Antarctic aviation support jobs

control tower at Williams Field
The control tower at Williams Field in December 2016 (Antarctic photo library photo by Mike Lucibella) (link to original).

First, given that this involves the U.S. government and the Navy, it of course is acronym time. Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic, also known as NAVWAR (Naval Information Warfare Systems Atlantic; formerly SPAWAR (the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command) is the Navy organization contracted directly with NSF to to provide weather forecasting, air traffic control, flight following, base operations, systems maintenance, systems engineering, and information security services--at McMurdo as well as at Charleston, SC, during the austral summer season. The particular program was formerly SOPP (SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic Office of Polar Programs), but the current acronym is NIWC as mentioned above (pronounced NY-wick) for Naval Information Warfare Centers Atlantic. For a number of years they have hired people for these jobs--not directly, but through their subcontractor.

The previous contractor through the 2017-18 season was Scientific Research Corporation (SRC). But the contract was rebid, and the current prime contractor is DIGITALiBiz, headquartered in Rockville, MD, with offices in Washington, DC and Charleston, SC. The original award was made on 6 December 2017 for a nominal five years (basic contract info) (details password protected) with a final expiration date after extensions of 18 January 2024 (I've seen no information about an extension or new contract). The contract number was N65236-16-R-0006, and a bit more information is available from the govtribe site which also has a metered paywall. Immediately after their contract award, DIGITALiBiz had posted a number of aviation support jobs on their website, but more recently they are working with subcontractors Raytheon, Midwest ATC, and AvMet, per this 12 February 2018 press release (archived).

The DIGITALiBiz home page is here, and their job listing page is here--click on the "search our jobs" link and enter "Antarctic" in the "Keywords" box. As of early May 2023 they had several jobs available. Their URL indicates that DIGITALiBiZ is part of the tribal Chickasaw Federal company. As for the other subcontractors:

  • For RTX (formerly Raytheon until a 2020 merger with United Technologies), go to this page. Click on the "Search" link without entering keywords or location, and under the "Country" box enter: Antarctica to see available jobs if any. Jobs listed may be in McMurdo and/or Charleston. Interestingly, one job I saw posted in June 2022 indicates that Raytheon sold their "Raytheon Global Training & Logistics" division to Vertex Technology & Training Solutions in December 2021, although I have not found any Antarctic jobs listed on this Vertex website. Here is a March 2022 Indianapolis Business Journal article about the acquisition. The merger is now complete per this 5 July 2022 press release. The new company name for Vectrus/Vertex is V2X (website and jobs page) as of January 2023. Vectrus' legacy includes the ITT Federal Electric Corporation which held the Antarctic support contract in the 1980s. I've seen no Antarctic jobs on either the Vectrus or Vertex job listing pages.

  • Midwest ATC (their home page) posted this archived 1 March 2018 press release describing their subcontract award. Go to their careers site for a listing of available jobs. I have not seen any that specifically mention Antarctica, although they are collecting resumes with Antarctica as the location..

  • The AvMet "about" page. Their hiring page is here...I have not seen any jobs listed that mention Antarctica.

Also note that as part of the Antarctic Support Contract, Leidos subcontractor Amentum employs at McMurdo a number of aviation support personnel including passenger services, AGE mechanics, met observers, etc. For these jobs go to this Amentum job search page mentioned above.

The flight following, ATC, and support operations have undergone a significant change in this century. For example, during my 2008 Pole winter I wandered into comms when one of the WINFLY flights was heading toward McMurdo. The voice coming from MAC Center was being transmitted over HF radio from McMurdo, but the speaker of the voice was located in Charleston. And apparently the flight weather support has undergone a change as well. In the not-so-old days, the Pole met observers would be required to take frequent observations and do twice-daily balloon launches as long as there were flights in and out of McMurdo. But more recently the expanded ob and balloon schedule can come to an end as soon as the last transiting Kenn Borek small aircraft leave Pole for Rothera. I'm thinking that this change may be due at least in part to the enhanced availability of weather coverage from satellites. And there may be further advances in the near future; on 18 April 2018 SPAWAR issued an RFI seeking information (for possible future procurement) on commercially available and Air Force certified AMOS systems that might obtain data, formulate, and transmit aviation surface weather reports (METAR) reports and SYNOP reports at McMurdo and Pole, with or without human intervention. That GSA solicitation site is here, although the linked SPAWAR contract details are behind a password wall, and I've seen no more information. Other information on USAP air operations procedures and SOPP responsibilities can be found in this September 2016 NSF document, the US Antarctic Program Interagency Air Operations Manual.

And of course I have the full details on the rest of the Antarctic jobs on my main jobs page.