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ASDE-X Monitoring on VATSIM - Really Necessary?


Harold Rutila 974112
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I'm curious to know what everyone else is thinking about this:

 

Numerous times in the past few weeks, I've been told to squawk Normal on the ground at certain Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] Bravo airports here on VATSIM. What's the reason? ASDE-X monitoring according to the cab controllers. Honestly, is there really a point to this other than to completely confuse pilots into squawking normal at all airports? I'm sorry, but I control at two facilities, Denver and Cleveland, and it's quite a pain to have to continue to tell aircraft to squawk standby on the ground. VATSIM radar clients don't really have ASDE simulation, except for VRC's "simple" mode, which works regardless of the transponder mode.

 

Another reason I don't really understand this is because of radar clutter. I don't think VRC lets us block out ground traffic, which is why VATSIM pilots should be squawking standby in the first place.

 

Is this practice unnecessary, or am I just way out of line?

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An increasing number of airports in real life require squawking normal on the ground, precisely because of ASDE-X. It's only natural that the same be done on VATSIM, because simulation is supposed to be realistic. If pilots read the real-world docomeentation, they'll know which airports require squawking normal on the ground.

 

If this causes a problem for controller clients, the controller clients need to be updated to reflect real life.

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An increasing number of airports in real life require squawking normal on the ground, precisely because of ASDE-X. It's only natural that the same be done on VATSIM, because simulation is supposed to be realistic. If pilots read the real-world docomeentation, they'll know which airports require squawking normal on the ground.

 

Ah, Sensei, thank you for that reminder. We almost forgot what we do as controllers.

 

If this causes a problem for controller clients, the controller clients need to be updated to reflect real life.

 

Since you have no formal ATC training on VATSIM, it would seem that you didn't have any idea what Harold actually just was saying. This causes you to not realize that there are actually some answers to Harold's questions that we can contribute to this discussion. There is no problem with the controller clients, first off, let's dispel any issues that might arise from your statement.

 

Another reason I don't really understand this is because of radar clutter. I don't think VRC lets us block out ground traffic, which is why VATSIM pilots should be squawking standby in the first place.

 

You should be able to set up your airspace filter(s). In ASRC, you can set a hard floor to your airspace with a command as well as changing your conflict alert altitude threshold (in the settings) (as well as using filters). In VRC, you can adjust the Conflict Alert thresholds in the settings, and you can have aircraft filtered by using the filters. VRC doesn't have a hard-floor setting, but it's not really necessary.

 

So as a Center position, where you would encounter a lot of the problems you mentioned, you can set it up so you don't see ground aircraft. In that situation, it will make it harder for you to keep track of taxiing aircraft, since you have no radar and no visual contact like a real tower. By the same token, I understand that having a cluttered ground display (because you are zoomed out) is just as unhelpful. One of the perks of VRC would be that if you are zoomed out and toggle your filter on (to hide the green blob), you can peek and/or temporarily turn off the filters, zoom in, issue instructions, then zoom back out and pop your filter back on.

 

I think that this is less important as you move over to TRACON and ATCT facilities. You're not going to have as many problems with clutter and worrying about standby on the ground. Approach might still make use of the filter, but obviously the Local positions won't. Personally, I would have no issues with local positions simulating/emulating ASDE/X usage...I also don't personally bother telling aircraft to squawk standby or to make sure they are squawking standby.

 

I think it's more a personal take on it; certainly everyone is entitled to their preference. When people log onto an airport in mode normal, I don't stop and ask them to go standby, unless for some reason I had a radar position barking at me cause his screen is cluttered (in which case, since I was handling the local position, I would advise him to use his filters since he shouldn't even see that stuff on the radar below a certain altitude). I only make sure a pilot squawks normal before taking off...I don't require him to squawk mode C before taxi.

 

I wouldn't have thought it should confuse pilots, but if it's causing problems maybe we need to look for a way to address pilots. Certainly, no single way at any given airports is always the same or correct. At one airport it might be done one way, at another airport another way. Two things by default will help the situation: 1) All controllers at a single facility doing the exact same procedures, no renegade or random procedures (phraseology is one thing; controllers doing certain procedures need to try to be consistent on VATSIM, though). 2) Pilots need to try to keep a flexible mind and realize that certain things at certain airports will be done certain ways. Hopefully they can take note of that and remember for next time.

Steve Ogrodowski

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Another reason I don't really understand this is because of radar clutter. I don't think VRC lets us block out ground traffic, which is why VATSIM pilots should be squawking standby in the first place.

 

Not so. There are two ways, I believe. Airspace floor and filters. Check the manual.

 

In general though, I don't know if it adds much to the ATC side of things. ASDE-X, I believe, uses the 4096-code to identify which aircraft is where. There's no confusion at all on VATSIM as to which of the 100 AAL MD80s on the ground at DFW is really AAL1234 and not AAL234, AAL5623, or AAL5234.

 

It does add a hair of realism to the pilot side though. Not sure if it's worth commanding an aircraft to hold position until he turns the camera on though.

Steven Perry

VATSIM Supervisor

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Ahh okay I see now. I didn't actually know about VRC's filter features. That helps a lot.

 

Another key point that I forgot to mention in my original post is that there is a lot of inconsistency with pilot knowledge. Hopefully this will be addressed in newer versions of the PRC. Currently, the PRC says that pilots should squawk standby until the holding point of their [Mod - Happy Thoughts]igned runway, then squawk normal when they have landed. While this is what I would expect all pilots to do, when certain places advise the contrary, it creates a great deal of confusion on the network. If it did come to the point where we wanted to simulated ASDE (I'm all for it now that I've found my filters ), there would need to be some way for the regular non-forum-participating VATSIM member to understand that they need to squawk Normal.

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I don't see what's confusing. Pilots train to a standard - Tx on STBY on the ground; if ATC wants something different pilots have two choices - comply or "Unable". As pilots sitting in the airplane quite frankly we don't care where the switch is set, doesn't make it any faster; so we set it for you ATC at whatever makes you happy.

Kyle Ramsey

 

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I don't see what's confusing. Pilots train to a standard - Tx on STBY on the ground; if ATC wants something different pilots have two choices - comply or "Unable". As pilots sitting in the airplane quite frankly we don't care where the switch is set, doesn't make it any faster; so we set it for you ATC at whatever makes you happy.

 

Yeah, I was kinda thinking that same thing.

Steve Ogrodowski

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Easy solution to this... and to be quite honest, I actually prefer aircraft to squawk normal on the ground as well (especially working radar) so I can quick-look and figure out what runway to send them too.

 

Anyways... back to the easy solution. Set your filters. This isn't always completely easy in mountainous ARTCCs, however, at a place like Denver, setting it to just a couple hundred feet above DEN's altitude (I would imagine that is your busiest airport?) should do the trick, that way everyone just goes to an LDB (limited data block) below the filter, which you can use QL, or force an FDB (Full Data Block) display on a target if you want to see them...

 

Just my thoughts...

 

 

-AJ

Andrew James Doubleday | Twitch Stream: Ground_Point_Niner

University of North Dakota | FAA Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) GraduateGPN_Horizontal_-_Tertiary.thumb.png.9d7edc4d985ab7ed1dc60b92a5dfa85c.png

 

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Another option is to run a second(or third, fourth, whatever) window in simple radar mode focused in on an airport. When I'm working LA Center, I run two rather small windows on the right side of my screen for LAX and LAS so that I can quickly determine which side of an airport an aircraft is on, and to watch the runways when required. It isn't especially useful for separation of traffic on the taxiways(although that is really hard to do from a radar position anyway), but it is great for a quick glance so aircraft taxi to runways that are most efficient for their position on the airport.

 

 

If you so desire, you can then set your filters on your main VRC scope so you don't have the ground blob, and don't have to worry about whether people are squawking standby or normal.

 

 

Note: I'm not expressing an opinion on the Mode C on the ground debate, merely just pointing out a method that I find efficient when working radar that avoids me having to waste valuable time and energy worrying about the transponder mode of aircraft on the taxiways.

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To answer the first part of your post Harold...

 

We simulate ASDE-X for our local guys (ATL and CLT) by using ARTS mode. They don't (well shouldn't be anyways) run around in TOWER, GROUND, etc...mode as its not a realistic version of what a Local controller would be seeing.

 

We've figured out that of all the modes we could use in VRC, ARTS simulated ASDE-X the best and looks as close to the real thing as we can get.

 

For the clutter problem, set a filter.

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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In addition this nearly eliminates the problem of tower blasting someone off into the departure corridor with the xpnder on stby or the wrong code. First off our controllers are trained to use ARTS or STARS mode depending on the facility and ensure relistic data tag mode is checked in VRC. This is the closest simulation to ASDE as we can do. Until an aircraft squawks the correct code and turns the transponder on there will be no callsign available to the controller in VRC. So ideally the aircraft would call up with the general location when requesting taxi (prefferably a ramp call spot) the controller would then find the aircraft. If no callsign is available ground control would then issue taxi instructions based on the callsign that called in crosschecked with the departure list/flight strip bay and check transponder on. Local would also be using the same set up so theres another check and balance that local will not be able to physically see the callsign of the aircraft in VRC hopefully a dead give away that his transponder is jacked up. The difference this has made over the last year is from maybe 1 out 10 aircraft taking off on the wrong code to next to none. Obviously this works about 99% of the time theres always one guy who doesn't know how to work his transponder and we have to switch back to simple mode and spoon feed it's not really a big deal.

 

As far as ground clutter I heard that argument when I started doing this stuff. They didn't put filters in VRC for fun.

 

Obviously ASDE-X is a very powerful alerting system that we can't simulate on VRC we're just doing what we can with what we have to work with him is there any harm there?

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I've always wondered why controllers get so concerned about people with their transponders on while on the ground. I'm fairly certain that in XX years of controlling on the network I've never asked someone to turn theirs off - not sure why it bothers people so much but to each his own.

 

BTW - I've never used filters.

 

Personally - I'm much more concerned about people being in the air with them off than on the ground with them on.

 

I'm the same as Mike however, about a year ago I reconfigured my VRC profiles so that I have two small windows in GROUND (or TOWER I can't remember) radar modes that I use to watch the traffic on the ground for major airports that currently aren't controlled by someone else.

 

I've never understood the transponder police to be honest; as a pilot I turn mine on when I take the departure runway and switch it off after I depart the runway. In X-Plane someone (I want to say Keith Smith) created a nice little plugin that automatically changes the modes for you just like many real transponders.

Ian Elchitz

Just a guy without any fancy titles

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When you tell pilots to do one thing (especially the new ones that start at busier facilities), they tend to keep doing it because they don't know the right procedure. It's like saying "push and start at your discretion," which was discussed in another thread.

 

If we think ASDE-X simulation is needed, then Squawkbox may as well have Normal as the default setting.

 

That's my take, anyway. I'll just use filters.

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Having squawkbox to normal is not a good idea. In a real plane one of the last things on my check list is "Transponder = off". I also think that there's nothing wrong with telling a pilot to squawk normal OR standby on the ground. I know how upset some of you will be by me saying this, but this is NOT real-world. We simulate and emulate it, yes, but why do things that aren't needed? We have tower and ground mode so why not use them? Sometimes I just don't understand why people try to make EVERYTHING just like the real-world. I am a realism buff, and always will be, but there needs to be a line. This is a good example of that line.

 

My 2 cents...

 

JM

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Those controllers in the room who simply can't deal with having to ask pilots to either squawk one way or the other, please raise your hand...

 

Those pilots in the room who simply can't deal with squawking one way or the other at the controller's request, please raise your hand...

 

Those with your hands raised, it might be time for a prescription or network change.

 

Seriously, we have a full page arguing about this. I've seen controllers refuse to give a taxi clearance to someone without squawking Mode-C, and I've see pilots get into arguments with the controller after being asked to squawk Mode-C during their taxi. Is this THAT big a deal? Funny, I've controlled in some fairly significant events in the past 5 years and it's never been a problem.

 

Ian... LOL... "transponder police"... I like that... Are they the same ones who typically post wanting to use "Follow Me" vehicles on the network?

-Dan Everette

CFI, CFII, MEI

Having the runway in sight just at TDZE + 100 is like Mom, Warm cookies and milk, and Christmas morning, all wrapped into one.

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When you tell pilots to do one thing (especially the new ones that start at busier facilities), they tend to keep doing it because they don't know the right procedure. It's like saying "push and start at your discretion," which was discussed in another thread.

 

If we think ASDE-X simulation is needed, then Squawkbox may as well have Normal as the default setting.

 

That's my take, anyway. I'll just use filters.

 

No that should not be a feature at all....there are some airports that use ASDE-X equipment and those that do not, primarily right now its the Major Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] B airports, but not all. The easiest way to find out if the airport uses it is look on the airport diagram it will read somewhere on the chart

 

ASDE-X Surveillance system in use. Pilots should operate transponders with Mode C on all twys & rwys.

 

but this is NOT real-world. We simulate and emulate it

 

Isn't this what we strive for in this hobby? We should continually update and approve this "simulation" as what changes in the "real world" If we didn't then I guess we should never have software upgrades, never have our pilots fly new RNAV arrivals, all because its NEW and it shouldn't be done on here because its not the real world...you see my point??

Matt Bromback

Air Traffic Manager

N[Mod - Happy Thoughts]au FIR

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But VRC doesn't even simulate ASDE. Apparently controllers are being trained to simulate the simulation of ASDE by using ARTS on the ground.

 

Now, if we wanted to be simulating real world tower cab operations, a.) we wouldn't be using an airborne radar mode to simulate ASDE on the ground, b.) we wouldn't be using a radar client in the first place, and c.) pilots would have to know that they need to have an airport chart to determine which airports incorporate ASDE. That would involve pilot training, but since we're not willing to make that mandatory, we can't expect all to do it. There is, as Justin pointed out above, a pretty decently sized line between realism and simulation. I think we need to recognize that before hell breaks loose.

 

You can't realistically see an aircraft's callsign in ARTS even if pilots are squawking normal without having to go through the extra step of pressing F1 and clicking on the tag, which is basically a feature designed for TRACON coordination. After you click the tag and get the callsign, ARTS is basically Tower mode. Isn't that why our developers take the time to make the Simple, Ground, and Tower radar modes? What's so difficult about using those?

 

Saying that the practice of using ARTS reduces pilot error by correcting squawk codes and transponder modes is virtually (pardon the pun) invalid. Ground and Tower modes very clearly display the mode of one's transponder with a dot for standby and a star for normal. If the incorrect transponder code is currently plugged in by the pilot, the Ground and Tower modes will alert controllers by displaying their current squawk code in addition to the typical datatag fields on their scopes. You need to see the callsigns and certain information of all aircraft while controlling ground and tower, true. However, using ARTS mode is not the solution.

 

Here's a quick review.

 

Simple Mode

- Callsign

- Transponder Setting

 

Ground Mode

- Callsign

- Transponder Setting

- Aircraft Type

- Airspeed Readout

- If incorrect transponder code is selected, bottom right will flash alternating the current transponder code and airspeed.

 

Tower Mode

- Callsign

- Transponder Setting

- Destination Airport

- Aircraft Type

- Airspeed Readout

- Incorrect transponder codes block out airspeed readings until they are fixed.

 

ARTS Mode

- All aircraft must be squawking normal.

- No logical advantage for use in the cab versus Tower or Ground modes besides creating confusion among pilots regarding the status of their transponders.

 

LOL and I'm not trying to be a transponder cop. All I'm looking for is a little more uniformity here on VATSIM. The PRC says standby on the ground and normal when departing or in the air. That should be common sense. There's no need to change it when we don't have the tools necessary for that change. Uniformity within VATUSA is a good thing. It's not that common, but it's still a good thing.

 

Standby on the ground.

Normal in the air.

Common sense, and I think we should keep it simple. But oh well.

 

My additional $.02.

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Harold,

 

I am not sure why you are looking into this so much...I really don't understand

 

Its not a big deal on the pilots end at all, a simple switch like stated before. ATC wise its just a few settings that need to be changed around. If you don't like ARTS mode thats your opinion, we have found it to work out best for us, it may not for you. What you might be forgetting is that in the General Settings of VRC you can check a box that says "Realistic Data Tag Mode" This is probably the most important step if you want to even come close to simulate ASDE-X equipment. With this checked you will not be able to see that datablock for the aircraft at all until they are swking the right code. This is why ARTS mode is best for this since it will not let you see the the block at all unlike Tower or Ground mode always gives you the datablock...

Matt Bromback

Air Traffic Manager

N[Mod - Happy Thoughts]au FIR

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Its not a big deal on the pilots end at all, a simple switch like stated before. ATC wise its just a few settings that need to be changed around. If you don't like ARTS mode thats your opinion, we have found it to work out best for us, it may not for you. What you might be forgetting is that in the General Settings of VRC you can check a box that says "Realistic Data Tag Mode" This is probably the most important step if you want to even come close to simulate ASDE-X equipment. With this checked you will not be able to see that datablock for the aircraft at all until they are swking the right code. This is why ARTS mode is best for this since it will not let you see the the block at all unlike Tower or Ground mode always gives you the datablock...

 

I think what we need is a thorough explanation of what ASDE-X is and how it is used. As an amateur virtual controller, I'm presently thoroughly confused. I've been around the block for about six or seven years, and so I have a pretty thorough understanding of procedures and operations...I've seen so many discussions, debates, and explanations that would make any new controller's head spin. I like to think that I have a pretty accurate view of how procedures and phraseology work.

 

I however, do not have first hand real world experience with the actual equipment and how it works. I will be the first to admit that I actually have no idea what ASDE-X appears as. My first instinct actually told me it was something very similar to the Tower radar mode of ASRC/VRC. If that's incorrect and ARTS is actually more true to ASDE-X, sure I'd like to know. It would really be great though if one of our real world controllers (Nate, Steve, Jason, James or someone) could explain just how the ASDE-X works for the local/ground controllers, or if someone could actually post or link to some screenshots of ADSE screens/equipment.

Steve Ogrodowski

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Its not a big deal on the pilots end at all, a simple switch like stated before. ATC wise its just a few settings that need to be changed around. If you don't like ARTS mode thats your opinion, we have found it to work out best for us, it may not for you. What you might be forgetting is that in the General Settings of VRC you can check a box that says "Realistic Data Tag Mode" This is probably the most important step if you want to even come close to simulate ASDE-X equipment. With this checked you will not be able to see that datablock for the aircraft at all until they are swking the right code. This is why ARTS mode is best for this since it will not let you see the the block at all unlike Tower or Ground mode always gives you the datablock...

 

I think what we need is a thorough explanation of what ASDE-X is and how it is used. As an amateur virtual controller, I'm presently thoroughly confused. I've been around the block for about six or seven years, and so I have a pretty thorough understanding of procedures and operations...I've seen so many discussions, debates, and explanations that would make any new controller's head spin. I like to think that I have a pretty accurate view of how procedures and phraseology work.

 

I however, do not have first hand real world experience with the actual equipment and how it works. I will be the first to admit that I actually have no idea what ASDE-X appears as. My first instinct actually told me it was something very similar to the Tower radar mode of ASRC/VRC. If that's incorrect and ARTS is actually more true to ASDE-X, sure I'd like to know. It would really be great though if one of our real world controllers (Nate, Steve, Jason, James or someone) could explain just how the ASDE-X works for the local/ground controllers, or if someone could actually post or link to some screenshots of ADSE screens/equipment.

 

Haha yea i know it might seem a little confusing...leave it to good old Wikipedia for your answer

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASDE-X

 

Hope this helps

Matt Bromback

Air Traffic Manager

N[Mod - Happy Thoughts]au FIR

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An increasing number of airports in real life require squawking normal on the ground, precisely because of ASDE-X. It's only natural that the same be done on VATSIM, because simulation is supposed to be realistic. If pilots read the real-world docomeentation, they'll know which airports require squawking normal on the ground.

 

If this causes a problem for controller clients, the controller clients need to be updated to reflect real life.

 

Not needed to sq normal on ground. You can use "Ground" radar mode and even open a second window to open as Tower/Ground mode. Sq normal is not necessary at all.

Matthew Kreilein

?cid=881422attachment.php?attachmentid=1125&d=1321217166

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BTW, is all this "hub ub" over this necessary? Can't you just leave it up to the ARTCC/FIR/VACC as to if they want them stdby or normal. VATSIM CoC only states::

 

4. Except while on the ground prior to making initial contact with ATC or

upon request of ATC, a pilot should not squawk standby. A pilot should

not squawk standby while flying to his destination, even when there is no

appropriate Enroute air traffic control available.

 

Isn't this enough?

Matthew Kreilein

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