Fort Rucker DPTMS receives Exemplary Practice Award
Maj. Sherri Sharpe, 1-58th AOB executive officer, demonstrates the AVOID system at Fort Rucker's Cairns Army Airfield recently.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker's Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security's Training Division received an Army Communities of Excellence Exemplary Practice Award May 4.

DPTMS staff developed the Aviation Vertical Obstruction Identification Database, which won it the honors.

Col. Yvette Kelley, garrison commander, accepted the award on behalf of the post at the Pentagon.

"It was a huge honor to accept this award (for the post)," she said. "This (award) represents a collaborative effort between the mission and the garrison. It promotes the teamwork between government service employees, Soldiers and contractors to achieve something new and beneficial to the Aviation community."

According to Kelley, AVOID is a system that helps identify vertical obstacles that might interfere with Aviation operations. Here, Soldiers have developed and refined it, and Kelley believes AVOID could be applicable to other Army installations for training purposes or possibly deployed for contingency operations.

AVOID has been in development since 2005 when an accident here resulted in a CH-47 Chinook colliding with a vertical obstruction causing significant damage to the aircraft, William Leyh, DPTMS director, said. No one was injured in the accident, but it demonstrated to Leyh something new was needed to help pilots identify possible hazards while flying.

"There are cell phone and antenna towers going up left and right throughout (the installation)," he said. "With technology today, construction on those towers can be done in a matter of days. We needed something to help pilots and ground crews identify these obstructions quickly and add them to the map for all pilots."

According to Leyh, the amount of airspace used by the installation is "roughly the size of South Carolina." The time it takes to report and map a potential hazard has been greatly reduced thanks to the AVOID system.

Mapping a new obstruction used to take several weeks. Now, it can be done in a matter of minutes, he said. Using AVOID, air crews enter suspected flight hazard information using a standardized Web-based report equipped with pull-down menus that detail the type of hazard and its general location.

"We've kind of completed the cycle when this grass-roots project received more recognition at the national level," he said. "This was a team effort between the garrison, contractors, (Department of the Army civilians) (and) military. The fact that all these people came together to make sure we reached this state is a validation of all the hard work that's been done."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16