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January 31, 2014 // Facility Spotlight: Bradley ATCT and Bradley TRACON

There are two separate locals at Bradley Airport in the capital of Connecticut, so this week we are giving you a two-for-one facility spotlight!

New England Regional Vice President Mike Robicheau says the two facilities, Bradley ATCT (BDL) and Bradley TRACON (Y90), share the same building and for the most part the same management team. However, they are two separate facilities and locals.

Bradley ATCT (BDL)

There are 20 NATCA members at BDL, which makes this local 100 percent NATCA!

The level six radar-equipped tower contains controllers working 24-hours a day, keeping the skies of Connecticut safe from 150-feet in the air.

The controllers at this facility, commissioned in 1999, primarily work with those at Y90. BDL controllers are responsible for aircraft arriving and departing from the airport, as well as any Visual Flight Rules (VFR) flights within five miles of the tower.

“We deal with a good mix of air carrier and general aviation aircraft,” says BDL NATCA FacRep Kyle Porterfield. “Bombardier and Embraer both have hangars on the field.”

Working in the New England region, the BDL controllers have the fun of dealing with the weather this region’s winters bring, and, therefore, de-icing. Though, Porterfield says the harsh winters are balanced with nice summers and VFR traffic.

“We also get to deal with airliners and military traffic, having an Army National Guard and the Connecticut Air National Guard on site,” he says. “We are also a primary divert airport for the Boston and New York area, so when bad weather shuts them down, we can see a big increase in our traffic.”

Porterfield says the NATCA atmosphere at BDL is buzzing, and people are showing an interest in everything that’s going on.

“I’m a new FacRep as of September, and it’s been great working with my peers and being involved with everything that happens,” he says. “I’m excited to keep learning new things and do everything I can to keep BDL great.”

Bradley TRACON (Y90)

Y90 has 27 NATCA members, putting overall membership at this facility at 81 percent.

The facility operates 24-hours a day and, like BDL, was commissioned in 1999. Though the facility is a level eight, the facility used to be a level nine, but was downgraded two years ago, according to Scott Sill, the Y90 FacRep for the past six years.

The facility’s airspace spans from the Earth’s surface to 10,000 feet. The lateral limit of its airspace extends out approximately 55 miles from the airport.

Within its airspace, Y90 sees all types of aircraft from general aviation to air taxis, to air carriers, military jets and propeller planes, or, “props.”

Controllers at Y90 keep the Connecticut area skies safe by working with controllers at BDL, New York TRACON (N90), Providence Approach Control (PVD), Albany Approach Control (ALB), Boston Combined TRACON (A90), Boston Center (ZBW) as well as with two Federal Contract Towers: Barnes/Westfield Tower (BAF) and Worcester Tower (ORH). In addition, Y90 works with a Department of Defense facility, Westover Air Base (CEF).

Sill says Y90 is a very challenging facility to work at because of the mixture of aircraft and the weather.

“The winter is challenging due to the ever-changing weather and freezing conditions,” he says. “And the thunderstorms in the summer surely get everyone’s attention.”

Sill says Y90’s traffic count really picks up in the summer, mostly because of the flights back and forth to Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. Traffic also increases because of the fly-ins some of the smaller satellite airports host during the summer. Y90 also works parachute operations throughout the year but especially in the summer, which affects Y90’s traffic flow.

The NATCA local atmosphere has changed dramatically in the last several years as more and more young people have started working at the facility, says Sill.

“It has challenges – at one point last year we had 15 CPCs and 13 developmentals,” he says. “I take great pride in making the facility a better place to work. After working in two wonderful facilities (GSO and RDU) in the Southern Region for almost 14 years, I have tried to bring all of the positive experiences of those facilities to Y90.”