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Magazine Articles Authored by Andy
Plane & Pilot's Magazine- ATC Zero: What Happens When COVID-19 Forces Air Traffic Control Facilities To Close
On March 21, 2020, I was working at Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC). As I returned from break, the Shenandoah (SHD) and Wahoo (WAH) sectors, which are side-by-side sectors owning Flight Level 340-600, were getting busy. I offered the SHD Radar Controller a break, but she passed. I relieved the SHD D-Side (an additional controller at the sector who, when it gets busy, performs landline coordination with other sectors and facilities). As I was plugging in, I was told New York ARTCC just went ATC Zero and to stop all incoming aircraft from the adjacent sectors.
ATC Zero is when a facility is unable to provide air traffic services or “zero services.” Every facility has Contingency Plans in place for if/when these situations happen. One of the first steps in this is to shut the adjacent sectors/facilities off. This puts them into a “No-Notice Hold,” meaning the other sectors can hold their airplanes or do whatever they want, but they cannot accept any handoffs allowing any aircraft into the affected airspace. READ MORE
During my previous work assignment, I worked in Air Traffic Safety Oversight at FAA headquarters in Washington, D.C. One of my job assignments was to attend the daily meeting at the Office of Accident Investigation and Prevention discussing all the aviation-related accidents and incidents from the day or weekend before.
During one meeting, the group was briefed on an FAR Part 135 Pilatus PC–12 medical flight that had crashed after departing Amarillo, Texas, around 11:48 p.m. on April 28, 2017. Sadly, three people died, including the pilot and two medical flight crewmembers. They were on a repositioning flight to pick up a patient from Clovis, New Mexico. READ MORE