Air Traffic Controller Discussion With a Global Perspective
By Ernesto Alvarez 818262
#504117 as far as other pilots complaining about another aircraft being "NORDO" or unresponsive. does it surprise me? no, far too many VATSIM pilots spend way too much time worrying how someone else is playing "the game". then they also complain that the "other" pilot caused them to not remember to put their gear down or cause them to crash in some way. my response is always the same to these users, nooooo you spent too much time trying to be a backseat pilot instead of worrying about your own flight.

ive also had pilots complain because i had them separated by the standard 10nm, its like some freak out the minute they actually see another aircraft in the air near them.

my point is, there will always be someone complaining or whining about this or that, especially online. i dont take them that seriously. if someone wants to complain, i guarantee you they will find something to complain about, especially like i said before, those that are much too caught up on what someone else is doing
By Jonathan Fong 1308253
#504502 Well, there is a possible conflict between CoC clauses A9 and B3 - a situation where the pilot leaves their computer, ATC logs on while they are gone, and their plane enters controlled airspace with the pilot still AFK - HOWEVER, the pilot returns within the allotted 30 minutes and contacts ATC. Surely the pilot cannot be at fault in such a situation? After all, no one can sense when enroute coverage will come on just as you go to make some coffee or heat up some food.
By Bradley Grafelman 1242018
Jonathan Fong 1308253 wrote:the pilot returns within the allotted 30 minutes and contacts ATC.

There's no conflict, because the quoted part of your post is inventing something that isn't in the CoC - an "allotted" amount of time. A9 says you are not allowed to exceed 30 minutes of unattended time. It does not say anything about minutes 0 through 29. For those minutes, A9 doesn't have any relevant language and thus isn't applicable. If a SUP decides to give you (30 - x) minutes to respond, that's his/her prerogative. It's not required or guaranteed, though (at least, not on a CoC/CoR basis).
By Simon Kelsey 810049
#504515 As Bradley says, the CoC says...

a member is not permitted to leave his or her connection unattended for a period in excess of thirty (30) minutes.

30 minutes is a maximum, not a minimum, and my own interpretation has always been that in controlled airspace all bets are off (whether it was controlled or not at the time I left).

Personally, my house isn't so large that putting the dinner on and keeping half an eye on the connection are mutually exclusive -- I make sure the vPilot sounds are coming through the speakers so that if I get a PM I (hopefully) will hear it from the kitchen and I just pop up and cast an eye over it at regular intervals, especially if I'm flying through a region where ATC coverage is fairly regular, and doubly so if it's a time of day when ATC is likely to be logging on. If I'm in any doubt about being able to be on hand to reply to a message, I just disconnect and rest easy!
By Deon Mathews 1188217
#504523 Ran into a similar situation some time ago when I still did controlling and admittedly got somewhat annoyed at the sup for allowing a situation in the airspace I was controlling. In his defense he quoted the VATSIM CoR 6.04 "Sole Discretion: It is within the sole discretion of the individual authorized by this rule to determine whether the conduct of a member warrants removal or temporary suspension of said member.". That was the end of that conversation.

I suppose therefor that the outcome of any non responsive call depends on the sup that responds within the 30 minute window.

Deon Mathews
By Adam Trzcinski 1125672
#504528 Most supervisors I had the pleasure to work with are fairly good with that discretion they can use. If the traffic will impact someone else's flightpath and fun, they are usually more in favor of B03... if I just logged on and have been connected for less than 30min as ATC... they usually are more in favor or A09. But in the end, the sups deal with the situation.
By Don Desfosse 1035677
#504538 As Brad and Simon correctly say, A9 allows for a maximum of 30 minutes away. B3 trumps A9, however. Technically, going to an extreme for example purposes only, once you enter controlled airspace (or once a controller logs on), you are allowed exactly zero seconds away from your connection.

Like I say, that's taken to the extreme for the purposes of an example. In most cases (though not all, sadly) most controllers will allow a reasonable amount of time (e.g. 5 minutes) before trying to hail the pilot, and will allow even more reasonable time before hailing a Supervisor. We all know that it's possible that a pilot, seeing no ATC ahead, may step away for a bathroom break, to grab a bite to eat or something to drink, shut the garden water faucet off, etc., and Murphy's Law being what it is, a controller will pop on seconds after the pilot steps away. That's why being reasonable is so important. But, all too often, that's not how it truly is -- it's someone who has been away for a very long time and is likely to be away for a very long time....

One note that we should all appreciate -- a draft of changes to the CoC is currently in review at the BoG level, and amongst those changes is clarification to the applicability of A9/B3 in uncontrolled vs. controlled airspace. Cliff's Notes: B3 trumps A9 in controlled airspace.

As a Supervisor, I try to ensure with a NORDO pilot report that I know a few facts before taking action.
- If there's an immediate conflict, I sent a quick note to the pilot and disconnect him to prevent against a negative experience for the controller and the other pilots nearby.
- If the controller just logged on (yes, amazingly some controllers will .wallop within only a few minutes of logging on -- and I really wish controllers would stop doing that unless an immediate conflict is brewing, and I wish all instructors reinforced not to do that!), I give the pilot the benefit of the doubt.
- If there's not an immediate conflict, I attempt to find out how long the controller has been attempting to reach the pilot, and I try to spend a reasonable time attempting to reach the pilot. How long I let it go depends on a number of variables, including potential conflicts, how long ATC has already been trying to reach the pilot, if the pilot has a history of unattended connections, how busy the airspace is, how busy the Supervisor is with other cases, etc. As was mentioned, most Supervisors try to use good judgment and good balance, taking those variables into account, and hopefully (workload permitting) most Supervisors actually communicate with the controller to let them know their approximate plan.

As a controller, one thing that I generally do, when I log on and see that there are people in my airspace that may not be aware that I just logged on, is send a text message on unicom that says something to the effect of: "XXX_CTR is now online," This gets, on average, about 65% of the pilots out there who are dutifully monitoring unicom to call me. The others, I generally send another message, on unicom, directed at their callsign, that says Contact XXX_CTR on For those controllers/Facility Engineers that choose to add it to their facility's standard alias file, it could look like
Code: Select all.cme Contact $callsign on $com1

I use the .contactme as a last resort. It it the least realistic option; the hailing attempts on unicom mirror what the RW would do on guard.

Too harsh and we lose people. Too loose and we lose people. That sweet spot in the middle where everyone gets better/smarter and has more fun is a tough place to find, but a great place to be. Let's all look for that sweet spot that maximizes the enjoyment of the network for everyone....
By Andrew Morkunas 1017951
I generally send another message, on unicom, directed at their callsign, that says Contact XXX_CTR on For those controllers/Facility Engineers that choose to add it to their facility's standard alias file, it could look like

As a controller, how do you send a message on UNICOM? How do you set 122.8 in the controller client?
By Robert Fersch 847762
#505327 This is an interesting discussion and I understand both sides of it. Perhaps we should add to the Code of Conduct a requirement that a pilot who, when ATC is absent steps away temporarily for those reasons already mentioned, place a message in remarks or other suitable place explaining the absence. Like: "No ATC observed ahead, grabbing a snack, back in :15."

I believe most members follow the CofC and want to do the right thing. This would help everyone to quickly understand the situation and resolve it.

Best Regards,
By Andreas Fuchs 810809
#505361 There's just one problem: once ATC has modified your flightplan (squawk assigned, SID assigned etc..), then it is locked. As a pilot you cannot change it anymore. We would rather need a new function in our pilots clients, where we could set this "time away".
By Camden Bruno 1253785
Andreas Fuchs 810809 wrote:We would rather need a new function in our pilots clients, where we could set this "time away".

As a controller, if I step away from the scope for a couple minutes, I always set .busyall [Optional Message]. This restricts private messages from pilots, other controllers, etc. In the optional message portion, I state that I am away for whatever reason and will be back shortly.

I am not suggesting we allow pilots to restrict/not accept private messages from controllers with a similar command, however, perhaps something similar could be setup so that when a pilot receives a private message (i.e. Contact Me) the pilot client could auto-respond to whoever sent the message with a message the pilot has set regarding their "time away." I'm sure Ross could incorporate this to vPilot fairly easily.
By Nicholas Cavacini 1084329
#505379 Any such message or communication does not relieve the pilot of the responsibility to contact ATC.