The Federal Aviation Administration and the Western Air Defense Sector have a long-standing interagency working relationship to support Operation Noble Eagle (ONE). The control of the North American airspace is a primary mission for NORAD under ONE which focuses on threats that may originate within the U.S. and Canada. WADS, under the command of NORAD, identifies, monitors, and tracks suspect air traffic approaching and traveling through North American airspace. WADS closely coordinates air defense activities with the FAA to monitor the airspace and respond to assistance and emergency situations and to enforce temporary flight restriction areas.
To assist with WADS and FAA federal interagency coordination, the FAA has a dedicated Senior FAA Representative that works inside the WADS facility daily. The two organizations like to conduct familiarization tours of each other’s facilities where personnel can gain firsthand knowledge of how each organization conducts its day-to-day operations which allows for a big picture understanding of why the relationship is important to national security.
"The relationship between the Seattle Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC), Northwest Oregon System Support Center (SSC), and WADS is a significant piece to both of our missions,” explained Eric Bigelow, Northwest Oregon SSC airway transportation systems specialist and tour coordinator. “An improved understanding of each other's roles and familiarization between the people executing the mission will provide opportunity to spark collaborations while also giving greater purpose to the people doing the work. These services complement each other, and it is in the publics best interest that we continue doing exactly what this is—focus on inter-federal relationship building, sharing resources, and ever preparing for impending disasters.”
On Jan. 18, 2023, members of the 225th Support Squadron visited the FAA Seattle ARTCC in Auburn, Washington. In return, members of the Seattle ARTCC visited WADS the following day. The feedback from the attendees emphasized that these visits have inspired them to see the big picture at the Seattle ARTCC and WADS. These types of exchanges allow for a better understanding on how any changes made at each organization can have impact on the other thus allowing more comprehensive understanding of the people and processes which they must integrate with on a daily basis.