Tag Archives: humanitarian

Landing slots and priorities–Managing aircraft flow in Haiti


By Paul F. Bove, Air Force Public Affairs Agency

U.S. Air Force Colonel John Romero, chief of Air Mobility Division for the 612th Air Operations Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, A.Z.; Lieutenant Colonel Brad Graff, 601st Air Operations Center, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida; and Major Dave Smith, U.S. Air Force were on the DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable on 21 January to discuss how Airmen are managing the flow of aircraft into Haiti. With the recent boom of humanitarian flights going into and out of the Port au Prince Airport, missions have increased to approximately 140 per day (at an airport capable of handling approximately 50 per day).

The airstrip capabilities being implemented in Haiti make up what is now called the Haiti Flight Operation Coordination Center (HFOCC) and are based on lessons learned from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. These practices are allowing the Air Force to safely and effectively manage inbound and outbound flights so that aid can arrive in the safest, most efficient manner.

It is apparent that there are major difficulties in coordinating all the relief flights that want to come into Port au Prince. Col. Romero said that Air Mobility in Davis-Monthan is “focusing on getting the right things at the right time into the airport in Haiti to support the Haitian government and the people of Haiti.” The “right things” include numerous requests of support from NGOs who want to bring supplies, doctors and other people to help.  Col. Graff stated, “As far as how many requests we’re getting, all I can tell you is that our phones are ringing off the hook continuously 24/7. The ramp is being fully utilized 24/7. So the demand for the ramp is continuous and insatiable.”

The use of designated slot times and shipment priorities, as decided by the Haitian government, play heavily into the scheduling of flights. Factor in the limited capabilities of the airstrip and there is a lot of room for failure.

To ensure success, the HFOCC is enforcing landing time slots. Organizations, including the military and anybody else who wants to fly in, must have a landing slot. “What we were having was everyone wanted to get in and they couldn’t, but they came anyway,” said Col. Romero. He likened it to JFK Airport suddenly having twice as many flight wanting to land even though the additional planes never called to say they were arriving.

Col. Romero continued, “I understand everyone thinks they have the number-one priority, but not everyone truly does have the highest priority. And you have to rack and stack those, and that’s why we depend on the Haitian government there to work with the Joint Taskforce and the U.N. Mission so that we make sure we get the right prioritized cargo and we can schedule those folks with the right slot times at the right times to get into Port-au-Prince.”100119F-7951C-104

To reiterate the point, Col. Graff said, “We’re not trying to bar people or limit the field. Far from it. We’ve tripled the flow through that field. So your chances of getting in are better now than ever. You just do need to follow the procedures that are in place. We don’t like to think of ourselves as limiting that airfield; we like to think of ourselves as facilitator that are allowing things, the proper agencies, allowing people to get in there in a more timely manner.”

Ultimately, the successful airfield management of the HFOCC will allow for the Haitians to receive the aid and support they currently need.


Photo 1: U.S. citizens living in Haiti evacuate from Troussaint Louverture International Airport, on board a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III on Jan. 18, 2010. An earthquake devastated much of the capital city, Port au Prince. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV)

Photo 2: U.S Army PFC Keenan Roberts, Second Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne, removes supplies from a U.S. Navy helicopter at the airport in Port au Prince, Haiti, on Jan.19, 2010, during Operation Unified Response. This operation, led by U.S. Agency for International Development, is part of the U.S. Department of Defense effort to provide aid and relief to Haitian citizens affected by the Jan. 12, 2010, 7.0 magnitude earthquake here. (U.S. Air Force photo by. Tech. Sgt Prentice Colter)

Dispatch from an Airman in Haiti– “One life at a time”

Chief Master Sergeant Tyler Foster is the Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs deployed chief of operations at the Troussaint Louverture International Airport in Port au Prince, Haiti.  He and his team are supporting U.S. Southern Command relief efforts in the wake of the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated the nation.

USAF medics care for injured HaitianThere is no “easing” into the day here at the military encampment at the Port au Prince airport.  Navy and Marine helos hit the deck here at 0630 sharp.  There’s no snooze button on that alarm.  You roll out of your cot, put the same uniform on that you’ve worn for the last 3 or 4 days.  Does it stink?  Who knows, everyone is in the same boat.  This ain’t no formal dinner.  These are bare base operations.  Our focus is mission.  Our mission is saving lives.

Bleary-eyed Airmen migrate toward the port-o-lets then off to their work space: a table, a steel chair, the flightline, the rubble of a building.  There’s no complaining.  You grab a cup of joe if it’s ready.  Otherwise, it’s water.  Water all day every day to keep hydrated.

You learn to tune out the incessant and essential cacophony the ever-busy flightline offers.  The word “noisy” doesn’t do this environment justice.  At times it is deafening.  The hum of the flightline means life saving supplies, equipment and personnel are on their way to the Haitian citizens who need them.  One life at a time.  That’s all we can do.  Save one life at a time.

Photo Cutline:  U.S. Air Force Medics, Master Sgt. Douglas Brook and Tech. Sgt Nicholas Wentworth, Air Force Special Operations Command, perform urgent medical care to a Haitian man at the Troussaint Louverture International Airport, Haiti on  Jan. 18, 2010. The man was injured in an earthquake that rocked the country on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV)

Report from an Airman in Haiti

Chief Master Sergeant Tyler Foster is the Air Force Special Operations CommandPublic Affairs deployed chief of operations at the Troussaint Louverture International Airport in Port au Prince, Haiti.  He and his team are supporting U.S. Southern Command relief efforts in the wake of the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated the island nation.

100115-F-1443G-011America’s Airmen hit the ground running here early this week as part of the U.S. Southern Command contingent associated with earthquake relief operations.

Combat Control Teams from Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Fla., immediately established control of the airspace and have facilitated more than 125 landings here. Today Haitian air controllers returned to duty, providing long range control while the CCTs prioritized incoming aircraft, directed landings and take offs while balancing confined parking ramp space.

Special Operations weathermen kept incoming and outgoing aircrews apprised of real-time weather data enabling safe and smooth operations at this austere location.

Air Force pararescue jumpers waded into the fray of destruction, assisting civilian rescue agencies operating within the devastated capital. More than 20 people who were still alive were reported to have been removed from the rubble.

100115-F-9712-029Air Force security forces teamed with Navy relief flights to provide security at multiple humanitarian supply landing zones. Today’s flights marked a significant milestone as incoming supplies reached the many victims in need of life-sustaining support. 

Through it all, Air Force medium and heavy lift cargo aircrews pushed their equipment and selves to the limit to maximize inbound supplies and equipment while evacuating American victims of the 7.4 earthquake that struck here January 12.

Support personnel continue to build the base of operations in order to sustain the forces executing and facilitating this immense humanitarian relief effort. Over the last five years, USSOUTHCOM has charted 14 successful relief operations, including Haiti in September 2008.

Cutline for top right photo:  Staff Sgt. Caleb Barmody helps to unload supplies from a Charleston C-17 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Jan. 15, 2010. Air Mobility Command is participating in a swift and coordinated relief effort to save lives and alleviate human suffering in the aftermath of the earthquake. Sergeant Barmody is an air transportation journeyman with the 817th Global Mobility Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Katie Gieratz)

Cutline for bottom left photo:  U.S. citizens evacuate from Toussaint Louveture International Airport, Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Jan. 15, 2010. The evacuees were flown out on a C-17 Globemaster III from Dover Air Force Base, Del. Haiti was struck by an earthquake that leveled much of the countries infrastructure. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV)

Images of Haiti earthquake relief effort

Below are some photos from our Airmen who have deployed to assist in the humanitarian effort in Haiti. This is just a small sampling. Be sure to check out the Air Force Flickr page for more photos and many more to come. Want even more photos? Visit Defense Imagery.


U.S.Air Force personnel from the 621st Contingency Response Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., off load cargo from a Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., C-17 Globemaster III, Jan. 15, 2010, at the Port-au-Princce airport in support relief efforts to Haiti in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts) (Released)


Tents on the edge of the runway at the Port-au-Prince airport, Haiti, provide shelter to U.S. military personnel participating in the relief effort in Haiti after a devastating earthquake, Jan. 15, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts) (Released)


An aerial view of the damaged Presidential Palace in Haiti from a U.S. Air Force Global Hawk unmanned aircraft Jan. 14. Aerial images are providing U.S. military planners valuable situation awareness as they coordinate U.S. military support to the Haiti relief effort. (Release by U.S. Southern Command)

Air Force’s Global Hawk providing aerial images of Haiti

Master Sgt. Russell P. Petcoff is assigned to the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs. This blog is the result of a Department of Defense Blogger’s Roundtable held Jan. 15 and discussed one aspect of Air Force Humanitarian Relief to Haiti.

WASHINGTON – An Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk is providing imagery to determine the extent of damage to earthquake-stricken Haiti and usability of its infrastructure, said the vice commander of the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing.

Global Hawk aerial view of Haiti devastation

“A lot of images of destroyed buildings,” said Col. Bradley G. Butz, 480th ISR vice commander. They are looking at images of airports to find airfields to land aircraft. The image quality and clarity is good enough whether or not an airfield can accept aircraft, the colonel added.

“We’ve got pretty good coverage of the entire country of Haiti,” Colonel Butz said.

The Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance UAS with an integrated sensor suite that provides worldwide ISR capability.

The 480th ISR, based at Langley Air Force Base, Va., is providing its images to U.S. Southern Command officials for use by whomever needs the images, Colonel Butz said. The objective is mass distribution to people and organizations that need the images to support relief and recovery operations, he added.

These images can help determine the level of destruction since aerial images of Haiti exist from June 2009. Comparing the June 2009 and the January 2010 can give an indication of the extent of the disaster. Without context “we just don’t know the impact,” the colonel said.

In addition, the Global Hawk provides assistance to soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division who are deploying to Haiti. The Global Hawk is providing images of where the Soldiers are deploying to help them prepare for their mission, Colonel Butz said.

The Global Hawk flew 14 hours Jan. 14, providing between 400-700 images, the colonel said. It is flying daily out of Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. The colonel said the Global Hawk will continue providing Haitian overflight support as long as the president requests.

This is the first use of the Global Hawk in a disaster relief mission in the Caribbean, according to the colonel.

Photo cutline: An aerial view of the damaged National Cathedral in Haiti by a U.S. Air Force Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system Jan. 14. Aerial images are providing U.S. military planners valuable situation awareness as they coordinate U.S. military support to the Haiti relief effort. (Release by U.S. Southern Command)