Dyess Air Force Base, Abilene Regional Airport: Partners in Safety
By Lt. Col. Timothy Fritz, 317th Airlift Wing Chief of Safety
/ Published June 12, 2018
DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Airmen take risks. It is and has been intricately woven in our service culture’s DNA since Sept. 18, 1947. It foundationally created an environment that ultimately resulted in the world’s most powerful Air Force and shattered aviation barriers.
As we drive innovation and continue pushing boundaries across the full spectrum of operations, we must ensure our Airmen maintain a strong and active safety program. As such, building relationships with mission partners is a great way to mitigate risks inherent to our daily operations and ensure risk is assumed at the right level.
The 317th Airlift Wing recently hosted members of the Abilene Regional Airport’s Safety Council to open lines of communication and expose controllers to tactical airlift operations to identify better ways of doing business.
In my opinion, we are fortunate to share the airspace in the greater Abilene area with our partners at Abilene Regional Airport. As we operate in the local flying area, we work with an exceptional team of controllers at Abilene Regional Airport, and they are vital partners in ensuring we accomplish our mission.
During the visit, controllers attended a tactical formation brief, participated in an aircraft familiarization tour, were introduced to the aircrew life support program and observed formation departure procedures for the formation from the tower.
This visit, spearheaded by Capt. Seth Westfall, 39th Airlift Squadron C-130J Super Hercules pilot, has already benefited both organizations. An upcoming change to local instrument approach procedures will simplify clearances and reduce controller workload. Furthermore, the group identified seams and gaps in our flight planning and filing processes that are currently under review.
As aircrew and pilots continue to share the airspace, both groups look forward to a growing relationship that will ultimately result in safer operations.
“I think the relationship between the Safety Council and us is very important as we work together on a daily basis,” said Westfall. “The Abilene Regional Airport Safety Council and Radar Approach Control are our safety lookouts. We rely on their instructions on every flight, so it would behoove us to strengthen our relationship.”