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Dec. 11, 2015 // Facility Spotlight: Columbus (CMH)

CMH1Columbus (CMH) is home to 48 dedicated NATCA members. The level 9 facility was commissioned in April 2004. CMH is responsible for the airspace of two TRACONS combined into one facility and one tower, two military operating areas, two Class C airspaces, five Class D airspaces, and four parachute zones. The facility works closely with six towered airports, Rickenbacker (LCK), The Ohio State University (OSU), Bolton Field (TZR), Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (FFO AFB), Dayton (DAY), and Wilmington Air Park (ILN); four adjacent approach controls, Mansfield (MFD), Greater Cincinnati (CVG), Indianapolis (IND), and Fort Wayne (FWA). In addition, CMH is in the process of acquiring additional airspace that will give it a common boundary with Toledo (TOL) and two centers: Indianapolis Center (ZID) and Cleveland Center (ZOB).

Controllers at CMH work a wide variety of aircraft including air carriers in and out of CMH, DAY, and LCK. They also control flight school operations out of OSU and Ohio University. Heavy cargo aircraft are worked in and out of LCK and ILN. They also work military aircraft in and out of FFO, AFB, LCK, and the two military operations areas adjacent to the facility. They are also responsible for four active parachute jump zones at non-towered Fairfield County Airport (LHQ), Middletown Regional Airport/Hook Field (MWO), Warren County Airport (I68), 6OA7. CMH is also involved in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operations at ILN with FFO AFB. They are looking to develop a test facility for the military. With such a heavy workload, controllers at CMH must be exceptionally accomplished in their training.

“In June of 2011 we acquired DAY Approach,” explains FacRep Phil Carpino. “We now work a prototypical up/down facility with an additional approach control. To be facility rated here, one has to certify in all three areas, CMH Tower, CMH East (CMH legacy approach), and CMH West (the approach control formerly known as DAY Approach).”

In addition to the unique and complex airspace controllers at CMH work every day, there are many special events that affect workload at the facility. Ohio Stadium is approximately five miles west of the facility and during Buckeye home games, there is a temporary flight restriction around the stadium. OSU also hosts many other events, which directly affect operations at CMH.

“OSU airport hosted the National Intercollegiate Flying Associations (NIFA) Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON) 2015, a flight competition that brings the nation’s top collegiate pilots to OSU to participate in flight and ground events that encourage aviation safety,” says Carpino. In addition, DAY holds an annual airshow, and Presidential visits and candidates flood the airspace during elections because of Ohio’s swing state status.

CMH has a unified membership that participates in several solidarity and charity events throughout the year. They are currently developing an annual solidarity event and have explored different options like curling, bowling, and attending minor league baseball games. They are excited to host an event the dedicated membership can look forward to.

“Ninety-two percent of those eligible at CMH are members,” says Carpino. “I hope to someday be able to say we are 100 percent NATCA strong!”

The best part of being the FacRep, for Carpino, is having the opportunity to have input and make a positive difference at the facility.

“We, the local Executive Board, are encouraging every member to get involved and attend any of NATCA’s events from our quarterly local general membership meetings, to NATCA in Washington, Communicating for Safety, Convention, NATCA 101 classes, or any of the NATCA Academy classes,” he says “Instead of entertaining possible misinformation at the facility, we encourage all members to get out there and get involved so they can make their own informed decision about everything NATCA is and does on a local, regional, and national level.”