The Paris Air Traffic Control Liaison Office (ATCLO) functions as a direct representative of the Directorate of United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) Airspace and Air Traffic Control (ATC) management system to ensure the timely movement of Department of Defense (DoD) aircraft within or through French airspace. The office is the primary source of contact for information on French airspace, changes in French regulations, resolving conflicts between US pilots and French air traffic control facilities, coordination with French civil and military air traffic control, coordination with French Air Defense, and negotiating for airspace needed in mass air movements or US exercises.
USAFE ATCLOs are established to assist USAFE in the discharge of its responsibilities. ATCLOs are located at the Paris Air Control Center (ACC), France and in Madrid, Spain. Component commands are authorized to use the services of the assigned ATCLOs to resolve aviation services and air traffic management matters affecting their commands. ATCLOs interface directly with the European Central Altitude Reservation Facility (EUCARF) to facilitate the movement of DoD aircraft through host nation airspace.
Historical documentation confirms the ATCLO office in Paris was established in 1964 shortly before France's withdrawal from NATO. As a result, U.S. military forces were subsequently removed from France, however during this time the respective governments of the United States and France recognized the need for continuous representational military personnel in France. This requirement was achieved by the signing of a bilateral agreement between the respective countries which authorized liaison officials to remain in France to represent their government in matters concerning airspace and overflight missions. Thus the creation of the ATC Liaison Office, established to provide direct daily support to the operational missions of USAFE and the DoD.
Originally, the Paris ATC Liaison Office was staffed by two officers, two non-commissioned officers (NCO) and a civilian translator, but in 1975 both officer positions and the administrative positions were eliminated leaving two Senior Master Sergeants (E-8). In 1976 the administrative position was re-instated with the hiring of Ms Anne-May Chew who is still a member of the Paris ATCLO team today. Currently, the office is authorized two senior non-commissioned officer (SNCO) positions, with a minimum of one Master Sergeant (E-7). Those interested in the position must hold an air traffic control air force specialty code (AFSC) 1C171, apply for the assignment, and once selected, attend French language school at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA.
MSgt Odette D Toppin Biography
Master Sergeant Odette D Toppin is the Manager, Central European En-Route Airspace Coordination. In this capacity she serves as one of only two SNCOs assigned as Bi-lingual controllers to the Air Traffic Control Liaison Office in Paris, France responsible for ensuring unimpeded passage of DoD assets to/from the AOR and Europe. She negotiates French airspace requests and resolves air traffic conflicts on behalf of DoD and Allied Air Forces. Her responsibilities demand intimate and expert French communication skills as well as a mastery of diplomatic and cultural relations.
Sergeant Toppin was born in Manchester, Jamaica, moved to the United States at age 16 where she became a citizen and then entered the Air Force in July 1998 as an air traffic control (ATC) craftsman. Her background includes duties as an ATC Supervisor and NCOIC Standardization and Evaluation. Her previous assignments include bases in New Jersey, Turkey, and California. Sergeant Toppin also deployed to Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in support of Operation Southern Watch.
MSgt Roberto Benitez Biography
Master Sergeant Roberto Benitez is the Assistant Manager, Central European En-Route Airspace Coordination, Air Traffic Control Liaison Office-Paris, France. As such, he is one of only two US Air Force bilingual air traffic controllers stationed in France, with the responsibility of ensuring unimpeded access of DoD assets to/from the AOR and Europe. He negotiates French airspace requests and resolves air traffic conflicts on behalf of DoD and Allied Air Forces. His role demands expert French communication and interpersonal skills, as well as a mastery of cultural relations and diplomacy.
Sergeant Benitez was born in Flemington, N.J., and graduated from Phillipsburg High School, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, in 1993. He entered the Air Force in May 1996 as a Munitions Systems Apprentice. During his tenure in the Munitions Systems career field, he served as a Munitions Storage Crew Member and Munitions Flight Training Manager. He also was recognized as the USAFE Lieutenant General Leo Marquez Maintenance Person of the Year Base Level in 2000. In 2001, Sergeant Benitez cross-trained into the Air Traffic Control (ATC) career field, where he has served as an air traffic controller and Watch Supervisor in both Control Tower and Radar Approach Control facilities. His previous assignments include bases in Florida, Germany, Texas, and Portugal. He also deployed to Aviano Air Base, Italy in 1999 in support of Operation ALLIED FORCE. He wears the master air traffic control badge. Sergeant Benitez is married to the former Tera Hickey of Portland, Oregon and they have two children, Isabella and Sabrina.
Dr. Anne-May Chew Biography
Dr. Anne-May Chew is the Administrative Assistant / Bi-lingual Specialist for the USAFE Air Traffic Control Liaison Office (ATCLO) in Paris, France. In this capacity she serves as office administrator and primary translator to the two assigned USAF NCOs. Ms. Chew's areas of responsibility also include protocol and diplomatic/public relations. The USAFE ATCLO represents the only military from any nation to operate inside a French ATC center and thus requires additional political/protocol considerations. She assists as needed in negotiating French airspace access, interacts daily with senior French Air Force leaders and Embassy personnel (military and civilian) to accomplish ATCLO tasks and, regarding French culture, advises the assigned USAF personnel on the appropriate methods to garner desired results for the DoD. The success of the ATC Liaison Office is directly linked to Ms. Chew's command of the French language, her technical translation ability and her knowledge of Air Traffic Control (garnered OJT).
A native of Rangoon, Burma, Ms. Chew began her working career in Burma as Secretary and Public Relations Agent for the Cultural Department of the French Embassy in Rangoon for a total of four years. Following that she was employed for one year in Public Relations with Schlumberger Overseas, a French off-shore oil company operating in Rangoon. Ms. Chew then left Burma for Bangkok, Thailand where she worked as Assistant Secretary and Sales Representative for a joint Finnish-Thai Export firm. She then found employment as a Training Supervisor for Diethlem Travel training French guides from a Swiss business firm. Desiring to pursue higher education Ms. Chew moved to Paris, France where she secured a position with the American Embassy in the ATC Liaison Office where she has remained since 1976.
Enlisted French Liasons
- 1976-1977 - Roger Belle-Isle
- 1976-1977 - Ronald Dube
- 1977-1980 - Joellis Smith
- 1978-1981 - Edward Kelsey
- 1981-1984 - Gerald Richard
- 1984-1988 - Richard Pomerleau
- 1988-1989 - Luther Hitt
- 1989-1991 - Robert Paul
- 1987-1993 - Lorne Madore
- 1992-1995 - Mark Johnson
- 1993-1997 - Davor Olic
- 1995-1996 - Mike Davis
- 1996-1999 - Jerry Ihrke
- 1997-2003 - Joseph Ryan
- 1999-2002 - Shelby Strunk
- 2002-2004 - Christopher Ausdenmoore
- 2003-2005 - Johnny Jesse
- 2004-2007 - Jack Henry
- 2005-2011 - Jeffrey Evey
- 2007-Present - Odette Toppin (first female)
- 2011-Present - Roberto Benitez
Contact UsPh: +33-1-657-6072
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91205 Athis Mons, France