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Richard Williams

discussion Keeping the S1s interested

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Richard Williams

I know I've (and others have) raised it before, but I do wonder, being that the roles are remarkably similar, why Vatsim don't enable S1's to cover A/G positions?

With the email I received recently stating that there were 193* new students in 2017, one wonders... Where are they?! If they're waiting for TWR training and bored of GND, this could make them feel empowered to keep taking part, as well as expanding the number of airports open?

Not looking to stir up contention or a debate, I just wonder if there's a positive opportunity to expand the number of airfields opened here and retain interest? Especially with the possibility of enabling A/G airfields around the new VFR Friday arrangement - a fantastic new opportunity IMO! Good call chaps :)

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Sebastian Wheeler

Personally, I agree that S1's might get bored, but as you may know AGO/AFISO fields, while easier to control, (in some ways) require different phraseology, different procedures, and a different "controller mindset" While this may be easy for some, I feel that some newer S1's may jump straight onto this, without learning procedures. A great idea, but only if the appropriate documentation/training was provided. 

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Connor Faulder

I believe VATSIM Germany offers (or at least did offer) AFIS training to S1s to get an AFIS endorsement. 

 

I don't know what the state of mentoring is like in VATSIM Germany at the moment, but I rarely see any S1s controlling their many AFIS positions at the moment.

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Adam Farquharson

Maybe add a validation for s1 controllers and make it similar to the Gatwick one where you must have x number of hours on different airfields in order to be enrolled on a moodle course and then have an introductory session after. This would also increase the number of staffed aerodromes around the uk while people are trying to get the hours to be enrolled on the moodle.

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Sebastian Wheeler
25 minutes ago, Adam Farquharson said:

Maybe add a validation for s1 controllers and make it similar to the Gatwick one where you must have x number of hours on different airfields in order to be enrolled on a moodle course and then have an introductory session after. This would also increase the number of staffed aerodromes around the uk while people are trying to get the hours to be enrolled on the moodle.

Agreed, however, I think the requirements would have to be quite strict, with a more robust validation system, as opposed to gatwick, where for the most part, validation sessions are more of an observation. I think one full mentoring session, followed by a short validation session, so the S1's are able to fully understand the nature of controlling AFISO/AGO fields.

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Neil Ryans

Hi all,

I fully support this, as a visiting controller with an AFISO validation, this was the main reason for applying for visitor status in the UK.  With the correct reference material and some monitored training, this does help with controller progression in my opinion.  It's also a challenge, and makes you plan ahead, as you have to get the pilots to report location, and inform you of their intentions and avoid each other in the circuit,  a win-win for pilot and ATC training.

 

Neil Ryans

Visiting controller Moncton FIR

 

 

 

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Andy Ford

An interesting idea. From my perspective, any venture into this needs to achieve the following things:

  • It can't take resources away from S2 training - we don't have mentors spare for this
  • It needs to be beneficial to the student - as pointed out before, AFIS/AG are very different to the positions you learn when training for S2. So in that sense, we need to determine what benefits there are to learning skills relevant to S2 training (could we be spending a lot of time unpicking AFISO practices when training on TWR?)

As for training material. There is (what appears to be) a fairly complete training course for AG/AFIS lurking in Moodle. In that sense, if we were to proceed with this, we would have valuable material already written for this. In terms of options, we could pursue a "Military" style approach and make it a simple pass the moodle and you're done, or we could mandate some form of practical training. I'm aware however that AFIS/AG positions don't necessarily get enough regular traffic to make online training feasible.

TLDR: As a department, our focus needs to be on our existing training issues and sorting those out. However, I'm open to ideas so will give this due consideration :)

Edited by Andy Ford

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Simon Kelsey
4 minutes ago, Andy Ford said:

As for training material. There is (what appears to be) a fairly complete training course for AG/AFIS lurking in Moodle. In that sense, if we were to proceed with this, we would have valuable material already written for this. In terms of options, we could pursue a "Military" style approach and make it a simple pass the moodle and you're done, or we could mandate some form of practical training. I'm aware however that AFIS/AG positions don't necessarily get enough regular traffic to make online training feasible.

Personally I would very much advocate the Moodle-only approach. It's not rocket science, and as noted the positions being staffed are hardly Heathrow = very low risk and plenty of opportunity for controllers to learn 'on the job' alongside probably more experienced pilots in a low-density situation.

To me, this seems like a win win: encourage staffing of more minor aerodromes, give new controllers a bit more variety away from GND/DEL and help support VFR operations with minimum training effort and minimum reputational risk. What's not to like?

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Lewis Hardcastle

I also like the idea of using Moodle-only for this. You might later find an increase in coverage at these fields helping to boost and create more varying FTE's 👍

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Ollie Latham

I think this is a great idea, but the whole training process doesn’t make much sense. Although any S2 rated controller or above can log onto an AFISO or A/G position, there’s nothing saying they have any idea how to operate it. 

The only way someone is going to know how to operate one of these positions is with real world experience, or just doing independent research e.g. watching YouTube videos.

With this in mind I ask... why should S1s need training to operate them when S2s don’t?

Probably the best thing would be to introduce a moodle course for ANY controller wishing to operate these positions, not just S1s.

Anyway, I strongly agree it would be great to implement something like this.

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Callum McLoughlin

My view is that S1 is a student rating and has demonstrated no GRP competency. To keep them interested is simple, get them to S2 ASAP. Suggestions for doing so are in my post history :P

I always like more online controllers (that is surely the aim of the game) but unfortunately this suggestion is in conflict with a more significant VATSIM principle.

 

Edit: btw this would need a change to A/G connection callsigns. S1s can only connect as a TWR when being mentored, or when granted an STV which should be used between 'okay' and 'good enough to pass exam' :)

Edited by Callum McLoughlin

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Andy Ford
26 minutes ago, Ollie Latham said:

With this in mind I ask... why should S1s need training to operate them when S2s don’t?

Probably the best thing would be to introduce a moodle course for ANY controller wishing to operate these positions, not just S1s.

We can't prevent S2+ logging on _TWR positions without making the airfield a major under GRP.

On that note, the S2 training does include quite a lot of the basic bits and bobs you need for AFIS (such as traffic info).

16 minutes ago, Callum McLoughlin said:

Edit: btw this would need a change to A/G connection callsigns. S1s can only connect as a TWR when being mentored, or when granted an STV which should be used between 'okay' and 'good enough to pass exam' :)

From the GRP perspective (from my understanding), we are free to restrict S1s as and how we please with regards to Tower positions - there's no concept of an "STV" as there is with "SAV" at a GRP level. We just choose to use them (at present) in the same fashion.

That said, you've echoed my point regarding priorities. Whilst this may be a nice to have, improving our S2 training process is the top priority.

Edited by Andy Ford

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Richard Williams

Avoiding draining human training resources seems sensible. An endorsement for any controller interested in providing this service would be great.

As an S2 I've operated Kemble before and had to remember to not say as much as I can on a tower position, so I'd say any learning curve is not limited to S1s ;)

While I appreciate there are some procedural differences, the hopeful increase in R/T time for S1 students would surely bring benefits in terms of confidence and fluency, while not introducing any stressful traffic situations that they are not yet trained to handle (save of course the inevitable 747 trying to land at a farmstrip!!!)

24 minutes ago, Callum McLoughlin said:

My view is that S1 is a student rating and has demonstrated no GRP competency. To keep them interested is simple, get them to S2 ASAP. Suggestions for doing so are in my post history :P

I always like more online controllers (that is surely the aim of the game) but unfortunately this suggestion is in conflict with a more significant VATSIM principle.

 

Edit: btw this would need a change to A/G connection callsigns. S1s can only connect as a TWR when being mentored, or when granted an STV which should be used between 'okay' and 'good enough to pass exam' :)

A fair point, but with 197 new S1s in 2017 and limited mentoring resources, how is their training going to speed up? It would seem only a tiny fraction of that 197 have stuck around to make it to S2, the statistics for manned positions would seem to support this. An S2 is, after all, also a student and despite managing a tower, is not able to manage an approach position. Is an S1 really so unqualified as to struggle? 

Also - how many existing S2s are actively Manning positions and mentoring? 

Surely the principle has become limiting factor? And more importantly, if it opens up a way of safely introducing a broader scope of interest, surely this would be of benefit to students and vatuk in general?

Edited by Richard Williams

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Callum McLoughlin
37 minutes ago, Andy Ford said:

From the GRP perspective (from my understanding), we are free to restrict S1s as and how we please with regards to Tower positions - there's no concept of an "STV" as there is with "SAV" at a GRP level. We just choose to use them (at present) in the same fashion.

You're correct from a 'letter of the law' perspective, but I think controllers routinely connecting as TWR as an S1 on a long term basis would be seen as a breach of the spirit of the GRP (which sets S2 as the TWR level rating). Interpretation is always the fun bit...

Edit: That said VATSIM is a contradiction. Back when I was an 'S1' I could control TWR as much as I fancied... Once I passed my exam I was merely allowed to request APP mentoring (S3). No rating change....

Speaking more widely, it might be worth considering whether the same principle can be applied, just with S2 used once an 'exam pass' is granted?? That could help a great deal.... I'd support that in a heart beat. It would give people the opportunity to practice which is what is sorely needed.

I know I am dragging this off topic, and for that I apologise.

Edited by Callum McLoughlin

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Andy Ford
54 minutes ago, Callum McLoughlin said:

You're correct from a 'letter of the law' perspective, but I think controllers routinely connecting as TWR as an S1 on a long term basis would be seen as a breach of the spirit of the GRP (which sets S2 as the TWR level rating). Interpretation is always the fun bit...

Edit: That said VATSIM is a contradiction. Back when I was an 'S1' I could control TWR as much as I fancied... Once I passed my exam I was merely allowed to request APP mentoring (S3). No rating change....

Speaking more widely, it might be worth considering whether the same principle can be applied, just with S2 used once an 'exam pass' is granted?? That could help a great deal.... I'd support that in a heart beat. It would give people the opportunity to practice which is what is sorely needed.

I know I am dragging this off topic, and for that I apologise.

Yes it's all interpretation. From my perspective if we were to do this, it would be offered to members who already have plenty of ground experience as almost something else they can achieve along with the KK GND endorsement - so as not to have people just logging on AFIS to the detriment of our main aerodromes. I guess one could view it in the same spirit as "Procedural Towers" in GRP - the controllers don't have to be S3's, but GRP clearly lets them do S3 principles (albeit, they have to study these things but GRP leaves it very open as to what constitutes "studying" - Moodle, perhaps?).

Practically, AFIS/AG is really just a glorified ground with a bit more responsibility - but we could see benefits in terms of things like practising traffic information?

(I'm not fighting for or against here, but I'm open to ideas - just playing devils advocate!)

Edited by Andy Ford

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Callum McLoughlin

Andy, I meant all TWR positions... I.e scrap ground limitations. A/G not something that I think is massively relevant in VATSIM at the moment.

I realise I hold a fairly “extreme” POV for VATUK (but not VATSIM) but the end goal is more positions where traffic is being manned, for me at least! :)

Edited by Callum McLoughlin

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Adam Farquharson
6 hours ago, Andy Ford said:

It can't take resources away from S2 training - we don't have mentors spare for this

We could potentially have s1 mentors for the sessions which again is good for giving s1's experience in mentoring when they get their s2 and they are then able to mentor s2 and obs_pt2 it won't be new for them. Maybe initially we would need 3 or 4 sessions to train the first few mentors but this could be done in a group session and then they can train everyone else leaving the s2's to the more important training. I also believe that there is currently a waiting list of s1's to become a mentor for the kk_gnd sessions.

6 hours ago, Andy Ford said:

As a department, our focus needs to be on our existing training issues and sorting those out. However, I'm open to ideas so will give this due consideration :)

I fully agree. The current s2 and s3 waiting list times should be number 1 priority but this could be a way to get people interested in the division instead of moving elsewhere leading to more people controlling and mentoring higher up. Other than that if it does seem to be effecting s2 training during a trial then either try something new or just say that it didn't work and won't be continued.

Just a quick thing off topic, does anyone if the s2 moodle is completed and released yet. The last I heard was it was just needing proof reading so was wondering where it was now.

And I would like to say a quick well done to all the staff in VATUK there seem to have been a lot of changes recently and it's nice to see because for a while we seemed to be standing still but now training times are slowly coming down and central training seems to be a success.(this could have just been me not noticing some of the changes) I am also happy to see that we are still looking to change other areas than just training and are looking at things like the airports staffing imbalance and the increase in events has been a nice touch as well.

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Ollie Latham
5 hours ago, Richard Williams said:

introducing a broader scope of interest

If we are to implement something like this, this needs to be the only reason for it.

AFISO and A/G operators are not controllers, and the service they provide is fairly non-standardised. A lot of the things we normally get students to work on for S2 aren’t relevant, and it would simply be inaccurate to implement them. So we shouldn’t really be looking at it as a way to prepare for S2, the only things it may help with are understanding circuit legs/joins, and basic traffic information, both of which are very easy to learn elsewhere.

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Oliver Parker

Personally I don't think it would be utilised very much and if a lot of effort is required to make it work then IMO it may worth putting those resources to use elsewhere. I think if there is enough of a following for it it could be a little project for the people that want it. I just can't see it being subscribed to by a lot of people.

 

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Sebastian Wheeler

Despite many people saying that this will not work, or won't be useful for training, I think that with the increase of VFR lately, this would help bring even more in, and for those who say it will never work, just look at what already happens, when one controller opens a position frequently, others control above/below, and the pilots come to realize what is happening and then there is traffic too!

Much like gatwick (as has already been suggested) there would be a need for some mentoring (Not much if there was a moodle course) just to check the "Operator" was proficient. Also, like Gatwick, this would just be for those who wanted it, and hopefully, through that, there would eventually be a larger number of people wanting it.

 

Edited by Sebastian Wheeler

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