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A radar tracks the movement of local aircraft as Airman 1st Class Thomas Wojnaroski, 56th Operations Support Squadron air traffic control apprentice, collaborates with co-workers. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Deborah Silliman Wolfe.)
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RAPCON, tower, airfield prepared for inspectors

Posted 5/1/2009   Updated 5/1/2009 Email story   Print story

    


by Staff Sgt. PHILLIP BUTTERFIELD
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


5/1/2009 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- As the 56th Fighter Wing prepares for the upcoming unit compliance inspection, one unit on base gets geared up to tackle two major inspections. 

The 56th Operations Support Squadron will not only be looked at for the UCI but also for a secondary inspection known as the Air Traffic System Evaluation Program. It is the primary review of three sections found in the airfield operations flight -- radar approach control, the tower and airfield management. 

The ATSEP inspection consists of a 790-item checklist conducted by a 16-person team from Air Education and Training Command headquarters in San Antonio, TX. They evaluate the compliance, quality, adequacy and safety of Luke Air Force Base's entire air traffic system. The ATSEP team will spend most of the week interviewing adjacent air traffic control facilities, pilots, controllers, airfield managers, and evaluating controller performance by monitoring them in position as they work traffic over the skies of Luke. 

"We look forward to showcasing our talented professionals and the incredible service they provide to Luke and the local flying community," said Maj. Ernesto Verger, 56th OSS Airfield Operations Flight commander. 

One of the sections to be inspected will be RAPCON. RAPCON is the component of airfield operations that controls and monitors air traffic in a 40- to 60-mile area around Luke. 

"We're going to be inspected on how well we are able to safely integrate military aircraft in flight with civilian aircraft that share the same airspace," said Chief Master Sgt. Gregg Mowrer, 56th OSS RAPCON chief controller. 

RAPCON will also be inspected on how effectively it communicates and coordinates with the smaller municipal airports surrounding Luke as well as Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, he said. 

The ATSEP team will also look at the air traffic control tower. In the tower they will inspect how Luke handles air traffic within a five-mile radius of the base. 

"We will be inspected on how well we move traffic through our area," said Senior Master Sgt. Gregory Davis, 56th OSS air traffic control tower chief controller. "Mainly the pilots doing touch-and-goes, leaving and arriving from missions and their movements from start to finish will be looked at." 

Sergeant Davis said his controllers are trained, prepared and looking forward to this ATSEP. 

Once the inspectors have gotten a good look at how Luke conducts air operations, they will look at airfield management. This section of the Airfield Operations Flight manages and controls ground operations dealing with the runways, taxiways and parking areas. 

"During the ATSEP we will be inspected on approximately 330 items," said Senior Master Sgt. Eric Johnson, 56th OSS airfield manager. "These items include, but are not limited to, how we monitor and take care of the pavements, airfield lighting systems and our management of construction projects on the airfield." 

With the inspection taking place next week, the Airfield Operations Flight has prepared for whatever the ATSEP inspection team is willing to throw at them. 

"Our flight is ATSEP ready every day," said Major Verger. "The nature of what we do demands unmatched dedication, attention to detail, and strict adherence to Air Force and Federal Aviation Administration regulations."



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