Jump to content
Gregory Sumner 883451

Attracting and Keeping Controllers

Recommended Posts

I started a new post to offer some comments about a subject brought up. If I recall correctly, I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong:), VATSIM gains around 150 new members a day or month. Out of these new members, only 1-2% choose to attempt ATC. That is a small percentage but not a hard one to understand.

 

To become a pilot on VATSIM, you buy your copy of FS9 or FSx, connect to the internet, obtain your VATSIM ID, and away you go into the virtual wild blue yonder. Does not matter if you can read a chart or even land the plane, you are good to go, look out controllers, here they come.

 

Now to become an air traffic controller this takes on a whole new meaning. Thier is a steep learning curve [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ociated with joining the ATC ranks. First we must learn to properly operate a new software, ASRC/VRC. Then thier are local procedures, proper phraseology, SIDS, STARS, LOA's, airspace restrictions, aircraft cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ifications and restrictions, VFR/IFR procedures, military procedures, etc...., you get the idea. Unlike pilots on here, we cannont make mistakes or deviate from the proper procedures, and we should'nt. When a controller does make a procedural mistake, you can bet feedback will be left, and the pilots will rant about it in every forum they can find. When a pilot makes mistakes, not that they do , thats life, and we as controllers handle it and move on to the next customer. The pilot does not face any consequences for thier inability to properly fly the aircraft. If they are causing a huge problem, and if you can find a supervisor, then you may get some type of action, but that is rare.

 

More than anything, I want VATSIM to remain a fun place to be and keep attracting new members. I don't want pilots or controllers suspended or discouraged from participating. It would be nice to see some type of organized pilot training and or testing instead of just having some suggested reading material available. But I would also like to win the lottery so we will see which happens first.

 

To attract more controllers, the essential ingredient is a great training program. Every controller that has ever left an ARTCC to join us at ZJX has stated that the primary reason they left was a lack of training being available. This also applies to those that have left us as well. That is why I believe that our training program is the single most important part of the ARTCC. We all must work hard to make sure that instructors and mentors are available to every new and current member to recieve the training they want and need. The majority of my focus as an ATM is to make sure that the TA is actively managing the training department and to make adjustments as needed to ensure all members are getting access to the training they seek. That training must be consistant from every instructor and follow strict guidelines. We have to ensure that every one is being taught the same level of skills. Thats were these global standards come into play.

 

If I am training my APP controllers the same as they are being taught at ZTL, etc..., then if that controller goes to Atlanta as a Visiting controller, all they need to do is become familiar with local procedures and they are good to go. To me this would be a welcome change for all of us. Thanks for letting me air my opinion, and I hope I have not caused any new controversy.

 

Greg Sumner, ATM

ZJX-ARTCC


BlackCatSignature.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would suggest new ATC will come from within existing experienced pilot ranks. Why, thats my story...

 

I joined SATCO in 1998 to fly. Back then in the UK we had dial-up and you had to pay for based on time online. Therefore my time online was limited. It wasn't until some time later as an experienced online pilot did I get the urge to do ATC.

 

This is where we should be looking for more ATC recruits, in the existing pilot base.


Vince Horan

UK DCRM, VATSIM Supervisor, Snr Controller

4003.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

To attract more controllers, the essential ingredient is a great training program. Every controller that has ever left an ARTCC to join us at ZJX has stated that the primary reason they left was a lack of training being available. This also applies to those that have left us as well. That is why I believe that our training program is the single most important part of the ARTCC. We all must work hard to make sure that instructors and mentors are available to every new and current member to recieve the training they want and need. The majority of my focus as an ATM is to make sure that the TA is actively managing the training department and to make adjustments as needed to ensure all members are getting access to the training they seek. That training must be consistant from every instructor and follow strict guidelines. We have to ensure that every one is being taught the same level of skills. Thats were these global standards come into play.

 

If I am training my APP controllers the same as they are being taught at ZTL, etc..., then if that controller goes to Atlanta as a Visiting controller, all they need to do is become familiar with local procedures and they are good to go. To me this would be a welcome change for all of us. Thanks for letting me air my opinion, and I hope I have not caused any new controversy.

 

Greg Sumner, ATM

ZJX-ARTCC

 

I've thought about this topic as well.

 

As chief from years ago, I noted the following reasons why people stop controlling:

 

change of life:

school

work: new job, moving, major projects / promotions etc..

family - marriage, babies

 

burnout from VATSIM itself - not worth my time to deal with all those newbie pilots or those who just don't listen etc..

 

seasons change - winter to spring - most people would rather be outside after being inside all winter

 

 

We don't have any control over these.

 

As most centers know, it takes time - sometimes an instructor is available for feedback, most times not leading to a student waiting a month just got to next level. I've seen students take 9 months to get to center. By that time their life has changed and the center has wasted X hours on that one student.

 

The key I always found was that the student should take their own time as well as plenty of slow concentrated studying to know and p[Mod - Happy Thoughts] a test. Countless times I've seem students fail miserably on tests because they didn't take the time to study and remember to put into practice.

 

 

======================

 

 

What I would like to see is an ATC cram course instructor led at local hotels where you go for a weekend - all day Saturday and Sunday. Obviously one of the things would be getting some time with instructors listening and giving feedback. Out of it comes several ratings from delivery to center. Obviously there are a lot of details to hash out as I don't think you could take a person with zero knowledge off the street and get them to center level in a weekend. There would have to be some prerequisites so as that one person with zero knowledge would get left behind. At the first SATCO convention, I gave one of my students a test. He p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed and was promoted to the next level. It made the convention more worthwhile for both of us. Maybe conventions in the future could offer more training and test people so they can get to the next level.


Scott Bickford

810789.png

810789.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As chief from years ago, I noted the following reasons why people stop controlling:

 

change of life:

school

work: new job, moving, major projects / promotions etc..

family - marriage, babies

 

burnout from VATSIM itself - not worth my time to deal with all those newbie pilots or those who just don't listen etc..

 

seasons change - winter to spring - most people would rather be outside after being inside all winter

 

I would agree with most of those reasons. Even myself, at one time or another, had to put less time into either flying or controlling because of one of the reasons listed above.

 

I would also add that many new controllers look at what is necessary to be good, and simply stop because it was more than what they thought. Controllers are set to a higher standard, in many respects, and it should be that way. There are those who would rather just play, and after a time, consider controlling as real work.

 

Training and availability is also key to retaining controllers. Although we shouldn't expect mentors and instructors to be available 24 hours a day, we should expect them to make time to be available. The position requires it, not because it's policy, but because it's necessary to maintain a good base of controllers on the roster.

 

Dean Hoover

ZLC Training Administrator


Dean Hoover

MTN1264 - Mountain Air Virtual Airlines

Training Administrator - Salt Lake City ARTCC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think one small reason there aren't a ton of ATC in VATUSA might be because very few ARTCCs are still accepting students. Atlanta has over 100 students/controllers and we are still accepting, yet some people who have like 20 controllers aren't accepting students.

 

Just a though.....

 

JM

Edited by Guest

Justin A. Martin

Training Administrator

VATSIM Miami ARTCC

http://www.zmaartcc.net

atc1o.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Justin - if they aren't accepting new students, it might be because they don't have the infrastructure to handle them. That is probably more responsible than accepting people and having them sit around and wait forever to get training while they spend 100 hours on delivery/ground.


Ian Elchitz

Just a guy without any fancy titles

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Justin - if they aren't accepting new students, it might be because they don't have the infrastructure to handle them. That is probably more responsible than accepting people and having them sit around and wait forever to get training while they spend 100 hours on delivery/ground.

 

Well stated, and I agree 100%, but why just stop accepting students? Why not try to create a better infastructure and create a better traing and controlling program.

 

Just my $0.02

 

JM

Edited by Guest

Justin A. Martin

Training Administrator

VATSIM Miami ARTCC

http://www.zmaartcc.net

atc1o.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Why not try to create a better infastructure and create a better traing and controlling program.

 

Ahhh,

 

If it were that easy! People's lives change...they grow, they move on. In my short time at vZBW, we've lost approximately 40% of the senior level controlling staff - including many of those who proudly served as Instructors and Mentors. We are currently well-along in rebuilding our staff and have taken measures to streamline some of our training procedures. But these things take time. Everyone's life is busy with many demands on their time and participation on VATSIM may not be the primary focus for them. This is as it should be - this is a hobby afterall.

 

MS


Gary Millsaps

VATUSA1

 

"I knew all the rules but the rules did not know me...

guaranteed."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I understand it's difficult, and most of the ARTCCs are doing a good job of changing their training for the better, however.......

 

There is an ARTCC, one which I am not going to name, which does a very poor job of even pretending to have a training staff, and it upsets me to see this normally busy and fun ARTCC to "die" for pilots and controllers because of a few people.

 

Like you said, Gary, only if it were that easy, but if 95% of the ARTCCs can have a some what good training staff/program, what makes the other 5% unable to do that?

 

JM

Edited by Guest

Justin A. Martin

Training Administrator

VATSIM Miami ARTCC

http://www.zmaartcc.net

atc1o.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with all the above. I my case I can't get the training I need to advance in ATC. I try to work it out with my instructor and he would send out his schedule to all his students and then I would send my time from his to work with him and never get a response back at all. This has been going on like this for a month now and still not receiving training at all but his other students are. I get told by him that if I am ready to train, Yes I say, ok when I get my schedule we will talk on when. SO here is it a month later and week after week this happens. It does make me wonder why I ever wanted to do ATC in the first place since I can't get training. I like to do this cause it's an experience and working with some of my controllers is a pleasure to deal with. You make friends and sometime with the pilots. Granted some do leave for other reasons but the main one I see if not getting trained and wasting time waiting for it. I don't go online in Vatsim to fly cause I am waiting to hear from my instructor on when I am training with him. I can't myself do training or flying during the weekdays cause of my RL job so the weekends are the only time I can do anything related to Vatsim. Don't get me wrong, I am not slamming my instructor about all this and not trying to put him down. I just ask for time to get training in just as much as the new arrivals get.

 

I agree also we need more trainers to compensate for new ATC students.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now......

 

I want to take two ARTCCs (with out revealing the name) and give you an example:

 

ARTCC A is probably the most successful in VATUSA. There are only 5 INS including the TA and like 2 MTR. This ARTCC is very successful.

 

ARTCC B is not very successful. They have 10 MTR, 6 INS, and still requesting more. They have the traffic, but all the INS and MTR are teaching different things. All though there are a lot of students getting to higher positions......they aren't getting the best TRAINING in the world......

 

What should that ARTCC do?

 

They should sit together and figure out a game plan. Don't just STOP accepting students and/or keep going on like you are. Find ways to make your training better. If you are staffed, doesn't mean your the best. If you don't have any INS or MTR, doesn't mean your the worst. This is a problem with a lot of ARTCCs. When the ARTCCs barely have a training program, regardless of how many INS or MTR, thats when they stop getting students.

 

Just a few thoughts to dwell on...........

 

JM


Justin A. Martin

Training Administrator

VATSIM Miami ARTCC

http://www.zmaartcc.net

atc1o.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Something for them to think about for sure. Our ARTCC is getting better and better with at least good respones from pilots and we are getting more and more traffic cause of it. Training and [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ignments for training does need to be looked at something evil. The response we get is Be Patient.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The response we get is Be Patient.

 

See, I hate that, but being a mentor, I know where it comes from. I mean, you need to be patient, but in your case it sounds like something needs to be done where ever your ARTCC is.

 

JM


Justin A. Martin

Training Administrator

VATSIM Miami ARTCC

http://www.zmaartcc.net

atc1o.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeremy,

 

I as well as the rest of the training staff have yet to receive an email regarding this matter. Please let me know how I can help. It is policy in Miami for students to work with ANY instructor/mentor, not just their [Mod - Happy Thoughts]igned one. Their [Mod - Happy Thoughts]igned instructor should be the go-to man, but in a case of conflicting schedules you should contact another member of the staff. That is exactly why we are here. If emails are getting lost or worse, ignored, it would be best to solve that matter.

 

Every single students on our roster has moved up at an appropriate (and sometime too quick) pace. Those who receive the training are the ones who we see on the scopes and who want to train. I tend not to work with a student who only wants to move up and doesn't work his certified position when an instructor is not around. I'll stop before I start ranting about everything, but its something to think about for all controllers in every ARTCC (even in the real world). Those who receive promotions and get jobs are the people who work for them and demonstrate their skills, even when the boss isn't looking. Experience is key.


Alex Bailey

ZMA I-1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Now......

 

I want to take two ARTCCs (with out revealing the name) and give you an example:

 

ARTCC A is probably the most successful in VATUSA. There are only 5 INS including the TA and like 2 MTR. This ARTCC is very successful.

 

ARTCC B is not very successful. They have 10 MTR, 6 INS, and still requesting more. They have the traffic, but all the INS and MTR are teaching different things. All though there are a lot of students getting to higher positions......they aren't getting the best TRAINING in the world......

 

What should that ARTCC do?

 

They should sit together and figure out a game plan. Don't just STOP accepting students and/or keep going on like you are. Find ways to make your training better. If you are staffed, doesn't mean your the best. If you don't have any INS or MTR, doesn't mean your the worst. This is a problem with a lot of ARTCCs. When the ARTCCs barely have a training program, regardless of how many INS or MTR, thats when they stop getting students.

 

Just a few thoughts to dwell on...........

 

JM

Practice what you preach, that's all I'm going to say.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Practice what you preach, that's all I'm going to say.

 

I am lost. Are you saying I did something or ZTL did something, or is it just out there......

 

JM

I'll leave that for you to figure out by yourself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jeremy,

 

I as well as the rest of the training staff have yet to receive an email regarding this matter. Please let me know how I can help. It is policy in Miami for students to work with ANY instructor/mentor, not just their [Mod - Happy Thoughts]igned one. Their [Mod - Happy Thoughts]igned instructor should be the go-to man, but in a case of conflicting schedules you should contact another member of the staff. That is exactly why we are here. If emails are getting lost or worse, ignored, it would be best to solve that matter.

 

Every single students on our roster has moved up at an appropriate (and sometime too quick) pace. Those who receive the training are the ones who we see on the scopes and who want to train. I tend not to work with a student who only wants to move up and doesn't work his certified position when an instructor is not around. I'll stop before I start ranting about everything, but its something to think about for all controllers in every ARTCC (even in the real world). Those who receive promotions and get jobs are the people who work for them and demonstrate their skills, even when the boss isn't looking. Experience is key.

 

Alex, I try to solve this with my Instructor first and if I can't then I will contact you very soon. I try to get on the scopes when I can if someone isn't already in the position. I do agree experience is the key. Moving up just to move up is not the same. I have been reading my material and try to put it to use. We shall see what happens.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...