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Controller: I'm a controller, why should I register and login?
Do I have to register on this site to take a test?
Do I need to book or schedule the tests?
Do I need to take the VFR tests before the IFR tests?
How do I take a test?
I'm a pilot, why should I register and log in?
I passed the test. Why hasn't my result been posted yet?
Is there a good or bad time to request a test?
What about the PRC?
What aircraft should I use for the tests?
What ATC needs to be available to take a test?
What frequency should I use to contact ATC?
What happens after the test?
Why can't I see the I-10 and I-11 ratings?
Why is the Los Angeles ARTCC giving these tests?
Why should I do any of these tests?

Controller: I'm a controller, why should I register and login?

All ZLA controllers should register with the site, as registration is required to be able to submit pilot test results.  All controllers should be familiar with this site, and how to administer a test.

In addition, registration will give controllers access to additional material required to conduct the tests, such as rating-specific testing notes and additional FAQ items.

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Do I have to register on this site to take a test?

No, registration is NOT required to take a test.  Registration does have other benefits, though, including the ability to see customized information based on your preferences. In addition, if you elect to receive emails, you will receive notifications about new ratings and events that match your interests.

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Do I need to book or schedule the tests?

At this time, there is no formal scheduling of the tests. If the required ATC is online (see the rating documentation for your phase's ATC requirements), simply connect to the network, position your plane appropriately and ask the controller if he's able to accommodate your checkride.

ATC will need to pay more attention to you than usual during the test, in addition to providing the usual array of services. The extra attention is needed to see if your ground track matches what is expected for the rating, along with compliance to altitudes and speeds (if any).  The controller will also be able to provide helpful hints, particularly in the VFR and early IFR phases.

For this reason, if the controller deems his workload is too high to be able to accomodate a checkride, he will let you know.

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Do I need to take the VFR tests before the IFR tests?

Yes. In the real world, pilots learn how to fly under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) before being trained under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). There are many skills that are learned during VFR training that are very relevant to IFR pilots, such as how to fly a standard traffic pattern.  Many is the time we have seen "IFR-only" pilots that can only accept 15 mile finals to an ILS approach.  The prospect of having to fly their aircraft visually, or follow another aircraft that's on final is not something they're comfortable with.

By starting off with VFR, pilots are more likely to become comfortable with how to actually fly their plane.

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How do I take a test?

See the "Taking the Tests" link in the site navigation on the left.

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I'm a pilot, why should I register and log in?

When you register, you'll have an opportunity to fill out some basic profile information that allows us to learn about the type of articles and events you're interested in.  This will be of use in several ways:
  • We will email people whose are likely to be interested in upcoming events, or newly published articles (for those who elect to receive emails as part of their registration)
  • We can customze each user's experience on the site in real-time, based on their preferences
Lastly, and most importantly, there are additional ratings that are viewable only to those that have passed the I-9 rating. The system will only show you those ratings if you have registered and logged in.

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I passed the test. Why hasn't my result been posted yet?

After you complete a rating, the on-duty controller enters your name/rating into the system on a workload-permitting basis.  A site administrator receives email notification about the submission and then takes manual steps to have your name updated on the roster. This process is not yet automated, so a reasonable delay is to be expected prior to seeing your name up in lights.

Bear in mind, you do NOT have to wait for the result to be posted before moving onto the next rating.

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Is there a good or bad time to request a test?

Generally speaking, if LAX_CTR is online with no other supporting ATC, and the frequency is jammed with traffic for long periods of time, that's an indication that the controller might be too busy to accommodate the test request. It's always ok to ask for a test, though, as the controller is more aware of his his workload and capacity than someone who isn't watching the same scope. A pilot should not be offended or put off if the controller says "unable."  If the test request is denied, the pilot is ALWAYS welcome to conduct the flight (be it VFR and IFR), and should expect to receive adequate levels of service, just like any other pilot.  It's just that the controller may not be able to pay the extra attention required to see if the flight is being conducted to the Practical Test Standards.

Experience has shown that pilots have avoided requesting a test because they suspect ATC is too busy.  Don't be shy about asking if the controller can accommodate the test, that's the only way of knowing for sure.  Spikes in radio comms are often just that...spikes.  Just because a controller sounds busy for 2 minutes, doesn't mean that he/she (oh, who are we kidding? he...) won't be less busy a few minutes from now.  Often times, the controller even KNOWS that it will be quiet in a few minutes from now, so go ahead and ask. Or, if it's your preference, simply wait for a little while and see if the situation improves before making your call.

If an approach controller is online, it's more likely that he will be less saturated than a single LAX_CTR controller, so one would expect fewer pilots being turned away for ratings under those circumstances.

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What about the PRC?

VATSIM's Pilot Resource Center is a fantastic written resource that covers the basics of installing the required software, obtaining an account, connecting to the network, and has a steadily increasing amount of written resources for flying on the network.

As that content becomes available, we hope to link to the appropiate sections to provide additional references to our existing material.

The ZLA Pilot Certification system allows pilots to obtain ratings as they undertake a series of increasingly complex flights, gradually introducing them to more complex concepts in a very practical and interactive environment.

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What aircraft should I use for the tests?

This is entirely up to the pilot.  However, a recommendation is provided as part of documentation for each rating.

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What ATC needs to be available to take a test?

The ratings have differing requirements in terms of the presence of ATC, ranging from only from tower service all the way up to center service.  The best way to find out if there is adequate ATC for a rating is simply to ask.

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What frequency should I use to contact ATC?

Specific frequencies for the ATIS, ground and tower frequencies are not referenced anywhere on this site. The reason for this is that, unlike the real world, VATSIM controllers are not online at regularly scheduled times. For this reason, there's a hierarchy of positions that control lower positions when those lower positions aren't online. What does that mean? Well, if SNA_TWR isn't online, for example, then SNA_APP serves that role (as well as being an approach controller). If SNA_APP isn't online, then LAX_APP covers SNA_APP (and below). If LAX_APP isn't online then LAX_CTR covers that position.

So, listing the specific frequency woudn't add much value, as on a given day, the correct person to call will change depending on who is online at the time. This is also explained in more detail in the VATSIM Pilot Resource Center. The correct procedure is to determine which ATC positions are staffed at the time of your flight and then call the appropriate controller.

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What happens after the test?

If you pass the test, the controller will submit your name into this site, and your rating will be updated on the ZLA pilot roster page.  Be advised, there will be a delay between the controller submitting the test result and your name appearing on the page, so don't be concerned if it takes some time to appear.

If you still need more work to pass the rating, the controller will let you know what aspects of the flight needed more work and weren't in line with the Practical Test Standards for that particular rating.

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Why can't I see the I-10 and I-11 ratings?

The I-10 and I-11 ratings are only viewable to ZLA controllers, or to registered pilots that have completed the I-9 rating.

Note: If you recently completed the I-9, are listed as an I-9 on the site, and still cannot see the I-10 and I-11 ratings and you are logged in, then use the Feedback link on the left to contact an administrator, and the situation will be resolved swiftly.

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Why is the Los Angeles ARTCC giving these tests?

There are really three factors that motivated us to take some action around pilot training:

  1. ZLA is a busy place.  Through first-hand experience, the controllers here have come to realize how challenging it can be to work a sky with 25 aircraft on the frequency when a handful of those pilots are not comforable with even the most basic procedures.
  2. We believe pilots hold ZLA in high regard and would be interested in receiving some direction about improving their performance in the sky
  3. Quite simply, we thought a large number of pilots would enjoy the process.  It's always fun to fly with a purpose, and earning a rating while you fly approaches can be a lot of fun!
VATSIM is working on a pilot training program, and may well honor the ratings being issued by this site.  This will be determined once VATSIM has rolled out its own initiative.

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Why should I do any of these tests?

If you're just getting started on VATSIM, these tests provide a structured environment for you to learn about how to get the most out of flying on VATSIM.  The network can be a little intimidating at first. There's frequently a sense of "what should I do now?" when pilots first join up.  Much of the time, new pilots pick overly complicated aircraft and attempt to undertake fairly complex Instrument Flight Rule (IFR) flights on Day 1, often with discouraging results. This program starts with the basics, and gradually introduces more complex concepts, providing the pilot with the information they need to conduct any flight that might take their interest in the future.

This program allows intermediate pilots to broaden their horizons and try some procedures they haven't done before.

VATSIM is all about providing as realistic an environment as possible. Controllers go through a significant amount of training before they can provide service to pilots.  This program is an opportunity for pilots to raise their game.

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Related Materials
VATSIM Pilot Resource Center


This site is NOT affiliated with the FAA, the real Los Angeles ARTCC or any of the Airlines listed. The information contained in this site should NOT be used for real world navigation.

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