VATUSA 2022 Initiatives

Manuel Manigault

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VATUSA 2022 Initiatives
« on: February 24, 2022, 09:51:14 AM »
It is hard to believe that we are almost through with the first two months of the year!  ZHQ has been busy planning for 2022, and I wanted to take this time to catch you up on the initial details.  Currently ZHQ is focused on the following initiatives:

Continued expansion of the VATUSA Academy:  Anthony and Meg have done a fantastic job leveraging their educational backgrounds to create a very effective Academy.  I have been very pleased with initial results I have seen since we started the Academy.  The Academy has been effective in setting expectations with New Members and weeding out those who may not have the appetite for the work that is involved in transitioning from an OBS to a S1 and beyond.

We wish to extend setting proper expectations from the Academy to the initial ARTCC selection.  Our most popular ARTCCs as I am writing this are ZNY, ZLA, ZBW.  The training demand in those three ARTCCs is crushing.  We are working on a process to give new members multiple options for their initial choice.  ATMs are working on ARTCC descriptions to aid new members in making informed decisions on their initial choice.  More to come from Anthony and Meg later this year.

Support Services Wing:  Wes and I are close to finishing the interviews for Support Services Manager.  The purpose of this wing is multifold.
  • Maintain and improve the website
  • Communicate Division updates through various channels
  • Pilot Outreach
  • VA Outreach
  • Social Media
  • Professional Development so we can identify future VATUSA leaders and aid them in being the strongest candidates they can be.
  • Create ATM job aids such as an ARTCC Operations Manual and a model to show ATMs the health of their facility.

This list is not exhaustive.  I see this wing as the Division's swiss army knife.  New initiatives that are not Operations or Ratings Training related will be in this wing.

ATS Evaluation: ZHQ and ATMs had their 2022 initial planning meeting February 21.  One piece of feedback I received was concern that there were too many Region Managers.  The primary purpose of the Region Manager is to be active in their regions through controlling, being in their facilities' Discords, holding Regional Town Halls, receiving feedback from members and staff in their regions and delivering the feedback to ZHQ, and informing ARTCC staff and their members of ZHQ initiatives.

Over the years, VATUSA has had 4 regions, 3 regions, and 5 regions.  The primary reason I expanded to five was to give some of our most senior ATMs an avenue to join ZHQ and be the bridge between our members and the Division.  I was also thinking that by elevating these senior ATMs to ZHQ, they would have a runway to show off their skills and put themselves in a position to become the next Division Director.   I can share with you that as of now only one senior ATM has ever applied for one of these positions.  If senior ATMs do not wish to take advantage of the opportunity, an argument can be made that the talent pool for the Region Manager position is exhausted.

Based on feedback from the ATM Planning Meeting, I decided to not fill the Western Region Manager position and add a fifth Region Manager to our staff.  Rather, I decided to reduce the number of Region Managers to four using our existing Region Manager staff and to realign the ARTCCs.  ATMs and Region Managers will be meeting over the next week or so to candidly discuss the Region Manager position.  Wes and I plan to attend the meetings as well.  ZHQ will consolidate the feedback and determine next steps.  It is possible we may reduce the number of regions further. More to come as the year progresses.

Staff to Member Ratios: Similar to ATMs' concern that ZHQ may be too large, I am concerned that some ARTCC staffs are too large given the number of members.  Our current model calls for 105 recognized ARTCC staff members.  I have asked the ATMs to discuss this topic with their RMs.

DP001 Fifth Revision:  DP001 is in need of further revision.   During ZHQ's Planning Meeting, we reviewed DP001 and offered suggestions.  ATMs will be meeting with their RMs to review the document and offer their suggestions.  You may see multiple revisions to DP001 over the course of the year.

ATM Board: ATMs and ZHQ are exploring the possibility of officially adding an ATM Board. I picture this board as being an Advisory Board reporting directly to me.  ATMs will be discussing with their RMs whether the board is necessary, how many members, purpose of board.  More to come as the year progresses.

Unified Admin Policy: At the ATM Planning Meeting, I agreed to have ATMs create and publish their Operation Policies without upfront Region Manager approval.  Region Managers will review these operational policies after publication and communicate required revisions if any.  Currently, ARTCCs create administrative policies as well.  Revisions to these policies will continue to require Divisional preapproval prior to publication to determine if these policies are in alignment with DP001 and network policy.  It may make better sense to consolidate the 21 policies into a unified division policy and incorporate that into DP001.  ATMs will be discussing this with their RMs.  More to come.

As you can see, management has a full plate!  Our goal continues to be "to provide a realistic air traffic control simulation for the United States on VATSIM network while also providing a fun and welcoming environment for members."

Thank you for your contribution and participation on the network.