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ETVS Systems aids air traffic controllers

By 1Lt. Sean T. Linehan
First published in
SFOR Informer # 81, February 16, 2000


Tuzla - In an effort to increase communication capability for its air traffic controllers, the Department of Defence and the Federal Aviation Administration contracted with Litton-Denro Inc. in 1995 for 100 Enhanced Terminal Voice Switch systems. The FAA, Army, Navy, and Air Force will satisfy all their tower and approach control requirements through 2005 with Litton Denro's ETVS system. Fortunately, for controllers at Tuzla, the wait for the system upgrade is over. Last October, the system was installed and is touted as the only digital system in United States Air Forces in Europe.

"Reliability is the first word that comes to mind with the ETVS system," said Master Sgt. Tony Lawson, Tuzla tower chief. "It's just more reliable than the old system. Even when there is a failure in the system it continues to work." The ETVS system replaced analog voice switching systems in the air traffic control tower, providing a reliable telecommunications system that keeps pace with rapid advances in technology. The ETVS is a non-blocking, fully integrated, digital voice communications system. According to Litton-Denro Inc., the system was designed to allow air traffic controllers to communicate with planes while in the air and on the runways, other controllers by intercom and conferencing, as well as with other ATC facilities by telephone, and various types of emergency facilities, such as security forces, fire departments, and other base agencies by radio and telephone. The introduction of new systems requires training to get controllers up to speed. According to Senior Airman Dan Lewis, Tower Air traffic controller, all new controllers go through an extensive training program upon arrival at Tuzla Air Base. Training on the ETVS system has been integrated into that initial training. Upon completion of their TDY, controllers with experience at Tuzla will have experience to use and train others on the ETVS system when it is installed at their home stations.

"It only took about a half hour to learn (the ETVS)," said Lewis. "It's a lot easier to use than the old analog system." Reliability and ease of use is a necessity in any ATC Tower, especially one as busy as the one at Tuzla Air Base. According to Lawson, since the Tuzla Air Base tower opened in 1995, it has been one of the busiest VFR towers in U.S. Air Forces in Europe. Most of the traffic supported by the tower is from Army helicopters conducting operations and patrols in the area. In addition, Tuzla Air Base is responsible for the arrival and departure of U.S. troops to Multinational Division North in support of Operation Joint Forge, as well as a wide variety of international military aircraft contributing to the SFOR mission. According to Lawson, due to the unique flying mission and weather conditions, plus the variety of countries represented, a TDY to the Tuzla tower is an outstanding place to increase a controller's experience. "Most controllers, including myself, were a little apprehensive about coming to Tuzla," said Lawson. "But from the moment one arrives, the experience is overwhelming. From an outstanding command staff to more than adequate facilities, one would be hard pressed to have any complaints. It's not uncommon to meet someone that is here for the second time or someone requesting to stay longer than they were scheduled for."

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Nations of SFOR: US