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It Really Irks me


Gary Stewart
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2 hours ago, Antonis Panayotatos said:

That's what grinds my gear most: it's 1730z, there are 9 flights incoming in the next 30 minutes, and the controller just bails.

If you're still talking about Finland the other day, I remember seeing them online from early afternoon (12Z ish). That means they had been online for at least 3-4 hours when they logged off. The only advice I can give to avoid disappointment in such a situation is to check how long ATC has been online, unless it's a booked session.

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Martin Loxbo

Director Sweden FIR

VATSIM Scandinavia

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7 hours ago, Antonis Panayotatos said:

you should stick to that commitment

I'm sorry but this comment doesn't fly, if I want to log off because I've had enough then I will do that, I'm not going to stick around just to please the pilots, even if it's before my estimated log off time.

What can I say that you would agree with?

Edited by Kirk Christie
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Kirk Christie - VATPAC C3

VATPAC Undercover ATC Agent

Worldflight Perth 737-800 Crew Member

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2 minutes ago, Kirk Christie said:

I'm sorry but this comment doesn't fly, if I want to log off because I've had enough then I will do that, I'm not going to stick around just to please the pilots, even if it's before my estimated log off time.

This is why I never put in an estimated log off time, and why I never pre-booked my ATC sessions. When it comes to what I do in my leisure time, my plans are very subject to change, and I don't want to mislead pilots or other controllers about when I'll be online. The obvious exception is events ... if I sign up to work an event, then that's an actual commitment that I need to hold myself to, for obvious reasons. (And of course, with events, there is little need to advertise an estimated log off time, because pilots can be reasonably certain that someone will be staffing the airspace for the duration of the event.)

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7 hours ago, Antonis Panayotatos said:

I can imagine that's even more frustrating for you than it is for pilots the other way around. At least without a controller, we can still fly, even if it's less immersive.

If there's a log-off time and the controller leaves early, I'd be even more disappointed than I am without seeing a log-off time in the first place. I have no issue with a trip to the pub taking priority over providing ATC, but if you're planned to be logged on, then I might say that you should stick to that commitment if you have a bunch of flights scheduled to arrive or depart (if the airspace is empty, then no harm done). That's what grinds my gear most: it's 1730z, there are 9 flights incoming in the next 30 minutes, and the controller just bails.

Or may have had something unexpected come up and HAVE to bail...  After all, this is a hobby, not a job...  

I'll happily accept donations from pilots who feel I have to be on at a certain time, for a certain length or for a certain committed timescale to cover for anything that may happen elsewhere that perhaps needs my attention.

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Trevor Hannant

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I do think people are being a bit unreasonable on both sides here…

From a pilot’s point of view: my recommendation is and always has been that the best strategy to avoid disappointment is to fly the flight you want to fly. If you fly at times when there is likely to be ATC around (ie evening local time in the region you are flying) then there is a very good chance that you will get at least some ATC - maybe not complete coverage at both ends and all the way through, but you will usually get something. Trying to rush in to a flight based on attempting to get wall to wall ATC on an average evening is almost guaranteed to end is disappointment.

Equally: I’m the first to appreciate that we all have busy lives, but I also wonder how some people manage to live apparently never having a clue what they’re doing literally from one minute to the next.

Nobody is holding a gun to anybody’s head and saying “you must control from 1800 to 2000 every Tuesday evening”. Clearly, also, emergencies and unforeseen events can happen which mean that people have to log off early and nobody is suggesting that VATSIM must take priority.

However, I don’t think it’s totally unreasonable to think that one ought, more often than not, to have a general idea of how long one intends to spend controlling. I mean, I am very far from the most organised person in the world, but I know what time I get home from work, so know what time my wife is liable to get home from work, I know what time we have dinner, I know what our regular commitments are, I know what time my favourite TV show is on, I know what time I need to go to bed, etc etc etc and taking all those things and others in to consideration I know roughly how much time I have available and how I intend to spend it, whether that’s controlling/flying on VATSIM, going to the pub or anything else. Unless your life is entirely chaotic all of the time, surely you must have some sense of what you are intending to do with your evening?

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31 minutes ago, Simon Kelsey said:

surely you must have some sense of what you are intending to do with your evening?

For me, it's not that I don't know how much time I'll have to control. It's more a question of being free to change my plans if I decide that I want to do something different, without worrying about breaking a commitment to be online until a specified time, and possibly disappointing a pilot that chose their route based on my planned logoff time.

In other words, it's not about the ability to carve out a block of time, it's about the desire to do so. I only do so for events, where the rest of the team is relying on me to staff a position for a set period of time.

That being said, I haven't been an active controller for quite some time ... hoping to get back into it after I get CRC to a usable state. Then, maybe I'll feel differently ... who knows? :classic_smile:

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In addition to what Ross says, there are times where I plan to jump on and control but then get nearer to that time and can't actually be bothered.   At the moment I'm working two jobs, sometimes I'm busy with one, the other or both and really am not in the mood when I've got free time.  The nature of one of those jobs is that I may have to deal with something for a customer at short notice - we don't all live 9-5...

Similarly, there are times where I've logged on intending to do 90-120 minutes on a position but 45 mins in, I've lost the desire.  I'll always hold on until the hour's done but why should I stay on longer when I don't want to?  

Trevor Hannant

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As another pilot, I really do appreciate a controller posting an expected logoff time.  I do not consider it a commitment, I can't even imagine getting annoyed with someone for not sticking to it.... this is just a hobby, for all of us.  

I look at it being the controller equivalent of a flight plan.  Controllers can see filed and active flight plans of pilots.  Now, there's no obligation for a pilot to "stick to" that flight plan; things can come up, you can change your mind etc... we all know these things happen.  But, it's at least *something* that can be used for a controller's planning.  "Ok, looks like I'll have a bank of arrivals starting in about 20 minutes, should quiet down about 20 mins after that..."  

It is really nice when pilots have *something* to use for planning purposes.  Anyone who considers that time (or anything on here) as a commitment would be a little delusional... but it is really nice to have something, ANYTHING to go on.  I often am getting on for a flight around 0600z (I'm west coast US so that's 10pm,) and I'll often see a west coast center and an east coast center online.  I have to play a guessing game as to who might be sticking around longer.  "Let's see, this guy has been on an hour longer than the other one, but it's a lot earlier yet on the west coast..."  It's nice to have some clue, ANY clue, as to what the right choice might be.  Similar to what controllers have when they browse pilot flight plans. 

Just my 2 cents.  Thanks to the folks who do post their best guess at a time! 

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On 2/1/2022 at 12:29 PM, Martin Loxbo said:

If you're still talking about Finland the other day, I remember seeing them online from early afternoon (12Z ish). That means they had been online for at least 3-4 hours when they logged off. The only advice I can give to avoid disappointment in such a situation is to check how long ATC has been online, unless it's a booked session.

I don't remember which day, specifically, but yes, I do check how long they've been on and will tend to avoid locations that have been active for many hours to increase the chances that a controller is there when I am.

On 2/1/2022 at 1:21 PM, Dace Nicmane said:

Also keep in mind that the information about how long a controller has been online could be misleading. They may have been disconnected from internet or have had to restart their controller client and just reconnected.

Of course, especially today. It's been rough for everybody.

On 2/1/2022 at 5:12 PM, Kirk Christie said:

I'm sorry but this comment doesn't fly, if I want to log off because I've had enough then I will do that, I'm not going to stick around just to please the pilots, even if it's before my estimated log off time.

What can I say that you would agree with?

Logging off 'because you've had enough' is a very different statement if it's clarified by "but there was only 1 scheduled flight for the next hour" or "but there are 9 flights coming in over the next 30 minutes." In the former case, I have no complaints, even with an estimated logoff time posted. In the latter case, it's a lack of consideration for those pilots, who often spend hours at the computer for even a short flight. The VATSIM rules of conduct are very clear about not leaving the virtual cockpit, but controllers can just come and go if they get bored?

On 2/1/2022 at 5:21 PM, Kirk Christie said:

You have pretty much just garenteed that I will never put in my estimated log off time.

Then can you at least post a list of where you control so I don't fly there? When I said I expect a controller to stick to their commitment, it should be obvious I don't mean "you better not leave a single minute before that time, even if something major comes up." If you're controlling, the estimated time is 21z, and someone has an emergency at 2015z, then log off and take care of what you need to. If it's 2015z and there are some flights in your airspace and you decide there's an interesting YouTube video you want to want, then maybe put that off until later. I really, really don't think my expectation is unreasonable.

18 hours ago, Andrew Crowley said:

As another pilot, I really do appreciate a controller posting an expected logoff time.  I do not consider it a commitment, I can't even imagine getting annoyed with someone for not sticking to it.... this is just a hobby, for all of us.  

I look at it being the controller equivalent of a flight plan.  Controllers can see filed and active flight plans of pilots.  Now, there's no obligation for a pilot to "stick to" that flight plan; things can come up, you can change your mind etc... we all know these things happen.  But, it's at least *something* that can be used for a controller's planning.  "Ok, looks like I'll have a bank of arrivals starting in about 20 minutes, should quiet down about 20 mins after that..."  

It is really nice when pilots have *something* to use for planning purposes.  Anyone who considers that time (or anything on here) as a commitment would be a little delusional... but it is really nice to have something, ANYTHING to go on.  I often am getting on for a flight around 0600z (I'm west coast US so that's 10pm,) and I'll often see a west coast center and an east coast center online.  I have to play a guessing game as to who might be sticking around longer.  "Let's see, this guy has been on an hour longer than the other one, but it's a lot earlier yet on the west coast..."  It's nice to have some clue, ANY clue, as to what the right choice might be.  Similar to what controllers have when they browse pilot flight plans. 

Just my 2 cents.  Thanks to the folks who do post their best guess at a time! 

Well-said, on both sides. Pilots need to do significant planning and the mind-game of "which of these controllers is likely to be on longer" is a tricky one that I play often, especially flying Transcons in the USA. Controllers can't anticipate traffic levels if it's not a scheduled event and I absolutely sympathize with someone who volunteers their time and has 1 flights come in over a 2-hour shift at the position.

On 2/2/2022 at 9:10 AM, Robert Shearman Jr said:

... or, I log on intending to control 3 hours, but 90 minutes in there's absolutely no traffic... now I'm gonna get bad feedback from the one person who was enroute from hundreds of miles away if I log off and decide to fly instead?

I don't have a problem with no traffic, since you're not directly impacting anybody. However, if there's no traffic 'right now' and you have several flights scheduled for the last 40 minutes if your planned shift, then I would hope you have the consideration to come back around then and provide the ATC those pilots were looking forward to when they planned the flight.

On 2/1/2022 at 8:38 PM, Ross Carlson said:

For me, it's not that I don't know how much time I'll have to control. It's more a question of being free to change my plans if I decide that I want to do something different, without worrying about breaking a commitment to be online until a specified time, and possibly disappointing a pilot that chose their route based on my planned logoff time.

In other words, it's not about the ability to carve out a block of time, it's about the desire to do so. I only do so for events, where the rest of the team is relying on me to staff a position for a set period of time.

That being said, I haven't been an active controller for quite some time ... hoping to get back into it after I get CRC to a usable state. Then, maybe I'll feel differently ... who knows? :classic_smile:

If there's no desire, then don't log on in the first place. Effectively, you're saying "my boredom in this is more important the enjoyment of VATSIM for the pilots in my airspace." It's inconsiderate to the pilots who really look forward to having ATC on their flights. [Obviously, an unexpected emergency or unusual situation is a totally different story]

On 2/1/2022 at 5:47 PM, Trevor Hannant said:

Or may have had something unexpected come up and HAVE to bail...  After all, this is a hobby, not a job...  

I'll happily accept donations from pilots who feel I have to be on at a certain time, for a certain length or for a certain committed timescale to cover for anything that may happen elsewhere that perhaps needs my attention.

I'll never criticize someone for having to leave due to something unexpected or urgent. After all, I've disconnected flights for unexpected reasons in the past as well. However, disconnecting "because bored" or "I can go get a beer with my friends" is a very different situation. If a pilot disconnects, they only inconvenience themselves. If a controller disconnects (especially an FIR controller) then it can annoy dozens of pilots.

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28 minutes ago, Antonis Panayotatos said:

Logging off 'because you've had enough' is a very different statement if it's clarified by "but there was only 1 scheduled flight for the next hour" or "but there are 9 flights coming in over the next 30 minutes." In the former case, I have no complaints, even with an estimated logoff time posted. In the latter case, it's a lack of consideration for those pilots, who often spend hours at the computer for even a short flight.

I do think you have unreasonable expectations, and saying you have complaints sounds quite harsh with regard to volunteers that the controllers are. When a controller is on, the traffic increases, both inbound and outbound, so should the controller stay on forever? It's totally up to the controllers if they want to use the opportunity of 9 inbound flights or not. Think about places like London or Amsterdam where 9 inbound flights in 30 minutes is really nothing special. I think you should adjust your mentality a little and learn to enjoy coordinating with other pilots when you happen to find yourself on unicom. Or alternatively, fly events. 

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46 minutes ago, Antonis Panayotatos said:

Effectively, you're saying "my boredom in this is more important the enjoyment of VATSIM for the pilots in my airspace." It's inconsiderate to the pilots who really look forward to having ATC on their flights.

You are forgetting that Controllers do this for fun too -- you're acting like ATC is something you are owed.  Controllers aren't getting paid, so if a controller is bored he or she has EVERY right to log off.  Pilots look forward to ATC, ATC look forward to pilots.  If one is on without the other and they're bored, I don't expect either of them to stick around out of consideration for who MAY be there later.

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-R.

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If there's no desire, then don't log on in the first place.

That's absurd. My lack of desire to carve out a block of time and commit to it is totally separate from my desire to log on and control.

2 hours ago, Antonis Panayotatos said:

Effectively, you're saying "my boredom in this is more important the enjoyment of VATSIM for the pilots in my airspace." It's inconsiderate to the pilots who really look forward to having ATC on their flights. [Obviously, an unexpected emergency or unusual situation is a totally different story]

Yes, when it comes to how I spend my free time, my own enjoyment is more important than the enjoyment of others. This is true of all of us. Anyone that says otherwise is either virtue-signaling, deluded, or both.

And if you think that a controller that logs off is being "inconsiderate to the pilots who really look forward to having ATC on their flights", then you should also think that it's inconsiderate for pilots to not fly in my airspace ... after all, I was really looking forward to having pilots to control. :classic_rolleyes:

Edited by Ross Carlson
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4 hours ago, Antonis Panayotatos said:

The VATSIM rules of conduct are very clear about not leaving the virtual cockpit, but controllers can just come and go if they get bored?

Not the same thing, I'm not leaving with my connection still there, I'm disconnecting because I don't want to control any more. If you don't want to fly any more, disconnect, no one is stopping you.

These two are not in anyway comparable.

You are suggesting I stick around and do something I don't want to do any more because you you've put in the effort to plan a flight.

That my enjoyment is less important than that of others on the network.

I control because I want to, not because you want me to.

 

4 hours ago, Antonis Panayotatos said:

Then can you at least post a list of where you control so I don't fly there?

This would be a breach of the undercover ATC code of conduct so no.

 

Yes your expectations are unreasonable, I might even log off to go play DCS, and thats my choice, not yours.

No one ever holds pilots accountable for their avoidance of ATC. There is are multiple threads in this forum of pilots complaining about ATC being where they didn't want ATC. It's a struggle to keep up with pilot demands 🤷‍♂️🤦‍♂️

This is my favourite 

 

Edited by Kirk Christie
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Kirk Christie - VATPAC C3

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Worldflight Perth 737-800 Crew Member

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5 hours ago, Dace Nicmane said:

 I think you should adjust your mentality a little and learn to enjoy coordinating with other pilots when you happen to find yourself on unicom. Or alternatively, fly events. 

I flew an event today (or, rather, I flew from one airport having a weekly planned ATC coverage to another with it) and it was great, so I definitely do this when I can.

4 hours ago, Robert Shearman Jr said:

You are forgetting that Controllers do this for fun too -- you're acting like ATC is something you are owed.  Controllers aren't getting paid, so if a controller is bored he or she has EVERY right to log off.  Pilots look forward to ATC, ATC look forward to pilots.  If one is on without the other and they're bored, I don't expect either of them to stick around out of consideration for who MAY be there later.

I absolutely do not think I am owed ATC. I am certainly not expecting ATC to be available for my entire flight, every time. I agree that's unreasonable. I am not expecting all airports to randomly be covered on the off chance someone wants to fly there. But I don't think it's unreasonable to hope that, if an airport which is already covered is busy, the controller will stay on until those flights are clear, or post an estimated log-off time so pilots can amend their plans if they want.

3 hours ago, Ross Carlson said:

That's absurd. My lack of desire to carve out a block of time and commit to it is totally separate from my desire to log on and control.

Yes, when it comes to how I spend my free time, my own enjoyment is more important than the enjoyment of others. This is true of all of us. Anyone that says otherwise is either virtue-signaling, deluded, or both.

And if you think that a controller that logs off is being "inconsiderate to the pilots who really look forward to having ATC on their flights", then you should also think that it's inconsiderate for pilots to not fly in my airspace ... after all, I was really looking forward to having pilots to control. :classic_rolleyes:

You know I was specifically talking about your desire to control, not your 'desire to carve out a block of time.' I totally understand that it much be very frustrating to log on to control and not have any flights in your area and yes, I do agree that it's inconsiderate for a pilot to file a flight plan at a controlled airport and then either not show up or disconnect before arriving.

1 hour ago, Kirk Christie said:

Not the same thing, I'm not leaving with my connection still there, I'm disconnecting because I don't want to control any more. If you don't want to fly any more, disconnect, no one is stopping you.

These two are not in anyway comparable.

You are suggesting I stick around and do something I don't want to do any more because you you've put in the effort to plan a flight.

That my enjoyment is less important than that of others on the network.

I control because I want to, not because you want me to.

 

This would be a breach of the undercover ATC code of conduct so no.

 

Yes your expectations are unreasonable, I might even log off to go play DCS, and thats my choice, not yours.

No one ever holds pilots accountable for their avoidance of ATC. There is are multiple threads in this forum of pilots complaining about ATC being where they didn't want ATC. It's a struggle to keep up with pilot demands

That last thread you link is ludicrous. Pilots should certainly not avoid ATC if they're playing logged on and I never, ever said that pilots should expect a location to be manned.

 

I don't have a problem with being told I'm unreasonable, I just don't want my words to get twisted or have my point misunderstood. My only point, through all of this, is that I wish controllers would post estimated log-off times (even if it's 15 minutes from now, I didn't say it had to be HOURS from now) and that controllers at a busy location should consider the courtesy of not leaving pilots suddenly without ATC when they were hoping to have it.

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9 minutes ago, Antonis Panayotatos said:

You know I was specifically talking about your desire to control, not your 'desire to carve out a block of time.'

Yet you quoted me talking about my desire to carve out a block of time, not my desire to control. Context is important.

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The controller may be bored when there's no traffic or they may be tired when there is. Keep in mind intense controlling is a very demanding task that requires a lot of concentration (which is why rw controllers have to take a break every couple of hours). Add to this there are a lot of VATSIM pilots who can't be bothered to grab a chart which is completely free and the controller may have simply gotten frustrated with pilot quality. Whatever the reason, everyone has a right to log off when they're no longer having fun. Or what would be their reason to stay? Commitment? They already do it for events, so asking to do it every day is like asking a bit too much.

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Here is my 2 cents:

 

ATC in VATSIM, most of the times is EPIC. 

I saw so many different controllers in different airports doing such a great job keeping our hobby even more fun. These guys are doing the stressful part and having fun as well, as you enjoy the view and the realistic radio chatter inside your flight deck. 

The controllers also have family and other things to do, like you pilot. Sometimes something happens and I have to finish my flight because RL is calling. Same with them. All I do when they disconnect is say thank you and see ya next time! There will always be a next time! If you keep using the network frequently, you'll get it more and more, specially if following events and bookings as said before.

I know it's not good to arrive from a flight using Unicom and when you arrive at the gate you see APP connected. Happened soooo many times but well, it is what it is. Happened a few times too to plan a random flight with no ATC at all and you end up having full ATC all the way. So just go with the flow.

 

If there is no ATC in the flow, I think it still fun flying online and seeing other planes around and knowing this plane is actually someone else sitting there doing the same funny thing you're doing looking at your PC, and not programmed traffic. You see different liveries and sometimes RW flight numbers that you end up discovering just because you're flying around. 

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My last word on this topic, at least for this month...

Whether you are a pilot online providing traffic for the benefit of a controller, or a controller online providing ATC for one or more pilots, you are doing so completely freely, voluntarily, and at your own whim.  Some may stay on longer than others.  Some may publish an anticiapted end time, some may not.  Some may participate in sites or services which allow them to publish in advance when they will be on, and some do not.  Some who publish these things ahead of time may stick to those (percieved) "commitments" and some may not.  And each individual may do those things one day but not another, depending on a wide variety of changing circumstances from one connection to the next.

Regardless of how much or how little of the above you get from someone, keep in mind you got it for free, and completely voluntarily, without having to ask.  I think that makes it a bit rude, then, to come here feeling "irked" that someone didn't give more than they did.

Thank you and goodnight.

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I too look at vattastic.com to check where there is ATC-coverage and if I find two airports for a nice little 2 hours gate-2-gate flight (where the airport in real-live and the charts have the same layout as the airport in MSFS. Apologies and deepest respect to the ground and twr controllers in ORD the other day).

Planning a flight then pre-filing, printing minimum paperwork (1st page of flightplan), loading the sim takes a good 15 minutes.

By then a lot can happen, and the controllers on the departure end may have disappeared. 

The controllers on the destination end are still online, so self announce and departure on Unicom.

Enroute more controllers disappear, after all this is only a hobby and nobody pays us.

If I'm lucky I the controllers stay online, if not.. Well.... Unicom sometimes is even more fun than ATC, but generally I prefer ATC.

So I figured... People are creatures of habbit, just as I'm flying between a limited set of airports, controllers usually staff the same positions (enforced by the no-opensky policy for controllers)

So assuming a controller follows a rhythm/cadence/whatever, I should be able to run a probability on that position being staffed at a certain time in the future.

A controller that is online as BOS_TWR every friday between 1800 and 1930 for 4 fridays in a row is likely to be online a 5th friday as well.

Back almost a decade ago when I was on controller-side of the radar-screen (on the other network) I came up with some code (Shell and Perl) to create a datalake for that, and to get that data out from that lake and put it into a spreadsheet. I kept adding data to the lake, but stopped analyzing it quite some time ago.

So I took the old code and modified it for Vatsim and it's scheme of callsigns. Next I pumped the vatsim-part of that datalake into my database and came up with the attached two files.

Each row is one callsign, each column is a 10 minute block. The value is the percentage of online presence for that callsign in that slot for the time period of the page

So for Atlanta Approach (ATL_APP) I "predict" a 50:50 chance of coverage next wednesday between midnight and 1:20 (utc) if I'm only taking into accound wednesdays.

If I take look at the last 7 days, then the percentage goes up there is a pretty good chance of coverage tonight.

 

You can find the full Spreadsheets at https://cdn.onlineflying.net/ATC-Indiscriminate.xlsx and at https://cdn.onlineflying.net/ATC-weeks-Wednesday.xlsx

I haven't automated the nightly creation yet (that code is still somewhere in my backups from a decade ago), but if enough request come in (or likes), I'll invest that time.

 

Ralph

 

 

ATC_daily_excerpt.pdf ATC-Wednesday_Excerpt.pdf

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51 minutes ago, Andreas Fuchs said:

Exactly this (statistics) is also done by "vroute", alongside with data from VATBOOK.

The way I understand the vroute website, it takes the current flights and computes the times a given flight will be in the various airspaces along its filed route.

It doesn't mention taking past online sessions (pilot or controller) into account. Only current and booked flights.

For controllers it only show currently online stations and booked sessions.

I have a different approach.

I look at past sessions and assume a probability of a future session.

So If a controller is online 4 wednesday nights  in a row as ATL_APP, my assumption is that he'll be there in week 5 as well, and will show a 100% probability for the slots he covered in those past 4 weeks. If he only to made 3 of the 4 past weeks, there'd be a 75% chance of him being online in week 5.

I run two version of the script. one looks at daily cadences, the other also pays attention to the weekday the session was on.

 

Cheers

Ralph

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