BOS Member Has a Knack for Air Traffic Control
Friday, July 06, 2012

EDITOR'S NOTE: This collaborative story, written by ATO Communications, uses some information provided by NATCA members in Boston.

When NATCA member Erik Anderson sent a plane around last month to avoid a potential collision with another aircraft, it wasn't the first time he had made a life-saving call from Boston Tower (BOS).

He's been busy. In the past year, Anderson has helped several aircrafts avoid what could have been very serious incidents, and the speed and skill with which he executes this assistance has impressed those around him.

Earlier this year, a Delta Air Lines Airbus 319 was lined up to land on Runway 4R when another aircraft taxied into the approach area without clearance from controllers. Anderson, who was providing on-the-job training at the time, immediately stepped in and instructed the Delta flight to go around.

He reacted so quickly, in fact, that he issued the go-around instructions before the ASDE-X alert went off to warn of a potential collision. Beating the ASDE-X is “very unusual,” said Brendan Reilly, operations manager at BOS.

“He responded half a second before the alert,” he said. “There was no hesitation. He immediately knew what to do and took action.”

The quick response was nothing new for Anderson. In August, a departing aircraft struck a bird, and Anderson guided the flight immediately back to Boston Logan International Airport, Reilly said.
He kept the flight on his frequency and used vectors to guide the flight back to the airport, even though BOS typically handles arrivals into the airport.

In October, Anderson was working ground control when a flight didn't turn at Taxiway B as instructed. It appeared to be headed toward Runway 22R.

Anderson alerted the local controller before the taxiing aircraft entered the safety area, and the local controller canceled the takeoff clearance for a departing flight, preventing a near runway incursion.

“Erik comes to work every single day prepared to be engaged in the operation and provide the highest level of service to the customers,” Reilly said.

“For him to be able to recognize that situation as he did before the ASDE-X went off is just outstanding,” Jim Peterson, the NATCA facility representative at BOS, said of Anderson’s actions earlier this month.

Anderson said he had noticed the aircraft taxiing “extremely fast,” and that after working at BOS for 12 years, he knows what kind of actions might signal an impending safety issue.

“Sometimes you just see things out of the corner of your eye,” he said. “You’re always watching. It was the perfect time for them to meet right at the critical point of the runway.”

Anderson, whose father also served as a controller at BOS, said he doesn’t hesitate to remind pilots to stop and hold short of an intersection if he suspects they didn’t hear or understand his initial instruction.

“Sometimes it’s superfluous, and sometimes you might catch something before it happens,” he said. “Some days, there’s one thing you do that makes you feel like you earned your paycheck for the whole year.”