Currently, as an IFATC, when I take the frequency from a controller before me, I get the aircraft that were tuned into the previous controller’s frequency, I get their assigned runway, and when working approach I get the type of service they requested (ILS/GPS/RV/Visual/FF/…) and their destination airport. However, I do not get their communication log with the previous controller or what service they were given (whether they were cleared to taxi or not, for example). Furthermore, often when changing frequency, especially for radar positions, I am greeted with all pilots calling in with requests at the same time, which can get quite overwhelming.
At London Heathrow, for example, the control desks or whatever you call them are set up with two headphone jacks, meaning that two controllers can listen in at the same time. This is common over other airports as well. The starting controller can plug in, and for a while just listen to the finishing controller and get a feel of the situation. He then signals to the finishing controller that he is ready, and the finishing controller unplugs and the starting controller takes control of the aircraft with no need for any time off-frequency, or any need for aircraft to reask for clearances.
I suggest this feature only be available on Expert server at least at the start, as there is much more communication going on between ES controllers than there is between TS controllers. The starting controller would choose the airport, and in the frequency selection menu they would choose the frequency occupied by the current controller. The on-coming controller would receive a confirmation dialog saying something along the lines of
You have selected an active frequency. Confirm that you are replacing the current controller. The current (finishing) controller would then receive a message in-game informing them of the replacement request, and could approve or deny it. Once they approved it, the starting controller would be launched into the session with a UI similar to the active controller’s view, except for a few changes. They would still see the radar screen, the aircraft strips, the comm log, and they would still be able to expand comm logs for specific aircraft. However, they would be in a view-only mode, where they can observe all this info but cannot actually send commands. There would also be a button, which the starting controller presses once they feel they know what is going on, and ready to start controlling. Once they press this button, they would be changed into the screen of an active controller, and the previous controller’s session would be terminated.
This would allow for more seamless controller changes from both the pilot’s and the controller’s view. Obviously, this wouldn’t be anything easy to implement, but it would, in my opinion, significantly improve the realism, as well as the experience for both pilots and controllers. I’m looking forward to hearing your opinions on this idea down below! :)
Extension to the previous request, this system could pave a way for an observer system: