How/Why/When of Initial Contact w/ ATC (A look at COC)

Toby Rice

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Re: How/Why/When of Initial Contact w/ ATC (A look at COC)
« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2017, 09:20:58 am »
The battle between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law is real...
Toby Rice
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Shane VanHoven

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Re: How/Why/When of Initial Contact w/ ATC (A look at COC)
« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2017, 11:34:04 am »
While supping, I've been called by ATC for a pilot failing to contact, and when I ask when the contact me was sent got "never sent one". Turned into an education lesson for both. It takes a second to hit "home" and click to send that contact me request, really no reason not to.

Yeah I completely agree and wasn't arguing that. I won't call a Supervisor until I've sent multiple contact requests without response over a period of at least 20-25 minutes unless the aircraft is causing conflicts.

On an unrelated note, I wonder how many (if any) "average joe" pilots around the network are reading this thread. The question isn't what does the COC say, it's why don't many pilots know that they are supposed to be aware of the rules. What's the point of spending all that time writing rules if nobody is going to be required to follow them?

The battle between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law is real...

Again, not arguing what the law is. Sometimes I just feel like we should be holding pilots to a higher standard. Not even with the training aspect, but the feedback, the self motivation for success... There is a certain expectation for controller to know what they're doing, and if a controller doesn't know what their doing, pilots have the option to post feedback on the facilities' website in order to help with the improvement of the facility. So such thing exists in the other direction unless individual virtual airlines create their own feedback system.

VATSIM is a learning environment

If it's a learning environment, why does it feel like many pilots aren't taking the initiative to learn? Maybe that is a slight overgeneralization, but there is some truth to it, because conversations like this shouldn't need to exist, we should be able to spend our time on higher level topics. 
Shane VanHoven
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Daniel Hawton

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Re: How/Why/When of Initial Contact w/ ATC (A look at COC)
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2017, 01:15:10 pm »

VATSIM is a learning environment

If it's a learning environment, why does it feel like many pilots aren't taking the initiative to learn? Maybe that is a slight overgeneralization, but there is some truth to it, because conversations like this shouldn't need to exist, we should be able to spend our time on higher level topics.

I can say the exact same for controllers. I know more than a dozen by name.  But like the real world .. not everyone participates the way things were intended.
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Mark Hubbert

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Re: How/Why/When of Initial Contact w/ ATC (A look at COC)
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2017, 06:55:59 pm »
Quote
Strictly speaking, us controllers have no responsibility to send contact requests. The responsibility lies 100% on the pilot according to the language of the COC.

Per COC you are correct.   The bottom line is, I think that there is a responsibility on both the pilot and controller not one or the other.  The goal should be to have fun and enjoy the hobby.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2017, 07:26:44 pm by Mark Hubbert »
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Sergio Lopez

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Re: How/Why/When of Initial Contact w/ ATC (A look at COC)
« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2017, 09:17:41 am »
My 2 cents:

As a pilot I have flown through complete centers without the slightest contact me being received. I knew I was in their airspace (Vattastic). I wanted to test it and see how long it would take him to contact me (in 2 occassions they never did). In my mind, it was the controllers responsibility to notify me if he wanted to talk to me, if not I would just continue on my way (mostly on over flights).

Now reading this, it seems to be a responsibility from both parties, therefore I will reach out to the controller in the case he doesn't reach out to me first.

Again, I've only had this happen about 2 times in all my years flying. Usually controllers are very quick at sending a contact me as soon as you approach or enter their airspace. Or I reach out to them if I see them pop up.
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Christopher Olmstead

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Re: How/Why/When of Initial Contact w/ ATC (A look at COC)
« Reply #20 on: March 15, 2017, 10:54:03 pm »
To echo most of what people have said, it's the responsibility of both sides. But we have to look at all areas on the spectrum of experience. Most of us here got into aviation because of VATSIM or looked to further our involvement in aviation with it. Regardless, we all started at what most of us would consider a "noob" level at some point. The typical brand new pilot to VATSIM has zero knowledge of airspace or even ARTCC boundaries.

When I started on VATSIM back in 2011, I never heard of VATSpy or Vattastic and I hadn't even started my real world flight training yet so I was the stereotypical noob. I remember calling Jacksonville Center sitting on the ground in Atlanta to ask if I needed to contact him. I had no idea how to tell or where to go to find that information. I've experienced that from pilots countless times while controlling Boston Center so how can we expect everyone to know when they're in you're airspace. If you let someone skirt your airspace and wanna complain that they haven't contacted you, consider that maybe they honestly not know that they're in your airspace.

Now obviously this is a case-by-case issue, but don't be quick to push the blame on the pilot all the time. I personally will let certain aircraft go who will only be in my airspace for less than 50 miles and I'll use the same number before I start sending contact requests unless I expect there to be a conflict in which I'll initiate that process earlier.


Christopher Olmstead (CO)
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Re: How/Why/When of Initial Contact w/ ATC (A look at COC)
« Reply #21 on: March 16, 2017, 12:08:55 am »
Just to clarify...  It is indeed the pilot's responsibility...  And solely the pilot's responsibility.  That said, and I think what folks are portraying here, most controllers like to reach out to play nice in the sandbox.  Nice in the sandbox is good.  Mark and Chris and others in this thread that are looking out for the best interests of all, including teaching the pilots, are definitely on the right track. 

But I still hate the .contactme.  It's a crutch.

I've said it a million times before.  I'm not a fan of the .contactme.  It is unrealistic.  Another pilot responsibility is to be monitoring unicom at all times when in uncontrolled airspace.  So assuming a pilot doesn't realize he entered controlled airspace, that's the way I reach out.  It emulates a controller reaching out to a pilot on guard (121.5) which happens all day long RW.  When I log on and see that there are people in my airspace that may not be aware that I just logged on, is send a text message on unicom that says something to the effect of: "XXX_CTR is now online, 1xx.xxx" This gets, on average, about 65% of the pilots out there who are dutifully monitoring unicom to call me.

The others, I generally send another message, on unicom, directed at their callsign, that says Contact XXX_CTR on 1xx.xxx For those controllers/Facility Engineers that choose to add it to their facility's standard alias file, it could look like
.cme Contact $callsign on $com1

I use the .contactme as a last resort. It it the least realistic (the hailing attempts on unicom mirror what the RW would do on guard), but sends a clear message. By the time I've sent the third request for contact, the pilot has now neglected their responsibility to monitor for online ATC and contact ATC for a decent number of minutes (I usually don't send .contactme messages for at least 15 minutes, unless there is a traffic conflict brewing) (and their situational awareness tools (e.g. VATSpy, Servinfo, etc.) should have updated, showing online ATC), and have also neglected their responsibility to monitor unicom. In my estimation (because I stopped collecting hard data months ago), when I've been online for 15+ minutes and start to send the .contactme messages, 80+% of pilots aren't paying attention, and fewer than 20% are newbie-ish that need some assistance/reassurance.

I would wager that the vast majority of controllers on VATSIM just rely on the .contactme crutch right out of the chute, most likely because that's the way they were taught. That's also likely why we hear a lot of pilots say, "Oh, I was just waiting for the .contactme message; everyone else does that...."  That's true in Europe.  I hope to hell we are not training our controllers to use the .contactme message as a crutch, but as a last resort.  Please stop propagating anything along the lines of "if a pilot wanders into your controlled airspace, immediately send a .contactme" or "pilots should wait for a .contactme". It is the pilot's responsibility to contact ATC, not ATC's responsibility to contact the pilots (reference the VATSIM Code of Conduct, section B3). Much has been written about this over the years, with the main argument that pilots have only one controller to contact, while controllers may be working several, indeed a lot of, aircraft, working multiple approaches and terminal operations at multiple airports. 

Stop feeding the pilots fish; teach them how to fish!  Just please do it in a kind, helpful and respectful manner.  Otherwise, we'll have a different problem on our hands.

Too harsh and we lose people. Too loose and we lose people. That sweet spot in the middle where everyone gets better/smarter and has more fun is a tough place to find, but a great place to be. Let's all look for that sweet spot that maximizes the enjoyment of the network for everyone....
Don Desfosse
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Toby Rice

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Re: How/Why/When of Initial Contact w/ ATC (A look at COC)
« Reply #22 on: March 16, 2017, 08:14:35 am »
I like your point about UNICOM, Don.  I'll have to try that.

Good post!
Toby Rice
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Jacksonville ARTCC
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Alex Ying

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Re: How/Why/When of Initial Contact w/ ATC (A look at COC)
« Reply #23 on: March 16, 2017, 01:36:58 pm »
What's the best / canonical way to send text messages on 122.8 from VRC? I haven't really been able to find documentation on it. Does it work to set it in the comms panel without any voice server or channel info?

Re: How/Why/When of Initial Contact w/ ATC (A look at COC)
« Reply #24 on: March 16, 2017, 02:58:52 pm »
What I do is set it up in the comms panel, use the facility's standard voice server, and use UNICOM for my voice channel.  If your facility specifies how to do it, you should follow that.  If not, you're pretty much on your own.  Feel free to adopt my method if you like. 

Just do not prime up on unicom, please!  (that introduces a bunch of "interesting" things, especially for people using XSB)  And transmit text only on unicom, please.
Don Desfosse
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Daniel Hawton

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Re: How/Why/When of Initial Contact w/ ATC (A look at COC)
« Reply #25 on: March 16, 2017, 03:05:34 pm »
What's the best / canonical way to send text messages on 122.8 from VRC? I haven't really been able to find documentation on it. Does it work to set it in the comms panel without any voice server or channel info?

Easy way is to go to your comms panel, select an empty frequency row, enter a label (I use "UNICOM") and set frequency to 122.800.  Then click "Save Changes".  Then select the TX and RX checkboxes next to it and type in the text box.  You'll transmit on both UNICOM and your prim'd frequency, but that's okay.  If you don't want to transmit on your frequency temporarily, just uncheck the TX box for your frequency (leave PRIM and RX checked as well as HDST/SPKR as appropriate), send your xxx position open on 123.45 message, then recheck TX.  After you're done transmitting on UNICOM, uncheck TX and RX and you're set.
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Johnathan Ellis

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Re: How/Why/When of Initial Contact w/ ATC (A look at COC)
« Reply #26 on: March 16, 2017, 04:46:26 pm »
Just to clarify...  It is indeed the pilot's responsibility...  And solely the pilot's responsibility.  That said, and I think what folks are portraying here, most controllers like to reach out to play nice in the sandbox.  Nice in the sandbox is good.  Mark and Chris and others in this thread that are looking out for the best interests of all, including teaching the pilots, are definitely on the right track. 

But I still hate the .contactme.  It's a crutch.

I've said it a million times before.  I'm not a fan of the .contactme.  It is unrealistic.  Another pilot responsibility is to be monitoring unicom at all times when in uncontrolled airspace.  So assuming a pilot doesn't realize he entered controlled airspace, that's the way I reach out.  It emulates a controller reaching out to a pilot on guard (121.5) which happens all day long RW.  When I log on and see that there are people in my airspace that may not be aware that I just logged on, is send a text message on unicom that says something to the effect of: "XXX_CTR is now online, 1xx.xxx" This gets, on average, about 65% of the pilots out there who are dutifully monitoring unicom to call me.

The others, I generally send another message, on unicom, directed at their callsign, that says Contact XXX_CTR on 1xx.xxx For those controllers/Facility Engineers that choose to add it to their facility's standard alias file, it could look like
.cme Contact $callsign on $com1

I use the .contactme as a last resort. It it the least realistic (the hailing attempts on unicom mirror what the RW would do on guard), but sends a clear message. By the time I've sent the third request for contact, the pilot has now neglected their responsibility to monitor for online ATC and contact ATC for a decent number of minutes (I usually don't send .contactme messages for at least 15 minutes, unless there is a traffic conflict brewing) (and their situational awareness tools (e.g. VATSpy, Servinfo, etc.) should have updated, showing online ATC), and have also neglected their responsibility to monitor unicom. In my estimation (because I stopped collecting hard data months ago), when I've been online for 15+ minutes and start to send the .contactme messages, 80+% of pilots aren't paying attention, and fewer than 20% are newbie-ish that need some assistance/reassurance.

I would wager that the vast majority of controllers on VATSIM just rely on the .contactme crutch right out of the chute, most likely because that's the way they were taught. That's also likely why we hear a lot of pilots say, "Oh, I was just waiting for the .contactme message; everyone else does that...."  That's true in Europe.  I hope to hell we are not training our controllers to use the .contactme message as a crutch, but as a last resort.  Please stop propagating anything along the lines of "if a pilot wanders into your controlled airspace, immediately send a .contactme" or "pilots should wait for a .contactme". It is the pilot's responsibility to contact ATC, not ATC's responsibility to contact the pilots (reference the VATSIM Code of Conduct, section B3). Much has been written about this over the years, with the main argument that pilots have only one controller to contact, while controllers may be working several, indeed a lot of, aircraft, working multiple approaches and terminal operations at multiple airports. 

Stop feeding the pilots fish; teach them how to fish!  Just please do it in a kind, helpful and respectful manner.  Otherwise, we'll have a different problem on our hands.

Too harsh and we lose people. Too loose and we lose people. That sweet spot in the middle where everyone gets better/smarter and has more fun is a tough place to find, but a great place to be. Let's all look for that sweet spot that maximizes the enjoyment of the network for everyone....

I have would have to agree 100%. I personally feel the same about the ".contactme" feature, and have never been a supporter of it. I never send them out. If a pilot passes from my airspace to a fellow Controller's.....I will let the Controller know the situation, and go from there.
Jon Ellis
VATSIM Network Supervisor

Re: How/Why/When of Initial Contact w/ ATC (A look at COC)
« Reply #27 on: March 16, 2017, 05:00:54 pm »
While Daniel is correct, I'll admit that I never found it worth the time/effort to deselect my primary frequency tx...  No biggie to me if my pilots see me ask someone to contact me on my frequency.  In the RW, it's the same transmission they'd be hearing if they were "good pilots" and monitoring the guard frequency in one of their other COM radios..... ;)
Don Desfosse
Vice President, Membership, VATSIM
Division Director Emeritus, VATUSA

Re: How/Why/When of Initial Contact w/ ATC (A look at COC)
« Reply #28 on: March 16, 2017, 05:11:43 pm »
I like your point about UNICOM, Don.  I'll have to try that.

Thanks.  We're all about continuous improvement, so if people do start trying the unicom (simulating guard) method, please let us know how you make out.

I'm still a firm believer in teaching the pilots to fish....  (Give a VATSIM pilot a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a VATSIM pilot to fish and you feed him for a lifetime ;) )
Don Desfosse
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Ryan Parry

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Re: How/Why/When of Initial Contact w/ ATC (A look at COC)
« Reply #29 on: March 17, 2017, 10:43:10 am »
On an unrelated note, I wonder how many (if any) "average joe" pilots around the network are reading this thread. The question isn't what does the COC say, it's why don't many pilots know that they are supposed to be aware of the rules. What's the point of spending all that time writing rules if nobody is going to be required to follow them?

I've always been of the opinion new members should have to pass an exam on the PRC material and at the end of that exam it should advertise the various ATO's and encourage them to seek out Pilot ratings. I believe it would really help this network in both pilot quality and general knowledge of the rules etc. 
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