October 24, 2011

For the past decade, NBAA’s General Aviation (GA) Desk, located on aviation’s front lines at the FAA’s Air Traffic Control System Command Center, has offered association members access to the most up-to-date airspace and airport information available.

The need for such a service has been highlighted in the aftermath of natural disasters, weather events and other developments that could impact business aviation operations.

Most recently, the GA Desk has collaborated with FAA officials to provide important information to pilots flying into and out of New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport (TEB), as the facility undergoes a number of infrastructure upgrades. Crews have been repaving Runway 1/19 and installing new lighting and signage. The placement of an Engineered Materials Arresting System (EMAS) at the approach end to Runway 6 is scheduled to start early next year.

These projects have and will continue to pose intermittent delays and closures for pilots, but thanks to the various resources utilized by the GA Desk, pilots are receiving regular advisories of the construction delays and runway closures at TEB. NBAA’s Dean Snell, Assistant Manager for the GA Desk, says updates are sent to NBAA members via the association’s free Airspace Alerts service at least once a week, and more often as situations warrant.

“Quite often at TEB they have one of the two runways closed in the morning thru mid-afternoon,” he explained. “Traffic usually picks up at TEB in the afternoon, so airport officials like to go back to two operational runways no later than 1500 EDT. In addition, there are occasionally times when both runways are closed during the weekends. We typically get this information a week or two out, so we can get it to NBAA Members well in advance.

“The Port Authority and the FAA have been really good about proactively discussing these projects well in advance,” Snell noted in regard to the construction at TEB. “Additionally, through [our] participation in the Teterboro User Group, we have available a really good source for advance information about changes to area airspace and ongoing construction programs.”

In addition to its direct link to the FAA, the GA Desk also gathers advisory information from airport personnel throughout the country, as well as and NBAA’s Regional Representatives. Snell added that the flow of information through the GA Desk goes both ways, as well.

“It’s an educational process for many of the FAA facilities that we are an excellent source to use in getting [advisory information] to the business aviation community,” he said. “During natural disasters, we are very fortunate to be at the ATC System Command Center because they have the Event Management Center [EMC] located at the facility…where all parties involved including FAA, DOD and local entities coordinate all things aviation prior (when possible), during and after a natural disaster.”

In operation since August 2001, the GA Desk is one of just two industry representative groups invited by the FAA to operate from the Warrenton, VA facility. “From right there at the command center, we represent all NBAA members to the FAA as it applies to business aviation,” Snell concluded. “The business model for business aviation is based on flexibility; we are there to insure that flexibility remains.”