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Jenn Lemmon
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Will the Real Super Bowl GOAT Please Stand Up?

The ATO makes these major events look easy, though we know it takes months of behind-the-scenes preparation and collaboration for them to go off without a hitch.

For the State of the Union speech, which took place Tuesday evening at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, our security team in Systems Operations worked with Air Traffic to enhance existing, well-established security restrictions. We add rules for general aviation operations and flights that are moving through the airspace but not landing or departing from local airports. We also see to it that authorized air ambulances, law enforcement and military aircraft have the access they need.

Our team works with officials from the Department of Defense, the U.S. Secret Service and the Capitol Police because collaboration is key to developing an extensive contingency and evacuation plan.

For Sunday’s Super Bowl in Atlanta, we had to take one of our nation’s busiest airspaces and fit in a lot of unique variables. It helped that Atlanta is used to big events nearby like the Master’s golf tournament, so our team was able to utilize playbooks we had already built to make sure the route structure kept congestion away from satellite airports, and adjust staffing and training to accommodate about 3,000 extra operations.

We also worked with the National Football League’s slot program to ensure corporate jets were departing in an efficient flow, and with local airports to determine how much aircraft parking was available at each to determine capacity. Our one-stop website gathered all relevant information, and our team engaged in comprehensive community outreach to keep recreational aircraft out of the sky at critical times. As a result, we could focus on the routine and game-related traffic, 95 percent of which used Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) on departure.

To ensure that drones didn’t present a security risk, we worked extensively with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies that have advanced ways of detecting and removing unmanned aircraft.

I also want to thank our team in Technical Operations, which made sure our systems were ready and postponed maintenance to avoid unnecessary interruptions.

Just as our Atlanta team began training with Minneapolis over a year ago, they’ll now transition their lessons learned to next year’s Super Bowl host, South Florida.

So regardless of where you stand on the whole debate about whether New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is truly the GOAT, I know where my vote is for the Greatest of All Time – on the people of the ATO!

Don’t forget to tune in to the ATO Forum at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12. We’ll talk about priorities and accomplishments and take your questions.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone who contributed to the Combined Federal Campaign, which is open until Feb. 22. We have seen recently just how important charitable organizations can be when people find themselves in need, and I know your donations are truly valued.

Thanks, everyone!


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