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8.04(a) Air Traffic Controller Currency, Activity, and Quality Control


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39 minutes ago, Anastasios Petros Stefopou said:

How many of similar cases the last 4 years? In this example there is nothing wrong with requirements. Its the mindset of the controller or wasnt aware 

As Gander Oceanic operations director, I have seen way too many controllers not being familiar with updated procedures which were introduced in March, who jump on positions without knowing what to do. We recently had a case in Spain as well where a high-ranking member of the VATSIM community was controlling with an outdated sector file too(I'm talking outdated by a few years).

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Who checks the trainer to ensure quality is passed to the rest of controllers with the new important changes? My guess is reading the new changes, so nobody.

No - the mentor/instructor of the competency check does, if this is an online/sweatbox session. In any case, doing a group session/seminar is a much better option, it doesn't take up a lot of time considering you can have 30 people literally in one channel, listening to the presentation. 

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Im trying to save time from your local facility and show you there are other ways to achieve more in less time. As far the quality quantity, It has been mentioned over and over everywhere. There is no filter on who joins and under what sort of skills. So quantity you will have a lot. Quality you can control up to a level and receiving feedback. This level needs to be reasonably enough to allow space for people from various backgrounds and experiences to enjoy being online and on the same time having a friendly environment where they can learn, up again to a level since this is a simulation network. 

Local facilities can host group sessions which are an efficient solution, in my view, for reasons listed by myself above. Despite people's "various backgrounds and experiences", procedures are procedures and this is not exactly relevant to the discussion of catching up on major procedural changes -  the whole point of a competency check, or at least a group session, is to make sure the controller in question is capable of providing air traffic control within areas where procedures have been updated to a major extent, where it would be inappropriate to provide control without the knowledge of updated procedures. And I think it's been stated enough in this thread, the fact that "trusting" an inactive controller to make the right steps and read up on relevant documentation that explains how to control in a very new and updated environment is not a reliable option. 

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Seems there is no backlog or trainer shortage in the division then.

In places like Riga, there isn't a huge backlog, considering these sweatbox sessions were all done in a day.

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Revalidating someone already rated in so frequent intervals for a sid and star rnav change sounds like examining the same rating skills. There are places having much more complex airspaces with more effective way passing information to their controllers, such as usa. 

 

You have to understand that major procedural changes mean a complete change in the way a TMA or an FIR works. It gets to the point where it's literally impossible to control under the old procedures and would be completely irrelevant to do so due to new STARs, new SIDs and new approaches. This can also include updated and new phraseology, new coordination, new positions, etc. etc. etc. Updated SIDs and STARs, for example to an RNAV standard, really isn't as simple as reading up on new material.

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Yes, common sense must be used in a hobby which is simulating the real world. Simulating. People will connect when they have free time and if they in their free time they have to be revalidated over and over again eventually they will not be there anymore. It's not the end of the world if someone makes a mistake while online controlling. It is again a new opportunity to learn and move on. This is another quality management rooting from the members experience without necessarily involving training departments. Unless there is a hope that everyone shall meet proficiency as the real world authority providing ATC services since its "as real as it gets" .The real world does not follow this short of training management or revalidation on already rated people. There is always issuance of amendments, SIB, revisions etc. 

I think we're going in circles now. Having a controller provide a poor standard of ATC to pilots if they don't make the right steps to ensure that they're up-to-date with updated revisions is simply damaging to both the controller, and the local (sub-)division. Better safe than sorry. When you have major procedural changes within the airport and the controller starts applying irrelevant outdated procedures, especially during events, that is not okay. 

Edited by David Solesvik

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1 hour ago, Kirk Christie said:

Will VATSIM AME be seeking to install Major airports after the implementation of GCAP? something that entire region has never done since the introduction of GRP1 and GRP2. if the answer is no, then what affect does it have on your divison or (we) as you have put it, the set hours for a Major Aerodrome when you curently have none.

Its VATMENA thanks. Not VATSIM AME that doesn't exist anymore. Yes, we are going to implement a few airports as majors as we have been denied the chance to do so in the past with the old RD/Executive Committee system as our previous RD was inactive.

Edited by Chriss Klosowski
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Agreed with Zach and Kirk as much as I understand why Chriss et al hold their viewpoint. Controllers should ensure they're up to date on procedures before they logon, and divisions should make use of mailing lists to spread information (this can be done within the restrictions of GDPR). 

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2 hours ago, Artur Vasiljev said:

In real life people go through a lot more than our virtual controllers

Your post was of re evaluating controllers for airspace changes not for being absent. And yes even being absent the requirement is still less than some divisions require.

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3 hours ago, Zach Biesse-Fitton said:

By asking VATSIM to allow the activity requirement to be more than 3 hours, you are asking them to impose stricter requirements than is required to maintain a real world pilots license.

Keeping a pilot's license current has nothing to do with flying hours, so I'm not sure where you are getting this information from. In the preceding 90 days it is a minimum of either three take-offs and landings, a flight test, or a demonstration of competence to a flight instructor. Then on top of that you are required to annually renew your instrument rating (if you have one) with a flight test/sim check as well as undergo a 6-monthly check if you are operating turbine-engine aircraft above a certain MTOW.

All this is irrelevant anyway, because we are talking about controlling, not flying, which require different skill sets.

If you want to use the real world as an analog, controllers in the real world are required to maintain a minimum of 8 to 16 hours per month of controlling time to stay current, depending on the positions they operate.

3 hours ago, Kirk Christie said:

Section 8.09 (b)(ii) permits a competency check for a controller that has been absent for more than 12 months. 

Will VATSIM AME be seeking to install Major airports after the implementation of GCAP? something that entire region has never done since the introduction of GRP1 and GRP2. if the answer is no, then what affect does it have on your divison or (we) as you have put it, the set hours for a Major Aerodrome when you curently have none.

Yes. We have attempted to do so in the past but it has been denied for one reason or another.

Now to the point, controllers cannot be expected to remain competent on a position with just 3 hours in three months. The traffic levels in some divisions and subdivisions simply do not allow it, as in some places you may only see one aircraft in that three hours. Divisions and subdivisions should be given more flexibility to decide what an appropriate number of hours is to be considered current. 

To keep these requirements within reasonable limits, the maximum should be set at 8 to 10 hours in 3 months for major facilities so you don't have people setting ridiculous 50 hour activity requirements.

Edited by Suprojit Paul
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5 minutes ago, Suprojit Paul said:

Keeping a pilot's license current has nothing to do with flying hours, so I'm not sure where you are getting this information from. In the preceding 90 days it is a minimum of either three take-offs and landings, a flight test, or a demonstration of competence to a flight instructor. Then on top of that you are required to annually renew your instrument rating (if you have one) with a flight test/sim check as well as undergo a 6-monthly check if you are operating turbine-engine aircraft above a certain MTOW.

All this is irrelevant anyway, because we are talking about controlling, not flying, which require different skill sets.

If you want to use the real world as an analog, controllers in the real world are required to maintain a minimum of 8 to 16 hours per month of controlling time to stay current, depending on the positions they operate.

Yes. We have attempted to do so in the past but it has been denied for one reason or another.

Now to the point, controllers cannot be expected to remain competent on a position with just 3 hours in three months. The traffic levels in some divisions and subdivisions simply do not allow it, as in some places you may only see one aircraft in that three hours. Divisions and subdivisions should be given more flexibility to decide what an appropriate number of hours is to be considered current. 

To keep these requirements within reasonable limits, the maximum should be set at 8 to 10 hours in 3 months for major facilities so you don't have people setting ridiculous 50 hour activity requirements.

I think this all goes back to the point where (sub-)divisions have to get more flexibility with these things, as places are different and like Paul said, some (sub-)divisions require regulations that are different in all places (because places are different). If the idea of letting divisions make up their own regulations, subject to the approval of RVPs is a bad idea/won't be considered, at least set minimum/maximum levels - still subject to RVP approval. That way, sub-divisions can have more flexibility when it comes to choosing what regulation is best for them, OR, make a clause about exceptions that can be approved by RVPs, as done regarding language proficiency.

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10 hours ago, Suprojit Paul said:

Keeping a pilot's license current has nothing to do with flying hours, so I'm not sure where you are getting this information from. In the preceding 90 days it is a minimum of either three take-offs and landings, a flight test, or a demonstration of competence to a flight instructor. Then on top of that you are required to annually renew your instrument rating (if you have one) with a flight test/sim check as well as undergo a 6-monthly check if you are operating turbine-engine aircraft above a certain MTOW.

Ahh dang it, I guess I was trying to be generous for you. Thankfully you've just backed up my argument and you're right. 3 circuits takes roughly 0.5 of an hour? So in that case. To maintain an IRL pilots license and carry passengers I only need to do 0.5 flying hours in 3 months! Even less than the original 3 that I quoted!

10 hours ago, Suprojit Paul said:

If you want to use the real world as an analog, controllers in the real world are required to maintain a minimum of 8 to 16 hours per month of controlling time to stay current, depending on the positions they operate.

This is exactly my point. Imposing limits that meet or exceed requirements of real-world controllers (or pilots, reference my previous comment) is unnecessary and not appropriate on this network, in my opinion.

I'm sure other divisions around the world will gladly accept controllers from division who are unable to fulfill unreasonable requirement of divisions that choose to do so.

I think the focus on hourly requirements needs to be shifted to "maintaining competency". A controller must be competent on the position which they are intending to operate. Just because you hold a rating, doesn't mean you maintain competency. Just because you've done 50 hours in the last month, doesn't mean you maintain competency.

I can think of a few people who have recently returned to our division after a 10 year hiatus. People who would not have returned if we had enforced checks or hourly requirements. People who have not lost any of their skills over the past 10 years and are some of the most skilled controllers in our division.
I can also think of some people in the division who took a 12 month hiatus and return knowing nothing, requiring retraining.

Will a blanket hourly requirement solve the above issue? No. Will a requirement for a controller to be 'competent'? Yes.

If they aren't competent, well that's another discussion altogether. How can a division prevent someone who is not competent, but holds a rating, from logging into the network and providing a service that they a 'rated' but not 'capable' of providing? Do they loose their rating? Do they keep their rating but loose the ability to login to a position? Are they removed from the controller roster (is that even enforceable under the CoC or GCAP)? Does CoC C1/C2 apply?

Enforcing Competency - not currency - that is the real issue here.

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Zach Biesse-Fitton
VATSIM Developer and Supervisor | VATPAC Division Director

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Zach's post brings up the brilliant example of VATPAC, where the idea that currency being more important than actual competency is sent to bed.

If I have to sit controlling for every so often a month to fulfil an arbitrary policy then I'll just not bother. 

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16 hours ago, Chriss Klosowski said:

We strongly disagree with this point. It is simply not possible to keep yourself current on procedural changes at a major airport controlling only 3 hours over three months. This requirement should be increased to at least 10 hours for major airports.

What if an airport undergoes major procedural changes that are completely new to the controller? This has happened before in the U.A.E with the airspace restructure of the WHOLE FIR. 

Chriss

I am going back to the original point you made, because as with most of these threads it has departed the rails.

However you are talking about the activity requirement in a "Major" airspace/field.

Now someone else mentioned, self study.  Controllers need to stay abreast of the changes.   Which, to a lesser degree is what RW controllers do, although they tend to do real training for major changes, but hey, this is a hobby.

So your concern is.  "What if they don't read up on the changes".  To me this is remarkably simple.  Remove their Major endorsement until they have read and demonstrated the changes and give it back to them!

Forgive me if I am over simplifying this.  But you want a deterrent to ensure people put a little effort in.  There it is.   You achieve the quality you are looking for (because folks will put the effort in) without punishing everyone else who may well put the effort in!

Isn't it really that simple?

Phil

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3 hours ago, Philip Dowling said:

So your concern is.  "What if they don't read up on the changes".  To me this is remarkably simple.  Remove their Major endorsement until they have read and demonstrated the changes and give it back to them!

Forgive me if I am over simplifying this.  But you want a deterrent to ensure people put a little effort in.  There it is.   You achieve the quality you are looking for (because folks will put the effort in) without punishing everyone else who may well put the effort in!

I don't think this is an oversimplification at all. You hit the nail on the head.

We volunteer our own time, experience, and energy to train new controllers, and it is always my expectation that: a) new controllers commit the training that they have requested, and b) that veterans willingly stay current and up-to-date with changes. It shouldn't be my problem to personally worry about whether a major-endorsed controller has read up on the changes. I have a responsibility to maintain the controlling integrity of my FIR, and to keep my instructors available to serve the people who are committed to their training (putting aside extraneous circumstances).

Both of those concepts are fairly easy to understand to me, and I don't see any problem with enforcing them and dropping a controller if necessary until they do their required recurrency training. Especially in the context of a major facility, deemed so because it requires certain knowledge and skills above the level given through the normal training process.

Edited by Andrew Ogden
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10 hours ago, Zach Biesse-Fitton said:

Ahh dang it, I guess I was trying to be generous for you. Thankfully you've just backed up my argument and you're right. 3 circuits takes roughly 0.5 of an hour? So in that case. To maintain an IRL pilots license and carry passengers I only need to do 0.5 flying hours in 3 months! Even less than the original 3 that I quoted!

I think we're grasping at straws. As I said, flying and controlling require different skill sets, which is why in the real world there are different requirements to keep a pilot's license and an ATCO license current.

Edit: Also on an irrelevant side note, the time taken to do three circuits can vary greatly depending on the aerodrome you operate at. I had never ever managed to get three circuits done in 30 minutes at the place I used to fly at.

10 hours ago, Zach Biesse-Fitton said:

This is exactly my point. Imposing limits that meet or exceed requirements of real-world controllers (or pilots, reference my previous comment) is unnecessary and not appropriate on this network, in my opinion.

I completely agree, which is why the limit I proposed is less than a third of what is required to keep an ATCO license current in the real world. It needs to be noted that this is a maximum, and if divisions want to enforce less in their hourly requirements, it is their prerogative to do so.

10 hours ago, Zach Biesse-Fitton said:

I think the focus on hourly requirements needs to be shifted to "maintaining competency". A controller must be competent on the position which they are intending to operate. Just because you hold a rating, doesn't mean you maintain competency. Just because you've done 50 hours in the last month, doesn't mean you maintain competency.

I can think of a few people who have recently returned to our division after a 10 year hiatus. People who would not have returned if we had enforced checks or hourly requirements. People who have not lost any of their skills over the past 10 years and are some of the most skilled controllers in our division.

I completely agree with you here, but how are we going to ensure that controllers remain competent without enforcing checks or hour requirements? A line has to be drawn somewhere to ensure that the people who are on your roster have at least the minimum competency required, and maintain that required competency. Simply reading about a procedure is very different to actually doing it and practicing online, and in my opinion, is a much more effective way for people to learn and stay abreast with procedure.

As I have said, this should really be left up to the individual divisions to decide and such a low limit has no place in a global policy. There should instead be a higher maximum (eg. 10 hours in 3 months) set to stop people enforcing ridiculous hour requirements, and allow divisions the flexibility to set the requirements as they see fit.

9 hours ago, Philip Dowling said:

Forgive me if I am over simplifying this.  But you want a deterrent to ensure people put a little effort in.  There it is.   You achieve the quality you are looking for (because folks will put the effort in) without punishing everyone else who may well put the effort in!

I completely agree.

Edited by Suprojit Paul
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12 hours ago, Andrew Ogden said:

Both of those concepts are fairly easy to understand to me, and I don't see any problem with enforcing them and dropping a controller if necessary until they do their required recurrency training. Especially in the context of a major facility, deemed so because it requires certain knowledge and skills above the level given through the normal training process.

Hey Andrew

I agree.  I think for clarity tho, we should really ensure we point out we are talking about the scope of ENDORSEMENTS here.  Not ratings 🙂. So we can most certainly, if someone fails to read up on significant changes to a major or restricted minor and then makes a mess only, drop that endorsement until they have self educated or been guided.  But the same cannot apply to a rating.  There is another pathway to address that.

 

Just for clarity <VBG>

Phil

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On 10/18/2021 at 7:58 PM, Suprojit Paul said:

To keep these requirements within reasonable limits, the maximum should be set at 8 to 10 hours in 3 months for major facilities so you don't have people setting ridiculous 50 hour activity requirements.

This of course is just your opinion. Who's to say that 8 to 10 hours in 3 months is not ridiculous also.

Edited by Kirk Christie
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5 hours ago, Kirk Christie said:

This of course is just your opinion.

Thats the point of this entire consultation to be entirely fair Kirk. Let's keep it on track instead of just pointing out the obvious?

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13 minutes ago, Liesel Downes said:

Let's keep it on track instead of just pointing out the obvious?

Thank you for your back-seat moderating.

https://www.vatsim.net/news/could-you-be-vatsim-supervisor

Edited by Kirk Christie
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9 hours ago, Kirk Christie said:

Who's to say that 8 to 10 hours in 3 months is not ridiculous also.

Care to back that up with an argument?

Again, like I said a maximum of 8 to 10 hours in 3 months. So if your division feels they only need one hour every three months that's entirely up to you. 

Just because the maximum is 10 doesn't mean that all divisions must enforce a 10 hour activity requirement. Hence the word maximum. This affords other divisions more flexibility. I fail to see the issue with this.

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3 hours ago, Kirk Christie said:

Thank you for your back-seat moderating.

https://www.vatsim.net/news/could-you-be-vatsim-supervisor

Honestly, how is that "back-seat moderating"? Please, do explain it to me.

Is there a problem with what she said? You pointing out the obvious that it is someone's opinion is not required as we are in a discussion and everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

Lastly, you pointing to a news article to apply as a Network Supervisor makes ZERO contribution to this thread and its primary discussion.

A1 - Members shall, at all times, be courteous and respectful to one another.

Edited by Chriss Klosowski
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1 hour ago, Suprojit Paul said:

Care to back that up with an argument?

No thanks, this is a discussion not an argument.

1 hour ago, Chriss Klosowski said:

Is there a problem with what she said?

Let's keep this discussion on track please.

Edited by Kirk Christie
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Folks, let's keep the conversation civil, productive and moving forward please.  We're here to advance the goodness of the proposed policies, not testosterone levels.... 🙂

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Don Desfosse
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4 hours ago, Suprojit Paul said:

Care to back that up with an argument?

Again, like I said a maximum of 8 to 10 hours in 3 months. So if your division feels they only need one hour every three months that's entirely up to you. 

Just because the maximum is 10 doesn't mean that all divisions must enforce a 10 hour activity requirement. Hence the word maximum. This affords other divisions more flexibility. I fail to see the issue with this.

Whilst a controller in a busy airspace might need more practice than a controller in a quieter airspace, the maximum of 8-10 hours in 3 months would limit the number of controllers who could even progress within a certain airspace. Some controllers won't be able to reach 8-10 hours of controlling per quarter due to real life commitments, which restricts the active controllers who can't meet the 8-10 hours from controlling major airports as they would be removed from the roster. 

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To get down to brass tacks here, we are all hobbyists and dedicate the amount to controlling that we personally would like to dedicate.  This discussion has shown that there are quite varied opinions on what constitutes enough to remain proficient. We all agree that major (busy) airports require more time than non-major or less busy airports.   

I will say my personal opinion is that a facility requiring 8 - 10 hours per quarter, or forcing recurrent sweatbox sessions every time there is a change for me to continue to have the “privilege” of working “your airspace” is absolutely ridiculous for a hobby. You would need to start paying me at that point. To be honest, I don’t know how you would retain a single hobbyist controller under such rules.  

To be blunt, this would be exactly such a practice from which GCAP looks to protect the individual controller. In some ways it also prevents sub-divisions and divisions from being their own worst enemy by stopping them from putting in overbearing requirements that would be harmful to them. Any number is going to be an “arbitrary” one, but the GCAP would be defining what the governing body of the network thinks is too much. 

 This gets back to the quality vs quantity argument. Just as controller’s number one issue right now seems to be pilot quality,  Pilots number one issue is lack of controllers. With training queues and times long, why are we looking for ways to cut controllers at the first opportunity? Why are we imposing such strict requirements on people who dedicate their time to providing a service on the network? This further reduces the amount of ATC available to everyone. 

As someone who flys on the network and wants quality ATC as well as a controller who takes pride in providing a good service, I can appreciate the work facilities do and concerns they have regarding these changes. However there absolutely comes a point where quality is absolutely overblown. When we reach that point, you’re absolutely right that I’m going to put quantity over overblown quality.

We are a learning network, not a proficiency network. Mistakes are going to happen. Controllers are not going to do it right 100% of the time.  Facilities are going to receive *gasp* the occasional piece of poor feedback.

We need to remember that all of us are learning here, even the most seasoned professional. Even in the worst case scenario, say a controller majorly screws up and launches an airplane from a minor field directly into an airplane at the major field, that’s not the end of the world. Educate and move on.  GCAP allows for people to learn and provides pathways to education if problems are observed. 

We absolutely can provide a realistic ATC simulation service without crazy requirements  and not become IVAO or MS Zone controllers.

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