For Immediate Release

Release No. AWP5-0204
July 6, 2004
Contact: Donn Walker
Phone: (310) 725-3580

HAWTHORNE, CA — The Federal Aviation Administration's Desert to the Sea Systems Management Office (SMO) has received one of the agency's top national awards for its performance during the past year. The Palmdale, CA, organization operates and maintains all FAA air traffic equipment and facilities throughout much of Southern California.

The Desert to the Sea SMO was named the agency's 2003 Distinguished Systems Management Office of the Year. The award honors the systems management office that demonstrated the highest level of excellence and professionalism in maintaining and improving aviation safety. In all, 33 offices nationwide competed for honors.

The Desert to the Sea SMO operates, maintains and modernizes more than 2,500 FAA installations and equipment in much of Southern California, including the Antelope Valley, Los Angeles Basin, high Mojave Desert region, and a large coastal area. The office, which has more than 200 employees, is based at the FAA's Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center in Palmdale, also known as LA Center.

Equipment maintained by the SMO includes complex radar, automation, communications, navigational control, and environmental systems. Pilots use these equipment and services for navigation and communication with air traffic controllers.

Some of the critical air traffic control facilities maintained by the Desert to the Sea SMO include Los Angeles Center, which controls aircraft at high altitudes over Southern California and parts of Arizona and Nevada; the control tower at Los Angeles International Airport, the world's fourth-busiest airport; and facilities at Edwards Air Force Base, which support military operations and NASA space shuttle landings.

"The goal of our team is to provide the best possible service to the flying public. This award confirms that we met and exceeded that goal," said Elmore Wigfall, manager of technical operations for the Desert to the Sea SMO. "In addition to the enormous dedication of our employees, one of our biggest advantages is the partnership and cooperation we have with the local chapter of the Professional Airway System Specialists union. It's allowed us to work together to overcome most of the obstacles to our success."

A formal presentation honoring the Desert to the Sea Systems Management Office will take place on August 11 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, CA.