Sean grew up in Des Moines, WA near Sea-Tac airport in a house built by his paternal grand-father and great grandfather. His love for aviation came naturally. His grandfather was a mechanic for Northwest Orient for nearly 40 years. He remembers visits to the Northwest hangar and having his grandfather’s passion for aviation passed along to him at an early age.
His father was a private pilot, and although he gave it up before Sean was born, he was happy to support and encourage his son’s love of aviation. His dad was in the Navy so Sean grew up spending a lot of time flying around on Military Airlift Command (MAC) flights on C-141, C-130 and C-5’s. “When you’re doing that as a kid, it’s a lot of fun.” he said.
He has always wanted to be a pilot. It’s kind of a “bucket list” thing for him. He took lessons as a kid, funding them with his paper route money. Once he got out of high school and started moving on, there was no money left for lessons.
After graduating with a degree from Boston College in Political Science, he took a year off. During that time he and a friend went to Flagstaff, AZ to train for an Ironman Competition. Figuring it would be a once in a lifetime event he chose Roth, Germany for the competition (the location of Ironman Europe at the time). To his complete amazement, he completed the event — with support from his Dad on the sidelines — even doing another one in Canada.
Moving back to Seattle he took a job with an engineering firm as a marketing coordinator. Eventually he went back to school to get a graduate degree in planning at the University of Washington. It was in the Masters Program that he met his future wife, Tessa. Tessa and he met through a mutual friend on a bike ride to a local brewery. They spent a few years as good friends before dating, eventually becoming engaged and finally getting married in 2012.
She is actually the reason they moved to Colorado. A transportation planner, she applied for a position with the city of Fort Collins as the manager of the City’s bike program. They talked about the fact if she got the job they would be moving to Colorado. Being that there were around 100 other applicants it seemed like the chances were few that it would actually happen. When she actually got the job, Sean briefly left his company in Seattle before getting re-hired under an arrangement that allowed him to telecommute from their new home in Fort Collins.
He did that for about 3 1/2 years, and as much as he loved the opportunity to fly back and forth, working out of a home office was beginning to wear on him.
It crossed his mind that if an opening ever came up for his set of skills at FNL, he would love to work there.
In Seattle he was a project manager and planner for a commercial architectural firm where most of his work was related to early planning and feasibility for development projects. On a typical project he was primarily involved at the conceptual stage and worked with the owner to come up with various scenarios for development concepts. When it came time for the buildings to be designed, the project would be handed off to the architects who would go forward with the details of building design.
So with his background as a development planner as well as several years in marketing and business development, when he saw a job with FNL posted in the AAAE listings, he thought it would be a great opportunity. He now works alongside Jason Licon with a focus on planning and attracting development to the nearly 300 acres of developable land on the airport to help create a sustainable revenue stream and to encourage private investment. He also works closely with the City of Loveland to help guide compatible development around the airport. Other key duties include playing a supporting role in efforts to bring scheduled air service back to FNL, and working on various outreach and communication initiatives to help raise the profile of the airport in the community.
He and Tessa live in Fort Collins. When they’re not working on their house, they enjoy getting outside and spending time on the trails with their 2 year old lab, Ryder.
In late 2013, the FAA provided 8 million dollars for this project as the next evolution of the Mountain Radar Program, WAM program that provides radar coverage all the way to the ground in several of the airports in the north central and south west part of the state.
Back in November, the FAA finally, after a couple of years of putting all the technical stuff together, issued what they call “a request for info”, which is basically an invitation to bid. The solicitation closed on Feb 10, 2017, and since then a huge team of folks from the NextGen office has been vetting those proposals. They have identified a preferred vendor and are in the process of negotiations. Who they have chosen should be available soon. I can tell you all four of the responses were incredibly well known and they each have the technical ability to do this project.
Once the vendor is selected, the next step will really kick off and you’ll start seeing a lot of things begin to happen out here. Initially, the vendor will do a site survey and later this summer you’ll see utilities start to go in. Equipment should begin to go in shortly after that as they figure out where the remote facility will go. At the moment, this facility is expected to be housed on airport property for cost and simplicity.
The project will initially be a passive test – there will be no class Delta airspace here, no functioning air traffic control. What they will do during that phase is set up the cameras, integrate the radar feed from TRACON and test it. Are the cameras in the right spot, are they the right kind of cameras, are the video monitors in the control room at the right height, etc. All the human factor kind of things. Then once they get comfortable with that they will start turning on the class Delta airspace by NOTAM and begin tests as a controlled airspace environment.
It will be a 2 – 2 1/2 year project. The goal is not just to have air traffic control services here at Northern Colo Regional, but to establish the future certification requirements for having a remote tower. This will enable other airports to put in a remote tower and essentially duplicate what has been created at FNL. That’s a huge benefit for a lot of other airports in our state that could use a tower.
One comparison often used is the system at Leesburg. While it is functional, they have partnered with Saab and the FAA is not involved with it. Leesburg is a camera only system. FNL will integrate radar from Denver TRACON facility in Platteville so instead of a little blip, you will be able to overlay radar data and you can tell “oh that a 172 and it’s X miles away and it’s at this altitude which gives a lot more situational awareness to the controllers than you would get in Leesburg just looking out the window and seeing a dot.
Plan on runway 6/24 not being available while the tower is operational. When the tower is turned off it goes back to being operational as Class E airspace. We will be keeping an eye on this development.
The time line is the first part of the year they will begin installing equipment. The system will be optimized and testing will take place the next year and then the system will be operational early 2019.
The policy part of this is just as important as the technology piece. If we had a traditional tower it would be a contract tower and not operated, staffed or maintained by the FAA. The kicker here is that the current law allows remote control towers to be eligible for inclusions in the federal contract program. When you’re eligible for participation in that program, it saves the airport several hundreds of thousands of dollars a year of controllers cost that FNL would have to pick up. Work is being done to update regulations to include eligible remote control towers in the next FAA authorization bill so that any remote control tower that meets the regulations can fall under the funding of a contract tower.
In February Jason went to Washington and met with 8 of their 9 congressional delegations and received a lot of support. They also spent half an hour with FAA administrator Michael Huerta who supports the idea. This would only add two lines to the regulations.
Regarding the FAA and the name change, they are hoping for either June 22nd or Aug 17th to coincide with the 56-day airspace cycle they have for publications. In the mean time, logos on shirts, equipment, and some of the logos have begun to be changed up and down Earhart. As you come into the airport you will see a new name and new layouts on the signage. Signs along I-25 south bound are already changed. As soon as the interchange is complete on Crossroads, the north bound will be erected. Over the next 30 – 60 days the rest should be up. The signs are kind of a bronze color and show where parking and General Aviation are and such.
Once the transition is complete, they’ll start recommending the use of the new name with CTAF. We know it won’t catch on for at least 10 years just like Jeffco – that was 11 years ago. We need to prep ourselves for when we do have a remote tower because that will be something that will be needed when talking to controllers.
The big project they are working on this year is pavement preservation. They will be doing a lot of crack seal, seal coating and pavement marking replacement and will try to cover every square inch with this project. FNL was approved for a 1 million dollar grant this year to be applied to this.
They were also able to obtain a state grant from the Division of Aeronautics for a 5% match, so they got a $55,000 grant from the state on putting seal coat into the airport, enhancing useful pavements, reducing risk of FOD, marking contrasts. It really helps when it snows.
Some signs will be replaced as a part of this project.
There is a time line for this project, though. Right now they are in the final design phase of getting everything put together and will be advertising for bids soon and hoping to shoot for June 1st. FAA policy is first you get bids then they give you the grant. Hopefully, that will happen around July 31st to target a start in late August or early September.
The project will effect runway 15-33 ramp area, hangars, and taxi lanes – It will effect everyone. They are trying to phase it in a way that will impact everyone the least.
The 15 feet around hangars are not eligible for this funding. Jason will be reaching out to the hangar owners in an effort to help offset the cost of the hangar owner’s responsibility similar to previous years. Currently they estimate about $1.30 per square yard.
First phase will be the Charley/Alpha 3 intersection and the Alpha taxiway down to runway 624. There will be a test section on that area for the pavement seal coating for the 1st step so that they can allow 624 to be used when they are doing the primary runway. This should be a 2 day time frame where this will be closed and sealed and then the next step will be the phase 1 which will be the main runway taxiway. This should take about 5 days. That will include 2 seal coat applications and pavement markings. They anticipate the entire project will take 2 weekks.
Phase 2 would be ½ the ramp. North ramp and north ½ of all the T hangars. That will be followed with another 3 day project and do the other side. The plan is to keep things open, hopefully people can move airplanes around in order to accommodate everyone.
There is also a 3rd phase for Northrup extension section taxiway Delta. As we find out more we will share the final dates as to when this will occur and hopefully everyone can plan ahead as it relates to getting ready for that. The Airport will be issuing NOTAMS and emailing badge holders of what the anticipated dates are. It will also be on their website, Facebook, Twitter and here at the jet center.
They will also be extending the Stearman taxi way with some possible rehabilitation of the existing taxiway of the hangars along Stearman to accommodate some of the new hangars that will be built by the FNL hangar group. There are two hangars right now that are actually on the ground and are looking at the possibility of a few more, so this extension will help a lot.
“Normalization of Deviance” is something that has come up in the past with a bunch of different accidents and is often associated with NASA.
The first time Bill read about it was after an accident back east in 2014. The definition is described as people in the organization have become so used to deviant behavior that they no longer consider it diviant anymore. Despite the fact that they have come up with rules under perfectly good conditions and now they’re deviating from them.
The people from outside the organization would look at that and say “that’s a dumb thing to do. Why are you doing it that way?” But the people on the inside of the organization have gotten so used to doing it in the non-standard way, that they no longer see it as deviant.
How does normalization of deviant develop? First of all a group with perfectly good intentions under no stress, sitting in a room, come up with a procedure, and they sit these high performance levels, generally they are safety minded procedures.
Under pressure, whether it’s time or budget or something else, you decide to take a lower level of performance standard to get the job done. So by taking this short cut and nothing happens, you continue to do that and nothing happens. That reinforces your belief that you can do it again.
One of the best examples is the Challenger explosion. We all know it was caused because of an O ring problem. The solid rocket booster, the two big rockets on the side of the shuttle, are built in three sections joined by O rings. Inside the booster is 5,000 degrees and 1,000 PSI.
When O rings were designed they were designated critical 1 pieces which meant if there was a problem you would instantly gound the fleet and solve the problem.
Fire was never supposed to get to the O rings, however the O rings were found damaged from the second shuttle flight. The fleet was never grounded. In fact, O rings were found damaged by fire in 14 of the first 24 shuttle flights. The Challanger was the 25th flight.
There was a memo from a NASA engineer stating that if the O rings failed they would lose the vehicle, the crew and the launch pad. He was off by 73 seconds.
Since there had been no failure to damaged O rings, NASA waived a critical 1 defect.
May 31, 2014, a Gulf Stream 4 crashed at the end of the runway at Bedford, Ma. Killing 2 crew and 4 passengers. The crash was due to the gust lock.
There are 4 pretake off checklists between engine start and the take off on a G4. They sckomplished none of them. In fact in 98% of their ‘ast 175 take offs they didn’t even do a control checklist. However that process got started, they got away with it until they didn’t.
On this flight the gust lock was not removed. On this plane it’s a big red handle on the pedestal that you can’t miss.
Actually, we learned this lesson 80 years ago. An Army pilot and a Boeing test pilot attempted to fly a B17 and couldn’t take off. The gust lock was on. After that it was decided to have a check list.
How do you avoid these types or shortcuts in flying, as well as in our life, like seat belts and texting? Astraunout Mike Moline presents to fire fighters and says it’s their responsibility to self and team to be a couragous self leader.
Use a checklist for every phase of flight.
Use it regardless if you are the only one in the plane or not.
Do a risk assessment of yourself as a pilot. Are you capable of what you are about to do?
Do an assessment of your aircraft for what you are intending to do.
What’s the environment or weather?
What external pressure are you dealing with? Do you have to get some place in a hurry?
Here’s a big one. Over the counter medications. Every one takes them. Have you flown after taking over the counter medications? Many over the counter meds are not approved like sedating medication. Benadryl is a good example. Zyrtec is another common one. Or how about Musinex, that’s another. Cold remedies, anything with a DM in it is sedating. The DM causes drowsiness and slows your response. Prohibitive medications have contributed to 12% of G. A. accidents and the number is going up, not down. 42% of pilots who died in accidents between 2004 and 2008 were found to be positive with drugs. That’s almost half of all the accidents. The most common drug was DM and it’s found in over 50 over the counter medicines. It’s extremely common and you may not even know you are taking it. Read the active ingredients.
Now that we are going to a non-AME kind of medical examination you need to make sure whoever gives you your medical exam understands that your a pilot. There may be things that they are not aware of that we can’t use as a pilot.
After using any medication with impairing side effects don’t fly until after 5 times the maximum dosage. So if the dosage says every 4 – 6 hours, 5 times that is 30 hours. So you need to wait at least 30 hours before you fly after taking the last dose.
But if you take it over and over again, for instance you have allergies and you use it a lot, it becomes a normalized deviance.
The FAA and AOPA website will tell you, or Google the medications and look for the side effects.
Eventually the normalization of deviance will catch up to you.