Category Archives: DFW Airport

The people behind the curtain: How American Airlines keeps you safe

By Stacey Doud

If you’re like me when you have to travel by air, you get on a plane, try to chill out, read a book, have a drink and just trust that you will land safely. But there is so much more involved behind the scenes that you will never see…until now.

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 Rev. McBrayer

While I was covering a recent story, I was fortunate enough to meet Reverend Greg McBrayer, who is a Chief Flight Dispatcher with American Airlines (AA), a Chaplain and the Director of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport’s (DFW) Interfaith Chaplaincy.

Rev. McBrayer was kind enough to offer me a tour of American Airlines’ Flight Control, which is housed in the Robert W. Baker Integrated Operations Center (IOC) on the AA Headquarters Campus in Dallas.

McBrayer has worked at AA for 40 years (35 years as a Flight Controller) and is very familiar with the ins and outs of making air travel as safe as possible for passengers, as well as working for over 20 years as one of the spiritual lighthouses for passengers and crew.

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The IOC on the AA Campus (Photo: Greg McBrayer)

To get some “layman’s” understanding, watch the last episode of season two of the AMC TV show, Breaking Bad, or the movie, Flight, starring Denzel Washington. These offerings give a “movie magic” glimpse into how airplanes are advised to increase or decrease altitude and airspeed, etc. to avoid bad weather, other planes and more. The situations in these fictional presentations are as rare as when Captains Chelsey Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles landed an Airbus A320 in the Hudson River in 2009: It could happen, but rarely does because of the folks working behind the scenes.

McBrayer led us into a large room with many workstations. It reminded me of the trading floor on Wall Street, but without the frantic activity.

“The building is divided into two levels. This bottom floor is mainly admin stuff that are support roles for all of the different departments that make this airline work,” McBrayer said. “This is where the ‘nine to five’ work goes on. These hundreds of folks support the hundreds of people that work upstairs where the Flight Control level is.”

Several glass offices lined the room, one of which is the Prayer Room.

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Prayer Room

“This is an extremely high stress job that we’re in, so we need a quiet place we can go. This room becomes that sanctuary,” said McBrayer. “People have to surrender when they come to work, and [humans] are not good at doing that. It’s out of your hands,” McBrayer said. He intercedes in that perceived loss of control and brings peaceful words to his co-workers when he can.

McBrayer offers ministry in a larger conference room every Monday. If an employee can’t make it to the service, he or she can dial a dedicated phone number to listen in to hear the message.

The other rooms are used primarily for training and classes, including the training that Flight Controllers, including McBrayer, have to take part in every month to keep their certificates active and valid with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“We have a whole class of guys going through training right now. We have the largest class I’ve ever seen in my 40-year tenure,” McBrayer explained. “This is an extremely long process and it takes about a year. They’re hired and are in here [training rooms] for several months, and then they train with an experienced flight controller until they’re ‘checked out.’”

In his four decades of service, McBrayer has seen a few changes.

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Workstation (Photo: Greg McBrayer)

“Probably the biggest change during my tenure here has been the advancement in technology. This a very, very technical job here, and it always has been, but it’s at a whole different level now. It [technology] changes weekly. It can be difficult to keep up with,” McBrayer explained. “It’s guided by a lot of things that we have no control over, like fuel prices and world events.”

Rev. McBrayer then led us upstairs to the Flight Control Room, which is really the heart of the IOC.

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Photo courtesy of Greg McBrayer

This huge area also looked like something from Wall Street, with the same endless workstations, two or three large screen computer monitors in each station that displayed all of the AA planes in the air at that moment. Some of the employees were in charge of keeping track of the weather, so their screens were full of different types of weather maps. Others were monitoring national and international air traffic.

Should a crisis break out, whether due to weather, terrorism or any other situation that risks the safety of AA passengers, there is a “Command Center,” housed in the IOC. This is similar to the “Situation Room” at the White House. The required staff convene in this room when something like 9/11 happens to formulate a plan of action to address the safety of passengers and ground control staff. The room contains maps of the world and has several clocks displaying the time across international time zones. Each workstation has a phone and a computer, so that all participants can stay current on the progress of each issue, whether it be foreign or domestic.

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Command Center

Next time you are on a flight, remember all the good people behind the scenes that help get you to your destination safely!

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DFW Airport Chaplaincy recognizes major supporters with Ministry of Presence awards

By Stacey Doud

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Congresswoman Kay Granger and Rev. Greg McBrayer

The DFW Interfaith Chaplains held their annual Ministry of Presence Awards in the Hyatt Regency DFW Airport on December 13. These awards recognize the men and women who have gone above and beyond to keep the Chaplaincy open and available to DFW Airport travelers who may need spiritual comfort.

“We wanted to recognize those who have blessed us and continue to bless others,” said Father Greg McBrayer, who serves as a senior chaplain and is a 40-year employee of American Airlines, as well as the Host for the event.

“The mission of the DFW Airport Interfaith Chaplaincy is to provide the ministry of presence, spiritual counseling and personal support to the DFW Airport community at large by providing places of worship and reflection for people of all faiths and religious traditions,” McBrayer said.

The Chaplaincy is in its 42nd year and is currently made up of 19 volunteer chaplains representing different religions, as well as two intern chaplains. These clergy members keep this service open 24 hours a day and seven days a week in chapels in all of the DFW terminals.

“Every year, we gather to give thanks and to reflect and to recognize, some special individuals who have contributed in making our Chaplaincy the beacon of light, which it has become at DFW International Airport,” McBrayer explained.

To meet the needs of people of all different religions, the Chaplaincy offers sacred scriptures, such as the Bible and the Torah, as well as holding services for Catholic, Protestant and Islamic guests. The chaplains provide counsel, prayer and support, from consoling family members of fallen soldiers to performing weddings free of charge.

“This year, our Board of Directors added corporate sponsors and three new board members. We made additional improvements to our web site, and we added three new Chaplains. We also reinstated our Associate Chaplain internship program,” McBrayer said.

“This year’s, annual Spring Fling Golf Outing and RISE UP Prayer Breakfast were both very well attended again and fostered new partnerships in the airport area, enabling us to widen our footprint in the community.

“This year was also a very active year for our Chaplains, as we participated at more than 100 Fallen Soldier Angel Flights and ramp-side services of our own AA Employees transitioning home to their final resting places.  

 “We had more than 7,000 DFW employees and travelers attended our regular and special services, chapel masses and interfaith services. 

“This year, our chaplains logged more than 4,000 hours, connecting with more than 19,000 airport employees, travelers, Department of Public Safety (DPS) and military personnel. Of those, more than 4,000 were personally counseled. Our Chaplains also provided the ministry presence at numerous DFW Airport, DPS, American Airlines and other airport Community events.

“We also, provided continuing education training for our Chaplains and remain actively involved with DFW Airport and American Airlines at all Emergency Response Drills.

 “The highlight of this year, however, was the ribbon cutting and consecration of the new Terminal D – Meadows Chapel, located near gate 40, which is much larger and far more accommodating for all our all of worshipers. We are one of the few US Airports with Ablution Stations for our Muslims,” McBrayer reported.

McBrayer presented DFW Airport CEO Sean Donohue, DFW Hub Operations Vice President Cedric Rockamore and Liz Wahlquist, who worked for Braniff for four years and continues to support the Chaplaincy, with Ministry of Presence awards. Kay Granger, who is a former mayor or Fort Worth and is now a Congresswoman, received an Honorary Lifetime Advisory Board Member position for her assistance in keeping the Chaplaincy Program alive via her position in government.

“We are recognizing our past, present and future,” McBrayer said. “We honored the past with recognizing Congresswoman Kay Granger, the present with Liz Wahlquist and Cedric Rockamore, and the future with Sean Donahue, who underwrote the spaces we needed at the airport. This allows us to serve many purposes, with one being ‘spiritual first responders,’” he added.

“The potential growth [for the airport] is enormous. DFW Airport strengthens and supports the area, and we try to support the supporters,” McBrayer added.

For more information, visit http://www.dfwairportchapel.org/.

DFW Airport, American Airlines Announce Plans for Sixth Terminal at DFW Airport

Screen Shot 2019-05-20 at 7.01.16 PMDallas-Fort Worth International Airport and American Airlines revealed plans Monday to develop a sixth terminal at the airport, Terminal F.

Initial plans call for DFW Airport, which is jointly co-owned by the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, to invest up to $3.5 billion in terminal improvements, including the construction of Terminal F and enhancements to Terminal C.

“We get more complaints about C than anything, so this is a real win for the traveling public, to renovate C and have a beautiful new terminal, too,” said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price.

Read more from NBCDFW…

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport receives recognition for service and excellence

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planeTrade publication Air Transport World named Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport the 2019 Airport of the Year for its customer service experience, leadership in sustainability, efficiency and collaborative efforts with other agencies, according to a Thursday news release.

The recognition is the result of DFW Airport staff’s commitment to service, airport CEO Sean Donohue said in the news release.

“DFW is experiencing the fastest growth in more than a decade, and we see it as an opportunity to welcome the world to the Dallas Fort Worth region and advance the innovation and collaboration that deliver for our customers and make our communities stronger,” he said in a statement.

Read more from Community Impact…

Fire Training This Week

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October Research Live Fires – The FTRC will be participating in a large-scale research project over a two-week period in October outside normal training activities which may entail prolonged times of smoke being generated at the training center. You may see prolonged periods of smoke generation or larger than normal smoke columns. This is all part of the extensive research project. Exact live fire dates and times will be posted as the project becomes more defined,

*Training occurs nearly every day at our Fire Training Research Facility. Smoke activity will be visible near the southwest end of the Airport. We will continue to update this page with the most accurate scheduled dates. Please note changes can occur at any time and research activity may also extend past the scheduled times.

Fire Training at DFW This Week

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Exercises at the DFW Fire Training Research Center are taking place throughout this week. You may see smoke during training hours.

For more information: https://www.dfwairport.com/firetrainingschedule/

DFW Airport lines up Starbucks, Whataburger, others for renovated Terminal E

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At the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport board’s meeting Tuesday, several leases for new tenants were approved for the airport’s Terminal E concourse, located at 2400 Aviation Drive, DFW Airport. Among the approved leases are Whataburger, Starbucks, Dickey’s Barbecue, CNBC News retail and a Fly Bar restaurant. The terminal is being upgraded to accommodate 15 new regional gates for American Airlines, which means space will be used for long-term use. The terminal is scheduled to finish its remodel in the spring. www.dfwairport.com

Read more from Community Impact…

DFW Airport receives commitment to $180M grant for new aviation taxiways

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(Courtesy DFW International Airport)

The Dallas Fort Worth International Airport received a Letter of Intent from the Federal Aviation Administration on July 27, committing to a maximum of $180 million in Airport Improvement Program grant funding for two new end-around taxiway systems.

End-around taxiways allow arriving aircrafts to taxi around the airport’s seven active runways, rather than wait to cross the runways as they do now. The taxiways enhance safety because they prevent runway crossings, reducing the risk of possible incursions, a DFW airport press release said. End-around taxiways increase runway efficiency and reduce overall taxi times for arriving aircraft, according to the release.

Read more from Community Impact…

DFW Airport to implement new passenger pickup and drop-off rules

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The new rule changes the curbside areas at all five terminals to strictly active loading and unloading zones. Previously, drivers could idle in their cars as they waited to pickup passengers, but that will no longer be allowed as of July 18.

Drivers will now be encouraged to use the terminal parking garages, for no extra cost, when picking up or dropping off passengers.

Read more from Community Impact…

DFW Fire Research Center conducting training this week

Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 7.18.19 AMIf you happen to see fire and burning activity at DFW Airport, it is our state-of-the-art Fire Training Research Center in action. During our training periods, you will see black smoke as a result of these training fires.

For the schedule for those training periods, click HERE

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