SUBJECT: Proceedings – Air Force Western Pacific Region Airspace/Range Council (WP ARC) – Management Session
GENERAL: – The Air Force Western Pacific Region Airspace/Range Council Management Session convened at 1:30 PM, January 18, 2012 at the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZLA ARTCC), Palmdale, CA.
MANAGEMENT SESSION PROCEEDINGS FOR JAN 18, 2012
Remarks/Objectives/Introductions: Brig Gen Bledsoe (Chief of Staff, NM Air National Guard) and Mr. Edward Chupein (HQ AF A3O-BR) - General Bledsoe welcome everyone to the ARC and noted that we have a lot of airspace managers, pilots and air traffic controllers in attendance. We appreciate FAA ARTCC Facility Manager, Mr Garza and his staff for allowing us to meet at their center and interact with the ARTCC personnel.
Mr. Garza also welcomed the attendees of the Western Pacific ARC and to Los Angeles Center. This is a great opportunity for our controllers. It is our pleasure to host this meeting. Many of our FAA staff members have served in the military and many other family members are also serving. He then thanked those that have served in the military. Our relationship with the military has been great. Half of Los Angeles airspace is dedicated to military operations.
Luke AFB F-16 Fighter Operations – Colonel Miller (56th Ops Group Commander)
Introduction to Luke AFB Flight Operations: Colonel Miller began his briefing with cockpit video taken as a Luke AFB flight of four F-16s was approaching the University of Phoenix Stadium for the fly-by at the beginning of a major event. Air Traffic control pointed out VFR traffic near the flight and within seconds the aircraft flew within feet of the flight of F-16s, highlighting the density of traffic, controlled and uncontrolled, in the Phoenix / Luke AFB area.
Luke AFB Mission
“Train the world’s greatest F-16 pilots and maintainers while deploying mission ready warfighters”
10 Transition sorties: learn to takeoff, land, emergency procedures, instruments, and advanced handling, Air-Air refueling
25 Air-to-Air sorties: 1v1 and 2v1 within visual range, 2v2 and 4v2 beyond visual range
25 Air-to-Ground sorties: 2 and 4-ship inert and live unguided, laser guided, and GPS guided bombs
Transition Course: 2-4 months
Re-qualify previous fighter pilots
Instructor Course: 2 months
For new Luke instructor pilots
Specialized Courses: 2-5 weeks
Test Pilots / Thunderbirds
Forward Air Controllers
Familiarity flights for new F-22 pilots
Fighter Aircraft SUA Usage
Airspace time and fuel are precious commodities, they run out quickly. Typical sortie length is 75 minutes, tactical training only about 40 minutes
These are students…they make mistakes…they fly out of the airspace…
Channelized attention and task saturation due to demanding training tasks
Frequent, rapid altitude changes (demonstrated in videos)
If we know about a VFR/IFR aircraft in our airspace, we stop training. That equals a loss of training.
Aircraft should avoid us if at all possible. At our speeds and task saturation it is challenging for us to visually clear for light aircraft that do not show up until very late on a fighter radar.
Datalink (Link 16) feeds do help but not all fighters have it.
Typical Training Missions in SUA: Col Miller included a number of videos that demonstrated various training missions in Special Use Airspace.
Advanced Handling Maneuver – a single aircraft with student and instructor.
Student performs maneuvers from high speed to low speed; includes aerobatic maneuvers such as loops and rolls.
High-G turns to reach the aircraft limits of 9Gs. Allows the student to demonstrate to himself that he can maintain consciousness at 9Gs. One video was a G-LOC (G-induced Loss Of Consciousness) flight with the student regaining control of the aircraft after a few seconds.
Advanced Combat Maneuvering is a three-ship training mission with two aircraft maneuvering against one. The video demonstrated the extreme hazard of having two pilots concentrating on one “enemy” fighter and not maintaining separation from each other. The near mid-air collision demonstrates the high level of training involved in creating safe combat-qualified fighter pilots.
Combat Tactics missions consist of 4 or more aircraft in mock combat engagements between multiple aircraft flights.
MACA (Mid-Air Collision Avoidance)
From 1985 to present….
Over 5,000 Hazardous Air Traffic Reports in the USAF database
14 Miles of Pacific Ocean beach provides premier amphibious training
Camp Pendleton Range Airspace: R2303 A, B, C, & D
Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton
Marine Aircraft Group 39
Training at 29 Palms and Yuma airspace
Marine Corps Air Station Miramar
Six Squadrons including KC-130s
Marine Corps Air Station Yuma –
Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1)
Three AV-8B Harriers squadrons
First F-35 to arrive fall 2012
Marine Corps Base 29 Palms – Training complex
Premier live and non-live fire combined arms training across the realm of military operations
Pre-deployment training and assessment
Provides Traditional and irregular operational environments
Other services and other Nation’s forces utilize the Marine Corps installations in the SW.
Southwest US is critical to training US Marine Corps.
Proposed Expansion of 29 Palms
Expansion to the west into the Johnson Valley area will greatly improve training.
Major Callahan is the MCIWEST point of contact for airspace.
Question concerning how inter-service requirements and / or competing proposals were being handled.
Most of the limitations are being handled at the local or regional level.
Mr. Chupein suggested that the PBFA (DoD Policy Board on Federal Aviation) and the OSD Personnel and Readiness office will assist in questions of competing concerns.
Force Structure: There is some uncertainty about future force structure.
Coordination at Pt. Mugu has been the best ever, phenomenal.
This does not exist in W-291; having a real-time person to coordinate traffic is exceptional.
W-291 has recently converted to controlled airspace which should improve coordination.
California ANG, Fresno – Lt Col Balch, 194 FS/DO (Airspace Manager)
Primary Training Area: R-2508
Alert Facility: Detachment 1 at March ARB.
Scramble Departures from March are very fast and the aircraft are ready to climb at 10,000 feet per minute.
Major impact to a very congested air traffic area.
Minimum Frequency Changes
Generally the alert pilot is very busy with the departure procedures.
ARTCC response: All Los Angeles Center needs to know is what the fighters need next.
Introductions: General Bledsoe started introductions with a short background about the establishment of the Airspace/Range Council by the Air National Guard and now co-chaired by Air Force and ANG senior officers. He asked everyone to introduce themselves and tell the council about their organization and issues if they had any. (Selected organizations and comments below)
USFS / BLM National Airspace Program - Ms. Stewart - Her sole purpose is to ensure that there is never another mid-air with a fire fighting aircraft.
Joint UAS Center of Excellence, Nellis AFB - Mr. Frank Villanueva – The major concern at Nellis AFB is Alternative Energy development. He also mentioned that Nellis has an excellent relationship with fire-fighting agencies.
NPS Natural Sounds Program - Ms. McCusker mentioned that the ARC offers the NPS a great opportunity to speak with Air Force and Air National Guard about new airspace and existing noise or encroachment problems.
355 OSS/OSOA, Davis-Monthan AFB - Mr. Presley manages the Tombstone MOA and uses the Goldwater Range Complex for A-10 and C-130 training. The base hosts the FAA TRACON, an F-16 Air Defense Alert Detachment, Snowbird, and Angel Thunder - an international search and rescue exercise. Major issue is the proximity to Tucson International Airport only 4.1 miles away.
DHS/CBP - Air & Marine Operations Center (AMOC) - Mr Irke described his organization’s job as chasing bad guys through special use airspace with aircraft stationed along the border between San Diego and El Paso.
FACSFAC (Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility) San Diego – Mr Glickman provides air traffic service for the Navy and manages Navy airspace issues from Texas to Alaska and Hawaii, including two restricted areas near El Centro.
ANG Airspace Manager – Mr. Jones. The ANG is the largest scheduler of SUA. NGB/A3A has pamphlets and DVDs for airspace managers to help in their outreach programs.
California DOT, Division of Aeronautics – Mr. Cathey said that his office is responsible to ensure there is compatible land use around Callifornia airsports.
California ANG, March ARB – Lt Col Dutkiewica – Predator Flight Training Units utilizing Restricted Areas, F2508, R2515 and R-2502.
US Forest Service & Bureau of Land Management National Airspace Program – Ms. Stewart
USFS & BLM Airspace Program started in the 1980s to prevent midair collisions with fire fighting aircraft.
Interagency Airspace Coordination Guide was created in 2003. It is available online www.airspacecoordination.com and is currently being updated
DINS, the Department of Defense Internet NOTAM Service, provides Fire Fighting Temporary Flight Restrictions NOTAMs in real time..
The National Fire Fighting Transponder Code (1255) improved safety with FAA Air Traffic monitoring.
Fire Traffic Areas (FTA) is an internal agency communication protocol and is established surrounding an initial attack fire with a 5 NM radius and a minimum altitude of 2,500 feet AGL.
A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is established to enhance aviation safety and provide a safe environment for operations of fire or disaster relief aircraft.
Non-fire fighting aircraft are authorized in fire TFRs by the FAA when issued under 91.137 (a) 2 including: Approved IFR flight plan aircraft, Law Enforcement Aircraft, VFR Airport Traffic, and Accredited Media.
2011 Fire Season was similar to 2010 with 72,500 wild fires consumed 8,000,000 acres.
Texas Fire Season – lasted from Feb to Nov 2011 and was the largest in history.
Arizona Fire Season was the worst year in decades.
Aircraft Usage: We are using a combination of Very Large Air Tankers (VLATs), Large Air Tankers and Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATS).
The goal is to have an aircraft at the fire within 20 minutes of the request.
Fires in MTRs and SUA: Dispatchers and or Airspace Coordinators call MTR Scheduling Activity or SUA Controlling Agency to see if the airspace is active then pass information regarding activity to Air Tactical Supervisor (Air Attack).
Arizona Fire Season – Mr Rose (USFS Temporary Hire)
Extremely long period of very cold weather in February created dead plant life not normally present at the 5,000 to 7,000 foot elevation zone.
Three major fires, Murphy, Monument and Horseshoe 2, along the Mexican border were human caused as a diversion for illegal activity and fire crews were escorted by uniformed law enforcement personnel.
The Monument Fire was not the largest but it consumed the largest number of structures and was costly to contain.
All but the southern two miles of the fire was within Restricted Airspace. All military flight operations within the airspace were cancelled.
Davis-Monthan AFB and the Arizona ANG suspended their use of Libby Airfield during the duration of the fire to reduce traffic conflicts between their priority IFR flight operations and the VFR Firefighting Air Tanker and Helicopter operations originating at the airport.
Outstanding support from Fort Huachuca’s Libby Army Airfield tower and approach control. Personnel volunteered their time to keep the facilities open during the weekend when they are normally closed.
The civilian Fixed Base Operator had a total of four people working to keep the helicopters operating. What was significant was that during the fire all four men had to evacuate their homes and were living in temporary housing while supporting the fire operations.
One report from the Horseshoe 2 fire indicated that an F-16 had flown very close to a fire attack helicopter that was only a short distance from the established TFR at a “dip site” water tank. The emphasis from this incident is that high density fire traffic may exist outside the TFR with transits between the fire and reload facilities. Caution in the vicinity of a fire is important. The VR route was not used during the remaining days of active fire fighting on the Horseshoe 2 Fire.
CAL FIRE Tactical Air Operations – Mr. Reese (Battalion Chief)
California Air Attack Bases – 13 bases with 3 being Interagency supported.
CAL Fire Helitack Bases – 13 with 2 being Interagency supported.
CAL Fire Aircraft
11 - UH-1H Super Huey aircraft.
14 - converted military OV-10B aircraft for Air Tactical Aircraft.
23 - S2T twin engine Air Tankers that are replacing large air tankers.
1 - DC-10 Very Large Air Tanker
California has an aviation plan that calls for an aviation response within 20 minutes. .
The past two years have been somewhat “slow” but Cal Fire also responds to non fire incidents.
The Fire Traffic Areas (FTA) were developed as a result of a mid air that occurred between two CAL FIRE aircraft in 2001.
The FTA organizes aircraft entering and departing the fire area with established communication procedures.
Cal Fire and the USFS has a flight simulator that enables multiple aircraft to operate together in a fire environment to improve safety awareness and practice procedures within the Fire Traffic Area.
DoD Direction from AP/1 states: “All aircrews should be extremely alert for fire suppression activities and avoid such areas by 5 NMs whether NOTAM’s or not.”
Every spring Cal Fire has a large scale training exercise with military units to exercise coordination which can be quite complex based on the number of aircraft.
Air Operations Challenges for USFS/BLM and CAL FIRE
Military Aircraft flying low level in Temporary Flight Restrictions
Contact with Military Scheduling Activities is challenging for agency dispatchers to determine MTR activity on Evenings and Weekends.
Attempts to call scheduling office listed in the AP/1B often results in:
No one answers (No alternate number on evenings and weekends.)
If we find someone in the evening or weekend, the person we make contact with has no idea what we are talking about and we are transferred several times with no resolution
We are given an alternate number to call, which may happen 4-5 times for the same incident and we reach a recording which direct us to another number that goes nowhere
These issues are across the board with all military branches
National Park Service – Military Overflight Update – Ms. McCusker
Park Rescue – The National Park Service has thanked the Air Force and Army for their efforts in finding two lost hikers and then extracting them with Army Blackhawks.
Natural Sounds Program Activities
Published 14 articles in 2010 and 2011 concerning the impact of noise on wildlife and park visitors.
Developed an internal NPS Overflights Reporting Database that is GIS based. With a comprehensive database tool the NPS will be more capable of tracking noise problems.
Project to determine the effects of Aircraft Routes on National Parks
Energy Development Encroachment – Solar, Wind, Oil Shale, Natural Gas and Hydrokinetic
Regional Issues and Update
Cannon AFB LATN – The NPS commented on the Draft EA for the Cannon AFB LATN in November 2011. Who coordinates the responses? Mr. Chupein replied that the response may vary but the overflight of wilderness has always been regarded as compatible. We need to coordinate on issues more closely. A problem is that an agreement to not fly over wilderness environments and an agreement to not fly over populated environments are contradictory and leads to “do not fly at all.” The military must be able to preserve training areas.
C-130 Landing Zone - Kirkland AFB – Draft EA to establish new C-130 Landing Zone operations in the vicinity of the Petroglyphs National Monument, commented on in early 2012. The proposal and coordination has been going very well
Golden Gate National Recreation Area has a lot of local flying near a sensitive nesting area. They need a good contact with the Coast Guard and would like to have the Coast Guard invited to the Western Pacific ARC.