Albuquerque ARTCC

Air Route Traffic Control Center

Controller Policy Manual

Last Updated: 2020-09-20 00:19:16


This document contains important policies, procedures and regulations that are common to all Albuquerque ARTCC controllers, staff and visiting controllers. Failure to abide by any material contained in this document could be grounds for disciplinary action. This document is goverened by VATUSA Division General Policy DP001 B.1-2.

Roles and Responsibilities

This document shall be maintained, revised, updated or cancelled by the Air Traffic Manager (ATM). Should any part of this document conflict with a VATUSA, VATNA or VATSIM policy, those policies shall supersede this document.


This document is intended for use by any individual who is a member of the Albuquerque ARTCC, and shall serve as a reference for said members. This document is also intended for use by the staff members of the Albuquerque ARTCC in maintaining an entertaining, friendly and fun environment consistent with the goals and visions of VATSIM (Aviate. Educate. Communicate.) All members should be familiar with this document (and all ZAB policies), and should exercise their best judgement when encountering situations not covered by these policies.


Controller Login Policies

Position Staffing

Every position within the Albuquerque ARTCC is open on a "first come, first served" basis. If the position a controller wishes to control is already occupied, then another position should be found. Controllers should ahere to the following guidelines regarding position staffing.

  • Controllers may not log into a position above their current rating and/or certification unless for training purposes when supervised and monitored by a member of the training staff, or when holding and utilizing a solo certification in accordance with VATUSA Division Training Policy 3120.4A.1-4.
  • Controllers should make every effort to work with the training staff in allowing a position to be vacated when requested for the purpose of training/use of solo certification.
  • Controllers should be aware of scheduled events and vacate their position per section 6.3 of this document.

Minimum Login Time

Once logged into an active controlling position, it is strongly encouraged that a controller spends at least 30 minutes (but preferrably an hour) signed in.

Opening and Closing Positions

  • When opening a new position, controllers should coordinate with any other controllers currently online before connecting to the network (either via Teamspeak, Discord or by logging in as an observer and using the PM feature).
  • If the controller will be taking over for a currently open position (either direct position takeover, or topdown/sector (de)combination coverage), both controllers shall coordinate this.
  • Once opened, controllers should utilize the "ATC Message" feature of their radar client to announce to other controllers that you are ready for traffic.
  • When getting ready to close a position, controllers shall advise fellow controllers, as well as any pilots on frequency a minimum 5 minutes before closing, providing the time in UTC they plan on closing. Use of the .break command is strongly encouraged.
  • If another controller will be taking over for the outgoing (either direct position takeover, or topdown/sector (de)combination coverage), both controllers shall coordinate this.
  • Once a controller closes the position, they should advise their fellow controllers, as well as any pilots on frequency as such.

Logging in as an Observer

Controllers wishing to observe network activity shall log in to the network with ZAB_XX_OBS as their callsign, where XX is the operating initials assigned to the controller (listed on the controller roster). Staff members are authorized to log in with the special callsigns below.

  • Air Traffic Manager - ZAB_ATM
  • Deputy Air Traffic Manager - ZAB_DATM
  • Training Administrator - ZAB_TA
  • Events Coordinator - ZAB_EC
  • Webmaster - ZAB_WM
  • Facilities Engineer - ZAB_FE
  • Instructor - ZAB_XX_INS
  • Mentor - ZAB_XX_MTR

Events Policies

Local Events

The events department at the Albuquerque ARTCC shall periodically plan events which generate an additional level of traffic to and from the ARTCC. Controllers are highly encouraged (but not required) to attend these events. This is often a chance for controllers to advance their controlling skills and be a testament to the abilities of the ARTCC.

Neighboring ARTCC and Virtual Airline Events

Our neighboring ARTCCs appreciate the support of their events by our staffing of relevant positions. Often, Virtual Airlines have fly-ins that they wish to have staffed. The EC shall notify all controllers of neighboring ARTCC or VA events through the ZAB website, forums or Discord. Depending on the size and expected pilot turnout the EC/ATM/DATM may, at their discretion, post a sign-up sheet for these events.

Controller Expectations

Controllers are expected to ahere to the following items regarding events.

  • If a sign-up sheet has been made available on the website or forums, controllers are encouraged to sign up for a position they feel they will be able to perform efficiently during times of stress. Positions shall be filled either on a "first come, first served" basis, or will be assigned to a position by the EC, depending on the type and expected traffic levels of an event.
  • If a sign-up sheet has been made available, but the list is full or desired positions are full, controllers are urged to be present on the day of the event to take other open positions or to relieve other controllers.
  • If no sign-up sheet has been made available, controllers are encouraged to attend the event and control a position that they will be able to perform efficiently and to be courteous and fair to other controllers who also make their time available.
  • Controllers should be aware of any SOP changes that may take place during events that may vary from normal operating procedures. Controllers should address all concerns during an event to the Controller in Charge (CiC) of the event.
  • No training of controllers shall take place during local events without the permission of the TA, ATM or DATM.
  • Controllers occupying a position that is scheduled for an event shall vacate their position through coordination with the scheduled controller at the start time of the event. Coordination should be made with the CiC to move to another position (if desired).
  • The ATM or DATM, at their discretion, may make changes to the event sign up sheet based on the skill and competency of each controller in order to ensure efficient and expedited service to pilots. However, every effort will be given to maintain each controller’s desired position as much as possible without prejudice.

Staff Expectations

Staff Members are expected to ahere to the following items regarding events.

  • Events shall be planned, organized and executed by the Events Coordinator (EC) and approved by the Deputy Air Traffic Manager (DATM). Members of the ZAB ARTCC and its staff are encouraged to offer ideas to the Events staff for future events. The EC shall provide all necessary materials prior to the posting of such on the ZAB, VATUSA or VATSIM websites to the DATM for approval.
  • The EC is the de-facto Controller in Charge (CiC) for all local events, unless another controller has been designated to act as the CiC by the EC, ATM or DATM.
  • Senior staff members (ATM, DATM, TA) are highly encouraged to attend all local events when able.
  • The ATM or DATM reserve the right to make any changes to events, including cancellation.

Time and Attendance Policies

Certified Controllers

In order to maintain an active and concise roster of controllers who are experienced and practiced, it is required that all controllers, including visitors, control on a Primary Position (listed below) on the live VATSIM network for no less than 120 minutes combined in a rolling 60 day time period.

Primary Positions

The following positions are considered Primary Positions for the purposes of enforcing the above policy:

  • Clearance Delivery, Ground, Tower, Departure or Approach on any class Bravo or Charlie airfield.
  • Clearance Delivery, Ground or Tower at any P50 airport (KDVT, KSDL, KFFZ, KCHD, KIWA, KGEU, KGYR, KLUF, KPRC, KFLG).
  • Albuquerque Center.

Controllers Rated OBS

Controllers with an OBS rating are required to attend at least 1 training session within 60 days of receiving their welcome letter upon joining the ARTCC.

Failure to Meet Requirements

Controllers who fail to meet the above critera will be removed from the ARTCC without prior warning or notification. If the controller was a home controller, they will be placed on an inactive status with VATUSA, and will need to request transfer back into ZAB to be reinstated. If the controller was a visiting controller, they will need to follow the current visitor application process for visiting controlling rights to be reinstated.

Visiting and Transferring Controller Policies

Transferring Controllers

Controllers desiring to transfer from inactive or from another ARTCC shall request a transfer to Albuquerque via the VATUSA website. Once accepted, controllers will be required to complete a competency check prior to being given certification to control any major facility within the Albuquerque ARTCC. The ATM or DATM shall have 7 days to accept or deny all requests. Passing exam scores, for the purpose of this section, shall remain valid for a period of ninety (90) days from the date of examination.

Visiting Controllers

Controllers wishing to visit at ZAB shall follow the application process outlined on the ZAB Visitor Application. ZAB does not wish to place undue burden on controllers wishing to visit, and therefore does not have any extraneous requirements to become a visitor.

Disciplinary Policies


It is not the desire of the ZAB senior staff to police the members of ZAB. However it is necessary to outline disciplinary processes and procedures so that, should an issue arise, it can be dealt with in a swift manner.

Abuse, Harassment, and Disruptive Behavior

Item A1 in the VATSIM Code of Conduct states "Members should, at all times, be courteous and respectful to one another." This code shall and will be adhered to at all times in all forms of communication at ZAB. Any ZAB member who knowingly harasses another known member for any reason through any form of communication (e.g. forums, email, Skype, Teamspeak, Discord, telephone, chat, telegraph, carrier pidgeon, etc.) will not be tolerated at Albuquerque. Offenders will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the VATSIM CoR, Section VI.

Those who feel they have become victim to any abusive behavior by another VATSIM member should record or log all evidence of such behavior and immediately contact the ATM or DATM. They should not retaliate in any way or they could face the same consequences as the offender.

Hostile Environment

Members who foster a hostile or disruptive environment through actions and/or words may be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the VATSIM Code of Regulations and Code of Conduct.

Failure to Adhere to Policies

Failure to adhere to any of the policies contained herein or any VATUSA/VATSIM policies could result in disciplinary action as follows.

  • No action.
  • Verbal warning.
  • Formal written warning.
  • Removal of Mentor, Instructor or Staff position (if applicable).
  • Suspension of ZAB controlling privileges.
  • Removal from the ZAB roster.
  • Referral to a network supervisor (SUP).
  • Temporary suspension from the VATSIM network.
  • Termination of VATSIM membership.


Remember, the goal of VATSIM is to educate and provide realistic simulation of air traffic procedures to pilots and controllers and, most importantly, to provide a fun environment for everyone to enjoy. This is a free service to everyone, and should be respected as such. Your membership is a privilege and not a right.

Who's Online?

Controllers Online
Controller Position
Charlie Thomson/S2 ABQ_TWR
Callsign Aircraft Flight
AAL1822 A320 KPHX - KRDU
AAY1324 A320/L KCID - KIWA
PAY7571 B736/L KBMC - KCHD
AAL1945 A321/L PHOG - KPHX
AAL1354 B738/L KLAX - KPHX
AAY9002 A320/L KLAS - KIWA
AAL1489 A321/L KPHX - KLAS


Top Controllers - March
Controller Time
Sean OBrien 04:25:14
Jeffrey Pang 02:44:51
Vincent DeGuzman 02:38:32
Chris Knepper 02:35:15
Maxine Grooms 02:21:18
Top Positions - March
Position Time
Albuquerque Center 13:52:08
Phoenix Ground 04:44:13
Gateway Tower 02:44:51
Phoenix Tower 02:25:08
Phoenix Approach 02:19:04