PASS Member Helps Restore STVS

Charlie Cooper, Chapter GA1, deserves recognition for a job well done when he recently worked to quickly restore a badly damaged Small Tower Voice Switch (STVS) at the SSU in August, Ga. The STVS is an integrated air/ground and ground-ground voice switching system. It provides for the selection, interconnection and activation of communications paths between operating air traffic control positions, other facilities, and local and remote radios.

On the afternoon of June 26, the STVS started showing signs of a problem. “Air traffic reported that multiple STVS positions had begun to experience various problems with accessing radio frequencies, phone lines and interphone connections between the positions,” said Cooper. Cooper worked with a fellow technicians, Gene Hart, Chapter SC3, and Arnold Hermes, to troubleshoot the problem and discovered that the system was reporting multiple faults but not in any logical or useable pattern. After several attempts to restore the system, the technicians performed a hard reboot and the system returned to normal operation.

At the end of Cooper’s shift, Hart and Hermes continued monitoring the problem and troubleshooting the system late into the night. The following morning, the system completely crashed as soon as air traffic tried to use it. Cooper and the other technicians could not get any position operational and the system software was flagging every card in the main racks as having parallel errors. “At that point, we determined that the event that had visibly damaged four circuit cards had likely caused damage to others that wasn’t visible,” said Cooper. “The fault diagnostic software in the system was unreliable at that point and we had to pull every card out and use a process of elimination to determine which was causing the errors.” When this work was being done, the system was completely unusable and air traffic was forced to operate as a Visual Flight Rules (VFR) tower only. In other words, the facility went to ATC “0” and all air traffic operations/control ceased at August Regional Airport.

Cooper worked with help from technical support staff and engineers to troubleshoot the system and was able to get three positions working that afternoon. The other nine remained out of service. When replacement cards arrived the following day, the technicians had to test each card as it was put in and test each position, radio frequency, phone and interphone with air traffic. “We had several bugs in the system even after parts replacement and had to do multiple position remapping and resets to get everything working smoothly,” said Cooper. The system continued to experience issues several days later and, while there was lightening in the region, the cause of the problem is still unknown since there was not any lightening in the immediate area.

Following resolution of the problem, the efforts of Cooper and other technicians at the facility have not gone unnoticed. An air traffic manager in the region said that Cooper and Hermes “worked tirelessly…to get us back to a normal operation.” PASS thanks Cooper for his continued dedication to ensuring a safe aviation system!

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