Why flying your airplane well is the most important part of a successful FNO

Shane VanHoven

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...With video evidence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6m2Tt7JrT3Q

Thanks for everyone who flew into the ZMP FNO last Friday, it could very well have been one of the most enjoyable FNO's that I've ever worked.

But for goodness sake. Can we please figure out how to intercept the localizer? Go ahead and watch that timelapse linked above... Someone counted 44 (FORTY-FOUR) localizer overshoots. Our final controllers got their butts handed to them because of how much extra hand holding they had to do on the final because of people that can't be bothered to hit the APP button on their autopilot.

Also, fly your assigned speed please.

Also, X-Plane users with slow frame rates: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/26517-autospeed/

Notice how much of an impact every overshoot has on the aircraft behind them. It snowballs really fast and if the traffic flow doesn't have natural breaks to allow the final to recover, poop hits the fan really fast.

But anyway, it was fun, thanks for flying in.
Shane VanHoven
Minneapolis ARTCC, VATUSA ACE Team | Instructor
Private pilot, Instrument, ASEL
FAA Air Traffic Developmental, Terminal

Sergio Lopez

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Nice time lapse. We seemed to have dodged that bullet in our event August 25th. It's amazing how badly missing the final approach can cause all sorts of havoc.

On these events it's very important to pay attention to altitude, speed and heading changes. There's very little speaking time available to approach controller, so every second counts. No time for "can you say again?"...
Sergio Lopez
AIT at vZMA ARTCC
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Clay Brock

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Yes! Please turn the aircraft BEFORE you readback. Aviate, navigate, communicate. All too often, I see people blowing through the LOC because they take too much time reading back the approach clearance, and not turning the airplane.
Clay Brock (CB) - 1299667
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Brin Brody

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That music made me progressively more uncomfortable as the video went on...

Looks great though!

+1 on all said above.  We should also (as instructors and mentors) mention to students that an immediate readback is not required.  Often, when flying, I won't provide a readback within a second or two because I'm executing the instruction, and I'll receive the instruction again.  Not really ideal.  :D
Brin Brody
Deputy Air Traffic Manager
Jacksonville ARTCC
datm@zjxartcc.org


Matt Bromback

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Shane,

Very interesting to watch this video thanks for posting...I actually slowed it to 0.5x to try and study it more. I actually noticed something that seems to happen almost EVERY major VATSIM event. Reference 1:30 onward...

I do not know what splits you had going on, but it looks like it goes from controller H (bottom SW corner) and sometimes they keep them but others go to S (assuming south final). After the 1:30 mark the controller started having some pilots that you can tell were having a hard time. The final controller was starting to get overwhelmed either through bad pilots, voice lag issues, or just to many airplanes. However the airplanes still keep flooding in from feeder, you can even see some pilots were taken way outside the final box to the south to get re-sequenced. This is why inter-facility communication is crucial, I know many of us have the "gotta complete the mission" type of mentality and want to get everyone on the ground as quickly/safely as possible. This is a common problem across the network that the feeder controllers don't communicate that much with the final controller and leads to problems arising such as this. Wouldn't you agree that even with localizer overhsoots, failed approaches and go arounds that it would be much easier if at some point they held the handoffs just for a few minutes to fix the problems?

I have never worked up in ZMP so again I don't know your airspace and I completely understand why airspace is designed a certain way. When I watch this video I see a whole bunch of "black" areas where no aircraft ever goes, why not utilize this space? I know it is most likely because it is Departure or Satellite airspace and you all want to follow the procedures for realism. I think in this situation if you just bent the rules a little and used that space to give your final approach controllers a little more room this could of all been avoided.

I am in no way telling you guys how to control your airspace, you know it not me. What I am merely trying to do is give you all a different perspective when it comes to events. All of us controllers strive for realism and sometimes I think we expect to much sometimes and don't realize were dealing with people flying complex airplanes, by themselves, aging from 13 to ?? all with different varying levels of knowledge. At the end of the day whether your a pilot or controller on the network it is to have fun! It sounds like you had fun from this event which is great! Just don't lose sight that there will always be new people, there will always be challenges, and at the end of the day this is all a hobby that we have all come to love so lets just have fun!
Matt Bromback

Shane VanHoven

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Wouldn't you agree that even with localizer overshoots, failed approaches and go arounds that it would be much easier if at some point they held the handoffs just for a few minutes to fix the problems?

I would agree, and that's why, at 1:48, the H controller (me) spun 3 airplanes once, at the request of the S controller. I even managed to keep the first come first serve operational priority in tact!! But if S didn't ask for it, I'm assuming he's killing it per norm, and doesn't need it. Ego on this network gets so strong sometimes that people don't recognize when they need help, so they'll just slowly get deeper and deeper into the toilet and keep accepting handoffs because they don't know any better. We knock that habit out of people early in their training at ZMP. Which is why our TRACON people ask for in-trail if we need it, and our final people will ask for a breather if they need it. When I'm on feeder I'm also always watching the final box and keeping tabs on things to see how I can make life easier for them.

When I watch this video I see a whole bunch of "black" areas where no aircraft ever goes, why not utilize this space? I know it is most likely because it is Departure or Satellite airspace and you all want to follow the procedures for realism.

While it is technically because that airspace is owned by someone else, it is also because using that airspace inevitably result in an inefficient operation. Here are 3 reasons why:

TLDR: Extra work, which sucks and is inefficient.

1. Abnormal procedures require coordination. Coordination=extra work. Why make extra work for yourself when it's unnecessary. The traffic levels during this event were nowhere near the level required to start putting airplanes in random spots.

2. Abnormal procedures cause other controllers to have to guess what your plan is. Our departure positions at the MSP TRACON are essentially "Don't hit arrivals, then climb when able." That's possible because arrivals are coming in at the same altitude on the same route every single time. There were a couple instances during this event where we actually had the need to use extra airspace to build spacing for the downwind sequence or in-trail to the final box, and every time I did that I had to tell the departure controller that I was using his airspace and I was staying at a certain altitude, so he could go back and restrict his guys so that we wouldn't loose separation. Again, extra work for you, extra work for others.

3. All and all, the operation is setup the way it is because FAA people have spent months and years evaluating this stuff, and they determined that this way is the best way we could possibly do things. This is why we try to follow the real place to a T... cause they're clearly doing something right.

Thanks for the feedback. I definitely agree it's important to keep everything in perspective. We strive for perfection at ZMP, and that's been how to we keep it fun for us.

Shane VanHoven
Minneapolis ARTCC, VATUSA ACE Team | Instructor
Private pilot, Instrument, ASEL
FAA Air Traffic Developmental, Terminal

Lucas Kakert

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3. All and all, the operation is setup the way it is because FAA people have spent months and years evaluating this stuff, and they determined that this way is the best way we could possibly do things. This is why we try to follow the real place to a T... cause they're clearly doing something right.

Thanks for the feedback. I definitely agree it's important to keep everything in perspective. We strive for perfection at ZMP, and that's been how to we keep it fun for us.

So i understand that you guys are striving for perfection but are you striving to be real controllers or be the best vatsim controllers? Last I checked you are a real controller, when does the line get drawn between a game and real life? In my real plane most of the time one person will be talking while the other is performing the request. On vatsim its just me having to talk, pan my camera around, hope that vpilot is working correct, hope my sim doesn't freeze, adjusting my autopilot, etc... The real FAA did these studies with real airplanes and real pilots. We cannot treat vatsim pilots as real pilots or even these planes as real planes, this has been proven time and time again. You still have to account for the fact that this is a simulation that is not 100% accurate and that the pilots you are working with learned to fly this airplane by watching a video on youtube.

I agree with nearly everything you put in your last response other than the part that i quoted. We also try and use the real world procedure as a guide when developing and modifying procedures for ZTL but they are just a reference. We always have to take into account the type of pilot we are expecting to work with, be it increasing MIT by a % or knowing that I should probably give this PTAC early.

Now building on something else you brought up the ego about not asking for help or not asking for more space is real, and until it gets brought up with the person next to you its easy to just assume that someone is doing fine. We had to specifically assign our CIC at events now to watch the traffic flow as a whole and make decisions on if final or feeder needed more space without them asking to work around this issue. Granted what worked for us might not work for you but sometimes having a someone available to make the decision for you really can help.
Luke Kakert
Air Traffic Manager Emeritus | Atlanta Center (ZTL) ARTCC
lkakert@ztlartcc.org

Shane VanHoven

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So i understand that you guys are striving for perfection but are you striving to be real controllers or be the best vatsim controllers?

The majority of the controllers working the event were not real world controllers. We all recognize VATSIM's challenges and strive to be the best VATSIM controllers we can. 

So i understand that you guys are striving for perfection but are you striving to be real controllers or be the best vatsim controllers? Last I checked you are a real controller, when does the line get drawn between a game and real life? In my real plane most of the time one person will be talking while the other is performing the request. On vatsim its just me having to talk, pan my camera around, hope that vpilot is working correct, hope my sim doesn't freeze, adjusting my autopilot, etc... The real FAA did these studies with real airplanes and real pilots. We cannot treat vatsim pilots as real pilots or even these planes as real planes, this has been proven time and time again. You still have to account for the fact that this is a simulation that is not 100% accurate and that the pilots you are working with learned to fly this airplane by watching a video on youtube.

I think you might have slightly missed my point. I agree with you with all of that. My argument for the FAA research and development was solely for traffic flow management. Specifically, how to move airplanes in the way that would be most efficient. Every flight will involve routing, vectors, and altitude assignments, however, the art of traffic management is figuring out when to use those methods of control in a way that is most effective...how to design STARs and OPDs to cater to a specific operation.

Going against what the FAA does at the real facility would be like ordering a steak well done when the head-chef of the restaurant recommends medium-rare. The real system built these procedures because it proved to be the best way to move airplanes. That method shouldn't really effect how much workload the pilot has when flying the airplane. Well, actually, leaving them on the OPD arrival should actually reduce their workload. So make that a 4th reason why we don't use all that empty airspace in the TRACON.
Shane VanHoven
Minneapolis ARTCC, VATUSA ACE Team | Instructor
Private pilot, Instrument, ASEL
FAA Air Traffic Developmental, Terminal

Ryan Parry

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So i understand that you guys are striving for perfection but are you striving to be real controllers or be the best vatsim controllers? Last I checked you are a real controller, when does the line get drawn between a game and real life? In my real plane most of the time one person will be talking while the other is performing the request. On vatsim its just me having to talk, pan my camera around, hope that vpilot is working correct, hope my sim doesn't freeze, adjusting my autopilot, etc... The real FAA did these studies with real airplanes and real pilots. We cannot treat vatsim pilots as real pilots or even these planes as real planes, this has been proven time and time again. You still have to account for the fact that this is a simulation that is not 100% accurate and that the pilots you are working with learned to fly this airplane by watching a video on youtube.

You're constantly trying to push the "they're not real pilots", "you can't work them like they have certificates", etc, narrative in nearly every single thread on this forum. The OP has video evidence you're wrong. We know they're not real pilots, we know we are not all real controllers either. A large majority of the people flying FNO's are the same people every week, and yet some of these ARTCC's like ZMP are able to to run great FNO's without a loss of separation, much less without putting multiple aircraft nose to nose in the final box.

Sorry if it seems blunt, but your desire to constantly push this gets really old.
Ryan Parry - 965346
ZOA Air Traffic Manager

Owen Bliss

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...With video evidence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6m2Tt7JrT3Q

Thanks for everyone who flew into the ZMP FNO last Friday, it could very well have been one of the most enjoyable FNO's that I've ever worked.

But for goodness sake. Can we please figure out how to intercept the localizer? Go ahead and watch that timelapse linked above... Someone counted 44 (FORTY-FOUR) localizer overshoots. Our final controllers got their butts handed to them because of how much extra hand holding they had to do on the final because of people that can't be bothered to hit the APP button on their autopilot.

Also, fly your assigned speed please.

Also, X-Plane users with slow frame rates: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/26517-autospeed/

Notice how much of an impact every overshoot has on the aircraft behind them. It snowballs really fast and if the traffic flow doesn't have natural breaks to allow the final to recover, poop hits the fan really fast.

But anyway, it was fun, thanks for flying in.

This has to be one of the best posts I've seen in ages.  ;D

Matthew Kosmoski

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Re: Why flying your airplane well is the most important part of a successful FNO
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2018, 09:03:43 am »
So i understand that you guys are striving for perfection but are you striving to be real controllers or be the best vatsim controllers? Last I checked you are a real controller, when does the line get drawn between a game and real life? In my real plane most of the time one person will be talking while the other is performing the request. On vatsim its just me having to talk, pan my camera around, hope that vpilot is working correct, hope my sim doesn't freeze, adjusting my autopilot, etc... The real FAA did these studies with real airplanes and real pilots. We cannot treat vatsim pilots as real pilots or even these planes as real planes, this has been proven time and time again. You still have to account for the fact that this is a simulation that is not 100% accurate and that the pilots you are working with learned to fly this airplane by watching a video on youtube.

You're constantly trying to push the "they're not real pilots", "you can't work them like they have certificates", etc, narrative in nearly every single thread on this forum. The OP has video evidence you're wrong. We know they're not real pilots, we know we are not all real controllers either. A large majority of the people flying FNO's are the same people every week, and yet some of these ARTCC's like ZMP are able to to run great FNO's without a loss of separation, much less without putting multiple aircraft nose to nose in the final box.

Sorry if it seems blunt, but your desire to constantly push this gets really old.

I don't think that, "yet some of these ARTCC's like ZMP are able to to run great FNO's without a loss of separation, much less without putting multiple aircraft nose to nose in the final box" is unique to any one facility.  If that was a recurring issue at any facility, it'd be addressed.  I can tell you we do a pretty damn good job, too, and it's not like we see dissimilar numbers.

The reason Luke likely keeps bringing it up, as I would I, is that the premise of this post is that pilots were screwing up.  "Great event guys, but can you pretty please capture that loc?"  It's the third line, for Pete's sake.  You can't say the OP didn't precisely say that.  You can't start a post like that, and have somebody come back later and say, "he didn't mean it, guys!  It's not about that!"
Matthew Kosmoski
Air Traffic Manager | ZHU ARTCC
mkosmoski@zhuartcc.org
www.zhuartcc.org

Dhruv Kalra

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Re: Why flying your airplane well is the most important part of a successful FNO
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2018, 10:30:31 am »
It doesn’t take a real pilot certificate to understand how to twist a knob, press a button, and then acknowledge an instruction.

When, averaging out from that video, 1/3 of the pilot population doesn’t know how to do that in a timely manner, that shouldn’t be considered “acceptable” and shrugged off. I can understand losing separation during an event. I’m not going to hang someone for it if it happens. If it’s happening consistently, however, then I’m damn well going to try and determine why and try and figure out how to better prepare the affected controller.

If we’re not trying to make ourselves better at this every time out, why do we keep coming back? Accepting mediocrity as “the way it is” shouldn’t be the goal.
Dhruv Kalra
ZMP ATM | Instructor | VATSIM Network Supervisor

Manuel Manigault

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Re: Why flying your airplane well is the most important part of a successful FNO
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2018, 11:25:50 am »
It doesn’t take a real pilot certificate to understand how to twist a knob, press a button, and then acknowledge an instruction.

When, averaging out from that video, 1/3 of the pilot population doesn’t know how to do that in a timely manner, that shouldn’t be considered “acceptable” and shrugged off. I can understand losing separation during an event. I’m not going to hang someone for it if it happens. If it’s happening consistently, however, then I’m damn well going to try and determine why and try and figure out how to better prepare the affected controller.

If we’re not trying to make ourselves better at this every time out, why do we keep coming back? Accepting mediocrity as “the way it is” shouldn’t be the goal.

Do you think it would be beneficial if ZMP had a Pilot Ratings Program like ZBW or ZLA?  Do you think ATOs like VATSTAR are having any positive effect?
Mani Manigault
Air Traffic Director
VATUSA - Northeastern Region

Matt Bromback

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Re: Why flying your airplane well is the most important part of a successful FNO
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2018, 11:37:39 am »
I want to address a few things in this thread because from my perspective people are jumping to conclusions.

I believe Shane made this post to highlight the importance of aviate, navigate, communicate in terms of joining a localizer during a high traffic event such as a FNO. Maybe some of you took this as not a learning post, but a bitch post. Take a step back and realize we are all in this hobby to have fun and better enjoy ourselves with others. Maybe this is just a classic example of trying to visualize a person saying what is written, very hard to do and most of the time misread.

The point that Luke and Matt are making is that there has to be a certain level of expectation (or lack thereof) of a VATSIM pilot. I do not believe they are trying to say bad pilots are acceptable, no one wants bad pilots, but I do think they realize they have to extremely flexible when controlling. Does this mean going against FAA procedures such as airspace or SIDs/STARs to accomplish this? Yes if it gets the job done. Are they telling everyone else to do it that way, I don't think they are. All I think they are trying to is point out a realistic level of expectation of pilots on the network.

Pilot training is one of the current "hot topics" within the division. There are lots of ideas of floating around on how to accomplish this but it is a tremendous task, with so many varying ideas/concepts/executions. Maybe one day it will come to fruition, maybe not, for now we must be able to remain flexible with our membership. Every time I hop on the scope I follow RW procedures as the best of my ability and hope a pilot will have the knowledge, skill, airplane, sim to do the same. However I do not expect them to have any of that, this makes it extremely easier for me to not only enjoy my controlling session but I believe the pilot has a better experience that way as well. If I have time to help and educate that pilot I do that.

One thing I am going around to ARTCC's and offering is a way to have a dedicated room/channel in their TS or Discord for pilots who are flying in/out of that airspace to ask questions. If a controller online (or offline for that matter) has the time or wants to answer some questions what better way to engage the community then that? It is in real time, its your airspace, and both parties benefit from that. So I urge everyone to think outside the box a little to include their pilots who fly in their airspace often in some pilot/controller relations.
Matt Bromback

Dhruv Kalra

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Re: Why flying your airplane well is the most important part of a successful FNO
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2018, 11:57:45 am »
Thanks for your insight, Matt. I think it definitely falls upon us to try and be ambassadors towards our pilots and educate them to the best of our ability. We publish a fairly detailed briefing packet prior to every MSP event that we make available to pilots: https://minniecenter.org/pdf/MigrationXII_Brief.pdf

It’s not a perfect document by any means, but we’ve tried to make it comprehensive and proactive in squashing some of the common mistakes that we see during our events. The eventual goal is that we have this material persistently available in the pilots area of our website. The sad reality, however, is that most VATSIM pilots don’t seek out ARTCC websites as sources of information.

If we’re going to truly reach the masses, the push has to come from a higher up level. The ATO system works, but as long as it remains a purely voluntary exercise you’re going to get a large majority of pilots that either don’t know about its existence or simply choose not to participate in it. I’ll proactively private message pilots with constructive advice if/when I see them deviate from a procedure, but by and large I receive defensive attitude in return (prime example being “My FMC is doing it the way it’s programmed. Get off my back”).

I’m not by any means giving up, but we as a division could also do with ensuring a more consistent experience across the board. Normalization of deviance happens quite a bit because in a lot of cases controllers will let a LOT slide to the point where a pilot has no idea that they might be doing something wrong. Case in point, we had pilots arguing with our local controllers that their going around off an approach where legal SRS existed was justified on a separation basis because “I’ve been sent around by other controllers on a 3 mile final in similar situations before”. If guys working local control are that gun-shy, it means they’re not applying prescribed separation properly, and that hurts places when they do.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2018, 12:33:50 pm by Dhruv Kalra »
Dhruv Kalra
ZMP ATM | Instructor | VATSIM Network Supervisor