Discussion about sector IDs

Jonathan Voss

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Discussion about sector IDs
« on: August 22, 2017, 12:49:06 pm »
Regarding the founders trying to ensure ease of access:  I know that, you know that, but we see a trend of making it difficult for people "not in the know."  For example, sector naming.  How do I know if X, Y, or Z approach is North, West, or East?  Or if 12, 21, 14, or 41 center is high/low, east/west, etc?  I've heard controllers get mad at (and yell at -- there's too much yelling on this network these days) pilots for not knowing their internal symbology and nomenclature.  It's a bit ridiculous.

+1 for this statement. It has become a pet peeve of mine, really. As a controller, there is no real reason for these callsigns... I can see exactly which controller has which alpha-numeric ID and the pilot has no use for this information. When flying, it would be tremendously more useful for me to have at least a vague idea of which controller to initially contact when flying in from an uncovered region. Aeronautical charts do not help here either because we do not staff/cover all of the same real world frequencies. I'm not sure when or why this became the norm but I do miss the ol'e E/W, H/L, etc.

As for the few places that still seem to do this, keep it up! You guys rock!
Jonathan Voss (JV)
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Nickolas Christopher

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Re: Discussion about sector IDs
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2017, 04:45:13 pm »
I think it's actually close to real world. There are no definitive TRACON or center sector boundaries on aviation charts. IFR charts have center boundaries, but otherwise, the frequencies on VFR and IFR charts are there so you can get a controller on the radio who can help you.

Additionally, some TRACONs are more complex than others. SoCal has probably over a dozen sectors, and I can't count how many times a pilot goes NORDO thinking they aren't in SoCal TRACON airspace.

I don't expect a pilot to know sectorizations and frequencies. But, I'd rather them call me and ask than go NORDO and cause conflicts. If I'm not the correct controller, I'll send them to the right frequency.
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Matthew Kosmoski

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Re: Discussion about sector IDs
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2017, 05:49:07 pm »
I think it's actually close to real world. There are no definitive TRACON or center sector boundaries on aviation charts. IFR charts have center boundaries, but otherwise, the frequencies on VFR and IFR charts are there so you can get a controller on the radio who can help you.

Additionally, some TRACONs are more complex than others. SoCal has probably over a dozen sectors, and I can't count how many times a pilot goes NORDO thinking they aren't in SoCal TRACON airspace.

I don't expect a pilot to know sectorizations and frequencies. But, I'd rather them call me and ask than go NORDO and cause conflicts. If I'm not the correct controller, I'll send them to the right frequency.

Excuse me?  Are you sure you want to assert that there's no way to determine that information based on the publications provided by the FAA for real-world operations?  ARTCC boundaries are listed on enroute charts.  AF/D show approach facilities for an airport, enroute charts show who owns what with the postage stamps.  The big difference is that they can combine frequencies/sectors and run multiple concurrently, even with aircraft on different frequencies, which we don't do -- hence the need for a VATSIMism.

As a pilot, you should know exactly who to call 99% of the time with those resources.  We don't have those resources on VATSIM.  The N/W/E/S/F/etc identifiers used to be the analogous resource... now there's nothing.

What we have is nothing akin to real world.  We're missing the supplemental information (maybe that's why they renamed the AF/D to the chart supplement) to make it viable as-is.
Matthew Kosmoski
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Jonathan Voss

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Re: Discussion about sector IDs
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2017, 06:00:43 pm »
This is too funny. In this very thread we just discussed how you must operate a Mode C transponder at all times regardless of real world regulations and yet, brining up something that would actually help pilots is frowned upon because it's not real world.

However, just like Matthew was saying, when flying in the real world, I can easily determine which controller I'm supposed to contact initially. As I was saying earlier, because we do not monitor all of the frequencies listed (like real ATC does) there is no way for the pilot to use the available information to determine the appropriate frequency. Every time we sectorize this same issue comes up time and time again where pilots either go NORDO or they call the wrong sector. It is a lot of needless frequency congestion and confusion during busy events.

I don't understand why there is a necessary need to make things more "realistic" for the pilot when it is neither realistic or practical.
Jonathan Voss (JV)
Houston ARTCC

Matthew Kosmoski

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Re: Discussion about sector IDs
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2017, 06:03:59 pm »
This is too funny. In this very thread we just discussed how you must operate a Mode C transponder at all times regardless of real world regulations and yet, brining up something that would actually help pilots is frowned upon because it's not real world.

This thread has made one thing pretty clear to me:  Depending on which way I turn my head, the rules and interpretations of what needs to be adjusted for VATSIM are either one-sided or arbitrary.
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Ira Robinson

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Re: Discussion about sector IDs
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2017, 07:24:38 pm »
This thread has made one thing pretty clear to me:  Depending on which way I turn my head, the rules and interpretations of what needs to be adjusted for VATSIM are either one-sided or arbitrary.

In other words you can't be all things to all people all the time.  And this surprises you Matthew?  You've been around too long for that.
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Daniel Hawton

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Re: Discussion about sector IDs
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2017, 07:27:21 pm »
Alright.. from a real world perspective, there is no reliable method to determine which frequency you have to be on.  EVERY day, I hear at least 2 aircraft call over guard across the northern half of the state of Alaska (bigger than Texas) because they lost contact with Anchorage Center and requesting pilots relay messages to Anchorage to get them a new frequency and/or they were instructed to change, misheard it and now can't reach the previous controller.  The AF/D (which no longer exists) doesn't accurately portray approach sectors either.  For Fairbanks, AK. for instance, the E/W split is about 7 miles east of FAI, but according to the Chart Supplement, East is everything from the 360-179 and West is 180-359.  So neither tell you exactly whom to call.  It gives you an idea only to call and ask.  The controllers are the ones who get pilots to the same frequency.

Real world or not, pilots DO go to incorrect frequencies, and get direction from the controller on who to call.  N/S/E/W are as cryptic to pilots as sector numbers (and relief callsigns are usually numbers anyway).

As far as on VATSIM... the N/S/E/W don't really help.  If I am sitting at IAH or JAX, do I contact E/W/N/S?  01 14 W E all mean the same thing to a pilot, it's another sector.  What does help is redirecting lost pilots to the correct frequency, controller text and providing helpful diagrams on your website.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2017, 03:00:22 am by Daniel Hawton »
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Daniel Hawton

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Re: Discussion about sector IDs
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2017, 01:06:13 am »
To all, I sincerely apologize.  Going back through these posts, I had thought I read bickering back and forth and locked the topic.

I have split the topics, as this is a different direction than the original thread's question and unlocked the topics.
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Matthew Kosmoski

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Re: Discussion about sector IDs
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2017, 08:09:36 am »
Lots of points I want to address, so I apologize in advance for the inline quotes:

Alright.. from a real world perspective, there is no reliable method to determine which frequency you have to be on.

Of course there is.  Again, they're listed on all the charts.  When you're enroute, you pick a nearby airport and use the information published.  I've only ever been handed off to a "correct" controller once when doing that.  If you're going to use Alaska as you did below, of course that's another animal due to the nature of the (lack of) population density, but the same concept applies.

EVERY day, I hear at least 2 aircraft call over guard across the northern half of the state of Alaska (bigger than Texas) because they lost contact with Anchorage Center and requesting pilots relay messages to Anchorage to get them a new frequency and/or they were instructed to change, misheard it and now can't reach the previous controller.

Of course, but that's a well-known issue with radio coverage in Alaska.  Additionally, missing handoffs isn't new or unusual.  The SOP here is to do exactly that.  Over the middle of Texas, we've, in a Skyhawk at 6,500, provided relay services on guard for an approach controller who wouldn't hail an airliner.


The AF/D (which no longer exists) doesn't accurately portray approach sectors either.  For Fairbanks, AK. for instance, the E/W split is about 7 miles east of FAI, but according to the Chart Supplement, East is everything from the 360-179 and West is 180-359.  So neither tell you exactly whom to call.  It gives you an idea only to call and ask.  The controllers are the ones who get pilots to the same frequency.

Sure it does, but the split there is largely irrelevant.  If you use the resources mentioned, they tell us the following:

FAIRBANKS DEP CON
126.5 381.4(360°-179°)
125.3 5363.2(180°-359°)

If you're headed East and call up 5 early, they're not going to pong you back ;-)

P.S.  I know the AF/D was renamed, but you'll see that I used it as a set up for the "supplemental" joke.

Real world or not, pilots DO go to incorrect frequencies, and get direction from the controller on who to call.  N/S/E/W are as cryptic to pilots as sector numbers (and relief callsigns are usually numbers anyway).

Are we talking VATSIM here?  If so, I think you're sorely underestimating the average pilot.  While the average VATSIM pilot may not entirely understand how to read charts, I think that even a 13 year old has been taught a compass rose.  I've had this discussion via text PM on network dozens of times... They get confused as who to call, and many have mentioned that the older style here largely removed that confusion.

As far as on VATSIM... the N/S/E/W don't really help.  If I am sitting at IAH or JAX, do I contact E/W/N/S?  01 14 W E all mean the same thing to a pilot, it's another sector.  What does help is redirecting lost pilots to the correct frequency, controller text and providing helpful diagrams on your website.

Yep, another VATSIMism.  On the ground isn't nearly as concerning as when flying in.  You won't get ding-donged and wallop'd a minute later while you're running a flow or loading a flight plan and figuring out a freq like you will as you cross a border you can't see.  We can't expect that pilots will go to every ARTCC/FIR website (if they even know what the ARTCC/FIR is in the first place) and know that the Dallas TRACON is known as the D10 and pull charts.  We can't expect that pilots will know that they even need to.  You're correct that directing them to the right frequency is part of the solution, but I've lost confidence in our ability (as controllers on the whole) to do that regularly without a tone of condescension.  I hear it far too often.  That's another issue to solve, of course, but is certainly justification for workarounds elsewhere.
Matthew Kosmoski
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Jonathan Voss

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Re: Discussion about sector IDs
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2017, 08:14:29 am »
Alright.. from a real world perspective, there is no reliable method to determine which frequency you have to be on.

I'm sorry but I disagree with your statement. Flying VFR and approaching controlled airspace it is very necessary (and easy) for us to determine which frequency is appropriate. Additionally, when arriving IFR if for some reason we lost communications, sure it happens, it is also charted on the IAP which approach facility and frequency I should be talking to.

EVERY day, I hear at least 2 aircraft call over guard across the northern half of the state of Alaska (bigger than Texas) because they lost contact with Anchorage Center and requesting pilots relay messages to Anchorage to get them a new frequency and/or they were instructed to change, misheard it and now can't reach the previous controller. 

I hear this every day out flying too... but I'm not sure what its relevance is here in this particular topic.

Real world or not, pilots DO go to incorrect frequencies, and get direction from the controller on who to call.  N/S/E/W are as cryptic to pilots as sector numbers (and relief callsigns are usually numbers anyway).

Absolutely people get the wrong frequency, no argument there! However, I do not believe as many pilots would agree with you that they would be just as cryptic as sector IDs. I get pilots who call me all the time thinking the ID has some directional or location significance to them as the pilot. The pilots have absolutely no use for the ID or care so why even display it to them at all? Almost anything else could actually help them.

As far as on VATSIM... the N/S/E/W don't really help.  If I am sitting at IAH or JAX, do I contact E/W/N/S?  01 14 W E all mean the same thing to a pilot, it's another sector.  What does help is redirecting lost pilots to the correct frequency, controller text and providing helpful diagrams on your website.

No one is saying it would cure cancer here (all our problems). At least you would have a little better idea though. To your example, if I was on the ground at IAH and we had ZHU center split, you're honestly going to say picking between: 87 or 38 is easier to determine versus something like E and W?

Just for clarification's sake since this was split off from another thread. We're discussing the actual callsign used by ATC on the VATSIM network and not the IDs used in handoffs, etc.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2017, 10:47:41 am by Jonathan Voss »
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Daniel Hawton

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Re: Discussion about sector IDs
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2017, 12:54:30 pm »
Lots of points I want to address, so I apologize in advance for the inline quotes:

Alright.. from a real world perspective, there is no reliable method to determine which frequency you have to be on.

Of course there is.  Again, they're listed on all the charts.  When you're enroute, you pick a nearby airport and use the information published.  I've only ever been handed off to a "correct" controller once when doing that.  If you're going to use Alaska as you did below, of course that's another animal due to the nature of the (lack of) population density, but the same concept applies.

The information published is not always correct.  I've provided plenty of corrections, and the powers that be keep adding in more.  As I provided in my example, there is always incorrect information to be had, and just like real world, on VATSIM pilots who wander into the wrong frequency get redirected by the controller to the correct one (or should).

Quote
EVERY day, I hear at least 2 aircraft call over guard across the northern half of the state of Alaska (bigger than Texas) because they lost contact with Anchorage Center and requesting pilots relay messages to Anchorage to get them a new frequency and/or they were instructed to change, misheard it and now can't reach the previous controller.

Of course, but that's a well-known issue with radio coverage in Alaska.  Additionally, missing handoffs isn't new or unusual.  The SOP here is to do exactly that.  Over the middle of Texas, we've, in a Skyhawk at 6,500, provided relay services on guard for an approach controller who wouldn't hail an airliner.

You sure?  Sounds like you know nothing about Alaska if you think we have a lack of radio coverage up here.  I live and work it up here, there is almost no areas where you cannot reach ATC by radio.  Even a remote village in a mountain pass with a population of 282 people that is not on the road system has radio coverage to the ground.

Quote
The AF/D (which no longer exists) doesn't accurately portray approach sectors either.  For Fairbanks, AK. for instance, the E/W split is about 7 miles east of FAI, but according to the Chart Supplement, East is everything from the 360-179 and West is 180-359.  So neither tell you exactly whom to call.  It gives you an idea only to call and ask.  The controllers are the ones who get pilots to the same frequency.

Sure it does, but the split there is largely irrelevant.  If you use the resources mentioned, they tell us the following:

FAIRBANKS DEP CON
126.5 381.4(360°-179°)
125.3 5363.2(180°-359°)

If you're headed East and call up 5 early, they're not going to pong you back ;-)

P.S.  I know the AF/D was renamed, but you'll see that I used it as a set up for the "supplemental" joke.

They usually will if they've got their butts handed to them.  And East often does.  Difference between us, I've worked it. 
 I work ATC up here in the state of Alaska and am intimately familiar with it.  The supplemental change wasn't directed at you, but another individual that addressed it as the AF/D for use.

Quote
Real world or not, pilots DO go to incorrect frequencies, and get direction from the controller on who to call.  N/S/E/W are as cryptic to pilots as sector numbers (and relief callsigns are usually numbers anyway).

Are we talking VATSIM here?  If so, I think you're sorely underestimating the average pilot.  While the average VATSIM pilot may not entirely understand how to read charts, I think that even a 13 year old has been taught a compass rose.  I've had this discussion via text PM on network dozens of times... They get confused as who to call, and many have mentioned that the older style here largely removed that confusion.

Nope.  I am the reason ZJX switched.  When I showed up in 2009, they had: North (N), South (S), East (E), West (W), Coast (C), Epcot (D), plus highs, lows and a super high..  Sitting at JAX, who do you call?  ZHU W/E, I'm at IAH, who do I call?  There is no published information on where the split is... so if I'm near the boundary then yes, I have a decent idea who to call .. but more often than not, there's no way to know other than a controller's information.  I removed ZJX's horrible sectoring because not only were the names unhelpful, but the sectors that were created real life were created for a multitude of reasons.  Some of which include: not having airways split along boundaries or criss-crossing them, traffic flows into certain airports, etc.  The way the old ZJX boundaries were set up, S got JAX, MCO and TPA traffic.

Quote
As far as on VATSIM... the N/S/E/W don't really help.  If I am sitting at IAH or JAX, do I contact E/W/N/S?  01 14 W E all mean the same thing to a pilot, it's another sector.  What does help is redirecting lost pilots to the correct frequency, controller text and providing helpful diagrams on your website.

Yep, another VATSIMism.  On the ground isn't nearly as concerning as when flying in.  You won't get ding-donged and wallop'd a minute later while you're running a flow or loading a flight plan and figuring out a freq like you will as you cross a border you can't see.  We can't expect that pilots will go to every ARTCC/FIR website (if they even know what the ARTCC/FIR is in the first place) and know that the Dallas TRACON is known as the D10 and pull charts.  We can't expect that pilots will know that they even need to.  You're correct that directing them to the right frequency is part of the solution, but I've lost confidence in our ability (as controllers on the whole) to do that regularly without a tone of condescension.  I hear it far too often.  That's another issue to solve, of course, but is certainly justification for workarounds elsewhere.

If you've lost that ability, that's completely on you.  I've heard it (since now I mostly fly) countless times without condescension.  The work around is simple, make sure you send a contact me rather than let the pilot fly aimlessly into your airspace, put good information into your controller info, and hate to say it, but whether you use ZHU_14_CTR or ZHU_W_CTR, you're still going to have pilots call you that should be on another frequency.
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Daniel Hawton

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Re: Discussion about sector IDs
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2017, 12:59:31 pm »
Alright.. from a real world perspective, there is no reliable method to determine which frequency you have to be on.

I'm sorry but I disagree with your statement. Flying VFR and approaching controlled airspace it is very necessary (and easy) for us to determine which frequency is appropriate. Additionally, when arriving IFR if for some reason we lost communications, sure it happens, it is also charted on the IAP which approach facility and frequency I should be talking to.

And I'm going to disagree with you there.  Flying VFR, there is materials that still often point you to the wrong locations.  Example provided in the original post below.  It's not as reliable as you make it sound.

Quote
EVERY day, I hear at least 2 aircraft call over guard across the northern half of the state of Alaska (bigger than Texas) because they lost contact with Anchorage Center and requesting pilots relay messages to Anchorage to get them a new frequency and/or they were instructed to change, misheard it and now can't reach the previous controller. 

I hear this every day out flying too... but I'm not sure what its relevance is here in this particular topic.

That there is no more reliable way of finding frequencies than asking for help from controllers.

Quote
Real world or not, pilots DO go to incorrect frequencies, and get direction from the controller on who to call.  N/S/E/W are as cryptic to pilots as sector numbers (and relief callsigns are usually numbers anyway).

Absolutely people get the wrong frequency, no argument there! However, I do not believe as many pilots would agree with you that they would be just as cryptic as sector IDs. I get pilots who call me all the time thinking the ID has some directional or location significance to them as the pilot. The pilots have absolutely no use for the ID or care so why even display it to them at all? Almost anything else could actually help them.

Displayed because there's no other way to connect to the network with splits.  Plus it does help neighboring controllers.  One guy logs in as JAX_CTR and a split opens as JAX_04_CTR.. now the neighbor has to ask what sector is JAX_CTR?

Quote
As far as on VATSIM... the N/S/E/W don't really help.  If I am sitting at IAH or JAX, do I contact E/W/N/S?  01 14 W E all mean the same thing to a pilot, it's another sector.  What does help is redirecting lost pilots to the correct frequency, controller text and providing helpful diagrams on your website.

No one is saying it would cure cancer here (all our problems). At least you would have a little better idea though. To your example, if I was on the ground at IAH and we had ZHU center split, you're honestly going to say picking between: 87 or 38 is easier to determine versus something like E and W?

Just for clarification's sake since this was split off from another thread. We're discussing the actual callsign used by ATC on the VATSIM network and not the IDs used in handoffs, etc.
[/quote]

I'm addressing Michael, who seems to think that numbered sectors over compass rose points are somehow detrimental to the pilot experience on the network.  I never said 87 and 38 vs E W are easier to determine.  I am saying that it is equivalent in the cryptic sense for a pilot starting on the ground, or entering from any direction other than the E/W edge.
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Fred Michaels

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Re: Discussion about sector IDs
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2017, 01:21:16 pm »
In other words you can't be all things to all people all the time.

Quote of the day...
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Matthew Kosmoski

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Re: Discussion about sector IDs
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2017, 01:38:22 pm »
This thread has made one thing pretty clear to me:  Depending on which way I turn my head, the rules and interpretations of what needs to be adjusted for VATSIM are either one-sided or arbitrary.

In other words you can't be all things to all people all the time.  And this surprises you Matthew?  You've been around too long for that.

No, it doesn't surprise me, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.  If I can champion an effort to remind us that we're only half of the puzzle, I'll be doing something meaningful.
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Matthew Kosmoski

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Re: Discussion about sector IDs
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2017, 01:42:01 pm »
Daniel-

The inlines are going to get ridiculous, but you're making it a little difficult to have a meaningful conversation.  We're citing charts as the rule, you're citing local procedure and knowledge as if it's the rule rather than the exception to the rule.

A common sentiment I hear from individual controllers is "I don't send contact mes!" as they cite CoC B3.  I believe there is a serious disconnect between you (and frankly, most of "management") and the common controller or common pilot.  Your experiences, as mine, as Jon's, are slightly different than the average.  I believe we need to keep that in mind and not slant the perspective towards those with higher understanding and actual involvement/interaction with the NAS.
Matthew Kosmoski
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