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Callum McLoughlin

operations MAN_CTR

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Harry Sugden
3 hours ago, Trevor Hannant said:

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

Thanks Trevor - didn't see that. @Chris Pawley, might need adding to the ATC Procedure Changes forum then (at present only in Procedure Consultation)?

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1 hour ago, Simon Kelsey said:

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!

Actually, the very reason LON_S can sometimes be unmanageable without APP coverage is because it (as owner of LTC_S) cover both Heathrow and Gatwick. LTC_N (/LON_C) only really takes the Essex workload away.

1 hour ago, Simon Kelsey said:

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.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean? I understand the first sentence in this quote, about LTC_CTR being able to log on without LON_S/C. But as long as the parent sector is online, any other split is able to opened at the moment (LTC_SE from LON_SC, for example, or MAN_E_CTR from LON Bbx) without approval from Ops or what not... is your second sentence just a re-worded, or more general version, of the first?

3 hours ago, Callum Axon said:

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.

I don't think it's just the responsibility for top-down here that could be an issue. During the Scottish sectorisation update, one of the reasons that came up for changing BEL_APP (Antrim sector) back to a CTR position (STC_A) was that it is effectively an 'area' position, in that it would be possible (though very unlikely with typical traffic levels) for scenarios to arise requiring skills in a larger piece of airspace that are taught/learnt during C1 training. Transpose this argument onto LTC_CTR, and it is clear that the handling of a complex interaction of arrivals and departures into and out of 5 London airports is not an S3 skill - I certainly couldn't have done it as an S3, and the TC South sector is, as I mentioned, often precisely the reason that a C1 on LON_S could start to get flustered! I'm assuming your suggestion was based on the assumption that said S3 is well into their C1 training and deemed competent enough to control LTC_CTR/MAN_CTR, but I can't envisage such an SCV being allowed unless there are restrictions on its usage, such as the time of day or underlying ATC - and that just gets messy.

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This has of course strayed from the original intention of supporting/trialling MAN_CTR as an independent position... as Adam alludes to, this is a starting point, and one that I think makes sense to look into first!

Edited by Harry Sugden
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Andy Ford
5 hours ago, Callum Axon said:

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.

A good suggestion :)

At present, the division does not use solo validations at CTR level outright, for various reasons throughout the years - largely focusing around the size of the sectors, potential unpredictability of traffic levels and the possibility of bad habits. This is however, something I'd like to revisit and hopefully change sooner rather than later - surprisingly, the CTS does have the infrastructure to support them and has done for some time. It naturally follows that if we change the policy regarding solo validations, then any changes to sectors opening independent to their parents would be incorporated to the solo validation. Of course, we'd be bound by .net restrictions on the use of this - you'd only have a maximum of 90 days.

Edited by Andy Ford

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Oliver Parker

I understand that people like the idea of opening LTC/MAN as a standalone position but I don't really see the benefit of it. I think LTC_CTR is a position which should have been created a long time ago but I cant understand the need to open it without anything above it.

Whenever you open a position you pick up traffic/aircraft as early as possible in order to have an expeditious and safe flow, if you are controlling on LTC/MAN without LON online then in order to do your TMA job properly and as best you can, you're going to need to pick up aircraft just as early as the Upper sector would. So really you're going to be logged in as TMA but actually you're going to have to pick up aircraft at the same point you would if you were the upper sector. Otherwise it will be a mess. Especially on S/C. 

2 cents 

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Trevor Hannant

just want to say, good to see a good, reasoned debate on here about positive changes to the Division without it degenerating into the way some of these have gone in the past.   Added to the positive noises coming from those who may be able to actually do something about the proposals...

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Henry Cleaver
21 hours ago, Stuart Duncan said:

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

 

Remember it well and it worked great. The upper sectors (EGTT_S_CTR back then etc) were rarely opened, and only ever if the underlying TMA sector was on otherwise you were overwhelmed due to the size. It would be good if it could be looked into having MAN and LTC_CTR back so they can be opened without the overlying sector being on. Who remembers the split area exam for C3 where first half on EGTT and second on TMA?

 

Adam's post a few above (can't get it to quote) is a good idea - pilot the MAN_TMA without upper if you have to, see how it goes, then consider rolling the LTC pilot out to include the same there.

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Simon Kelsey
4 hours ago, Harry Sugden said:

Actually, the very reason LON_S can sometimes be unmanageable without APP coverage is because it (as owner of LTC_S) cover both Heathrow and Gatwick. LTC_N (/LON_C) only really takes the Essex workload away.

Really? I thought Heathrow came under LTMA_N (I'm sure it used to). If it doesn't, it ought to: surely it is fundamentally insane to have literally the two busiest airfields on the entire network under the same subsector?

4 hours ago, Harry Sugden said:

I'm not sure I understand what you mean? I understand the first sentence in this quote, about LTC_CTR being able to log on without LON_S/C. But as long as the parent sector is online, any other split is able to opened at the moment (LTC_SE from LON_SC, for example, or MAN_E_CTR from LON Bbx) without approval from Ops or what not... is your second sentence just a re-worded, or more general version, of the first?

What I was trying to say (probably badly!) is that it should be possible to open LTC_S or LTC_N standalone without needing the other LTC sector or LON_S online first. This would make sense as (assuming LL and KK were split between N and S -- see above) it would significantly cut the workload, so an S3, for instance, would only be dealing with a couple of airfields top down and their departures (which would be a sensible/reasonable step up) rather than all five (which I agree would be a bit much!). That was why I was trying to make the distinction between LTC and MAN -- MAN is obviously a much smaller area with much lower traffic density so opening MAN_CTR bandboxed would be a much more sensible default proposition, whereas I would imagine the default proposition for LTC would/should be to open a single sector unless it is particularly quiet. Does that make sense?

2 hours ago, Oliver Parker said:

Whenever you open a position you pick up traffic/aircraft as early as possible in order to have an expeditious and safe flow, if you are controlling on LTC/MAN without LON online then in order to do your TMA job properly and as best you can, you're going to need to pick up aircraft just as early as the Upper sector would. So really you're going to be logged in as TMA but actually you're going to have to pick up aircraft at the same point you would if you were the upper sector. Otherwise it will be a mess. Especially on S/C. 

However, on the other hand you are dealing with fewer top-down airfields (particularly if you don't always automatically bandbox LTC -- which I agree is not going to be that much less workload than S/SC if there is no-one else around, and especially on MAN), no overflights particularly and a much smaller area (again, see previous point about not always automatically bandboxing LTC). So although you might want to pick up inbounds further out (to be honest, on LTC at least you're not really going to be over-reaching all that much compared to if there was LON online, or even if you were just staffing APP) you can be a lot more selective about who you pick up compared to a full-on area sector where you're going to literally hoover up everybody.

It also means those who quite like area but aren't that fussed about aerodrome control get to play with the overflights a bit more without having to worry so much about taxiing aircraft around 12 different aerodromes :) (i.e. if I were in more current practice I would be more inclined to log on to LON if I could first see there was a TMA below me to do the messy stuff :)  -- I'm sure there are others who are similarly more interested in area than aerodrome though).

Edited by Simon Kelsey

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Michael Pike

I think that might miss the point slightly. if there are two Area controllers available, the LTC_CTR/LON_SC_CTR split seems to work quite well. The problem being addressed here really is what happens when there's only one available. At the moment, the evidence here suggest they don't plug in at all because they don't fancy the full top-down workload. If they could do LTC alone, they might feel more inclined to plug in. Arriving traffic might be a bit chaotic at times and you might try to reach them early, but not as chaotic as for an APP controller having to work the traffic with no TC, which is what happens now.

One of the reasons, Heathrow is under TCS not TCN is historical - I believe it was to enable C1's who did approach training at BB/Essex etc to progress to an area position without a Heathrow rating (including me :-). Looking at VATSIM UK today,  perhaps controller training is not a good reason for operational decisions. I am sure it wan not the only reason. Heathrow and Gatwick are split between TCSW and TCSE.

Comparing it to the previous arrangement is not quite like-for-like because EGTT_S was one sector. The change was introduced IIRC because nobody ever worked it. One proposal was to allow a no top-down working on that sector but I'm not sure that ever became a reality - instead we have the LON_S/LON_C split we've come to know and love! I think traffic has grown in the FIR partly because of that decision - better coverage overall, but it's time to review that in the light of today's traffic flows.

But back to MAN_CTR (which I know nothing about!) It doesn't have these complications so it makes sense to review that first.

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Callum McLoughlin

Thanks for the comments all; I am excited to see some progress in this becoming a reality!

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Chris Pawley

Firstly, I've been busy with CTP and some other offline issues, so haven't gotten to this as quickly as I had hoped:-

 

This was clearly a consideration when the resectorisation projects of the past were completed.  As part of the design principles they worked on the procedure we have now, which is opening the entire parent sector before splitting any small chunks out.

 

As my memory serves, (but it was a while ago), this was done for the following (main) reasons:-

 

  • By opening each parent sector upto and including the FIR boundary (or transfer of control point from adjacent ACCs), there was no ambiguity for our international colleagues about whether the sector would accept this traffic. In the case you have a Terminal Control sector online - you're more likely to accept traffic from an external partner if it is landing in the TMA, and refuse overflights. Even if our standing agreement says that there is no direct handoff for these inbounds to the TMA controller. This means the external party has to be the one to figure out what's going on (each time), as the standing agreement can no longer be trusted.
  • A similar thing to the above also happens between TMA controllers (i.e. a London to Manchester TMA flight might be handed between the two controllers directly) meanwhile outbounds/inbounds to each would be on unicom.
  • To ensure non-TMA airfields get their fair amount of top-down coverage. Often, as you allude to, the TMA sector would be open without the AC sector, so those non-TMA airfields get "left out in the cold". These airports have a nature of being quieter anyway, and further encouraging people to not cover them puts them further at a disadvantage.
  • Finally some local procedures work poorly when there is no ATC to "cover" them between TWR and TC  or vice versa - especially for airports just outside of TC coverage (thinking Birmingham, Southampton etc.). In ensuring you have a sector online to cover these sections of the flight you minimise these issues.

So in conclusion, opening only a TMA position, finds us in an uncomfortable situation of either "following the rules" and sending planes to Unicom for inconveniently short amounts of time, or "bending the rules" and lacking clarity from our peers and colleagues about what can be reasonably expected.

 

I think the current situation allows alot of flexibility to what can be opened - although I acknowledge traffic is growing (at around 6% year on year) so it is reasonable to conclude that what was a workable parent sector in 2013 might not be a reasonable parent sector in 2018. In this case I would propose to make our parent sectors smaller so as to keep the same general arrangements without compromising on the design principles.

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Callum McLoughlin

Chris

By making parent sectors smaller am I right in thinking this means reducing the number of fields covered top down?

As a pilot I am far more interested in TWR and APP control.. enroute is a bonus but maximising TMA cover is surely a priority on VATSIM?

APP copes coordinating non standard handovers between airfields in the same way.

I think sectors should be designed around what ATC and pilots want, rather than what seems “neat”. I don’t claim to speak for anybody other than myself but I do think having a clear and defined “end goal” is critical.

My interpretation of the above is easy... LTC and MAN...

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Oliver Parker

Not sure those are the most compelling arguments Chris. A trial perhaps...?

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