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


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44 minutes ago, Philip Dowling said:

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!

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

Phil,

First of all, my concern is with visitors, not transfers. Dutch VACC 'owns' one of the busiest aerodromes on the network and most of our members speak English rather well, so I guess it is safe to assume that quite a few controllers will want to visit us. The number of actual requests in the past few years validates this assumption...

The root cause doesn't need a lot of analysis: there is nothing 'broken' that can be fixed. Our subdivision is simply very small, and run by a small group (staff/mentors) of very dedicated volunteers. These are real human beings however, with real lives, real jobs etc. We can argue for hours how many comp checks it will take to clog the system, but I don't think that is very productive. At some point it will inevitably happen, and of course I am not talking about 1 or 2 visitor. What about 10 on day 1?

And to make myself perfectly clear: I am not trying to 'butcher' anything at all. I am just trying to argue a rule that is based on false assumptions. A system that is flawed by design. There is no 'one glove fits all'. You may have noted I have also tried to make suggestions to improve this clause. A change to 28 days seems very reasonable to me, but I am sure other subdivisions will have trouble meeting even that requirement. Who am I to judge that, without fully understanding their situation? Hence, the 'as soon as reasonable' suggestion. Why not leave the details to the (sub)division? The intention of the rule is quite clear, let the sub(divisions) work out the details to the best of their (different) abilities.

Cheers, Martijn

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Hey Martijn.

 

To be fair.  If we're only talking visitors.  To be very honest, I don't see why there needs to be any timelimit whatsoever.  As they have other places they can control, therefore there is no need for them to be attended to in a timely manner.  If the facility training dept is busy, it's busy.  

I think my points are centered around transfer controllers.  So it seems we're talking about different things 🙂

Phil

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  • Board of Governors

The last few posts have been very hostile of visitors. Visitors are people too, not some lower class of citizen. 

So what if a visitor has another place to control? They would like to control your airspace, this is why they applied to visit. It’s not fair to them in the least to indefinitely defer them. In the scope of training availability I get that there are limited slots. However throughput should be relatively high if all you need to do is check the core competencies to divisional standard as opposed to a full training regimen. If they need training, then it is well defined already that they have to wait their turn.

What makes 28 days so much better than 14? Just extra breathing room? Or at that point 28 days isn’t enough? Saying that it needs to be done in a “reasonable  time frame” takes all the pressure off the training staff allowing visitors to “rot on the vine.” The core issue we have here is that places want to seal up their borders and not allow visiting controllers access to positions until a comp check is done, however we also can not / will not do said comp check quickly. Can’t have it both ways there.

GCAP is hostile enough to visiting controllers as it is by restricting the amount of places people can visit, requiring the S3 rating, and stating that VCs still need to get further training and wait in queue for it. Because of these points, the hope is that visiting becomes less of a burden on facilities so they can focus on primary training whilst still accommodating VCs. 

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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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1 hour ago, Matthew Bartels said:

The last few posts have been very hostile of visitors. Visitors are people too, not some lower class of citizen. 

So what if a visitor has another place to control? They would like to control your airspace, this is why they applied to visit. It’s not fair to them in the least to indefinitely defer them. In the scope of training availability I get that there are limited slots. However throughput should be relatively high if all you need to do is check the core competencies to divisional standard as opposed to a full training regimen. If they need training, then it is well defined already that they have to wait their turn.

What makes 28 days so much better than 14? Just extra breathing room? Or at that point 28 days isn’t enough? Saying that it needs to be done in a “reasonable  time frame” takes all the pressure off the training staff allowing visitors to “rot on the vine.” The core issue we have here is that places want to seal up their borders and not allow visiting controllers access to positions until a comp check is done, however we also can not / will not do said comp check quickly. Can’t have it both ways there.

GCAP is hostile enough to visiting controllers as it is by restricting the amount of places people can visit, requiring the S3 rating, and stating that VCs still need to get further training and wait in queue for it. Because of these points, the hope is that visiting becomes less of a burden on facilities so they can focus on primary training whilst still accommodating VCs. 

Matthew,

No hostility was meant from my side at all. As a matter of fact, we are almost done translating all training manuals, aligning the IT etc. to make this happen. Also, please note that nobody is mentioning training. It is about the comp check, let's not make this discussion more 'complicated' than necessary.

Yes, it is about extra breathing room. Nothing more, nothing less. Just a small tweak, in order to make this work on a very practical level. Although I am not speaking on behalf of Dutch VACC, my estimate is that would be a proper period. Obviously, assuming there is no 'tsunami' of candidates. Other subdivisions might come up with a different number.

I seem to sense some mistrust towards the/some subdivisions in your post, based on terms like 'indefintely defer them', and linking 'reasonable time frame' to 'rot on the vine'. Is that feeling correct? Since you are a BoG member, I would find that really troubling. Policies based on mistrust ('the 6000 mile long screwdriver', military history has some 'nice' examples) are bound to fail.

Cheers,

Martijn

 

 

Edited by Martijn Rammeloo
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2 hours ago, Matthew Bartels said:

The last few posts have been very hostile of visitors. Visitors are people too, not some lower class of citizen. 

No offence to you in particular (I applaud you responding to so many things), but I'd almost think that all discussions regarding the GCAP are hostile to those trying to involve their genuine feedback and concerns. They are people too, not some lower class of citizen below the BOG.

Edited by Thimo Koolen
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ACCNL5 (Assistant Training Director) - Dutch VACC

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4 hours ago, Matthew Bartels said:

What makes 28 days so much better than 14? Just extra breathing room?

Yes. How about some extra breathing room for starters to give facilities more time to actually process through all the requests and for them to actually be able to find someone to take care of the competency check?

Quote

Or at that point 28 days isn’t enough? Saying that it needs to be done in a “reasonable  time frame” takes all the pressure off the training staff allowing visitors to “rot on the vine.”

28 days is nothing for visitors to "rot on the vine". I'm a visitor at ZBW and have to wait for exactly that, if not longer, to get validated on the next endorsement. I'm not complaining because I know that VATSIM, and especially ZBW, are full of training requests already and don't have enough mentors that are volunteers, to complete and facilitate those training requests. Not to mention the fact that there's not many visitors at ZBW right now, at least not as many as local ZBW controllers. 14 days isn't enough breathing room. 28 days is at least somewhat better, as a start.

Quote

The core issue we have here is that places want to seal up their borders and not allow visiting controllers access to positions until a comp check is done, however we also can not / will not do said comp check quickly. Can’t have it both ways there.

As said before, there's always a reason as to why facilities do so - in a lot of cases, it's because of instructor shortages. So now, we have a conflict and we need to find a middle ground. But 14 days just isn't enough and puts way too much pressure on facilities to be able to facilitate something that a lot of facilities won't be able to facilitate. In the end, I'm just worried about the satisfaction of our volunteers that put their time and effort into doing something for their facility and I really wouldn't want them to face such enormous pressure. I would strongly suggest taking all facilities' opinions on this into account and actually asking them - are you able to facilitate a visitor comp-check within 14 days? I mean, in cases like ZBW - nobody is restricting me, as a visitor, from progressing to the next endorsement. But I'm waiting in-line like everyone else is. 

Quote

GCAP is hostile enough to visiting controllers as it is by restricting the amount of places people can visit, requiring the S3 rating, and stating that VCs still need to get further training and wait in queue for it. Because of these points, the hope is that visiting becomes less of a burden on facilities so they can focus on primary training whilst still accommodating VCs. 

There's no guarantee that visiting will become less of a burden. There's still loads of S3+ controllers out there that are more than interested in becoming visitors in places that currently don't allow visitors due to a huge training backlog - Dutch vACC, Scandinavia, just to name a few. If anything, S2 students not being able to visit somewhere else means they will start to focus more on actually getting their S3 rating - not a bad thing for them, but it might also mean more pressure on current training facilities, and can also promote rating tourism.

 

Edited by David Solesvik
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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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30 days for at least a response confirming you will get a competency check is fine enough. It provides accountability while being flexible at the same time, which I hope is the aim.

For transfers it is already a standard to allow someone to control some minor (in GCAP language, I wouldn't EGCC a minor airport lol) airports while waiting for a transfer competency check. This lessens the issue with a transfer controller waiting for that check.

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Liesel Downes
Gander Oceanic Deputy OCA Chief
ganderoceanic.ca
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  • 4 weeks later...

I hope this issue is still up for discussion. Despite having over 20 hard-working volunteers on my training staff, my facility is still experiencing 2+ month backlogs for home controllers requesting training. Requiring a competency check to be completed in 14 days for visiting controllers will cripple the ZBW training department.

I am willing to concede that transfer controllers should be prioritized because like Matt said, they don't have anywhere to control.

But I am pleading with the BoG to please reconsider the 14 day requirement for visitors. I have serious concerns that this will create even more delays for our home controllers who are wanting to earn new ratings. We are currently getting our visiting controllers checked out in about 30-45 days; they are given the same priority for assignment of a mentor/instructor as home controllers, which we feel is only fair. Please allow us to continue in this way.

Edited by Josh Nunn
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Josh Nunn

Training Administrator | Boston Virtual ARTCC

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Taking into account my short time on the Spanish vACC staff, it comes to my mind an example.

Imagine I'm inactive and want to be re-activated. The period of 14 days is run out and I decide to demand my staff climbing up through the chain.

Put yourself in the mind of a VATEUD governor. How would you resolve the case knowing: 1. The period excedeed. 2. The local staff is telling you that there's a scarcity of mentors and is hard to organize loads of trainning sessions in a short period of time. ?

Would you resolve it possitive to the trainee? And if so, which measures of punishment could you apply to the local staff?

Thanks, Juan

Juan Amado (S3 VATSPA - 1423499)

VATSPA Staff - Events & Members Director

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In order to both support visitors and prevent unnecessary burden on training staff (especially those facilities that see a large number of visitors and have a small training staff), we need a policy that will both allow flexibility in scheduling competency checks while also not adding unnecessary roadblocks for visiting controllers.

Essentially I am proposing a combination of two different solutions previously mentioned in this thread:

"The competency check shall be prioritized equally to home controller training and conducted within 90 days of the first request by the transfer or visiting controller candidate. If the competency check is not conducted within 14 days of the first request, a temporary authorization to control minor positions (up to the rating held by the controller) must be granted until the competency check is completed"

I think the above policy fairly balances the interests of the network in allowing visitors to control in a reasonable timeframe while allowing facilities and their training staff flexibility in conducting the competency check. With a strict 14 day policy, some facilities will be forced to either prioritize competency check sessions to the detriment of home students or turn their competency check into a rubber stamp process, or remove it entirely. In a situation where home students are facing significant delays in their training due to a large volume of visitors, they could be motivated to transfer away from the facility. If facilities end up rubber stamping any visitor, that effectively removes any quality standards at that facility. 

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3 hours ago, Jon Owens said:

"The competency check shall be prioritized equally to home controller training and conducted within 90 days of the first request by the transfer or visiting controller candidate. If the competency check is not conducted within 14 days of the first request, a temporary authorization to control minor positions (up to the rating held by the controller) must be granted until the competency check is completed"

What if an European controller goes to the United States? If ARTCC’s have 90 days to schedule a check out, maybe in the 14 days after the transfer the controller hasn’t done any training sessions yet, because it’s not a big priority for the ARTCC, so after the 14 days he can basically control any minor facility in the ARTCC without knowing US procedures.

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9 hours ago, Filippo Genoni said:

What if an European controller goes to the United States? If ARTCC’s have 90 days to schedule a check out, maybe in the 14 days after the transfer the controller hasn’t done any training sessions yet, because it’s not a big priority for the ARTCC, so after the 14 days he can basically control any minor facility in the ARTCC without knowing US procedures.

I suppose that is possible, but I see it as a rare outlier rather than the norm. In my experience, most controllers from outside VATUSA do their own research to gain a basic understanding of FAA procedures and phraseology before scheduling the competency check.

 

VATUSA has also recently launched the Academy, which is a series of courses that are self paced and completed without the involvement of any training staff. All VATUSA controllers are required to complete the Academy course(s) for their next rating before beginning training at the facility. Visitors from outside VATUSA also have access to the academy and should complete the courses to gain understanding of FAA procedures and phraseology before requesting their competency check.

While the Academy doesn't teach facility specific procedures, all facilities have SOPs and other documents available for students to review on their own to gain more understanding. This will ensure that a visitor from outside VATUSA has at least a basic understanding of the required procedures before being given the temporary authorization. 

For the reverse scenario, a VATUSA controller going to Europe, I'm not sure if there are systems similar to the Academy in place in Europe. If not, I certainly recommend that one be created, as the Academy is massively helpful and has significantly reduced the time spent lecturing, at least in my facility.

 

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13 hours ago, Jon Owens said:

In order to both support visitors and prevent unnecessary burden on training staff (especially those facilities that see a large number of visitors and have a small training staff), we need a policy that will both allow flexibility in scheduling competency checks while also not adding unnecessary roadblocks for visiting controllers.

Essentially I am proposing a combination of two different solutions previously mentioned in this thread:

"The competency check shall be prioritized equally to home controller training and conducted within 90 days of the first request by the transfer or visiting controller candidate. If the competency check is not conducted within 14 days of the first request, a temporary authorization to control minor positions (up to the rating held by the controller) must be granted until the competency check is completed"

I think the above policy fairly balances the interests of the network in allowing visitors to control in a reasonable timeframe while allowing facilities and their training staff flexibility in conducting the competency check. With a strict 14 day policy, some facilities will be forced to either prioritize competency check sessions to the detriment of home students or turn their competency check into a rubber stamp process, or remove it entirely. In a situation where home students are facing significant delays in their training due to a large volume of visitors, they could be motivated to transfer away from the facility. If facilities end up rubber stamping any visitor, that effectively removes any quality standards at that facility. 

In our reality, this would really mean: 'just wait for two weeks and you are good to go without any quality control at all, until some undefined point in the future'.

IMO this would be a step backwards.

Martijn

 

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17 hours ago, Jon Owens said:

I suppose that is possible, but I see it as a rare outlier rather than the norm. In my experience, most controllers from outside VATUSA do their own research to gain a basic understanding of FAA procedures and phraseology before scheduling the competency check.

What are you basing that assumption on? I have 10 years worth of data from ZNY saying the exact opposite. 90% of our visiting controllers that apply to ZNY from outside the US fail basic FAA phraseology and a rough estimate show that 70% of the people that fail never opened a single resource that we provide to give them the answers to our basic questions. 

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

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I have to second @Karl Mathias Mobergon this one. There is a serious lack of support for FAA<->ICAO at a higher (Region) level. It is something that VATNA worked on previously but lacked real direction on. I believe VATCAR has had some luck on something but its not fully there.

Ultimately, while I like your idea @Jon Owens, in practice it is not something that can work for inter-division/intra-region transfers. Possibly intra-division transfers for divisions with sub-divisions (i.e., VATUSA), its an internal discussion item amongst the committee members to set a broad policy on this in place for Regions and Divisions to further distill. We will see what the final outcome there is.

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

VATSIM Network Supervisor | Team 5

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As a controller who has experienced having to learn FAA phraseology in order to visit a US facility (ZBW) - I definitely agree with this. There is no way I could've made it as a visitor without having multiple sessions in order to get familiarised with FAA procedures and phraseology, and I am still very grateful to ZBW training staff for taking the time and effort to help me in learning it. Point is, there's a very very small chance that an ICAO-based controller will be able to master FAA phraseology and procedures without any prior live training. 

C1-rated controller

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

[email protected]

1341101

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