National Nuclear Security Administration

NNSA conducts proficiency flight to hone emergency response capability

January 3, 2017

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The Remote Sensing Laboratory’s helicopter departs Joint Base Andrews for an Aerial Measuring System (AMS) mission at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Maryland.

Recently, NNSA Associate Administrator and Deputy Under Secretary for Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation Jay Tilden participated in a scheduled Aerial Measuring System (AMS) proficiency flight.

Proficiency flights for each of the missions that AMS conducts are performed by a “response team”—a qualified crew consisting of two pilots, a mission scientist, and an equipment specialist—in order to evaluate roles and responsibilities during a carefully planned scenario.

On the recent exercise, Tilden observed how the AMS team brought together mission elements to practice a rapid on-call response. The AMS elements evaluated in this scenario included the aircraft and radiation equipment, radiation science, data management, and communications capabilities, to ensure that the entire team is optimally trained and prepared to respond to a real-world event. 

Due to the requirements involved in maintaining a mission-ready AMS program, each team member is required to complete a minimum of one proficiency flight per quarter. The response team does all of the planning for these proficiency flights in real time, further simulating a realistic response.   

The training activities executed during these proficiency flights provide NNSA leaders and other State and local decision-makers with confidence that AMS will provide necessary support to protect the public and emergency responders during an actual emergency.

Read more about NNSA’s emergency response capabilities and NNSA’s most recent achievements in this mission and others.

RSL's Mission Scientist, Dr. Lance McLean, presents the AMS Mission Brief to NNSA Associate Administrator Jay Tilden in the Pilot’s Briefing Room.

RSL pilot Tim Rourke, provides Tilden an aircraft egress safety briefing before departing on the mission.

RSL's equipment specialist, Andre’ Butler, right, describes how he uses the AMS detector system to map the ground deposition of radioactive material as Lance McLean looks on.