11 posts in this topic
By Harry Cameron
Does anyone know where I would be able to find some documents for the local procedures at Aberdeen other than the out of date crib sheet.
By Eoin Motherway
For ages, I've been interested in visiting the UK's en route positions. What exactly would it take to get to visit SCO_CTR and all lower positions?
By Joseph Messore
Following my first arrival into Gloucester with ATC and my first ever overhead join into a circuit with someone watching me...the pressure was on! I would like to thank @Neil Ryans for some brilliant ATC. It was lovely to experience that, not often I fly into an airport I don't know much about. I've caught a VFR bug ! Thanks Neil!
By Oliver Parker
Earlier today I was doing a terrible job of vectoring and streaming etc and there were quite a few on headings when I suddenly disconnected.
I didn't bottle it (promise), my computer packed in and I couldn't boot it back up for the life of me! Sorry to all of those who are still heading towards Dover or on a very long base leg into Gatters.
I've no doubt it will happen again but sorry for this one and sorry to those in the future for my useless hardware.
@Dave Hardy sure you were there so apologies.
By Philip Harris
I decided to write this post, not out of criticism of the hard-working staff, mentors and members that we have in our division, but more about my observations and feelings toward the state of our division and, in particular, controller progression. I hope it's taken as the constructive post I intended it to be in the best interests of all of us!
Do we set the bar too high?
The goals of VATSIM UK ought to be, to provide well-staffed airspace with controllers who are competent enough to provide ATC services at a level appropriate for the VATSIM network.
Now let me start by saying, without a shadow of a doubt, we are the best division in the world in terms of realism and ability to control large volumes of traffic. But, for an S1 to progress to a C1, they are looking at AT LEAST 4 years coupled with a bit of luck along the way. The age old problem is a lack of mentors. People leave, people don't want to mentor, the higher up you go the less mentors there are, students taking a long time clog up the system. CT is making great progress in reducing the pressure, and the moodle courses shifting the onus on theory in mentoring sessions is super progress. But, I don't think it's enough. We are unlikely to ever have enough mentors to cope with the number of trainees we see knocking at the door. So the only thing left to change is the standards we require of a student to progress without compromising the quality of the service. We all are guilty of getting bogged down in perfection and OTT standards.
Areas where we may go OTT, and where I think we could do better
Too much detail
Take a look at almost any of our vMATS. They are arguably 80% unnecessary repetition of airport stats (see charts), pilot dos and don'ts (goes in the pilot guide) and general stuff from 413 and 493. Worse that that, they are full of real-world specifics that are utterly unrequired for VATSIM. I can't imagine why a vMATS need ever be more than about 10 pages.
Worst of all, some of this OTT detail spills over into the training too. We expect students to know almost as much as a real controller would! E.g. Helis at Heathrow. You are lucky if you EVER get one, and if you do, then they probably won't even know what the H routes are.
Another example, the complicated release procedure for Liverpool asking London and or Radar in various combinations based on CC runway, GP runway and SID. It's ridiculous.
I know I've only picked a couple of things, but if you really look at what we teach and ask yourself is that REALLY needed on VATSIM? We could remove a lot of irrelevant stuff we force on people.
That isn't to say that we should not make this detail available to those controllers who want to learn it and take their controlling to the next level. But it ought to be bonus further reading.
(I do feel sometimes that someone poured over the airport textual data and added as much as they could to our vMATS.)
Unrealistic sweatbox sessions
I've hardly ever had a sweatbox that prepared me for controlling on VATSIM.
Perfect pilots, all perfect voice and a CRAZY amount of traffic that I'd guess even a real controller would struggle with seem to be the order of the day. Why not focus on realistic scenarios? Use SB to demonstrate things like separation, vectoring, using Euroscope, fixing common pilot problems, scenarios and the like? I know there is some movement towards doing this and it's great to see!
Simulate poor pilots! Simulate new pilots! PREPARE students for controlling on VATSIM!
Too much theory, not enough mentoring on skills
Most of my mentoring sessions seemed to be force feeding me theory. As I mention above, I really think it's more about passing on real world (i.e. VATSIM) experience and coaching people. Again, an example of real world vs. VATSIM. YES you don't need to speed control people in the RMA. But this is VATSIM, and if you don't, you can expect 9/10 pilots to miss their intercept. I also don't expect a real world piot to appear on a runay, but this is VATSIM. There's no standard way of saying "erm, ignore the F15 that just magially appeared in front of you'
We don't control professional pilots. Let's stop training as if we do!
There is an odd elitist culture in VATSIM. Especially amongst controllers. Some of the nitpicking nonsense I've been criticised for or read about in session reports has astounded me. It should come down to "is this person of a sufficient skill to not do a terrible job, and not make hard work for fellow controllers?" That's it. We are not real controllers. This is a game (yeah I said it) and people want to "level up". We don't have the training resources to train enough controllers to the current level and we exclude those people who will likely NEVER reach the level of some of the experts. Talk about inclusive. Again, see above about bonus skills and reading.
Being realistic in general
Exams, pre-exams, and even some events attract a degree of traffic totally unrealistic to what we see on VATSIM 99% of the time. We spend DAYS teaching people to control that one rare occasion when it's super busy. Why not have a basic level to pass? But then offer further training like badges or endorsements (like expert FIS, or SAR qualified, or event certified (other divisions do do this). We also expect people to cover unrealistically busy sectors top down of a much greater area than you'd ever see in the real world.
An example being, the amount of traffic I saw training to control on Heathrow Director I have NEVER seen even during events because I had 2 other directors and ADC online. Again, what mystical network are we training people to control?
There is also a need to really have people understand that they need to log off or drop down a level when it gets too busy. There are some controllers bandboxing from time to time that don't understand this. Whilst I know that's a political issue and only few do this, it would be good to train people to know their limits, especially if we train people to pass an exam with a NORMAL amount of traffic.
Finally, gaining a new rating ought to be a licence to learn. I am a better S3 now than when I passed last year. For sure. It would be great to have been let loose far earlier, but then had follow up training check OTS's, specialist training for special endorsements and so on.
Well done if you are still here
Just to reiterate, this is not meant to bash anyone or any team in the division. I think we have an awesome division and I'd love to hear if this made sense to any of you? More people passing, more people controlling, more people flying, more people mentoring at higher level (and so on and so on)