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May 09, 2014 // Facility Spotlight: Spokane ATCT/TRACON

There are currently 25 members out of 26 controllers at Spokane, Wash., ATCT/TRACON (GEG), making the facility 96 percent NATCA membership.

GEG is a level 7 ATCT/TRACON facility that was originally commissioned in 1960, but a new facility was opened in 2007.

At GEG, controllers work Spokane Class C airspace, Fairchild Air Force Base Class C airspace, Spokane Felts Field Class D airspace, Coeur d’Alene and Deer Park Class E airspace.

GEG controllers work with controllers at Seattle Center, Grant County Approach, Felts Tower, and Fairchild Tower. They also work with Missoula, Mont., Approach Control (MSO), Salt Lake City Center (ZLC), and MSO Tower.

There are some specific aircraft maintenance facilities located around GEG. Quest Aviation plant manufactures Kodiak Q100 aircraft in Sandpoint, Idaho, Rocket Engineering based out of Felts Field does turbine modifications to Malibu, Bonanza, and Duke aircraft, and Aerostar Aircraft Corporation World Headquarters is located in Coeur d’Alene.

“They recently have been flying an Aerostar modified with jet engines,” says GEG NATCA Vice President Lydia Baune. “Fairchild Air Force Base is home to some KC135 heavy tankers that routinely go out for practice approaches and pattern work locally.”

Working at GEG is unique in that SKA and GEG have overlapping Class C airspace, according to Baune.

“We have a visual separation waiver with Fairchild that allows Spokane Tower to provide visual separation with tankers at SKA,” she says. “SKA and GEG finals overlap, creating interesting sequencing at times. Mountainous terrain has its challenges, especially at MSO.”

Special events for the GEG area include an AOPA Fly-In to Felts Field in August, the Fairchild Air Force SkyFest Airshow in May and the Biannual Northwest Biplane Fly-In to Felts Field. In the past there have been Citation, TBM, and Bonanza Fly-ins.

The local NATCA atmosphere at GEG is positive, says Baune. People want to be involved, take pride in their job, and the local works collaboratively with management often.

“Our most recent collaboration was for a Turn Off, Tune In initiative,” explains Baune. “We negotiated the installation of a cell phone charging station outside the TRACON door, and are about to install a second outside the tower.”

Baune says the best part about being the GEG Vice President is being involved with a group of people that have some of the same beliefs and goals as herself, as well as being around people who care.

“There is always someone to turn to. People are always more than willing to help, and I like knowing that I am a part of a community that I believe in,” she says.