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NORFOLK, Va. - Over the past year, as a part of an ongoing, proactive effort to provide and sustain a safe environment for all of naval aviation, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic (CNAL) recently helped replace flight line radios for Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic (SFWL).
“Safety is Rear Admiral [John] Meier’s number one priority,” said Alizabeth Lee, director of contracts and acquisitions management for CNAL, “This was one of the ways that we could proactively get ahead of any potential issue and ensure continued safe flight operations.”
The old radios were used at SFWL during landing, takeoff, and flight. These radios support communications between the aircraft in the air and the base on the ground, and it was discovered that newer, updated equipment would enhance communications.
“Typically, the Wing would be able to process this request formally,” Lee said. “However we were able to expedite this request at our level in order to get things moving.”
Proper communication while an aircraft is in flight is critical to the success of the flight, and more importantly, the overall safety of the crew.
“Potentially not having fully capable radio communications is a significant risk to the Sailors onboard the aircraft and the aircraft itself,” Lee said. “So we made sure this was a top priority.”
In order to procure the new equipment, a huge amount of teamwork from both CNAL and SFWL had to take place.
“I was more of an advisor to this project, but on the Strike Fighter side, there was a lot of work on getting the replacement system coordinated, working with the contracted company, and ensuring that the install and acceptance of the services and the support was satisfactory,” said Lee.
Even with the huge amount of teamwork from all sides, the team had to diligently overcome obstacles to ensure the radios were updated successfully.
“Between reworking the contract process, supply chain issues, installation, and testing and evaluation, we had to push through a lot in order to make this happen,” Lee said. “But now that we’ve done it, we’ve already established a better process for it.”
The new radios have been in use at SFWL since August of this year. This is one of many proactive steps CNAL is taking in order to actively prioritize safety in naval aviation, such as the newly established safety training team which is comprised of senior leadership in aviation in order to observe, understand, and solve potential risk factors within CNAL’s area of operability.
Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic is responsible for six nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, 54 aircraft squadrons, 1,200 aircraft, and 43,000 officers, enlisted, and civilian personnel based on the East Coast of the United States. It provides combat ready, sustainable naval air forces with the right personnel, properly trained and equipped, with a focus on readiness, operational excellence, interoperability, safety, and efficient resourcing.
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