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Callum McLoughlin

operations MAN_CTR

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Callum McLoughlin

Hi all

Positive to see the S1 AFIS and A/G suggestion taken forward. Would it possible to now re-evaluate whether restrictions on MAN_CTR can be lifted so a member can log in to this bandboxed position without overlying LON_N_CTR control? I received quite a few messages suggesting this would be an offer taken up by C1s who, like me, hate the area control element of N and instead focus on the terminal control aspects and provide better support to the now fairly frequently online APP controllers (which would be great). We did this during the Manchester Overload event (is it safe to mention that again yet :P) and it was 'operationally' a great success.

I'd suggest something along the lines of MAN_CTR can be opened whenever, but the W/E split can only be opened when both AC N and MAN is already online.

When BT pull their finger out and give me some broadband I know I'd log in to MAN. At the moment when I control I tend to go for either GP_APP, CC_APP or LL_APP... MAN_CTR would be somewhat a homecoming and I know for certain you'd see me and (based on the messages I alluded to in a previous paragraph) a few others deciding to head onto there too.

So what say ye?

Edited by Callum McLoughlin

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Harry Sugden

I have very rarely controlled North, and my presence on the network is very periodic at the moment. But as I mentioned to you Callum, this proposal has my support!

There may be some immediate concerns - take pilot awareness of top-down... but MAN is at least recognisable as relating to Manchester through its IATA, it's not a new position, and as with all things, awareness will come in time. Additionally, how about the potential for reduced LON_N coverage? Though if there are controllers who aren't logging on at all at present and allowing solo MAN_CTR would entice more connections, then even if the coverage isn't the whole 'primary' sector, the busier areas might end up covered more frequently!

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Simon Kelsey

Sounds like a very reasonable proposal to me.

I would have to say -- why restrict splitting sectors at all? To my mind it just artificially paints people in to a corner for no good reason at all: if for some reason at some stage the sector needs splitting E/W, putting LON_N on isn't going to solve the problem, and potentially makes the problem even worse if an overlying LON_N logs off during an event, leading to a slightly different re-run of the 'incident' from a couple of weeks ago.

Obviously the preference is going to be that if two C1 rated controllers are around and MAN is already open, etiquette would suggest it would be good manners to do LON rather than split the sector and "nick" half the other guy's traffic (assuming it's a normal night and MAN isn't overloaded), and I would like to think that C1s might be mature enough to not take the mickey without the need for a rigid, cast in stone 'thou shalt not split the sector' rule (equally applies to other area/TC sectors).

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Andy Ford

I believe that following Mancheastergate and now that Cross the Pond is out of the way for 6 months, the operations department will be looking into this - but don't let that halt discussions of course! It could certainly have its uses :)

Edited by Andy Ford

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Stuart Duncan
2 hours ago, Andy Ford said:

The operations department will be looking into this

What is there to look into? Why does it need to be looked into?

Remember back in the day, LON_NW_CTR, MAN_CTR and SCO_CTR, were the first to open....and open regularly at that? No, you won't, because you weren't around then.

I seem to recall exactly this.....It worked. It worked well and the world didn't implode. This was mainly due to 2 reasons. Firstly, controllers enjoyed opening these positions. Secondly the pilots knew these positions and their jurisdictions.

Just open TMA positions

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Andy Ford
58 minutes ago, Stuart Duncan said:

What is there to look into? Why does it need to be looked into?

When I raised this question before, there were reasons (and no, I can't remember what they are) presented to me as to why it wasn't necessarily as simple as "we'll just do it out of the blue with no warning" - not that I was suggesting it was by any means hard to do.

In any case, I'm sure Chris will clarify in due course.

58 minutes ago, Stuart Duncan said:

No, you won't, because you weren't around then.

I seem to recall exactly this.....It worked.

I don't doubt that it did, despite not being around for it. For the record, I agree with the principle that Callum is proposing - it's potentially a win-win if we can increase the staffing of area positions and attract more pilots to the TMAs. :)

Edited by Andy Ford

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Adam Arkley

Can you open the LTMA without South or Central being online..?

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Trevor Hannant

 

8 minutes ago, Adam Arkley said:

Can you open the LTMA without South or Central being online..?

 

 

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Simon Kelsey
10 minutes ago, Adam Arkley said:

Can you open the LTMA without South or Central being online..?

Can anyone posit a good reason why you shouldn't be able to?

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Adam Arkley
5 minutes ago, Trevor Hannant said:

 

 

No result of the trial, unless I've missed something along the line somewhere?

3 minutes ago, Simon Kelsey said:

Can anyone posit a good reason why you shouldn't be able to?

Probably not...

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Celestyn Chmielewski
12 minutes ago, Adam Arkley said:

No result of the trial, unless I've missed something along the line somewhere?

Adam, I didn't see any LTC_CTR official announcement in this forum however I saw a message in Slack channel few months ago saying LTC_CTR is now permanent position or something like that? So I assumed that LTC_CTR trial is successful.

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Callum Axon

A quick suggestion: we could utilise the TMA positions to help our C1 trainees (myself included) develop their TMA skills on a solo validation, without giving them the extra workload of the entire AC sector. Not only will this increase coverage but will give Students time outside of sessions to practise their skills, especially as there are not as many C1 mentors on average in comparison with S3 levels. I know the logistics might not work as LTC_CTR covers both AC Central's and AC South's underlying TC Sectors (meaning a Heathrow validation would be required to do the entire TC sector) but it is an idea worth considering, especially for MAN TMA which I believe is covered entirely by AC North (corrections welcome). 

I would personally find it very beneficial to practise TMA skills,  but that suggestion relies on the TMA positions being permitted to open independently of their parent sectors. If the idea is a little barmy, feel free to say so!

Edited by Callum Axon
More typos.

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Simon Kelsey
35 minutes ago, Callum Axon said:

I would personally find it very beneficial to practise TMA skills,  but that suggestion relies on the TMA positions being permitted to open independently of their parent sectors. If the idea is a little barmy, feel free to say so!

Not barmy at all, Callum, and actually that is almost exactly how it used to work: if we go back in time, LTMA was actually rated at he same level as APP (C2 vs C3 for area, in old money). As a result, after passing your APP exam you could (particularly as you started area training) use the TMA positions to consolidate your APP/TMA skills whilst also developing your area skills at a much smaller scale in between full-scale (i.e. LON) area mentoring sessions.

I don't really see why the TMA positions shouldn't be openable and splittable -- I think to be honest particularly in the LON_SC area it would make life a lot easier for both controllers and pilots on some occasions as apart from the Heathrow validation issue, having to deal with both LL and KK top down simultaneously can very quickly become chaos so the option to only have to do one would make a massive difference to R/T loading whilst still providing a better/more contiguous/more realistic service, particularly for departing aircraft.

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Adam Arkley

According to GRP, the S3 rating is actually referred to as "TMA Controller." @Callum, in days gone by, your C1 exam would be done in two parts; a stint on a TMA position with upper area cover, and then someone would relieve you on the TMA, take a quick break and then you'd take over from the upper area controller with TMA coverage underneath you. 

Simon and Callum both raise valid points. The geographic expanse of positions like N and S, compounded by people opening SC, make it difficult to achieve a decent standard of top-down control. I know I'd be far, far happier opening SC as a position if I knew the TMA could be covered as a single entity, the problem then being, does the TMA cover SS/GW/LC/LL/KK/LF, KB and the smattering of other GA fields on a top down basis as well as try to do the area management stuff?

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Callum Axon
2 minutes ago, Adam Arkley said:

does the TMA cover SS/GW/LC/LL/KK/LF, KB and the smattering of other GA fields on a top down basis as well as try to do the area management stuff?

I'm lead to believe they do, Adam, but if anything I think covering these airfields top-down would only be part of, and a contributor towards the overall training process anyway because the knowledge of the underlying fields is part of the exam criteria - directly, or indirectly. That said, I can see why covering all of the aerodromes top-down could be considered demanding for an S3 on a "proposed" solo endorsement.

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Trevor Hannant
1 hour ago, Celestyn Chmielewski said:

Adam, I didn't see any LTC_CTR official announcement in this forum however I saw a message in Slack channel few months ago saying LTC_CTR is now permanent position or something like that? So I assumed that LTC_CTR trial is successful.

Here's the Slack mention of it from 7th March:

LTC2.png

 

 

 

Edited by Trevor Hannant

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Simon Kelsey
1 hour ago, Adam Arkley said:

Simon and Callum both raise valid points. The geographic expanse of positions like N and S, compounded by people opening SC, make it difficult to achieve a decent standard of top-down control. I know I'd be far, far happier opening SC as a position if I knew the TMA could be covered as a single entity, the problem then being, does the TMA cover SS/GW/LC/LL/KK/LF, KB and the smattering of other GA fields on a top down basis as well as try to do the area management stuff?

I agree but I think with the modern traffic situation I would be inclined to treat LTC bandbox (unlike MAN_CTR, I should add, where the scale and traffic situation is rather different) vaguely akin to LON bandbox -- in other words, be very sensible! In your example, if LTC_N (for instance) were open that would take LL/SS/GW/BB (etc) away from LON_SC, leaving you with KK/KB/LF (etc) top-down. This would divide the workload in a more sensible manner than the present situation (where without LL or KK cover an area controller is always stuck with handling both of the network's busiest airfields top-down simultaneously, which seems bonkers). However, that is not to say that LTC bandbox should not be a thing at quieter times - it should!

Edited by Simon Kelsey

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Adam Arkley
2 minutes ago, Simon Kelsey said:

I agree but I think with the modern traffic situation I would be inclined to treat LTC bandbox (unlike MAN_CTR, I should add, where the scale and traffic situation is rather different) vaguely akin to LON bandbox -- in other words, be very sensible! In your example, if LTC_N (for instance) were open that would take LL/SS/GW/BB (etc) away from LON_SC, leaving you with KK/KB/LF (etc) top-down. This would divide the workload in a more sensible manner than the present situation (where without LL or KK cover an area controller is always stuck with handling both of the network's busiest airfields top-down simultaneously, which seems bonkers). However, that is not to say that LTC bandbox should not be a thing at quieter times - it should!

I get what you're saying, and I agree it's a complex situation, but you run into fun and games when you start trying to 'curfew' controllers to prevent them coming online at busier times without the appropriate support. It's yet another interesting angle to this - is LTC viable on its own, without area support, if Gatwick and Heathrow directors are online, or even one, or even towers? Let me be clear on one thing, though - I would be very, very hesitant to suggest it's OK to open MAN_CTR as an independent position, but not to open LTC_CTR. I understand the 'business' picture, but those controllers who don't know (or want) to know the North shouldn't be unable to open a TC position because Heathrow and Gatwick are busy...

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Simon Kelsey
21 minutes ago, Adam Arkley said:

I get what you're saying, and I agree it's a complex situation, but you run into fun and games when you start trying to 'curfew' controllers to prevent them coming online at busier times without the appropriate support. It's yet another interesting angle to this - is LTC viable on its own, without area support, if Gatwick and Heathrow directors are online, or even one, or even towers? Let me be clear on one thing, though - I would be very, very hesitant to suggest it's OK to open MAN_CTR as an independent position, but not to open LTC_CTR. I understand the 'business' picture, but those controllers who don't know (or want) to know the North shouldn't be unable to open a TC position because Heathrow and Gatwick are busy...

I agree -- I wouldn't at all suggest that there should be an 'official' curfew per se in the same way that there isn't with LON_CTR - however, we all know that trying to do London Bandbox at 7pm on a Sunday evening would be a bad/unmanageable idea, and in the same way, one should pause for thought before opening LTC bandbox when LL and KK are both heaving and there's no underlying control. I suppose what I'm really trying to say is that the rules need to allow for common sense, judgement and the flexibility to bandbox or split sectors as required based on the traffic and supporting control situation. Thus, I wouldn't say "thou shalt not bandbox" any more than I would say "thou shalt not split" -- the nature of VATSIM traffic flows and supporting ATC is such that trying to codify things too much leads to silly situations (Mancheaster at one extreme, vs not permitting sectors to be bandboxed at (e.g.) 3am on a Saturday morning at the other end). Ultimately I'm in favour of trusting people's judgement to the greatest extent possible and avoiding casting too much in stone -- flexibility is the key.

Edit to add: I think LTC is quite viable with underlying control -- the APP positions don't (officially) handle departures and so as well as initial streaming for arrivals and top-down for less well-covered airfields, LTC would still be dealing with departures from all the main airfields.

Further edit: I think we may be talking across purposes. I'm not saying that LTC (in any of it's guises) shouldn't be opened as an independent position -- it should be. I was referring to allowing people to split or bandbox the (independent) LTC position as they see fit.

Edited by Simon Kelsey

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Adam Arkley
12 minutes ago, Simon Kelsey said:

Further edit: I think we may be talking across purposes. I'm not saying that LTC (in any of it's guises) shouldn't be opened as an independent position -- it should be. I was referring to allowing people to split or bandbox the (independent) LTC position as they see fit.

But this is exactly my point. Rather than just focus on whether or not we open MAN_CTR as an independent position without LON_N, we should be considering how we open TMAs without upper area control, but the complexities of opening LTC without S/C make it a challenge. Baby steps - get MAN_CTR (I will NEVER be able to think of this as Scottish!) on the map and then we can consider opening LTC independently. 

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