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Richard Williams

discussion Keeping the S1s interested

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Adam Farquharson
2 hours ago, Oliver Parker said:

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.

 

I fully agree. I don't see there being a huge demand and there is no need to do it to prepare for s2 because that's why we have s2 training but I don't think it would take a ton of work from what I have heard from others but correct me if I am wrong

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Sebastian Wheeler

 

1 hour ago, Adam Farquharson said:

I fully agree. I don't see there being a huge demand and there is no need to do it to prepare for s2 because that's why we have s2 training but I don't think it would take a ton of work from what I have heard from others but correct me if I am wrong

With all due respect, this was intended as a small course anyway, for those S1's (and others) who want to gain a better understanding of AFISO/AGO procedures, and to staff up the smaller airfields, as an aside from rating advancement, much like the KKGMC/GMP course. As mentioned, it shouldn't take up too much time, and with all things offered, if you don't want to do it, you don't have to, and so the resources used would be the resource of time, provided by those people who are willing to help. (Again, only if this is approved)

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Neville Munro

Andy and Callum, 

What happens in germany has been mentioned, as well as RW. The S1(AFISO) operators are almost exclusive to the Freislanders - VFR section around the Freisan Islands.

The set up has been approved by VATSIM.NET

It is made clear to the students that AFISO/AGO training IS NOT a short cut to S2. The training is 3-5 mentored sessions.

In my view quite unrealistic for VATSIM-UK traffic levels/Air space complexity.

RW, as has been said, the procedures are different, in that, if the Senior controller from EGCC wanted to work (part time?) at EGCB_I_TWR he would have to pass and be signed off on the Airfield operations manual, and could be required by the CAA so sit a practical test.

Neville Munro

CIX VFR CLUB Air Traffic Manager.

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Simon Kelsey

Guys, 

This does not need some vast mentored course. 

The approach (in general, not just with this) should be quite straightforward: unless there is a clear and obvious reason for restricting something, don't. 

Places like Gatwick, Heathrow etc clearly get lots of traffic. Clearly, therefore, some training is required to staff these positions. 

An A/G field which might get one or two movements a year does not. What is the worst that can happen?

I would suggest the people who staff these positions are most likely to be those with some knowledge or experience anyway. I don't recall great swathes of S1s racing to open Stapleford Radio pre-GRP, and I don't imagine it would be the case now. 

Support those who want to do it with a basic guide and documentation, but I really don't see the rationale for restricting these sorts of positions. 

Pre-GRP it wouldn't have even been a subject of debate. Then the BOG decided They Knew Best despite the fact that plenty of divisions had systems that had worked perfectly well for years.

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Callum McLoughlin

Gents, this is not 'real world', the training and licencing arrangements in 'real world' are largely irrelevant. The critical aspects to consider are if the effort to train S1s to control A/G and FISO positions is worth the rewards.

Considering the number of active S2+ in this division versus the level of manning of A/G / FISO positions, I think any time investment into such projects would yield limited benefits in terms of manning.

The interest simply isn't there, largely due to limited VFR traffic levels. It is a reality. Of course, more traffic would be brilliant and so would servicing existing traffic - but lets not lose sight of the fact that most people on VATSIM are interested in simulating airline operations (from a pilot and ATC side). I agree with Andy that focusing on training S1s to become S2s at popular airfields (e.g. Manchester, Gatwick etc) is the priority for VATUK. Once rated, S2s can control any TWR position including those designated as A/G and FISO.

If VFR chaps want a service, please visit those of us manning such airfields  - if I am on Manchester or Liverpool, I will welcome you with open arms; as would all controllers. It is rare I have anybody from CIX or from other VFR flying organisations calling me as an APP controller for any service OCAS. Call us up and create some demand! If you decide to fly from Barton/Caernarfon the reality is you have very little chance of receiving any 'operational' (for lack of better word) service. Regularly not receiving a service is largely your own choice... so many airfields are actively manned, as per the CTS system bookings system.

Edited by Callum McLoughlin

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Simon Kelsey
44 minutes ago, Callum McLoughlin said:

f the effort to train S1s to control A/G and FISO positions is worth the rewards.

Exactly my point: we shouldn't be worrying about training them or how many mentoring sessions should be required to produce a proficient A/G operator, they should just be allowed to get on with it if they so wish.

Why on earth is there a need to restrict an A/G field to S2+? We're not talking about Oshkosh.

It should just be allowed. Zero training effort required.

Edited by Simon Kelsey

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Ollie Latham
19 minutes ago, Simon Kelsey said:

It should just be allowed. Zero training effort required.

With this logic, we might as well say any OBS rated member can control them. Yes, they would be able to get away logging on for 5 hours and not having any traffic, but it doesn’t make it acceptable for when an aircraft does come the operator not having have a clue what they’re doing.

I’m not saying we need extensive training for these positions, but at least just a short moodle course and an exam, similar to the military validation should do it.

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Simon Kelsey
44 minutes ago, Ollie Latham said:

I’m not saying we need extensive training for these positions, but at least just a short moodle course and an exam, similar to the military validation should do it.

Yes, sorry, I should have been clearer - what I really meant was no human training effort required. A Moodle course would be ideal, though I'd argue that even just a simple document for self-briefing would do the trick.

We managed quite adequately for many years with much less. Responsibility has to fall on the controller to brief themselves adequately for the position they intend to control, and just as controllers assist new pilots there is no reason this cannot work the other easy round as well. Indeed it certainly used to be the case. We just used to get on with it.

As I say, I strongly believe the whole approach needs to be far more permissive. At the moment the default position is essentially "if it's not explicitly allowed then it's not allowed and there needs to be a good reason to allow it" instead of "it's allowed unless there is a specific and very good reason not to allow it".

As I say, what's the worst that can happen? Traffic density is almost always going to be very low, these places are outside CAS so it's not like other controllers are going to be impacted and it's an opportunity to do something different, learn some new skills and support some of the more interesting places to fly a light aeroplane in to. Not everybody who joins VATSIM has a burning desire to control Gatwick.

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Callum McLoughlin
21 hours ago, Simon Kelsey said:

Yes, sorry, I should have been clearer - what I really meant was no human training effort required. A Moodle course would be ideal, though I'd argue that even just a simple document for self-briefing would do the trick.

We managed quite adequately for many years with much less. Responsibility has to fall on the controller to brief themselves adequately for the position they intend to control, and just as controllers assist new pilots there is no reason this cannot work the other easy round as well. Indeed it certainly used to be the case. We just used to get on with it.

As I say, I strongly believe the whole approach needs to be far more permissive. At the moment the default position is essentially "if it's not explicitly allowed then it's not allowed and there needs to be a good reason to allow it" instead of "it's allowed unless there is a specific and very good reason not to allow it".

As I say, what's the worst that can happen? Traffic density is almost always going to be very low, these places are outside CAS so it's not like other controllers are going to be impacted and it's an opportunity to do something different, learn some new skills and support some of the more interesting places to fly a light aeroplane in to. Not everybody who joins VATSIM has a burning desire to control Gatwick.

If the effort to create such a course is paid off by increased manning then I have no objection! :) 

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Andy Ford
25 minutes ago, Callum McLoughlin said:

If the effort to create such a course is paid off by increased manning then I have no objection! :) 

The course already (mostly) exists from a while ago, it just needs a checking over and adding some exam questions - for which people have volunteered :)

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Michael Pike

We shouldn't compare AFIS with the normal things that happen on VATSIM. There are relatively few VFR flights at any one time. There are hundreds of AFIS airfields. Turning up randomly to provide an ATS at such a field in the hope of random traffic is not going to work. The "man it and they will come" rule doesn't apply in my experience - significant traffic at the same time and place only happens if it is organised. For example, regular manning on a particular night of the week which becomes publicised/noticed or VFR clubs organising group flights for members together.

VATSIM UK training personnel do not have the resources to provide any one-to-one training for this but it may be possible to obtain support/encouragement or guidance from others who can! The 'danger' that Andy has expressed is that an S1s TWR training might be hampered by confusion with other procedures/phraseology and pilots may be disappointed by an AFIS job being done unrealistically or a trainee TWR controller using it as an excuse to practise Tower work!

Pilots already complain about other pilots using the 'wrong' runway or blocking the runway or generally flying inconsiderately. An AFISO would not be able to help with this and could be caught in a very awkward position. Real world relies on Rules of the Air restrictions which have no equivalent on VATSIM.

Even so, I agree with Simon's approach as far as possible.

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Gary Oliver

From a pilots perspective...

I would much rather fly into an airport with a tower manned.  If I see a ground I would tend to not bother.

Lets be honest whats really much more difficult than 'cleared to land', 'cleared for takeoff' and giving the winds above a ground position anyway? 

More traffic = more point in controlling... a win win

Moodle Course, job done, the Kiwis do it so why cant we?

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Adam Farquharson
9 hours ago, Michael Pike said:

VATSIM UK training personnel do not have the resources to provide any one-to-one training

are there not s1's that could mentor, after spending a bit of time looking over the theory I would be happy to mentor until I get my s2

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Sebastian Wheeler
34 minutes ago, Adam Farquharson said:

are there not s1's that could mentor, after spending a bit of time looking over the theory I would be happy to mentor until I get my s2

AFISO/AGO can be tricky to mentor unless you have already had training on it, as some of the concepts, especially for a GND controller who wants to move to tower, not so much with regards to traffic info etc. but the chances of lapsing over to TWR phraseology etc. so a moodle course should suffice. Also, if a moodle course was released, it would allow those who are serious to get the right information and regularly control correctly, and it would also allow, dare I say it, those who want the rating "For show" to have it that way. 

To finish, as @Andy Ford mentioned, even if it is not a rating advancement course, S1 mentoring could be put to much better use on KK_GND courses where they will be constantly used, rather than on a course where it will be once in a blue moon that people will need mentoring. It's better just to have people on the other end of a helpdesk ticket that they can ask, or on slack or TS, then when the S2 is gained, they can be used for S1-S2/OBS mentoring.

Edited by Sebastian Wheeler

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Michael Benson
19 hours ago, Gary Oliver said:

Lets be honest whats really much more difficult than 'cleared to land', 'cleared for takeoff' and giving the winds above a ground position anyway? 

Ahem it is unimaginably difficult, you'd have to be some kind of sky god to do it!

In seriousness, unless the airport is rocking the act of tower controlling really isn't that difficult.

 

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Alex Hodgkinson
23 hours ago, Andy Ford said:

The course already (mostly) exists from a while ago, it just needs a checking over and adding some exam questions - for which people have volunteered :)

You're welcome :)

Myself, Alex Jefferies and Callum Presley wrote the content for this course but with me being at sea for the majority of this year, callum busy working real world and Alex relocating up north, none of us ever got the time to finish the course.

Also, when I mentioned that the course had been written, due to the rotation of personnel within the ATC TD, it would seem that it was forgotten about. I'm not really in a position to continue to offer as much time as I had to this project; but I do think it is a good one. VATSIM-UK just needs to decide what it wants the moodle course to be, whether its for Information only or whether it operates like the Military moodle courses where you revise the content, take an exam, pass and get a "rating" Back in mid 2017 when I started writing the course, this decision hadn't been made yet so the final 'bit' never got completed.

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Adam Farquharson
13 hours ago, Sebastian Wheeler said:

S1 mentoring could be put to much better use on KK_GND courses where they will be constantly used,

there is currently a waiting list for people to mentor the KK_GND sessions so I don't see s1 mentoring resources being a problem. Also I think a similar structure to the kk_gnd sessions would be the best

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Peter Dodds

One interesting point that this discussion seems to have missed is that AFIS/AG fields are only suitable for light aircraft. So aircraft altitudes and speeds are such that the AFISO has a much lighter mental workload than TWR or APP. It should take no more than a couple of mentoring sessions to produce a competent AFISO to be able to work half a dozen or so GA aircraft at once. A/G is even simpler - simply a reporting station. Pilots manoeuvre “at their discretion”. 

In CIX VFR Club, we regularly have a high level of traffic at smaller airfields competently controlled by Club AFISOs (trained by the Club) on our TeamSpeak channel without incidents. If we were allowed to, and after some form of competency check, our AFISOs could man these positions on VATSIM, for everyone’s greater enjoyment. It ought not to be a big deal, but unfortunately I’m afraid, in my view, VATSIM do seem to take the hard way to do controller training, which is one reason why so few airfields are manned and the student queue is so long.

Edited by Peter Dodds

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Alex Ashley
5 hours ago, Peter Dodds said:

One interesting point that this discussion seems to have missed is that AFIS/AG fields are only suitable for light aircraft.

 

But that's not always the case. Certainly my local (EGNL) is an AFIS position which handles many business jets coming in.

5 hours ago, Peter Dodds said:

In CIX VFR Club, we regularly have a high level of traffic at smaller airfields competently controlled by Club AFISOs (trained by the Club) on our TeamSpeak channel without incidents. If we were allowed to, and after some form of competency check, our AFISOs could man these positions on VATSIM, for everyone’s greater enjoyment. It ought not to be a big deal, but unfortunately I’m afraid, in my view, VATSIM do seem to take the hard way to do controller training, which is one reason why so few airfields are manned and the student queue is so long.

 

The main reason VATSIM follow the 'hard' way of controller training is the rating trained to (S2) entitles them to control all TWR positions, excluding majors. Training up an S2 on Barton Information and then letting them on Gatwick doesn't sound like a particularly good strategy either - so we train them up fully and then entitle them to control across the board. The main issue with doing AFIS and A/G positions is that they cannot reduce our mentoring resources further.

Edited by Alex Ashley

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Simon Kelsey
3 hours ago, Alex Ashley said:

The main reason VATSIM follow the 'hard' way of controller training is the rating trained to (S2) entitles them to control all TWR positions, excluding majors. Training up an S2 on Barton Information and then letting them on Gatwick doesn't sound like a particularly good strategy either - so we train them up fully and then entitle them to control across the board

And herein lies the fundamental problem.

Forcing people who have no interest in controlling major airports to spend years going through the system when all they wanted to do was provide an A/G service at their local aerodrome. 

In the past, not a problem because divisions had the autonomy to set their own policies. Then the BOG decided they knew best and enforced this ridiculous one size fits all policy. 

I'll be blunt: GRP needs to go, and the power to decide what training requirements are needed for any particular aerodrome put back in the hands of local divisions who know their own needs best.

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