Members of the 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center coordinate with aircrews, maintenance personnel and aerial porters around the world from the 618th TACC operations floor March 17, 2009, at Scott Air Foce Base, Ill. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Desiree Palacios)
Maj. Suzie Dietz coordinates aeromedical evacuation missions worldwide from the 618th TACC's 24/7 operations floor March 3, 2009, at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.Major Dietz is the Chief of Aeromedical Evacuation Operations at the 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Capt. Justin Brockhoff)
by Capt. Justin Brockhoff
618th Tanker Airlift Control Center Public Affairs
4/19/2010 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) -- Air Mobility Command operations in and around Europe have been adjusted as a large cloud of volcanic ash continues to impact flight operations across much of the continent, according to AMC officials.
The 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center, AMC's planning and execution hub at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., has implemented numerous measures to ensure mission safety. Nearly 30 618th TACC-controlled missions have been delayed or re-routed, and another five were pushed up to earlier departures to avoid the volcanic ash.
"Air Mobility Command can quickly adapt its operations to account for adverse weather conditions or other global events," said Col. Arlo Guthrie, a senior leader at the 618th TACC. "In this case, AMC's 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center has already taken actions to move AMC aircraft, crews, and maintenance personnel from Ramstein and Spangdahlem Air Bases, in Germany, to more southern staging locations in Spain. This flexibility allows those assets to remain in the rotation of aircraft moving troops and cargo to support Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom."
Another key impact to AMCs operations were adjustments made to standard aeromedical evacuation missions into and out of the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, according to officials.
"Under normal circumstances, the majority of military and civilian patients aeromedically evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan move to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for care, then move to the U.S. within a few days," said Mr. Steve Dugger, deputy chief of the 618th TACC's Aeromedical Evacuation Division. "In light of the volcanic ash, our AE missions will fly directly from the CENCTOM AOR to the U.S without the stop in Germany. This effort will require up to two air-to-air refuelings per mission, but it's worth it to get these patients to the care they need."
In addition to adjusting AE flight routing, AMC's AE crews and Critical Care Air Transportability Teams, which normally stage at Ramstein Air Base, have been temporarily sent to forward staging locations in CENTCOM. This posturing ensures AMC has the right medical personnel in-place to care for our wounded warriors while being aeromedically evacuated to further medical care.
AMC officials continue to monitor the situation to determine what other measures may be required to ensure success of the mission and the safety of crews and aircraft. The 618th TACC's Global Weather Operations Directorate also has weather forecasters on-duty 24/7 to provide up-to-date weather information to AMC aircrews operating worldwide.
"The information our weather experts provide proves to be invaluable to the safe and effective execution of AMC's global airlift, air refueling and aeromedical evacuation missions," added Colonel Guthrie. "In this case, their weather information proved to be extremely accurate, helping us develop courses of action early to mitigate impacts and ensure the safety of AMC missions."