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Daniel Parkin

atc-discussion CTP Proposal

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Daniel Parkin

Don't bother with Oceanic.

 

 

 

 

 

Oceanic seems to be the main cause of stress and frustration for both pilots and controllers.

 

Dispensing with it will remove a major bottle neck in the system by removing the need for pilots to get oceanic clearances, some of whom are woefully ill-equipped to deal with such. In the oceanic phase controllers are so overloaded it's extremely difficult to provide any sort of worthwhile service. Pilots can look after themselves in the oceanic phase and get picked up by radar controllers who can give them a meaningful service at the other side.

 

I've only done oceanic a couple of times during CTP but it taught me to avoid it like the plague.

 

Discuss  ;)

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Oliver Parker

Agreed Dan. I imagine however that this proposal won't be looked upon favourably! 

 

There are too many a/c for people who log onto the position to deal with. Usually they have only controlled the position a handful of times and very little good comes of it. (Pilot and adjacent controller perspective)

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Dale Brooksby

The current problem I see with CTP and my last CTP departure as a pilot confirmed this; the problem lies with airports who don't have the capacity to hold CTP traffic. Take for example Boston last year, I spent at least an hour and a half on a taxiway, in a queue because the airport was completely overloaded with traffic. I think that either ground/delivery positions need to be split at departure fields, or we have a greater choice of departure points because it just makes the whole experience enjoyable for everyone.

 

Removing Oceanic I think will just create more of a problem because the traffic won't be evenly spaced when it gets to the other side, leaving everyone on top of each other by the time they get there, making the arrival controllers job 10x harder than it needs to be. I also see where you are coming from, if you depart midway through the event the deliovery frequencies are ALWAYS overloaded and there is never enough online to cope. If there was some form of ACARS system used to PM pilots their clearance 30 minutes before their arrival at their Oceanic entry point then this could significantly reduce the stress on controllers. Yes they would have to be typing into some sort of web form to work out the clearance but they don't have to be dealing with a frequency and spreadsheet as well as give the clearances all at once. This would just mean more track frequencies and less delivery controllers, easing the workload. 

 

Maybe this isn't the solution, but as Oliver says - this won't look to favorably among many, especially those controllers who love oceanic.

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Oliver Parker

The current problem I see with CTP and my last CTP departure as a pilot confirmed this; the problem lies with airports who don't have the capacity to hold CTP traffic. Take for example Boston last year, I spent at least an hour and a half on a taxiway, in a queue because the airport was completely overloaded with traffic. I think that either ground/delivery positions need to be split at departure fields, or we have a greater choice of departure points because it just makes the whole experience enjoyable for everyone.

 

Removing Oceanic I think will just create more of a problem because the traffic won't be evenly spaced when it gets to the other side, leaving everyone on top of each other by the time they get there, making the arrival controllers job 10x harder than it needs to be. I also see where you are coming from, if you depart midway through the event the deliovery frequencies are ALWAYS overloaded and there is never enough online to cope. If there was some form of ACARS system used to PM pilots their clearance 30 minutes before their arrival at their Oceanic entry point then this could significantly reduce the stress on controllers. Yes they would have to be typing into some sort of web form to work out the clearance but they don't have to be dealing with a frequency and spreadsheet as well as give the clearances all at once. This would just mean more track frequencies and less delivery controllers, easing the workload. 

 

Maybe this isn't the solution, but as Oliver says - this won't look to favorably among many, especially those controllers who love oceanic.

 

The problem is that they are seldom spaced anyway. A couple of CTP's ago the traffic was a nightmare when it came to us even with a full Oceanic compliment.

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Daniel Parkin

I imagine however that this proposal won't be looked upon favourably! 

 

Well of course it won't but I thought it would be a laugh.

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Joseph Beresford

I have to say the overloaded Oceanic frequencies is what makes CTP for me, its why it is so special because to get this amount of traffic for one VATSIM event is rare and unique, especially on a long haul sector. As much as it is a massive headache on the day, it would slightly ruin the enjoyment of the controllers improvising to the situations they are put under.

 

The idea of more airports on offer (especially departing!!) is needed. It gives pilots more variety, it also offers more slots and makes everything more realistic as obviously in the real world they do not all come from 3/4 airports. I think this is what could be improved in future CTPs, especially on westbound. VATSIM Europe could easily staff 8+ departure airports, doing this will also enable controllers to get more of a go at controlling during peak times (instead of getting a quick 30 minute slot) 

 

I would like to see the organisers to try and spice things up in the next CTP, add more departure airports, add smaller arrival airports, have no oceanic or maybe something completely random. It's the one event (except Live! weekend) that I look forward to for the whole year.

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Henry Cleaver

I've controlled Oceanic positions (including delivery) for CTP for the last few years and haven't been as overloaded as I had previously. The routes are worked out much better these days so the amount of traffic coming down each track is fairly manageable. Also Kieran's (giving him credit, may not be his) google docs spreadsheet shared by all track controllers makes the job far easier.

 

In my opinion, it's all part of the fun of CTP. If you don't like it, fly across the pond on a quiet day.

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Celestyn Chmielewski

Probably another useless post from me.....

 

Few CTP events ago, I remembered that one Oceanic Radio frequency, I was monitoring, was overloaded and difficult to communicate with everyone (voice and text) and one wonderful pilot texted his suggestion on frequency "Why not make this text only frequency?". Controller thought about his suggestion and decided to declared his frequency text only. I witnessed this moment and this pilot's suggestion actually helps make controller's workload just a little easier and he was able to communicate with everyone (well most of them, I think!). I posted this on VATSIM.net thread and same controller quoted my post saying it did helped him.

 

So maybe make all Oceanic Radio frequencies text only just as a trial during to see if it actually will works or not?

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Simon Kelsey

Isn't one of the great things about CTP the opportunity to experience an Oceanic service? Apart from anything else it makes a bit of a change to plodding across alone and in silence as is the normal situation...

 

I agree in part with Celestyn about using more text. RT loading on the tracks has been an issue in the real world too -- CPDLC has massively cut that down, and whilst text isn't exactly equivalent it should have the same effect for us provided that it's just an issue of RT loading and not controller workload.

 

I wouldn't banish voice altogether though -- I'd go with the real-world procedure of initially checking in on voice for the normal SELCAL check etc on primary and secondary frequencies -- but if after that the majority of posreps were conducted on text things should be a bit more manageable.

Edited by Simon Kelsey

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Kris Thomson

Interesting discussion. I've controlled Shanwick for the last few years during CTP. While previously I did find it to be stressful and chaotic, I've seen improvements in the last year which made it much more manageable for controllers.

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Stuart Duncan

OCA wouldn't be so bad during CTP if pilots actually knew what they were doing.  Some pilots are excellent and some are shockingly bad.  So much RT time is wasted because pilots simply haven't researched how to request an OCA clearance and how to make a position report.  If the OCA controllers spent less time extracting this information, often painfully, from ill-prepared pilots, there'd be more time for correct clearance requests, position reports and, dare I say it, perhaps periods of radio silence as well!

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James Horgan

I'd like to see a bigger uptake of the use of ACARS. Hoppie.nl/acars is a great tool and very realistic - once I get validated it is my intention to try and offer it as well.

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Alec Walker

Want to make CTP better? Instantly ban all pilots who don't know what they're doing!!! That's as drastic a solution with as good as an effect.

My personal suggestion is that as with RW, some of the tracks should enforce mandatory CPDLC usage. Using the Hoppie ACARS (or Airbus equivalent, I can't remember what it's called at the moment) for both CPDLC not only cuts down on voice comms but also enables the use of ADS-C for better situational awareness.

From a controller aspect, GOATS is a must. It again improves situational awareness as well as improving co-ordination between adjoining Oceanic Sectors and tracks / split levels.

Life is sooooo much simpler for the controller with GOATS and CPDLC/ADS running!

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Mark Wilson

On a normal day, to have Oceanic is very rare and great. They have time to deal with those that know what to do and help those that don't. In my pilot hat, if I see an OCA controller online I will dump my intended EU flight and make every effort to do a pond crossing. My pilot hat says a massive thanks to anyone doing OCA out of a fly-in.

 

Oceanic on a CTP is a nightmare and seriously not fair. Not fair to the controller and to those that actually have read and try hard to follow the procedures and then those that just think, hell, I want to do the CTP but wont read the procedures! The reason to fly online is you can expect real world procedures, don't bother flying online if you don't want them!

 

CTP's are organised and advertised, why not add into the advert 'ALL' pilots are expected to follow CTP procedures with a link to information on how pilots should follow procedures, failure to follow will result in pilots unfamiliar with procedures maybe removed! Drastic but we have to protect this rare occasion and make it as it should be for those that make an effort.

 

Other options, make sure there is a SUP online monitoring the CTP, maybe have a sub OCA controller who can help those lacking in knowledge, OCA_HLP_FSS or something similar, maybe add a track or route, even use land based dct's, max FL280, for those not informed or wanting to not be informed. 

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Michael Benson

Last two CTPs I've done I didn't bother getting a clearance or doing any position reports. It was impossible to get in on frequency and there is no way that any form of control was really been used. I SLOPed away and waited till I got to the coast.

I don't see why in this day and age we can't have an app/webpage where you enter the information and there is nothing on the radio apart from SELCAL calls.

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Christopher Crawford

What will make CTP even better than it already is IMO is when CPDLC ACARS is completed and hopefully integrated into a/c, might be wishful thinking currently but it looks promising 

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John Pettit

Reading through all the above, we should just be thankful we get to use VHF. Can you imagine what it would be like if we were all trying to use HF :o

Edited by John Pettit

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Jouka Ahponen

I have now one CTP behind as a controller and it wasn't that bad. I actually enjoyed my time controlling. Also The whole idea of CTP is that the Atlantic is full of ATC. Guess many pilots wouldn't even fly the event without.

One thing we controllers have to note this time is that there has been much more discussion about CTP around. Also slots were booked in record time. Usually this means that more pilots are interested flying and therefore also the amount of people who don't read the documentation or don't know the oceanic procedures icreases. With simple probability maths we can predict that this time around there is more flight booked by this kind of pilots than normally.

I am not saying the pilots are bad or anything. Just that EVERYONE, even the ones who have done CTP many times before, should revise themselve with the oceanic procedures so they know excactly what to do and say in certain situations. That will help the controllers' job a lot and also the radio will stay much cleaner when the controller doesn't need to step on another aircraft and shout him to standby when he stepped in in the middle of a readback. That has happened to me few times.

Jouka

Edited by Jouka Ahponen

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