News>Airfield Operations ensure continued operations, build partnerships
Staff Sgt. Melissa Hollingsworth communicates with the air traffic control tower at the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, Aug. 31, 2012. Together, with representatives from the Manas International Airport, and Kyrgyzaeronavigatsia, the Transit Center?s team of airfield operators, manager and liaison officers work around the clock to improve functionality and partnerships both on and off the tarmac. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brett Clashman)
Staff Sgt. Melissa Hollingsworth inspects the runway for damage at the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, Aug. 31, 2012. Members of the 376th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron airfield management team inspect the runway daily for deficiencies, markings or signs of damage. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brett Clashman)
by Capt Martha L Petersante
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
8/31/2012 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, KYRGYZSTAN -- Imagery of airfield operations, either military or civilian, often shows a person sitting in an air traffic control tower directing a myriad of planes or marshalling an airplane as it prepares to take off or has just landed; these images are what some consider to be the standard skill set for personnel working in this career field. Typically, most do not think about building and fostering partnerships as a key core competency for airfield managers or air traffic control liaisons, however, at the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, they do just that.
Together, with representatives from the Manas International Airport and Kyrgyzaeronavigatsia, the Transit Center's team of airfield operators, managers and liaison officers work around the clock to improve functionality and partnerships both on and around the tarmac.
The [Transit Center] team's daily routine involves working directly with Manas International Airport agencies on all issues pertaining to the airfield, particularly with night time airfield maintenance repairs, said 1st Lt. Bartholomew Dietrick, 376th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron airfield operations officer. "Daily interaction is truly the catalyst for an outstanding partnership between the Transit Center and Manas International Airport."
It is the daily interaction that allowed the Transit Center team to complete a variety of improvement projects with their Kyrgyz Republic teammates. "This year's airfield improvement projects included the replacement of the first 3,000 feet of main runway, repairs to two taxiway seams, an extension of the airfield perimeter road, repairs of three aircraft parking spots, installation of aircraft grounding points, and airfield painting," he said. "Additionally, there are also projects scheduled to begin soon, which include a taxiway resurfacing project, runway rubber removal and more airfield painting."
"All of these projects play a critical role in maintaining a safe airfield environment and ensuring the airfield will meet the needs of all users in the future," Dietrick said.
Continued project improvement is not the only aspect of the overall mission that the airfield operations team is continually striving to improve upon.
"The team, in partnership with our Kyrgyz hosts, is the focal point for issuing notices to Airmen, coordinating flight plans, conducting airfield bird aircraft strike hazard, foreign object debris and construction checks, and oversight of the Transit Center airfield driving program," Dietrick said. "These efforts and the team's relentless dedication ensure a safe and efficient airfield environment."
Partnerships, which encourage interoperability between the Transit Center, KAN and MIA, are also fostered through daily interactions and joint ventures designed to improve the overarching facility capability. "Our liaisons quietly work behind the scenes alongside their Kyrgyz counterparts in the control tower and radar facilities. The Kyrgyz [air traffic] controllers provide control service to more than 2,000 flights monthly," Dietrick said, "while the 376 EOSS air traffic liaisons provide assistance to U.S. Department of Defense aircrews operating within Kyrgyz airspace."
"Recently, the ATC liaisons have seen the culmination of a three-year effort to collocate the radar liaison with the host nation radar controllers, a transition designed to increase flight safety," he said.
"Every job has challenges and that is no different here, however, ultimately it's [both] our jobs to provide timely, reliable and safe air traffic liaison support. The entire team is a testament to this belief," said Mr. Phil Smith, Chief ATC Liaison.
Combined teamwork will be on display in September when the Transit Center team will undergo a command-level quality assurance evaluation. The evaluation, which will be conducted by subject matter experts from U.S. Air Forces Central, will assess the overall air traffic system capability to support the Transit Center's mission.
Lt. Col. James Donelson, 376 EOSS commander, said his team is ready. "The entire airfield operations team has worked extremely hard throughout the past six months, both to execute the mission at hand and prepare for this evaluation," he said. "I'm proud of what we have accomplished and eager to have AFCENT validate our processes."