today's age, bad controllers get highlighted on social media and repairing that takes time. I'm not saying that it won't happen with current and active controllers but you're opening up the door for more mistakes and bad publicity for the network. 

Listen to the people who are on the ground who do this on a day to day basis, I'm not discounting the work that you all do in the administration of this, but you yourself have said that you've been busy with life and free time has been taken up with administrative duties and you've controlled for 20 or so hours for the year. I just can't see the justification with 1 hour per year when someone who's self admitted that you're busy have controlled 20x more than that. 

Your actual return on this policy, as far as I can tell, is just inflated numbers. Unfortunately, and we can all see this, will cause more issues with your controllers than any benefit. VATSIM is about aviate, educate, and communicate. We're communicating to you that this is a flawed policy. This isn't a hill to die on, give a 12-24 hour yearly requirement, and let the divisions manage how it's split and let them do what they do best and manage their people the best way they know how, and have been doing for years now. This is your actual middle ground between what current policies are versus your proposed policies. I urge you not to cause more issues than this policy aims to solve. 

 

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2 hours ago, Karl Mathias Moberg said:

Honestly, this might be a joke, but that profile picture really doesn't put a good face on someone who should be the VP of communication. First impressions have a lot of weight. 

That has to be the worst avatar for a communications person. Every time I see it, i read it as a grumpy pissed off person writing a message. 

Edited by Trevor Cardwell

DSM, NYARTCC

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4 hours ago, Matthew Bartels said:

One thing that I’m not seeing being mentioned in all of this discussion is the  personal responsibility for the actual controller. Everyone is assuming that the controller will automatically be bad because they didn’t meet the arbitrary restriction that the local facility set. 

There is not a lowering of standards here. The controller still must perform at the level required by their rating and be able to uphold current procedure. They need to do their homework before they can plug in.  If they consistently don’t perform up to standard and they get bad feedback, then an avenue for compelling them to get better is there. That’s something that was unheard of for the past 20 years.  

I get it. One hour a year is very low. But that’s an ACTIVITY requirement. The CURRENCY requirement is that the controller must do their research before they plug in. That is a lot stricter than any arbitrary number a local facility can throw out, but it also opens up the ability for a hobbyist  to be a hobbyist instead of having to be stressed out that they couldn’t control 2 hours this month and forgot to get an LOA.

Remember that this clause only applies to your Minors / Restricteds. There is talk already about putting the same requirement for majors onto the resticteds. So that’s a change and would end up only that your minor airports would have this very loose requirement. There has to be some give and take here. We can’t and shouldn’t be über protective of every single airport. I don’t think someone is going to do severe damage to your reputation because they controlled some one runway / one taxiway airport in the middle of nowhere not 100% to standard.

If we have to have activity requirements for minors at all, I would want to compromise somewhere in the 6 month range. No it doesn’t have to be 1 hour every six months, but let’s give some breathing room here.

 

In here, you state "everyone is assuming that the controller will automatically be bad because they didn't meet the arbitrary restriction," but in the VATUSA discord, you mention that if a visitor visits 3 or more ARTCCs, you state "are you really going to be proficient at all of them or at some point do you lose that the more notches you have on your belt?"

I guess my point is, in this circumstance, you're quick to defend controllers' ability, but in other sections of the GCAP, you underestimate controllers' abilities and imply their abilities are not up to par. There can't be this double standard depending on the situation throughout this policy and expect people to agree with all of it. 

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