Q: I just joined VATUSA and ZMA. How do I get started?
A: First, welcome! We are excited to have you join our community. Our goal is to help everyone have the best experience possible while participating in this pastime. This involves a careful balance between realism and fun. First, carefully begin to review Miami vARTCC policies, procedures and training materials. This includes our Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Letters of Agreement (LOAs) with other regions and Controller Downloads. Begin to familiarize yourself with airport charts, maps and related resources that deal directly with our ARTCC. Do not focus solely on Miami (KMIA), as there are many fields within our region you will virtually step foot in and should be ready to control.
Q: I have reviewed all of the Miami vARTCC materials. What’s next?
A: All new members to the ARTCC are required to complete the Miami Basic/SOP Exam before starting training. This is an OPEN BOOK assessment on the material noted above, so use the available resources as you need them! This exam must be passed with a score of 80% or above to qualify to begin training. it is based on the resources. The content is designed to ensure you have the fundamental knowledge necessary to start moving forward down the path of controller at ZMA. Instructional Staff Members are available to answer any questions you may have about the material before you take the exam. Please note you have seven (7) calendar days to complete the exam once assigned.
Q: Being new to ZMA, can I begin training before I pass a written exam?
A: VATSIM Miami ARTCC’s Training Program consists of two methods of competency checks: theoretical and practical. The theoretical competency checks are performed through written exams, with practical checks are performed through Over-the-Shoulder Exams (OTS) or Performance Verification Exams (PVs). Prior to beginning training on any position, you must pass the theoretical exam for that respective position. For example, if you wish to begin training on Miami Tower, you must first pass the ZMA Tower written exam.
Q: I have passed the Miami Basic/SOP exam! How do I begin training?
A: After you have successfully passed the Miami Basic/SOP exam, you can head over to the Training Booking System to request training. Be sure to review the TBS Student Guide for help with starting this process! If you are an individual who is requesting Visitor Status or a Transferee, a PV is required before your application will be approved. Please e-mail the Deputy Training Administrator to coordinate scheduling.
Q: What happens if I fail an exam while at Miami, may I retake it?
A: Whether the Miami Basic SOP Exam or the Miami Tower Exam, in the event you have not achieved a passing score of 80% or higher, you will have to wait one (1) week before attempting it again. If your exam was the VATUSA S1, S2, S3 or C1 exam a different reassignment timeline may apply. You can then e-mail your Instructional Staff Member and request reassignment. Remember, only attempt the assessment once you are prepared! Remember that VATUSA exams focus on broader concepts where ZMA exams focus on our ARTCC procedures. While all exams are OPEN BOOK, Instructional Staff Members are available to answer any questions you may have about the material before you take it.
Q: Can I use vSTARS or EuroScope at ZMA?
A: There are a wide variety of approved radar clients within the world of VATSIM. However, to ensure needed flexibility with providing quality top-down service, Miami vARTCC focuses on the utilization of the VRC ATC Client. If you are having issues configuring this software, review the VRC Setup Guide. Other programs can be used in accordance with VATSIM policy, but they are not necessarily supported by our Facility Engineer. Only VRC may be used during Training Sessions.
Q: Am I assigned a trainer or get to choose myself?
A: ZMA does not assign Instructional Staff Members to specific students. To increase the availability of our training team to meet the needs of the community, students are encouraged to seek training from a variety of trainers. That being said, you can use the appropriate menus within the Training Booking System to identify sessions by staff member.
Q: I will learn everything I need to know during training sessions, right?
A: The short answer…no. Our goal is to help everyone have the best experience possible while participating in this pastime. This means independent work is is an absolute necessity. The value of your own reading of materials, your own observations of other controllers and your own practice cannot be overstated. Students should monitor others on the live network, control online whenever possible and operate a wide variety of fields throughout the ARTCC. Individuals who sit at Miami International Airport looking to only control when they have 40 planes arriving routinely find themselves challenged because they do not have the needed practical experience.
Q: I have been recommended for an OTS! What happens now?
A: In an effort to ensure fidelity when it comes to student instruction, ZMA vARTCC prohibits an Instructional Staff Member from completing an Over-The-Shoulder Exam (OTS) for a student if they handled more than 50% of their training. We look for another set of eyes to be evaluating the controller during this period of time, providing a necessary new perspective to ensure the individual is ready. Therefore, this requires advanced planning by the student. They will need to provide a list of dates/times they will be available for an OTS. The trainer recommending them for the exam will notify the Training Division, who will then contact the student once it has been scheduled. Booking is confirmed through the Training Booking System. Exceptions to these requirements exist permanently for the ATM, DATM, TA, DTA and for others on a case-by-case basis.
Q: What are minimum hours?
A: In accordance with Miami Standard Operating Procedures, we have an expectation on all controllers that they will be active. Individuals should plan to control, on the network, at least a minimum of 3 hours or more per calendar month. Should an individual fail to meet this requirement, the Administrative Team reserve the right to remove the controller from the ZMA Roster. It is everyone’s personal responsibility to ensure compliance with this requirement. Given the wide variety of options that exist, claiming a lack of training availability will not be accepted as a valid excuse. If you believe you may be in danger of not meeting the requirement, have followed all instructions but still cannot obtain training, e-mail the ATM, DATM, TA and DTA immediately.