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Center working airports below Class B


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From what I gather from flying in other centers, most of the time controlling cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C and cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] D airports is at the discretion of the controller, and the decision is often influenced by traffic loads. At Denver, we encourage our center controllers to provide tower services to all towered fields (Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] B, C, and D), however it is not required. I believe it is the same for most other ARTCCs, but some might have set policies regarding this topic.

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At Indy we require all center controllers to provide local services to all cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] charlies during times when they are open in the real world. We have a few part time cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] charlie fields in our airspace. Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] delta services are optional based on the workload of the controller.

 

Bruce Clingan

vZID Air Traffic Manager

Bruce Clingan

vZID Air Traffic Manager

vZID Instructor

"A house divided against itself cannot stand." Abraham Lincoln

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Since the policy seems to vary, can I suggest that Center and Approach controllers put a note in their online comments indicating which cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts]es of airport besides Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] B they will handle? That would be easier and more elegant than having to ask controllers on frequency or via PM, or just barreling into a C or D and waiting for a "contact me" message two miles from the field.

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I make it a habit not to barrel into C or D airspace without requesting clearance from Center as a VFR aircraft.

 

I agree, "airports controlled" would be good in the comments though.

 

That said, Center controllers should at least be requiring 2way contact for all aircraft attempting to operate in a Charlie airspace no?

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Many Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] Charlies switch to Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] Echo at night; such is the case at my home airport, a Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] Charlie field. I'll start asking my controllers to put that information in their text ATIS for pilots to see. That's a good suggestion considering that each controller is different.

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Since the policy seems to vary, can I suggest that Center and Approach controllers put a note in their online comments indicating which cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts]es of airport besides Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] B they will handle? That would be easier and more elegant than having to ask controllers on frequency or via PM, or just barreling into a C or D and waiting for a "contact me" message two miles from the field.

I know that at ZAU, we are expected to provide top-down service, meaning that if you're controlling CHI_APP, you are responsible for all B, C and D airports within your airspace. If you're controlling CHI_CTR, you're responsible for every B, C, and D airport within ZAU.

 

I think it's safe to [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ume that the controller is expecting you to contact him before you try to land/take off from one of the B, C, or D fields under his control. I have experienced a similar expectation in other facilities. If you call and the controller can't provide that service, he'll tell you.

Eric Shank Van Eenige

Real-World Private Pilot

vZAU Enroute Controller

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Easy enough to add to text ATIS, but considering we're limited to 4 lines, it'd have to take the place of something. That being said, I suppose a link to our Pilot Feedback page isn't THAT necessary...

Dhruv Kalra

VATUSA ZMP ATM | Instructor | VATSIM Network Supervisor

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I always work cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C and B airports, regardless. For Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] D's, I will only work them on an operational basis. Sometimes I like to be realistic and open/close them depending on the real-world times, but when I'm busy I will treat them as uncontrolled.

 

That's a really good idea, Anthony, about the controller info. I'll make sure to remind our radar guys to do that.

 

Justin

Justin A. Martin

Training Administrator

VATSIM Miami ARTCC

http://www.zmaartcc.net

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The only thing that I still like to advocate about this, and I [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ume most controllers agree (or at least many)...whenever you're not sure if you can get services for a particular airport, just dial up the frequency and request your services/procedure/clearance/etc. At best, the controller will issue your clearance or further instructions. At worst, the controller will give you a "frequency change approved" (effectively saying nope) or otherwise say "no services available." For whatever reason...to me, getting private messages from pilots is very, very obnoxious (whether I'm using ASRC or VRC). Unless I'm trying to give a pilot private mentoring (such as explaining SIDs & Routes and things like that), I prefer to do everything over the channel (whether it's the voice or text one).

Steve Ogrodowski

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My technique.... I always provide limited service to all cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] B airports with a tower offline..."taxi to runway XX your discretion" "radar service terminates, runway XX cleared to land".... Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C and Ds.... "cleared XXXXXXXX approach, no observed traffic between you an the XXXXX airport, radar service terminates, report IFR Cancellation in the air or on the ground on XXX.XXX (freq), change to advisory freq is approved.". Hold for release clearances, releases with void times etc.

Nick

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Nicholas,

 

The only drawback to that approach is that GA pilots won't get to experience real world procedures out of the airports they will most likely be using during the course of a flight. Why provide a lower grade of service at a Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C/D airport? I often find that it's less radio work to issue a taxi and t/o clearance than it is to do the release with void time.

 

I realize it is already a departure from real world procedure for a ctr controller to provide twr service at at C/D airport, but, it's equally unrealistic to do it at a Bravo. That is the nature of VATSIM and the result of unscheduled volunteer staffing. That being the case, why not give that tower service to the GA pilot at a C/D airport? The chances of it being ACTUALLY staffed (ie. xxx_twr) are so slim...the result is that GA pilots won't realize any difference between C/D/E/G airports under your method.

 

My perception is that many controllers think it will save time. Unless there is a SLEW of pattern work (very unlikely), I would argue there's virtually no difference in workload, save for perhaps looking up a rwy number. I will often flat out ask a pilot which rwy they'd like to save me looking it up if I'm busy.

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I agree with Nicholas . . . VATSIM is supposed to be realistic for the controller too, is it not? It's not realistic for a pilot OR controller for someone working a radar position to give taxi instructions or takeoff/landing clearances. If a pilot wants to fly in and out of an airport with a tower that's open, then they can pick the ones that are staffed.

 

I think one of the big reasons so many controllers provide local services to so many airports is because they simply don't understand how to do it any other way. The rules are different, and it can be more challenging if you have more than one aircraft to provide ONLY radar services when working a radar position. I am sure there are plenty of controllers on VATSIM that DO know all the rules for IFRs into and out of uncontrolled airports, but I am willing to bet that for very 1 who does, 10 more don't (even if they think they do).

 

Anyway, back to the first line of my post . . . it's not fair to a controller who wants to work his traffic as realistically as possible to be required to give unrealistic (downright illegal in the real world) instructions to aircraft all over his airspace. And for a pilot, why is "released for departure" so much less of a service than "cleared for takeoff"? I once argued with a SUP who accused me of not providing a full service to a pilot because I said "report IFR cancellation on this frequency, change to advisory frequency approved" instead of "cleared to land" to an aircraft. A good controller can manage multiple aircraft to an airport without an operating control tower, a lesser controller is forced to revert to providing local services solely because of the number of aircraft (all SOPs aside, that is).

 

What IS realistic (well, it was until just recently) is working an approach control from the tower and providing local and approach services to the primary airport off the tower radar. But, a center controller giving takeoff and landing clearances to 20 airports in his airspace makes the experience unrealistic for the pilot and the controller, which makes for a much poorer service than doing it the "right" way.

 

I'm interested in hearing any argument as to why we should continue providing an illegal and unrealistic service (as it's required in some ARTCC SOPs). I personally think this is ATC's equivalent of not being able to operate our FMS properly and we'll just keep coming up with excuses on why we can't do it the right way.

 

If anyone would like to talk about this more with me on a more personal level, please PM or email me.

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We can discuss the "realism" or "illegality" of providing services at any level to any cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] of airport until the proverbial "cows come home" and not reach a conclusive agreement or wholly acceptable standard. It is for this reason and others that VATUSA has no official standard for such and has left it to each ARTCC to determine for themselves. Such is the nature of the VATSIMisms we work with every day...let's just accept them.

 

On the ever so rare occasions I get to work a CTR position, I personally do not provide airport-level services for Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C & D facilities however, I fully agree it is perfectly acceptable for controllers to provide such services as their own workload and facility SOPs dictate. I urge ARTCCs to consider the workload issues when developing any local procedures.

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Gary Millsaps

VATUSA1

 

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

guaranteed."

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I agree with Nicholas . . .

 

Come again? I think you just said you agreed with me, such things are unheard of

 

I personally do not provide airport-level services for Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C & D facilities however fully agree it is perfectly acceptable for controllers to provide such services as their own workload and facility SOPs dictate. I urge ARTCCs to consider the workload issues when developing any local procedures.

 

Why even have an SOP to regulate this? why not leave the "realism" in the hands of the individual controller?

Nick

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I'm interested in hearing any argument as to why we should continue providing an illegal and unrealistic service (as it's required in some ARTCC SOPs).

 

Because it's equally unrealistic and illegal to have towered C and D airports with no controllers. And most controllers presumably would prefer more activity than less on VATSIM. A Center controller who touches no airports is going to be pretty lonely most of the time. And controlling a Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] B is just as unrealistic and illegal as controlling a C or D.

 

I personally think this is ATC's equivalent of not being able to operate our FMS properly and we'll just keep coming up with excuses on why we can't do it the right way.

 

If you can find enough controllers to get all the positions staffed individually online, I'm all for it.

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On the ever so rare occasions I get to work a CTR position, I personally do not provide airport-level services for Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C & D facilities however fully agree it is perfectly acceptable for controllers to provide such services as their own workload and facility SOPs dictate. I urge ARTCCs to consider the workload issues when developing any local procedures.

 

If controllers can decide whether or not to serve C and D airports at their discretion, does that also mean that pilots can decide whether or not to treat a C or D as controlled at their own discretion as well? If not, why not?

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If controllers can decide whether or not to serve C and D airports at their discretion, does that also mean that pilots can decide whether or not to treat a C or D as controlled at their own discretion as well? If not, why not?

 

Because the airport in question would fall under being 'open' or 'closed' per the times relative to the timezone the airport is in, much like how runway in use may be time dependent relative to that timezone (like noise abatement procedures are at LAX, for example).

 

For another example, let's say we followed KSNA's procedure of closing the tower at 11pm local. It wouldn't be up to the pilot to say that a field is controlled or not if a local SOP that controllers use say otherwise. That would mean that a pilot dictates to a controller what is open or not at a field the pilot doesn't control or have any jurisdiction over.

 

BL.

Brad Littlejohn

ZLA Senior Controller

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If controllers can decide whether or not to serve C and D airports at their discretion, does that also mean that pilots can decide whether or not to treat a C or D as controlled at their own discretion as well? If not, why not?

Simply put, no. As to why:

 

VATSIM Code of Conduct, B. PILOT’S CONDUCT,

  • 3. A pilot must at all times check for appropriate air traffic control coverage for the airspace he is crossing at any given time. If there is an appropriate air traffic controller available or upon request to make contact with an appropriate air traffic controller, then the pilot should immediately contact such controller.

...and...

  • 10. A pilot, to the best of his or her ability, should make all attempts to comply with valid air traffic control instructions.

Gary Millsaps

VATUSA1

 

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

guaranteed."

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Because it's equally unrealistic and illegal to have towered C and D airports with no controllers. And most controllers presumably would prefer more activity than less on VATSIM. A Center controller who touches no airports is going to be pretty lonely most of the time. And controlling a Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] B is just as unrealistic and illegal as controlling a C or D.

 

It is NOT illegal for cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C and D airports to have no controllers. In fact MANY close for several hours at night, every night. There won't be any less traffic for the radar controller; the only difference for the pilot is hearing "released for departure" instead of "cleared for takeoff". For the 1% (my estimate) of traffic that is VFR that flies out of airports within cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C or D airspace, they can still call for a beacon code for flight following and get all the same radar services as always. Instead of saying "N12345 is ready for takeoff", they'll say "N12345 departing runway 36". Why is this such a horrible thing?

 

If my own facility SOP didn't require me to provide local services at airports within cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] B airspace, I wouldn't do that, either. I would treat every airport without an operating control tower the way it is REALLY treated, because we have the ability to do that on VATSIM reasonably well. We complain about pilots who don't know procedures or how to fly their airplanes, and yell at pilots for missing a turn on a complex STAR, but then fail to follow a real-world procedure as controllers because that real-world procedure would make it too real for some pilots.

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just to add a little monkey wrench in the topic

 

soon one of our southern ARTCC's will "officially" be covering all cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] D's so if center is up, or local approach/departure is up, pilots can expect full service. i dont know all the info as i believe its still being approved, so i wont name the ARTCC either. but definitely sounds fun

 

this stuff should be left to local procedures to decide who covers what and why. im sure there are reasons for doing such.

 

take ZMA as an example. we constantly get traffic at Tamiami (TMB), Opa Locka (OPF), FT Lauderdale Exec (FXE) etc.. etc.. who always ask if we're covering the airport, only to groan when we say theyre uncontrolled. im sure they were looking forward to getting it.

 

im a stickler for realism myself but sometimes you cant be 100%, especially on an online network that doesnt get the full coverage like the real world. remember what the founders letter says

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It is NOT illegal for cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C and D airports to have no controllers. In fact MANY close for several hours at night, every night. There won't be any less traffic for the radar controller; the only difference for the pilot is hearing "released for departure" instead of "cleared for takeoff". For the 1% (my estimate) of traffic that is VFR that flies out of airports within cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C or D airspace, they can still call for a beacon code for flight following and get all the same radar services as always. Instead of saying "N12345 is ready for takeoff", they'll say "N12345 departing runway 36". Why is this such a horrible thing?

 

It's not. If it works like the real world, I have no problem with it. That is, if the airport would be closed in real life, with no controllers, then I expect it to be closed in VATSIM during the same period, also with no controllers.

 

The only difference between VATSIM and real life in this respect is that VATSIM doesn't have enough controllers to put someone different on each position with the frequency that this is done in real life. So, if you want any coverage of Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] D or Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C at all, in many cases, the Center controller has to provide it, because nobody else is online. I'd prefer that separate controllers man these positions as required, but these days just finding a Center controller online is rare enough; expecting to have everything fully staffed is unrealistic.

 

At the same time, I do wonder how a single controller can be expected to know all about a dozen different airports and control them all simultaneously even as he works Approach and Center.

 

If my own facility SOP didn't require me to provide local services at airports within cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] B airspace, I wouldn't do that, either.

 

VATSIM SOPs should reflect real life, unless there is an overwhemingly compelling reason to do otherwise. I notice a tendency on VATSIM to invent things that don't exist in real life, and it's not always clear that these deviations from reality are truly necessary.

 

I have no problem with SOPs that establish policy with respect to Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C and Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] D. I do have a problem when individual controllers decide to provide or not provide services to these airports depending on their mood and whim. If service at the airports is a roll of the dice instead of a predictable consequence of some standard operating procedure, better to just stay away from those airports entirely.

 

I would treat every airport without an operating control tower the way it is REALLY treated, because we have the ability to do that on VATSIM reasonably well.

 

That sounds fine to me.

 

We complain about pilots who don't know procedures or how to fly their airplanes, and yell at pilots for missing a turn on a complex STAR, but then fail to follow a real-world procedure as controllers because that real-world procedure would make it too real for some pilots.

 

For serious simmers (controllers or pilots), the threshold of "too real" is set very high indeed.

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