SRC currently provides Air Traffic Control, Ground Electronic Maintenance and Meteorological services to the National Science Foundation in Antarctica. Each year SRC sends over 50 employees to the remote and frozen continent, McMurdo Station, Antarctica. These highly qualified and talented personnel are down on the ICE for long duration and under austere conditions. Most of our people are there for five months and others remain for seven months to one year.
Since 1991, SRC has supported Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Charleston and the National Science Foundation with Air Traffic Control, Ground Electronic Maintenance, and Meteorological services in Antarctica. SRC is currently providing services for the ninth operating season. (Click here for more information on SRC's ICE Team.)
Air Traffic Control
As a valued supporter of the National Science Foundation's Antarctic effort since 1997, SRC has deployed Aviation Forecasters, Weather Observers, Aviation Electronics Technicians and Air Traffic Controllers yearly. This comprises a team of about 50 people, 16 of which are Air Traffic Controllers. These controllers start the preparations for Antarctic deployment in March each year. These preparations include, but are not limited to, the writing of ATC operations and training manuals and the ongoing recruitment process for the 10 seasonal controllers required for deployment. Additionally, coordination with all other agencies within the United States Antarctic Program and Foreign Governments is completed to ensure that their needs are being met.
McMurdo Air Route Traffic Control Center (Mac Center) is responsible for providing Non Radar Air Traffic Control services to all aircraft operating in an area roughly the size of the United States. This control is accomplished either with time or altitude. Some of the users are: U.S. Air Force C-17's, U.S. ANG LC-130's, Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130's, South African Air L-100's, Qantas Air Lines B-747's, and Air New Zealand B- 747's. Flights between New Zealand and Antarctica are coordinated through Auckland Center. Flights between Australia and South Africa and Australia and Antarctica are coordinated with Melbourne Center. The center also provides approach control services to all aircraft within 100NM of McMurdo. Aircraft are issued descent instructions, Instrument procedures to be flown to the airport, and the type of approach to be flown to the runway.
Ground Electronics Maintenance Operations
The SRC team includes several technicians on the Ice throughout the season in order to maintain Navigational Aids, Communication Equipment and Meteorology Systems for flight operations. These technicians are responsible for the supervision of the maintenance team and all corrective, preventive, and scheduled maintenance for vital systems and equipment. SRC's mission is to ensure assigned electronics equipment operates at or exceeds the required performance standards. Essential to the accomplishment of the mission is the effective and efficient ability to perform planned and corrective equipment maintenance, train personnel, compile accurate records, and submit timely reports, along with administering electronics supply and inventory control.
McMurdo Weather runs 24-hour per day operations, 7 days a week. Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts are issued every 6 hours for the Williams Field Skiway, Ice Runway, and Pegasus Ice Runway. The skiway supports skied New York Air National Guard LC-130 and Ken Borek Air Twin Otter aircraft operations; while the ice runways caters to wheeled US Air Force C-17 and Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 aircraft. In addition to the local aerodromes, the forecaster issues a Daily Forecast for the town for general purposes (outdoor work activities, recreation), an area forecast for helicopter operations, and must keep abreast of theater-wide weather conditions; which brings us to our next layer of support, briefing.
McMurdo Station Weather Observers take observations for the safety of personnel working in and around McMurdo Station. This data is also ingested into forecasting models, and is used to maintain year round climatology for the station. Observers take, encode, and disseminate synoptic observations for McMurdo Station. Observers also prepare, launch, collect, and transmit upper air data. Airfield Weather Observers take observations for the safety of aircraft, safety of personnel working in and around the McMurdo airfield, and for ingestion into forecasting models.