|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||1801 To 2400|
|Locale Reference||atc facility : pmd|
|Altitude||agl bound lower : 0|
agl bound upper : 0
|Controlling Facilities||tower : zzz|
|Affiliation||government : faa|
|Function||controller : radar|
|Qualification||controller : radar|
pilot : instrument
|Experience||controller radar : 11|
flight time total : 300
|Affiliation||government : faa|
|Function||oversight : supervisor|
|Qualification||controller : radar|
|Anomaly||other anomaly other|
|Independent Detector||other controllera|
|Resolutory Action||none taken : anomaly accepted|
|Consequence||faa : investigated|
|Air Traffic Incident||other|
|ATC Facility||other physical facility|
procedure or policy : unspecified
On may/xa/97 during the end of the watch in area C, the asic attempted a logical to physical reconfign of the vscs. The sector 37 vscs position was being moved to the sector 19 vscs position and the sector 19 vscs position was being moved to the sector 37 vscs position. This is a normal action when sectors are combined up before the next shift in area C and involves a routine entry in the supervisor's vscs terminal. On this occasion the vscs computer would not allow the reconfign to take place. When the asic could not complete the reconfign, he requested assistance from the amic. Neither the amic nor a vscs cadre instructor could make the vscs computer accept this normal and routine reconfign. A controller in charge was then put in charge of area C. Sector 19's vscs position was left at sector 19 and the controller's call forwarded from sector 37 to sector 19. This left the vscs position in an unusual confign. Sector 19 is normally a low altitude sector which is combined at low altitude sector 20 for the next shift. Then high altitude sectors 37, 39, 40, and 60 are moved to sector 19's physical position in NAS. With the vscs confign the controllers were forced to use on may/xa/97, other controllers needing to accomplish coordination with the low altitude sector 19 (which was combined at sector 20), would instead reach the high altitude sectors when they called sector 19. This led to some confusion on landline calls. We have all been trained that during vscs operations you call the sector you wish to coordinate with, without regard to where the sector is physically located. This took a little time to get used to at first, but now is routine in the ARTCC operation. At this time, sector 39 had not been moved to sector 19 and the controller in charge discussed ways that we may be able to move the sector down. We needed to do this to accommodate the next shift which only had 2 people assigned. We could move sector 37 to sector 39, but sector 39 did not have sector 37's frequencys available and we could have a coverage problem. If we moved sector 39 to sector 19 we would not have sector 39's frequencys and again we would have a coverage problem. If we moved sector 39 to sector 19 and used sector 19's frequencys, sector 20 would not be able to cover all of the low altitude sector 19's airspace with its frequencys. At this time the next shift's amic came in and after some period of time managed to accomplish a temporary modification of sector 19's vscs map, by adding both of sector 39's frequency sites and 2 landlines to ZAB. This allowed the sectors to finally combine up, but it did not change the coordination problem. The amic had to go to each area at ZLA and inform them of the coordination problem and the new requirements. These actions and the amount of time that they took to accomplish are unacceptable. This was not the first time that the vscs has acted this way and in the past even the individuals responsible for vscs maintenance could not correct the problem. As I recall on these other occasions, it 'took care of itself' later on during the shift. As of this time there does not appear to be an explanation for this. The vscs obviously should not be behaving in this manner. Our management personnel who have been trained on this equipment should not be having these problems. The individuals responsible for vscs maintenance should have answers and correction for these problems when they occur and should be available at all times to assist in correcting and diagnosing any problems. We should never hear that computer software sort of fixed itself. The safety of the flying public is dependent on the correct operation of the vscs equipment and the vscs' reliability should never be in question. In resolution of this, the entities responsible for vscs should correct these problems and provide a detailed report to FAA fully explaining the reasons the vscs equipment was behaving in the manner it currently is. If the problems have been caused by FAA personnel using the equipment incorrectly, each person responsible for the operation of the vscs equipment and the operations involved in confign, should be required to recertify on the equipment.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: ARTCC RADAR CTLR COMPLAINT ABOUT PROBS WITH THE VSCS SYS DURING SECTOR RECONFIGN FOR THE NEXT SHIFT. RECONFIGN COULD NOT BE ACCOMPLISHED IN A NORMAL WAY AND EXTRA WORKLOAD WAS IMPOSED ON THE CTLRS. A UCR WAS FILED, BUT NO RESOLUTION HAS BEEN FOUND FOR THE PROBS.
Narrative: ON MAY/XA/97 DURING THE END OF THE WATCH IN AREA C, THE ASIC ATTEMPTED A LOGICAL TO PHYSICAL RECONFIGN OF THE VSCS. THE SECTOR 37 VSCS POS WAS BEING MOVED TO THE SECTOR 19 VSCS POS AND THE SECTOR 19 VSCS POS WAS BEING MOVED TO THE SECTOR 37 VSCS POS. THIS IS A NORMAL ACTION WHEN SECTORS ARE COMBINED UP BEFORE THE NEXT SHIFT IN AREA C AND INVOLVES A ROUTINE ENTRY IN THE SUPVR'S VSCS TERMINAL. ON THIS OCCASION THE VSCS COMPUTER WOULD NOT ALLOW THE RECONFIGN TO TAKE PLACE. WHEN THE ASIC COULD NOT COMPLETE THE RECONFIGN, HE REQUESTED ASSISTANCE FROM THE AMIC. NEITHER THE AMIC NOR A VSCS CADRE INSTRUCTOR COULD MAKE THE VSCS COMPUTER ACCEPT THIS NORMAL AND ROUTINE RECONFIGN. A CIC WAS THEN PUT IN CHARGE OF AREA C. SECTOR 19'S VSCS POS WAS LEFT AT SECTOR 19 AND THE CTLR'S CALL FORWARDED FROM SECTOR 37 TO SECTOR 19. THIS LEFT THE VSCS POS IN AN UNUSUAL CONFIGN. SECTOR 19 IS NORMALLY A LOW ALT SECTOR WHICH IS COMBINED AT LOW ALT SECTOR 20 FOR THE NEXT SHIFT. THEN HIGH ALT SECTORS 37, 39, 40, AND 60 ARE MOVED TO SECTOR 19'S PHYSICAL POS IN NAS. WITH THE VSCS CONFIGN THE CTLRS WERE FORCED TO USE ON MAY/XA/97, OTHER CTLRS NEEDING TO ACCOMPLISH COORD WITH THE LOW ALT SECTOR 19 (WHICH WAS COMBINED AT SECTOR 20), WOULD INSTEAD REACH THE HIGH ALT SECTORS WHEN THEY CALLED SECTOR 19. THIS LED TO SOME CONFUSION ON LANDLINE CALLS. WE HAVE ALL BEEN TRAINED THAT DURING VSCS OPS YOU CALL THE SECTOR YOU WISH TO COORDINATE WITH, WITHOUT REGARD TO WHERE THE SECTOR IS PHYSICALLY LOCATED. THIS TOOK A LITTLE TIME TO GET USED TO AT FIRST, BUT NOW IS ROUTINE IN THE ARTCC OP. AT THIS TIME, SECTOR 39 HAD NOT BEEN MOVED TO SECTOR 19 AND THE CIC DISCUSSED WAYS THAT WE MAY BE ABLE TO MOVE THE SECTOR DOWN. WE NEEDED TO DO THIS TO ACCOMMODATE THE NEXT SHIFT WHICH ONLY HAD 2 PEOPLE ASSIGNED. WE COULD MOVE SECTOR 37 TO SECTOR 39, BUT SECTOR 39 DID NOT HAVE SECTOR 37'S FREQS AVAILABLE AND WE COULD HAVE A COVERAGE PROB. IF WE MOVED SECTOR 39 TO SECTOR 19 WE WOULD NOT HAVE SECTOR 39'S FREQS AND AGAIN WE WOULD HAVE A COVERAGE PROB. IF WE MOVED SECTOR 39 TO SECTOR 19 AND USED SECTOR 19'S FREQS, SECTOR 20 WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO COVER ALL OF THE LOW ALT SECTOR 19'S AIRSPACE WITH ITS FREQS. AT THIS TIME THE NEXT SHIFT'S AMIC CAME IN AND AFTER SOME PERIOD OF TIME MANAGED TO ACCOMPLISH A TEMPORARY MODIFICATION OF SECTOR 19'S VSCS MAP, BY ADDING BOTH OF SECTOR 39'S FREQ SITES AND 2 LANDLINES TO ZAB. THIS ALLOWED THE SECTORS TO FINALLY COMBINE UP, BUT IT DID NOT CHANGE THE COORD PROB. THE AMIC HAD TO GO TO EACH AREA AT ZLA AND INFORM THEM OF THE COORD PROB AND THE NEW REQUIREMENTS. THESE ACTIONS AND THE AMOUNT OF TIME THAT THEY TOOK TO ACCOMPLISH ARE UNACCEPTABLE. THIS WAS NOT THE FIRST TIME THAT THE VSCS HAS ACTED THIS WAY AND IN THE PAST EVEN THE INDIVIDUALS RESPONSIBLE FOR VSCS MAINT COULD NOT CORRECT THE PROB. AS I RECALL ON THESE OTHER OCCASIONS, IT 'TOOK CARE OF ITSELF' LATER ON DURING THE SHIFT. AS OF THIS TIME THERE DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE AN EXPLANATION FOR THIS. THE VSCS OBVIOUSLY SHOULD NOT BE BEHAVING IN THIS MANNER. OUR MGMNT PERSONNEL WHO HAVE BEEN TRAINED ON THIS EQUIP SHOULD NOT BE HAVING THESE PROBS. THE INDIVIDUALS RESPONSIBLE FOR VSCS MAINT SHOULD HAVE ANSWERS AND CORRECTION FOR THESE PROBS WHEN THEY OCCUR AND SHOULD BE AVAILABLE AT ALL TIMES TO ASSIST IN CORRECTING AND DIAGNOSING ANY PROBS. WE SHOULD NEVER HEAR THAT COMPUTER SOFTWARE SORT OF FIXED ITSELF. THE SAFETY OF THE FLYING PUBLIC IS DEPENDENT ON THE CORRECT OP OF THE VSCS EQUIP AND THE VSCS' RELIABILITY SHOULD NEVER BE IN QUESTION. IN RESOLUTION OF THIS, THE ENTITIES RESPONSIBLE FOR VSCS SHOULD CORRECT THESE PROBS AND PROVIDE A DETAILED RPT TO FAA FULLY EXPLAINING THE REASONS THE VSCS EQUIP WAS BEHAVING IN THE MANNER IT CURRENTLY IS. IF THE PROBS HAVE BEEN CAUSED BY FAA PERSONNEL USING THE EQUIP INCORRECTLY, EACH PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR THE OP OF THE VSCS EQUIP AND THE OPS INVOLVED IN CONFIGN, SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO RECERTIFY ON THE EQUIP.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of July 2007 and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.