What is the job of Airmen 1

airliners.de

The English term operations - also called OPS for short - initially simply describes the operation of a thing. Within a company, this is typically the department that produces a product or provides a service. From a business point of view, the Operations department differs from the strategic and administrative departments of a company.

The corporate purpose of an airline is usually not the manufacture of a product, but the transport of a passenger or a piece of freight. In order for this to work smoothly, additional services are required. For example, the provision of the relevant infrastructure by airports. Handling companies that carry out and monitor direct work on and around the aircraft have a particular role. The term operations is therefore used for different tasks within aviation.

The ramp agent is the liaison

If only a few flights are handled, a provider of handling services will carry out all the necessary work through a single department. In the case of a large number of flights to be processed, handling companies usually subdivide their OPS departments according to tasks:

The "Flight Operations" department prepares the flight. This includes, for example, the creation of a flight plan that includes the fuel requirement calculation and the compilation of weather and route information. In addition, "Flight Operations" takes care of the departure time windows (slots). "Ground Operations", on the other hand, collects and distributes all information necessary for handling and creates loading plans.

"Cargo Operations" is responsible for accepting and preparing cargo that is intended for air transport, while "Passenger Operations", often also referred to as "Passage", handles the handling of passengers.

The "Ramp Operations" division meanwhile includes the coordination of all handling operations on the apron and provides the "ramp agent", aptly also referred to as the "turnaround coordinator". These employees have a special position: They are the liaison persons between the personnel working on and in the aircraft (crew, gas station attendant, mechanic, loading crew, cleaning crew, catering suppliers and gate agents) as well as the other OPS departments.

Airports also often subdivide according to the departments mentioned above, provided they perform these services as independent handlers. As the infrastructure provider, the "Flight OPS" department is typically entrusted with making flight operations possible. This includes the provision of aircraft parking positions and maintenance of the apron.

In the case of airlines, however, "operations" is understood somewhat differently. The "Ground Operations" department is responsible for creating the regulations for the necessary handling processes and for monitoring compliance with them. The tasks of the "Flight OPS" department at airlines also include the creation of operating instructions for the operation of an aircraft, the training department and crew deployment planning. Flight implementation plans are also created here, provided that no external company has been commissioned to do so. A "Ramp OPS" department is normally not provided for in airlines, unless the airline carries out the necessary handling processes itself.

Aircraft handling is meticulously timed

An airline only makes money in the air. The ground time of an aircraft, on the other hand, is associated with immense costs for every airline. For this reason alone, well-functioning aircraft handling (also known as "ground handling") is of central importance for the success of an airline and thus the entire aviation industry. It is therefore crucial for aircraft handling that the necessary information is processed reliably and is available in good time, and that flexible action can be taken in the event of difficulties.

Aircraft handling means providing a multitude of services in a very short time. Areas of responsibility interlock like a complex gear train that has to function perfectly. The reason for this is clear: Problems in planning or disposition can quickly affect other areas. An error caused by a task area can accordingly lead to an overall incorrect handling or even make it impossible.

The work processes are meticulously prescribed with the help of network planning technology, a project management planning tool. These diagrams show exactly in which time span which activities have to take place. Cleaning, catering, passengers, loading and unloading, refueling, maintenance work on the aircraft, all of this is carried out more or less at the same time. Precise planning of the execution of this work is necessary because individual activities can interfere with one another or make them impossible.

Planning starts hours before the flight

The aim of aircraft handling, regardless of the time of day and weather conditions, is to minimize ground time while simultaneously performing all ground-based work for a successful next flight. And so there are a number of tasks for the various operations departments hours before each flight:

At least three hours before departure, the flight dispatcher from the "Flight OPS" department must have completed the fuel calculation as a result of route planning and transmitted the flight plan to a central air traffic control system.

The fuel masses and the calculated flight time are transmitted to the load planner (load controller) of the "Ground OPS" department who is responsible for charging planning. This determines the expected number of passengers with the help of the check-in system of the passage. The loading planner receives the confirmed freight figures from the "Cargo OPS" department. With this information, the loading planning can be prepared.

The ramp agent is sent to the parking position shortly before the arrival of an aircraft with the loading plan. There, after the engines have been switched off, he monitors the very tightly timed handling on the aircraft, which would not be possible without the work already carried out by the various operations departments.

How exactly the individual sub-areas of operations work is explained in detail in the further tutorials.