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If the IOC has security representation, the main focus is to provide an immediate point of reference and response for security issues occurring within or external to the airline. The role monitors worldwide security events and provides information and advice should threats be identified that are likely to affect the airline, its staff, customers or facilities. With membership of the IOC comes affiliation and a close working relationship with other key areas. So events that arise through social media with security implications, for example, can be assessed rapidly. Similarly, social media can also be used as a means of informing stakeholders of security events.

Extended Communications

The larger the airline, the greater the need for a sophisticated central Operations Control system. Beyond the internal relationships are numerous other key associations - some as extensions of the internal functions such as crew rostering, resourcing and support. These groups have little direct impact on the operating day but belong to the same functional area as the Crewing representatives in the IOC who have the decision autonomy. A similar approach is valid for Engineering/ Maintenance and Commercial functions. Only a small, but key representation (e.g., Maintenance Control or Watch, or Commercial/CJM) resides in the IOC but, as expected, vast Engineering and Commercial resources exist within the airline.

Airlines that have formed considerable main port or ‘hub’ activities, also need a suitable structure to manage those ports, as operational activity in such large centres demands considerable oversight. Port staff are obviously well placed to deal with local cultural issues, and of course will have multilingual capability. In the larger ports - especially those that serve as airline hubs, control of these activities may be performed by a hub control centre, and may be managed by a Hub Controller and team, whereas management of smaller ports is usually under the organisation of a Station Manager, Port Coordinator, Ground Operations Coordinator, Apron Movements Coordinator, or similar title. Due to the size of international hub airports, the activities within the hub are, in a sense, pivotal operations centres in their own right. Hence, they have a degree of authority for managing the airline’s operational performance through the hubs. The distinction between the hub control and the IOC is clear though; the hub manages the activities of the port and all its own issues, and acts as a filter for the IOC, while the IOC manages the broader network. Hence, the roles of the hub control do not lie within the jurisdiction of the IOC, but nevertheless there must be a very close affiliation between both parties, as the hub or port operation are the eyes of the IOC at those ports. Thus, the relationship needs to be very strong and trustworthy.

External Relationships

There are also several non-airline external affiliations of importance to the IOC. Various arms of government may need to be consulted (e.g., national government covering operations within the State, and national and foreign governments covering operations for flag (international) carriers). This may be necessary in relation to requests for curfew dispensation, search and rescue flights, or charter flights or similar reasons. Figure 2.2 presents the structure of these external relationships described above.

External relationships of the IOC

Figure 2.2 External relationships of the IOC

Key Challenges for IOC Management

With the mounting pressure on airlines to perform successfully in an increasingly challenging and more complex environment, the IOC becomes even more integral in the management of day-to-day operations. Software will continue to develop and provide more effective ways to streamline processes and accomplish tasks. But there must always be the aspect of human intervention as a necessary mediator in managing the operation. Attention to finding, grooming, developing and retaining the elite levels of talented individuals with highly advanced decision making and problem-solving capabilities, among others, must be seen as fundamental to the future IOC. Human investment and development are central to retention strategies, and sustained performance to deliver required outcomes depends, to a considerable extent, on a blend of attracting the right skill-sets and personal characteristics and applying appropriately focused training agendas.


  • 1 Bruce, PJ. 2011 .Understanding Decision-making Processes in Airline Operations Control, Farnham, Ashgate, p. 156.
  • 2 Simon, H.A. 1976. Administrative Behavior: A study of decision-making process in administrative organizations (4th ed.), New York, Free Press.
  • 3 Bruce, PJ. 2011. Understanding Decision-making Processes in Airline Operations Control, Farnham, Ashgate, p. 15.
  • 4 Sadler-Smith, E., and Shefy, E. (2004). The intuitive executive: Understanding and applying ‘gut feel’ in decision-making. Academy of Management Executive, 18(4), 76-91.
  • 5 FAR FC Part 65 Subpart C S65.51(a).
  • 6 Kim, G. 2018. Dispatch and flight following, in PJ. Bruce, Y. Gao and J.M.C. King (eds) Airline Operations: A practical guide, Abingdon, Routledge, pp.239-253.
  • 7 Avery, P. 2018. Aircraft load planning and control, in P.J. Bruce, Y. Gao and J.M.C. King (eds) Airline Operations: A practical guide, Abingdon, Routledge, 220-238.
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