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May 21, 2015 // Facility Spotlight: Phoenix Sky Harbor ATCT (PHX)

There are 36 NATCA members at Phoenix Sky Harbor ATCT (PHX), a level 10 facility. The facility opened on January 14, 2007. The tower is co-located with Phoenix TRACON (P50), is 326 feet tall, and responsible for 4,000 feet of airspace. PHX is in the top 10 facilities for aircraft operations and sees a large variety of aircraft. There are 10 hospitals in the area as well, so medevac flights are common.

“The facility works air carriers, cargo, corporate jets, small private aircraft, and military aircraft,” says FacRep Jerry Johnston. “The Arizona National Guard is also stationed at Phoenix Sky Harbor, and they have KC-135s.”

An interesting aspect about working at PHX doesn’t include weather, as with many other facilities, but dust walls.

“We have an average of 296 days of sunshine a year, so we do not have a lot of weather issues,” explains Johnston. “We do get walls of dust, called haboobs, which are a type of intense dust storm carried on an atmospheric gravity current.”

Special events keep life interesting at PHX.

“We just had a very successful Super Bowl this past February,” says Johnston. “In fact, the entire valley and all of the other airports were affected, and the NFL told the FAA it was the best service they have received from air traffic for any Super Bowl. We have all four major sports in the valley, plus we have two NASCAR races every year that increase traffic. We will also be hosting the NCAA Tournament Final Four.”

In addition to handling a busy sports schedule, PHX hosts several solidarity events.

“We have had Christmas parties and have gone to Diamondback games. There have been a couple of groups that organized hockey game outings. I think we have a great NATCA local. We get volunteers for everything, and most people who work there are involved in something at the facility. I believe in letting them run the facility, as it’s their facility – I am just the temporary caretaker. The more involved you have your members in their facility, the more I feel like they have ownership of it and want it to be successful. They care when they are involved. I could not be prouder of our NATCA members and the teamwork they display and the “can do” attitude they bring to work every day.

“We were one of the test sites for Electronic Flight Strips. The system had its flaws when it came, and it was still being worked on, but our members did a great job of documenting those things that needed to be improved, staying with it, and helping to improve it to a point where we feel it has increased our safety and efficiency greatly. They could see the past, the present, and see to the future of what the possibilities were with the equipment. I am proud to be the FacRep at PHX!”