Air Traffic Controller Discussion With a Global Perspective
By Johnny Coughlan 861497
#503942
Andreas Fuchs 810809 wrote:No Johnny,

you are not right with your opinion. Whenever members highlight incidents, concerns or opinions towards the VP SUP, they get taken seriously and something will happen, if something needs to be done and can be done.

What Erik has described looked like a mistake by the SUP who was involved. My guess is that the SUP was working on several cases at a time (which happens regularly) and got distracted by a "more important" incident. I can comfortably stand here and say that this has happened to me more than once before, mistakes happen. They do not happen on purpose.

So, nothing will be swept away. Nothing will be hidden. They only thing that I wanted to show was how VATSIM's rules for unattended connections work "live on the network". We need to be fair to both sides, the ATCOs and to our pilots. In the case described by Erik, the SUP should have disconnected the other unresponsive pilot within a few minutes, but it did not happen by mistake. This should be followed up to make him aware of it so he can improve. Case closed. There is no systematic short-coming in the system itself. And if you now reply that we should not allow anyone to step away at all for more than 5 minutes, then we can close VATSIM down, it will not work, it will not be respected and we will be busy closing connections. This cannot be in anyone's interest.

If I have an unresponsive pilot and cannot get hold of him in good time, I treat him as being non-existent and tell other pilots to ignore him, even if they get a bit closer to him than would be comfortable. In the end we just push bits and bytes, only attitudes can get hurt.

Please don't be so pessimistic about VATSIM! It is a great community after all, there are so many positive things that outweigh the negative experiences. If, of course, you allow yourself to be dragged down and get angered over those unresponsive pilots, it may obstruct your view on the greater, more important parts. This is my personal opinion and attitude, nothing that you need to do, I am just offering my advice.


Please don't confuse pessimism with concern, I've been an active vatsim member since 2003, If I'd allowed stuff like this to 'drag me down' I'd have been gone a long time ago(many have).

As I said Andreas, I record all my sessions now, cataloging and timestamping incidents for future references and may even create an informative video showing my 'concerns' because without showing actual evidence, text on a forum post expressing concerns means nothing to some people.

Erik Wachters 815026 wrote: think you missed the point here. I don't point a finger to the SUP at all! :oops:
I wanted to point out that the problem with pilot's that are not responding is increasing bigtime.
I don't get it why you want to fly online and at the same time leave your PC for more then 5min. If you don't have the time to fly, don't fly online.


This is exactly what I took from reading Erik's post, his concern and frustration of what he feels is an increasing problem and so responded as such backing him up because others feel the same but it seems you took it as a personal attack on the SUP team and went in excuse mode without actually addressing his concern.

Andreas Fuchs 810809 wrote:Regarding your case: if a SUP does NOT disconnect an unresponsive pilot, then the main reason is that the ATCO has had not been online for more 30 minutes or more. We are to allow pilots 30 minutes away when outside active airspace and the worst case scenario is them leaving their computers exactly 1 minute before entering active airspace or 1 minute before an ATCO connects.


Andreas Fuchs 810809 wrote:The 30-minute-rule isn't there for nothing.


This is in contradiction to this....

Kyle Ramsey 810181 wrote:as there is nothing in CoC that says they must be given 30 min for anything. I am interested in talking to them to try to correct the behavior for the future.


So which is it Andreas?.

Andreas Fuchs 810809 wrote:No, it is not okay to get booted within the 30 minutes. The 30-minute-rule isn't there for nothing. Before leaving your computer unattended for a few minutes one has to check if there is ATC ahead and limit the time away based on this, so the 30 minutes may not be available in all situations. But that's it. Brad, please don't tell us SUPs how to do our jobs, you don't seem to know system well enough.


Why are you attacking Bradley's response?, he linked two valid points?, did you read then and if so why is he wrong?.
By Kenneth Bambach 1008842
#503943 I can never understand that if a pilot leaves the flight deck with no ATC, why they don't crank up their speakers if they are still in the house so that they can hear a controller calling them that might have popped up in the interim, or if they are getting dinged with either a "contact me" message or private chat. Seems to me a common sense approach in this regard, albeit amongst some pilots common sense isn't. And please don't say that not everyone has external speakers. They can certainly mute the engine noise but still keep an ear open through their pilot client.
By Randy Tyndall 1087023
#503954 I can appreciate the OP's frustration, even though I am not a VATSIM controller, merely a pilot. Although the point made by someone else later on about "training pilots" seems valid enough, for the moment I will only be discussing his sole concern in post number one, unresponsive pilots.

I had 3 pilots that didn't respond to my "contact me" calls for more then 30 minutes


I'm sure there are statistics about this somewhere, perhaps not global stats, but at least regional ones, but I suspect in the real world some air traffic controller somewhere in the world has to deal with a NORDO aircraft every day. Does that controller say "that's it, I'm through"? No. True, he or she is being paid and our VATSIM controllers are volunteers and I get that, I really do. But what does that real world controller dealing with a NORDO aircraft do? He keeps all the other aircraft in the air away from it. He keeps them safe. That's his or her priority at the moment. His or her day just went from "pushing tin" to "controlling"!

I know as a pilot I have no problem with unresponsive or non-texting pilots when in uncontrolled airspace. I just have to be on my toes and watching out for me...and them. In controlled airspace I know that if the controller wants me to make an immediate turn to 180 degrees for traffic or spacing, then I'm certainly gonna do it. Just made another "Ho-Hum. watch the waypoints slowly move to the bottom of the ND" day into one with a little bit more than usual pilotage. Wanna have me hold while you try to get the NORDO guy up on the frequency? Cool, I haven't practiced a hold in a while, this could be fun! Wanna bring in that 13-year old kid screaming "Mayday, mayday, this is Air Force One demanding priority arrival for total engine flameout in all seven engines..."? Do it and space me in behind him so I can watch the fun when he lands way short and bounces back up in the air.

A controller on VATSIM, I would think, would relish the thought of doing more than merely handing aircraft off to, receiving aircraft from, clearing for takeoff, cleared to land, taxi via bravo, readback correct, etc, etc. That's what you do every day. Instead of 7 guys and girls crossing your airspace and not making any input to either aircraft or scope you now have four that are counting on you to make sure they don't collide with the three NORDO ones. Your controlling session just got interesting...and so did the flight for the 4 people you now have to care for!

When I fly for one of the VAs I belong to I fly their schedule, their route, but when I fly online for myself I don't look for CAVOK. I want dirty, nasty, windy, no vis, crosswind, watch out for the mountains on three sides flying. I want my flight to be interesting. Don't you want your controlling session to be interesting...or merely "ho-hum"?

I don't get it? I know the code, I know the rules, but sheesh, turn the lemon some NORDO guy just handed you into lemonade. If you don't like lemonade, then "sell" the lemonade in a stand that you create by being someone who is controlling, not just "pushing tin".

But, as I said at the beginning, I'm not a controller so I can't really offer an "experienced" post here.

Now, having said all that, being NORDO on VATSIM is not allowed. I'm not condoning it and I know it is a problem, but I'm all about this hobby too and I like my hobbies to be fun and until the powers that be figure out how to lessen or eliminate the problem...I'm gonna have some lemonade. :D

Randy
By Kyle Ramsey 810181
#503960 Randy, you need to sign up as a SUP, you have a lot of experience as a pilot and the right demeanor as well. You can fly while standing by for calls too.

Supervisors who are trained to handle issues with pilots who are available is the best solution to most of these complaints. It is a tool we have today and the rules are already in place for them to act in both the members' and VATSIM's best interest. More supervisors signing up means more supervisors available online to provide help within minutes and are able to handle either a pilot who will listen and take some coaching, or not.

The need is worldwide, but lucky us, so is the talent.
By Erik Wachters 815026
#503963 Randy,

I must admit that I had to Google NORDO because it doesn't exist in Europe in controlled airspace.
I work in ATC and I can assure you that they do not allow a "NORDO" for more then 5min in controlled airspace overhere (I know, nothing to do with Vatsim).
It looks like you fly a lot in the big control area's of the US where controllers have the place to divert other pilot's that take Vatsim on a normal level 90° of track. Again, I have no place to do that. I really try to keep them all separated but sometimes the "good" pilots complain that they are to close to other traffic that just 5min before popped up in the middle of my airspace and not answering to my call's. They than blame me!
If this would happen just once every month I would not have started this topic. I'm not one of those guy's that start complaining without first think and try to solve the problem. This is something that bothers me for a while.
Don't get me wrong: I really like to control on Vatsim and try to keep it "as real as it gets" for the pilot's.

Andreas,
On a longer flight I need to eat. And if I need to eat, I will be in my kitchen to prepare fresh food as I never consume junk-food from the freezer or similar, as some here may be doing. Making a nice salad will take more than just 5 minutes...

No problem with that but I can't believe that YOU do that in very busy airspace and during rush hour, 10min before TOD into EDDF, EGLL, EHAM or LFPG.........

Erik
By Andreas Fuchs 810809
#503965 Hi Erik,
Erik Wachters 815026 wrote:Andreas,
On a longer flight I need to eat. And if I need to eat, I will be in my kitchen to prepare fresh food as I never consume junk-food from the freezer or similar, as some here may be doing. Making a nice salad will take more than just 5 minutes...

No problem with that but I can't believe that YOU do that in very busy airspace and during rush hour, 10min before TOD into EDDF, EGLL, EHAM or LFPG.........

Erik
of course I would not, but this is the thing: if I fly online from LOWW to EGCC I am going to pass through EBBU's airspace. I am at TOC and check Qutescoop: no EDMM, no EDGG, no EBBU online, fine. I will proceed to my kitchen and start making food, which will take about 15 to 20 minutes. In this time I will cross EDMM and EDGG and if they now pop-up and call me without me being responsive, then this is okay, since had checked my airspace ahead and I am okay to step away for up to 30 minutes. If I now took 30 minutes, I'd be in your airspace and only if you were online before I left my computer, I'd have to react to your calls without major delay. These are the two cases that we are trying to cover here. I would like you to see it as well from a pilot's perspective. Yes, there is the odd pilot who climbs out and then goes to his living-room to watch TV. That is NOT what VATSIM is about, not at all.

So, again, coming back to your case: you had been online in excess of 30 minutes, so the SUP should have disconnected those pilots within minutes. He probably got distracted by other cases and he forgot to do it. You are always welcome to question our handling of a case if you see a pilot continuing down his route 5 minutes after the SUP has announced to you that he's on the case. We are not perfect and we appreciate little reminders if they are appropriate.

Just to be clear: the unresponsive pilots that you mentioned, were they transit flights at FL300 and higher? Or were they approaching their TOD for landing at EHAM/EDDF/EBBR etc.? If they are cruising along, they cannot cause that much concern, at least they do not to me when I control Belgium's airspace as EURM_CTR. Just turn the other guys by 10 degrees and everything looks nice again. I will still go after the unresponsive pilot(s), no question.

All I want to say is that we should try and apply common sense. The rules are there:
VATSIM Code of Conduct wrote:A. General Rules of Conduct

9. When logging on to the VATSIM.net network, a member is not permitted to leave his or her connection unattended for a period in excess of thirty (30) minutes. If a member is unable to comply with this requirement, then he or she must log off of the VATSIM.net network. A member who is found to be unresponsive for more than thirty (30) minutes is subject to immediate removal from the network. Members who are found to repeatedly leave their connections unattended are subject to the terms of Article VI. of the VATSIM.net Code of Regulations.

[..]

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.
The official way that us SUPs are told to handle those two rules, who seem to contradict each other, are as I have stated above. Common sense.
By Erik Wachters 815026
#503969
All I want to say is that we should try and apply common sense.

From both sides......

If I would fly from LOWW to EGCC, I'll eat after or before the flight or I fly after diner. :wink:

Anyway, I'm sure you can see where my frustration comes from.

Erik
By Andreas Fuchs 810809
#503972 I know your frustrations, I share them. And I am trying to explain how these SHOULD be handled by SUPs and members. In ideal world it would not happen, but...

And: I need to eat on my way to EGCC, because I want to squeeze a return flight into the evening, no time on the ground. Just like in the real world! Quite often I eat at work like this:

Image

Unfortunately I do not have a flight attendant at home!
By Randy Tyndall 1087023
#503973
Erik Wachters 815026 wrote:...I can assure you that they do not allow a "NORDO" for more then 5min in controlled airspace overhere...


Then what? Scramble fighters after five minutes and shoot the poor guy who dialed in the wrong frequency down? They may not "allow it" but I'll bet it still happens, even in real life. The rules may not "allow it", but you as a controller cannot teleport to the silent aircraft and fix his radio or turn it to the correct frequency. While I believe they would scramble fighters to intercept I do not believe their first response would be to shoot the guy down until a definite threat was verified. Until then it is up to the controller on the ground to help all his other aircraft avoid the guy you cannot get to talk to you.

Erik Wachters 815026 wrote:...It looks like you fly a lot in the big control area's of the US where controllers have the place to divert other pilot's that take Vatsim on a normal level 90° of track. Again, I have no place to do that.


The "infinite" airspace of the Western United States becomes very, very "finite" when two aircraft are in close proximity to each other. And we are not talking "left turn for 180 miles then resume course". 2,000 feet vertically and 1 mile laterally are all you need to avoid a midair collision with confidence. Then you can work on spacing and getting the guy you are in contact with back on course. Again, now you're controlling instead of just watching your scope. I just looked at the EBBU airspace on VATSPY and it is indeed quite small, but surely you have room for that?


Erik Wachters 815026 wrote:... I really try to keep them all separated but sometimes the "good" pilots complain that they are to close to other traffic that just 5min before popped up in the middle of my airspace and not answering to my call's. They than blame me!


You are just doing your job as a VATSIM Controller when you vector aircraft for traffic. Since by this point I'm sure you have contacted a SUP and, whether the SUP was responsive or not, you can suggest to those complaining pilots to do the same. And presentation is everything. Those who have been here a while know that controllers cannot simply "disconnect" a non-responsive "NORDO" pilot. It needs to be a SUP. A simple text "At this point the actions of the NORDO guy are out of my hands, so I'm doing all I can to keep you from hitting him while I contact a SUP. Until then I need you to make an immediate left/right turn to XXX degrees for collision avoidance."

If they still blame you what are they going to do? Contact a SUP? That's what you wanted in the first place, let them. Contact your FIR? Great, now you can explain at leisure by email just what your goal in keeping them "safe" was so that next time they understand the need for an immediate turn and all you were doing behind the scenes to resolve the situation for them. "Trash talk" and question your skill? You don't need them in your airspace anyway!

It still boils down to "making lemonade".

Randy
By Andreas Fuchs 810809
#503975 Lemonade :mrgreen:

On VATSIM I ignore the NORDOs, I tell pilots in my airspace to ignore them as well. So far I have had no complaints from pilots yet.

And in the real world nobody gets shot out of the sky for being unresponsive. Normally ATC will try to get in touch with pilots for about 15 minutes through the various channels: main frequency, relay through other pilots on main frequency, emergency frequency (121.50, "guard"), the company/airline that the plane belongs to: they can send them a message through ACARS or call them through SATCOM. The last resort will then be a pair of interceptors, who are going to try to wake up the pilots by one of the interceptors flying parallel to the plane at close distance, the other one trailing the plane in question at some distance (for better aiming, should it be necessary).

At VATSIM I sometimes wish we could send up some interceptors as well and wake up pilots: while they may not be able to see them, their TCAS will sure start shouting at them!
By Erik Wachters 815026
#503978 Probably the last thing I say in this topic:
Unfortunately I do not have a flight attendant at home!

You definitely have to do something about that 8)

Next time a pilot that finally responds after trying for a while will think he has a microphone problem :roll: :wink:

Erik
Last edited by Erik Wachters 815026 on Tue Aug 30, 2016 7:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
By Gunnar Lindahl 967365
#504090 I'm surprised a SUP would leave a pilot who is unresponsive in controlled airspace for 30 minutes - let's be clear that B(3) requires pilots to check for ATC coverage and contact the controller immediately on request, so there's no time lag which the SUP has to wait to elapse before he/she takes action.

That said, common sense applies and it's here that the SUP asking "is the pilot currently in conflict?" is a crucial question. If they're not, I'll give them a few minutes, maybe up to 10, to wake up and contact the controller. Then I'll disconnect them. If they are in clear conflict, I'll remove them straight away (after giving them a couple of minutes to respond) because that's going to inhibit the enjoyment of both the pilot and controller.

As for some people in this thread claiming feedback via email gets you nowhere... I see no emails in my inbox about this. Why not try me?