Dallas/Fort Worth TRACON (D10) is home to over 120 NATCA members. FacRep Terry Donaldson explains that the membership is composed of professionals who strive to represent D10 as the shining jewel of the National Airspace System (NAS) 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
D10 is a Level 12 stand alone TRACON, and in 2016, handled over 1.2 million operations. Donaldson explains that a Certified Professional Controller (CPC) corps of less than 65 and just fewer than 50 CPC-ITs and developmental controllers accomplished those operations.
D10 is responsible for the airspace surrounding the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). This airspace extends 50-to-60 miles in all directions, up to 17,000 feet. The Class Bravo airspace is a complex, high volume, centrally situated piece of the NAS in the heart of North Texas. D10 is responsible not only for the primary airport, which is home to American Airlines, but also to Dallas Love Field (DAL), which is home to Southwest Airlines. These two airports are located just over five nautical miles from each other, creating a very unique and complex arrival and departure arena for the two major airline hubs.
In addition to DFW and DAL airports, D10 is the parent facility to 11 other towered satellite airports as well as numerous private and non-towered municipal airports. D10 controllers are responsible for a wide variety of aircraft types that range from military fighters, Boeing and Airbus air carrier types, to every imaginable aircraft in the general aviation fleet. Sequencing a Cessna 172 Skyhawk with a Gulfstream, Citation, or an F-16 is a daily occurrence.
“What sets working at D10 apart from many other facilities is the requirement to be resilient and adaptable,” says Donaldson. “Our controllers face monumental staffing issues daily (as does most of the NAS) while training non-stop and overcoming the challenges associated with an aging and failing infrastructure, convective weather, restructured and reorganized airspace, and changes in pilot experience and controller experience as the next generation is training to replace our mentors and teachers.”
Donaldson explains that D10 controllers have seen building construction, furloughs, hiring freezes, and airspace redesigns, and that they always rebound to provide the safest and most efficient service possible.
“To work at D10 is truly a challenge and privilege,” he says. “There are few places in the NAS that can claim to support similar traffic counts, complexities and staffing challenges as our members do here at D10. They are some of the most dedicated professionals in our field.”
D10 is host to numerous events each year as the home to sports teams in all major professional leagues. In addition, North Texas hosts NASCAR, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the Cotton Bowl, and other nationally recognized events annually as they simultaneously maintain daily operations.
D10 hosts several local solidarity events each year in conjunction with Fort Worth Center (ZFW) and DFW. The North Texas NATCA combines the brothers and sisters from many of the locals in the area as far south as Waco, Texas, and as far east as Longview, Texas.
“The unique location of three level 12 facilities in such close proximity allows us to promote solidarity and union activism to the memberships of all three large facilities and many underlying locals as well,” says Donaldson. “In 2016 the three level 12 facilities co-hosted the ‘North Texas NATCA’ Christmas party, which had over 475 NATCA members and their families in attendance.”
Donaldson explains that the D10 NATCA Local is a very diverse group who strive to improve work relationships as well as work and home-life balance while proudly carrying the banner of being one of the busiest stand-alone TRACONs in the NAS.
“The best part about being the FacRep at D10 is the opportunity to serve my members as their chosen leader, advocate, defender, and spokesperson,” Donaldson says. “Serving at the behest of this membership presents daily challenges and obstacles that require the utmost dedication to detail, knowledge and, sometimes, lobbying skills, and I am thankful for the opportunity they have given me to act as their representative.”