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8.08(c) Number of days "given" to conduct a competency check


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8.08(c) states that a competency check has to be within 14 days after the request is made. I understand that the goal of this is to prioritise the competency check ahead of any other requests that require the utilisation of live training resources. However, I know of a lot of sub-divisions that aren't always able to schedule something like this within a matter of 2 weeks, if you get where I'm coming from. What happens if the competency check isn't done 14 days after the first competency check request? I'm not seeing much point in having such a restriction, at least not such a strict restriction of just 2 weeks. It's something that is very easy to miss - both intentionally and unintentionally and if such a limit is placed, it should probably be at least 28 days, to allow for more leniency. The point about prioritising a student ahead of any other requests has already been made.

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

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This restriction has to be strict. 14 days is plenty of time to get such a check scheduled. If the 14 days is exceeded then the student is able to go up the chain of command where the appropriate questions can be asked. If we want to have a barrier to accessing all airspace for a controller like a competency check, then we need to be able to get that competency check done so the controller can have access to our airspace.

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It came down from 90 days. 90 days is too much in my opinion, but 30 days sounds like a solid middleground.

Exams are planned around two weeks in advance, so are mentoring sessions. I'm not really keen on the "drop everything you have planned guys! We got a competency check!!!" thing that's put up on us. Just like in the first draft with the rating upgrade within 24 hours (that thankfully got extended), I think 14 days here needs to be extended too, or at least be used as a "soft deadline" in which subdivisions are expected to do it within 14 days if possible, but otherwise, as soon as possible.

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The issue with any time limit here is that you have a controller who wants to control. One of the biggest issues with the first draft of GCAP was that we disallowed sub-divisions to do a competency check prior to allowing access to minor airspace. The desire was that nobody could control in your airspace prior to getting blessed by your sub-division. If you want to have that restriction, fine, but then the expectation is that you open that door very fast. So in the opinion of the GCAP committee 30 days is keeping that door closed far too long.

Matt Bartels
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A controllers wants to control and an instructor wants to teach its students (And have a life! Because it's still all voluntary). We're all doing our best to progress as many people as we can, but not everything is possible. Might be possible when they have like 100 mentors or something, but it's not always possible to have these resources. They might want to do it asap, but it's difficult to guarantee this, except for very large subdivisons.

 

(not speaking on a specific subdivision here, just generally)

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19 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

The issue with any time limit here is that you have a controller who wants to control. One of the biggest issues with the first draft of GCAP was that we disallowed sub-divisions to do a competency check prior to allowing access to minor airspace. The desire was that nobody could control in your airspace prior to getting blessed by your sub-division. If you want to have that restriction, fine, but then the expectation is that you open that door very fast. So in the opinion of the GCAP committee 30 days is keeping that door closed far too long.

And then you also have S1 students who want to get their S2 so they can control more. This is a hobby afterall, prioritising competency checks so they don't get lost in waiting - sure, but give them more than just 2 weeks. Bear in mind, some of the people requesting competency checks need them to get re-certified from being inactive. So, they can't wait a few more weeks after being inactive for months?

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

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This is an example of parts of the BoG being completely out of touch with the sub-divisions.

It is not reasonable to say to me, as a sub-division leader that when a visitor wants to branch out beyond the confines of their home facility that I need to tell my instructors to prioritize them over an OBS who hasn't even touched the scope. VATSIM is and always has been a hobby of specialization, from what I can tell the goal of this community is to have an accurate simulation of ATC around the world. 

When VATSIM comes to it's membership and says "We want to break down borders and let it all go" it's makes us think that VATSIM wants to be more like IVAO where there is significantly less oversight of controller training and standards. 

I am not gonna sit here and say there needs to be no restriction because some accountability is useful, but 14 days? From a network wide policy, this reaches too far. 

I personally thought 90 days was fine as a division wide policy, that prevents people from sitting too long and waiting and also gives the divisions the latitude to shorten that time for their sub-divisions. It makes no sense to me that a visitor from another region can come to my facility and demand a comp check within 14 days of joining, when I have OBS-S3s who have been waiting months to steal a precious second with my instructors because they are so off the wall busy. 

Yes I am going to stick by Comp checks need to happen, but this huge oversight from the BOG is absurd to me and needs to reevaluated. Even from not my perspective, if say I a VATUSA controller, visited VATUK and then demanded they evaluate me to the minimum standard within 14 days, are the 40 OBSes that have been waiting a year for a intro session going to be happy? Of course not. I'd be livid, and I'm sure they would be too.

My official proposal is restore it back to 90 days and put language to allow divisions latitude to shorten. This document is trying to do the job of too many division staff members at once. Let your divisions make policies that are most beneficial to them.

The bestest regards,
Shane

 

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How about rephrasing to "ideally within 14 days?" would this be a solution as setting a target to try reaching? 
Taking into account real life and other online commitments, this time window of "ideally "14 days might not be reached to its 100%, but if its 80% would mean its working for most places. 

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5 minutes ago, Anastasios Petros Stefopou said:

How about rephrasing to "ideally within 14 days?"

What does that accomplish? That is not a time limit, merely a suggestion that no one would really follow (Nor do I think 14 days will get followed if its in the document anyways from what I am hearing).

VATUSA Mid-west Region Manager | Former VATUSA Training Director | Former ZDC ATM/DATM/TA/WM

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2 minutes ago, Rick Rump said:

What does that accomplish? That is not a time limit, merely a suggestion that no one would really follow (Nor do I think 14 days will get followed if its in the document anyways from what I am hearing).

This accomplishes setting a goal to try and reach, for most of the time, rather than stating 14 days flat. Would you work towards a flat target with the same willingness as with an ideal goal setting? As you said, you dont believe 14 days will be reached anyway, so in the same context, why have it anyways? 
The purpose of setting a goal is for people to try and get back fast , but "ideally" not disturb other functions or scheduled training slots of the training departments. 
This is what is accomplishes my dear Rick. 

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That is assuming people view a goal of something they do not feel is achievable as something they want to achieve. We should let the Regions set forth what they view as reasonable, and allow the Divisions to restrict further if they wish.

VATUSA Mid-west Region Manager | Former VATUSA Training Director | Former ZDC ATM/DATM/TA/WM

VATSIM Network Supervisor | Team 5

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If Regions are to be let set forth whats reasonable, why have this 14 day requirement in a global policy anyway

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I do not think the 14 days should be there. Just set forth that the Region Vice President can set forth a reasonable time frame that competency checks must be completed within.

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VATUSA Mid-west Region Manager | Former VATUSA Training Director | Former ZDC ATM/DATM/TA/WM

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The 14 days part could be changed to something else. I agree. I just feel that most parts people do not agree with in gcap, the RVP will get too involved and a global policy looses its credit/scope.  Either set forth by RVP (which im not in favor of involving RVPs for this) or just set a clause of "no more than ideally xx days" and why not , we may provide a short explanation " to account for member retention" . People will accept this probably better as its self explained and just there is some space to achieve what we aim for and taking account of the volunteers of our organization. This is my view on this topic. 

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14 minutes ago, Anastasios Petros Stefopou said:

I just feel that most parts people do not agree with in gcap, the RVP will get too involved and a global policy looses its credit/scope.  Either set forth by RVP (which im not in favor of involving RVPs for this) or just set a clause of "no more than ideally xx days" and why not , we may provide a short explanation " to account for member retention" . People will accept this probably better as its self explained and just there is some space to achieve what we aim for and taking account of the volunteers of our organization. T

The major hubbub I have seen lately is that GCAP is too restrictive and it should be left up to the Region and Division to drill down on specifics as it is hard to really write a blanket timeframe (for instance) for every last place on the network.

RVPs can simply delegate the limitation to the DDs via policy. Then each Division can set forth what they view as a "reasonable" time frame to accomplish these competency checks.

VATUSA Mid-west Region Manager | Former VATUSA Training Director | Former ZDC ATM/DATM/TA/WM

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We are concerned with the 14 day requirement as well in 8.08(c). It just isn't possible to do it in 14 days for facilities that have a training backlog. We have wait times of approximately 3-4 weeks to be assigned training from the time it is requested for our HOME controllers. Does this mean we will be expected to prioritize our mentor/instructor's time with visiting controllers vs. home controllers? Should we pull training staff away from home controllers because we need to get a visitor checkout done?

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Josh Nunn

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11 hours ago, Josh Nunn said:

We are concerned with the 14 day requirement as well in 8.08(c). It just isn't possible to do it in 14 days for facilities that have a training backlog. We have wait times of approximately 3-4 weeks to be assigned training from the time it is requested for our HOME controllers. Does this mean we will be expected to prioritize our mentor/instructor's time with visiting controllers vs. home controllers? Should we pull training staff away from home controllers because we need to get a visitor checkout done?

This clause is in discussion. 

The BoG understands the pressures this would put on training staffs. An acceptable solution needs to be found here though. A competency check is the ultimate restriction a division or sub-division can put on a controller as you are not allowing someone to control ANY of “your” airspace until they prove that they can. (I personally think that this is deeming someone guilty before being proven innocent.) This screams exclusivity and restriction of access to ATC. While this makes some sense when visiting other places in the world where basic procedures can be extremely different and training must be done, it doesn’t make much sense in areas that have similar procedures. 

In the United States especially, all sub-divisions operate under the same Air Traffic Rules. Vectoring for an approach or giving a landing clearance is the same whether it is in ZLA or ZBW. So the key issue on our end is that if you want the power to keep someone off of ALL of “your” airspace (not just major and restricted) which is what a comp check does, then you have to commit to getting that comp check done in a timely manner. Pushing off Visiting Controllers indefinitely is not a solution here either. 
 

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55 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

In the United States especially, all sub-divisions operate under the same Air Traffic Rules. Vectoring for an approach or giving a landing clearance is the same whether it is in ZLA or ZBW. So the key issue on our end is that if you want the power to keep someone off of ALL of “your” airspace (not just major and restricted) which is what a comp check does, then you have to commit to getting that comp check done in a timely manner. Pushing off Visiting Controllers indefinitely is not a solution here either. 
 

A landing clearance, which falls under basic phraseology and basic overall competencies is not the same as local procedures. Sure, in the US, a lot of Class C and D airports (thus, controlled airports that are not majors, pretty much) have very similar procedures and you only need to read up on local documentation in order to learn about the local procedures. However - this is vastly different outside of the US. Taking Europe as an example - phraseology and local procedures for each country and airport are all different. Europe is full of interesting and challenging airports and there are just way too many of them to classify them as major airports. Phraseology and procedures in Spain are different to procedures in Italy, Greece or Portugal. Sector files are different - it's NOT the same as in the US, where all phraseology falls under the same thing.

Gonna agree with Josh here - 14 days is just not enough, considering all of our mentors and instructors on VATSIM are unpaid volunteers that do this in their own spare time as a hobby, and the fact that loads of facilities are packed with training requests. Some aren't, some are.

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

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16 hours ago, Matthew Bartels said:

This clause is in discussion. 

The BoG understands the pressures this would put on training staffs. An acceptable solution needs to be found here though.
 

Thanks for the reply, Matt. I'd be in support of something saying "visiting controllers requesting a competency check shall not be prioritized below home controllers requesting training".

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Hi all.


So a question out of interest.

How long should a competency check, for a controller meeting the divisional standard for a minor aerodrome/airspace actually take?

An hour?  Or thereabouts?  If in sweatbox, where you can control what the controller is to demonstrate to you, I think that would be very much achievable.  So, the argument is that training resources shouldn't be bound to a timeline that hinders them from looking after their home controllers.  I would imagine this would apply only in places with excessive visitor requests or transfers right?  However, with the limitations on visitor endorsements and transfer requests.  Is this actually going to continue to be a problem?

Keeping in mind, GCAP is addressing some of the other pain points.  Are you taking that into account when you are thinking about this requirement?  I suspect not.  So taking that into account, do we really think this would ACTUALLY be an issue to achieve a fairly simple comp check in 14 days?

Thanks!

Phil

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8 hours ago, Philip Dowling said:

Hi all.


So a question out of interest.

How long should a competency check, for a controller meeting the divisional standard for a minor aerodrome/airspace actually take?

An hour?  Or thereabouts?  If in sweatbox, where you can control what the controller is to demonstrate to you, I think that would be very much achievable.  So, the argument is that training resources shouldn't be bound to a timeline that hinders them from looking after their home controllers.  I would imagine this would apply only in places with excessive visitor requests or transfers right?  However, with the limitations on visitor endorsements and transfer requests.  Is this actually going to continue to be a problem?

Keeping in mind, GCAP is addressing some of the other pain points.  Are you taking that into account when you are thinking about this requirement?  I suspect not.  So taking that into account, do we really think this would ACTUALLY be an issue to achieve a fairly simple comp check in 14 days?

Thanks!

Phil

I think the length of the actual check is hardly relevant. The planning part is, though... Training Directors take vacations, get sick etc. The (usually) small pool of mentors/examiners plan their sessions (and other exams) several weeks in advance, and you can hardly expect them to cancel planned sessions, can you?

I think 28 days seems much more reasonable. Let's not forget that a visiting/transfering controller already has a place to control, so why rush it?

To make matters more complicated: all of the above assumes that only one (1) controller applies as a visiting controller. You really don't need 'excessive visitor requests' to clog the entire system.

My suggestion: 'the comp check should be taken as soon as reasonable'. Leave it to the subdivisions/divisions/regions to report / discuss / enforce. Let GCAP determine the 'WHAT', let the lower levels determine the 'HOW'. Don't use a 6000 mile long screwdriver...

Martijn

 



 

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3 hours ago, Martijn Rammeloo said:

Let's not forget that a visiting/transfering controller already has a place to control, so why rush it?

A transfer controller does not have another place to control. They leave the roster of where they were, that makes them ineligible to control where they were.

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15 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

A transfer controller does not have another place to control. They leave the roster of where they were, that makes them ineligible to control where they were.

Fair point, yet it doesn't change the broader point of my post.

(Furthermore, it is possible to transfer to another subdivision, and become a visiting controller at your old subdivision at the same time. This would mitigate any 'downtime' for the controller in question, as well as any unnecessary 'rush' at the new subdivision.)

 

Martijn

 

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This is something I have practiced and a few other sub-divisions in USA practice so I am curious what others think.

Regions and Divisions can allow their subordinate facilities (Divisions and Sub-Divisions respectively) to utilize a provisional visitor endorsement, usage would not be required. It allows for a controller to work the minor aerodromes/airspaces (and nothing else) until they complete the comp check, ideally for "non-event" periods or as other restrictions the RVP/DD see fit.

14 days is not enough and nor is prioritizing comp checks.  However, we also cannot have people "dying on the vine". A provisional approach gives us time to put them in the queue for the comp check, but does not prevent them from controlling. The endorsement can be revoked upon a showing of not being competent during this period too and the request to visit would thusly be denied and remediation procedure followed as outlined in GCAP.

VATUSA Mid-west Region Manager | Former VATUSA Training Director | Former ZDC ATM/DATM/TA/WM

VATSIM Network Supervisor | Team 5

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9 hours ago, Martijn Rammeloo said:

I think the length of the actual check is hardly relevant. The planning part is, though... Training Directors take vacations, get sick etc. The (usually) small pool of mentors/examiners plan their sessions (and other exams) several weeks in advance, and you can hardly expect them to cancel planned sessions, can you?

Hi Martijn

I think the length of the check is relevant to be honest.  However, to your point about training directors taking vacation or getting sick.  I would suggest if that be an inherent issue there is an issue of negligence at the Divisional or Sub Divisional level for not having someone who takes over that task while the TD is away.  If that mechanism is not in place, it should be!  I don't think it is fair to make wholesale changes to a policy because a training dept is potentially badly run!

9 hours ago, Martijn Rammeloo said:

To make matters more complicated: all of the above assumes that only one (1) controller applies as a visiting controller. You really don't need 'excessive visitor requests' to clog the entire system.

To this I would have to suggest the system, therefore, needs to be reviewed.  1 or 2 visitor requests ideally should not clog anything.  A simple comp check and move on.  Seriously, if this clogs a training system, that system has bigger issues!

I get where your suggestions are going Martijn.  I just feel they are misplaced.  I think they are trying to butcher a policy to accomodate systems/depts that are potentially broken and need to be fixed.  Rather than focusing on the policy, perhaps it might be more appropriate to focus on the root cause issues that prevent the policy from working as intended.  As I have noted above.

NOTE:  I have to say for clarity.  My opinions are largely focused on transfer controllers.  I am not overly interested or concerned with visitors.  I don't think a visitor needs any priority whatever as they have somewhere to control and they can ultimately wait.  Transfer controllers are what my comments are primarily aimed at in this conversation.

Phil

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