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Questions about the new FNO operations


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I'm new to Vatsim. Although I registered over a year ago, I only recently started flying and have only flown about 80 hours. My home airport is KAMA (Amarillo, TX) so I planned on flying most exclusively in ZAB. I posted on the ZAB message board that I would be making plenty of flights in their area and was looking forward to GA flights to KAXX. After 5 or so introductory flights, I noticed that KDFW was usually manned and ZAB wasn't, so I fly in KDFW now.

 

Nothing against ZAB, I would still prefer to fly west into ZAB (I have a vested interest) rather than southeast, but I fly where the ATC is.

 

Corey

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Traffic went up a little in ZAB, true, but when you have to put in 110 hours of staffing to

get like a 5%-10% increase in traffic you will not be able to sustain it. And that's what happened in

ZAB. We could not sustain it, we did not get enough traffic to justify the enourmous staffing hours

we were putting in. Its was a lot of effort for what really is a small return.

 

Well of course...the 110 hours of staffing lasted all of a month or two and then you guys all but vanished. Given some time, I can only speculate it would have been much higher than 5-10%. It isn't something that happens overnight, or even in a month or two.

 

Do you recall when Squawkbox 3 was first released ? We had a huge bump in traffic on Vatsim. Our traffic

literally doubled overnight. And I remember that ZLA got slammed with traffic, you guys had so much

traffic you were complaining about having so many new inexperienced pilots who didn't know what to do

flying in your area.

 

Those new pilots didn't all go to ZLA because you guys were on every night, they had no idea what the

staffing was when they joined. They just went to the most popular destinations, like they always do.

 

Of course they didn't come to us due to the staffing, but it was an increase across the board, not just in LA.

 

I still can't agree that pilots fly to the popular places only. Of course, that plays a role, but is not the be-all end-all of traffic on VATSIM. Take SMO for example. SMO was absolutely not a popular place to fly on VATSIM, until it was staffed every single day by Don Fiveash and his students. LAS, while always popular, saw a huge influx of traffic when Gerry Hattendorf and his students staffed LAS to the hilt almost every single day and night. RIV and many cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] D fields are becoming incredibly popular places to fly in ZLA. SNA, LGB, and HHR are now experiencing a big increase in traffic, and it's not because they're popular places to fly. Remember that PHX is a hugely popular place to fly too (both real world and VATSIM).

 

The excuse that popular places are going to get all the traffic only goes so far, and only to some extent. I can guarantee that if you're putting in consistent levels of quality staffing, you're going to see the returns.

Bryan Wollenberg

ZLA!

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Well of course...the 110 hours of staffing lasted all of a month or two and then you guys all but vanished.

Given some time, I can only speculate it would have been much higher than 5-10%. It isn't something that

happens overnight, or even in a month or two.

 

Bryan,

 

Again, we had been doing the 'staff it and they will come' method for a very long time, well over a year.

I don't think any ARTCC can do 110 staffing hours every week, but in ZAB we were regularly in the 50's and 60's just about every week.

 

In fact ZAB was on the top of the first Iron Mic listing before anyone even knew it was going to be a contest, we had

been staffing up a long time prior to the contest's implementation.

 

The 'Staff it and they will come' method really only works in the already popular destinations.

 

Perhaps you being in one of the really popular destinations its really hard for you to believe it.

 

I did not believe it either when I first got to ZAB coming from ZLA. But we tried a lot of things

in ZAB from increased regular staffing, to hosting more events, to getting a voice exemption, to even creating

our own Virtual Airline with a hub in ZAB , our traffic still only went up small amount despite all those efforts. ZAB just doesn't have

the popular destinations that attract the pilots. Other ARTCC's like ZME,ZLC, ZMP, ZJX etc are in the same position.

 

The current system only benefits a small number of ARTCC's, and needs to be changed before we can have any chance of

increasing either our overall ATC staffing or our overall traffic.

 

Regards.

Ernie Alston

Albuquerque ARTCC

Vatsim Supervisor.

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If I understand this correctly, traffic will be spread over three ARTCCs instead of one. If so, I interpret this to mean that small aircraft are not invited. It can take hours to fly between ARTCCs in a Cessna or Baron, so during an event of 3-4 hours (already rather short), someone in a small GA aircraft can hope to make … one flight.

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If I understand this correctly, traffic will be spread over three ARTCCs instead of one. If so, I interpret this to mean that small aircraft are not invited. It can take hours to fly between ARTCCs in a Cessna or Baron, so during an event of 3-4 hours (already rather short), someone in a small GA aircraft can hope to make … one flight.

 

That's not it at all. The event is meant to get multiple centers up at the same time to provide ATC services during an entire flight. One of the flaws of the old FNO was that getting ATC for you departure (if you were going to arrive into the host airport) was completely at random. There was never a guarantee that you get ATC until you actually got into the host ARTCC's airspace. With this new style, one can now fly out of Atlanta over to Denver or Kansas City and receive ATC the entire way. That is [Mod - Happy Thoughts]uming that Memphis is online during the entire event (still stumped as to why Memphis isn't of the hosts).

 

To participate in the Frequent Flyer Program you can fly into each ARTCC by flying between the main airports (ex. KATL-KMCI, KMCI-KDEN, KDEN-KATL) or you can fly intra-ARTCC meaning you can just fly around in one or two ARTCCs. For example, if you wanted to fly from Colorado Springs to Denver, or Columbus to Atlanta, you will still get credit in the frequent flyer program since you participated in the event. But remember you cannot fly the same route twice during the event and get repeated points

 

You do NOT have to fly back and forth between all of the host ARTCCs to get credit. You just have to fly in the event.

 

This link takes you right to the Frequent Flyer Program info in case you haven't seen it:

 

http://fno.vatusa.org/FrequentFlyerGuide.php

 

 

*EDIT* Beat me Tom

There is an art . . . to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

 

Benton Wilmes

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I admit that I can't see any point to the Frequent Flyer Program. In fact, it sounds suspiciously like gaming (gamers always need missions, goals, novelty, gadgets, competition, etc.).

 

Most VA's already keep track of all sorts of stats like hours, flights, and thus give out "rewards" of type ratings and/or ranks.

 

It's not my cup of tea either, but obviously there are thousands out there who like that sort of thing. No one's forcing any of us to take part in this frequent flyer thing.

Ian Elchitz

Just a guy without any fancy titles

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Im sorry if I am mising something, but what does earning "frequent Flyer points" get you.

 

I agree with Anthony and Ian, its not my sort of thing, but is a new idea so ill give it a shot.

 

Your name on the events front page.

 

That is [Mod - Happy Thoughts]uming that Memphis is online during the entire event (still stumped as to why Memphis isn't of the hosts).

 

I asked that very same question myself because, oh yes, I control at ZME. I was told that host ARTCC's are picked on "optimal" duration of flight, not continuity (or contiguity). None of our staff was notified of the selection of ARTCC's for this week until I personally emailed The 7 of us who are actually rated to work center (Myself, ATM, DATM, TA, Events Director, and 2 Senior Controllers). None of them had heard about it. To be frank I doubt we will staff. I'm working a 9 hour shift, our TA's computer died earlier this week, ATM and DATM are probably flying for their real job (Pinnacle and Mesaba, respectively), and our ED just isn't around too much as real life has swallowed him up as of late. The other 2 C3's we dont see around much, so who knows if they will be on.

 

So sorry!

vZME Air Traffic Manager

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Im sorry if I am mising something, but what does earning "frequent Flyer points" get you.

 

I agree with Anthony and Ian, its not my sort of thing, but is a new idea so ill give it a shot.

 

Your name on the events front page.

 

That is [Mod - Happy Thoughts]uming that Memphis is online during the entire event (still stumped as to why Memphis isn't of the hosts).

 

I asked that very same question myself because, oh yes, I control at ZME. I was told that host ARTCC's are picked on "optimal" duration of flight, not continuity (or contiguity). None of our staff was notified of the selection of ARTCC's for this week until I personally emailed The 7 of us who are actually rated to work center (Myself, ATM, DATM, TA, Events Director, and 2 Senior Controllers). None of them had heard about it. To be frank I doubt we will staff. I'm working a 9 hour shift, our TA's computer died earlier this week, ATM and DATM are probably flying for their real job (Pinnacle and Mesaba, respectively), and our ED just isn't around too much as real life has swallowed him up as of late. The other 2 C3's we dont see around much, so who knows if they will be on.

 

So sorry!

 

This is apparently when the ACE team comes in and takes over your ARTCC.

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This is apparently when the ACE team comes in and takes over your ARTCC.

 

If you allow them to. We explicitly told them that they are not welcome. If they aren't on your ARTCC's roster, or have visiting controller status, I think the majority of Supervisors would be happy to remove them, just like any other unwanted controller infringing on your airspace.

Bryan Wollenberg

ZLA!

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This is apparently when the ACE team comes in and takes over your ARTCC.

 

We explicitly told them that they are not welcome.

 

I thought the ACE team was supposed to be invited to help an ARTCC staff up for an event. Why would you need to explicitly tell them they are not welcome? Sounds harsh.

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

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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I thought the ACE team was supposed to be invited to help an ARTCC staff up for an event. Why would you need to explicitly tell them they are not welcome? Sounds harsh.

 

Ross, as far as I know, that is correct. They do need to be invited. At the time though, it was extremely difficult to get any sort of answers regarding the new ACE Team, and as it was presented, it sounded as though these guys would just come in and take over your airspace.

 

We weren't trying to be harsh. We just wanted to make it very clear that no team of outsiders, with no training in our airspace, no visiting controller status, nothing, are going to come in, "control our airspace", and jeopardize our reputation. That's the bottom line.

Bryan Wollenberg

ZLA!

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no team of outsiders, with no training in our airspace, no visiting controller status, nothing, are going to come in, "control our airspace", and jeopardize our reputation.

 

I highly doubt that intent was this diabolical.

 

As I understood it - the purpose was to create a team of seasoned controllers who were on call to help short staffed facilities for events. We all know that not all facilities have 100+ controllers on their rosters and at times might have trouble staffing up for an event. Since we (probably) all agree that every facility should have the opportunity to experience an event - this gives some of the "have not" facilities an opportunity to take part.

 

It's been common practice over the years for "hired guns" to be pulled in to [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ist with large scale events. My personal experience has always been to send invitations to "hand picked" controllers and deal with it on my facilites "own initiative". Not all facilities have the experience, knowledge, or connections to be able to pull this off.

Ian Elchitz

Just a guy without any fancy titles

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At the time though, it was extremely difficult to get any sort of answers regarding the new ACE Team, and as it was presented, it sounded as though these guys would just come in and take over your airspace.

 

Ahh, okay ... maybe you guys read something different. All I ever saw about the ACE team was an email asking for people to apply for the team. It definitely didn't say anything about being able to just control anywhere without permission or invitation. The wording was "This team will serve as a pool of top quality controllers who will [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ist various ARTCC's requesting [Mod - Happy Thoughts]istance with staffing for events."

 

I can only imagine the backlash from ARTCCs if VATUSA tried to create a team that would swoop in and control events without training or invitation. It would make the controversy over the global ratings policy look like a kindergarten playground spat.

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

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

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Flew into KDEN tonight and arrive approx 0130Z (about half way into the event). From what I could tell a couple aircraft on CTR, 1 (me) on approach, me on tower and a couple on ramp. I know I arrive relatively early but on Servinfo at 0200Z on 17 aircraft due to arrive during the remaining 2 hours of the event. Great ATC just a shame that traffic levels are much reduced from before

 

Phillip

VATSIM UK Divisional Instructor

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Flew into KDEN tonight and arrive approx 0130Z (about half way into the event). From what I could tell a couple aircraft on CTR, 1 (me) on approach, me on tower and a couple on ramp. I know I arrive relatively early but on Servinfo at 0200Z on 17 aircraft due to arrive during the remaining 2 hours of the event. Great ATC just a shame that traffic levels are much reduced from before

 

Phillip

 

I really can't comment about KDEN since I didn't fly there, but I have to believe that it was "left out" since it was so far from both KMCI and KATL

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Ian and Ross, I completely agree. I don't for a minute think that they had any sort of bad intentions regarding the ACE Team. I think it's a good idea, particularly for those ARTCC's who might need help staffing their events. Heck, even the large ARTCC's need help sometimes. Due to a holiday controller shortage, I helped the DC guys out before during one of their events, and this was at a time when their roster was very large. I think it's a very good idea to have these "master controllers" at the ready, should somebody actually want them.

 

But as I said, how we interpreted an original presentation (I don't believe it was the e-mail...possibly a discussion elsewhere) was that if you can't provide appropriate/any staffing during an event, a staff will be provided for you. This might have even been a pre-ACE Team discussion. I honestly don't remember.

 

According to Brandon's post, and the responses I've seen from others elsewhere, I am apparently not the only one who had a misconception as to what the ACE Team entailed, so it obviously wasn't made clear somewhere along the line.

Bryan Wollenberg

ZLA!

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