2021 Mid Year Update

Manuel Manigault

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Re: 2021 Mid Year Update
« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2021, 07:40:47 AM »
Also… will the new GRP be a “review and provide feedback” or is it going to be a “review and deal with it” like usual?

It's going to be a review and comment.  Rick, Dhruv, and I are on the Revision Committee.  The committee is being led by Matt Bartels.  I am the official VATUSA representative; Rick and Dhruv are at large members.

I have been impressed by the committee discussion to date.  The draft has been modified several times based on feedback from committee members and the BoG.  I have learned quite a lot by being on the committee.  For the larger Divisions, lack of training bandwidth is a major issue.  There are some Divisions that have much larger training backlogs than we do.  VATCAN and VATUK for example have backlogs of 9+ months -- just to receive initial training!  I am looking forward to the VATUSA Academy.  I hope it can successfully relieve some of the backlog and pressure that the ARTCCs experience.
Mani Manigault
Division Director
VATUSA

Kyle Sanders

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Re: 2021 Mid Year Update
« Reply #16 on: July 06, 2021, 08:07:43 AM »

It's going to be a review and comment.  Rick, Dhruv, and I are on the Revision Committee.  The committee is being led by Matt Bartels.  I am the official VATUSA representative; Rick and Dhruv are at large members.

In that case, I am confident that any concerns I would have had, will have been already addressed by these people. Thanks!
Best Regards,
Kyle Sanders

Manuel Manigault

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Re: 2021 Mid Year Update
« Reply #17 on: July 06, 2021, 08:15:07 AM »
Fair, it is cool to see who's at the top and who isn't. But what exactly is the point of ranking 'best to worst' in a volunteer organization?

I'd suspect that facilities under, probably 10th are getting messages or emails from their RMs with something along the lines of "You should do better in your facility" (in fact, I know some are). So let me dive into why this, in my opinion, shouldn't be done:

1) Each facility has a different membership base with different circumstances. Some have a lot of new-ish members that are just here to have a good time, some take it more seriously, etc etc.  Yeah, they all have a VATSIM CID. Let's use, ZMP as an example (ranked last). (Using HOME controllers only) ZMP has 78 controllers on there home roster. Now lets take out the OBSs that can't do anything (29). Now we have 49. Now, lets take into consideration how many controllers actually have a cert for any level (GND, TWR, APP, CTR): 40. Now, lets look at ZMPs uptime on any level of controlling, YTD (1/1 thru 6/30): ~756 (+/- a few, math done by hand, and there's probably positions I missed). Lets take that 756 and divide that by how many controllers were active with certs (40). That's an average of 18.9 hours per active, certified controller. Take into account ZMPs activity requirement (3 hours per calendar quarter) and they're doing just fine per their required hours (6 hours required for the two quarters, Jan thru June...literally averaging triple their requirement). Point here is, you can't just rate this all by up-time. It should be done using the logic above, to actually see how their doing.

2) What is the UNDERLYING cause of controllers not wanting to control? P I L O T S. I'll be damned if I'm going to staff more than I'm required, when us controllers are held to a crazy high standard, yet the 13 year old that gets MFSF2020 can connect without actually being checked for competency to comply with basic ATC instructions. Obviously this issue goes higher than VATUSA, but VATUSA isn't doing anyone any favors by telling facilities towards the bottom of the list "You should be online more." What VATUSA COULD be doing to help improve and motivate controllers to do more than what it required, is to be up at the front door of the BOG, knocking until they actually start taking pilot competency seriously. IT IS NOT FUN when we get online, and have to hand hold 50% of the pilots on our frequency. That alone is a big reason why most facilities don't have an higher uptime. Then you need to account for environmental factors like, I don't know, actually having a life outside the hobby, LOAs, etc. Controllers are BURNTOUT from dealing with the pilots that do not know what they're doing. We can preach to them that they should read the Pilot Learning documents, but currently that is merely a recommendation.

3) Last year (IIRC), VATUSA was more worried about having exit interviews with S1s (who cares?) when we should have been focusing on our C1+'s that got fully certified, worked some hours, and went away. Who cares why the S1 who did minimal training to work a DEL/GND position left? You'd have much more meaningful feedback if we focused on the fully certified C1+s that left after certification. If we did that, I'm willing to bet that you'd be hearing the same thing about pilots over, and over, and over again...if you had that feedback last year, maybe we could have made meaningful impact network wide regarding pilot competency, and eliminating that as a factor for Burnout.

4) You don't motivate leaders/members of a volunteer organization by comparing them to the guy next door. You're treating this as a company-type measurable metric, as if the pilots are our customers. No. Don't. PLEASE DON'T. By reaching out to some ARTCC leaders and telling them "We think your facility should be on more" again, is ignoring the underlying issues at hand. We need to first address the WHY, fix those issues, THEN we can begin to make headway in uptime.

Disclaimer - I wouldn't have made this post, if some ARTCCs weren't being told to "Do Better" when there are things that need to be addressed first, before we start asking more of VOLUNTEERS. This isn't meant to be an attack [insert legal jargon here] but is just honest feedback from a concerned VATUSA member :).

Point 2 is beyond the scope of this Division update.  I don't want to shut down that discussion, I just don't want it to override the purpose of this post.

Regarding the ARTCC ranking:  This information is readily available to anyone that wants it on the various VATSIM statistic sites.  I simply compiled the data by ARTCC.  One of the purposes of VATUSA is to simulate the vNAS --a system that is available 24 hours a day.  Many talk about the want of realism in the forums and Discord on a regular basis.  Sending a pilot to UNICOM because controlled airspace is uncovered technically is not realistic.  I value competent coverage.  Notice I did not put the actual ARTCC uptimes in my post.  For all anyone knows, the range between 1 - 21 could be a matter of minutes or it could be a very wide range. 

Yes, this is a volunteer hobby.  If you have a staff position; however, you volunteered for a non paid job.  Just because you are not getting paid doesn't mean you don't have standards and expectations.

I am personally judging my success based on:

  • Membership growth - The growth comes from OBS
  • New member retention - What are we doing to increase training bandwidth?
  • Increase in controller hours during non-event times - I value competent coverage day in and day out.
  • Increasing C1 retention - The Command Center, Web Services Team, Social Media Team are non staff avenues C1 rated controllers can take advantage of to expand the hobby.
  • Successfully developing a pilot community - Yes, pilots are our customers.  Pilots have several online and offline choices to engage in flight simulation.  Online controllers need pilots to practice their skills.
  • Building a unified team of managers who are willing to champion the above.
Mani Manigault
Division Director
VATUSA

Brett Jones

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Re: 2021 Mid Year Update
« Reply #18 on: July 06, 2021, 08:46:39 AM »

Point 2 is beyond the scope of this Division update.  I don't want to shut down that discussion, I just don't want it to override the purpose of this post.

Regarding the ARTCC ranking:  This information is readily available to anyone that wants it on the various VATSIM statistic sites.  I simply compiled the data by ARTCC.  One of the purposes of VATUSA is to simulate the vNAS --a system that is available 24 hours a day.  Many talk about the want of realism in the forums and Discord on a regular basis.  Sending a pilot to UNICOM because controlled airspace is uncovered technically is not realistic.  I value competent coverage.  Notice I did not put the actual ARTCC uptimes in my post.  For all anyone knows, the range between 1 - 21 could be a matter of minutes or it could be a very wide range. 

Yes, this is a volunteer hobby.  If you have a staff position; however, you volunteered for a non paid job.  Just because you are not getting paid doesn't mean you don't have standards and expectations.


Mani, why include them then? It really seems to have done more harm then good. I fail to see how realism and competency come into play. Unlike the real world, VATUSA doesn't force new people to go staff facilities with low amounts of controllers. We cannot have VATUSA listing the ARTCC's from first to last by number of hours controlled. As Dylan already said, it does not tell the full story. When one facility has more OBS's on their roster than another has total controllers, it's clear who will have more time on the network. My question to you is. Why are facilities towards the bottom of the list getting emails being told to "be better". Small facilities will never be able to put up the number of hours as the big ones, 30 people can't keep pace with 100+.
Brett Jones
Events Coordinator
vZKC - Kansas City ARTCC

Commercial Pilot ASEL AMEL CFI

Kyle Sanders

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Re: 2021 Mid Year Update
« Reply #19 on: July 06, 2021, 09:18:36 AM »
Point 2 is beyond the scope of this Division update.  I don't want to shut down that discussion, I just don't want it to override the purpose of this post.

Agreed... Continued here then?
https://forums.vatusa.net/index.php?topic=10181.0
Best Regards,
Kyle Sanders

Nolan Danziger

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Re: 2021 Mid Year Update
« Reply #20 on: July 06, 2021, 09:22:19 AM »
Excuse my back of the napkin math on this, but it seems like (in general) the larger ARTCCs have more controlling hours. If the division is planning to keep ranking ARTCCS like this, the solution shouldn't be to tell smaller ARTCCs to staff more. I know this is a very hot hot take, but what if after graduation from the Academy, OBS were assigned a facility, or maybe a shortlist. I'm sure several controllers can relate that they visit/are home controllers at a place nowhere near their home. They stay because of the community aspect. As a bonus, this should hopefully help to reduce the ridiculous training backlog at the larger facilities. I know it's not going to be popular, but I think that it's an idea to be considered if we're serious about evening the playing field between the largest ARTCCs and the smallest. Heck, I'm pretty sure ZLA has more OBS than most facilities have certified controllers! Does that not seem wrong to anyone else?
Fort Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center Deputy Air Traffic Manager and Zoomer

Manuel Manigault

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Re: 2021 Mid Year Update
« Reply #21 on: July 06, 2021, 09:45:42 AM »

Point 2 is beyond the scope of this Division update.  I don't want to shut down that discussion, I just don't want it to override the purpose of this post.

Regarding the ARTCC ranking:  This information is readily available to anyone that wants it on the various VATSIM statistic sites.  I simply compiled the data by ARTCC.  One of the purposes of VATUSA is to simulate the vNAS --a system that is available 24 hours a day.  Many talk about the want of realism in the forums and Discord on a regular basis.  Sending a pilot to UNICOM because controlled airspace is uncovered technically is not realistic.  I value competent coverage.  Notice I did not put the actual ARTCC uptimes in my post.  For all anyone knows, the range between 1 - 21 could be a matter of minutes or it could be a very wide range. 

Yes, this is a volunteer hobby.  If you have a staff position; however, you volunteered for a non paid job.  Just because you are not getting paid doesn't mean you don't have standards and expectations.


Mani, why include them then? It really seems to have done more harm then good. I fail to see how realism and competency come into play. Unlike the real world, VATUSA doesn't force new people to go staff facilities with low amounts of controllers. We cannot have VATUSA listing the ARTCC's from first to last by number of hours controlled. As Dylan already said, it does not tell the full story. When one facility has more OBS's on their roster than another has total controllers, it's clear who will have more time on the network. My question to you is. Why are facilities towards the bottom of the list getting emails being told to "be better". Small facilities will never be able to put up the number of hours as the big ones, 30 people can't keep pace with 100+.

It is no different than VATSIM Golden Mic Award, the Iron Mic Award, or the rank of positions by callsign that is on most VATSIM statistic sites.
Mani Manigault
Division Director
VATUSA

Manuel Manigault

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Re: 2021 Mid Year Update
« Reply #22 on: July 06, 2021, 10:15:13 AM »
In my post, I didn't advise any facilities to staff more.  I didn't assign any value judgement on an ARTCC's performance.  I was recognizing facilities that have high uptime.  If you are on an ARTCC's staff and are not satisfied with your uptime, what can you do to increase it?  Marketing? Events? Partnering with an ATO?  Nolan is brainstorming.  More ideas are welcome.  You can brainstorm in regions with your region manager if you would like, or a staff member can organize a group to brainstorm.

There has been talk of creating a VATUSA Iron Mic Competition broken down by three leagues.  The leagues take into account roster size without observers and were proposed to be re-evaluated every three months.  Here is how things would stack out based on the leagues:

League 1
  • ZNY
  • ZBW
  • ZDC
  • ZLA
  • ZTL
  • ZDV
  • ZJX

League 2
  • ZME
  • ZOA
  • ZMA
  • ZSE
  • ZFW
  • ZOB
  • ZMP

League 3
  • ZHU
  • ZAU
  • ZID
  • PCF
  • ZAB
  • ZLC
  • ZKC

Mani Manigault
Division Director
VATUSA

Alexandra Robison

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Re: 2021 Mid Year Update
« Reply #23 on: July 06, 2021, 10:17:54 AM »
It is no different than VATSIM Golden Mic Award, the Iron Mic Award, or the rank of positions by callsign that is on most VATSIM statistic sites.

The difference there is that Iron/Golden Mic are fun, friendly competitions. You are presenting this data as a performance metric, and then telling ARTCCs at the bottom to "do better" (a direct quote from my RM).
Alexandra Robison
Albuquerque ARTCC
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Manuel Manigault

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Re: 2021 Mid Year Update
« Reply #24 on: July 06, 2021, 10:20:58 AM »
It is no different than VATSIM Golden Mic Award, the Iron Mic Award, or the rank of positions by callsign that is on most VATSIM statistic sites.

The difference there is that Iron/Golden Mic are fun, friendly competitions. You are presenting this data as a performance metric, and then telling ARTCCs at the bottom to "do better" (a direct quote from my RM).

No I didn't.  I said "Uptime ranking"  I didn't assign a value judgement to the rankings at all.  I just reposted the rankings at the beginning of this thread based on roster size (as of March 2021) without Observers.
Mani Manigault
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VATUSA

Nolan Danziger

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Re: 2021 Mid Year Update
« Reply #25 on: July 06, 2021, 10:23:39 AM »
It is no different than VATSIM Golden Mic Award, the Iron Mic Award, or the rank of positions by callsign that is on most VATSIM statistic sites.

The difference there is that Iron/Golden Mic are fun, friendly competitions. You are presenting this data as a performance metric, and then telling ARTCCs at the bottom to "do better" (a direct quote from my RM).

No I didn't.  I said "Uptime ranking"  I didn't assign a value judgement to the rankings at all.  I just reposted the rankings at the beginning of this thread based on roster size (as of March 2021) without Observers.

It sounds like there was a breakdown in communication somewhere because there are some mixed signals between what Mani is saying here, and what others are saying have been communicated to them by their RM.
Fort Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center Deputy Air Traffic Manager and Zoomer

Alexandra Robison

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Re: 2021 Mid Year Update
« Reply #26 on: July 06, 2021, 10:25:53 AM »
It is no different than VATSIM Golden Mic Award, the Iron Mic Award, or the rank of positions by callsign that is on most VATSIM statistic sites.

The difference there is that Iron/Golden Mic are fun, friendly competitions. You are presenting this data as a performance metric, and then telling ARTCCs at the bottom to "do better" (a direct quote from my RM).

No I didn't.  I said "Uptime ranking"  I didn't assign a value judgement to the rankings at all.  I just reposted the rankings at the beginning of this thread based on roster size (as of March 2021) without Observers.

Direct quote from my RM by email: "...I really think you guys can/should do better". RMs represent the division, and thereby you, no? That sounds like you are considering this a performance metric. Or maybe you and your RMs aren't on the same page? Either way, there is a disconnect here that needs to be fixed.
Alexandra Robison
Albuquerque ARTCC
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Zachary Bartig

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Re: 2021 Mid Year Update
« Reply #27 on: July 06, 2021, 10:37:11 AM »
Point 2 is beyond the scope of this Division update.  I don't want to shut down that discussion, I just don't want it to override the purpose of this post.

Agreed... Continued here then?
https://forums.vatusa.net/index.php?topic=10181.0

Thanks for creating this Kyle, it will be an important thread to follow.  Hopefully some good can come out of this

Dylan Lundberg

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Re: 2021 Mid Year Update
« Reply #28 on: July 06, 2021, 10:40:38 AM »
Quote
Point 2 is beyond the scope of this Division update.  I don't want to shut down that discussion, I just don't want it to override the purpose of this post.

Regarding the ARTCC ranking:  This information is readily available to anyone that wants it on the various VATSIM statistic sites.  I simply compiled the data by ARTCC.  One of the purposes of VATUSA is to simulate the vNAS --a system that is available 24 hours a day.  Many talk about the want of realism in the forums and Discord on a regular basis.  Sending a pilot to UNICOM because controlled airspace is uncovered technically is not realistic.  I value competent coverage.  Notice I did not put the actual ARTCC uptimes in my post.  For all anyone knows, the range between 1 - 21 could be a matter of minutes or it could be a very wide range. 

Yes, this is a volunteer hobby.  If you have a staff position; however, you volunteered for a non paid job.  Just because you are not getting paid doesn't mean you don't have standards and expectations.

I am personally judging my success based on:

  • Membership growth - The growth comes from OBS
  • New member retention - What are we doing to increase training bandwidth?
  • Increase in controller hours during non-event times - I value competent coverage day in and day out.
  • Increasing C1 retention - The Command Center, Web Services Team, Social Media Team are non staff avenues C1 rated controllers can take advantage of to expand the hobby.
  • Successfully developing a pilot community - Yes, pilots are our customers.  Pilots have several online and offline choices to engage in flight simulation.  Online controllers need pilots to practice their skills.
  • Building a unified team of managers who are willing to champion the above.

Mani,

Point 2 directly impacts your division update in regards to uptime, whether you want to believe it or not.

"One of the purposes of VATUSA is to simulate the vNAS --a system that is available 24 hours a day."    -- Do you honestly think that any facility is going to staff 24 hours a day for again, pilots that can barely fly a heading, maintain an altitude? Again, you need to address the issues as to WHY ARTCCs don't have higher uptimes, which pilot competency DIRECTLY affects.


"For all anyone knows, the range between 1 - 21 could be a matter of minutes or it could be a very wide range."  -- Irrelevant. You presented the data in a ranked way, period. The difference between each ARTCCs uptime doesn't matter. Next time, maybe display the data as "VATUSA uptime for the past xxxx timeframe is". 

"Yes, this is a volunteer hobby.  If you have a staff position; however, you volunteered for a non paid job.  Just because you are not getting paid doesn't mean you don't have standards and expectations."  - No one is refuting that. We know what we signed up for. The problem lies within the shadows of RMs telling ARTCCs they need to do better, despite the fact that controlling on this network is more hassle than fun. Again, this is due large in part by incompetent pilots. Y'all don't care as to why, you're just trying to get numbers to look good on a spreadsheet. Enough with that. You're doing more harm than good.

"Increasing C1 retention - The Command Center, Web Services Team, Social Media Team are non staff avenues C1 rated controllers can take advantage of to expand the hobby."  -- C1 retention will not be solved by offering shiny new badges and responsibility. You are ignoring the issues at hand. You should be doing more with VATSIM to come up with solutions with regard to pilot competency, not hounding the people that actually control on a day-to-day basis to do better.

"New member retention - What are we doing to increase training bandwidth?" -- New member retention is not just measurable by training. Culture is another example of what affects member retention, do better.

"Successfully developing a pilot community - Yes, pilots are our customers.  Pilots have several online and offline choices to engage in flight simulation.  Online controllers need pilots to practice their skills."  -- I thought this was beyond the scope of the update?

"In my post, I didn't advise any facilities to staff more.  I didn't assign any value judgement on an ARTCC's performance.  I was recognizing facilities that have high uptime.  If you are on an ARTCC's staff and are not satisfied with your uptime, what can you do to increase it?  Marketing? Events? Partnering with an ATO?  Nolan is brainstorming.  More ideas are welcome.  You can brainstorm in regions with your region manager if you would like, or a staff member can organize a group to brainstorm." -- You didn't advise any ARTCCs to staff more, but your RMs are. They were hired by you to instill your vision. If they're going against your vision, or distributing other information contrary to yours, what help is that doing? Time to clean house if you ask me, remember "Not in line with my vision" is a reason for termination!

I challenge VATUSA to do better by: 1) Listening to the underlying issues, and working with VATSIM to attempt to solve such issue. 2) Not hounding the very volunteers that do what they can day-to-day to actually keep VATUSA moving. 3) Not contradicting yourself in statements made by you, your RMs, etc.

All this is doing, is adding to the pile of reasons as to why more and more long-dedicated members are leaving the division, specifically regarding controllers. Don't ignore the underlying issues.
Dylan Lundberg

I1 for a looong time| Just here to grill|
[Exiled VATUSA9
Former ATM(x2), DATM TA, EC(x2)]

Tim Simpson

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Re: 2021 Mid Year Update
« Reply #29 on: July 06, 2021, 11:42:41 AM »
3) Last year (IIRC), VATUSA was more worried about having exit interviews with S1s (who cares?) when we should have been focusing on our C1+'s that got fully certified, worked some hours, and went away. Who cares why the S1 who did minimal training to work a DEL/GND position left? You'd have much more meaningful feedback if we focused on the fully certified C1+s that left after certification. If we did that, I'm willing to bet that you'd be hearing the same thing about pilots over, and over, and over again...if you had that feedback last year, maybe we could have made meaningful impact network wide regarding pilot competency, and eliminating that as a factor for Burnout.

So let me see if I understand this.  Experienced controllers with years or decades under their belts are unhappy and leaving.  FNG's coming in as OBS/S1's getting an eyeful, then leaving shortly after joining.  Pilots are woefully unprepared, leading to negative experience for the experienced controllers.  Got it.

Experienced controllers leaving:
-Many of us have been there with lots of hobbies.  You set a goal, such as C1, work toward it, reach it, then realize that the fun was getting there, not being there. 
-Pilots ill prepared, reduce the immersion, and fun of controlling, resulting in no incentive to make controlling a priority when discretionary time is available.

New controller recruits leaving early:
-Excessive training requirements.
-Training based on "that's how we've always done it" mentality, prepared by people that have no background in teaching.
-Slow advancement.  Not enough on the job learning, and too much "sweatbox" with outdated scenarios that are counter productive
-Too many third party programs needed for a simple ATC session.

Pilots:
-In denial that even a little self study will go a long way in making their experience, and that of others much better.
-Refuse to start low and slow VFR, moving to flight following, graduating to GA IFR, then tackling airliners.  Nope, jump right into that PMDG 737, and go.


Solution:
-Narrow the gap between controller training, and pilot expectations. 
-Controller cert should not mirror real world exactly, and should not take a year to accomplish. More OTJ, low volume time on the live network, less didactic frat house training.
-Pilots should bear more responsibility for airspace knowledge.  New account good for VFR only.  Track account VFR flight following time, whenever a controller tags a users aircraft with a transponder code for flight following.  Set minimum hours, say 25 hours of VFR flight following in GA pistons.  Next step 25 hours of IFR GA pistons, tracked with controller tagging the user account by assigning the transponder code.  Then unlimited network use.