Pilot Expectations, cont...

Andrew Selder

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Re: Pilot Expectations, cont...
« Reply #30 on: October 02, 2021, 10:20:45 PM »
Hi all,

I was pointed to this thread the other day and have been reading with interest! The first thing to say is that I absolutely appreciate the frustrations and I am determined to do whatever we can to reduce those frustrations on both sides of the issue. Many of the ideas in this thread feed in to some work around this that my predecessor, Ethan, was actively looking in to and which I am carrying on.

It's a fine balance between coming up with something which does provide some recourse against those who genuinely have no interest in learning or improving, versus creating an impression of an incredibly stiff, strict, punitive culture where the tiniest mistakes are leapt on and punished with ridicule/bans etc. The problem with that image is that it tends to actually put off those who would actually be quite good VATSIM pilots/controllers precisely because they hear that it's a really realistic, strict environment where they need to have all this knowledge before connecting and so they never do because they're worried that they don't know enough and if they mess up they'll be kicked. Meanwhile those who really don't care just connect anyway and so it ends up being counterproductive and having the opposite effect to that intended! We need to make sure that we are learning from and promoting the real-world "just culture" concepts and making it really clear -- internally and externally -- that we want to hear about and learn from honest mistakes, and that honest mistakes and genuine efforts will never be punished, only clear negligence/acting in bad faith.

With regard to the feedback/ATSAP idea -- this is absolutely a good idea. In the first instance if we want to tackle this problem -- and, just as importantly, identify whether any progress has in fact been made -- we need proper data and this is something which is currently lacking. Of course we have anecdotal comments and experiences shared in forums like this, in the VATSIM Discord and so on but to be honest -- I've been reading similar comments to some degree or another for the last 21 years and beyond! To collate and analyse some proper data we need a proper feedback system and that is something which we are actively working on and I hope to have something to trial in the not too distant future.

One of the challenges with the above is that I am keen that it is NOT simply a "moan form" for controllers to point fingers or sound off about individual pilots because I 100% guarantee that if one pilot is having difficulty with something so will somebody else on the network and just like in real aviation we need to make sure we are using the data to focus on putting resources in place to address the issues more widely for everybody, and not just targeting individual "bad apples" and pretending that by punishing/removing those we are going to remove the problem. Supervisors and .wallop must remain the primary port of call for dealing with members who are being disruptive or in breach of the CoC in individual cases -- and I appreciate that at times this can be a bit more painful than it ought to be and we can discuss about that.

I know the New Member Orientation Course is something which has had some discussion -- I agree that whilst it was a huge step forward to implement this in the first instance, there are definitely improvements that can be made here and it's a project I have running at the moment. Again, armed with data and feedback I want to make this a process of continuous improvement and development so that we are always refining and making sure that we are targeting the important/live issues through the course, so watch this space in that regard.

I strongly believe that ATOs and the Pilot Rating system are an integral part of improving the overall levels of knowledge and skill on the network -- the fact that we now have the pilot ratings more easily visible in tools like VATSpy etc I think is a great step forward and we need to keep on working at ways to make pilot ratings more visible, more attractive and more aspirational. With that in mind I appreciate that capacity in the system at present is nowhere near what it needs to be and I have some plans for how we can improve upon this which I hope to say more about soon.

Finally, alongside the formal pilot ratings we also have to do much better at getting information, training material and so on out there to a much wider audience on a more informal basis -- and that's something which I want to work with the Marketing team on. I'm open for thoughts and suggestions on this as well -- I know the Boston guys have been running webinars in the past which I think is a fantastic idea and I'd love to see more of the same so if there's anything I can do to support that -- likewise I really want to make the PLC a 'destination' for aviation knowledge so if anybody wants to write up an article or a guide etc that they would like to see published on the PLC by all means send it across -- my e-mail address is on the VATSIM Staff page under VP Pilot Training (even if my name is not yet!).

Hope that gives a whistlestop overview of some of the plans we have to try and tackle some of these issues -- as I say I think the most important thing in the first instance is to get the feedback/ATSAP programme in place which in turn will give us the data we need to know what we need to be focussing on and to see whether our efforts are actually having any impact.

As always, my virtual door is open so if you have any thoughts or comments I'm delighted to hear from you!

Best,

Simon

Holding pilots accountable doesn't need to mean "incredibly stiff, strict, punitive culture where the tiniest mistakes are leapt on and punished with ridicule/bans etc"

A pilot repeatedly screw up SIDs and gets frequent reports for this, this is noticed by a staff member, who sends a nice email, saying "we've gotten feedback that you're having trouble following departures, do you have 15 mins we can pop in a voice chat so I can explain them a little better".

If the complaints continue, next step would be requiring an hour or two of training or observing ATC so they can see how their mistakes impact the system.

If the problems still persists, then maybe need to start restricting privileges.

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I realize it would probably be ignored by the majority, but just like airline dispatches have a place for the pilot to sign that they are prepared for the flight, have reviewed the flight plan etc... how about we add a check box to the bottom of the flight plan dialog with some thing like: "By checking this box, I certify that I have reviewed the flight I am about to perform, I have reviewed the pertinent charts and have sufficient skill to execute the flight."


Ryan Barnes

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Re: Pilot Expectations, cont...
« Reply #31 on: October 03, 2021, 09:48:55 PM »
I'm going to play devil's advocate and share my 2 cents.

The last time I connected to VATSIM was on January 9th, 2021. I have since "retired" due to burnout and what I'm about to explain. To put it simple: This hobby was starting to feel like a minimum wage job.

The network has been going more into this whole "realism" direction especially the last few years. I miss the days where I could actually have fun controlling and helping pilots out when they had no idea what they were doing. It seems we reached the point where we try to hold controllers to the highest standard possible, but of course pilots aren't, and I think we are trying to be too realistic to the point where we are making it so new pilots have to go through some kind of test to satisfy our realism needs. I know the argument will be made where "I have fun doing things ultra realistic" and such, but I'll say in m opinion it's at the point where I'm not having fun because of it. There needs to be more of a focus on actually helping the pilots at the time they need it instead of just going straight to "oh lets just put them through the same training us controllers go through" which to me when I left was getting insane too. (I couldn't stand sweatbox sessions where they give you 50 something planes at once while if you controlled on a random afternoon you got 15ish)

Another thing too is if we're going to force pilots to go through some kind of testing to satisfy these realism needs, we should enforce live weather, and current time while we're at it. Nothing stopping me from spawning in at a controlled field with LIFR conditions, 100KT wind and an altimeter of 2980. Nothing stopping me using scenery that would be accurate as of 1980.

It is these frustrations with they way the network has gone towards to make me forget controlling, the pilots were not the issue, it was the this mindset that made it not fun.

I check back in another couple months.
Retired ZHU C1