By Wendy Brown, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsAugust 20, 2019
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Aug. 21, 2019) -- Inspections of the air control tower at Kastner Army Heliport only come around every three years, but those who work there spend every working day preparing for them.
Eric Anderson, supervisory air traffic controller at the heliport, said the tower's team prepares for the Air Traffic Service Command Arms Inspections on a continuous, day-to-day basis, and that, coupled with attention to detail and hard work, helped them earn a 99 percent on their most recent inspection June 17 through 19.
"These guys really pulled together and did an outstanding job," said Anderson, referring to his team of Norman Nichols, an air traffic controller; Kekuakaninaualli "Kekua" Aumua, a supervisory air traffic control specialist; Brian Greene, an electronic technician; Adrien Smith, an air traffic control specialist; and Jeff Mays, an electronic technician who recently moved away.
The U.S. Army Aviation Battalion -- Japan is the heliport's primary user, and Lt. Col. John Franz, the battalion's commander, said an outstanding inspection reassures commanders, Soldiers and taxpayers that the organization is efficiently performing its mission.
"What it means to our pilots is that we can trust the organization perform its mission, and it increases our expectation of excellence because the organization scored so well," Franz said.
Additionally, inspection outcomes like this can create an opportunity to further the greater good of the organization's overarching enterprise, Franz said.
Anderson said the inspection consists of two parts, and the U.S. Army Installation Management Command inspectors covered the airfield side of the inspection, while the Air Traffic Services Command, based at Fort Rucker, Alabama, handled the air traffic control portion of the inspection.
The tower did particularly well on the air traffic control inspection, earning not only a 100 percent rating, but receiving two commendable ratings out of four categories, according to Anderson and the inspection out-brief.
Also, the inspectors singled out Nichols for commendation because of a system he put together that organized all the tower's digitized Federal Aviation Administration and military regulations, Anderson said.
Those who work in the tower have to keep track of a lot of regulations, so Nichols' work has helped them tremendously, Anderson said.
Nichols said that because the heliport is so small, it can pose unique challenges at times, and he created the system for their regulations on SharePoint as a way to manage knowledge and find answers quickly.
"Being that there are so many [regulations], I just try to put them together in an orderly fashion in a way in which I can see if they're up-to-date," Nichols said. "It makes no sense to download everything, and I don't know if it's up-to-date or whatever, so I just try to put it together in a smart manner in a way in which it increases all our knowledge, or our ability to find out something if we need to."
Anderson said everyone pitched in to go through all the inspection's categories and extensive checklist and make sure everything was correct.
Smith, for example, has "an attention to detail that is second-to-none," and he caught issues that others had missed, Anderson said.
In addition, "[Aumua] did our training records, which we got 100 percent on, [and it] is extremely difficult to get 100 percent on training records because there are so many areas in which that can go wrong," Anderson said.
Aumua was also the U.S. Army Garrison Japan employee of the third quarter because of his performance during the inspection, and also for his extensive volunteer work in community youth sports, Anderson said.
Anderson said everyone, however, worked together to make the outstanding inspection possible.
"Those results don't happen if you don't have the group effort," Anderson said.