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Director's Report

From a divisional point of view, we are pleased to re-introduce some statistics surrounding divisional performance and will be able to provide more insight once we have comparison data in Q4.

It’s been great to see work coming out of all departments including our new branding, our new ATC Training Management System, updated Local Instructions, improvements to our IT infrastructure and some very successful events!

Membership Statistics

There are currently 3593 active members of the VATPAC division. The breakdown of those members’ rating is as follows.















ATC Activity (Top 5 Enroute Positions)






17.9 %



15.2 %



7.0 %



5.9 %



3.0 %

Movements (Capital City Airports)

































Airspace and Publications

The Airspace and Publications Department has continued to provide the latest aeronautical information for all supported radar clients for AIRAC releases 2107, 2108 and 2109.

We had several people join the documentation team recently:

-   Sean Harrison

-   Sam Wilson

-   Tyler Hindle

Projects the last 3 months

-   Monthly AIRAC releases.

-   Review and Rework procedural tower diagrams, including new VATPAC branding

-   Updating YMML and YSSY Local Instructions

Ongoing projects

-   Continue assisting VATNZ with the automation of their AIRAC releases.

-   Monthly AIRAC releases

Future Projects

-   Melbourne, Sydney and Perth Local Instructions review

-   MATS annual review to be carried out, making use of the real-world MATS provided by ASA.

-   Controller Position and Frequency audit to better align with real world procedures.

-   Controller Position & Rating Policy under review with changes being proposed to make clearer the non-standard position guidelines

-   Feasibility Airport information pages

Join the team

If you would like to join the documentation team, please email me at [email protected]

ATC Training and Standards


VATPAC has a new system for managing ATC training requests. In the past we have relied upon students to communicate via email with the manager of ATC Training to access theory exams and mentoring. The new system has been built from the ground up by long standing member of the ATC Training team and the Manager of ATC Training, Will Smart, to simplify the process and provide an improved user experience.


-   A fully integrated student interface to allow students to request training, submit exam results and view their training records.

-   Full VATSIM SSO integration meaning student data is secure and automatically synced with the VATSIM database.

-   VATSIM API integration meaning rating upgrades can be processed faster than ever resulting in improved access to the network by our new controllers.  In most circumstances this process is instant when an instructor uploads the practical exam result.

-   A single repository of data for training team members to view and manage their students throughout the process.

-   A communication system to allow senior staff to monitor and track a students progress.

-   Enhanced statistics to allow the training team to monitor, report and improve on the training syllabus.

-   Improved tracking of endorsements such as Procedural Tower, Solo, Visiting Controller and soon Oceanic Endorsements.

-   And more…

Requesting Training

Students wishing to access training should consult the information on the VATPAC website under the Controllers-ATC Training menu.  From here you will be directed to the ATC Academy to begin study for your theory exam.  The information within the relevant academy course will provide a link to the Training Management System where, when ready, you can request access to the exam.


This represents the beginning of your formal training record.  The training administrator will review your academy activity and add exam permission to your academy account.

Of course at any time you can contact the ATC Training Department at [email protected], if you have any questions.  Alternatively there is an active community to answer your questions on our Discord server or forums.


The IT department has been working on various projects and systems over the past quarter. We have many plans for the upcoming quarter also, that we believe will excite the community.


Thanks to Adam Hammond's work on a helpdesk system, we have been able to deploy a helpdesk platform to the community. This system replaces the very old feedback system and allows for departments to interact and solve issues faster and more efficiently. You can access the system at https://helpdesk.vatpac.org.

Authentication system

With the growing nature of VATPAC and the ever-evolving systems adding complexity to the administration process, the team has set out to develop a new strategy to authentication and authorisation. We have been working on a new system to unify the user administration across systems to ease the onboarding and continuous administration of users. We will be using tried and tested systems such as directory services to store all user information that can be shared across systems. This project is by no means a small task and involves a lot of moving parts. Once this system is in place, user access across VATPAC will be more robust and secure.

Platform unification

As part of the authentication system, we are looking to unify the experience across all VATPAC systems. We are working with the membership department to create a universal theme that can be used across all sites. A new theme in combination with other inner systems development, we will be able to make all sites feel more seamless together. This project is a long-term plan that we are working towards and has many milestones before we can say we have achieved the overall goal.

Event Site Redevelopment

As we look to further support the community, we are in the process of planning and developing a new events website. This new system will take the solid foundations of the current system and build upon them to expand the functionality into new areas. We are working closely with the events department to create the system and ensure it is inline with what will best support them.

Discord Bot reworking

With the recent changes to the workings of the VATPAC discord, we are working to rework some features of the VATPAC0 bot to better reflect the requirements of the discord server.


We welcomed two new members to the IT team, Jacob Ewins and Luke Withington, both as developers. Both Jacob and Luke will be working on the new event site, lead by Adam.

We are always looking for new energetic people to join the Technology team. If you are interested please email [email protected]


Staffing Movements

Jake Timandi, Brodie Thorburn and  Blair Shaddock left the events department due to real world or other department commitments.

Chris Gardiner joined the events department as a coordinator.

Notable Departmental Changes

6 successful major events were conducted during Q3.

FIFO Friday, Milk Run Monday, Spilled Milk Run Monday, Pacific Connect and the weekly VFR events continued as per normal.

events.vatpac.org front end update to new VATPAC theme.

2022 Major Events List

128 survey responses were recorded from the VATPAC Community. The team is currently correlating the results to create the 2022 Events List which will be released in November.



Work has begun on a major update to the discord policy to simplify certain aspects and remove some of the contradictory subsections. Recently we have noticed an influx of reports regarding conduct on this server being sent to moderators directly via DM. This is an inefficient and ineffective way of reporting, as the moderator may be offline or busy with another task. If you see behaviour against the discord policy report it at https://discord.vatpac.org/. This will automatically ping all active moderators with the report and allows the team to respond efficiently, rather than relying on a single person.

Membership Support ticket system

The Membership support ticketing system is now live. This is greatly assisting the tracking and actioning of tickets. To create a ticket you can email [email protected] or use the helpdesk portal.

Logo and Branding upgrades

Throughout Q2 and Q3 of 2021, we have been busy behind the scenes working on the rebranding of VATPAC. This took significantly longer than expected due to delays with documentation and social media kits. While we have now completed phase one of the rebranding we are far from done. Over the next quarter, there are going to be significant changes to website designs, social media presentations and the way we deliver content via the forums and discord. We are especially focused on some refreshed branding ideas and ways to deliver exciting new formats of content to the community.

Website Design

In conjunction with the Technology department, the marketing team is currently working on an updated tailwind CSS design language for all of VATPAC’s websites. We are now also anticipating a headless CMS for content publication to allow greater ability to publish news, NOTAM and scope articles in 2022.


vatSys Tips and Tricks

The past six months have seen a number of new controllers join the ranks, with many others making the jump from VRC or EuroScope to vatSys. This issue of The Scope, we’re going to take a more in-depth look at some of the differences when controlling with vatSys and provide some recommended controlling techniques for various roles, as well as address some common mistakes observed on the network recently.

Controlling Tower
What vatSys profile should I load?

When controlling a tower position, load up the recently added Radar TWR position which corresponds with the aerodrome you’re controlling.  This will minimise any erroneous alerts you receive while controlling.


There are also subfolders for Metro D towers (like Bankstown and Archerfield) and Procedural towers (like Albury and Coffs Harbour).


When should I activate a strip?

The Flight Data Record (or FDR) should be activated when an airways clearance is issued to an aircraft.  This process helps keep other controllers in the loop regarding the state of each aircraft, and also ensures that the departure controller will be able to identify the aircraft after take-off.

Once an FDR has been activated, the tower controller can’t make further changes to the flight plan.  If a change is required (due to a runway change, cleared flight level amendment, etc), open the flight plan, deactivate it using the Deactivate button, then make your changes and re-activate the FDR.


How do I record taxi instructions?

Each strip has two boxes for recording information: the Global Ops field (field 21 below) and the Local Ops field (field 22).


Data in the Global Ops field is shared with all controllers, so we recommend you record data here which is relevant to the controllers around you, such as ‘PUSH’ for an aircraft pushing back.  The Local Ops field is only visible to you and is a good place to store more detailed taxi instructions.  For example, Impulse 110 below has been instructed to taxi via taxiway Charlie and hold short of Runway 25.



How can I see more waypoints in the departure window?

Up to three waypoints are normally displayed for each strip in the strip bays.  If you’ve assigned a SID and wish to issue an airways clearance, the aircraft’s first route waypoint may not be visible (as the SID waypoints have been added to the start of the route).  To expand a strip and view more waypoints, click the middle mouse button over the aircraft callsign (field 4 below).  Middle mouse click the same position to return to the normal, un-expanded view.



Controlling Approach
Should I drop the tag when I hand a landing aircraft to tower (or clear them to land)?

No!  Unlike EuroScope, vatSys will auto-finish an FDR when an arriving aircraft lands on the runway specified in their flight plan.  If you drop the tag, this process may not occur.  When an aircraft is cleared for an approach, set the CFL to 000 or VSA and leave it highlighted (white).  When you give the frequency transfer to tower (or clear the aircraft to land if extending top down), use the middle mouse button to change the CFL colour to green.  This will help you keep track of which aircraft are still on your frequency and which aircraft have been transferred to tower.



Controlling Enroute
When should I activate the strip of an OCTA departure?

When an aircraft gives an IFR taxi call for a departure OCTA, activate their FDR.  This will populate their squawk code and place their tag at their departure aerodrome, providing a clear indicator of any conflicting IFR traffic.


When should I finish the strip of an aircraft arriving at an OCTA aerodrome?

IFR aircraft will generally report on the ground or in the circuit area when arriving at an uncontrolled aerodrome to cancel SARWATCH.  In response to this call, ‘finish’ the FDR and respond to inform the pilot that their SARWATCH has been terminated.  You can finish an FDR by left mouse clicking on an aircraft’s callsign and selecting Finish, or by opening their flight plan and clicking the Cancel button.


For more information or to download vatSys, visit https://virtualairtrafficsystem.com/


Recent Common Mistakes
Terminating SARWATCH

When terminating an aircraft’s SARWATCH, some controllers have been including unnecessary information (such as the current time), which overcomplicates the call.  All that is necessary is the destination aerodrome and the phrase ‘SARWATCH TERMINATED.

For example, QLK46D is an IFR Dash 8 which has just landed at Dubbo.



Radar Departures at Sydney

Aircraft assigned the Sydney Two radar SID require an assigned heading before departure.  Tower controllers are reminded that the Sydney Local Instructions allow the use of auto-release with the Sydney Two SID, provided departing aircraft are assigned a heading from the table at section 6.3.1.

For example, if a non-jet aircraft was departing Runway 34L assigned the Sydney Two SID, the tower controller may issue the assigned heading ‘left 230’ with no requirement to perform ‘next’ coordination for the aircraft.


Approach Phraseology

Where possible, the use of standard phraseology is encouraged to ensure pilots of all experience levels understand the instructions being issued to them.  Some controllers have begun introducing non-standard phraseology which has confused some pilots.

Some examples include:

‘Report fully established’ is redundant, as aircraft are either established or not, there’s no in between.  Use the phrase ‘REPORT ESTABLISHED’ instead.  It is generally a good idea to ask the pilot to report established if you are providing radar vectors to intercept the final approach course of an instrument approach.  Once they’ve reported established and you have no further requirements for the aircraft, you may transfer them to tower.

On initial contact with the TMA, approach controllers should give a runway nomination and approach expectation (as well as descent if available).  By telling an aircraft to ‘expect ILS Runway 34L approach’, you are waiving their readback requirements (expectations do not need to be read back).  Instead, use the phrase ‘RUNWAY 34L, EXPECT ILS APPROACH’, which ensures the pilot will readback their runway assignment.

It’s important to familiarise yourself with the charts for the airport you are controlling and be aware of the requirements and restrictions on each procedure.  The use of ‘DESCEND VIA STAR’ phraseology is encouraged when an aircraft is cleared via a STAR, until they reach a point on the procedure where no further requirements or restrictions apply.  For example, there’s no need to use ‘DESCEND VIA STAR’ phraseology on the RIVET STAR past BOOGI, as there are no further procedure restrictions.  Instead, from that point, you can simply use ‘DESCEND TO 3000FT’.


Circuit Flying

This document is a brief tutorial on conducting circuits, primarily from a pilot’s point of view, however it may also be helpful for controllers. Note: This document is designed to be used for VATSIM, specifically within Australia. This document is NOT to be used for real training purposes.

What are circuits?

A circuit is a routinely practiced procedure that involves departing from an aerodrome, making some turns to form the ‘circuit pattern’ and landing on the same runway you departed from. Circuits are a great way to practice takeoffs, landings, maintain straight & level flight, as well as climbing, descending and turns (with a combination of both), remembering pre-landing checklists off by heart, all of this whilst talking to Air Traffic Control. 

Things we need to be aware of being conducting circuits

-  Circuit direction: By default, the circuit direction is to the left of the active runway (Anti-clockwise). This is because the pilot in command typically sits in the left-hand seat and therefore will give the pilot the best visibility of the aerodrome’s active runway, as it should be in sight at all times. If it is not to the left, it will be stated under ERSA for that aerodrome which can be found on Airservices AIPs online.

-  Circuit & overfly height: Unless otherwise specified by ERSA, the circuit height is 1000ft above aerodrome elevation.  Overfly height is an extra 500ft above the circuit height. These heights shall be rounded to the nearest 100ft. For example, if you have an aerodrome elevation of 434ft, the circuit height will be 1400ft & the overfly height will be 1900ft. One reason overfly height is used is if pilots are flying a visual departure and want to depart the aerodrome in a direction other than the circuit, they may do so by climbing to ‘overfly’ height. This allows them to track overhead the aerodrome. Note: Circuit height can differ based on an aircraft's performance category. 


Type of aircraft

Standard circuit speed

Standard circuit height

High performance - (includes jets and many turboprops)

Above approximately 150 kt

1500 ft above aerodrome elevation

Medium performance - (includes most piston engine aircraft and gliders)

Between approximately 55 kt and 150 kt

1000 ft above aerodrome elevation

Low performance - (trikes and ultralight aircraft)

Approximately 55 kt maximum

500 ft above aerodrome elevation


Source: VFRG by CASA

-  Traffic levels: In VATSIM, often people will choose to fly circuits at bigger and busier aerodromes, particularly ones with lots of RPT (regular public transport) because it is more likely that there will be ATC online. It is recommended to use tools such as VATSpy before commencing circuits at larger airports to see if traffic levels are low enough for that aerodrome. This reduces delays and stress for both other pilots, and the controller (If there’s one online)

-  Suitable weather condition and remaining in VMC (Visual meteorological conditions): You are pilot in command! It is your responsibility to ensure that the conditions you are about to fly into are acceptable. Be sure to read the TAF for the aerodrome you plan on flying circuits at; listen to the ATIS and note the weather conditions as well. One thing in particular to be aware of is the aircrafts maximum demonstrated crosswind component. Make sure that if there is any crosswind present (or forecasted), it is within the aircraft’s limits. As mentioned previously, the aerodrome and specifically the active runway must be in sight at all times. So, you MUST be flying VFR. (SVFR) is also permitted but will not be covered in this tutorial. Below is a table of what is considered VMC depending on airspace classes.

Airspace class



C - At or above 10,000ft AMSL  


1500m horizontal 1000ft vertical

C - Below 10 000 ft AMSL


1500m horizontal 1000ft vertical



Airspace class





600m horizontal, 1000 ft vertically above cloud; or 500ft vertically below cloud



Airspace class



E - At or above 10,000ft AMSL


1000ft vertical 1500m horizontal

E – Below 10,000ft AMSL


1000ft vertical 1500m horizontal



Airspace class



G - At or above 10,000ft AMSL


1000ft vertical 1500m horizontal

G – Below 10,000ft AMSL


1000ft vertical 1500m horizontal (In class G, clear of cloud below 3000ft)



Source: VFRG by CASA

How do we fly circuits?

It is important that we have an understanding of the 5 legs of the circuit. Below is a diagram of these legs with the relevant names.

Note: In diagram, circuit direction is to the left


Note: The name of the circuit legs is in relation to the runway. They are NOT in relation to the actual wind direction. The idea is that you will primarily be departing on the active runway into wind.


Start clearance: Before commencing circuits, make sure to request engine start clearance from ATC for circuits. This is done to prevent wasting fuel if there are any delays. To request start clearance from ATC, turn on your battery master and avionics, then tune to the appropriate frequency. “Melbourne tower, Cessna Alpha Bravo Charlie for circuits request start.” Reply to ATC as required

Upwind: Once we are cleared for takeoff and airborne, we will be flying the ‘upwind’ leg. All this requires us to do is to keep tracking the runway extended centreline as well as flying at the aircrafts best rate of climb (Vy). Keep in mind to compensate for any crosswind. It is super important that you do not end up being blown off track, especially if you are flying at an airport where there are parallel runway operations in progress. For example, you are conducting circuits on runway 34R at Sydney, if you have a strong wind blowing from the east, without proper correction, you will be blown off track and potentially drift over to runway 34L. Fly the upwind leg until 500ft AGL.

Crosswind: You are climbing on the upwind leg, once you reached 500ft AGL, you may commence a climbing turn (around 15° bank) to fly the ‘crosswind’ leg. Continue the climb.

Downwind (and radio call): As soon as you level out at 1000ft AGL on the crosswind leg, you may begin a medium level turn to join downwind (around 30° bank). In most cases, this will create a good distance between the active runway and the downwind leg. Keep in mind however that you may need to extend the crosswind leg or turn downwind earlier than 1000ft AGL to create a reasonable circuit size. Factors such as wind, aircraft type and other circuit traffic might require you to eyeball how wide to fly the circuit. ATC prefer to know your intentions as early as possible. Subject to workload, mid-way through your turn onto downwind is ideal. However, making the call once established on the downwind leg is also acceptable. Each time you turn downwind, you need to let the tower know whether you would like to continue flying circuits “touch and go” or make it your last one “full stop”. The downwind call should go something along the lines of. “Alpha Bravo Charlie turning downwind, touch and go”. If you are the next aircraft to receive landing clearance, the tower will then reply with “Alpha Bravo Charlie number 1”. All you need to read back is your callsign. After you have made your call, it is good habit to get all of your pre-landing checks out of the way, because you aren’t in the air for that long. It helps if you can memorize the pre-landing checklist.

Base: Again, depending on circuit traffic or instructions by ATC. Start making a medium level turn to join ‘base’ when you are around 45° from the runway threshold (as shown in diagram). Whilst you are turning onto base, you can start your descent. In this time, keep a listen out for ATC to give you your landing/touch & go clearance.

Final: Make sure you are turning onto final no less than 500ft AGL. If you need to go around for whatever reason. Advise the tower as soon as practical. If you overshoot the centreline, don't worry! don't try to correct this with more angle of bank. Instead continue your turn back towards the centreline and line up.

Touch & go: Once you have touched down, assuming you have received your touch & go clearance from the previous circuit, retract your flaps, advance to full power and lift off at the aircrafts rotation speed (Vr). Be mindful if you are flying at an airport with a shorter runway length, you do not have much time to keep rolling down the runway, especially if you touched down further than planned.


Thanks to Will Menzies for writing this amazing tutorial!

Oceanic Airspace

Cross the Ditch Oceanic Guide

With Cross the Ditch just around the corner; we thought it would be a good idea to include a quick refresher on flying in oceanic airspace.

What’s the difference between normal ATC and Oceanic ATC?

Normal ATC throughout Australia (Brisbane Centre, Melbourne Centre, Sydney Approach, etc.) rely on radar to determine where an aircraft is in the air.

Over the ocean, it's not as easy to place a radar down and hope that it doesn't float away... Therefore, there is no radar. This non-radar airspace is controlled by oceanic ATC.

In short, normal ATC has radar and covers over land (Sometimes referred to as Domestic ATC). Oceanic ATC doesn't have radar and rely on other methods to depict where aircraft are in the world.

How do you communicate with Oceanic ATC?

First things first; All HF radio stations in Australia are operated from Brisbane, so all oceanic controllers in Australia are called "Brisbane Radio”.

When domestic ATC hands you off to an Oceanic Controller, the handoff will sound something similar to this:

BN-ARL_CTR: "Qantas 151, crossing PLUGA, identification terminated, report your position to Brisbane Radio on 124.65, g'day"

So what does this mean?

"Crossing PLUGA, identification terminated": Once you're overhead the waypoint "PLUGA", you are entering a region which is no longer within range of radar, and we can no longer identify you.

Now, communicating to oceanic:

When making initial contact:

QFA151: "Brisbane Radio, Brisbane Radio, Qantas 151 with position." 
Note: It is good practice to state the callsign of the station you are calling twice.

At this point, Brisbane Radio will respond in one of two ways:

BN-TSN_FSS: "Qantas 151?" Note: When a controller says your callsign alone, it's either an acknowledgement of a previous transmission or an indication for you to go ahead. In this case, it's "Go ahead."


BN-TSN_FSS: "Qantas 151, g’day Brisbane Radio. Brisbane accepts primary guard this frequency. Secondary 124.95 (if applicable), standby for a SELCAL check" 

So what does this mean?:

"Brisbane accepts primary guard this frequency": This frequency can be used in place of the standard guard frequency, 121.500.

"Secondary 124.95": If you are unable to reach me on this frequency, then try again on 124.95.

"Standby for a SELCAL check": Please wait before transmitting, I am about to test your SELCAL system.

If your SELCAL check is okay, meaning you have received the SELCAL alert, then you should respond with:

QFA151: "Brisbane Radio, Qantas 151 SELCAL check okay."  Meaning you have received the SELCAL alert.

After this point, Brisbane Radio should be ready for a position report:

BN-TSN_FSS: "Qantas 151, go ahead with position."

What are position reports?

Position reports are how ATC can determine where you are. Position reports contain estimates for waypoints, speeds, altitudes and any other information. Because there is no radar over the ocean, ATC relies on time-based separation and reports from the pilots. ATC has no way of determining where you are unless you specifically tell them.

The standard format is:

-  Current/Previous waypoint name and the time which you crossed that point.

-  Current flight level.

-  Mach number if assigned by ATC.

-  Your next waypoint and estimate for that point.

-  The waypoint after that.

VATPAC is working on a new oceanic reporting tool to help pilots compile their position reports. In the meantime, VATNZ also provides a handy tool help pilots compile their position report: https://www.vatnz.net/pilots/oceanic-report-tool/


QFA151 (Qantas 151) from Sydney to Wellington enters oceanic airspace at waypoint PLUGA. Not using CPDLC and equipped with a SELCAL code of CP-RS.

BN-ARL_CTR: "Qantas 151, Crossing PLUGA, identification terminated, report your position to Brisbane Radio on VHF 124.65, g'day"

QFA151: "Report position to Brisbane Radio on 124.65, Qantas 151, g'day"

QFA151 tunes to 124.650mHz

QFA151: "Brisbane Radio, Brisbane Radio, Qantas 151 with position."

BN-TSN_FSS: "Qantas 151 g'day, Brisbane accepts primary guard this frequency. Secondary 122.1, standby for a SELCAL check" 

Brisbane Radio broadcasts the CP-RS SELCAL code over the frequency.

QFA151s radio alerts the pilot that a SELCAL was received.

QFA151: "SELCAL check okay, Qantas 151."

BN-TSN_FSS: "Qantas 151 go ahead with position" 

QFA151: "Qantas 151 is position PLUGA at time 0627, flight level 380, estimating VELKU at 0655, SASRO next."

BN-TSN_FSS: "Qantas 151." Note: Unlike other FIRs like Gander/Shanwick in the North Atlantic region, Australian ATC (YMMM and YBBB) are not required to read back your position report.

Qantas 151 will continue to provide position reports each time they reach a new point along the route until back within radar coverage and identified.

Brisbane Radio will use your position report to build an image of where you are. The image below is from ML-IND_FSS. The boxes are the approximate positions of aircraft based on their last position report.

A Screenshot of a map description automatically generated with medium connfidencePicture1.thumb.png.4863331fb53c4403ed78a96326395ca6.png

Freeware Focus

Zero Dollar Payware – YBCG

Australia has been getting plenty of scenery released for our airports recently, in the last 2 quarters alone we have seen YPAD, YBBN, YPPH, YMEN, YBNA and more for MSFS alone! X-plane hasn’t missed out however, the developer Zero Dollar Payware recently released scenery for Gold Coast International Airport. The airport features an Artistic interpretation of the new south terminal expansion, that is currently in the late stages of construction in real life. Apron and gate assignments are also mapped to the new terminal expansion, with gates 8, 9 and stand 10 currently not existing in the real world. The scenery contains many custom buildings and assets, SAM jet bridges and marshallers, modelled terminal interiors and functional AI taxi routes.


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