By Matt Middleton 1264577
#496324 Euroscope is based on a real world area control system. This system was designed to use in high level area control and is therefore not very suitable for aerodrome or approach control. vStrips was designed to create a system to use for aerodrome and approach controllers on vatsim.

vStrips is loosely based on a real world electronic flight progress strip system which is in use at several major airports both in the UK and elsewhere in Europe and the world.

There are several reasons to use some form of data display when controlling. The main one is because it aids controller decision making and therefore improves safety and efficiency. However other benefits include easier coordination, team working and for real the data display also forms a legal record of controller actions which can be used in investigations.

With this post I want to expand some of the background of flight strips, why we use them, how we use them and things to consider that may be new to many vatsim controllers who are not used to a strip display.


To begin with we would advise that when you use vStrips you deselect your lists in Euroscope. The strip display will give you all the data you need for controlling and therefore the lists are superfluous. At first this might seem strange since many are not used to controlling from strips but with time the strips should become second nature to you and then you will not miss your lists.


In general every action to an aircraft will have a corresponding action in the strips. For example when an aircraft is given taxi the strip will be moved to the correct taxi bay and a holding point will be annotated.

These actions are important because they form an emphasis that an instruction has connection to the strip display (which is in turn a representation of your traffic).

The movements also allow a conflict check to be made. The idea being that when a strip is moved or changed a double check will also be made to ensure there are no conflicts. In ground movements this is not always obvious because

conflicting traffic can be in a different strip bay (for example an inbound in a taxi bay can conflict with a pushback in a different bay) but this is an integral part of runway controlling (which is where usage of flight strips has a big safety benefit).

To aid short term and working memory controllers employ a scan of their strips to build situational awareness and to detect conflicts. In essence this means that the controller will look at each strip in turn, gather the necessary information, then compare this with the aircraft's actual position, then move on to the next strip. This sounds very regimented and many vatsim controllers will not be used to doing this. However a regimented scan routine is important to stop controllers turning reactive, which means that they would respond to actions as they occur rather than themselves control the situation and traffic.

This scan also allows a plan to be formulated, whenever the controller looks at the strip they should also consider what the aircraft will want to do next. For example an aircraft pushing back will soon want to taxi, what taxi clearance can be given? Do we need to use intermediate holding points? Are there any inbounds conflicting? By formulating these questions the controller will build situational awareness and also formulate a plan ahead of time. This means the controller will find it easier to stay "on top" of the situation. This is then combined with the regimented scan order where each strip is scanned in turn over and over again, this procedure ensures that the controller looks at all their traffic (and to some extent their pending traffic as well) so nothing is missed or forgotten.

For runway controlling each runway is represented by a runway bay. Everything that has approval to use a runway has to be placed into this bay. This means that as soon as an aircraft is cleared to land, cross, take-off or line up on a runway the corresponding strip is placed in the bay as a physical reminder that the runway is blocked.

The idea is that for example if a controller lines up an aircraft the strip is placed in the bay. When the controller subsequently forgets the lined-up aircraft (for whatever reason) they will notice the conflict as soon as they move another strip into the bay as it will be placed adjacent to the strip of the lined-up aircraft.

This is based on the older paper strip system where a wooden strip board was used. When something was lined-up on a runway (using paper strips) the strip would be moved to the top of the runway bay. Anything that was then cleared to cross, land or take-off on the runway was moved down to the bottom of the board. If you didn't have to jump anything (so a lander should never jump a lined-up strip) and if you hit the wood at the bottom, then the runway was safe to use.

Electronic strips use a similar system where the aircraft are placed in order in the bay, and if there is nothing below them then they can be cleared to use the runway.

For example, an aircraft is cleared to land, the strip is put at the bottom of the runway bay. When the next aircraft is lined-up (either conditionally or after the landing aircraft has passed) then the strip is put above the landing

strip. Once the runway is vacated the landing strip is moved out of the bay, and therefore the runway is clear and the departure can be cleared for takeoff.

This very simple check-system is an effective way to make sure there is always a clear record of who is on the runway and it the runway is safe for use or not.



If a controller does not follow the movements correctly the strip display loses it's purpose. This is also true of strip marking and annotation. The theory is that if a controller is suddenly incapacitated someone else needs to immediately be able to replace them and purely based on the flight strips gain an understanding of the situation. This is also important when working in a team.

vStrips is created so that it can be adapted to be used in teams of controllers, for example DEL/GND/TWR splits. However if these are to be efficient everyone involved need to use the program correctly. This is similar to the vatsim

Heathrow specific procedures which were designed so controllers would have a common method of marking their lists.

vStrips however can take this to another level as the strips will not appear before transferred, this means you can immediately see just your own traffic and don't have to constantly mentally filter traffic out of your scan which is not under your control.

Using vStrips also allows you to work more effectively as the strips are constantly moved and can be used to detect and highlight conflicts. Lists can be effective but for ground controlling they are generally too static and therefore inefficient. vStrips allows you much more freedom in how you use your data display.

Download - http://www.vstrips.co.uk
Last edited by Norman Blackburn 870575 on Fri Feb 12, 2016 2:03 pm, edited 2 times in total. Reason: Moved from General Discussion
By Erik Wachters 815026
#496445 Very nice post!

Only one thing (not really relevant to the topic 8) ):
Euroscope is based on a real world area control system. This system was designed to use in high level area control and is therefore not very suitable for aerodrome or approach control.


Why do you think that the system is not very suitable for approach control? In the ACC where I work we use it for approach control. The only difference is that the APP controllers select other sensor inputs (approach radars) because they like a faster update on the HMI.

Erik
By Pavel Brodsky 982568
#498561 Hello,
is there any chance that vStrips could get a configuration options? The functionality behind them is very nice, their technology is cool, but it is a shame they are "locked" to be UK-style. In real-life here at LKPR we use strips that work in a very similar way, but look very different. The actual strips (their colour coding, location and meaning of individual columns) and the strip board (size, position of individual bays, etc). It would be awesome if we had a config file where we could adjust it completely to our preference and keep the nice functionality. I believe other VACCs would style it to match their real systems as well.

Pavel
By Matt Middleton 1264577
#498636
Pavel Brodsky 982568 wrote:Hello,
is there any chance that vStrips could get a configuration options? The functionality behind them is very nice, their technology is cool, but it is a shame they are "locked" to be UK-style. In real-life here at LKPR we use strips that work in a very similar way, but look very different. The actual strips (their colour coding, location and meaning of individual columns) and the strip board (size, position of individual bays, etc). It would be awesome if we had a config file where we could adjust it completely to our preference and keep the nice functionality. I believe other VACCs would style it to match their real systems as well.

Pavel

Hi Pavel,

Thanks for your interest. If you drop me an e-mail at m.middleton@vstrips.co.uk we can discuss this.

Thanks
Matt
By Johnny Coughlan 861497
#499051 Hi Matt,

Can I just say thank you for vStrips as it is currently the only way I can control DEL/GND/TWR in a VR capacity using Oculas Rift and the FlyInside Oculas app.

The experience of sitting inside the virtual FSX tower cab in a 3D first person perspective has taken my online ATC hobby to another level an it wouldn't be possible without vStrips as the FlyInside app allows me to inject vStrips into FSX so I can do my controlling.

I'll try to post a video of it at some point :) .
By Bjoern Helge Smaavollan 1055999
#508961
Matthew Moy 1288933 wrote:
Benjamin Arrowsmith 1296329 wrote:i can see that i can highlight the strips Red and Blue. what is this used for ?


The blue strips are for departures, the orange strips are for arrivals.


I believe he's talking about the feature of "Cocking" the strips by pressing the EOBT field in the strip :)