Entering airspace of En-route controllers

Kenneth Haught

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Re: Entering airspace of En-route controllers
« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2018, 08:48:08 pm »
...

So, we're expecting the pilots to do this, but we're unwilling to do the same and hit two buttons when they get close?
For my two cents I wouldn't say we're "unwilling", however the burden needs to lie on the pilots for a very specific reason. To commonly tell pilots, no...never call ATC, wait for them, then turns into I'll just taxi/takeoff without checking, and if there is a controller online he'll contact me. So yes, I do agree that it's a two way street. Also yes, I agree from an enforcement standpoint that the burden to initiate contact is exactly where it should be, on the pilot.

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Have a question or concern? Email me at k.haught@vatsim.net.

Dhruv Kalra

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Re: Entering airspace of En-route controllers
« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2018, 09:06:18 pm »
So, we're expecting the pilots to do this, but we're unwilling to do the same and hit two buttons when they get close?

Please don't put words in my mouth. I never said that. That being said, if a pilot is too dense to call MSP_APP at a reasonable time/distance when he's landing MSP, whose loss of situational awareness is that? Mine, or his? I'm all for making compromises from the controller's side, but better education of the pilot population as a whole isn't the worst thing in the world either. I'd much rather they call up and volunteer their position (they ought to know where they are a lot quicker than I) and I can politely tell them if they're not near my airspace if they're not. If there are controllers copping attitudes with pilots for the above practice, that behavior needs immediate modification as well.
Dhruv Kalra
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Evan Reiter

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Re: Entering airspace of En-route controllers
« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2018, 11:01:31 pm »
The OP's question being, what do you "prefer", most of us have indicated that. I don't think anyone is suggesting that we don't or shouldn't use the contact function and be good citizen of VATSIM to help out pilots. It's just, the OP asked for our preferences and most of us seem aligned on the notion that pilots should make the first call.


Evan Reiter
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Kyle Ekas

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Re: Entering airspace of En-route controllers
« Reply #18 on: May 02, 2018, 05:17:04 am »
I just don't understand the "it's the pilots responsibility, end of story" mentality.

Pilots aren't required to undergo training.  Pilots aren't required to know what any of the VATSIM tracking tools are.  Expecting them to know where enroute airspace is may be easier than others, but it's a joint responsibility.  It's a game and our job to provide a customer service -- we work for the pilots.  If you're doing ATC, you should want to do that, and if you want to do that, you should be willing to send a contact-me.

And if you want to talk sub-enroute airspace, those boundaries are not documented anywhere for a pilot, so expecting them to know where your approach airspace starts is an unrealistic expectation.

I don't know about others, but I really don't view my controlling as a "customer service -- we work for the pilots" type of thing whatsoever. I view it more along the lines of "I am online covering this location, come fly if you want... or fly in other locations, that's fine too." I'm happy to have pilots fly where I control, but I don't do it to service them. I do it because I enjoy controlling. The same reason they all fly on the network: because they like to fly, not in order to give me traffic.

I don't agree with your assertion that "you should want to do that". It's not about whether I want to do it or not really. The fact is I DO do it every time I'm online. Speaking strictly for myself, what I am saying is that I prefer if pilots be aware of who is and isn't online and where they are in relation to that. I do it all the time when I am flying, and it has yet to prove difficult for me. I agree with what Dhruv said above, 50NM or leaving the flight levels is good enough for contacting an approach controller.

Also, "Pilots aren't required to undergo training." No, but maybe they should be. There is a rather large disparity between what pilots are required to know and what controllers are required to know on this network.

K

Matthew Kosmoski

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Re: Entering airspace of En-route controllers
« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2018, 09:06:00 am »
I just don't understand the "it's the pilots responsibility, end of story" mentality.

Pilots aren't required to undergo training.  Pilots aren't required to know what any of the VATSIM tracking tools are.  Expecting them to know where enroute airspace is may be easier than others, but it's a joint responsibility.  It's a game and our job to provide a customer service -- we work for the pilots.  If you're doing ATC, you should want to do that, and if you want to do that, you should be willing to send a contact-me.

And if you want to talk sub-enroute airspace, those boundaries are not documented anywhere for a pilot, so expecting them to know where your approach airspace starts is an unrealistic expectation.

I don't know about others, but I really don't view my controlling as a "customer service -- we work for the pilots" type of thing whatsoever. I view it more along the lines of "I am online covering this location, come fly if you want... or fly in other locations, that's fine too." I'm happy to have pilots fly where I control, but I don't do it to service them. I do it because I enjoy controlling. The same reason they all fly on the network: because they like to fly, not in order to give me traffic.

I don't agree with your assertion that "you should want to do that". It's not about whether I want to do it or not really. The fact is I DO do it every time I'm online. Speaking strictly for myself, what I am saying is that I prefer if pilots be aware of who is and isn't online and where they are in relation to that. I do it all the time when I am flying, and it has yet to prove difficult for me. I agree with what Dhruv said above, 50NM or leaving the flight levels is good enough for contacting an approach controller.

Also, "Pilots aren't required to undergo training." No, but maybe they should be. There is a rather large disparity between what pilots are required to know and what controllers are required to know on this network.

K

If the network were to require pilot training, the network would die.  Mandatory pilot training isn't something you're going to see on VATSIM ever.  Let's remember how well the VATSTAR April Fools joke about mandatory training went over for a quick minute...

But how can you not see controlling as a customer service activity?  Controllers don't exist without pilots.  On the other hand, the reciprocal isn't true.
Matthew Kosmoski
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Nickolas Christopher

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Re: Entering airspace of En-route controllers
« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2018, 12:45:23 pm »
A key competency for pilots is situational awareness. Part of that means knowing where you are and what airspace you are in. Granted there is no mandatory pilot training. But, as pilots learn, knowing what center you’re in is a good start.

So, yes, I prefer a pilot call me first when he’s about 15-20 miles from my airspace boundary. When a pilot calls me first, I tend to believe he knows what he’s doing or is trying.
What I need to know: Callsign, altitude and location.

TRACON boundaries are much harder to find. But, there are notes on VFR charts that tell you who to contact when in the vicinity of Class B and C airports.
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Kyle Ekas

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Re: Entering airspace of En-route controllers
« Reply #21 on: May 02, 2018, 02:47:16 pm »
Quote

If the network were to require pilot training, the network would die.

That assertion is unfounded and baseless. We establish a minimum competency for controllers and yet we do still receive new or returning controllers who rise through the student ratings all the time. The same can be established for pilots. I'm not advocating for the level of competency we require for controllers, but something really basic to establish competency of pilots who do indeed want to fly in a somewhat realistic fashion is an achievable thing. You won't see me advocating something like "all pilots should have to have all 5 pilot ratings before flying on the network." However, I would support something along the lines of, "all pilots should be able to pass the P1 test before flying on the network." I've taken the P1 exam, it's really basic stuff every VATSIM pilot should know.

Quote
But how can you not see controlling as a customer service activity?  Controllers don't exist without pilots.  On the other hand, the reciprocal isn't true.

Because they're not my customers. They volunteer to fly in my airspace. I acknowledge the symbiotic relationship of pilots and controllers but do not view that as me being beholden to them. They volunteer their hobby to me, and I volunteer my hobby to them. That's it. No customer service activity required.

K

Dhruv Kalra

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Re: Entering airspace of En-route controllers
« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2018, 08:27:52 pm »
At least you can walk away knowing that you tried to be polite and courteous and were trying to be productive in making this hobby and network better.

I consider proactive education of pilots to be productive and making this hobby and network better. I don't think any one of us in this thread is opposed to use of the contact me feature. We're simply stating that in accordance with CoC B3 it should be a fallback and not the prevailing practice as it is now.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2018, 09:04:51 pm by Dhruv Kalra »
Dhruv Kalra
ZMP ATM | Instructor | Grumpy Old Man

Re: Entering airspace of En-route controllers
« Reply #23 on: May 02, 2018, 11:11:51 pm »
TL;DR: Dhruv, as usual, nailed it. 

To add some context to my previous (and current and future) teachings , I believe the .contactme is a crutch, one that should not be needed, but is used as warranted.  I've often said, the responsibility is on the pilot.  From a pilot perspective, he is one pilot having to figure out which controller of one available, or maybe 2-3 tops in most cases, to call.  A controller might be busy, or even challenged/swamped, working 15 or 20 or 25 aircraft.  That's the main reason the rule is the way it is, placing the onus on the pilot.

And yes, even in the real world, it's up to the pilot to figure out what airspace he is either in or about to be in, and contact appropriate ATC.  RW pilots use charts, GPS, etc., to figure out where they are and who they should be talking to.  VATSIM pilots who are trying to enhance their realism experience could and should use charts, GPS, FMS, and any other available situational awareness tools available to them as well.  On VATSIM, we have a plethora of situational awareness tools, including VATSpy, vattastic.com, and many, many others.  Are they perfect?  Perhaps not, but they are certainly "close enough".  Any pilot who calls ATC and is "close enough" to being in the airspace should get service.  The hobby is better and stronger for all every time there is a pilot being worked by ATC, even if it's "close enough".  ATC should try to provide the best service they can to as many aircraft they can, even the "close enough" ones.  Any ATC (certainly TRACON or Enroute) that turns an aircraft away because they are 10-30 miles away from their border needs some re-education.  If a pilot is not close to the controller's airspace and never going to touch it, the pilot should get an explanation and good wishes for his flight/day.

Does all of this mean that ATC shouldn't make a good effort to contact pilots who are in their airspace?  Absolutely not.  I've often written about ways to do that.

One thing that I generally do, 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 Facility Engineers(/Controllers) that choose to add it to their (facility's standard) alias file, it could look like
Code: [Select]
.cme Contact $callsign on $com1I also use that process even (well) after I have been logged on for a bit, for those folks that don't call.

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. 

I won't reach out if I'm within minutes of logging off.  If they didn't call me, I'm not going to force them to call me just so I can tell them I'm closing! :)  What I don't appreciate is the snide remarks that some (thankfully few) pilots will sometimes make whacking ATC for not sending a .contactme.  I do generally try to gently remind them that it is the pilot's responsibility, not the controller's, to make contact.  Snide remarks sometimes come, sometimes from pilots, sometimes by ATC; they should never be made, but we are all human.  We should just really strive to ensure that they are rare and certainly not misplaced.

For pilots that make innocent mistakes and simply aren't aware that they should call a controller, no issues, I'm happy, workload permitting, to reach out.  I've been opposed, however, to teaching students to instantly just sent a .contactme whenever someone starts coming close to their airspace.  It's not realistic, which is something we attempt, within reason, to emulate. 

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Don Desfosse
Vice President, Membership, VATSIM
Division Director Emeritus, VATUSA

Matthew Kosmoski

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Re: Entering airspace of En-route controllers
« Reply #24 on: May 03, 2018, 09:08:36 am »
TL;DR: Dhruv, as usual, nailed it. 

To add some context to my previous (and current and future) teachings , I believe the .contactme is a crutch, one that should not be needed, but is used as warranted.  I've often said, the responsibility is on the pilot.  From a pilot perspective, he is one pilot having to figure out which controller of one available, or maybe 2-3 tops in most cases, to call.  A controller might be busy, or even challenged/swamped, working 15 or 20 or 25 aircraft.  That's the main reason the rule is the way it is, placing the onus on the pilot.

And yes, even in the real world, it's up to the pilot to figure out what airspace he is either in or about to be in, and contact appropriate ATC.  RW pilots use charts, GPS, etc., to figure out where they are and who they should be talking to.  VATSIM pilots who are trying to enhance their realism experience could and should use charts, GPS, FMS, and any other available situational awareness tools available to them as well.  On VATSIM, we have a plethora of situational awareness tools, including VATSpy, vattastic.com, and many, many others.  Are they perfect?  Perhaps not, but they are certainly "close enough".  Any pilot who calls ATC and is "close enough" to being in the airspace should get service.  The hobby is better and stronger for all every time there is a pilot being worked by ATC, even if it's "close enough".  ATC should try to provide the best service they can to as many aircraft they can, even the "close enough" ones.  Any ATC (certainly TRACON or Enroute) that turns an aircraft away because they are 10-30 miles away from their border needs some re-education.  If a pilot is not close to the controller's airspace and never going to touch it, the pilot should get an explanation and good wishes for his flight/day.

Does all of this mean that ATC shouldn't make a good effort to contact pilots who are in their airspace?  Absolutely not.  I've often written about ways to do that.

One thing that I generally do, 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 Facility Engineers(/Controllers) that choose to add it to their (facility's standard) alias file, it could look like
Code: [Select]
.cme Contact $callsign on $com1I also use that process even (well) after I have been logged on for a bit, for those folks that don't call.

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. 

I won't reach out if I'm within minutes of logging off.  If they didn't call me, I'm not going to force them to call me just so I can tell them I'm closing! :)  What I don't appreciate is the snide remarks that some (thankfully few) pilots will sometimes make whacking ATC for not sending a .contactme.  I do generally try to gently remind them that it is the pilot's responsibility, not the controller's, to make contact.  Snide remarks sometimes come, sometimes from pilots, sometimes by ATC; they should never be made, but we are all human.  We should just really strive to ensure that they are rare and certainly not misplaced.

For pilots that make innocent mistakes and simply aren't aware that they should call a controller, no issues, I'm happy, workload permitting, to reach out.  I've been opposed, however, to teaching students to instantly just sent a .contactme whenever someone starts coming close to their airspace.  It's not realistic, which is something we attempt, within reason, to emulate. 

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Don-

Perhaps I'm blind, but I'm not sure I see a functional difference between what you're doing and a wallop.  While I can see value in perhaps other pilots "seeing" the unicom text messages and proactively get ahead of it, a PM versus a unicom message are functionally equivalent here.
Matthew Kosmoski
Air Traffic Manager | ZHU ARTCC
mkosmoski@zhuartcc.org
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Re: Entering airspace of En-route controllers
« Reply #25 on: May 03, 2018, 03:25:25 pm »
Indeed, the unicom text message is to simply raise larger scale awareness than a PM/.contactme would.  It's an intermediate step that is aimed at getting the majority of folks to be more aware (and responsive as appropriate), and is more aligned with the RW practice of hailing on guard.  Obviously, if that fails, the .contactme is the next tool in the toolbox.  To me, the .contactme is kind of like using a pair of pliers to drive a nail if the hammer isn't effective; I prefer it much less, but will use it if needed and am glad if it ultimately works.
Don Desfosse
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Division Director Emeritus, VATUSA

David French

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Re: Entering airspace of En-route controllers
« Reply #26 on: December 17, 2018, 11:00:01 pm »
I offten just ask the controller if I am in his/her airspace.