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. 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 (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 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 (information about the contract they won) with a final expiration date after extensions of 18 January 2024. The contract number was N65236-16-R-0006. 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 is here. There is no good way to search for Antarctic jobs by location as they are listed as being in North Charleston to find them you need to click on "view all open job positions" (if there are any) and look for job descriptions that are described as "seasonal" or look like they might be in Antarctica. As for the other subcontractors:

  • For Raytheon, go to this page. Under the "Search Jobs" link, enter: Antarctica in the "Keyword" field and click "GO" to see available jobs if any. Jobs listed may be in McMurdo and/or Charleston. As of mid-July 2021 they have at least one McMurdo job opening.

  • Midwest ATC (their home page) posted this 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, but they do collect resumes there, and as of mid-July 2021 they do have several jobs listed.

  • 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 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, 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.