Air Traffic Controller Discussion With a Global Perspective
By Manuel Manigault 960933
#536156 Currency requirements are established at the subdivision level. If the busiest facility on the network doesn’t have currency requirements, that’s their prerogative. VATSIM is a simulation. An effective simulation benefits from proper ATC and pilot execution. For most that requires frequent practice of skills — regular currency.
By Kirk Christie 956763
#536160 I would argue that, that is against the GRP. Removing some ones rights to control, or restricting them from controlling after a leave of absence, would be in contravention of 5.4 and 5.5.

5.4 Local rules cannot restrict who can provide ATC services on any position that is not approved as Designated Airspace in accordance with Paragraph 6 of this policy for members rated S2 or higher.

5.5 Local rules cannot provide restrictions that would be in contravention of this policy.
By Andreas Fuchs 810809
#536166 Let's see it this way: if a controller - resident or visitor - wants to stay proficient in his airspace and its associated procedures then he or she needs to control on a regular basis. Otherwise I can't say that it is fun for the ATCO in question. I guess for the majority a "fun ATC session" is defined as "goes well without hickups caused by my own inexperience and lack of knowledge". An hour requirement - I like the the concept of 10 hours/6 months - is therefore one good way to go. If somebody is not interested in controlling a position/airspace more than this, he/she could also just quit, because the quality will not be good. Good pilots and ATCOs are good because they exercise their privilege to fly/control on a regular basis! Yes, privilege! All those who have gone through ATC-training know how many countless hours are invested by training staff: creating documents, train the trainees, create an administration platform to manage all of this at ease for all parties involved, perform practical tests, be available to questions etc.. Do we do this for candidates that want to control only 10 hours a year? Will they ever get proficient to bring the vACC/vARTCC forward? In my opinion, becoming an ATCO means that you really want to do this and that you are prepared to invest a significant amount of time and dedication into this. In return, ATCOs receive some very good training by experienced members of VATSIM and they will have the privilege (there we go again!) to be allowed to control.
By Kirk Christie 956763
#536167 I disagree, having returned from having a break from ATC since November last year, (almost a year) I logged back in, and started controlling like I had never left, I updated all my sector files.

Further more, I have been an Instructor and document/course writer, do I feel like I have wasted my time, if some one I pass, never logs back in again or only controls 10 hours a year? not at all, I have done what was required when it was required, because I wanted to.

This is a hobby, you do what you can when you can.
By Andreas Fuchs 810809
#536168 Hi Kirk,

then you are talented and you are good at self-assessing your level of knowledge. With your ATC- and training-history you do NOT fit into the standard category of low-time ATCOs who control every fortnight. You should know this 8)

I do agree with you, however, that VATSIM is a hobby and that we should not create hurdles for re-joiners. From what I can see at VATSIM Germany, almost all "returners" are disciplined, they contact their respective local training staff and ask for what has changed, even for some refresher-training. But in theory they could just jump in and create chaos. With an hour requirement (or whatever) you just formalize that someone should make some research before getting back into the ATC-chair with customers who expect nothing else but perfection.
By Rob Nabieszko 1138610
#536345 I do concur that this is just a hobby, and that the barriers to entry should not be high.

But the BoG themselves support the notion that controllers should be certified and trained, per the CoC.

To then say that someone is fit to control in perpetuity without further training, research, or practice is to ignore a basic tenet of the human mind: that skills and knowledge begin to atrophy the moment they are learned. To maintain knowledge and skill in aviation require constant practice.

Again, I do not support onerous currency requirements, but to say that we should not have any at all is to ignore the hours and hours we put into training, as students and instructors. The skills learned, must be practiced to be maintained at a reasonable level.

While hours alone does not indicate competency, it is the best and most painless way to show continuing interest in the division. The alternative would be to have recurrent testing, which would require scheduling and coordination and be a burden for the controllers and the administrators.

I generally support the idea of a currency requirement of a few hours every few months. I do agree it is sneaky to remove users without a warning. The currency requirement should be used not as a punishment, but as a reminder to "Stay in the game." I think a 15 day warning prior to expiry is fair and should be included with any currency requirement.
By Tim Simpson 1339557
#537435 I think most of us can agree on the following:
1.) It's just a hobby/game/simulation....choose your preferred descriptor.
2.) Without volunteer controllers, VATSIM does not exist.
3.) Now that the voice codec is fixed, the number one pilot complaint will be lack of controllers online when they want to fly.

With that said, instead of a hard and fast recurrency training rule for returning controllers, maybe an informal voluntary request that the controller just meet for a few minutes with a mentor/instructor would be a better option. The more hurdles you put in place during initial training, or for a returning qualified controller, the more people you will exclude.

I think that with any hobby, it's up to the individual to put into it whatever they want to get out of it. Minimal currency requirements are fairly meaningless. Many people drift into and out of a hobby in a cyclical manner. They are fired up about something for a few months, then tire of it, and move on. Then after a few months, they miss it, and come back to it. Any roadblocks for the return back only means fewer overall controllers, and the VATSIM system then ends up with an endless supply of new controllers then never become old controllers.

And initial training....well....that's a whole 'nother topic. I think VATSIM is going to get a big wakeup call soon, when Brand P comes online with their initial training model.
By Manuel Manigault 960933
#537493 Playing organized sports is a hobby too. Even though it’s a hobby, players are expected to attend practice and show up for the games. There’s no difference between that and our currency requirements. Controllers are not the only ones with currency requirements. Pilots in many virtual airlines have them too. Our hobby depends on participation. Facilities are required to put their Administrative Policies online in front of a password for public viewing thereby giving potential members the opportunity to view currency requirements before making a commitment. In VATNA, the maximum allowable currency requirement is 3 hours a month. That equals 36 hours a year or 0.4% of a year. If that’s too much to ask, perhaps VATSIM is not the right fit as a hobby.
By Sean Harrison 870618
#537534
Manuel Manigault 960933 wrote:Playing organized sports is a hobby too. Even though it’s a hobby, players are expected to attend practice and show up for the games. There’s no difference between that and our currency requirements. Controllers are not the only ones with currency requirements. Pilots in many virtual airlines have them too. Our hobby depends on participation. Facilities are required to put their Administrative Policies online in front of a password for public viewing thereby giving potential members the opportunity to view currency requirements before making a commitment. In VATNA, the maximum allowable currency requirement is 3 hours a month. That equals 36 hours a year or 0.4% of a year. If that’s too much to ask, perhaps VATSIM is not the right fit as a hobby.


In my opinion you are saying meet the hours or get removed. I don’t agree with the sport analogy, because people have breaks etc and still come back. As a adult educator, I don’t agree with time = competency. What about driving a car? Driving a boat? There are numerous things which don’t require collection of hours to allow future operation.

I respect that divisions are authorised to restrict access by controllers based on their hours, I don’t agree with it. By saying “We don’t want you controlling unless you can do three hours every month!” I think you are excluding a lot of members, and increasing the training requirement on volunteers (if I miss a month, and then get dropped, then apply the next month, I have to start over again)
By Manuel Manigault 960933
#537588
Sean Harrison 870618 wrote:
Manuel Manigault 960933 wrote:Playing organized sports is a hobby too. Even though it’s a hobby, players are expected to attend practice and show up for the games. There’s no difference between that and our currency requirements. Controllers are not the only ones with currency requirements. Pilots in many virtual airlines have them too. Our hobby depends on participation. Facilities are required to put their Administrative Policies online in front of a password for public viewing thereby giving potential members the opportunity to view currency requirements before making a commitment. In VATNA, the maximum allowable currency requirement is 3 hours a month. That equals 36 hours a year or 0.4% of a year. If that’s too much to ask, perhaps VATSIM is not the right fit as a hobby.


In my opinion you are saying meet the hours or get removed. I don’t agree with the sport analogy, because people have breaks etc and still come back. As a adult educator, I don’t agree with time = competency. What about driving a car? Driving a boat? There are numerous things which don’t require collection of hours to allow future operation.

I respect that divisions are authorised to restrict access by controllers based on their hours, I don’t agree with it. By saying “We don’t want you controlling unless you can do three hours every month!” I think you are excluding a lot of members, and increasing the training requirement on volunteers (if I miss a month, and then get dropped, then apply the next month, I have to start over again)


Not quite. Earlier in the thread, I said "Currency requirements are established at the subdivision level." It's up to the subdivisions to set currency requirements. I'm an adult educator as well. VATSIM's primary training channel is ILT. Training staffs are stretched very thin as it is. Facilities barely have the bandwidth now to train new members/students the first go round much less recheck for competency after a member has been absent for awhile. The best way to remain competent is to regularly practice your craft.
By Manuel Manigault 960933
#537595
Kirk Christie 956763 wrote:No where in any vatsim documentstion does it say Divisions are authorised to restrict a controllers access based on hours.


That authority per VATSIM Code of Regulations 3.05 is delegated to the Regional Directors.
By Kirk Christie 956763
#537603
Quote:
5.4 Local rules cannot restrict who can provide ATC services on any position that is not approved as Designated Airspace in accordance with Paragraph 6 of this policy for members rated S2 or higher.

5.5 Local rules cannot provide restrictions that would be in contravention of this policy.


It is quite clear that you cannot create a local policy, that would restrict a rated controller from controlling a position in an area for which they are qualified.