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Cardiff & Bristol Top-Down Procedures


Harry Sugden
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Almost two years ago, at the request of members, Cardiff Radar stopped providing a top-down service to Bristol on VATSIM when no Bristol local control was online. However, when AC West and Cardiff Radar are both online, some aircraft (such as Bristol inbounds from the South, and Cardiff inbounds from the East) are 'bounced' between the two controllers within a short space of time.

This has been brought to our attention and we are willing, in this case, to review the top-down situation. Although no solution will suit everyone, we would like to gauge opinions on what the best option is to ensure we don't need to revisit this in the near future.

 

Option 1) Do nothing

Cardiff and Bristol will remain separate from each other, as per the current procedure.

Option 2) Revert to the previous setup

This would involve re-instating Cardiff's top-down ownership of Bristol, meaning that when Cardiff Radar is online and Bristol isn't, Cardiff Radar would cover Bristol top-down.

Options 3a and b) Create a position SEVERN_APP using the Cardiff Radar frequency 125.850

A fictional position would be created that means the same frequency is used in the same way as the ESSEX_APP/EGSS_APP callsigns. The position would use the callsign:

Option 3a) "Cardiff Radar", or
Option 3b)  "Severn Radar".

Under either option, SEVERN_APP would take ownership of Cardiff and Bristol if no local units are online. Controllers who don't want to cover both airports would still have the option of opening EGFF_APP or EGGD_APP individually, as per the current procedure.

Option 4) Create a position SEVERN_APP using a different frequency to Cardiff's

Same as above, but instead of taking Cardiff's frequency, we select a different frequency to use for a new "Severn Radar". This would mean Cardiff or Bristol could be 'split off' the SEVERN_APP controller, rather than just Bristol airspace in Option 3.

 

How do I respond?

Please submit any comments below, expressing a preference for 1 (or more) option(s) by Sunday 27th November (2200Z). If you prefer, you can also submit your comments to [email protected]

Edited by Harry Sugden
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Options 2 or 3a, leaning towards 2. Operating FF without GD or LON is utter chaos. Flights come off GD 27 and immediately enter your airspace, but they also don't maintain the SID levels because they weren't expecting ATC, so you have conflicts with FF and GD arrivals. This gets even worse if you have an FF departure in the mix or the GD departure doesn't manage to fly their SID very well.

VATSIM is about realism - it is completely unrealistic for aircraft to launch out of Bristol, onto airways, without an airways clearance. We should, at the very least, have a clearance and release system where GD outbounds must get permission from FF before they depart (uncontrolled at ADC level or otherwise).

Similarly, inbounds to GD from FF's sector have been known to get released to UNICOM then immediately turn in a silly direction, taking them back into FF's airspace and causing a conflict. Those airways are not designed to operate with GD uncontrolled.

Getting rid of the FF->GD top-down last year was a poor decision made in the name of "realism". The decision failed to consider that no Approach or Enroute controller has ever provided ADC services at an airport other than their own; thus the entire system is inherently somewhat unrealistic, but we also couldn't operate without it. Trying to cut it down (at least for airports in CAS) because "that's not how it works real-world" is always a recipe for disaster.

Edited by Lenny Colton
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Option 2 in a heartbeat for me, I still do not understand *why* the previous system was changed.

Making up a position that doesn't exist for me goes against the realism that we ought to be striving for.

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Thanks to those who’ve responded. 🙏 Just a heads up, I’ll be making comments visible in batches to help encourage people to come to their own view.

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I remember joking that it would be really cool if there was a position called "Severn Radar." If Severn radar doesn't exist in real-life (similar to how Essex no longer exists, sort of) then I think it should be similar to how we have Essex now, so I think that option 3a would be the best fit. Time for a fake "Merseyside Radar?" @Kye Taylor🤣

Edited by Samuel Lefevre
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If anything, I'd like an Option 5 added (or possibly seen as an amendment to 4)... 

Currently, there are sections of CTAs in the area that are delegated to Cardiff.   Given the overwhelming majority of these are Bristol inbounds/outbounds, I'd like to throw the suggestion that in the absence of FF_APP being online, these are delegated to Bristol instead.  However, if FF_APP was to come online, as the "parent" sector for these CTAs, they would take them back.   So the ownership would be:

FF_APP -> GD_APP -> LON_W

...with the CDF Control Zone being left to CDF.  I'm not keen on a Severn Radar position, just don't like the idea but given that GD_APP controllers already pick aircraft up further out than they would if FF_APP was online (e.g. around AMRAL from the north), it would make more sense to make that "official" if we were going to do anything unrealistic.  

And doing anything unrealistic then opens the question, why no Western Radar?  If we want to start making up positions, then why not have an ACTUAL position that exists real world...   #justsayin

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Severn Radar sounds good to me. Not bothered about the frequency but it could potentially be an issue if someone is on Severn and someone then wants to log onto Cardiff individually. 
 

Next stop, Mersey Radar

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I would prefer to see either option 1 or 3a. 

I feel it's not uncommon in normal traffic for there to be no conflicting arrivals/departures and a solo Cardiff can coordinate with AC so they keep the Bristol traffic. During events Bristol would normally be on before Cardiff. 

The fictional position goes against the grain somewhat but if we really conclude there is a big enough problem, 3a would be my choice solution. At least pilots would not be confronted with a fictional callsign. vATIS can help to notify Bristol departures to call Cardiff when appropriate (as well as vatglasses).

 

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On 09/11/2022 at 00:21, Lenny Colton said:

VATSIM is about realism

 

On 09/11/2022 at 00:21, Lenny Colton said:

Getting rid of the FF->GD top-down last year was a poor decision made in the name of "realism".

Lenny, can you expand on being realistic but not being realistic?  You say we're about realism but then decry a decision made for realism...

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Alistair Lynn

Mild preference for Option 1. Adding frequencies or fictional ATSUs feels to me like something which would be quite surprising to RW pilots familiar with the area, even with some awareness of VATSIMisms, and unless anything has changed since the original switch was implemented the same problems would still exist with workload for Cardiff Radar controllers, so I would suggest Option 2 isn't ideal.

Is there scope within option 1 for additional procedures which would move the "bouncing" earlier—or skip it entirely?

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3a or 3b for me. Any arguments about fictional positions are moot for me because the vast majority of our primary area sectors are fictional, if you wish to put your anorak on. Just focus on providing the best service to pilots. London sectors are still a cause of constant confusion for pilots new and old. You can play around with callsigns all you like - it's informing pilots that is still the best way. Same applies here. Option 4 also tolerable. 

 

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David Woodward

3a or 3b for me. We have fictional positions and fictional frequencies throughout VATSIM. While we try to make things as realistic as we can, the current arrangement just causes a lot of confusion for pilots who may not know the airspace well. 3a or 3b, with the correct controller info to say what they are controlling, seems the least confusing for pilots and the most enjoyable to control.

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Option 1 and a bit of coordination seems to work just fine right now 🙂 those who do staff Cardiff Radar without Bristol should know what they're getting themselves into 😂

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