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September 04, 2014 // Facility Spotlight: Aspen (ASE)

Aspen Tower (ASE), is a level 5 ATCT/TRACAB that was commissioned in 1974. The radar was commissioned in 1989.

Controllers at ASE work Class D airspace extending from the surface to 10,300 feet. Above that is the approach’s airspace. ASE’s airspace is an odd shape and is cut off by the EGE shelf (Eagle County Regional Airport) that is controlled by Denver Center.

ASE controllers work approaches mostly coming from the east into Garfield County Regional Airport (RIL).

The commercial aircraft at ASE are CRJ7 and the Dash 8. A few single-engine aircraft are based at ASE as well. However, the majority of the aircraft controllers work are privately-owned jets including Gulfstreams, Bombardier Global Express jets, Falcons, Challengers, Lear Jets, Citations, and NetJets Phenoms.

The main difference that sets ASE apart from most facilities is that traffic runs the opposite direction. The controllers use the “wrap” operation, which uses visual separation.

Traffic gets thick during the holidays in Aspen, especially during the winters and ski season. The Fourth of July and the Food and Wine Classic festival bring in traffic during the summer months, and the Gulfstream Fly-In occurs during the fall.

“We are such a small facility that we have become a family,” says Facility Representative Laura Smith. She is working to set up a monthly event for the 15 NATCA members at ASE.

“The best part about being FacRep in ASE is the atmosphere,” Smith says. “It’s so wonderful coming to work and knowing that we can all work together to make the best out of each day.”