Super Bowl Wrap-Up
Thursday, February 10, 2011
The Green Bay Packers weren’t the only ones who enjoyed great success in North Texas last weekend.
NATCA members at several facilities handling lots of extra traffic related to Super Bowl XLV in Arlington, Texas, put in an extraordinary level of performance to safely and efficiently handle the demands despite lousy weather and lots of unpredictability. And several examples of effective collaboration with FAA management made the weekend even more of a success story.
Here are some thoughts and reflections from three members who found themselves in the eye of the proverbial storm:
“The ATC system went off without a hitch. Months of planning went into traffic projections and alternate procedures to accommodate unprecedented numbers of private aircraft and passengers into Metroplex airports. Yet even with planning and best-guess projections, there was still a high level of unpredictability.
“Controllers at DFW, Love Field, Addison, McKinney, Arlington, Meachum, Alliance, Redbird and other satellite airports performed admirably. I saw a three-second blurb on the 10 p.m. news Monday night that said flights were relatively on time all day. End of story. Imagine the attention if the opposite were true?
“At ZFW, controllers worked 7,360 flights on Monday. A normal day is around 5,700.
“While most of us would not want to work Super Bowl traffic on a daily basis, we say, “Bring on Super Bowl L.”
“We had a successful weekend at DAL ATCT. Due to the ice storms earlier in the week, we had increased traffic and limited taxiways on Friday afternoon. The FLM on duty began the new procedures - splitting ground control and opening up the pre-start coordinator. This decision actually helped the operation on Friday.
“The big test came after the game was over. We had a trickle of traffic after halftime, but we got slammed after the game. When I left at 11 p.m. CST, there were five aircraft with engine start approved, at least 12-15 taxiing, and 30 more engine start requests. The midnight crew plus overtime helped to launch over 200 jets in a short amount of time, including 88 in the first two hours after midnight. The TRACON (D10) helped us out by altering our normal procedures and allowed for dispersal headings.
“Monday morning started out slow, but picked up to a good pace at about 8:30 a.m. Central. The TRACON put one of their best controllers on the departure radar and told us we could not ‘put him down the tubes.’ We tried our best using visual separation and the diverging heading. A total of 979 operations took place on Monday, which included 652 departures. During our heaviest hour, between noon and 1 p.m., we topped out with 80 operations, 24 arrivals, and 56 departures. Delays averaged between 30-45 minutes with only a few longer than an hour at the peak.
“Working together with management, other controllers, and other facilities definitely helped our operation run smooth. Without this, we could have been stuck with procedures that didn't work, frequencies consistently clogged, and upset pilots and passengers.
“This event is a benchmark on how to work together to safely and efficiently move traffic and move the NAS into the Next Generation.”
“On behalf of the controllers at DAL I wanted to personally thank D10 and ZFW for doing an outstanding job in helping DAL push hundreds and hundreds of aircraft in a way we've never done before.
“I also want to thank DAL Management for working collaboratively with NATCA on ALL aspects of the event. Special thanks to FLM Matt Segleski who alongside union controllers spent hours planning procedures, sharing power tools, building strip bays together, some even slept at the facility overnight during the inclement weather and busy traffic periods. In my opinion, the entire event could not have run smoother. Progress is unmatched when we work together.
“Thank you to all DAL controllers who battled snow and ice covered roads with travel times in some cases exceeding two hours, however, still arriving on-time.”