From the Desk of VATUSA1

Manuel Manigault

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From the Desk of VATUSA1
« on: May 29, 2022, 11:28:10 AM »
Hi everyone.  In February, I shared with you VATUSA's 2022 initiatives.  Here is an update on our progress.

Training Services: The Academy is successfully 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.  2022 YTD OBS growth is -15%.  2022 YTD S1 growth is +15%.  OBS30+ population shrunk by 18% 2021 YE and is currently flat.

Work continues on a process to give new members multiple options for their initial ARTCC choice.  ATMs are working on ARTCC descriptions to aid new members in making informed decisions on their initial choice.

Support Services: Congratulations to Brandon Wening on his selection as Deputy Director - Support Services.  Congratulations to Shane Friedman on his selection as Staff Development Manager.  Congratulations to Alexandria Robison on her selection as Technical Manager (formally Data Services Manager).  VATUSA Events Manager interviews are in progress.  Second half FNO bidding process should be beginning soon.  We are considering piloting some Single Facility FNOs.

Air Traffic Services: ATM Advisory Board is in pilot.  First meeting was successful, but it pointed out that we need to further nail down the structure and responsibilities of the Board. We will be meeting monthly to start in order to properly set up the process.  Once the process is established and we work through the backlog of issues, Board meetings will be probably be reduced to bi-monthly.  My first impressions are that the Board will become an established part of the Division.  I'll know more for sure after the next meeting or two.

With the Board in pilot and based on feedback from ATMs, General Members, ZHQ Staff Members; I have decided to terminate the Region Manager concept, leave the VATUSA General Manager (VATUSA2) position unfilled, and reduce the number of regions to three (Western/Central/Eastern).  Region Managers are now known as Deputy Division Directors - Air Traffic Services.  Their currency requirements have been reduced to match other ZHQ Staff Members. The DDD - ATS's as a group will be overseeing Air Traffic Services.  As their positions become more strategic, day to day tactical decisions will be passed on to the ATMs.  If this process is successful, the ATMs will feel more invested in the Division.  They will be able to confidently champion the Division's vision to their ARTCC members because they will have a direct hand in developing that vision.

With the reduction of regions to three, Cody Cochrane and Paul Semeran will be leaving ZHQ.  Both of them did a great job as Region Manager.  They just got caught in the change of direction that Air Traffic Services is experiencing.  The position is no longer the same position they signed up for.  I have no doubt that either or both of them will be back at ZHQ in time if they so choose.  I would like to see a well-established VATUSA ATM with demonstrated results apply for the open DDD-ATS Central role.

Effective June 1, 2022  Air Traffic Services will be structured as follows:

Western Region - Rick Rump
  • PCF
  • ZLA
  • ZOA
  • ZSE
  • ZLC
  • ZDV
  • ZAB

Central Region - Open
  • ZMP
  • ZAU
  • ZKC
  • ZID
  • ZFW
  • ZHU
  • ZME

Eastern Region - Brandon Barrett
  • ZOB
  • ZBW
  • ZNY
  • ZDC
  • ZTL
  • ZJX
  • ZMA

In closing, I wish to thank you all for taking in so much change in such a short period of time.  Change can be unsettling.  Anyone who has been with VATUSA for a significant period of time, fully understands the issues the Network and the Division are facing.  They have been established issues for many years.  I am attempting to be bold in my proposed solutions.  Time will tell if these solutions are effective or not.

Even with all of these changes, there are some bedrock principles that I rely on in my decision making process:

  • A new member's controlling journey leads to a personal relationship between the member and a Mentor/Instructor.  I still fondly think of my relationship with my first Instructor.
  • A controller's enthusiasm for VATUSA/VATSIM is greatly influenced by their Air Traffic Manager.
     Are you in a lively and enthusiastic ARTCC, or are you in an inactive ARTCC where you feel alone and isolated?
  • In a top down environment, the C1 and S3 rated members are the most valuable.  They can provide the most air traffic controller services.  We have to strive to be top heavy in S3s and C1s to meet the growing online pilot demand.

Have a Happy Memorial Day weekend!