The Negativity of the “Testing Culture” in IFATC Tracking Threads

I’ve noticed in recent IFATC tracking threads and sessions (including my own) that players come in and try to “test” the skills of up-and-coming controllers by flying badly - like lining up with the wrong runway, intentionally crossing hold short bars, intentionally taxiing through grass, flying improper pattern altitudes etc. - and then saying in their feedback that the mistake wasn’t caught.

This is behaviour that would not be tolerated on Expert, and from what I’ve heard, in the IFATC practical, everyone is expected to fly responsibly.

If an authorised trainer or supervisor wants to test something specific during the practical, it’s their call.

But other players flying improperly and then calling out IFATC trainees for not catching that “mistake” is rather detrimental to developing ATC skills, in my opinion. The purpose of controlling is ensuring safety, not micro-managing every aircraft, especially in a busy environment.

So this is just a request for anyone participating in IFATC tracking threads to stick to regular flying - requesting transitions, runway changes, pattern entries, and so on. Leave the advanced “purposefully making mistakes” testing to the testers/trainers - that’s what they’re there for.

I’m sorry if this insults anyone or is unwarranted, and feel free to close this topic if anyone feels so. We’re all living and learning, and I just felt this needed to be put out there and addressed. Thanks and have a great day!

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Honestly, those kinds of players literally grind my gears when doing TS ATC, which is why I never post tracking threads here, at least for me!

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I’m with you on this one. I’ve become increasingly concerned by “trap-setting” lately, which is often just a distraction from the real learning which needs to take place - good sequencing, situational awareness and hazard perception. Yes, testers occasionally do things to ensure these qualities are present, like extended runway occupation, but taxiing through the grass and then complaining it was missed is just poor piloting.

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I disagree I believe its better to over train and see every single mistake then scrap at the bare minimum, I agree people shouldn’t be lining up on the wrong runway but I think its better to test the smallest of mistakes and have something to learn from then have a boring session.

I had a session with 12 people in the pattern not long ago yet I still caught people out for taxiing in the grass, its good practice of spacial awareness and what comes later on down the IFATC line…

As Guxk once said he wouldn’t send his trainees out with the bare minimum he would make sure they were the best possible controllers.

I find I go to a lot of sessions on the IFC and try as much as possible to make the experience as hard as possible, ready for the Practical!

Let me know your thoughts I’m intrigued!

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Fair point, but IFATC should be responsible for training those controllers and ensuring they are controlling to the best of their ability, the last thing we need is pilots flying around trying to find faults in ATC so they can post on the forum and complain about how the controller didn’t tell them to go around or something like that.

The last thing a controller needs is people purposely working against them, in fact proof of conduct like this should resolve in a violation for the pilot.

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I don’t know about you but thats a fairly big issue. You would fail your practical for that. I am all for testing capabilities.

I don’t see why you need to take it personally, you are the one who created your Tracking Thread you should be open to Feedback :)

And it has before you can always contact @moderators if you have an annoying troll however I wouldn’t call a pilot trying to test you a troll, its okay to get things wrong, thats how you improve :)

Just some context on that last post: I myself am not a controller. I only do flying. It’s just disappointing watching people try to tear apart controllers for little reasons etc “not handing me off to frequency” Not telling aircraft to around is a big deal but sadly it happens to much.

Fair, but I just feel that it’s gotten to a point where opening a tracking thread has become more about intentionally making mistakes and calling them out instead of checking core controlling skills like sequencing, handling transitions/departures/pattern work, and situational awareness.

As a result, IFATC prospectives end up confused about whether someone is a troll or not, and end up focusing on micro-managing aircraft instead of ensuring good situational awareness of their airspace as a whole. Which then compromises their core learnings/concepts as good ATC controllers.

I’ve just seen too many posts or feedback saying “I went into the grass and you didn’t call me out on it.” On Expert - and the practical - pilots would be trying to avoid doing things like that. So it creates kinda an unrealistic scenario there.

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I absolutely agree this is important! However it’s about how you manage this under stress, the reason I taxi through the grass is not because I go yippee I am a lawnmower but instead to tell the person they clearly aren’t looking around enough and purely focusing on the radar, spacial awareness is very important in IFATC and you should never trust your radar too much when managing ground aircraft…

Simple answer learn to do both, don’t get caught up with sequences and clearing people late do it on crosswind and then as they are all in order focus on ground actions, the best controllers aren’t the ones who focus on one frequency but learn to manage them all well. We don’t mean to make your life difficult we are just keeping a watch out. I have gone to probably nearly 100 IFC sessions and never has a controller who has been able to micro-manage ever failed their practical, all have passed first time, its about making it as hard as possible so in the end its easier!

It’s not about the actual scenario we are testing but your spacial awareness and how you deal with the scenario. Your thought process what steps you take following it. Controllers think ahead and controllers act decisively its all a test!

Let me know your thoughts Sooraj, interested in your side! Blue skies Bud! :)

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The trainee will make enough mistakes as is. We wouldn’t even do any of the things listed in a official IFATC training session. We may test you on go arounds, but that should only be carried out under the guidance of a Trainer in a official session.

Just fly normally, follow all the instructions (they will make no sense most of the time, just follow them all), request 1-2 runway changes, land, park, provide feedback.

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I’m not saying go on the grass what I am saying though is the reason people go on the grass, would you not say Trio spacial awareness is a key things for all controllers doing multiple things at once perfectly. The practical test is made up of how many Pilots? 4 or 5? It doesn’t prepare you for what’s coming down the road. I would be much more grateful being told small mistakes now and be able to provide a tip top service for busier airports. When I go to a thread my plan isn’t to make someone pass their practical but to make someone pass their practical and go further and further.

Take Edoardo_C for example he could have passed his practical with flying colours yonks before he did but he wouldnt have been ready for the hubs and all other services. And if you look at him now he is an Officer he controlled EHAM for 3hrs yesterday, he is a fantastic controller!

Thats all well and good for ya standard guy but when you were a trainer Trio did you not train your controllers to the highest standard, no use just saying do this, this and this and you will pass. You aim shouldn’t just be to pass a test but develop your understanding more and be ready.

No disrespect intended Kyle, your an ATC Master, just my opinion :)

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Isn’t that why you start out as an apprentice though? At smaller airports.
Someone who’s just been accepted into IFATC would never be allowed to control EHAM, a Bravo airport.

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By spacial awareness, do you mean on the ground or in the air?

You would be surprised how simple IFATC training sessions are on the part of the pilot. Overwhelming someone with unprofessional flying is not an effective strategy to help them improve. We want to prepare them to control on Expert.

What I described is how all of my training sessions played out. The fun portions are when the trainee makes mistakes and they usually make a ton depending on where they are in training.

I have so many “fun” examples, here is two.

Pilot A and B are on downwind. Pilot A is sequenced number 1 for 27L and Pilot B number 2 for 27L. Pilot A is told to extend downwind. The controller never tells Pilot A to turn base. Pilot A and B both extend downwind about 15nms. This is the type of thing that will occur naturally.

Second example. Pilot A is on a 1nm final, pilot B requests runway crossing. Pilot B is told to cross the runway, Pilot A lands causing a conflict.

There’s so many more gems like that, they surprise you.

By acting a fool without being instructed to act a fool you may indirectly get them out of there rhythm and delay their overall progress.

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Absolutely correct! However lets be real, you hardly get any traffic at small airports, I mean when was the last time you flew to a Class Charlie with IFATC?

You get more traffic at your tracking threads then at those airports so you wouldn’t have had much experience my aim is to get the controllers tip top straight after their check ride phase not just as they go along.

Quite a few times actually. When there’s “IFATC At Home” or other “feeder” airports around a hub - those are all smaller airports.
The bigger airports are clearly denoted by a star which are not supposed to be opened by apprentices, in the weekly schedule.
Back on topic though, I’m just saying that controlling on Expert isn’t, as @Trio rightly said, all about looking out for fools who fly unprofessionally. It’s about giving the pros (pros who have been allowed on Expert and not kicked back to Training) a pro service.

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Now will training server pilots make mistakes, yes unfortunately. But that’s just part of that “experience” when it’s not a official session. Not a big deal.

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Ground mainly, don’t you agree trusting your radar on ground is never handy, you don’t get the actual scale of how close the aircraft are. In the air it’s harder to spot aircraft that are on final from Tower.

So you choose to teach them the bare minimum. I wouldnt say thats too effective as well, pilots are trained for every incident that they could come across not just how to push a few buttons.

Isn’t that more of a challenge you have to learn how to get back into rhythm…

I agree. Mistakes are bound to happen on Training.
This thread isn’t about “mistakes” made by Training Server pilots because they didn’t know better though. It’s about people coming in and trying to do things unprofessionally, just to give feedback saying “you didn’t catch me being unprofessional.”
And I just worry that this culture is increasing nowadays, in prospective IFATC applicants’ tracking threads.

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For context, I never use an ATC camera so no, you can still control ground effectively without using a camera, but it’s recommended you use a camera.

As far as training goes, on the ground we’d just be focusing on missing give way commands. Taxi at 10-15knts and wait for them to not catch give ways, which they may not catch them if they’re not proficient on ground. We wouldn’t be focusing on distance to the aircraft ahead nonsense, pilots should just taxi normally and wait for conflicts to occur on their own. If someone accidentally doesn’t maintain a safe distance then they should catch it though, but that should never be done on purpose.

The goal is to get them to know the basics to effectively control on Expert (i.e pass the practical). The rest of their experience will be obtained while controlling on Expert after they pass. We have a team of Supervisors monitoring controllers, providing feedback. People are demoted, removed, retested if they aren’t proficient. So no, that isn’t the bare minimum.

If they are performing perfectly there’s no reason to confuse them with nonsensical stuff. Why crush someone’s confidence if they’re at the end of their training? We’d prefer for them to progress quickly while still maintaining enough proficiency to pass the practical.

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But I’m sure in your experience Trio this isn’t the case, normal Pilots aren’t quite as civilised as you IFATC folks. I am teaching them to think ahead and react to all cases not just wait for it to happen.

So your throwing them in at the deep end, let me give an analogy for that, you are in a single engine plane and lost your engine, figure out what to do you have a yoke and know aircraft physics… I don’t really think knowing your aircrafts capabilities is enough to get out alive. My opinion though, no way criticising your controlling…

Intersting? And roughly how many times does this sort of thing happen where someone isn’t up to standards?

If we go down your route sooner or later their confidence will be crushed later, maybe when it’s too late. Confuse them now so they learn later, isn’t that the way to go?