Yokota hosts 2017 MACA Conference

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Buzzing in from all areas of the Kanto Plain, dozens of planes touched down at Yokota to attend the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association-Japan’s Mid-Air Collision Avoidance Conference hosted by The 374th Airlift Wing Safety Office, April 15, 2017.

Over 100 private Japanese pilots attended the conference with the goal to increase awareness and promote safety in the skies over Tokyo and the surrounding communities; bringing together a variety of civilian and military operators to discuss airspace boundaries, routes and daily operations.

“The purpose of this conference is to reduce confusion amongst civilian aviators regarding military air traffic control procedures,” said Keita Nanko, Yokota Aero Club operations officer. “As we share our procedures with them, it creates a safer aviation environment for all involved.”

Master Sgt. David Thompson, 374th Airlift Wing flight safety office NCO in charge, explained further.

“Due to the high concentration of military and civilian airports around Yokota, and with many different types of aircraft operating at any given time, the conference benefits all pilots who fly through the Yokota airspace,” said Thompson. “We bring operators and controllers together in order to show attendees the big picture and improve situational awareness of how air traffic flows in and around the area,” Thompson said.

During the three-hour session, participants partook in multiple briefings regarding various aircraft operations and enjoyed a lunch together. Briefings were provided by Yokota air traffic controllers from the 374th Operations Support Squadron, personnel from Yokota’s 36th and 459th Airlift Squadrons, operators from Naval Air Station Atsugi, Camp Zama, and Iruma Air Traffic Control.

Participants also toured a variety of Yokota’s assets, including a C-130J Super Hercules and the air traffic control and radar approach control towers, both of which control Yokota’s airspace.

By talking to the radar control personnel, participants were able to see and ask questions about what and how many operations the controllers handle; and to also get specific answer how best to communicate and operate in some of the busier portions of the airspace.

“When pilots are more aware of who they share the airspace with and how to properly plan and operate more safely, we will be able to keep the skies safer,” said Thompson.