I recently returned to controlling on TS1 (e.g. at YMML this morning) after an extended break from ATC duties in IF. On the whole, it was a pleasant experience with the vast majority of pilots operating professionally. There was the occasional pilot that made egregious errors or completely ignored instructions, but I am far more interested in the short list of recurring issues I observed that seem easiest to address:
1. Mistakenly requesting to remain in the pattern:
60% of pilots requested to remain in the pattern, only 2 actually did so. I can only assume a problem so unnecessary and yet so pervasive is driven by lack of knowledge in the user base.
2. Failure to understand pattern instructions:
It appears that <50% of users actually understand pattern instructions, and particularly struggle to differentiate between left and right. This poses a serious issue when trying to organize to provide a reasonably realistic ATC experience.
3. Failure to wait for clearance:
Roughly 20% of pilots ignored instructions that fall into this category. The most prevalent were taxiing without having even requested a push-back, and lining up onto a runway without contacting the tower. Both of these create serious safety and traffic flow issues.
So, what can we do about it?
The good news is appears the content we need to address these issues is largely in place in the #tutorials portion of IFC and on the IF YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/infiniteflightapp/videos). If you are a newer pilot or think you may be guilty of any of the above I strongly encourage you to check them out.
We also have several #features requests that address these issues. My personal favorites are:
I would actually offer a slight amendment to the request and say there should be another menu on the home screen of the app that lists the YouTube videos and tracks which ones you have watched. We could then set standards for which ones have to have been watched to fly or even control ATC on each server.
I think this would be a great complement to the previous and help reinforce lessons from the videos. There are likely additional messages that could be added (e.g. Are you sure you meant to request a pattern?) or even the ability to select which reminders you want to hear based on mistakes you know you are prone to making.
I appreciate all of the effort people have put into making resources and proposing ideas, and encourage everyone interested to check out the features that have been proposed, vote for the best solutions, and propose your own thoughts / solutions as a new feature idea or in the comments below.