Mentors/Instructors SOP

Category: ATC TRAINING | United Arab Emirates vACC Policy

This is the standard operating procedures for mentors and instructors at the United Arab Emirates vACC (UAE vACC). This document explains the purpose of a mentor/instructor, duties, and different functions they perform. It sets forth the roles that mentors/instructors can perform and their limitations where necessary. This document is made public to all members and can be reviewed by members, mentors, and instructors. Mentors and instructors at UAE vACC are required to read this document. Students and trainees at UAE vACC are encouraged to review this document so that they have a clear understanding of what they can expect.

In this document, when referring to "ATC training director" it is referring to the UAE vACC ATC training director unless otherwise noted.

All training sessions with a mentor/instructor will be performed on the VATME TeamSpeak server. Training sessions performed anywhere else will not be accepted, unless a written authorization is given by the ATC training director, the vACC director or the vACC deputy director.

For the purposes of this document, "mentor" refers to anyone who is rated between S1 upto C3, and is not rated I1/I3 or higher. "Instructors" refers to any member who holds an I1 or I3 rating or higher and is authorized to perform training sessions in UAE vACC.

 

Table of Contents

 

Mentor/Instructor Requirements

  • Mentor Requirements
    • Have atleast a rating of S2.
    • Have atleast 30 hours in UAE vACC TWR positions on the S2 rating (ATIS + OBS Hours will not count).
    • Participated in atleast 3 events in the UAE vACC in the past 6 months.
    • An active member of the UAE vACC (see below).
    • A member in good standing with VATSIM.
  • Instructor (I1) Requirements
    • Have a C1 rating.
    • Have atleast 75 hours in UAE vACC CTR positions on the C1 rating (ATIS + OBS Hours will not count).
    • An active mentor in the UAE vACC for atleast 3 months.
    • Must take and pass the VATME Division I1 exam.
    • A member in good standing with VATSIM
  • Instructor (I3) Requirements
    • Must hold at least a rating of I1 or  C3
    • Must hold at least 150 hours in their local vACC on their I1/C3 rating as ATC (ATIS + OBS Hours will not Count)
    • Must take & pass the VATSIM Middle East I3 - Senior Instructor Theory Exam
    • Must be familiar with UAE vACC's local procedures
    • An active mentor in the UAE vACC for atleast 3 months.
    • Must take and pass the VATME Division I1 exam.

An active member is a member who controls actively in the UAE vACC and participates in its activities, such as events. The member shows a keen interest in learning and understanding ATC procedures as well as helping other members wherever possible.

The above requirements are the MINIMUM requirement. The UAE vACC reserves the right to reject any application, even if the above requirements are met. Applicants will be notified via e-mail by the UAE vACC ATC training director (or their designee) of the final decision.

The Senior Instructor (I3) rating is administered by the VATME Division ATC Director (or their designee) to members who hold an I1 rating. This rating is typically assigned to the highest ranking instructor in the vACC, usually the vACC ATC training director. It is not a permanent rating and has no additional functions than the I1 rating.

Applicants who were not accepted as a mentor/instructor should not re-apply for at least 90 days unless written approval is given by the UAE vACC Training Director or their designee.

 

Overview

Mentors and instructors at the UAE vACC are non-staff members tasked with issuing theoretical exam tokens, performing mentoring sessions, and signing off students and trainees on their positions. At the discretion of the ATC training director, and on a case by case basis, mentors (rated C3 or lower) can act as the instructor for a controller practical test (CPT). Instructor rated (I1+) members can perform any CPT exams at their discretion. In any case, the decisions made by the mentors and instructors is final unless clear evidence is shown otherwise, in which case the decisions may be overturned at the discretion of the ATC training director.

Mentors can only provide training to members below their rating level OR if the mentor has a sign off for the position. Mentors must use the following method...

  • I am a mentor with an S2 rating, but not signed off on TWR...
    • You can mentor members who are going for their S1 rating or going for DEL/GND approvals
  • I am a mentor with an S2 rating, and signed off on TWR
    • You can mentor members who are going for their S1/S2 rating or going for DEL/GND/TWR approvals
  • I am a mentor with an S3 rating, but not signed off on APP...
    • You can mentor members who are going for their S1/S2 rating or going for DEL/GND/TWR approvals
  • I am a mentor with an S3 rating, and signed off on APP
    • You can mentor members who are going for their S1/S2/S3 rating or going for DEL/GND/TWR/DEP/APP approvals
  • I am a mentor with a C1 rating, but not signed off on CTR
    • You can mentor members who are going for their S1/S2/S3 rating or going for DEL/GND/TWR/DEP/APP approvals
  • I am a mentor with a C1 rating, and signed off on CTR
    • You can mentor members who are going for their S1/S2/S3/C1 rating or going for DEL/GND/TWR/DEP/APP/CTR approvals

The only exception to this rule is for the vACC director or the deputy director. Failure to follow this rule will result in an immediate revocation of your mentor status.

As a mentor/instructor you agree that you will abide by and uphold all UAE vACC policies and procedures, all VATME division policies, all VATAME regional policies, and the VATSIM code of conduct and code of regulations policies. You will at all times, regardless of the situation, remain respectful and helpful to any member or visitor of the vACC. Students are expected to be respectful at all times and follow the same policies as noted. If at any time, the student/trainee is not respectful or causes any issues against a mentor during a session, the mentor/instructor will stop the session and notify the ATC training director.

Mentors and instructors report to the ATC training director, who is responsible to the UAE vACC director and deputy director. If at any time a mentor, instructor or student has any complaints or concerns about ATC training, these should be directed to the ATC training director by opening a support ticket on the HQ system and assigning to the UAE vACC Staff.

 

Exam Tokens

Mentors and instructors will issue exam tokens to students. Exams that need to be re-assigned will be listed at: https://hq.vatme.net/token/pending. Exam tokens are re-assigned automatically by the system every hour. Mentors/Instructors should re-issue any tokens that have the re-assign column as "YES" in case the system has not done it yet.

Regarding re-assignment times the following must be followed:

  • S1 Theory Exam - Can be re-assigned 48 hours after it has been failed.
  • S2/S3/C1 Theory Exams - Can be re-assigned 72 hours after it has been failed.

Follow the UAE training policy which explains which theory exams to assign to students based on their rating and whether they are a resident, visitor, or transfer member. The current UAE training policy is located at https://vatame.org/policy/97

 

Performing Mentoring Sessions

All mentoring sessions are required to be logged into the HQ system. Any mentoring session a mentor/instructor does with a student/trainee that is not logged into HQ will not be accepted and the student/trainee will need to re-do the session. The reason for this is to maintain records and notes about students' sessions so that future staff, mentors, and instructors can always review them to understand how the student is progressing over their ATC career here. It is both the mentor's and student's responsibility to make sure that a mentoring session request has been accepted prior to starting the session.

To accept a training request, visit the HQ system then on the menu click Members > ATC > Request ATC Training. Scroll down on this page and you will find a table listing mentoring requests that have been submitted by students. You can accept the request by clicking "Accept Request" on the far right column. Some requests may have notes that the member may have left regarding the session. It is recommended that you read all the previous mentoring session logs for the student so that you understand where the student is in their learning path.

Most changes that are necessary after accepting the mentoring session can be added as a comment in the mentoring session log. If you need to cancel the session, there will be a button on the mentoring view page to "Close Session". If the time changes, you can leave a comment in the mentoring session to note the change in time. Otherwise, you can close the session and ask the student to re-submit it with the new date/time and pick up the session again. 

During the student's first session, go over their theory exams if they have taken any for their current rating/position. Only review questions they answered incorrectly, unless the student has other questions. Once done, the session can continue.

For those members rated as S1 and higher ratings, the mentor/instructor should go online with the student on the position and observe their controlling. If there is not sufficient traffic online for the session, switch to Sweatbox using the UAE vACC Sweatbox scenario files for the session. Sessions should test students ability to handle traffic under stress. A majority of the material is for the student to self-study and understand before coming to the session. Provide any helpful feedback as they are controlling and answer questions that the student will ask, but not to the point of distrupting their control. If a student makes a mistake or says something wrong, wait until after the student is finished before letting them know what they did wrong and if corrective action is needed. Mentors should log in with their callsigns having an _M_ in between the original callsign, for example OMDB_M_APP. The student should log in with the actual callsign of the position, for example OMDB_APP.

For those members rated as OBS, they will not be able to log into the VATSIM network online as a controller - this is blocked at the network level. As such, you should do a Sweatbox session with simulated traffic. Once you have finished the mentoring session for OBS rated members and they have understood how to use Euroscope, mentors need to file a support ticket on HQ to the UAE vACC staff and request an upgrade for the student to S1. You can also schedule multiple sessions at the same time for OBS rated members - similar to a "classroom" session and explain Euroscope functionality as well as ask each student to read clearances/taxi instructions to check their phraseology.

ALL MENTORING SESSIONS SHOULD HAVE THE POSITION "CHECKLIST" ATTACHED IN THE MENTORING SESSION LOG. Information about Checklists are explained in the below section.

For mentoring sessions, you can wait for a total of 15 minutes for the student, before the session is considered cancelled due to "no-show" unless you have already talked to the student/trainee about it. Once a mentoring session is complete don't forget to go back into HQ, leave comments about the session, add the vACC checklist and close the session. If the session is for a student going for TWR+ and it was a Sweatbox session, remember to add the video link AND the Sweatbox file name that was used from the UAE vACC site.

Remember: Mentors and instructors are only here to observe the student, provide feedback, and make sure the student understands the different procedures on the position. The student's job is to make sure they do the reading and read all necessary SOPs and other reading material that is provided BEFORE they come to the session. The mentor's job is not to re-teach the material that is already explained in the SOPs and reading materials unless the student has questions or is confused regarding certain parts. In most cases, for those rated S1 and above, you will simply go online with the student and observe them handling traffic.

 

Checklists

The UAE vACC ATC Checklists are used during any kind of mentoring session or practical tests for an approval/sign-off. The checklists apply to all resident and visitor controllers in UAE vACC. The purpose of the checklist is to ensure mentors/instructors are using a standardized training scheme and that all students are taught the same core concepts. ALL MENTORING SESSIONS SHOULD HAVE THE CHECKLIST ATTACHED IN THE SESSION LOG. This is effective from June 10, 2017.

The checklists have a scoring system out of 3 as defined below...

  • 0 - Unable to perform the action
  • 1 - Major issues performing the action
  • 2 - Minor issues performing the action that can be improved with further practice online
  • 3 - Perfect, no issues observed

If the session is for solo validation, approvals/sign off, or CPTs then the following are the cut-off for passing...

  • 70% - Solo Validation approval
  • 75% - Controller Practical Tests (CPT)
  • 80% - Approval/Sign off on a position

For those members who are Observer (OBS) rated and going for their Student 1 (S1) rating, they will be exempt from the scoring criteria. Mentors, however, will use the checklists as a guide as explained above.

Mentors will attach the checklist to the mentoring session log for the student to review at the end of their session. The checklists are in a Microsoft Word (docx) format and can easily be copied and pasted into the mentoring session log. In the word document, CTRL+A to select everything and copy it with CTRL+C. Then on the mentoring session log press CTRL+V to paste it. 

Students should review the feedback and work to improve it to a perfect score. As a general note, failure is a part of learning and it should not be used as a sign for not wanting to be an ATC. If any member puts in the time and effort, it is not difficult to be and progress as an ATC in the UAE vACC.

Checklists are available on the UAE vACC website, under the table "CharSceCtor" -> "Miscellaneous". They are named...

  • S1/DEL-GND Checklist
  • S2/TWR Checklist
  • S3/DEP/APP Checklist
  • C1/CTR Checklist

The checklists shall not be modified in any way unless permission is granted by the UAE vACC ATC Training Director or their designee.

 

Solo Validations

Solo validations can only be given for APP and CTR positions - those who are S2 and going for their S3 or C1 ratings. Solo validations in the HQ system are assigned by I1+ members or the vACC staff. If you are a mentor and need to assign someone to solo validation, submit a ticket on the HQ system and assign it to the UAE vACC staff with the request.

 

CPT - Controller Practical Tests

CPTs are online/Sweatbox practical tests for a controller who is going for their next rating.

CPTs can only be given by members who have a higher rating than the student. If you are a mentor, and feel a student is ready for their CPT then you must send a support ticket on HQ to the UAE vACC staff with the student's name/CID. A reply will be given whether it is approved or not, including when to schedule the CPT. Students rated OBS and going for their S1 rating do not need a CPT; CPT is only for those going for S2 and higher.

If the CPT was done by a mentor (not instructor), then the report must be sent to an Instructor-rated member OR the UAE vACC staff through the HQ support ticket so that they can file a request for a rating upgrade to the division. The report must contain the following information...

  • Student CID
  • What rating the CPT was for?
  • Date/Time of CPT
  • Position (OMDB_APP....etc)
  • # of departures handled
  • # of arrivals handled
  • Notes (each aircraft that the student had any difficulties with and what that difficulty was. Ex... UAE123: forgot to identify yourself to him on departure)
  • Final recommendation - whether the student has passed or not based on the above

It is recommended that the CPT exams be online on VATSIM and not on Sweatbox. If a CPT is done over Sweatbox, the log (including voice communications) must be sent to the ATC training director for records. Failure to have the log for a Sweatbox session (including the voice communication) will not be accepted.

 

Approving/Signing off a Controller

Setting approvals and sign offs for members on the HQ can be done by visiting the vACC page on HQ, https://hq.vatme.net/vacc/OMAE , scroll down to find the table with the list of members. Find the member who you want to set approvals for and click the link under the column "Approved For". On this page you will be able to "Approve" and "Sign Off" members. Approve means the member can control those positions and the sign off section is ticked for positions they have been signed off for. A member may be approved for DEL/GND/TWR but the sign off may say DEL/GND. This is fine and means the member has not received a sign off on TWR yet and will need that before they can proceed to their next rating/position.

A sign off should only be given after the student has spent a significant amount of time on their current rating/position controlling various types and amounts of traffic. Observation requests will be evaluated and students are expected to do many observation requests over time which shows them handling various types of traffic (IFR, VFR, emergency, etc.) and amounts of traffic. A sign off is an indication that the student can perform fully at their current rating/position and can handle virtually any scenario properly. The ideal way to give a sign off is if the student practices for some time, gets evaluated on a observation request or online session, receives the feedback and goes back to practice for several weeks before the next request. Best times to be evaluated are if the student records the observation request during an event or is watched by a mentor during an event for an online session. Events produce a lot of traffic and different scenarios for the student to go through; Sweatbox sessions can also be an alternative, however, only use Sweatbox if online is not an option.

Remember, if you are a mentor then you should only approve/sign off members who are BELOW your rating level, unless you have a sign off on that position.

 

Supervisor Broadcasts

If approving a member on a position of TWR or higher and the member has a rating of S2 or higher, you can request a VATSIM supervisor to do a broadcast for you and refer to it as a "checkout" exam. For example, if there is a visitor controller who is already rated S3 and they are going for an online session to be approved/signed off on OMDB_APP, you can do a WALLOP and ask to send out a broadcast for a checkout exam happening for Dubai Approach. 

Ex: .wallop Requesting a broadcast for a OMDB_APP checkout for Dubai Approach.

If a member is going for a CPT exam for their next rating, you can do a WALLOP and ask for a broadcast be sent out for a CPT exam.

Ex: .wallop Requesting a broadcast for an S3 CPT happening on OMDB_APP at Dubai.

In certain cases, the broadcast may be rejected if you are not rated I1 or higher. This is fine and you should not argue with the Supervisor and continue the session. 

 

Sweatbox Scenario Files

If you will be doing a Sweatbox session with a student then you must use the official Sweatbox scenarios from the UAE vACC website. Any scenario file used besides the ones on the UAE vACC website will NOT be accepted and the session will be nullified. 

The scenario files can be found on the UAE vACC website. Navigate down to the "CharSceCtor" table and go to the Miscellaneous tab. Files containing the sweatbox scenario will have "Sweatbox" in the name.

These scenario files should be used when doing sign off or mentoring sessions on Sweatbox on the VATSIM network.