[jhb_airlines] Re: Evolution

  • From: "Bones" <bones@xxxxxxx>
  • To: <jhb_airlines@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2006 12:57:11 +0100

"It may also prove to deter those would be "Controllers" amongst us!"

I think that would be very much up to how we organise ourselves.

One of the problems with VATSIM is that it's popularity has created a
somewhat logistical nightmare. The one truth about any ATC situation
(whether simulated or real) is that traffic density dictates the system
complexity. If traffic is light you can operate with a very simple ATC
system but as densities increase you can get swamped by the workload - and
reduce this by complexities like STAR's, SID's, preferential routes, silent
handovers and agreed levels. A more complex system becomes harder to train
people in to - it takes longer and is more intense.

SATCO started off with quite low traffic levels and it was good fun. It
wasn't long though before the levels increased and, to cope with this, a few
basic procedures from the real world were adopted (things like London FIR
sectorisation). Interestingly enough in some cases we evolved our own ideas
but most were so close to the real thing (similar traffic flows creating the
same situations and same answers) that it was inevitable that the real
procedures were the way to go.

I dropped out of SATCO when I changed ISP - I couldn't log on to the
network. We never did cure that and I was too busy with aircraft and scenery
design for FS98 to worry too much about it. On moving over to MCB the
problem was cured, but SATCO had evolved into VATSIM, traffic levels were
massive and the procedures for UK ATC were now almost a pure mimic of real
world rules. In fact many of the pages for agreed levels were lifted
straight out of MATS Part 2 for London Centre and the major airfields.

A complex system like this is hard to learn and so the would be controllers
needed a lot of training. That meant a lot of qualified controllers were
asked to become mentors - but demand far exceeded supply. This is still the
case and VATSIM now has a huge number of Student Controllers awaiting
training to get qualified. As a controller you can only mentor for so long -
it is an exhausting process - and I suspect that as in real life the VATSIM
controllers just got weary of endless mentoring sessions and opted out for a
while. I left VATSIM because the pressure to become a mentor was being
turned on too much and I just did not have the time to commit to train a
student through the whole course.

Now we come to FPI which has sod all traffic levels but becomes a hugely
advantageous ground in which to teach people both flying and ATC basics. No
pilot is going to get upset if you start discussing procedures on the radio
to another pilot or controller - something absolutely impossible in VATSIM
because R/T is just too busy. To me FPI is the ideal training ground for ATC
at its basic level upwards. Having said that some procedures need to be
tried out rather than just explained but some require the traffic to be
present.. <g>

As an example I spent three days last week teaching Paul the headaches and
pain of flying procedural approaches. Basic procedures, alternative
procedures, holding patterns, holding entry procedures (all three types),
MAP's, MDA's, DH's, teardrops - all wrapped round the actual Base Check
(1179) route as used by Manx Airlines. It was good fun as it was quiet
enough to do this - although two or three other aircraft were also on
frequency. This is all good stuff and feasible on FPI.

Now switch to controller training and the opposite happens. You can't teach
someone how to resolve two aircraft hitting the initial approach point at
the same time and level until this actually happens. Five aircraft in the
stack and the middle one declares and emergency? Not a chance. And this is
the problem with all ATC training - you can't teach situation resolution
until you get the situation in the first place. This happens in real life
too.

Another problem here is that, as with most other situations, the need to
resolve it is very time limiting. Some you can see developing for miles and
you may have time to show this to the trainee and discuss the course of
action. Others can happen very quickly indeed and require instant action. If
the trainee can't understand the situation and tell you the action to take
the mentor has to step in and control the traffic - and then explain events
to the trainee afterwards. This is what we lack in FPI - the traffic to
produce complex situations for controllers to learn and the lack of someone
to ask for help when it starts looking hairy.

Having said that FPI is also like the real world in another way - you have
no idea what the next few hours are going to evolve into. Despite traffic
being generally light it is still very possible for a controller to find he
has more traffic than he can cope with - but he hasn't got someone alongside
to help out. We were lucky last night as we had a nice stream of aircraft
into Glasgow. Had the pilots all logged in at slightly different times we
could have had five of six arriving in a single mass - which would have been
really good fun. <g>

All in all the future FPI system might have a lot going for it. My own view
is that it is up to us to set the tone for its operation - lead by example -
at least in the UK. It has a lot of potential and how we use this is
entirely in our own hands.

bones



-----Original Message-----
From: jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Kev Townsend
Sent: 31 August 2006 11:47
To: jhb_airlines@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [jhb_airlines] Re: Evolution


I'm sorry Alan, I wasn't implying that things were underway, or that
I had any insider knowledge.
I learned about the future plans with everyone else on the list today
after permission was given for bones to inform JHB members.
I just Googled for "Pilot Club" and discovered that there was already
an organisation for pilots with that name.

It may also prove to deter those would be "Controllers" amongst us!

Kev




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