ATCA Bulletin #7 - 2015

Page 1

Air Traffic Control Association

No. 7, 2015

Meet Frank Adamo

ATCA Chats with the Air Traffic Controller as He Looks Back on His Decades-Long Career

In This Issue: »» Summer Journal Sneak Peak »» ATCA Member Roundtable »» A Word From ATCA Chair-Elect Charlie Keegan »» And More

President’s Message

No. 7, 2015 Published for

By Peter F. Dumont, President & CEO, Air Traffic Control Association

Busy Times


TCA has been busy since I wrote last month. I just returned from Durban, South Africa, where the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) held their Annual General Meeting (AGM). This was an excellent opportunity to interact with the world’s Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) face to face in a collaborative environment. We also discussed with CANSO our long-term strategy for the World ATM Congress moving forward. This has been an excellent partnership that has helped both of our organizations and the community globally. I hope you took the time to read the latest Journal of Air Traffic Control. The majority of our summer issue is devoted to privatization of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization (ATO). ATCA is proud that this issue features points-of-view from a wide range of leading industry voices. One of the benefits to you, the member, of belonging to ATCA is our global reach. By interacting with global ANSP CEOs we can ask the relevant questions when it comes to examining the right model and best practices for privatization. First and

foremost, however, we need to determine if privatization is the right path for the U.S. We have recently heard Congressman Bill Shuster, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, outline his desire for a bill on privatization to be introduced in July. This is just an outline and as many have said the devil is in the details. I look forward to hearing those details. As I write this, I am in Mountain View, California, preparing to meet with Google(X) to discuss their vision of UAS operations in the National Airspace System (NAS). Exciting things are on the horizon for ATCA. I hope you will be able to join us on the 7th of July for our ATCA Member Roundtable [turn to page 10 for more event details]. This is a non-sponsored event that ATCA is holding exclusively for our members at no cost to you. The purpose is to give a voice to concerns regarding the FAA’s Acquisition Management System (AMS). I hope to see you there where we can discuss it in greater detail. If you have questions please contact Paul Planzer at or at 703-299-2430 x305.

1101 King Street, Suite 300 Alexandria, VA 22314 Phone: 703-299-2430 Fax: 703-299-2437 President & CEO: Peter F. Dumont

Director, Communications: Marion Brophy Writer/Editor: Kristen Knott

Formed in 1956 as a non-profit, professional membership association, ATCA represents the interests of all professionals in the air traffic control industry. Dedicated to the advancement of professionalism and technology of air traffic control, ATCA has grown to represent several thousand individuals and organizations managing and providing ATC services and equipment around the world. Published by

140 Broadway, 46th Floor New York, NY 10005 Toll-free: 866-953-2189 Toll-free Fax: 877-565-8557 President: Jeff Lester

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© 2015 Air Traffic Control Association, Inc. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced by any means, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of ATCA. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the authors of the editorial articles contained in this publication are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily represent the opinion of ATCA.

Upcoming Events Oct. 6, 2015

Aviation Cyber Security Day Resorts Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, NJ


ATCA Bulletin  |  No. 7, 2015

Nov. 1–4, 2015

ATCA Annual and CMAC National Harbor, Maryland

Printed in Canada. Please recycle where facilities exist.


Transforming the air traffic management (ATM) system is essential for improving safety, efficiency and the environment around the globe. Boeing is fully committed and uniquely qualified to help make ATM transformation a reality. It’s the right time and Boeing is the right partner.

MEET FRANK ADAMO The Air Traffic Controller Celebrates His Decades-Long Career with a Look Back

Adamo keeps busy in his free time with one of his favorite hobbies, wood carving


ATCA Bulletin  |  No. 7, 2015

Image courtesy of Frank Adamo ; Karlowac/

By Kristen Knott, ATCA Writer and Editor

“Being a controller has never been that stressful for me on a regular basis. If you know what you’re doing then it keeps the stress level down. You get stressed because you feel like you’re losing control so you continually plan ahead.” – Frank Adamo

Image courtesy of Frank Adamo


or America, 1966 was a momentous year: the Vietnam War was raging and we were in the midst of the Space Race and the Cold War with the Soviet Union. On the flip side, the year also brought the world the mini-skirt and Star Trek. It was also the year that Frank Adamo started his career in air traffic control. It all began with controller training at Keesler Air Force Base (AFB) in Biloxi, MS. His first assignment was at Otis AFB – now U.S. Coast Guard (USGC) Air Station Cape Cod, his current home tower. Then, instead of Vietnam, the Air Force stationed him in North Africa - in Tripoli, Libya. Once his tour was over he left the military to be with his wife and family, and became a controller with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 1969. It was smooth sailing for the next 12 years; Adamo mostly worked radar approach control. He worked a stint at the Hyannis air traffic control (ATC) tower – one of the busiest towers in Massachusetts – before returning to Otis. Then came 1981 and with it the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) Strike. President Reagan famously fired more than 11,000 controllers; Adamo was among them. “There were eight of us on the [ATC] crew and we did everything together; how could we not support each other [in the strike]?” said Adamo. “We were whipped into a frenzy by the union; we were babes in the woods. We as controllers felt we had done all we could do to bring safety issues to the surface. Few supported us, all most people heard was that we wanted more money.” At first, following the strike, Adamo took odd jobs to fill the gap until he could be re-hired as a controller. He kept himself

Adamo with his U.S. Air Force Technical School class in 1965.

busy and made the best of the circumstances. He earned a commercial pilot’s certification with an instrument rating. He acquired a Commercial Driver’s License and worked in the arts, transportation, and even in floppy disk development. “It was a struggle. I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do; I wasn’t a controller,” said Adamo. Of course, Adamo had no clue that his break from ATC would last 14 years. Then his luck turned when the FAA started contracting ATC towers out to private companies. When his second chance came to be a controller with Dynamic Science, Inc. (DSI), a private company contracted by the U.S. Coast Guard, in 1995, he jumped at it. Not only was Adamo given the oppor-

tunity to return to a career he loved, but he was able to return to his favorite ATC tower, Otis – now the USCG Air Station Cape Cod. “This is my third time back at Otis. I met my wife while working at this tower; it’s like being home,” said Adamo. Adamo, who recently turned 70, is now celebrating 20 years at his current tower with DSI. “People always ask when I’m going to retire but I love the job. I would do it for nothing. I’m a bit of a ham; I like to talk and perform. There’s something about the job that’s so rewarding. You really feel like you’re doing something that’s contributing to the world, not just aviation,” he said. “As long as I can pass my physical, I’ll ATCA Bulletin  |  No. 7, 2015


ATCA: What was your best day as a controller?

The Level 1 ATC tower at Air Station Cape Cod in Massachusetts is busy this time of year with the height of tourist season. The airport is a favorite of celebrities and dignitaries: it’s even visited by President Obama and Air Force One every summer. The military, single-staffed tower is a 24/7 operation that also runs search and rescue whenever needed. It has two runways with two ILS and GPS approaches. Most of their traffic consists of H-60s, C-130s, KC-135s, CG Auxiliary, and CN-35s.

Adamo: In the early 1970s, I was working at the Nantucket ATC tower. A plane coming inbound saw a small boat overturned, so I called the fire station downtown, which sent a rescue crew out there. The crew couldn’t find anything so we talked to the plane again. The crew went back and found the boat after we forced the issue. That was my most satisfying day; I maybe helped save two people. I received a FAA We Point with Pride award [one of three such plaques he earned throughout his illustrious career].

keep working,” said Adamo. While controllers today are required to retire at 55, Adamo entered the field before the rule came into effect. “I believe I’m the oldest working controller; I even sent a letter to the Guinness Book of World Records but I haven’t heard back from them.” Adamo is a character that embodies the very definition of determination. He goes above and beyond the call of duty whenever possible. “Being a controller has never been that stressful for me on a regular basis. If you know what you’re doing then it keeps the stress level down. You get stressed because you feel like you’re


ATCA Bulletin  |  No. 7, 2015

losing control so you continually plan ahead,” he said. Of course, having a sense of humor helps a lot, he added. For two decades, he’s tackled shift work at a single-staffed military ATC tower and loved every second of it. “You only take a break if you absolutely need it; an official break doesn’t happen [during a shift],” he said. “The hardest thing about the job is getting it. I don’t complain about creature comforts.” One might assume that one of the biggest challenges in being a controller for decades is staying on top of new technologies, but Adamo doesn’t worry about

it. “The system is a lot safer now but the human element is still as big as it ever was. Right now, I feel I’m as needed now as when I first started – the number of controllers has remained the same,” he said. Adamo is the kind of guy one can talk to for hours, but he has to run – he needs to report back to work at 6 a.m. tomorrow, despite it being a Saturday. But first, he’s going kayaking with his wife and finishing a wildlife painting* – his day is just getting started. *Visit to view some of Adamo’s wildlife paintings and carvings.

Miroslaw Dziadkowiec; Cylonphoto/Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Frank Adamo

USCG Air Station Cape Cod at a Glance

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Media partners ATCA Bulletin  |  No. 7, 2015


Summer Journal

Sneak Peek Privatization is one of the hottest topics in the industry right now, but is it a solution? Many options are being considered, and the current issue of The Journal of Air Traffic Control features points-of-view from a wide range of leading industry voices.

“The idea is to privatize all domestic high altitude Enroute air traffic control services in the continental United States, inclusive of all directly associated facilities and personnel.”

“The lack of stable, predictable funding has led to serious problems at the FAA.” – Paul Rinaldi, NATCA

“All seven of us [who provided testimony before the House Aviation Subcommittee] favored funding and structural reform, with most supporting separation of the ATO from the FAA as a selffunded ATC corporation.” – Robert Poole, Reason Foundation

– Frank Frisbie, Double F Consulting

– Kevin Burke, Airports Council International-North America

“There is no longer any substantive debate about the effectiveness of the NAV CANADA model as the organizational and corporate basis for managing the world’s second largest ANS, in terms of air traffic movements, airspace size, and physical assets.”

“My one wish for the aviation industry’s future is that today’s leaders successfully deal with ‘the one that got away’ from my generation of aviation and government leaders – ATC reform.”

– John Crichton, NAV CANADA

– Charles Barclay

“And when air traffic control is not ignored and receives intense attention, the focus is on political concerns, which are completely appropriate concerns for elected officials, but often have nothing to do with what is best for the critical operation of air traffic control.” –David Grizzle, Dazzle Partners


ATCA Bulletin  |  No. 7, 2015

Images courtesy of ATCA

“From the perspective of the airport industry, the conversation around privatization is not so much about air traffic control itself, but rather how its reform is one piece of a much larger puzzle.”


ver the past few years, I’ve seen a positive evolution in all of ATCA’s events, most recently the Technical Symposium in Atlantic City, NJ. There was an unprecedented collaboration with the FAA this year, including a tremendous commitment by Teri Bristol, Ed Bolton, and Pam Whitley. This year’s panel sessions were more candid than ever before, encouraging a more open dialogue amongst members. It’s all facilitated an unprecedented bonding of the aviation community. From the beginning, the Tech Symposium kicked off in a different direction with Dennis Filler’s introductory presentation, where he helped show an opening of the aperture in areas of aviation exploration.

The first session helped set the stage to dive deeper into topics we don’t usually hear as much about such as Disaster Recovery and Commercial Space. This fall ATCA will host its historic 60th Annual Conference. As we’ve never had this level of commitment between the FAA, industry, and the aviation community, the Annual will be a marker for our membership. The door is wide open for members to participate in the NextGen conversation. It’s our responsibility to capitalize on the collaboration that the FAA has offered. This is our chance to shine. I look forward to seeing the progression of the collaboration at ATCA’s premier event in November.

Image courtesy of ATCA

A Word from Chair-Elect Charlie Keegan

Charlie Keegan addresses attendees at this year’s ATCA Technical Symposium in Atlantic City, NJ.

ATCA Bulletin  |  No. 7, 2015


Time Is Running Out Sign Up Today!

ATCA Member Roundtable:

Discussing the Current FAA AMS


FAA. The paper will detail thoughts - without attribution so that you can speak candidly - of our members’ suggestions for improving the AMS. This event is restricted to non-government members and requires complete confidentiality in order for the association to create the best product for submission to the FAA. Space is limited; contact us with your interest in attending as soon as possible. The roundtable is free of charge and open to ATCA members only. If you would like to participate, email Paul.Planzer@, or call Paul with questions at 703-299-2430 ext. 305. The Roundtable Event will kick off with breakfast at 7:30 a.m., and lunch will be served.

Event Details

When : 7:30 a.m., July 7, 2015 Where : ASAE Conference Center, First Floor 1575 I Street NW, Washington, DC, 20005 RSVP : or call +1 703.299.2430 x305

Liviu Ionut Pantelimon/

s a benefit to its members, ATCA is organizing a roundtable to discuss the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s current procurement process. Our goal is to provide feedback from industry members to the FAA on how to improve the current Acquisition Management System (AMS). The roundtable meeting will be held the morning of Tuesday, July 7, 2015 at 1575 I St NW (ASAE Conference Center) in Washington, D.C. The FAA has asked ATCA for frank, useful feedback from its members on the topic, and they look forward to receiving the final product. The roundtable will result in ATCA’s President & CEO, Peter F. Dumont - on behalf of ATCA and its members submitting a white paper to the


ATCA Bulletin  |  No. 7, 2015

This Month in Aviation History On July 2, 1981…

Truck driver Larry Walters reached a reported 16,000 ft. over Long Beach, Ca., during a 45-minute flight in a lawn chair tied to balloons, crashing into a power line on descent but alighting unharmed. The FAA fined Walters $1,500 for the escapade. – FAA Historical Chronology

Photo courtesy of FAA

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ATCA Bulletin  |  No. 7, 2015


The ATCA Bulletin (ISSN 0402-1977) is published monthly by the Air Traffic Control Association. Periodical postage paid at Alexandria, VA. $5.00 of annual dues are allocated for the publication of the ATCA Bulletin. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to ATCA BULLETIN, 1101 King Street, Suite 300, Alexandria, VA 22314. Staff Marion Brophy, Director, Communications Ken Carlisle, Director, Meetings and Expositions Ashley Haskins, Office Manager Kristen Knott, Writer and Editor Christine Oster, Chief Financial Officer Paul Planzer, Manager, ATC Programs Claire Rusk, Vice President of Operations Rugger Smith, International Accounts Sandra Strickland, Events and Exhibits Coordinator Ashley Swearingen, Press and Marketing Manager Tim Wagner, Membership Manager

1101 King Street Suite 300 Alexandria, VA  22314

Officers and Board of Directors Chairman, Neil Planzer Chairman-Elect, Charles Keegan President & CEO, Peter F. Dumont Treasurer, Rachel Jackson East Area Director, Susan Chodakewitz Pacific Area, Asia, Australia Director, Peter Fiegehen South Central Area Director, William Cotton Northeast Area Director, Mike Ball Southeast Area Director, Jack McAuley North Central Area Director, Bill Ellis West Area Director and Secretary, Chip Meserole Canada, Caribbean, Central and South America, Mexico Area Director, Rudy Kellar Europe, Africa, Middle East Area Director, Jonathan Astill Director at Large, Rick Day Director at Large, Vinny Capezzuto Director at Large, Michael Headley