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POSCON ATC Plans / FAQ


Matt B. (1011215)

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Controllers! Hello and thank you for your interest in ATC on the POSCON network. This post will serve as a insight to what ATC is like currently, what our plans are for the future, and how you can be part of it. Our development team has been busy working on radar client, divisions, ATC booking system, and I would like to take this time to bring you in on the big picture.

 

POSCON ATC Philosophy

Our goal is to create a robust and logical ATC system across the globe. Many on our team are real world aviators, controllers, developers, bringing thousands of hours of experience to the table. We hope to simulate the world air traffic control system to the most realistic way possible, while realizing the limitations of home software use. This has been a long road because the foundations needed for this system are wide and deep. Just one example is our flight plan processing system. This had to be fully developed and fully functioning to even start ATC in any working capacity. We continue to expand realistic features through POSCON technology such as CPDLC, weather radar, ERAM simulation, etc. 

 

Organizational Structure

Bureaucracy serves no purpose and is highly inefficient when dealing with an online community driven environment. Our division and ATC organizations will be setup to reduce this as much as possible. Division leadership will be optimized to only the essential positions such as Division Manager, Events Manager, Military Manager, Facility Specialist. This approach will streamline information, processes and practices to the members within that division. Any additional members helping a division can be created on a as needed basis through "teams". Example - the USA Facility Specialist wants some people to help with ZDV facility data, he/she can create a "team" of members to help make this happen. Teams will allow a more collaborative approach to tasks and not rely on one single "staff" person to finish the task. 

 

ATC Authorizations

In order to promote more community involvement and participation ATC authorizations will be division based. Initially these are considered "blanket authorizations" which means if you are assigned USA, you may control any position within the USA. Until divisions are ready to be opened for ATC, we don't see a need to restrict anything. This comes down to manpower and resources, if we restrict positions we must offer training. Additionally SOPs would be required to train on such position, etc. Once divisions are open to join as ATC and they have management structure in place, that local division will decide what positions to restrict that may require training. However divisional authorizations are still in place meaning you may control any non-restricted position at any time within a division. 

 

ATC Academy(s)

If you have any experience on other online networks, you know how frustrating a long training process can be. This was due to the fact the network(s) itself would push the training (all of the training) to the local level. Training was delayed even further if that particular location was very popular and in high demand such as Atlanta, or London as examples. Our solution to this is to create ATC Academy(s) to bring all the core level training to a central location. Initially we will have two academies an FAA Academy and a ICAO Academy. We figured this was a great place to start as majority of the world uses FAA, or ICAO, or a combination of both. To allow more flexibility a division may select certain academy courses from both academies that suit their local needs. Example - the Bahamas division might want Delivery, Ground, and Tower courses from the ICAO academy and Approach courses from the FAA academy. Once a student completes required academy courses they return to their local division to receive local specific training. This will alleviate major training backlogs at the local level as they do not need to train the basics of delivery, or approach, they can focus on how to control a specific airport and/or airspace. This idea has not been finalized and is subject change. 

 

Initial Division rollout ATC process

It is expected that the ATC academy will not be ready for some time. We do not want to hold up opening divisions for this process. Therefore users who want to be ATC in a division shall have previous ATC experience. Once joining a division as ATC you will be assigned the ATC knowledge exams. These will work almost identical to the process listed above with three main exams. The highest level of exam passed will determine what you can control in that division. 

 

What about my controller rating from other networks?

Effectively any previous ratings mean nothing to us at POSCON. We care about what your experience and knowledge are in ATC. I personally strongly feel that a person can have a lower ATC rating from a legacy network but actually possess much greater knowledge. The same goes for higher ratings, some don't have the proper knowledge for their rating. This is why we don't have a controller rating system on POSCON. Everything is based off authorizations, knowledge level, and local division guidelines. 

 

Why is an S1 or S2 from VATSIM allowed to control Approach or Center?

If a controller comes to us and says they want to control, we believe we should not restrict them based off legacy network ratings. I will assume they have the knowledge to control what they are comfortable with. Our feedback system holds everyone accountable, pilots and ATC. The members of the community have the power to dictate a controller's future on POSCON. If enough negative feedback is received a controller may be removed until we have a formal training program in place. I am a firm believer that if you come to us with the maturity, the patience, and the willingness to learn you can excel at your own pace, not be weighed down by policies and procedures. Especially right now in the beginning stages of POSCON now is the time to push your skills, learn new techniques and have fun!

 

Can I get training when divisions first open up for ATC?

Potentially yes! We will have no formal training structure in place or ATC academies up and running initially. However if members of a division want to take it amongst themselves to train a fellow member, please do! Example lets say you join a division and only can pass the tower exam, local division members can help you get the knowledge and train for the approach and enroute exam. 

 

Where do I apply to be ATC?

At this time we are accepting applications via this link https://forms.gle/tu6NbXVid8WAaNMVA. Please be sure to read the rules and requirements for applying. This is a manual process for the time being so processing can take up to 7 days during busy times. Thanks and see you on the scopes!

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      Andrew Heath
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      By Andrew Heath,

      Back in September of 2019, I was browsing through X-Plane community downloads in order to find additional models to enhance the POSCON X-Plane Pilot Client model distribution. During the course of my search, I came across the X-CSL model package and reached out to the X-CSL team via their Contact form to obtain authorization to use their package in our software. The X-CSL team granted POSCON permission back then, but as of January 2022, they have unilaterally revoked that permission.

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      I have put together an evidence package in case POSCON users want to dig deep into what was said and by who. Publicly releasing my personal correspondence is not something I take lightly, but I find it entirely relevant to the current situation. An important note about the email exchanges is that all respective parties were always CCed on every email so anything said was guaranteed to be seen by both Almik and myself.

      Based on the email exchanges with X-CSL, my lawyer concluded that X-CSL and Almik implicitly allowed POSCON to distribute these models. Why else would Almik have referred me to his developer in order to give us technical information which would enable POSCON to include these models in our software? Our intentions were clearly outlined from the very first email sent to X-CSL. Almik and his developer never said, “yes include the package in your installer” directly, but they also never said “no.” Even though Almik was CCed on all the emails from the beginning, I recently reminded him that he was the one who referred us to his developer and as a result, his developer told us how to include the model package in our software. The POSCON developer programmed software based on this representation. The X-CSL developer's role in this was perpetuated by Almik — Almik referred POSCON to his developer, so it implies that Almik knew what this was about, and approved of it.

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      At the end of the day, POSCON will comply with X-CSL's demands, but I think it is important to shed light on what sometimes happens behind the scenes in this "community" and why we can't have nice things.

      Reflecting back, this whole situation seems eerily familiar to the recent debacle between AIG and FLAi (click here for additional reading material). Bottom line, this type of behavior in our community needs to be called out and more importantly, it needs to stop.

      What Happens to the POSCON X-Plane Model Package?

      To be honest, this doesn't really affect our model package too badly. There was approximately 70% overlap between BlueBell and X-CSL, so there will be a few unique models that will disappear in addition to some liveries. If you are interested in helping the POSCON model project recover from this loss, please reach out to Jeffory Beckers, our Model Asset Manager.

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      Andrew Heath
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      By Andrew Heath,

      CAPTAINS,

      (if you have been in the flight simulation community long enough, you will understand the "Captains" reference)

      The last technology blog post was published in May of 2020, and what a long journey it has been for our team since then! Thankfully that long arduous development journey has come to an end and users will be able to benefit from our hard work.

      I want to start off by answering some common questions and clearing misconceptions.

      Is POSCON dead?

      Absolutely not! We are very much alive and well!

      We may not seem like a major player in the online flight simulation network arena right now, but rest assured that our technology is far superior to that of our peers and we will be a significant force to reckon with in the near future.

      So, where have you been?

      The short answer is, we have been here all along. . . quietly developing.

      As a result of feedback from early beta testers, we took the drastic step of essentially shutting down POSCON's forward progress in order to rewrite the voice software. This decision was made when we realized that the voice software was not going to be able to sustain our projected growth using the protocol it was developed to use. Making a change to the protocol basically required a complete rewrite, which I am pleased to report is now complete.

      The good news is that the rewrite only occupied one developer for past last year. While he worked tirelessly to bring users a better voice experience, our other developers have been making significant feature upgrades to their components. I am going to take some time to highlight those major developments later in this post.

      Why haven't you posted development updates over the past year?

      To answer this question, we need to address two major issues in the flight simulation community: the hype train mentality and the copying problem.

      1. The hype train mentality. A very common tendency in the flight simulation community is to over-hype a product. Some developers do this on purpose by dropping little nuggets of information or photos on social media regarding a new and exciting product they are working on in order to build hype, then one of two things happens; either the product never gets released (it was vaporware all along) or the product is released, but does not live up to the hype. This community loves to ride the hype train and it is not something that the POSCON team thinks is a professional approach to software development and marketing. We don't want to build up hype around a product that doesn't live up to expectations. We feel it is better to stay quiet and develop rather than to make promises we cannot keep.
      2. The copying problem. No, I am not referring to the people who like to pirate software (and yes, that is a problem too). What I am referring to the issue of other developers/networks (you know who you are) taking our great ideas and benefiting from them. This is something Robert Randazzo of PMDG actually brought up in his recent interview with Jeff Turner over at Sky Blue Radio in regards to Global Flight Operations. I couldn't agree more. Competition is a great thing, but competition means being innovative and developing new ideas.

      Anyway, enough of my rant. . . but those are the main reasons we are careful not to provide too many details about what we are working on now.

      Okay, so what are you willing to share?

      First, I think it is important to point out that all recent updates to our software can be found in the changelogs which are located on the POSCON HQ. I certainly have no intention of covering everything that has changed over the past last year, so I encourage all users to browse through the logs if you are interested in learning more.

      Having said that, there are some main points I want to cover in this blog post.

      Let's first talk about the voice software, since this is what has been the major barrier to our forward progress. The voice software is now using a new protocol which will prevent a lot of the issues that users were experiencing with the previous iteration such as issues with wireless headsets, sample rates, garbling, etc. In addition to changing the protocol, we moved all the voice settings (push-to-talk, audio device selection, volume control, etc.) from the Radar Client and Pilot Clients into the Launcher Client in order to centralize these settings. This means that users will now only need to modify the voice settings once for all POSCON clients. This integration of the voice software into the Launcher Client enables us to expand the capabilities of the voice software in the future to perhaps support web-based pilot and ATC clients. You can find all the new voice settings by clicking cog wheel in the bottom right-hand corner of the Launcher Client:

      Screenshot_5.png.233b7bd6159573869caec8565bfaa21a.png

      Here are the new settings that you will see after clicking on the cog wheel:

      image.png.24cf5c391f784324358d73faaa88b80d.png

      Under the "Volume Controls" setting, we now allow users to control squelch which adds an extra layer of realism to the VHF simulation. You can adjust the squelch by moving the slider left (lower) and right (higher).

      Screenshot_7.png.4b948da02750b6cd27ec1ad89a64ad62.png

      The Launcher Client also incorporates a new voice status icon located in the upper right-hand corner of application which gives users an indication of the microphone and the radio configuration. Here are the different states:

      "No Radio" - Red Mic Icon
      You are not connected to POSCON (or the voice server) or your airplane radios are not powered (perhaps your avionics are turned off).
      image.png.14922fcee062490205836485f1163ec2.png 

      "Radio Ready" - White Mic Icon
      Your radios are configured correctly, but you are not currently transmitting.
      image.png.6fc970f4668d91b15aae646e93e6f588.png

      "Transmitting" - Green Mic Icon
      You are transmitting and listening on a frequency.
      image.png.80bd29a673f8a009740e97191396653e.png

      "No Reception" - Yellow Mic Icon
      Your radios are set up to transmit, but not to listen.
      image.png.85572bc011d5741ec7b7db75230a3243.png

      image.png.72490d8c38a6ad7ebc85c24ae3ed29e7.png (push-to-talk button/key pressed)

      "No Transmission" - Yellow Mic Icon
      Your radios are set up to listen, but not to transmit. This can happen when you are in Ghost mode or if you don't have your radios configured to transmit on a frequency.
      image.png.ea5a031f16b4b0efe8a6af70a4905828.png

      image.png.b0d7aa827616c5a21b3f0d6499f60fd9.png (push-to-talk button/key pressed)

      In all cases, remember you can use the Pilot Client Web UI ("RADIOS" page) to get better insight into what is happening with the configuration of your radios.

      Other changes to the voice software include:

      • Upgrades to the radio-frequency physical model which helps to better simulate real-world radio interference
      • Antenna position now varies by aircraft type and thus improves ground effects near the airport surface
      • Server-side memory optimization and multi-threading
      • New stuck-mic protection (35 second timer, then mic cuts out)

      The Launcher Client itself has been re-versioned to 1.0.0 and is officially out of beta testing. We upgraded it to the latest dot NET framework and changed the cloud location where it downloads client software from. The long term goal (version 2.0.0) for the Launcher Client is something we are referring to as the "Unified Launcher Client". The Unified Launcher Client will integrate the SimConnect (FSX/P3D/MSFS) Pilot Client, voice software, and authentication all into the same code-base so that multiple applications need not be opened simultaneously to run POSCON.

      One important user-experience note about the new Launcher Client (version 1.0.0) is that when you click the "X" in the top right-hand corner, it will now minimize the Launcher Client to the system tray. In order to completely quit the Launcher Client, you must right-click on the icon in the system tray to quit.

      image.png.c58a5b1661dac7f44a2b86e0781b2600.png

      The HQ has undergone a significant number of upgrades and improvements over the past year. . . far too many to mention here so I encourage you to go view the HQ specific changelog. Our most recent changes (i.e. in the past month or so) include the addition of a brand new Virtual Operators section. Virtual Operators are essentially organizations that are commonly referred to as "virtual airlines" in the community. These organizations can join POSCON and benefit from an integrated connection that will ensure members only fly with approved aircraft, callsigns, routes, and more!

      Also, the HQ development team has been slowly improving the ATC Division pages including a re-design of the Overview and Members pages to offer a better user experience to view information and activity in the division. Speaking of re-design, your User Profile has also been re-designed to offer a better user experience that compliments all your activity!

      The Radar Client has had many updates and improvements as well, please see the Radar Client specific Changelog for more details.

      The Pilot Clients and Radar Client have been stripped of all voice-related items. The software should still work normally, but the voice now is handled by the Launcher Client.

      Wow, that's amazing stuff, but how do you plan on attracting more users?

      Sorry, but this is a Technology blog! Can't answer that!

      In all seriousness, we will be sending out marketing materials soon. We plan on making 2022 a big year for POSCON and we want to thank those who have kept the faith throughout the years. Without you and your encouragement, this wouldn't have been worth it! 

      Happy Holidays to all!

      🎄🥳

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