Academy Failures - Listen Up!

Stinger

Epic Member
May 24, 2009
1,563
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I saw a story posted on here somewhere that one guy got marked off a couple points for sitting too close to the instructor. Ended up failing the course by half a point or less.

I am also a enroute washout (.31%) however i have all my notes and information from my personal folder that can give some insight on if anyone has any questions. (I also got .44% taking off for sitting to close to the Rside, which is always a fun error. Thanks perry ann)
 

RVG86

Junior Member
Mar 19, 2012
132
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If you were ever taught something that seemed sketchy by the instructors all you had to do was look it up in the SOP they gave you on day one. The correct answer was always spelled out and broken down barney style in there. There were plenty of times the saltier old raytheon guys told us to do dumb stuff and we would just nod our heads, do it like they said, and look up the correct way later. All the training materials at the academy are published by the FAA so if there was any doubt in your mind on what you were being taught you could have just looked it up on your own. And if I remember correctly, the day before all the evals one of the graders comes and breaks down the grading process for you and answers any possible questions you could have.

I was pretty upset at how silly the academy was as well when I left but in my experience they do a pretty solid job of weeding out those who don't belong. Of the three we lost, two of them basically gave up after non-radar and the other said straight up "I let the pressure get to me". Which is from what I can gather is the point of the graded evals. There is no way to simulate the pressure of talking down a pilot caught in the middle of a thunderstorm with emergency fuel or what ever other situation you may experience in the field realistically. So instead they put the pressure on you by overwhelming you with mundane tasks and grading your every move to see how you handle it.

From day one I went in there with the mindset of "this is just a big dumb game". I played the game, got pissed off at the game many times, but in the end I played by their dumb rules and won the game. The kind of people who whine about how tough the academy is are the same ones who try to join a frat and then cry cause they are getting "hazed" and get the whole frat shut down.
 

JamesEarlJones

Senior Member
Jan 9, 2014
258
17
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Im still at a loss of what techniques would cause you to lose points. Controlling is based on rules, you follow the rules. So what kind of things were the instructors saying that caused you to lose points. There have been no clear examples given. I mean a pointout is a pointout, giving control instructions to a transferring facility is standard, etc. From my OKC experience, I would say yes, if I controlled like that in the real world the sectors around me would be laughing at me. Move this guy and this guy cause they may hit in 20 minutes...not gonna happen. Take the handoff fix it down the line. But, OKC was a game to be played, and you needed to figure it out to move on the the next level. Then when you get to your facility you are thrown into another game, that being DYSIM at your facility. Things work down there that don't work upstairs (lack of wind) etc. but you figure out how to get it done down there. Then you move upstairs and the game is now real, but you apply what you learned through these other games to be the master at your craft.

The part where you are task saturated in OKC and that would never happen in real life is where I lost sympathy for these guys in the thread. I have worked plenty of sessions with lines of thunderstorms rolling in, where every line we have is calling me, the D-side, the R-side is talking non-stop, they have no time to answer a line, we have a tracker behind him whose sole purpose is to keep 2 planes from colliding, and as the D-side you are on the line 99% of the time giving and taking point outs, taking handoffs on guys you have no idea where they are going as they have deviated so far off their flight plan, getting thrown in and out of holds to so many different airports you have basically no idea what is open. Rerouting planes from closed airways/gates to open ones, and then back again as a new cell pops up and the old one moves off the arrival. Then figuring out what the R-side did while you sorted out 100 other messes, and figure out where your traffic is deviating to now, and who you need to point out etc. And you are still expected to not miss a point out, to not forget to hand someone off, and to not take handoffs that are in conflict with traffic (imminently in real life). Task saturation is over your head, but that doesn't matter, because even though you have 1000 things to do, you know your priority of duties, and get them done in the most efficient order. If you think techniques caused you to lose points, I find it hard to believe. If you missed pointouts, handoffs, took conflicting traffic, used poor phraseology, or any combo of the above, I dont want to train you in my facility. If the reason this happened was because of nerves, I don't want you to train in my facility. There is no room for someone who cracks under pressure. We will just be sending you out after another wasted 2-3 years. Find me someone who can get done, so I can have a weekend off for once.

This was the most beautiful thing ever written on stuckmic but true. I have very little sympathy for anyone that washes out at the academy.
 

Heatwave

Newcomer
Jun 10, 2015
14
0
1
Seattle
The part where you are task saturated in OKC and that would never happen in real life is where I lost sympathy for these guys in the thread. I have worked plenty of sessions with lines of thunderstorms rolling in, where every line we have is calling me, the D-side, the R-side is talking non-stop, they have no time to answer a line, we have a tracker behind him whose sole purpose is to keep 2 planes from colliding

I lost respect for this thread when you said you use trackers.

but seriously, this entire thread just sucks. people should reapply to the academy. that is one way to redo it.
 

VikAnis

Trusted Member
Apr 23, 2013
478
1
18
N. Cali
Glad, I came across this thread. Very interesting insights from many of you. I will be studying my butt off before and at the academy. I was shocked by some of the attitudes a few other people have had in other threads as far as studying and preparing. Things like, oh they will teach you at the academy, etc. Seams to me, that you better learn anything and everything you can before you get to OKC and then focus on the things you did not learn on your own at OKC. Its like filing a flight plan without checking the weather or NOTAMS. Yes, things can/will change at OKC in a heartbeat and things can be done differently but having a good understanding of the basics BEFORE you are in the hot seat is better then learning the basics and then all the things you haven't learned at the same time. Hopefully, I have what it takes.
 

deltabravo89

Senior Analyst
Mar 11, 2010
1,011
0
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Glad, I came across this thread. Very interesting insights from many of you. I will be studying my butt off before and at the academy. I was shocked by some of the attitudes a few other people have had in other threads as far as studying and preparing. Things like, oh they will teach you at the academy, etc. Seams to me, that you better learn anything and everything you can before you get to OKC and then focus on the things you did not learn on your own at OKC. Its like filing a flight plan without checking the weather or NOTAMS. Yes, things can/will change at OKC in a heartbeat and things can be done differently but having a good understanding of the basics BEFORE you are in the hot seat is better then learning the basics and then all the things you haven't learned at the same time. Hopefully, I have what it takes.
Its just unnecessary though. They give you more than enough time to study and figure out what you need to do(their way). Good for you if you study before you get there...but better be sure you are studying up to date and correct info. The academy is its own little world. When you get there...it does as its told(you). They didn't even hand out 7110 to us. They didn't care what the book said. You do it THEIR way. So, personally, if I were you, I'd do nothing.
 

rogersjf

Trusted Contributor
Mar 11, 2009
656
9
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New Jersey
I am going to interject my opinion on this matter about the grading at the academy. As stinger did say that someone did lose .44 points for sitting to close to the R side and that someone was this guy. See image below;

Seats.jpg

So for everyone that says it is all in the SOP's and LOA's etc. I would have to disagree. Being that I washed out by .31 that sitting to close really comes back to bite you. However my gripe is that all of these finals should be recorded and a second person should also take a look at what the grader says on their notes. Many people know or do not know that there are two forms that the graders fill out, one being the calculation of the final score and one of their notes. However when you sign the grade sheet you do not see what they note on their sheet, this is where the issue really comes in to play in my mind. (I will connect this at the end)

These notes are attainable via freedom of information act (only for yourself as they are part of your OPM record). This may have changed in the past 4 years, as back in the day many washouts got their sheets together and compared the evaluators notes and deductions. There were many discrepancies with in the sheets and notes specifically a few graders. (It was quite hard to match up due to the variations of the the problems (ABCD etc.)


The issue in my case was the grader (named in a previous post) specifically said;

"If i was sitting on the R-side I would have felt very uncomfortable if that was me, although I did not take any points off for that"
**Side note she asked the R-Side and he stated that I was fine where I was located**

The issue is that a federal employee who was deciding my future stated that she did not take points off for something and how would I know be cause the sheet that I did sign only had the added up errors. Surprise surprise there it is right on her notes, once I got my sheets under the FoIA request. This error was completely not air traffic related and was a personal opinion in the judges mind, you cannot have a system which is currently in place that has no recourse for the graders.

One more gripe I had that really fucked up my problem and really was the tipping point 3/4 of the way through. Prior to your test day AS will come in and ask if you have any questions before the final about the procedure etc. Are class asked about Navaids and can you work with your R-Side to obtain the correct one. He said no problem you can ask your R-Side (Of course the first I had one that we never used in any problems in the lab) Unfortunately, my grader stopped my R-Side mid sentence and told him that he could not answer that and he asked why not, looked up at the board above and just typed the wrong thing. (11 Pointer for that one) Who knew that 4 other people had the same problem and had help from the R-Side and their grader did not care. Also did not use the word radial on one part and got a 7 pointer.

I am not gonna sit here and bitch though, it is what it is and nothing I can do about it, not gonna say I had the best final day. Just giving some examples of what really got me good with one grader (It was the difference between 69.69 and a 74.09 on those three above errors) With that said took the At-Sat the other day as I still have an open bid available as my last one was on a CTI bid.
 

JamesEarlJones

Senior Member
Jan 9, 2014
258
17
18
Grading is subjective in the field too ;-) You aren't supposed to grade technique but it happens all the time.
My sup may not like my sequence.... effective traffic flow is not maintained... but the truth is he may have just done it differently.
Personal opinions and personality conflicts affect training outcomes ALL the time....
 

Ram_Tough

Trusted Contributor
Jul 5, 2010
638
9
18
I feel for ya man that's a bullshit hit but you gotta look at it like the whole Patriots deflategate thing. Yes, the Patriots cheated but, the Ravens didn't play a spectacular game either. What could you have done to make those .33 points a non issue? Good luck on the OTS bid.
 

RomeoNovember

Senior Analyst
Sep 26, 2009
944
4
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USA
How does it work for CPC's that bid from tower to Enroute and fail OKC Enroute training? Do they go to NEST, back to your previous facility, or is it pass/pass for CPC's?
 

lowapproach

Epic Member
Oct 29, 2010
1,316
33
48
WV
Very understandable however the academy is no where close to the field, it is a system that needs to be changed and was recommend very much so by FAA's own independent study;

https://www.faa.gov/news/updates/media/IRP Report on Selection Assignment Training of ATCS FINAL 20110922.pdf
The panel's recommendations seem to be today's Academy, only longer and somehow better. I don't know what would constitute an Advanced En Route Training option at the Academy, or how you would get FAA OJTIs in from the facilities to teach it when just about everywhere is hemorrhaging CPCs while trying to move real airplanes.
 

NovemberEcho

Epic Member
Dec 8, 2010
4,388
68
48
Long Island
Grading is subjective in the field too ;-) You aren't supposed to grade technique but it happens all the time.
My sup may not like my sequence.... effective traffic flow is not maintained... but the truth is he may have just done it differently.
Personal opinions and personality conflicts affect training outcomes ALL the time....
You don't get fired though.
 

Stinger

Epic Member
May 24, 2009
1,563
22
38
If you go from tower to an up/down you go back for RTF. I wonder if they give us the option?
I think it'd be pointless to go back to OKC as a transfer to a center. Every center does their own classroom training and is made to train people. No sense learning something that will give you a minimal boost.
However, it would be a fun vacation.
 

Apes

Rookie
Sep 18, 2014
32
0
6
My instructor played on his phone and did crosswords in between radar runs and taught us absolutely 0 unless we initiated the conversation and came up with scenarios ourselves (even then he would at most nod his head and act as if we were bothering him). He about got fired a couple times for doing so, but continued to do it anyway and the students are the ones that end up paying the price. Obviously, a big part of the academy is how much time and effort you are willing to put in, but with instructors like mine it makes an already difficult process nearly impossible. Most of the time he spoke with us between runs was when he was asking us for answers to his crosswords.
 

duranme

Senior Analyst
Nov 3, 2009
920
13
18
BUR
My instructor played on his phone and did crosswords in between radar runs and taught us absolutely 0 unless we initiated the conversation and came up with scenarios ourselves (even then he would at most nod his head and act as if we were bothering him). He about got fired a couple times for doing so, but continued to do it anyway and the students are the ones that end up paying the price. Obviously, a big part of the academy is how much time and effort you are willing to put in, but with instructors like mine it makes an already difficult process nearly impossible. Most of the time he spoke with us between runs was when he was asking us for answers to his crosswords.
So he did the standard amount... not everyone is lucky enough to get trainers/instructors that go above and beyond.