VATSIM is looking forward to welcoming you to the next bi-annual Cross The Pond event, which takes place on Saturday 14th November 2020.

Cross The Pond has been a VATSIM tradition for many years, and over this time it has grown in popularity, making it by far the busiest day in the VATSIM calendar. This growth has also brought challenges for controllers, pilots and the organisers alike. It is obvious that our community wants the event to continue, so for this reason we are making some changes to the event, which you can read about in the five sections below.

 

1. Slot allocation

For the first time ever, the organisers of Cross The Pond will be trialling a lottery system rather than slots being allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. The present system has always been controversial, with pilots rushing to grab slots, technical issues making certain pilots unable to book their slot in time, as well as pilots in certain time zones having a natural advantage when aligned to the times that slots are released.

In an effort to make it more fair for our users and put less strain on our web systems, we are changing the way event slots are assigned.

Once the booking opens, you will be able to select your three most preferred city pairs, as well as your two most preferred departure time slots. Note that you are not able to select the same option twice in either category.

When the bookings close, the responses are processed in a randomized order and bookings will be allocated by matching your selected preferences to currently available slots.

NOTE: Applicants unable to secure a slot for this year’s event will be given priority booking for future events!

 

2. Flying without a slot

In previous events, flying without a slot has become the norm for many pilots and non-event Oceanic positions have been staffed where resources are available to provide a service to as many pilots as possible. However, with the event continuing to grow in size and resources in Oceanic airspace continuing to be stretched, it is obvious that continuing to encourage this will make the event less enjoyable for all participants.

Therefore, we have decided that we need to focus our Oceanic resources to provide the best service possible, so for this event we are asking you to refrain from flying transatlantic if you do not obtain a slot for the event. We cannot enforce this – because as usual, all VATSIM pilots are welcome to fly where they wish, when they wish. Even so, it is important that our community understands that we will not be able to cater for pilots without a slot in the oceanic airspace, and as such, ATC coverage can not be provided for non-event participants, and pilots flying without an event slot may face extensive delays on the ground and in the air. By choosing to fly in a different part of the world on this date, you will help to balance the workload on our controllers and reduce overall congestion - making this event more enjoyable for all parties.

 

3. Oceanic Separation Methods

In order to align with modern current procedures and to reduce workload, we will be trialling ADS-B separation during Cross The Pond in Gander and Shanwick OCAs. [This is already simulated in Iceland, New York and Santa Maria] This means that we will simulate each aircraft automatically sending its position and other information as they do in the real world, although for the purposes of VATSIM this will be done as normal through the FSD architecture. This means that controllers will be able to see where you are, your speed, flight level and estimated progress and thus position reports when on the NAT will not be required. This will free up Oceanic track frequencies for invoking separation, flight level changes and other requests. In addition, ADS-B allows the applied separation between aircraft to be significantly reduced, increasing the capacity on the NAT-tracks. Oceanic clearance will still be required and will be completed via the NATTrak tool, which will be explained in an upcoming video.

 

4. Pilot capability

Cross The Pond is an exciting and immersive event, and we have many VATSIM members who we look forward to welcoming on the 14th November.

This event looks set to be extremely busy with thousands of pilots attending the last event, so it’s critical that controllers have enough capacity to handle traffic efficiently.  Therefore, it is important to note that you may not get the enjoyment you were expecting out of this event if you are a brand new VATSIM member who is still learning the ropes. Section B(8) of the VATSIM Code of Conduct sets the minimum requirements for what instructions must be able to comply with; for this event we also require pilots to be able to:

  • File, understand and fly a compliant transatlantic flight plan
  • Route direct to waypoints which may or may not be in the pilot’s flightplan
  • Fly published and unpublished holding patterns if instructed

We will have Supervisors online throughout the day to assist members – they will provide support to anyone who needs it. Their priority, first and foremost, will be to help any pilot who is having difficulty. However, where the pilot is in busy airspace, Supervisors will need to also consider the strain on the controller and enjoyment of other pilots, and may recommend continuing the coaching offline. Your assistance and compliance to these instructions are appreciated.

 

5. Community Discord Channels

The Marketing & Communications team have created exclusive Cross The Pond channels, where you can communicate with other event participants and receive critical information directly from the planning team.

If you haven’t already, join the official VATSIM Community Discord at https://community.vatsim.net, and grab the Cross The Pond-role in the #role-selection channel.

 

These new guidelines are implemented to ensure everyone will have the best experience possible. We are expecting substantial traffic for this event, and the planning team are working hard with controllers and pilots to make sure everything will go as planned on November 14th.

Event bookings are set to open October 28th at 20:00z, and any changes to this will be announced on the VATSIM Social Media channels, as well as in the #ctp-announcements channel on the official VATSIM Discord. The bookings will be open for 7 days, before closing on November 4th.