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Proof Positive

MMAC Responds Quickly to Hurricane Michael's Devastation

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When Hurricane Michael hit the Florida Panhandle earlier this month, it killed more than 30 people, flattened homes, and took out vital infrastructure, including the en-route radar at Tyndall Air Force Base.

The FAA uses the Air Route Surveillance Radar (ARSR-4) at Tyndall to control hundreds of commercial jets each day traveling through the Southeast. It shares the radar with the U.S. Air Force, which uses it to protect our nation's borders.
 

destroyed ARSR-4 radar antenna at Tyndall AFB
Hurricane Michael destroyed the ARSR-4 radar antenna at Tyndall AFB.
FAA response personnel were quick to contact the Logistics Center at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center for help after the storm. Hurricane Michael was the third-most intense storm to make landfall in the U.S. since Hurricane Camille in 1969, based on minimum barometric pressure. The storm also packed winds of 155 miles per hour.

MMAC technicians and engineers sprang into action, contacting FAA personnel in the Office of Finance and Management (AFN) at the FAA Academy. They were aware that the Academy used an operational ARSR-4 for training purposes.

In an effort to help those affected by the storm, a team from the Logistics Center dismantled the Academy's radar on Oct. 19, removing the entire dome section.

The team transported the radar antenna to Tyndall, which is about 12 miles east of Panama City, Florida.

Aerial view of Hurricane Michael damage at Tyndall AFB
Aerial view of Hurricane Michael damage at Tyndall AFB. The storm knocked the radar dome and antenna off the pedestal.

"The FAA Academy is proud to help restore our nation's airspace to its pre-emergency state by offering up our operational equipment," said Jim Doskow, Deputy Director of the FAA Academy. The ARSR-4 radar at Tyndall is the only joint-use civilian-military radar system of its kind in the NAS, which has more than 40 ARSR-4s.
 

MMAC technicians lift the radome off the FAA Academy ARSR-4 radar in one piece
MMAC technicians lift the radome off the FAA Academy ARSR-4 radar in one piece, a technique they developed.
The Logistics Center was able to remove the radome quickly and efficiently due to lessons learned from a different storm.  In 2014, lightning and high winds caused catastrophic damage to an ARSR-4 in Eagle Peak, Texas near the Mexican Border.  MMAC assembled a team to transport a radar there, helping to establish "lessons learned" in the disassembly of these radars.

In the past, technicians would remove each panel of the radar dome, which was very labor intensive and potentially dangerous. The Logistics Center Site Services Team came up with a process that allows them to remove the entire dome intact.

AFN personnel from the FAA Academy rapidly adjusted their technical training schedule so that ARSR-4 students could train at a later date. Technicians and engineers at the Logistics Center plan to help with a separate reinstallation of another ARSR-4 at the FAA Academy in the near future. The Logistics Center is responsible for providing turnkey support for centralized maintenance, repair and overhaul of all NAS Systems.

MMAC technicians load the ARSR-4 radar antenna onto a truck
MMAC technicians load the ARSR-4 radar antenna onto a truck for shipment to Tyndall AFB.

Employees at the MMAC have been quick to come together to help restore full en-route radar redundancy in the Southeast and parts of the Gulf of Mexico, while ensuring that our country's border is protected.

Pieces of the destroyed ARSR-4 radar
Pieces of the destroyed ARSR-4 radar at Tyndall AFB.

"The collaboration across the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center pays huge dividends for the NAS, especially in times of an emergency like this," Doskow said.

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This page was originally published at: https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/regions_centers/mmac/proof_positive/