¾ Business &
RYAN SHEEHAN, C.M.
Director of Operations
At Spokane International (GEG), our effort to implement RCAM began with the rewrite of our
snow and ice control plan. The
change to field condition reporting
presented an opportunity to review
our plan from top to bottom and to
evaluate the what, how and why of
our plans and procedures.
Our operations staff reworked
the plan to incorporate RCAM, and
tweaked a few other sections as
well. We discussed these changes
with our staff internally, as well
as during our pre-season meetings
with stakeholders at the airport.
Unsurprisingly, many of the local
air carrier staff were unaware of the
change prior to these meetings.
Airport staff also became
involved in any and all training
opportunities, early and often.
We participated in the webinars
that were put on by the FAA
Airports Division and by the
NOTAM Manager support team.
We had members of our operations
staff attend several conferences,
including the Snow Symposium, the
Snow Academy, the Hub Airports
Winter Operations and Deicing
Conference and the Airfield and
Facilities Management Conference.
Each of these training opportunities
allowed us to gain new information
and insights and apply those back
Because of the unseasonably
warm conditions in Spokane this
year, we have had only one winter
event since Oct. 1. That event,
which consisted of about one-half
inch of wet snow, turning quickly
to slush, did generate our first
Runway Condition Code (RwyCC)
of 5/5/5. The main challenge for
operations was the procedural
change in communicating the
runway conditions to the tower. In
the past, the duty manager in the
field relayed the conditions and
Mu values directly to the tower
by radio. With the new system,
the conditions are relayed to the
snow desk, where the information
is entered into NOTAM Manager
to generate the RwyCC, and then
relayed back to the duty manager
who communicates them to the
tower by radio.
My primary concern, since FAA
announced the implementation
deadline of Oct. 1, 2016, for RCAM,
was not the adoption of the new
system by airport operations
departments or personnel in the
system, it was the adoption of the
new system by the FAA Air Traffic
Organization and the air carriers.
During our first event here at GEG,
things went smoothly with ATC
personnel, which was encouraging.
They understood the RwyCC
terminology, and the information
was properly broadcast on the ATIS
and communicated to pilots.
The only hiccup was when
an arriving air carrier pilot was
asked for a braking action report,
and the pilot responded that the
braking action on the runway was
“ 5.” This is obviously not a correct
response by the pilot, but instead
of asking the pilot for a correction,
the controller then relayed to the
next incoming aircraft that a pilot
report of braking action “ 5” had
been received from the previous
aircraft. It will be important
How did your airport approach the
implementation of FAA’s new Runway
Condition Assessment Matrix (RCAM) both
internally and working with other industry
stakeholders? Do you have any advice for
other airport operators?