Saturday, October 20, 2007

Kyrgyz controllers see stateside air traffic operations

Source: US Air Force.

by Maj. Adriane Craig
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.

MANAS AIR BASE, Kyrgyzstan (AFPN) -- Kyrgyz controllers from Manas Air Base got the chance to see air traffic operations on a whole new level with an orientation trip to the United States Sept. 3 to 17. Seven Kyrgyz air navigation controllers spent nearly two weeks touring the training and advanced operations sites that comprise the United States flight network.

U.S. Central Air Forces sponsored the trip as part of the on-going education and exchange program between Kyrgyz air navigation and the 376th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron at Manas Air Base. The two organizations work closely because the base is collocated with Manas International Airport.

The controllers visited civilian air traffic control centers belonging to the Federal Aviation Administration and the military air traffic control tower at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. They also traveled south to visit the military air traffic controller school house at Keesler AFB, Miss.

Air operations in another country was a real eye-opener for some of the participants as the Kyrgyz controllers got to see firsthand the high-tech equipment used in daily operations and training.

For Aibek Akmatov, a senior air traffic controller with the KAN, the training facility was one of the biggest surprises.

"You can talk with the computer," said Mr. Akmatov after seeing the simulator used at the military ATC school.

The group spent three days at the schoolhouse, where hundreds of military controllers are trained each year. The schoolhouse provides realistic training to better prepare controllers for the challenges they'll face on duty.

The size of the airports that the groups visited also impressed the Kyrgyz controllers, along with the amount of air traffic they handle.

"Seventy percent of the global air traffic flows through the United States," said Maj. Michael Smith, the 376th EOSS commander, who accompanied the controllers on the trip west.

The Kyrgyz controllers were exposed to large-scale operations, which enhanced their understanding of the big picture of safe air traffic control.

"Now I have a clear view of how our American colleagues work. The command air traffic control centers in Washington, D.C., work with 20 sectors across the country and provide a good flow of air traffic," Mr. Akmatov said.

Photo - David Maddox explains the layout of the airfield to Igor Kulik, Taalaibek Alisherov, and Lev Semenovykh Sept. 6 at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Mr. Maddox is the Federal Aviation Administration shift manager responsible for tower operations at Andrews AFB. The Kyrgyz air traffic controllers visited Andrews AFB and several other facilities in Virginia and Mississippi as part of a two-week orientation sponsored by U.S. Central Air Forces. The trip is part of an ongoing education and exchange program between Kyrgyz air navigation and the 376th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan. The two organizations work closely together because the base is collocated with Manas International Airport. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Alexy Saltekoff. Digg! Digg!

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