29 November 2020
Effective 01 December 2020 a new global ATC policy takes effect that will change the experience for both pilot and air traffic control members.
This policy titled “Air Traffic Control Frequency Management and Information Policy” cancels the old Global Controller / ATIS Information policy and provides Air Traffic Controllers the means to take further advantage of Audio for VATSIM’s capabilities to provide a more realistic simulation for both pilots and air traffic control. This policy will allow controllers to operate secondary frequencies for large airspaces allowing them to simulate frequency changes as pilots fly across their airspace, and out of range of transceivers.
Implementation of this policy and adaptation by local facilities is a large change towards more realistic operations for the controller as well as the pilot. Pilots may now receive frequency changes from air traffic controllers that may not appear in their pilot clients. These frequency changes are valid, but we can understand how it may be slightly confusing.
As a result, local facilities that wish to use multiple frequencies for their lateral splits must now publish their lateral splits and assigned frequencies in an easy to identify manner on their websites and must provide ATC services on their primary frequency as a backup if communications are adequate.
Please reference the policy found at vats.im/atcfmp attached FAQ for some answers to general questions. If you are a local ATC facility and need further clarification on the policy, please reach out to your division leadership.
Join us in welcoming the next step in the evolution of VATSIM and the Audio for VATSIM technology!
I am a pilot, why do I care about this policy?
This new policy enables Air Traffic Controllers to use more than one frequency to control larger airspaces such as centers. We are used to seeing the controllers frequency in our pilot client’s ATC list, but now you may be instructed to contact a frequency that is not in this list.
Does this policy mean that I can provide top-down ATC to control Approach, Tower, and Ground on their charted real-world frequencies?
No, this policy allows for multiple frequencies for “Lateral Air Traffic Control” with some exceptions made for top-down ATC in cases of temporary relief. While opening every possible frequency you could control top down sounds fun, it ends up becoming too much to manage and can really confuse pilots.
Why does this policy only allow for lateral splits to operate multiple frequencies?
Audio for VATSIM simulates radio range and signal degradation. For example, as an aircraft flies east to west across a large airspace, they will fly out of range of radio towers on the east side of the airspace and thus must be changed to frequencies for a set of towers on the west side of the airspace. At a specific aerodrome, however, an aircraft on the ground would be in range of the radio towers for delivery, ground, tower, and departure and thus need not change frequencies for radio reception. The real world consolidates frequencies whenever possible and to avoid extra confusion or task saturation, we are only allowing multiple frequencies for lateral splits.
I’m working tower and my ground controller needs to step away temporarily, can I work his frequency?
Yes, this policy allows for limited use of multiple-frequency top down control in situations exactly like this. What cannot be done is a single controller working multiple top-down frequencies with no other controllers online.
Working multiple frequencies as an air traffic controller sounds more complex than I would like. Is this something I must do?
No. While providing this service enhances realism for both pilots and controllers alike, the final decision as to whether to provide service on multiple frequencies rests with the individual Air Traffic Controller. No one can require you to provide this service.