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January 03, 2014 // Facility Spotlight: BTR ATCT

There are 15 NATCA members who work in the tower located in Louisiana’s capital: Baton Rouge Ryan Field ATCT (BTR).

Operations at this level 7 up/down facility in “The Capital City” run from 5 a.m. to midnight, local time.

Commissioned in 1982, BTR is 76 feet tall from the ground to the floor of the tower cab. BTR controllers are responsible for guiding a mix of general aviation, commercial and military aircraft within 40 miles of the tower, from the Earth’s surface up to 10,000 feet. They also guide aircraft that come from a new helicopter flight school in the area.

BTR NATCA members work with controllers at Fort Polk Army Airfield Tower (POE), Lafayette ATCT (LFT), New Orleans ATCT (MSY), and Houston Center (ZHU).

BTR NATCA Facility Representative Nikki Thomas says what’s different about working at BTR than at another tower is that the weather can change rapidly in Baton Rouge, including frequent pop-up thunderstorms.

Thomas says Louisiana State University (LSU) football games and other LSU sporting events can bring heavy amounts of traffic into BTR’s airspace, as did last year’s Super Bowl. Other events such as Mardi Gras also contribute to increased traffic as well as hurricane season, because BTR is the Louisiana National Disaster Recovery Airport.

“One of the major petroleum refineries is located in BTR creating a large amount of pipeline inspection aircraft,” adds Thomas.

NATCA events at BTR include holiday parties, monthly birthday parties, facility barbecues, and Thomas says controllers often get together outside the facility as well.

Thomas notes that the BTR NATCA members have handled a lot of adversity in the past couple of years with many changes in the front office and in the supervisor office.

“They have continued to work with the highest level of professionalism and dedication on a daily basis,” says Thomas. “The best part of being the FacRep is getting to support the members and being involved in many aspects of the facility.”

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