FNO Changes for the time being Part 2: electric boogaloo

Jackson Gilliam

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FNO Changes for the time being Part 2: electric boogaloo
« on: April 13, 2020, 10:01:37 pm »
Good evening all,
Tonight, a bunch of ECs and Senior Staff members from most ARTCCs got together to help find a solution to our FNO issue.  After a couple of hours of debate and discussion, we came up with a plan for FNOs until the end of the bid.  The new rules are as follows:
-ARTCCs with an FNO bid secured during the remaining bid will be allowed to keep the FNO.
-Those ARTCCs will coordinate amongst each other and determine realistically where they can land 300 (Set standard, may go up from there) aircraft over the FNO time period.
   For example, ZMA can calculate that they will arrive 50 planes per hour into MIA.  That is 200 planes over the FNO
         time period.
   They must then find where they will land the other 100 arrivals.
-The ARTCC may choose to add more airports, or they may choose to add more ARTCCs
-The ARTCC must provide a proposal that includes their numbers for airports, as well as a list of expected staffing levels for all expected positions.
-This approval must be sent to me in written form no later than TWO (2) weeks before the event start (VATUSA recommends before that).
-If the plan gets approved, the ARTCC may proceed as planned with the FNO.
-If the plan gets denied, the ARTCC must take additional steps to add more ARTCCS, airports, or staffing (Specified by me).
This plan was created not by one person, but by many.  If it needs to be tweaked a little bit, we will do so.
It's a bit complicated, but if you have any questions, feel free to message me or email me.
Thanks.
This will be effective through the last FNO in June.  If we have to extend this, we will.
This information is mostly for ECs, I am just remaining transparent in our decisions.
Jackson Gilliam
VATUSA Events Manager/ VA Liaison

Shane VanHoven

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Re: FNO Changes for the time being Part 2: electric boogaloo
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2020, 11:25:19 pm »
I posted this in discord, but I’ll repost here too.

I’ve been sipping on my whiskey and contemplating how fricken much I miss going to work every day and working airplanes. The FAA sent us home until this pandemic is over and I’m not happy about it. This network is the closest thing I have to still being connected with aviation right now. Jackson, you have this problem on your hands that I wouldn’t wish on any of my worst enemies, and I am truly sorry for that. I would hate to be in your position within weeks of taking a job.  I don’t entirely understand the decision that was made, which is fine because with how many people are involved, there is inevitably going to be plenty of disagreements. Nobody is expecting real world tools and systems to be implemented into vatsim. That’s impossible. We have a unique opportunity to consult people who have SO MUCH EXPERIENCE with virtual and real air traffic control and airspace management. There are so many volunteers in this organization that want to give everything they have back to this community because I know I speak for a handful of us RW controllers when I say, I would not be where I am if it weren’t for VATSIM. I want to give back to the network more than I’ve ever wanted to give back to anything.  VATSIM is going to be reallllly busy over the next few weeks. FNOs will be challenging us more than they’ve ever challenged us before. AARs are not mystical arbitrary numbers that were brought into the hobby to complicate things, they were an attempt at making clear what we can physically handle, regardless of ability and staffing. We all need to put our egos away and put our heads together to try to make the most out of the opportunity that we’ll have in the coming weeks. We can either run some of the worst, clustered, screwy events the network has ever seen... or we can methodically put a plan together that will heighten the experience for everyone.We’ve already seen that these conversations push people away from the network, and the last thing id want to see is everyone sitting at home in quarantine, but choosing not to go on vatsim because we aren’t handling this the right way. Jackson, I hope you don’t feel like this whole thing rests on your shoulders, because it doesn’t. I promise that there are a lot of people who know a lot of things that will happily volunteer their time and energy to help find some smoother air. You just have to know where to find them.

To put it as the late Joe Sutter did:

“If there's one lesson I can pass along to people in situations like mine, it's that the best way to see a program through -- and it took me a long time to learn this -- is simply to accept the help, cooperate, and let others do what they think is worthwhile. In the meantime, continue racing to the finish line.”

-The Father of the 747

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

Peter Shivery

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Re: FNO Changes for the time being Part 2: electric boogaloo
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2020, 06:25:02 am »
Hi Jackson,

Thank you for putting your thoughts together and collaborating with ARTCCs on this final decision.  The collaboration has been great and much appreciated.

I think this solution is a good middle ground where you can work with ARTCCs on a case-by-case basis to find a solution that works for their airspace/fields/neighbors. It also forces ARTCCs to come-up with a staffing/TMU plan two-weeks prior to the event. I think that's what has been needing to happen for awhile.

Really appreciate the thought you put into this and I think it's a great solution. Excited to see it come to life with our FNO in June.
Petey Shivery
Air Traffic Manager
Jacksonville ARTCC
atm@zjxartcc.org


Robert Shearman Jr

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Re: FNO Changes for the time being Part 2: electric boogaloo
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2020, 07:11:07 am »
I'm glad to see that a lot of thought is going into solving this issue, but in reading the post at the top of this chain, I'm worrying that the process is being overcomplicated.  The numbers about arrival rates are interesting, but the conclusion from it is the same as what was already said -- generally speaking, we need at least two major airports involved to support the traffic levels.

Instead of a multi-step approval process as described, what about a simpler approach?  Suspend the ONE rule that VATUSA has in place which essentially enforces this situation: suspend the rule that only one event may be occurring within VATUSA at any given time.  Traditionally, that rule has existed in order to avoid dividing the interested traffic between two conflicting events, and focus everyone on one event.  Now, that's exactly what we DON'T want to happen.  We NEED to divide the traffic between two events.  Heck, for that matter, make it competitive -- which ARTCC can attract the most traffic?  Get both ARTCCs working to attract as many pilots as they can, so we can split the pilot interest as close to 50/50 as possible.
Cheers,
-R.

Jackson Gilliam

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Re: FNO Changes for the time being Part 2: electric boogaloo
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2020, 11:05:55 am »
I'm glad to see that a lot of thought is going into solving this issue, but in reading the post at the top of this chain, I'm worrying that the process is being overcomplicated.  The numbers about arrival rates are interesting, but the conclusion from it is the same as what was already said -- generally speaking, we need at least two major airports involved to support the traffic levels.

Instead of a multi-step approval process as described, what about a simpler approach?  Suspend the ONE rule that VATUSA has in place which essentially enforces this situation: suspend the rule that only one event may be occurring within VATUSA at any given time.  Traditionally, that rule has existed in order to avoid dividing the interested traffic between two conflicting events, and focus everyone on one event.  Now, that's exactly what we DON'T want to happen.  We NEED to divide the traffic between two events.  Heck, for that matter, make it competitive -- which ARTCC can attract the most traffic?  Get both ARTCCs working to attract as many pilots as they can, so we can split the pilot interest as close to 50/50 as possible.

Hey Rob,
Believe me, it's not as bad as it looks!  It took a team of ECs and ARTCC staff 2 hours to come up with it, and we are the only ones who have to worry about it because it's generally going to be their job to provide me their analysis.  To your second point, I would be okay looking into that idea.  It was brought up, but doing it every week would be a challenge to ensure ARTCCs have a break from support and to keep them far enough away to have it be a crossfire.  However if an ARTCC would want to reach across the division, we could look into it on a case by case basis.
Jackson Gilliam
VATUSA Events Manager/ VA Liaison

Robert Shearman Jr

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Re: FNO Changes for the time being Part 2: electric boogaloo
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2020, 12:30:28 pm »
keep them far enough away to have it be a crossfire
I had that EXACT thought as soon as I hit "send" -- LOL.

Thanks for the response.  Like I said at the outset, the key fact is that we're all putting our heads together -- and I've no doubt the issue will require additional adjustment after each attempt!
Cheers,
-R.

James Anthony

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Re: FNO Changes for the time being Part 2: electric boogaloo
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2020, 06:16:11 pm »
I like this from a Pilots Perspective, but just out of pure curiosity, do you think it's time for a VATUSA Town Hall again? I think it's overdue with these changing times and to get opinion's from all sides, not just the ARTCCs....

Jackson Gilliam

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Re: FNO Changes for the time being Part 2: electric boogaloo
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2020, 12:13:44 pm »
I like this from a Pilots Perspective, but just out of pure curiosity, do you think it's time for a VATUSA Town Hall again? I think it's overdue with these changing times and to get opinion's from all sides, not just the ARTCCs....

We can definitely look into that option.  Thank you!
Jackson Gilliam
VATUSA Events Manager/ VA Liaison

Mark Hubbert

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Re: FNO Changes for the time being Part 2: electric boogaloo
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2020, 01:38:53 pm »
Quote
We all need to put our egos away and put our heads together to try to make the most out of the opportunity that we’ll have in the coming weeks. We can either run some of the worst, clustered, screwy events the network has ever seen... or we can methodically put a plan together that will heighten the experience for everyone.We’ve already seen that these conversations push people away from the network, and the last thing id want to see is everyone sitting at home in quarantine, but choosing not to go on vatsim because we aren’t handling this the right way.

Shane, I truly appreciate your thoughts which I have put into quotes.  Many people have asked for a response from the VATUSA Division.  Jackson had a meeting with the EC's to get their thoughts and he listened and put together a plan based off of their thoughts to try to meet immediate needs.  In the background there is a poll for the ATM's where I asked them to consult with their staff and members and put to vote what they thought.  Jackson's plan may or may not work, we do not know.  We need to gauge the effectiveness of this change with an open mind and definitely without a negative attitude.  There will be some sort of plan beyond Jackson's to hopefully address mid term needs and hopefully longer term.  I feel this is a unique opportunity for us as a Division to accomplish a lot.  First of all you are right put way the egos and come together.  In talking with Dhruv recently, he mentioned a "Grass Roots" effort by all.  I am using Dhruv's words as inspiration because I think a Grass Roots effort by all is exactly what we need.  I think it is time for all members to consider themselves as VATUSA Controllers instead of XYZ ARTCC.  Nothing wrong with pride in your facility in fact I encourage it but I feel that if people will take ownership of VATUSA in their current role ie.  VATUSA Controller who controls at XYZ ARTCC we can bridge many gaps and come together more in a Grass Roots effort.  The other opportunity is positive change.  I am hoping that the ideas that get tested during this period will do one of several things.  Yes this is great and this is how we should do things from now on; or two this is no better than what we were doing but if we add this or take away this it may just work and even better maybe a variety of ways to do things,  Spice up FNO Nights instead of Hey Pilots Fly to KXYZ Airport (Congo Lines, overburdened controllers, Senior Controllers bored out of their mind as they hold 45 aircraft over one fix.

In conclusion, you and I have talked before, lets do it again and I may just break out my bottle of Bookers and have a sip with you.
Mark Hubbert
Division Director VATUSA