The Winnipeg FIR & GCAP

As some of you may have noticed over the past year or so, the VATSIM network has been hard at work creating a brand new document. The goal? To “define access to Air Traffic Control positions for VATSIM account holders and to maintain a standard of quality Air Traffic Control service.” The name of the document is the Global Controller Administration Policy, or GCAP.

If you’re a fan of reading twenty-nine-page documents, or just are interested in changes coming to VATSIM and how the network manages controlling, feel free to read up here. While there are many adjustments coming, both big and small, there are only a few that will affect the Winnipeg FIR – and so, here they are, all effective March 1st, 2024.


Activity Requirements

A few years ago, the FIR implemented minimum controlling hours. While controversial at the time, it quickly turned into somewhat of a standard across VATCAN’s FIRs. While everyone had slightly different requirements, being asked to put in a couple hours a month to the place you control is no longer something that’s out of the ordinary. That said, GCAP section 9.4 creates new limitations on how much a subdivision (which the Winnipeg FIR is) can ask a controller to control in a certain timeframe.

So, to comply with the new requirements, all controllers and instructors in the Winnipeg FIR will fall under the same requirement – three hours per quarter (or, to simplify, one hour a month.) This means activity checks will no longer be completed monthly – something that makes me happy, since it’s a bit tedious of a process – but every few months instead. We’ll be outlining exactly when these checks will happen in the FIR General Policy soon, so stay tuned and keep an eye on the policy-and-procedure-updates channel in the Winnipeg FIR Discord.

Written Exams

Another change coming with GCAP is section 8.5(f), outlining written examinations. While the pass mark for an exam in Winnipeg was always 80%, that is now the standard – so, no change to that. However, GCAP does now specify a re-write period. With GCAP, if a student fails a written exam, the period before re-assigning cannot exceed 72 hours. This change is already in effect on all exams, and will be set up on Winnipeg365 as well.


Speaking of Winnipeg365… it’s probably time we cover that! As you likely know, the FIR opened WPG365 for business a few months back – starting with just software setup, delivery and ground. Now, students also have access to Tower content, and soon will have even more to study and learn from! That said, there is one caveat to note in GCAP – as per section 2.3, no restrictions can be placed on a student greater than what is outlined in GCAP. Thankfully, Winnipeg365 was never meant to hold back any students, but to enhance training and give back to controllers who are developing their skillsets. That said, we wanted to provide clarity on that – no exams completed on Winnipeg365 can (or will) be used against a student. Only exams completed on (S2, S3 and C1 written exams) are set to be used to actually define if a controller can proceed in their training.


GCAP has a heavy focus on tiers – the simple explanation is this. Some airports that see higher traffic levels, or airspaces that are more complicated and require additional training can be designated with a tier that can be endorsed. This means that, for example, a student may be able to control all airports in an FIR except the major hub that needs a little extra work to understand and master. To Winnipeg’s benefit, we do not have a complicated airspace – and the FIR’s busiest airport, Winnipeg International (CYWG) does not often see more than a few aircraft at once. So, besides our en-route airspace receiving the standard Tier 2 designation, which does not change how we plan to train students at all – tiers shouldn’t impact the Winnipeg FIR much, if at all.