1. Can you inform us about the operational processes of the Operations department?
In general, the operational processes of the Operations Department can be described as Load Control and Communication. The processes in a flight operation are carried out by the operations personnel assigned for that specific flight. Main duties of the operations department are basically load control and balance calculations, coordination of aircraft operation, dispatch activities, general aviation flights and activities at the center.
2. What are the duties of Operations personnel?
The operations personnel activate the DCS system of the flight, just in case, take the print-outs of airlines’ manual LS, TS, LIR, DOW/DOI table documents regarding the flight they are assigned with them at the beginning of their shifts. They calculate the dead load at the aircraft by adding up the weights of baggage, cargo, passenger, etc. and calculate EZFW (Estimate Zero Fuel Weight). Accordingly, the personnel prepare the loading form and other documents such as Customs Declaration Form for customs procedures. In line with the information acquired, the personnel give a briefing to the officials of Passenger Services, Cargo, Ramp and Airlines prior to the flight. They, then, proceed to the designated parking position with the aircraft’s entry to the frequency. Operations personnel deliver the loading form they prepared to the team and give a briefing regarding the form of loading. During the parking position, operations personnel check the FOD (Foreign Object Damage), as well as the preparations regarding the operation, such as equipment and personnel. During the operation, the operations personnel communicate with the cabin crew and inform them about the flight plan, weather forecast, EZFW (weight information), etc. and gets information from the cabin crew about the parameters to be used for fuel and load-sheet. They coordinate with the third service groups regarding the necessary fuel supply, offerings, technical services, etc., arrange the boarding procedure and initiate it, if required. The operations personnel supervise the loading and unloading procedures and prepare the load-sheet, which is the basic document, in accordance with the actual loading plan and deliver the document to the captain pilot. Then, they carry out the required documentation procedures between the cabin crew and the airline personnel before the aircraft closes its doors. The operations personnel pass to the headset duty during the push-back process after aircraft doors are close. After the flight, the operations personnel convey the operational messages (MVT, LDM, CPM, UCM and prepare the Trip File and the Service Form.
3. Whom do they communicate with?
Throughout the operation, operations personnel stay in communication with the passenger services, cargo, ramp departments, besides the third groups such as fuel, offerings and technical services and authorized personnel of the airlines; and, if required, with State Airports Authority, TAV or Customs Offices.
4. What are the requirements to become operations personnel?
Basic requirement is good command of English. Also good communication and coordination skills, taking correct decisions swiftly, being able to manage panic and crisis situation, staying calm under stress, customer-oriented behavior, a high sense of responsibility are other necessary requirements.
5. What are the most important factors in the work flow of Operations Department?
Due to the structure of its organization, Operations Department carries out several important procedures. However, the most important factors that connect all of them and that could damage the entire system when they are not executed are; planning, follow-up, timing, communication and coordination (with all stakeholders), and control.
6. What is the equipment required?
Since the workplace is the apron, operations personnel use personal protective equipment such as ear plugs, steel toe shoes, high visibility vests, etc. considering the occupational health and safety issues. Operations personnel keep the operational equipment consisting of the files, walkie-talkies, headsets, and tablet pc for loading and obtaining LS depending on the airlines.
7. What are situations that the operations personnel often come across that could jeopardize the flight safety?
The highest risks among the procedures that the operations personnel carry out belong to the Load-Sheet calculation, baggage number reconciliation and push-back procedure. All parameters included in the load-sheet are of critical importance. For example, in the event that the maximum take-off weight of the aircraft is exceeded because of a mistake and that it appears otherwise in LS, a serious risk might emerge in terms of flight safety. Similarly, wrong calculation of the balance limit of the aircraft during the loading planning might result in high risks, particularly during take-off and landing.
Correct passenger-baggage matching is one of the most important factors of flight security. For example, failing to unload the baggage of a passenger whose flight is cancelled from the aircraft, or unloading a wrong baggage is a serious violation of security.
Considering that push-back procedure is executed by guiding the movements of the aircraft on the ground, in the event that the operations personnel inform the captain pilot or the push-back operator wrongly or there happens to be a communication error, accidents may occur.
8. Have you encountered any interesting situation so far? How did you solve the issue?
In 2012, during 00:01/08:00 AM shift, more than 10 unscheduled Pegasus aircrafts were diverted to the airport because of the heavy fog and closure of SAW airport. Since there were not adequate personnel to carry out the operational services and flight documentation procedures for the aircraft, captain pilots on duty were invited to our offices, and necessary flight documents were supplied and delivered to them and the delivery of the flight documents to the cabin crew could be carried out on time.
9. How has the operations department in ground handling services evolved throughout the years?
The fundamental change here is that airlines and ground handling service providers have begun to use various systems, such as DCS (departure control system) etc., in line with the developments in technology. As a result, documents such as manual Load-Sheet, Trim-Sheet and Loading Plan are started to be prepared on the digital environment; which considerably affected the ways of performing the duties of the Operations Department. Today, instant variations in the operations can be handled faster thanks to the computer systems, which also speed up the processes.
Another fundamental change is that airlines have begun to outsource their load-sheet preparation procedures to their subsidiaries or subcontractors (CLC – Centralized Load Control) for practicability and to reduce costs. Therefore, operations personnel transferred some of their duties such as preparing LS, TS, LIR to units like TRC (Turn Around Coordinator), Agnet K, Red-Cap. The operations personnel only undertake the coordination and communication duties during these flights.
With the availability of communication tools such as smart phones, tablet PCs, etc., faster flow of information is enabled. Instant changes can be reflected to the operation by the operations personnel in a more secure and faster manner.