From the Desk of VATUSA1

Don Desfosse

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Re: From the Desk of VATUSA1
« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2016, 12:35:48 PM »
Many folks have seen the recent thread in the VATSIM forums where a member (not in the USA), after an absence from controlling, was put on a waiting list for recertification before he could control again.  It's been over 4 months, and he's been told to expect many months more wait time.

As you can probably gather, that is baloney and would never be tolerated in the USA. 

Of course, the thread degraded to the typical argument of "well he needs an OTS to make sure he knows current procedures and is still good quality" vs. "he should have priority and they should ensure his checkout or even just acknowledgement of a read file of recent changes happens within a week" vs. "GRP says no one needs any checkout ever". 

As I've said many times, the art and science of improving this hobby is through a growth of good quality people, and more of them online and participating every day.  There is a balance -- a sweet spot -- required between quality and quantity and speed.

I've been invited to a very small working group that will be looking into inconsistencies between GRP and local policies that require an OTS/refresher when people return from an absence.  I'll be pushing for any new policy to respect the delicate balance.

Just know what my expectation is in the USA for members returning from a short absence:
1. Significant airspace/procedure/regulation/SOP/LOA changes should be called out to members' attention on each facility's forums (or equivalent), and should be a running update.  For example, many facilities in the USA have a "Read File" of significant changes (e.g. airspace/procedure/regulation/SOP/LOA).  Active and returning members should be pointed to that forum.
2.  Less than six months, they are directed to read/understand any updates (per #1, above) and they get right back in the saddle. 
3. Over six months, they are directed to read/understand any updates (per #1, above) since they last controlled, and depending on their experience level and prior quality, *may* (not must) do a brief mentoring session to ensure they still have what it takes.  For less than one year away, this is not thought to be a full-up recertification and OTS, just a quick and informal "do they still have it" check.  The TA should, on a case-by-case basis, weigh the certification level, experience level, prior performance (if known), amount of time away, etc. of the controller when determining whether the performance verification is required.
4.  Any return to service briefing/checkout should be accomplished within 10 days of the member returning, and should take priority over new students.  I know that may not ALWAYS be possible, but it should be possible at least 95% of the time.

I'm open to discussion on these points, and will take your discussion and opinions with me to the working group.  But just know that my main point for writing this quick note is to ensure alignment within the USA Division and to ensure that the garbage that is currently being written about in another VACC/Division will NEVER happen here in the USA.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2016, 04:34:26 PM by Don Desfosse »
Don Desfosse
Director, VATUSA

Don Desfosse

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Re: From the Desk of VATUSA1
« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2016, 11:09:29 AM »
Thanks to all who attended the VATNA Town Hall Meeting last night.  Just a reminder that the next VATUSA Town Hall Meeting is scheduled for Sunday 9/25 at 8:30pm EDT, 7:30pm CDT, 6:30pm MDT, 5:30pm PDT, 4:30pm AKDT, 3:30pm HDT, 26 Feb at 0030Z, etc. -- pick your favorite time zone.  We'll catch up on some of the things that have been going on within VATUSA as well as at the network level, talk about the Division's strategic vision going forward, plans forward, etc.  You'll also get a chance to meet Ira Robinson, our new Deputy Director.  Look forward to "seeing" and talking to as many folks as possible!
Don Desfosse
Director, VATUSA

Don Desfosse

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Re: From the Desk of VATUSA1
« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2016, 08:57:25 AM »
Thanks to all who attended the VATUSA Town Hall Meeting last night.  I hope it provided everyone with a decent picture of our recent accomplishments and activities, who we are, what we look like now, and most importantly, where we want to go in the future. 

I've attached the slide deck to this forum post for folks that could not make it. The key, to me, is on slide 17.  We want to grow our online presence through each facility having a wonderful culture centered around fun, team, family and excellence that leads to improving the retention of the skilled and talented students and members that will give us the biggest return on investment (controlling time, instructional time, leadership, etc.).  Learning to control well and/or fly well takes a great deal of self-investment, and investment from others, in time, coordination, brain cells, etc.  People won't want to make that investment, initially and continually, unless they know there's a personal payback in that investment.  That may be the knowledge that they've become a good pilot and/or controller, especially as validated by certifications, feedback from others, etc.  But one thing, in addition to the promise of certifications/feedback/validation, that is so absolutely key to people wanting to stick out the investment of time, training, testing, etc. is the magic within a facility.  If the facility doesn't have a culture of fun, team, family and excellence, people won't want to be there.  The magic is an important part of the payoff, too.  Being able to share in a facility where the magic exists, being able to share the magic, is an important part of what makes us choose this hobby over community basketweaving, croquet, or any other. 

Does your facility have the magic?  Does your facility inspire such a sense of community that people, pilots and controllers alike, WANT to be in your teamspeak to control, fly, and also chat with each other as friends and members of a tight, fun community?  Does your facility leadership inspire a fun atmosphere where the magic is and is shared with new and existing members alike?

If not, it's time to fix that, find new leadership, or find a facility that "gets it".  Since I want to ensure that fun, magical, passionate experience exists in every facility within the Division, and across the whole Division, people moving is my last choice.  I'd like to see the leadership and membership of every facility accept the challenge and rise to the occasion!  Find your inner passion for a great, fun, team/family atmosphere within every facility, and share it with everyone, not just the old-timers that have already "made it", but with everyone, past, present and future, associated with the facility!
Don Desfosse
Director, VATUSA