Check-In Responsibility

Dan Leavitt

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Check-In Responsibility
« on: February 05, 2010, 11:44:21 pm »
I had an interesting situation come up today. I was talking with one of my pilots, who was flying into a controlled center airspace (a side note, the center controller holds a sup rating, this will play into the scenario as we continue) from an uncontrolled airspace. He was unaware that he was flying into the controlled airspace, and was just continuing on with his flight, and was at the controls the ENTIRE time. After flying in for a while, he got a private message from the controller staffing the center. The message read: "this message is to inform you that you are being removed from the network for not contacting me within 30 min of entering my airspace."  To this, my pilot responded saying that he hadn't received a contact message, and was unaware he was in controlled airspace.  After a bunch of pointless bickering back and forth, the controller finished the conversation by stating "it is the responsibility of the pilot to know whether he is in controlled airspace, and the controllers are not required to send out contact messages."

Now, I've done my homework, the PRC says that IDEALLY the pilot will contact the controller when they enter the airspace. At the same time, it states that the pilot can't be absent from the flight deck while in controlled airspace. I've read through the forums here and at VATSIM, and I keep seeing posts that say controllers SHALL, and usually will send contact messages(but these messages are just from other controllers and pilots). By that same token, I haven't seen anything saying that it is required. A lot of these postings and wordings in documents are contradictory, and we have no official documents outlining something as simple as this. Can the determination of whether a pilot is removed from the network really fall to the discretion of supervisors, when there's nothing written/approved stating who's(pilot, controller, both) responsibility it is to establish contact?

Is it the sole responsibility of the pilot to establish contact with the controller? or does the controller have an obligation to at least attempt to contact a pilot who didn't check in (not checking in doesn't mean they are away from the controls)?


Thanks,

Dan
« Last Edit: February 05, 2010, 11:46:51 pm by Dan Leavitt »
Dan Leavitt
vZAU En Route Controller

J. Jason Vodnansky

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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2010, 12:10:09 am »
Quote from: Dan Leavitt
I had an interesting situation come up today. I was talking with one of my pilots, who was flying into a controlled center airspace (a side note, the center controller holds a sup rating, this will play into the scenario as we continue) from an uncontrolled airspace. He was unaware that he was flying into the controlled airspace, and was just continuing on with his flight, and was at the controls the ENTIRE time. After flying in for a while, he got a private message from the controller staffing the center. The message read: "this message is to inform you that you are being removed from the network for not contacting me within 30 min of entering my airspace."  To this, my pilot responded saying that he hadn't received a contact message, and was unaware he was in controlled airspace.  After a bunch of pointless bickering back and forth, the controller finished the conversation by stating "it is the responsibility of the pilot to know whether he is in controlled airspace, and the controllers are not required to send out contact messages."

Now, I've done my homework, the PRC says that IDEALLY the pilot will contact the controller when they enter the airspace. At the same time, it states that the pilot can't be absent from the flight deck while in controlled airspace. I've read through the forums here and at VATSIM, and I keep seeing posts that say controllers SHALL, and usually will send contact messages(but these messages are just from other controllers and pilots). By that same token, I haven't seen anything saying that it is required. A lot of these postings and wordings in documents are contradictory, and we have no official documents outlining something as simple as this. Can the determination of whether a pilot is removed from the network really fall to the discretion of supervisors, when there's nothing written/approved stating who's(pilot, controller, both) responsibility it is to establish contact?

Is it the sole responsibility of the pilot to establish contact with the controller? or does the controller have an obligation to at least attempt to contact a pilot who didn't check in (not checking in doesn't mean they are away from the controls)?


Thanks,

Dan

Sounds like your pilot got "baited" and the supervisor was abusing his authority.

How does said supervisor know that he was away for greater than 30 minutes if the pilot was never contacted to find out if he WAS away from the controls.

Must be more secret rules that the supervisors have...

Too bad,
Jason Vodnansky

J. Jason Vodnansky

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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2010, 12:13:59 am »
By the way...

It doesn't matter what the PRC says.  It only matters what VATSIM's CoC, CoR, VATNA and VATUSA policies say.

VATUSA's policies may not apply since there is no VATUSA policy published on the VATNA website as required by VATNA policy 0505, but that has been an issue for years, and will likely never be fixed.

Oh, I forgot, those pesky "secret rules" that the supervisor can hold people to account for may apply here too.

JV

Alex Bailey

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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2010, 12:42:56 am »
Dan,

Despite the incorrect assumptions of Mr. Vodnansky, the Supervisor was not following any "secret policies" (they don't exist) and was in the wrong. Your best course of action would be to send the Supervisor's name and information regarding the situation to Michael Zazula and copy Norman Blackburn to ensure you get a response.

Supervisors follow the published regulatory documents available to all members. Those are pretty big claims to make, Jason, which require some substantiation.

Dan, if you have any further questions please let us know.

Regards,
« Last Edit: February 06, 2010, 12:55:31 am by Alex Bailey »

Alex Bailey

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« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2010, 12:46:04 am »
To clarify one more point, the 30 minute rule only applies to pilots in uncontrolled airspace. In controlled airspace, the discretion is left to the Supervisor and the current situation (is the pilot conflicting with other members?). However, the Supervisor must make attempts to contact the pilot and document said attempts. Hope that clears it up.

Mike Cassel

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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2010, 01:48:51 am »
In response to the COC question, yes, the pilot does have an independent obligation to contact a controller upon entering controlled airspace. Obviously it's a good idea for controllers to send out a "contactme", but the Code of Conduct is clear that the pilot does have the obligation to be in contact with the appropriate controllers.

That said, the key question in regards to enforcing that section of the Code of Conduct from a Supervisor perspective is one of intent. It's unreasonable to remove a pilot that's at his computer for not contacting a controller due to unknowingly entering controlled airspace. Justified removals under COC B3 generally involve pilots who intentionally don't make contact with the appropriate controllers, or are not at their computers despite the presence of controlled airspace.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2010, 01:55:05 am by Mike Cassel »

Dan Leavitt

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« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2010, 02:42:45 am »
Guys,

Thanks for your responses, it is much appreciated

Quote from: Alex Bailey
Your best course of action would be to send the Supervisor's name and information regarding the situation to Michael Zazula and copy Norman Blackburn to ensure you get a response.

Supervisors follow the published regulatory documents available to all members.

Dan, if you have any further questions please let us know.

Regards,

Without delving into details, and without naming names, i'll just say this...it doesn't matter who would get emailed, from experience and perception, said person IS untouchable.


Quote from: Alex Bailey
To clarify one more point, the 30 minute rule only applies to pilots in uncontrolled airspace. In controlled airspace, the discretion is left to the Supervisor and the current situation (is the pilot conflicting with other members?). However, the Supervisor must make attempts to contact the pilot and document said attempts. Hope that clears it up.

Quote from: Mike Cassel
In response to the COC question, yes, the pilot does have an independent obligation to contact a controller upon entering controlled airspace. Obviously it's a good idea for controllers to send out a "contactme", but the Code of Conduct is clear that the pilot does have the obligation to be in contact with the appropriate controllers.

That said, the key question in regards to enforcing that section of the Code of Conduct from a Supervisor perspective is one of intent. It's unreasonable to remove a pilot that's at his computer for not contacting a controller due to unknowingly entering controlled airspace. Justified removals under COC B3 generally involve pilots who intentionally don't make contact with the appropriate controllers, or are not at their computers despite the presence of controlled airspace.

Not to play devils advocate here, but I have to ask.  Alex, you say supervisors MUST make attemptS...plural(i've seen it happen after 1 call)  where as Mike says COC B3 GENERALLY, which to me implies that there's room for interpretation/no set standards.

I respect both of your opinions on the matter, but since there's a difference between the 2, it's just that, an opinion. Can we get an "official" VATUSA determination on this?


Thanks,

Dan
Dan Leavitt
vZAU En Route Controller

Norman Blackburn

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« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2010, 03:10:31 am »
[quote name='Dan Leavitt' date='Feb 6 2010, 08:42 AM' post='9997']

Hi Dan,

Nobody is untouchable.  As Alex has said, fire an email to Michal and I and you can be sure questions will be asked.

Whilst it is the pilots responsibility to make contact, the controller didnt help things by watching without action.  If the situation occurred as you relay here, removing them without warning is nothing short of abuse of the Supervisor's ability.

Mike Cassel

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« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2010, 03:10:48 am »
I don't think there's any inconsistency at all between what Alex and I said. I outlined what would be a situation that calls for removal under COC B3, not the standards that apply to finding out if someone is at their computer or not.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2010, 03:12:13 am by Mike Cassel »

Norman Blackburn

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« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2010, 03:16:56 am »
[!--quoteo--][div class=\\\'quotetop\\\']QUOTE [/div][div class=\\\'quotemain\\\'][!--quotec--]Without delving into details, and without naming names, i'll just say this...it doesn't matter who would get emailed, from experience and perception, said person IS untouchable.[/quote]

Sorry, the quote above managed to vanish.

Alex Bailey

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« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2010, 03:46:52 am »
Dan,

It isn't a VATUSA issue so they won't be able to provide an answer. The thing to remember is that we do have discretion on how to carry out our duties, but the fact remains - we enforce the Code of Conduct and Code of Regulations in situations such as these. What Jason mentioned is grossly inaccurate because any removal or suspension must be based upon a documented violation of either of the two documents.

What Mike and I have said is that there are various clauses in those documents that take care of various violations. CoC A9 covers pilots in uncontrolled airspace. CoC B3/B10 covers pilots in controlled airspace, and A14 applies to observers and controllers who aren't at their computer (inactive connections). There must be some sort of measure for whether or not a member is at their machine, and I don't see how that happens without contacting the pilot. If the pilot was disrupting another member's flight, then their removal could be instant and based upon CoC A1.

In the situation you described, unless the SUP in question can read someone's mind, how does he know the pilot isn't there? Whilst it is the pilot's job to check for appropriate ATC, the ATC should also send a contact message and the SUP should definitely confirm the absence of the pilot before taking any sort of action.

Finally, it all comes down to assisting the users of the network. Our primary job is to provide assistance and when it comes time to play police officer, we should keep the hobby aspect in mind. Does there appear to be malicious intent with the pilot's actions or did he simply step away to grab his laundry? Many SUPs get it right and understand that we aren't here to look for opportunities to remove and suspend people. I use it as a last resort.

Dan Leavitt

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« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2010, 06:28:50 am »
Alex/Mike,

Now I understand a bit better as to what the "guideline" for it is. Thank you.


Norm, I will be weighing my options in regards to an email to you and mike.


Thanks all for your input,

Dan
Dan Leavitt
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Norman Blackburn

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« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2010, 06:45:05 am »
Thanks Dan.

Dave Klain

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« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2010, 07:13:23 am »
Dan,

I'm pretty sure it was me you are talking about...but the pilot is only sharing some of the facts (or message has been gotten scrambled up with transmission to and through you).

1. I had a pilot enter my airspace (from uncontrolled airspace) and sent him 11 .contactme messages over the course of about 60 miles as he flew over other traffic and approached Chicago from the East.
2. The pilot finally responded when he was over Lake Michigan and in the arrivals corridor for ORD.  Because he established contact so late, he was at FL240 at WYNDE instead of 10,000 feet despite his best efforts to descend.
3. When the pilot finally did check in I told him "Good thing you checked in, I was about 5 minutes away from disconnecting you from the network"  
4. I never disconnected him.
5. Pilot got pissy with me, said he never got the contactme messages except the last one.
6. I never said it was the pilot's responsibility to monitor if ATC is online and contact me first, and I certainly have never taken that position as a controller or VATSIM staff member.

Bottom line is in the case I dealt with last night, I have a pilot who, for whatever reason (not being at the computer, not seeing the .contactme messages, not getting the .contactme messages) flew well into the airspace for an extended period of time and was approaching a position where I was going to .kill him...but I never did.  So the real story (assuming this is the incident to which you were referring) is that after repeated attempts to make contact with a pilot, upon check-in, he was told "good thing you checked in...I was five minutes away from disconnecting you"...the rest is all crap.

By the way, as a controller I never .kill someone unless no supes are online.  In another case last night I did have another issue with an unresponsive pilot and issued a .wallop like anyone else...think it was Mike Cassel who responded.  I would have done the same thing here...another 5 min and I would have .wallop'd for a supervisor....

Does that help?

Dave

Edit made to correct spelling of Mike's name.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2010, 07:34:08 am by Dave Klain »
Dave Klain
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J. Jason Vodnansky

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« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2010, 09:28:48 am »
Dave's post certainly changes my position...

Jason Vodnansky
« Last Edit: February 06, 2010, 09:30:21 am by J. Jason Vodnansky »