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CFS Panel: Contingency Operations in the NAS

  • Jason Grider, Contingency Operations Representative, NATCA
  • Trey Madrid, Contingency Operations Staff Specialist

The goal of Contingency Operations is to ensure each facility in the National Airspace System has a contingency plan if an incident occurs that results in ATC-0 being declared.

“We come together and we look at what the conditions are. We look at how they can do air traffic and not be in their facility; restarting traffic at neighboring facilities,” said Madrid. “We look at it for towers, TRACONs, up/downs, the centers, and even for oceanic airspace. We look at how we can start traffic moving again once ATC-0 occurs. People may be evacuated at these facilities but planes don’t go away.”

Jason Grider

Philip Madrid

Madrid added that, “we need to do a better job of quickly reacting to the needs of the public.” He discussed the lessons learned from the Chicago Center fire in 2014 while praising the controllers who worked so hard to keep the airspace running in the hours, days, and weeks after the arson incident that knocked out ZAU’s communications infrastructure. “Every controller leaned in and did everything they could to bring the NAS back up to where it should be. What we’re trying to do is not wait for that next event to happen but instead plan ahead and have a system in place so that when it happens, we know what to do.”

Madrid and Grider discussed Operational Contingency Plans (OCPs) and contingency training. A working group is looking at training needs and there is a contingency overview video in development.

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