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. 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 is SOPP (SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic Office of Polar Programs). 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 new 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 (more information links about the project and the contract below). 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.

The DIGITALiBiz job search page now contains only seasonal weather observer positions (select "McMurdo Station" under "Location"). As for the other subcontractors, the preliminary Raytheon jobs are listed here. For Midwest ATC, here's their February 2018 press release about their subcontract award; their "careers" page does not list any specific jobs, merely a link for submitting a resume. Similarly, the jobs page for AvMet says there are no current openings. But it is early yet, these sites may be worth checking back in on as the 2018-19 season approaches.

Also note that as part of the Antarctic Support Contract, Leidos subcontractor PAE employs at McMurdo a number of aviation support personnel including passenger services, AGE mechanics, met observers, etc. For these jobs go to the PAE job search page, select "more" under "locations" and then select "OCONUS-Antarctica-McMurdo."

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 presently 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; the SPAWAR e-commerce information page* is here.

More information...the detailed information about the SPAWAR contract is out there, but if you click on the direct link you will be asked for a password. For now, go to this home page*, select "SSC Atlantic" in the left sidebar, click on "Awarded Contracts," and look for "Engineering and Operational Support for Aviation and Polar Programs" or contract number N65236-16-R-0006. 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.

*You may see security warning alerts from your browser about these SPAWAR sites. They are official US government sites. Do what you need to do to ignore or get by the warnings.