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Operational Readiness/Contingency Operations

Kevin Wright (D01) is the Article 114 Representative to the Operational Readiness Group (AJR-X). 

Background:  AJR-X is the directorate established to develop, maintain, and exercise contingency planning and readiness. The primary aim of AJR-X is to build contingency into the culture of the NAS. The directorate is composed of three divisions (X1, X2, and X3). X1 manages and maintains the order concerning Contingency Operations (JO1900.47). X2 does facility Operational Contingency Plan (OCP) rebuilds and other projects related to domestic contingency, including COVID operations and hurricane operations planning. X3 interacts with international ANSP’s for negotiations of procedures and contingencies in the oceanic airspace.  

Core 30 Up/Down facilities and ARTCC’s are the focus of current Operational Contingency Plan (OCP) rebuilds. These rebuilds will bring the OCPs of these large facilities in line with the 1900.47 order and also ensure that the plans are viable and serve a useful purpose to the bargaining unit when they are needed. 

Due to the COVID pandemic and resultant travel restrictions, the majority of the meetings with AJR-X have moved to a virtual platform.  ZOOM and telcons are the primary means for meeting and discussing the projects and initiatives that are in progress. Much of this work is just starting to take hold in this way and progress is beginning to be seen. The following projects are in progress: 

FAA Order 1900.47 Contingency Operations 

FAAO 1900.47F Chg1 is currently in review for implementation. The primary addition from the recently enacted 1900.47F is the introduction of a baseline Operational Level for affected facilities and the Core 30 Airports. A workgroup has been established within X3 to develop a process to establish this baseline and to find checkpoints to show ability to increase the baseline and the infrastructure required to reach these checkpoints.  

A memo will be provided on November 9 that redirects the classification of OCL (Operational Contingency Level). It will return the definition of ATC-Zero to be “any time a facility is not providing air traffic services”. The OCL for a displaced facility -whether to an alternate location, such as a temporary tower or ETG/DYSIM lab or to an alternate FAA facility, will be ATC-Alert.  

Operational Exercise ToolKit 

Beta Testing has begun with Phoneix Tower (PHX), Phoneix Tracon (P50), and Albuquerque Center (ZAB) on a process by which facilities can exercise and validate their OCPs. AJR-X3 is creating a website on which facilities can access scenarios and information that will help with ensuring their OCPs are viable and executable. Using the toolkit for exercises will allow facilities to consider their annual exercise completed. Mr. Wright will be working with the facilities and AJR-X3 to populate and verify that the included information and checklists will benefit the operational facilities.  

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OCP Rebuilds – Up/Down 

Oakland Center (ZOA) was the keysite for the OCP Rebuild process for ARTCCs in the NAS. Work has begun with virtual conferences conducted via ZOOM. The strategy is to engage first with the impacted facility and in subsequent weeks to loop in the support facilities including the overlying ARTCC and the adjacent TRACONs in order to create a viable and compliant OCP for the facility that can be utilized and supported by the surrounding facilities. This work is planned to take 7-8 weeks. The field teams are reaching conclusion on the work with Charlotte (CLT), Tampa (TPA) and Covington (CVG). The field teams will then begin engagement with the standalone TRACONs (Atlanta (A80), Chicago (C90), and Northern California Tracon (NCT)). Further work in the beginning of CY21 will be conducted with New York Tracon (N90), Dallas Fort Worth Tracon (D10), Soutyhern California Tracon (SCT), Albuquerque Center (ZAB), and Houston Center (ZHU) . The end result should be a process that allows easy examination, validation, and implementation of further OCP Rebuilds in the NAS National Airspace System (NAS). 

COVID contingency 

AJR-X3 had worked with AJR-1 Sys Ops to develop and coordinate “COVID routes.” The contingencies will provide standardized and pre-coordinated routes and structure to use between ARTCCs during closures for COVID cleaning. These will be short term initiatives that can be brought up and implemented quickly for short durations. The local facilities have been directed to collaborate on the routes and structure to be used for these routes. Nationally, work is continuing to expand upon and understand the safety implications of this process. New concepts, such as non-surveillance separation and TIBA (Traffic Information by Aircraft), are familiar in the ICAO environment but need to be introduced and trained to the Domestic US Airspace.  

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