Air traffic controllers provide safety at San Bernardino airport BY JASON MILLER

The following article was published in the Oct. 9th edition of the Highland Community News.

The Air Traffic Control Tower at SBD Airport. Photo courtesy of Amber Casarez at SBD Airport

Air traffic controllers provide safety with separation standards for cargo, San Bernardino Sheriff’s Aviation, San Bernardino County Fire, U.S. Forest Service and other flight activities at San Bernardino International Airport (SBD) air traffic control tower.

Those standards have been provided by Serco an air traffic control to SBD since 2008. SBD is a non-federal, non-contract airport; Serco trains its employees according to FAA standards. Serco employees 8,000 nationwide, five of those employees work at SBD’s tower.

Controllers at SBD are trained to visually guide in air traffic, as the airport does not operate radar. Weather expertise is also a key requirement for an air traffic controller. There are two runway ends that aircraft can utilize at SBD; the west end of the runway (also known as Runway 6, going east) is the designated calm wind runway for landings that pilots utilize at SBD. Due to the mountainous terrain east of the airfield and that Runway 6 has a precision approach, Instrument Land System (ILS) helps guide aircraft to SBD. The other runway is Runway 24 going west, which does not have an ILS for landings but is the preferred runway for takeoffs to the west. The decision on which runway to use depends on a number of factors including visibility, wind condition, air traffic control and the pilots safe operation of the aircraft.

Last year SBD took in a total of 60,000 flight activities. This year’s average is being tracked down three percent with about 5,000 coming into SBD each month. According to SBD Airport Manager Nikolas Persson, traffic will increase in November as the fourth-quarter holiday shopping season takes off, bringing additional cargo flights into SBD from Amazon, FedEx and UPS. Persson likened the work of controllers to a jigsaw puzzle and controllers are in charge of moving those pieces safely in place.

The new Amazon Air facility is set to be complete by January of 2021, according to SBD Executive Director Michael Burrows. With this new facility numerous road construction projects are taking place around the Highland area, including the 210 Lane Addition/Base Line Interchange project, designed to provide increased traffic flow throughout the cities of Highland, Redlands and San Bernardino. That will include cargo traffic going to and from SBD. The project is set to be completed by the summer of 2023.

Also, a big part of SBD is the Fixed Based Operator (FBO) staffed by 18 employees, which includes 10 fuelers, five customer service representatives and three in the administrative department.

Persson said he is proud of what the FBO does every day and that SBD promises, “Whenever and wherever you fly, everything should be perfect and seamless.” The FBO provides baggage handling services, cargo loading, aircraft positioning and towing, rental car reservations and ramp-side vehicle access, tie-downs and ground power units.

For more information on SBD go to

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