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Sub-Divisional Transfers


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9.04(b)A Sub-Division may not conduct a competency check on a transfer controller from another Sub-Division within their Division for the purposes of restricting access to Minor Airspace.

9.04(c) A Sub-Division may require a Transfer Controller to complete basic administration training as outlined in section 6.05(j)(ii) of this policy prior to operating Minor Airspace within that Sub-Division.

These two sections are complete non-starters. Not all divisions and sub-divisions are the same, and nor are their training departments. We've had to refer more than a few controllers back to their home facilities this year due to not meeting current GRP standards. Complex airspace and airports with detailed and complicated SOPs and letters of agreement exist even in the "minor" realm, and poor controlling at that level creates misery for controllers working airspace above them and further bad experiences for pilots as they are issued in-air reroutes, vectors, or otherwise delayed. 

This is a global policy, and reaching down this far not only ignores, but actively harms divisions and sub-divisions that could be entire platforms in their own right. 

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ZLA DATM, I1

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Matthew

A clarifying question if I may.  I understand what you are saying.  But these complex minors as you put it.  Would they not be good candidates for a restricted status (vs major)?

I believe the idea of this is to try to identify a "bottom" standard that all folks within a division should be able to control.  So in Canada, for example, none of my FIRs differ so significantly that someone couldn't hop between them and control the minor fields etc as long as they have LOA's and Charts available.  But, of course, there are some fields that would be more complex for them to control.  So we would make those either Major or Restricted.  

Thanks.

Phil

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8 minutes ago, Philip Dowling 813710 said:

Matthew

A clarifying question if I may.  I understand what you are saying.  But these complex minors as you put it.  Would they not be good candidates for a restricted status (vs major)?

I believe the idea of this is to try to identify a "bottom" standard that all folks within a division should be able to control.  So in Canada, for example, none of my FIRs differ so significantly that someone couldn't hop between them and control the minor fields etc as long as they have LOA's and Charts available.  But, of course, there are some fields that would be more complex for them to control.  So we would make those either Major or Restricted.  

Thanks.

Phil

 Hi Phil, my broader point is that every area is different and experience has already shown that even controllers from Seattle have trouble in Los Angeles. I understand the intent, but the fact is that an individual facility needs the ability to verify the standards are being met prior to letting a controller loose. It's great in theory to say any S3 should be able to open SOP and keep a cheat sheet available to work any towered airport, but the reality is that many do not actually do that, and even our less-trafficked airports in my area can create headaches with LOA and SOP is not followed. Overlying controllers then need to fix errors and pilots are subject to more stressful reroutes in the air versus on the ground, or delay vectors as they get worked back into the correct flow. 

Because there is uncertainty in the  math that creates "restricted" airports, and because there is no universal training program (nor should there be) it is imperative we do a minimum amount of verification. Perhaps due to the nature of how Canada is set up, there is a more universal application fundamental ability, or the training program is more unified across the division. That is just not workable for the US, particularly as many of our "Centers" are the size of other countries' entire ATC system.

ZLA DATM, I1

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Hey Matthew.

 

Yes, I see the issue, for sure it is easier for Canada in many regards as the training tends to be more uniform.  I see your challenges.  I think the key really is how do you keep that initial verification as light as possible while ensuring you hit the key points you need to validate right.

Phil

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Completely agree. We get MANY controllers with existing ratings who do not hold the competencies required of that rating. The process of getting them fixed up is usually pretty quick, and is something they appreciate. This performance verification is a necessary process, and as written, this policy would directly forbid it, thereby completely eliminating a subdivision's ability to maintain any level of quality control. This would be a severe mistake with lasting consequences...

The subdivisions need to have the right to put controllers through these competency checks if quality of service is to be maintained-- anything else and it will rapidly plummet.

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Training Administrator, vZMA ARTCC

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What this policy fails to realize, is that many controllers transfer to avoid the strictures of the system. Many have failed to control enough to be proficient or have been improperly trained. It's not fair to a new sub-division to accept the sub-standard training, poor quality control, or low-effort controllers from their neighbors and lower the quality of a sub-division that may hold themselves to a higher training standard.

Another issue is that some sub-divisions have less traffic than others. Thus, sub-division A might be train someone to work two aircraft at a time while sub-division B might train to work ten because they have different levels of average traffic. Now the transferring controller does not have the required competency to be successful in sub-division B despite theoretically holding the same rating.

I can see limits on what the competency check can encompass, but removing it altogether is asking all sub-divisions to just accept whatever sub-standard performance comes their way and deal with it.

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I believe this is an even bigger problem in areas outside of NA. Most of continental Europe (+Ireland) is one Division, and so is half of Africa+the Middle East (except for Isreal). As you can imagine there are huge differences in procedures, traffic levels and training standards within those Divisions. Not allowing for a competency check is... problematic.

Edited by Lars Bergmann
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Is the root cause of this not the fact that people aren't meeting the core competencies? The fact that currently the visiting and transfer arrangements are what catches that is part of the problem, not a good thing. It's for Vatsim as a network to maintain quality, not just some parts. If we have some people getting S3 because they can manage 2 aircraft and some needing 10, that's a problem to be fixed with a global policy change not weeded out through visiting requirements (and the idea of having differing standards to be able to be qualified on restricted/major airspace would make sense).

For any position there should be an expectation you've read and understood the local procedures. Whether that's opening a tower in your division you've not opened before or one elsewhere. What the rating process should be doing is ensuring you have the skills to apply those procedures.

(Yes, I fully understand the implication of this is that qualification standards will go up in some places if this becomes the policy. This is not a bad thing.)

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One of the other problems with disallowing competency checks on transfer is how to handle someone who returns after a long time away from VATSIM since ratings can never be downgraded/revoked as far as I can tell. For example:

A controller achieves S3 (or any rating, doesn't really matter as long as it's S1+). They control for for quite a while, but then real life gets in the way and don't log on to VATSIM for 2-3 years. They come back and transfer to a sub-division in their division. They can just immediately jump back online with no competency checks at all? That doesn't make any sense.

This scenario is not uncommon, I've seen it multiple times per year at ZNY alone.

New York ARTCC

Instructor // ZNY/ZWY Facility Coordinator

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It shouldn't be a problem. There's nothing to say that just because they have the rating they have to jump straight back on and use it to it's max. They may spend a while observing then jump striaght back on as App they may choose to do some ground / tower sessions first. They may do App, but at some obscure, low traffic time. Either way, provided they have the skill to manage the traffic they have and are current in procedures then what's the problem.

If they don't have the skills or don't know the procedures then there's already things in the policy to deal with it.

(and also, how does transfer affect this, they'll be equally current in their home environment after a long period away as a visiting one)

Edited by Graham Drabble
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  • Board of Governors
1 hour ago, Alex Ying said:

One of the other problems with disallowing competency checks on transfer is how to handle someone who returns after a long time away from VATSIM since ratings can never be downgraded/revoked as far as I can tell. For example:

A controller achieves S3 (or any rating, doesn't really matter as long as it's S1+). They control for for quite a while, but then real life gets in the way and don't log on to VATSIM for 2-3 years. They come back and transfer to a sub-division in their division. They can just immediately jump back online with no competency checks at all? That doesn't make any sense.

This scenario is not uncommon, I've seen it multiple times per year at ZNY alone.

Regarding this point. A division can subject a controller to a comp check if they're gone greater than a year as currently written.

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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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I have always liked the idea of various checkpoints throughout a controller's journey in our division. Every training department is tasked with training to a minimum standard, and most, if not all, do, with most of their controllers. The problems occur with students who force their way through the content, slip through the cracks (not to anyone's or program's faults), or perform best when on task but after a short while of not actively training seem to forget the material. The division-wide safety net has always been a verification of knowledge check when controllers move about and beyond their home facility, wherein it is likely or conceivable they had become complacent and sedentary. The GRP offers us the ability to asses standardization in the moment, but what about over time? You'd have to be fortunate to accumulate data through feedback or random observation in order to verify proficiency (see my other discussion regarding currency rules for more information on this subject). Controllers are apt to visit and/or transfer elsewhere before they might get caught or, to put it more educationally, identified as underperforming on certain standards. I've even seen circumstances where controllers flee to other sub-divisions because they know they aren't able to keep up with the minimum/expected standards that are being enforced. A simple and reasonable checkpoint wherein only the baseline standards as identified by a network supported curriculum are assessed is a reasonable check and balance that ensures the division maintains equal compliance. I look at each sub-division working as members of the same team, each tasked with the responsibility to have each other's back. Every point at which a student learner (e.g., controller) is encouraged to make contact with an aspect of the division training department is another way in which they are setup for success instead of failure (whether it be as simple as a written assessment, group training lesson, or individualized instruction).

Edited by Anthony Santanastaso
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Anthony Santanastaso

VATUSA Division Training Manager

[email protected]

http://www.vatusa.net

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