A way to guarantee ATC coverage for your flight?

Most of us want to fly with as much ATC coverage as possible for our flights but other than short flights between stations manned right now I find it tricky to plan a flight that I’m confident will have ATC coverage. . .

How about a tool that could provide suggested airport pairings that will have the most ATC coverage from departure to arrival, using ATC booking data?

  • You’d define a departure time, preferred flight duration and an aircraft type

  • It would suggest departure airports with Del / Ground / Tower cover based on your departure time

  • Approach/Tower/Ground based on your ETA (based on your aircraft type and departure time)

  • en route cover that would be between the 2 stations above during your flight time

The output would be several route suggestions from and to various airports that would be staffed accordingly; even if that facility is not online now, if it will be online when you get there (or are transitioning that airspace) it could be suggested.

I feel like the confidence of coverage would enable us to plan flights our earlier, I could plan an evening flight much earlier in the afternoon - if there were a similar ability for controllers to see where the demand was they could also respond accordingly to staff up positions that would likely be busier and more engaging for them too.

I would certainly find something like that useful and wondered what folks thought?


Hi Andy,

vroute used to do this, but sadly it is no more :frowning:

What I can suggest is trying out Qutescoop. It is an old program, but luckily one of the old developers has returned and keeps improving it again.

Qutescoop will show you the current state of VATSIM (ATC+pilots) on a worldmap and it can also show you all the ATC booking data in tabular form and as well on the worldmap.

Why not give it a try? I use it all the time and it helps me taking a decision where to fly on VATSIM.

The idea to save historic ATC activity data and show it on the map as probability is a great idea. I shall take it to the developer of Qutescoop.

1 Like

Thanks Andreas,

Just to be clear this wouldn’t be historic ATC data, it would be positions actively booked for the period that the planned flight would be operating. I will definitely give that program a look though.


I had thought that using CPDLC could guarantee coverage by introducing a vController to act whilst no real controller is present. A relatively uncomplicated speech recognition logic could provide taxi/takeoff/climb/cruise/descent/landing/taxi responses whilst ATC n/a and then require return to real frequency when entering controlled airspace.

Hi Andy,

we already have this, as mentioned above. The issue with this is that by far not every virtual ATCO books his session in advance. In Central Europe the usage of ATC bookings is quite good, but in many other regions the uptake is not that high. Some ATCOs argue they cannot plan their presence ahead and/or that they do not wish to commit to a certain time frame. We have had huge discussions about this in the past and everybody is entitled to his own opinion, so I do not wish to discuss the pros and cons here.

For example in Qutescoop tonight’s ATC booking status for 2030z looks like this:

Maybe you will see now why including (recent) historic ATC activity data can be of good use: members tend to open their sectors/airports on the same weekdays, on average. If a specific sector/airport was online on a certain weekday during a certain time period for the last few weeks or evens months, the chances are quite high that this will be the case as well during the upcoming time period on that day. That’s why such data can be useful.

1 Like

Hey Andreas,

Sure I understand a bit more now.

I was considering that pilots tend to follow where the Air Traffic Control (ATC) is located. If it’s easy to determine ATC availability, pilots might plan their flights accordingly. For instance, if they were informed that booking a flight an hour ahead of time instead of 15 minutes increased the likelihood of having ATC coverage, many would likely opt to file earlier.

Additionally, I thought that if ATC knew where the demand was likely to be, they could respond accordingly. For example, if pilot bookings indicated that routes between London and Germany were expected to be busy (due to both locations having Tower coverage for a sufficient duration), it could prompt the opening of Delivery and Ground services there, as well as en route centers for London, France, Belgium, etc.

Consider the scenario where you have the option of manning the Western France center or the Eastern France center. If the booked traffic volume indicates higher demand in Eastern France, you would be more inclined to open that sector. Conversely, if many Portugal stations were online, you might find yourself just observing aircraft flying outside of your sector.

The primary goal is to enhance the visibility of likely available ATC services, enabling individuals to plan their flights more effectively. While the human factor of advanced bookings might remain a challenge (barring historical activity insights), I believe it could subtly influence controller behavior. Utilizing a tool that takes booked positions and provides suggested routings and timeframes may create a steady flow of traffic. This approach contrasts with the current pattern where activity likely starts quietly and gradually ramps up as pilots become aware of online controllers and adjust their routes accordingly. Given the time it takes to set up flights, minimizing this lag could significantly improve the overall efficiency of the system. There’s nothing worse than logging on to a manned airport (specifically because it’s manned) only for it to close before you’ve managed to get away - likewise for the en route and arrival stations…

Demand induced controlling does happen rarely. It is usually the other way around: when ATCOs open airports on a regular basis and provide reliable services, they will generate more traffic for that airport and for that region.

When I fly online I usually decide where I fly from and to on the go, based on the active ATC data and on the booked ATC information. I prefer having ATC on arrival over having ATC for departure.

But would you say the process of establishing who is or will be online for an arrival is not particularly straightforward? I know the data is available - but it requires a bit of mental agility…

1 Like

Current and ATC booking information is there, members simply need to have check one of the various programs or websites.

There is a new ai driven atc app out there called SayIntentions. Many think it could be integrated with MSFS. I think it could be a great complement to VATSIM if they could figure out a way to integrate it.

I think there may be a misunderstanding - my goal is to work out whether a tool that could suggest routes to the pilot that based on actual and booked ATC positions, would have ATC cover for the majority of the flight, would be useful or not.

This isn’t about the end goal of having the ATC - it’s about establishing if this tool is something that would be useful.


I am sure there would be a number of members who would find this useful. Maybe it’s worth approaching the Simbrief-team and suggest it to them?

I personally do the maths in my head after looking at one of the ATC activity maps that are available and in combination with ATC booking data I can quickly choose what route I want to fly.

My suggestion is based on the ATC actually online when you need it, rather than when it was planned to be online when you were planning the flight. I suspect that your suggestion could often lead to frustration as the length of a flight increases and reallty intervenes.

Let’s hope that some of these ideas stand up to serious consideration

Hmm, e.g. in Qutescoop I can see all the ATCOs who are active at the time and I can also lookup who has booked his position to see until what time they will be online, or longer. Based on the combination of this information I can take an informed decision. I thought that this was clear? In Europe the ATC booking discipline is really good and chances are very high, that bookings will be honoured. So I do not see how this could lead to any frustration!?

If you do not pursue this idea and e.g. submit it to the Simbrief team, nothing is going to happen. Developers do NOT read this forum here.

As Andreas said,
it’s rather a “If you staff it, they will fly it” then a “If you fly it, they will staff it” world.

Many moons ago when I was controlling and flying on IVAO, I ran a tool that saved the whazzup file every other minute, put it into a database and calculated the odds for any recent active position to be open in the future.
The assumption was, that if a position, say Frankfurt Approach, was online every friday between 1800 and 2000z for 6 weeks in a row, chances are rather good it’ll be open the same time in week 7.
Back then this was statistical probabilties, nowadays this is called AI…

I like the idea of suggesting this to Simbrief/Navigraph. Just remember this is a ton of data to download, and process…



@1094897 I’m so happy you bring up this topid, 'cause I agree 100% on everything you’re saying!

I don’t know if the VATSIM telegram bot for ATC that just came online is still a thing?

I agree to someone who said he’d rather have ATC on arrival than on departure if he had to decide between those two options.
On most flights, I just have ATC on departure, because in lesser popular VACCs, ATC tend to schedule less sessions.
This makes me end up flying to the same 20 airports over and over again, while I got ~100 airports to fly to.
I even decide to buy or not buy payware addon airports upon the fact if it has regular scheduled ATC sessions.

ATC Scheduling is a great tool if everyone used it.
I think many ATC only use it to reserve a station over other Controllers that may want to control that specific position at the same time.

I’ve created a personal google calendar just for ATC schedulings, where I visualise the available ATC on every evening:

Challenge is, that you need to know which ATC logon covers which airports (having an Excel sheet for that matter really helps).

It’s so sad that scheduling sessions is just mostly a european thing. I mean, members from other continents and regions don’t get called by their boss or real life friends to show up to work or to hang out asap more than european members?

Would be soo helpful, especially for long range flights. :frowning:

I had contact with a VATSIM member back in December about a replacement tool for vPilot to at least predict the likelyhood of having ATC. He’s still got the code for this and the knowledge on how to do it but he (neither do I) hasn’t got a server to run this (creates about 1.5 GB of data flow per day).
EDIT: Ralph commented just at the time I was writing this comment :smiley:

IMHO, raising awareness that scheduled ATC sessions attract pilots is the key to make more ATC use of it (and the availability of data on which ATC logon covers which airports)!

Very nice! This is exactly what vroute used to do as well. I’d say that downloading the VATSIM data file every 10 or 15 minutes would be completely sufficient to get a precise enough sample of ATC activity data and then output statistics.

hi there…yep allways nice to have atc 24/7 but sometimes its nice to use own initiative when no service …thank goodness for good old 122.800

Hi Ralph,

I think you’re right about the ‘if you staff it they will fly it’ - it’s about improving the visibility (maybe accessibility is a better word) of what will be staffed.

If you improve that accessibility, I can’t help but feel the result would be better for ATC too.

If a pilot knows that Edinburgh and London will be staffed they might fly it. If they only know that Manchester and Bristol are staffed right now they might fly that much shorter route instead. Meanwhile Edinburgh and London ATC come online but aren’t used. To top it off Bristol might go offline while the pilot is en route!

It’s about trying to give pilots some visibility and sureity. And I think it pilots have that, ATC can benefit too. The more one has, the more the other benefits.

I’d almost go so far to say that if you consider a VATSIM event is the opposite of ‘if you staff it they will come’ - it works - wow a lot of pilots are planning to fly between here and here in this date, I’ll staff up X position because I know there will be plenty to do…

1 Like