By Jordan Webb
Hi all, I hope you guys are well in these difficult times.
Recently I have come across a number of controllers mostly at EGCC, of varying positions, who have all elected to use a runway totally contrary to that in use IRL.
On a number of occassions the latest METAR was reporting variable winds, such as VRB04, leading the controller to elect the written preferential runway of 23R as the runway in use. However, could we ask controllers to check both FR24 for what they're using in real world and, more importantly the TAF? I ask this for a number of reasons;
1) Just because the surface winds are calm, it does not mean that the upper winds reflect the same. I myself have encountered significant tailwinds down the ILS23R (both in reality and on VATSIM), and when reporting this to ATC IRL, frequently a runway change is implemented soon after.
2) With light and variable winds, one slight increase to push the half hour average into one runways favour could lead to a controller flip-flopping between which runway he/she chooses. This is totally inefficient. The TAF gives you a decent foresight into the longer term forecast. EGCC 141420Z AUTO VRB04KT 9999 NCD 11/M03 Q1033 NOSIG would suggest preferential 23R, but looking at a TAF of EGCC 141054Z 1512/1618 09011KT 9999 FEW045 highlights that above the ground, it's going to be in 05's favour.
3) If we're striving to be as real as can be, is it so difficult to check FlightRadar24 at what is still a fairly busy airport? This gives the controller an immediate insight to the current situation of both meteorolgical and operational requirements, without the need to check forecasts, NOTAMs etc.
As a EGCC local both in terms of residence and profession, I don't want you to think this is a bleating rant at the quality of the training/controllers at Manch. See it more as a nudge in the right direction towards the realism we strive for.
I welcome your feedback,
By David Chambers
Although a very popular airport with VATSIM, the X-plane 11 standard scenery for Manchester airport did not match all the gate numbers nor include the new parking stands on the north side of the main apron (previously car parking) added during recent airport expansion. I've updated the scenery pack to address that and this has now been approved. As with all built-in scenery models, it's limited to the objects that are also incorporated into the product which are generally fairly good for runways/signage but less developed for the wider variety of other airport "furniture".
You can download it for free directly from the X-plane scenery gateway at https://gateway.x-plane.com/airports/EGCC/show.
Just extract it into your Custom Scenery folder and it should use it when next restarting X-plane.
This will be incorporated in a subsequent release of X-Plane at a time yet to be determined but probably later this year.
This is quite independent of the freeware scenery pack on X-plane.org or payware scenery such as from Aerosoft which use libraries and a range of other models to look much more realistic. I can't say whether either of those are up to date with the latest gate/parking stand numbering.
I've also updated the night lighting at Stansted, although you may prefer the payware model recently released from Boundless which looks great.
There has been a real drive to address reported bugs on the standard X-Plane scenery in recent months, together with higher quality standards applied for all new submissions and updates. If you find faults, especially in signage or markings etc that make life difficult or confusing when using VATSIM, report them in the X-plane scenery website.
By Chad Byworth
Effective: 7 February 2021
The following position is implemented on a trial basis and, in light of significant traffic levels at Manchester during the weekends, may be opened as required.
The following restrictions should be noted:
The use of this position is intended to provide short-term, reactive increases to airport capacity by supporting the GMP controller - it should not be opened during routine operations when there is no outbound delay, it is not to be booked on the CTS. GMP Assistant may only be opened with the agreement of the GMP controller. During training this positions may only be opened with the approval of the mentor. Controllers are asked to exercise judgement and open this position only when it is clearly necessary.
Logon - EGCC_A_DEL
Relief - EGCC_B_DEL
Note: GMP Assistant is not currently included in the sector file.
The controller is not to select a Euroscope primary frequency but shall monitor the GMP AFV/text frequency.
The GMP Assistant’s role is to support GMP principally with flight plan validation and coordination. GMP Assistant is responsible for reviewing flight plans including SID and level restrictions. Where a flight plan is non-compliant with requirements they shall amend as necessary and inform the pilot via private message. Once a flight plan has been validated they shall enter /OK into the scratchpad, this will be replaced with the stand number when the pilot calls for clearance.
Should an aircraft call for clearance before GMP Assistant has reviewed and marked their flight plan GMP may clear the aircraft if the flight plan is clearly valid or requires only minor amendments. Should more significant amendments be required the pilot shall be informed of the need for amendment and the flight plan flagged to GMP Assistant for review.
GMP Assistant shall also perform other duties as delegated by the GMP Controller including but not limited to complex coordination.
As a trial procedure the Operations Department will monitor the effectiveness of this procedure change. Any modifications will be posted below. If it is deemed effective it will be incorporated into future documentation/sector file releases.
By Alex Miles
Hi, just seen the new partnership with MFS2020 with Vatsim and seen a lot of responses of people wanted to join Vatsim who are obviously going to be a bit [auto-mod: lovely language]. I have no problem with lots more people becoming pilots on Vatsim but the quality is going to drop even more than it has done. I know this sort of thing has already been suggested but I do think it’s really important that we either make P1 mandatory or have some simple entrance exam, similar to the P1 exam for new members to join as this will actually encourage new users to do a bit more research before they actually join to keep a higher quality of pilots on the network, thanks
By Paul Houghton
Hi everyone. Apologies for the long rambling post but I would be interested to read peoples thoughts.
So I'm just getting back into Vatsim after a lengthy break. I first joined back in the early 2000s, before Euroscope was even thought of. From what I can remember back then the training was very different to what it is now. Back then once you had passed your basic S1 and your voice rating (yes you had to do a test before you could use voice) you could control at anything up to Approach, depending on the size of the airport you were working.
Fast forward to today where we now have a far better system ensuring a much better standard of controlling across the network, however I feel there could be benefits to a slight shift back towards the old way.
Outside of an organised event its only the bigger airports that see much traffic. Understandable, pilots want to fly into controlled airfields and controllers want traffic, and this can make it difficult to get a controlling slot at times at these airports. Also pilots aren't always that interested in flying to/from an airport where only GND/TWR is manned, they want to be vectored in rather than just left to it and cleared to land.
So, my suggestion is to create a list of smaller regional airports ( I'm thinking places like Exeter, Bournemouth, Norwich, Newcastle, away from the main London/Manchester zones) where S1/S2 controllers can control one position above their rating. There would obviously be a few caveats, for instance x amount of hours on their rated position, completion of moodle courses, theory exams etc. I think this will have several positives:
More coverage, and thus traffic at regional airports. This will have the added benefit of keeping people interested in the hobby. Staring at a blank radar screen for a couple of hours is pretty boring lets face it!
Reduce training 'queues', people that don't neccesarily want to progress up through the ratings will take themselves out of the training queue, freeing up places and time for those that do
Controllers that do want to progress will already have a head start through 'self learning', which will again knock on, reducing the time needed for mentoring before exams and get people through each syllabus quicker
Give controllers the incentive to put the maintain the necessary hours, and do the pre reading instead of just sitting back and waiting for a training place to come available
Thanks for reading