The Delta Pilot Network (DPN) organized an Atlanta airport operations and live fire burn drill and airport tour in early September. Employees with the City of Atlanta Airport Department of Community Affairs, the Atlanta Police Department (APD) and the City of Atlanta Fire Department (ARFF) gave twelve Delta pilots a behind-the-scenes tour of ATL field operations, APD flight operations and a live fire burn exercise.

The guide for the field tour was the manager for ATL field operations. The tour included a walk up “Radar Hill” which gave the tour attendees a unique perspective of the all-too-familiar Hartsfield-Jackson landscape. The tour also included a stop near taxiway Victor which was built to alleviate several hundred runway crossings a day. The group learned how this busy airport is maintained and continuously operated 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.



The tour then stopped by “A-Tech” to meet with an APD helicopter pilot. The group learned how the police use their resources, including three helicopters, at the airport to fight crime and assist other city agencies from the air.


The highlight of the tour was going to the fire burn pit between runways 27L/9R and 28/10 for the ARFF live burn drill. The ATL ARFF squadron runs live fire burn drills every Thursday morning to practice extinguishing large aircraft fires. The fire department uses Jet A fuel, as opposed to propane, to give the firefighters a more realistic scenario. ATL is one of the few airports in the country that utilizes such drills on a regular basis, attracting other airport fire departments to come to ATL for fire training.

Some lucky Delta pilots were able to go for a ride in the fire trucks to witness the fire fighters in action. The airport recently acquired two 85,000lb Rosenbauer rescue trucks that can travel at up to 75 MPH over any terrain. These highly advanced vehicles cost more than $2 million each.


The tour concluded at the ARFF office on the north side of the airport where the group sat down with the fire department chief for a panel discussion and lunch.

DPN hosts events like this throughout the year. Keep an eye on Vectors for the next opportunity!