Australian Air Traffic Controller Officers Support Haiti

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4th March 2010, 02:32pm - Views: 448

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Issued by Ministerial Support and Public Affairs, Department of Defence, Canberra, ACT

Phone: 02 6127 1999, Fax: 02 6265 1545

MSPA 055/10

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Australian Air Traffic Controller Officers support Haiti

Five ADF Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCOs) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, continue to

provide valuable operational support to the US Air Force in the wake of the

devastating earthquake on the 12 January 2010.

The detachment arrived in early February and their contribution is helping to alleviate

the pressure and improve safety at the main airport in Haiti, through which much of

the air traffic for this aid operation is passing. 

As the permanent Air Traffic Control Tower in Port-au-Prince airfield was destroyed

in the earthquake, the ATCOs are working out of a temporary mobile air traffic

control tower, assisting in ground control services.

Officer in charge of the detachment, Flight Lieutenant Matthew Ferguson-McLellan

from Williamtown in New South Wales, said the opportunity to provide support and

represent Australia was a rewarding experience.

“When we first arrived last month we were handling around 500 aircraft movements a

day, which has now dropped to 350 a day as the ports become operational again,”

Flight Lieutenant Ferguson-McLellan said.


“It's been challenging for us due to the design of the airfield.  Only one aircraft can

taxi in or out of the main ramp at a time here in Haiti, so it can turn into a bottleneck

with up to six aircraft attempting to take off or land at once.


“We have also had to overcome language barriers, as we’re dealing with international

aid and commercial aircraft from around the world.

“It's been a humbling experience to represent Australia over here, helping the Haitian

people, and doing something which would make our country proud.”

Media contact: Defence Media Liaison: (02) 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664

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