Monday 13 June 2016

ATC Weekend

Hi folks!

Its been a slow weekend, but Saturday had a number of people flying in so that was cool. I have been experimenting with some routing techniques and I think I'm making some good improvements. One main area I know I need to improve on is my radio technique, this has been pointed out a few times. So I'm working on this too.

I'm going to be looking at getting some buildings in the airport over the next couple of weeks. It looks like the floating terminals and their gates. I think the main terminal building will be trickier but I'm going to do my best. If anyone knows about this stuff and would like to help out then I really could do with it, it looks like I am going to have to build some of my own models and frankly there is only so much room in my head for so much.

What I'm planning

I am working on figuring out the ICAO.procedures file format so I can offer SID/STAR files for your autopilot. The wiki on this is pretty poor, there is no definition information and pretty much 2 whole pages and the only useful information on them is the location of the files ... go figure.

Once I have worked this out I will probably publish what I learned on here so its not so hard for other people in the future. I have yet to look at the XML layout of the models, I'm hoping I can load these into the blender or some other VR tool I have experience with (I used to be a Virtual Reality content creator and community host).

Hello there!

I had a visitor from someone who said they are a reader, but at that moment everything was getting crazy on mumble (see troll rating below) so I'm sorry I didn't see your chat after you were parked up; it gets crazy sometimes.
But hello to "Goose" and I'm glad you came to visit. I hope you pop in again and have a chat.

A few flights

 I had a few nice flights, some regulars came through and so many fighter aircraft this weekend. the F-14 seems to be getting very popular. I have had a brief read up on the military phraseology a little, I do forget bits here and there though.

If you are one of these pilots and you want to fly as a group thats great, but please elect one of your group as the formation leader beforehand, it makes things so much simpler. And just because you are in a fighter jet does not mean you get priority over other traffic, Stansted is a commercial airport and commercial aircraft will get priority.

That being said; I do enjoy it when its not at "peak" times where there are lots of liners inbound, this is a bad time to to pattern flying.


The troll was a bit more active this week, at one point they were directly targeting me, but they didn't have the staying power for someone thinks having your own troll is like a trophy.  He was mildly irritating  but not really very fun this time. His act had no thought put into it like the other guy and he was obviously pandering to the audience (I could manipulate him to change his name). The most sophisticated they could come up with was joinquit and setting their recording device as the audio monitor.

Troll rating: 2/10 - A poor effort all round.

Thursday 9 June 2016

ATC Evening, a nice flight and ATCPie

Hi everyone,

I hope you all recovered from my last post! crazy eh!

I did a short flight from EGSS to EIDW which is one of my favorite routes. This time I flew the SID called BUZAD 4S which seemed to make sense at the time, and hell Luton wasn't online at the time so I didn't feel too bad about violating their airspace.

As you can see I have been fiddling with the atmospheric settings so I can have 3D clouds and better scattering, but if I have too much on I get software crashes often. The left image has that weird bar on it, it has something to do with my screen capture process. For some reason it also makes things move about, if I have OpenRadar open then it will cause the view to shift south-west by 40 miles.


The weekend was fairly routine ATC event, here are some shots of Sunday night. I have been trying to work on my queuing technique lately and on this occasion it seemed to work quite well.  I had a good rate of attendance too, which is great! I love visitors!


Thanks to T-URBO for standing in for me for an hour on Sunday night, I had to dash from the computer and he ran the tower for me, and what would you know, it got busy right at that moment. When I got back I did a bit of ground control whilst he cleared his queue. It was pretty interesting to see someone else run the tower.


I have been experimenting with ATCPie, the work-flow is very different but it has so many cool and useful features that I keep going back to look at it. My main issue now is FP handling, the work-flow is very different to what I am used to I just need to get a handle on the best way to be efficient and not keep people waiting. I have yet had the option to push to the flight-plan exchange server working, but that should be a neat feature.

I like all the additional windows and the fact you can undock anything and have it on another monitor, I REALLY like that.


The troll was much better this time. He logged in as the name of a country and then played awful music from that country, then when they would leave and rejoin as a new country and go again. He did about 8 different countries all with their own music lined up, the guy actually researched it beforehand!
Troll rating 5/10 = Somewhat irritating (Including 2 bonus point for creativity)

Monday 6 June 2016

Stansted Airport Visit

Hi folks,
Its ATCJay here again with another post. If you have been reading regularly then you will know that I alluded to something cool in my last post, well today it shall be revealed!

Do you know where this could be?

That's right, its Stansted Control Tower, the bloody real one!

I wrote an email to someone at EGSS asking for a picture or two and a couple of questions, 'great' I thought, if I'm really lucky they might reply ... so as you might expect I almost caused a major trouser incident when they emailed me back inviting me to the tower. And as you might guess, being England, it pissed it down raining!

I don't know why, but for some reason I thought that the tower would be pretty much an empty tube with the cab at the top, nope its rooms and stuff all the way up, who would have thought it.

I'll go into some of the questions I asked and things we spoke about but so much was spoke about I doubt I could capture how cool it was. I was surprised that there were only 3-4 people in there, they were all friendly but very busy. I was a bit nervous about talking to one of them when he said hi because he still had his headphones on and .. well if I get distracted all that happens is someone flies through someone else or someone gets cross at me for making them wait.

I had some issues with the camera deleting files, rather not giving me an option not to delete them, so not all of the pictures I wanted made it onto the card but some of them are here (and should be click-able to enlarge)

I asked about how things are routed there, The routes are mainly used for radio-out situations and they use direct vectoring for approaches. And the SIDs are incorporated into the flight plan which is done during filing process so it sounds like they don't really have to deal with that.

I would have LOVED to get some pictures of their equipment but this wasn't possible. I'm not actually sure how detailed I can be in describing it. But to be honest the in-tower hardware that you could see was mainly just some very nice looking flat screens and an stunning view out of the window.

They did have some nice tech for strip management which looks very similar to the strip management software for Vatsim, but a lot more hands on. The actual hardware would probably be in a rack somewhere, I'm not interested in that I've seen servers before.

They had a training room which was the last place I looked at in the tower, unfortunately this was all powered down, but wow what a set-up! There were screens as big as TVs to mock up the window view and a series of monitors arranged in a manner to replicate the tower position so the training reinforces muscle memory. These guys are smart!

I have realised how spoiled we are with OpenRadar's radar display, they do not have all the SIDs and STARs on theirs.

It was really cool to see take-off from the actual tower, no ORCam required! There was a couple of other events I would have liked to photograph but I was too interested in speaking to the guy that we were just watching everything go down. Someone let off a fire extinguisher on Alpha West, but I didn't see any flames and it looked like nothing was damaged and no one was hurt.

Watching an arrival that was due to park at the business centre miss taxiway Golf because he was going pretty fast, was something that felt very familiar.

This picture is my favourite, I know you probably think that's weird but on my evenings on FlightGear this is where all the action happens. When someone parks its usually here, at Alpha East. I was looking down at this and thinking "Oh yeah, there’s SkyBoat and KL-666 down there waiting for my slow ass to give taxi clearance"

I like would like to give a big thank you to everyone at Stansted Tower for letting me come and visit and putting up with me endless questions. you guys are really cool and do a great job!

Friday 3 June 2016

About emergencies

I thought I would post about something that we all encounter on flight simulators; People declaring an emergency in order to jump the queue.

I don't mind emergency procedure practice but I would appreciate some advanced warning that you are going to practice. The issue arises around multiple people doing it at once, it creates a very unrealistic scenario which is less fun for everyone and increases the ATS workload significantly. If done properly we could turn it into something fun we can do.

I have heard a few versions of procedures for running low on fuel and everyone seems to just do what they think is right, myself included, so I thought the best thing to do is check what the CAA have to say on the subject.

Perhaps we can come to some procedure that applies more closely to FlightGear so people can practice these things at the same time add a little more realism for everyone.

So in order to see how the CAA handle these situations here is an extract;
Source; CAA Manual of Air Traffic Services - Part 1 (CAP413 ed5)
Section1: chapter 4 (Control of Traffic) pages 6 and 7.

10. Flight Priorities

10.1 Normally requests for clearances shall be dealt with in the order in which they are received and issued according to the traffic situation. However, certain flights are given priority over others and the following table shows the categorisation.

10.1 When two or more flights of different categories request clearance the flight with the highest category shall be dealt with first. Flow control procedures are implemented and actioned by the Central Flow Management Unit. A flow control priority will be allocated automatically on receipt of a flight plan.

10A. Minimum Fuel and Fuel Shortage 

 10A.1 Once in possession of the estimated delay for an approach a pilot will determine whether or not he can continue to the aerodrome or divert to a suitable alternative aerodrome.

10A.2 A pilot's declaration of "MINIMUM FUEL" indicates that no further fuel diversion options are available where the aircraft is committed to land at the pilot’s nominated aerodrome of landing with not less than 'final reserve fuel'. However, “MINIMUM FUEL” RTF phraseology is not universally used by every aircraft operator and pilot.

Note: Final reserve fuel is typically fuel for 30 minutes of flight for turbine powered aircraft or 45 minutes for piston powered aircraft. (EASA-OPS)
10A.3 Controllers are not required to provide priority to pilots of aircraft that have declared "MINIMUM FUEL" or that have indicated that they are becoming short of fuel.

10A.4 Controllers shall respond to a pilot's declaration of “MINIMUM FUEL” by confirming the estimated delay he can expect to receive expressed in minutes if the pilot is en-route to, is joining, or is established in an airborne hold; or by expressing the remaining track mileage from touchdown if the aircraft is being vectored to an approach.

10A.5 Once in possession of either the estimated delay or remaining track mileage, the pilot will determine whether or not he can continue to the aerodrome with or without declaring a fuel emergency. Controllers shall keep pilots informed of any increase in delay or increase in track mileage after the pilot's initial declaration of "MINIMUM FUEL" following which the controller can expect the pilot to declare an emergency.

10A.6 Controllers shall respond to a pilot who has indicated that he is becoming short of fuel but has not declared "MINIMUM FUEL", by confirming the estimated delay he can expect to receive expressed in minutes if the pilot is en-route to, is joining, or is established in an airborne hold; or by expressing the remaining track mileage from touchdown if the aircraft is being vectored to an approach; then ask the pilot if he wishes to declare an emergency.

Pilots declaring an emergency should use the following RTF phraseology "MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY" or “MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY FUEL” and controllers shall provide such aircraft with flight priority category A (ICAO Annex 6).

10B. Medical Emergencies

10B.1 Pilots who allude to medical emergencies on-board, e.g. a sick passenger, but who do not formally declare an emergency or indicate that the person on board is seriously ill, shall be asked to confirm that they are declaring an emergency. In the absence of such a declaration, controllers are not required to give priority to the flight.

10C. Flight Priority Categories

10C.1 Controllers shall give priority to aircraft according to flight priority category listed below, where category A is the highest priority and Z is the lowest priority.


What do you think?

Friday 27 May 2016

Weekend at EGSS

Hi folks!

I had another great weekend at Virtual Stansted again so expect some screenshots. Some interesting things have been happened since my last post. There is the FlightGear Fall Festival  starting November the 5th (2016) which sounds like its far off but its already being planned out to be a great event.

The event will be held in the U.K, so that means that the whole of Europe will be a frenzy of activity with ATCs and pilots aplenty. I can say that I will be at EGSS for the event and will be controlling from REDFA down to my doorstep. So when the event comes around come and pay me a visit.

I am working on adding some scenery for Stansted so it is ready for the event. I'm a complete newbie when it comes to doing that so its yet another learning curve. I will initially start with the gates and jetways and if I can find an object large enough the terminal building.

A note about routes, if you are coming to Stansted grab a copy of the airport plate from my description in mumble ( and have a look at the routes. The SIDs are easy and the best STAR to use would be something in ABBOT.

Before I get into my (brief) weekend log I would like to mention that I have an unusual week ahead of me, and should REALLY give me something to write about (if I have any luck with pictures!). I'm not going to jump the gun by shouting off what it is (some of you I know already know) but its bloody brilliant and you really should subscribe so you don't miss it.

Was a nice night, some familiar faces came by and went off to Ireland which was cool, which you can see below in the screenshots. What I tried here was bunching up the outbound flights more so it was more efficient. I find now that if I just let the pilots contact me when they are ready I don't make them feel rushed and I have a little more time myself.

In this situation what happened was everyone filed their flight plan before they did anything else, everyone was pretty much chilling out and agreeing where to go. The pilots decided their destination and I had a succession of  flight plans to set up, then it was a matter of getting them there. I just about had holding points S1, S3, R1 and R3 filled up and as soon as the currently departing AC was positive climb the next one was lining up. It was all running just like its supposed to! it was very cool!

Here are some pics of that:

One of my visitors on Saturday was flying Donald Trumps aircraft, he kindly sent me some screenshots and said I can post them, so here they are.

Sunday was REALLY quiet.

There isn't much more I can say really, yet here is a picture of something happening on Sunday.

Friday 13 May 2016

FlightGear Spring Festival - We love Japan!

Hi everyone!

This is my first post after the FlightGear Spring Festival, and it was SO much fun! I hope everyone else had as much fun as I did and I would like to say thank you to everyone that joined in.

Festival time at RJGG

I was stationed at RJGG with ElGaton running centre, the airport was really nice looking (from the pilots perspective). This was my best experience with having a centre operating over me. We had quite a few people come by and the region was fairly busy, I would call this festival a success.

I met a lot of new people and spoke to members of the FlightGear community that I wouldn't normally see which was great. Trying out a new airport was really interesting and I started out with "this is really hard" but by the second night and some more documents (Thanks ElGaton) it hit the floor running and started to appreciate the way things are done over there.

Here are a couple of pictures of RJGG airport that t-urbo took for me. (you can click these)


The DME approach for the airport was really difficult for many pilots, its a circle! it was also a challenge for me as ATC to vector someone round a circle, the area has very few fixes, only 4 VORs and a couple of DME. But I gave it a go and I was really impressed with my progress, ill post some pictures of it here. Big kudos go out to pilot BA_007 for flying this SO well and actually got the "feel" for what I was vectoring and I don't think he had the DME route available to him at the time (I could be wrong).

There are a number of pictures here all showing a time separation of about 2 minutes, observe the contact trails showing how well he tracked the approach.


So "Pilot of the Day" went to ...

Busy busy!

We had quite an active service in my area of Japan which was cool, here is a screen of the tower activity on Sunday night.

And we also had lots and lots of people flying, it was fantastic!

The Troll

Yep there was a troll being a pain, spamming and all that rubbish. But like all trolls they had a poor attention span and soon left. To critique their griefing I would say it was unimaginative and lacked the real pazazz that really gets people going. Spamming swear words and lame ass 'insults' don't really cut it I would rate this troll at a 2/10 which rates them as "Slightly less than annoying", sorry pal.

The end

Well, the event came to an end, and on mumble all the centres came round and thanked everyone for coming which was really nice I thought. And on this note I hope you enjoyed my brief summary of the event and the pictures. Until next time happy flying, and I hope to see you at my usual haunt of London Stansted (EGSS).

Friday 29 April 2016

Catching up and some news!

Good day!

I have been absent doing other things but I shall be trying to do more regular sessions now; you can now visit me on Saturdays and Sundays as a regular slot and I am on during the week late evenings most nights.

On Thursday the 21st of this month President Obama came to England, and what would you know he came in through Stansted, very cool!!

I am still looking to get the APP and TWR audio but due to legal issues in the UK surrounding the capturing of ATC messages it might be difficult. Here is the Standard's report on his arrival.

The London Stansted official Facebook page posted this picture for the event, to me it looks like he was debarking at the Business Centre, what do you think?

I was in my tower at the time, its a shame that I didn't know about it earlier I would have liked someone to try and simulate it real time, that would have been pretty neat.

FlightGear news

The event this weekend (Spring Festival) is being hosted around Asia and the Orient, I hope everyone is going to turn out for a fly! I will be in my tower as usual, so if you want a break from the high-traffic airways come to London and visit, I'll even get the kettle on.

In November TheJabberWocky group has another event lined up for early November, this event will be hosted in and around the UK. I have put my name forward to ATC in my tower for that event but I think they might want experts on for that event so I may have to sit out (I'll grab a remote AP somewhere else).


I have added a new webpage to my server where I will be uploading all the PDF files required for the airport. There are some there now, but I will be updating it with the more comprehensive versions. The link to that site is here.

I have an alteration to the route "ABBOT 1F" on my chart than the official one, this is just to clean up traffic above the airport and to make the turn into ABBOT holding/pattern easier. I shall now explain:
  • ABBOT 1F official takes from BPK direct to ADNAM(fix), ABBOT(fix).
  • ABBOT 1F modified take deom BPK to BKY to ADNAM(fix) ... and so on.
This means you do not have a hairpin right turn at ADNAM and I can keep that FL060 traffic away from approaches. 

Squawk Codes
As you know I do not always use these (and I will be more in the future, see below) but if you want that level of realism that feel free to say something like "with you, using squawk xxxx" or when making contact, if you mention a squawk code on contact I will then take it that you are using them and I'll do the same. Not everyone uses them or knows how, so I do not automatically assign them.

I am looking at moving to ATCPie for my client software, it looks good but I have a few issues with it. When these are sorted out I will be using squawks more often .

I do not use direct vectoring for everything, I will use VOR's and fixes (if the pilot can see fixes) and I will route ALL inbound via the ABBOT approach (I rarely use CASEY as its the same as ABBOT with 5 degrees skew). I will also use LOREL but that simply ends up being an ABBOT approach once the AC has passed BKY.

There is a reason For this, when I started off I was direct vectoring EVERYONE to the runways, and once you have more than a couple of people coming in that way it becomes a mess, especially when you have a couple of outbounds too. I spent a lot of time learning and internalising the routes and so I will use them.

This does not mean I expect the pilots to know them too, if a pilot does know the route then tell me and all is great. If you do not know the route that's perfectly fine, I will just vector you on that route.

All in all I am trying to provide as much of a service as I am, if you are passing by I will update your FP for you. I'll check weather on your route if you ask, and outbounds get their route checked if they are unsure. Thats right, that extra 1 minute delay some people experience when they go somewhere I am unfamiliar with is down to me searching the exit points and planning your route for you.

Tips for new ATC
I am new too, and NONE of us are 100% perfect ATC. Bare this in mind.
  • Get the CAP documents from the CAA, these are great!
  • Give heading slightly early and add/subtract 1 degree to the heading for every mile you gave the heading in advance.
  • You are in control, but you are a service. Try to be helpful and treat pilots like valued customers, they are the nice guys!
  • Its not all about us, we are only there to help pilots play a flying game. We only see our screens and its easy to think of it as an ATC game, it is not its a flight simulator for which we are volunteers.
  • Pick one airport and "move in", make it yours and be proud of your reputation.
  • Direct vector EVERYTHING until you know your routes, and vector using chat as much as you can, this REALLY helps to reinforce learning.
  • When things get busy, take a breath, slow down, redirect someone across the map and back again if you have to. The "long way round" is better than an frustrated, stressed ATC. Planes take time to get from one place to another, this gives you time when you need it.
  • If you make a mistake, its OKAY, real ATC make mistakes all the time, no one will complain if you correct yourself, readout someone's callsign slightly wrong, or gave someone the wrong vector etc.
  • Listen to the pilots! Those guys really know their stuff.
  • And MOST importantly of all be consistent!! Even if you never use routes, SID, STAR or any procedures at all, have your own procedures in your head. Which VORs wil you use to route people into your active runway? pick them and stick to them, pilots will remember them next time.
Okay, its time for me to go now, I hope you guys found this post interesting and ill leave you with one more picture.

The end of a weekend shift at EGSS, one last inbound. (This display is showing the modification to ABBOT 1F which I mentioned earlier)

Thanks for visiting EGSS
Jay / Morlan (Stansted Approach/Tower)