questions from prospective user(s)

questions from prospective user(s)

Postby Keith Smith » Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:27 pm

As emails come in with questions that might be applicable to all prospective users, I'll post and answer them here (along with a direct email response).

This looks really interesting and I'm almost certain to try it but I wanted to know:

How is weather handled?


Our controllers read the latest weather (real world) unless you specify that you have received the weather (either by use of an ATIS code, or by the use of "have numbers."). The PE client does not attempt to set weather in the sim. You can set the weather any way you see fit, either hardcoding it to specific conditions, or by setting it to 'real weather'.

About the only noticeable side effects of this are:
1) you might set your own IMC weather, but there will still be VFR traffic flying around, not talking to anyone and squawking VFR.
2) you might be assigned an approach (a visual, perhaps) that you wouldn't expect given the weather that you've set in your sim.

These aren't insurmountable issues, but they're good to keep in mind.

How is initial aircraft location on the airport handled? (FSX will put you right on the runway at a selected airport if requested)


You need to start up on a ramp or other non-movement area as a matter of courtesy in this multiplayer environment. An exception to this might be a sleepy non-towered field which you've verified (through the online map) as being deserted. Feel free to start on the runway to get yourself in the air quickly if needed.

X-Plane often doesn't have ramp positions defined in the default airport database. In that case, drag the aircraft on the local map to the ramp, or simply taxi there by hand prior to connecting to the network.

How much tolerance do the controllers have for novices. I'm a reasonably experienced current PPL and did IFR training several years ago and would immediately try flying IFR on a sim. That means botched clearances, missed approaches and generally sloppy flying at first. How do you intermix serious and experienced simmers and rusty pilots pushing envelopes like me?


We're thrilled to have a rusty pilot who's trying to get back in the saddle. Regarding experience levels and pilots flying beyond their current skill set, we're ok with pilots making mistakes so long as they're relatively plausible mistakes. Use your judgment. If you're going to push the envelope, do it in baby steps so that the mistakes you're likely to make are few/minor. If you push yourself WAY beyond what you're capable of doing, you're likely to get way behind the airplane and things will generally proceed downhill from there. The end result will be that you're not likely to learn very much from the experience, either.

The one saving grace here is that due to the frequency usage and sectorization, fewer pilots will hear your interactions than you might think.

There's a sliding scale of errors. Some of them are barely noticeable and are not a big deal. Sometimes you might need an instruction or clearance repeated once or twice....not a problem, and still well within the bounds of realism, not likely to cause other listeners to twitch when they hear the interactions (or the controller portion, at least, referencing the paragraph above). Then at the 'not cool' end of the spectrum we have the errors which are completely unrealistic (someone picking up an IFR clearance who literally has zero knowledge or experience about IFR procedures). Those are the ones we need to avoid, otherwise we run the risk of ruining the level of immersion of other participants on the network. We have to set the bar somewhere...and that's pretty much the point.

If you blow through an airway and the controller vectors you to rejoin, and you are able to do it...no worries. Blow through an airway and, when queried by ATC, your response is "what's an airway??" then it's a problem.

Push the envelope, but only a little at a time.

Also, if you're interested, we have a pilot training program, too. This is a series of 3 VFR flights and 11 IFR flights (9 of which are publicly viewable) that will step you through a series of increasingly complex (but still highly relevant) scenarios. There's no written tests, you simply read the material (includes support articles, transcripts, and videos) then fly on the network under the watch of a controller.

How do you keep the [interesting pilots] out? A 13 year old with an FSX 747 and a juvenile attitude can ruin the sim aspects of something like this pretty quick.


As for keeping out people who are here for the wrong reasons to start with, the cover charge has more or less handled that so far. If it doesn't, we'll take swift action to ensure that the presence of each individual doesn't markedly detract from the experience of our other customers. This is a fairly unique service in that regard.

If you're a responsible individual who can handle an airplane, navigate reasonably well, you already understand the basics of working with ATC, and you understand the various types of airspace, then this is right place for you (with the caveat that you don't continuously fly well beyond your abilities).

Otherwise, it's best to fly elsewhere for a while, or spend some time bolstering your knowledge through some online study of the areas listed above.

We help out as much as possible (with the training program, for example), but we can't work with pilots (yet) who don't already have most of the fundamentals worked out ahead of time.
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Re: questions from prospective user(s)

Postby Keith Smith » Fri Dec 30, 2011 7:39 pm

Here's one I've been getting a LOT lately (quite understandably)...

When is ZOA coming online?


A few things have to happen prior to the launch of ZOA:
- finish hiring a full controlling staff for ZLA (right now, we're meeting our staffing needs, but it's being done by a relatively small group of controllers, such that we don't have any way of comfortably expanding to ZOA. This hiring is just about done with a good number of controllers undergoing training at the moment. Obviously, this slowed down over the holiday period, but I expect things to move along a bit faster in January on that front.

- finish the revised SOPs for ZLA based on our learning from the first few months of operation and feedback from those that went through our controller training. This process will be finishing up in the next few days.

- finish building the SOPs and required infrastructure for ZOA. This is in process and is going well.

- build a cadre of qualified instructors for ZOA. Begin hiring for ZOA, and then train for ZOA. We have a healthy backlog of well-qualified for applicants, so I expect the controller pipeline will look pretty good for ZOA when we open the gates.

Once that's all done, we'll probably begin opening ZOA on a limited, but well-published schedule (ie, some hours on weeknights and possibly more hours on weekends).

I'll make an announcement here when we're ready to start opening ZOA. I know a lot of people are excited about it and that it will open up a whole bunch of exciting city pairs, as well providing a much needed change of scenery. We get it, and we feel the same way :)
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Re: questions from prospective user(s)

Postby Keith Smith » Wed Feb 01, 2012 4:27 pm

Oakland ARTCC update: We plan on having Fri-Sun support by mid-March.
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Re: questions from prospective user(s)

Postby Keith Smith » Tue May 22, 2012 8:32 am

It seems logical to me that there would be times when things go wrong ( either with the computer or perhaps the pilot simply makes some kind of major mistake ) I don't seem to find any guidance or instructions for what one should do in the event he has to abort the simulation ( for any reason ) and what effect this has on the other participants and ATC. A simple explanation of the repercussions of such an event and instructions on what steps to take to restart would probably sooth the anxiety factor for possible new members.


It's understood that people might want to disconnect for any number of reasons. The preferred method would be to simply tell ATC, "we're going to disconnect and give this a try later on."

ATC will bid you farewell and you cannot disconnect without issue. If you simply drop off without a word (assuming you're on an active
flight and interacting with ATC), we might wonder if it was a system issue and might keep trying you on the radio a few times.

We'll also be watching that airspace in case you reconnect in that same general area in the next minute or two, which increases the
workload slightly for the controllers.

Pilots make mistakes (some small, some big) every day on the network. That's normal...it is a training environment after all. As long as
pilots are trying their best to comply with the instructions and have made reasonable attempts to be prepared for their flight, then we'll give them as much latitude as possible.
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Re: questions from prospective user(s)

Postby Rusty » Tue Oct 02, 2012 12:07 pm

Hi,

I am definitely considering joining your scheme but I live in the UK and fly mostly during the day. Therefore missing 99% of the active act time. Do you intend to offer a UK based service or one that will offer a service in our time zone?

Similarly, do you object to pilots flying outside the published service hours?

Regards,
Rusty
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Re: questions from prospective user(s)

Postby Keith Smith » Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:54 pm

We might become 24/7 in the future based on commercial demands. At the moment, we open around 3pm GMT each day, so hopefully there is some overlap for you now.

we are interested in Europe in the future, but not right now.
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Re: questions from prospective user(s)

Postby zachdecou » Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:28 am

Hello!
I will sign up for my account in the coming weeks. My question is: how does the plugin draw other aircraft in sim- be they human flown or drone? How does the plugin know what aircraft to draw and what art resources to utilize to produce the correct visuals? I use x-plane 10.
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Re: questions from prospective user(s)

Postby Keith Smith » Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:42 am

The plugin includes a library of art and 3d assets for supported aircraft types. There's a mapping system which converts the aircraft identifier, airline and livery to a specific selection from the library. We're going to be working on a new format for this library which will support articulation of the flight controls, gear, etc, but for now, those things are static. The lights on the aircraft are dynamically generated, though, and represent the current lighting state of each aircraft.
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Re: questions from prospective user(s)

Postby zachdecou » Sat Jan 12, 2013 8:10 am

Next question:
Is it possible or practical to fly from Vatsim controlled airspace into PE controlled space and have a plausible handoff to a PE controller? An example scenario would be a flight departing KSEA under Vatsim control, and eventually entering LA center to be handed off to a PE controller. I assume there would be a moment where the pilot would switch clients, and he/she would have to file flight plans with both services.

Does anyone ever do this to simulate longer inbound (or outbound) flights?
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Re: questions from prospective user(s)

Postby Ryan Geckler » Sat Jan 12, 2013 8:13 am

VATSIM has no connection to PE, so getting a handoff is impossible.

That said, there are many people who will fly into/out of ZLA on PE, and switch to VATSIM once they leave PE airspace. FP's will have to be filed with both networks.
Ryan Geckler | ERAU CTI Graduate
PilotEdge Air Traffic Control Specialist
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