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Ghost mode?


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Hi all,

Inspired quite a bit by the POSCON network, I would like to suggest that VATSIM also enables a Ghost mode. Personally i can see several benefits.
It would differ from observing mode, in that you would still appear on maps, but not on anyones TCAS or radar scopes. The immediate benefit would be that you didn't have to log off from the network in order to leave your station for more than 30 minutes. You would simply put yourself in a Ghosting mode. Being still represented on the map means that you can still follow your flight while you are away from the flightdeck, with a phone or similar, but more importantly, you can see whether you will log on in the middle of controlled space. I know that we have the observer mode, which is basically the same (except that you don't show on the map), but you can't switch this around without logging off.

Is this something worth considering?

Sincerely,

Michael

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Mhmmm, 

This topic was already brought up but in a different way. 

When I control I see a lot of pilot bothered by me. Like they are on the ground and when I connect, they disconnect immediatly. This would just reduce pilot presence on the network. In a possible scenario when a pilot is flying and they see, let's say, Langen Radar coming online, they would just ghost, cross the airspace, unghost all with hours counted.

There is no point in flying online if you don't actively partecipate to the network in my opinion.

Kindly,

 

Edited by Filippo Genoni
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Genoni Filippo - S1

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Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, Filippo Genoni said:

Mhmmm, 

This topic was already brought up but in a different way. 

When I control I see a lot of pilot bothered by me. Like they are on the ground and when I connect, they disconnect immediatly. This would just reduce pilot presence on the network. In a possible scenario when a pilot is flying and they see, let's say, Langen Radar coming online, they would just ghost, cross the airspace, unghost all with hours counted.

There is no point in flying online if you don't actively partecipate to the network in my opinion.

Kindly,

 

Sure, but to be frank, the end result, whether they go into Ghost mode or just simply log off and track their flight until they are on the other end of the controlled airspace, will be the same. I honestly don't see the difference.

Other than it will give the pilots the ability to see where they are in relation to the network when leaving the flightdeck, it will also give the controllers an option to put unresponsive pilots into Ghost mode. In my opinion it won't really change anything for the controllers (an offline pilot doesn't differ from a Ghosted pilot, in the sense of interaction with a controller), but it will give pilots a lot more flexibility and make it a lot more simple. If you leave the flightdeck, be it 5 minutes, 10 minutes or 1 hour, when in uncontrolled space, you go into Ghost mode. When in controlled space, you can also ask the ATC. 

I don't see the issue with counted hours, but even if so, you could just make a separate account for Ghosted hours and even so, not let them count at all. As it is now, hours as an observer does also count.

But the point with Ghosted mode would also more be that you can "disconnect" from the network for a extended amount of time, then come back and watch where you are in relation to controlled space and if unghosting in controlled space, prepare yourself mentally and the plane for that scenario. Also, nomatter how unlikely it might be, I always fear that I will connect to the network on top of another plane and then create havoc. Here I can see my plane in relation to the other planes (on a map) and wait to unghost until I am clear. 

It will also give the controller an idea of what is going on, since they wont just have a "blip" appear in the middle of the scope, but will have the ability to see the ghosted plane (differently) and maybe direct the other planes in a way so that they won't "crash" in case the plane unghosts. 

So, I do see the drawbacks that you mention, but I still believe the benefits far outweigh them. 

./Michael

Edited by Michael Flemming Hansen
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Why clutter the screen with ghost pilots? If you don't want to participate in the fun - your decision, I'll respect that, but then you don't have any businees on the network - and to be a thad more direct: In my opinion, pilots logging off, when coming to controlled airspace and then logon when on the opposite side, should be banned from the network, as they are defying the purpose of a (social) network.

regards

Edited by Torben Andersen
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Torben Andersen, VACC-SCA Controller (C1)

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2 minutes ago, Torben Andersen said:

Why clutter the screen with ghost pilots? If you don't want to participate in the fun - your decision, I'll respect that, but then you don't have any businees on the network

regards

It still seems like you are missing the point of the function, which you already can do in observer mode. You can already log into observer mode and fly around, if you like. 

The main purpose of this function is to give pilots a way to be associated with the network while they are unresponsive. The main issue with logging off is, as I see it, that you and the controller at hand, doesn't have any idea essentially where you are logging on again wrt. the network. From the controllers standpoint, I don't see the difference between a ghosted pilot or an offline pilot. Both are pilots that the controller can't interact with. The only outcome is that the network is more inflexible.

I also don't fully agree on your sentiment. While I agree that the main purpose of the network is interaction between controllers and pilots, I do also see that there can be purpose in flying in ghosted mode, while monitoring the network and getting a feel for it. But to reiterate, the main purpose won't be for pilots to fly ghosted, but to give pilots a way to leave the cockpit for an extended period without having to disconnect. An extended period should not be counted as from takeoff to landing, but maybe an extended period during cruise. 

./Michael

 

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16 minutes ago, Torben Andersen said:

Why clutter the screen with ghost pilots? If you don't want to participate in the fun - your decision, I'll respect that, but then you don't have any businees on the network - and to be a thad more direct: In my opinion, pilots logging off, when coming to controlled airspace and then logon when on the opposite side, should be banned from the network, as they are defying the purpose of a (social) network.

regards

There can be a million good reasons that a pilot, in a particular situation, doesn't want to interact with a controller at a specific moment in time, but if you repeatedly do the same thing I agree. The thing is though, you can't really prove it. There can be very good reasons for logging off (again, since this is the only way you can leave the cockpit for an extended period), You would need to be able to prove malintent.

A very concrete example of the benefit, could be me flying a NA route. When I enter the Atlantic there is no controller online and in the meanwhile I have some other stuff I need to attend to. As it is now, I my only option is to log off and then try to guestimate whether I am within a certain controllers range or not when I come back again. 
If I was in ghosted mode and could see myself on a map wrt. to the different FIR's, I could prepare myself mentally when logging on into controlled space. Likewise, the controller can see me wrt. to the network and then also be prepared that I might go unghosted while inside his FIR. 

I can, of course, only speak on my own behalf. Both as a pilot and a controller, I would like to have this option. And to throw you a bone. It would be a lot easier to "prove" this malintent if you can actually see that some pilots strategically and continuously ghost right before controlled space and unghost right after, because they are tracked while doing so. 

./Michael

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7 minutes ago, Torben Andersen said:

Perhaps I've seen too many pilots only trying to earn hours for their VA, while not really wanting to be a part of the show. 

That I can certainly agree with, but that could be easily remedied by counted ghosted hours separately, just like with observer mode. 

./Michael

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22 minutes ago, Torben Andersen said:

You can easily see, if a controller is online before connecting - e.g. using VATSPY.

Yes, I know. I use VATPrism, but the functionality is the same. The issue is that you can't see yourself wrt. the controller. I am here referring to when you are already in the air. When you log on initially, you obviously know if there is a controller online at your airport. This is not exactly the case I have in mind. 

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You can use a bit of flight planning here, let’s take a look at Karachi FIR:

15E97176-DB68-4700-8E87-22A86D1F4BF1.thumb.jpeg.7331d407fde77a0338f4abcdd3d36735.jpeg

If you have “KABIM” in your flight plan, you will know that at “KABIM” you will have to contact Karachi Control.

Also, Simbrief does the same thing, this is a flight plan from EIDW to EPWA:

6393420D-DEBE-4D7D-85D6-CF329FED5BA5.thumb.jpeg.dea6168e0daa8dc95e80535536ae7b3b.jpeg

Simbrief tells us when we change airspace. So if you see EHAA Control online you can connect and contact him just before “REDFA” in this case.
 

Hope this helps,

Edited by Filippo Genoni

Genoni Filippo - S1

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I think there could be some benefits of a ghost mode, but I'm not sure if it's something that pilots should be able to opt into. This is just a vague feeling, but it seems like that might encourage more "passive participation" and that's not a good thing. So perhaps ghost mode should be something that only supervisors can enable, for a pilot that is disruptive. That will allow the supervisor to prevent the pilot from causing any more problems, because the ghosted pilot would not appear for other pilots, and controllers would see them perhaps in a muted color, and be able to toggle them on/off. Then, the sup could unghost the pilot once the situation has been resolved and the controller approves of it. Or, perhaps the controller could unghost the pilot directly. The benefit here is that the pilot is still connected and thus can still have a conversation with the sup to get the issue resolved.

I don't actually perform supervisor duties on the network (my SUP rating is only honorary since I used to be on the BoG), so I don't know if this is a solution looking for a problem, but I thought I'd throw it out there.

Obviously, this doesn't address the OP's concern about having the ghosted pilot show up on maps so that they can easily determine if they will cause any issues if they unghost in their current location. I do think there's value to that, but maybe there are other ways to achieve the same goal. One of the things I've considered for vPilot is to have a user-toggleable feature where the connection starts in observer mode, and then the pilot presses a button somewhere to "go live" and this reconnects vPilot in normal mode. That way you can see the in-range controllers and nearby pilots while in observer mode, before connecting for real. I do realize that this would not be as nice as seeing your location on a map, to quickly see if you're in controlled airspace or near other pilots. However, we have to realize that that's not a perfect solution either, since the coverage areas depicted on the maps are not totally accurate, and the pilot positions are somewhat delayed.

And something I'm planning to add to VAT-Spy is the ability to read your location through SimConnect, and display it on the VAT-Spy map. This would accomplish the same goal. Obviously, this is only helpful for VAT-Spy users, and users of a SimConnect sim like FSX, P3D, or MSFS. (Though I could also add support for reading your location from other sims.)

I don't use tools like Volanta ... do they show VATSIM controller coverage? If so, that would be another way to solve the issue.

1 hour ago, Michael Flemming Hansen said:

If you leave the flightdeck, be it 5 minutes, 10 minutes or 1 hour, when in uncontrolled space, you go into Ghost mode.

I don't think we'd want pilots to be ghosted literally any time they leave the flight deck. If they're just stepping away for two minutes for a bathroom break or to grab a snack, I don't think they should disappear from other pilot's sims.

Developer: vPilot, VRC, vSTARS, vERAM, VAT-Spy

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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Simply put, all of the reasons you have for allowing ghost mode are the exact reasons why we don’t have it. 

Don’t forget that whist VATSIM is free to all, there is a cost associated with providing the service. The people that pay the bills are more than happy to pay that cost for people who are actively participating in the network. They do not want to spend money on bandwidth that is not being used to enhance and enrich the experience for all users. If you’re ghosted, avoiding atc, etc, you are not participating in the community and should not be connected wasting donated resources. 

Remember that VATSIM is not a logbook. It is a platform to bring pilots and air traffic controllers together. It’s not a large ask by the people who provide the resources for the network. If you’re not actively using it, please disconnect. If you are, then they’re happy to allow you to participate.

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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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7 hours ago, Michael Flemming Hansen said:

There can be a million good reasons that a pilot, in a particular situation, doesn't want to interact with a controller at a specific moment in time,

What ever those reasons are, good or other wise if a pilot doesn't want to interact with ATC, there is a simple "ghost" mode button they can use, its called disconnect.

7 hours ago, Michael Flemming Hansen said:

It still seems like you are missing the point of the function

It seems you are missing the point of the function of the network.

For what reason do you need to maintain a connection to the network when you are not at your computer?

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Kirk Christie - VATPAC C3

VATPAC Undercover ATC Agent

Worldflight Perth 737-800 Crew Member

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Kirk Christie said:

What ever those reasons are, good or other wise if a pilot doesn't want to interact with ATC, there is a simple "ghost" mode button they can use, its called disconnect.

Sure. but that doesn't change anything for the ATC's. Like I have said a couple of times now. Also, they can fly as observer. 

7 hours ago, Kirk Christie said:

It seems you are missing the point of the function of the network.

For what reason do you need to maintain a connection to the network when you are not at your computer?

No, I do get the point of the network, but again, from an ATC's point of view would there be no difference between a ghosted pilot and a disconnected pilot. Both are out of reach for the ATC. 

I do also believe I have stated several times now where I see the benefit in maintaining a connection. The point is not the ability to fly on the network without having to interact with ATC (which you already can), but to give a lot more flexibility in leaving the computer but still having the ability to track your position wrt. the network. 

./Michael 

Edited by Michael Flemming Hansen
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13 hours ago, Ross Carlson said:

I don't think we'd want pilots to be ghosted literally any time they leave the flight deck. If they're just stepping away for two minutes for a bathroom break or to grab a snack, I don't think they should disappear from other pilot's sims.

True and that was also not my intent. I think I edited that comment. The idea is that you can use the ghost function if you are in uncontrolled space and can't be sure that a controller will come online, while you are away. And also, the previously mentioned reasons.

./Michael

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3 hours ago, Michael Flemming Hansen said:

do also believe I have stated several times now where I see the benefit in maintaining a connection. The point is not the ability to fly on the network without having to interact with ATC (which you already can), but to give a lot more flexibility in leaving the computer but still having the ability to track your position wrt. the network.

Okay so, what's the point of tracking your aircraft when you are away from home sorry? 

I honestly fail to understand that.

Kindly,

Edited by Filippo Genoni
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Genoni Filippo - S1

1479767

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It's really really simple:

VATSIM is not an online flight log / flight tracker.

If you want to track your flight while offline (for which I guess there are valid use cases, like monitoring your flight progress while doing other things away from the computer), there are plenty of ways to do that outside of VATSIM; I don't see what good could possibly come from VATSIM doubling in that role.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Filippo Genoni said:

Okay so, what's the point of tracking your aircraft when you are away from home sorry? 

The point is, seen from my perspective, is that you can get a pretty good and live picture of where you are in relation to 1) other aircrafts and 2) online ATC's. I am obviously seeing this from my perspective and I would really like to know where I am precisely wrt. other aircrafts on Vatsim and controllers, before I come online. As of now, this is not really possible because even logging on as Observer won't show you on the map.

Edited by Michael Flemming Hansen
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2 hours ago, Tobias Dammers said:

It's really really simple:

VATSIM is not an online flight log / flight tracker.

If you want to track your flight while offline (for which I guess there are valid use cases, like monitoring your flight progress while doing other things away from the computer), there are plenty of ways to do that outside of VATSIM; I don't see what good could possibly come from VATSIM doubling in that role.

Sorry, but this is getting a bit tiresome. Please state just one sentence where I have suggested that Vatsim is or should become a flight tracker. If you want to discuss my idea, then please discuss what my idea actually is. 

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I understand what your idea is - "observer mode", except you are still visible on some clients, but not on others.

And the purpose you stated was so that you could see yourself on a map while not being connected to the network "for real". That's "flight tracking" - you're monitoring (tracking) the status of your flight. But you're not interacting with anyone, and the only purpose of having your flight somehow semi-visible on the network is so that you, the pilot, can see it on a map.

But you can already do that in observer mode, or even when not connected at all. For example, see attached a screenshot of a little thing I put together in a weekend - it shows me ("DLH123", marked in red) parked at EDDF; I'm not connected, I don't even have the pilot client running, but it shows VATSIM traffic and controllers from the public data streams just fine. If I were connected in observer mode, then it would show VATSIM traffic at faster update rates, based on the actual VATSIM connection, but even when disconnected, it shows VATSIM traffic with the same accuracy as map.vatsim.net and similar tools. There really is no need for a whole new connection mode just for this.

scrot.png

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Michael, for what it's worth, I think you were quite clear about the reasons behind your suggestion. It's not for flight tracking, and it's not just so that you can see yourself on a map. I imagine you're well aware of the many tools that exist for those purposes. None of those tools provide what you're looking for, namely the ability to see your aircraft's actual location relative to other pilots and ATC, before you "reconnect".

I'm still against the idea for reasons I stated before, but at least I addressed your actual suggestion. :classic_smile:

Developer: vPilot, VRC, vSTARS, vERAM, VAT-Spy

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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You can achieve this kind of situational awareness with

without the need of being actively connected to VATSIM. Your SIM will be connected to these programs so you can see where you are in the world and both programs can also show you areas of active ATC and other VATSIM pilots. That would be a solution to you.

Edited by Andreas Fuchs
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