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Final Ioc Preparations – the Handover


As the day of operation gets closer, the schedule should be commercially optimised. That is, the airline has achieved its desired commercial objectives (such as market share, load factor, service levels, etc.) and produced a robust schedule. In addition, all the associated preparatory resources should be fully organised and prepared. Several days from the day of operations (anywhere from 72 hours to perhaps 14 or so days) the IOC takes over the responsibility to fine-tune the plan. In this sense the commercial schedule is being ‘operationalised’, ensuring that planned maintenance work can be achieved, airport ground-handling capabilities can be met, and that crew pairings and hence rosters satisfy the flying commitments. This window is the time for allocating the aircraft fleet units to the flight patterns that make up the schedule. For international operations in particular, this is most important as aircraft then become committed to patterns that may take them away from the airline’s main bases (and therefore, maintenance support) for several days at a time.

The expectation prior to the day of operations is that nothing will be left undone or left to chance. Of course, despite the concerted efforts that lead to this moment, there is always some level of disjoint between the assembly of planned measures and what is actually needed to ensure the highest levels of achievement. Hence, there may be some further manipulation of the schedule to suit contingencies such as operational requirements (e.g., performance issues), environmental issues (e.g., high temperatures, strong winds as discussed above) or perhaps recently issued NOTAMs. Lurking beyond these normal circumstances, of course, are other threats or potentially disruptive situations such as brewing industrial action, political or social unrest, or materialising weather patterns, any of which may serve to affect the schedules about to occur.

The Handover

With the planning events completed, the final point of note is the handover that takes place once, twice or more each day at numerous locations in the IOC. The outgoing shift may have had a quiet day or night or, alternatively, may have suffered considerable effort with resulting high stress levels due to a series of complex multi-disruptive events. Either way, the handover to the incoming Controller needs to capture the essence of what will drive the next shift. As a result, the briefing usually consists of a recorded (electronic or otherwise) synopsis of events and current or potential status of the airline’s operations. Background information would be also available through suitably recorded data, should a historical record be needed.

The handover covers information of primary importance such as following:

  • a) overall state of the network operation;
  • b) significant delays, diversions or cancellations;
  • c) the condition of all the fleet units (i.e., serviceability, defects, limitations, requirements) - this includes aircraft currently under maintenance but perhaps due to return to line flying during the day;
  • d) non-standard operations - this could include charters (e.g., Antarctic sightseeing), high traffic volume for religious events, or even critical long-haul flights;
  • e) airport equipment or facilities (e.g., navigational equipment - the loss of an instrument landing system (ILS) may limit an approach procedure); unserviceable GPUs - this is very significant should an aircraft with a U/S APU be scheduled to visit an airport with a U/S GPU, as there may not be any support on the ground for engine start among other needs; unserviceable aerobridges; and fuel availability);
  • f) any runway, taxiway closure or works, any NOTAMs affecting current of forthcoming operations;
  • g) weather conditions - both current or expected (e.g., forecast of thunderstorms on the day, or fog overnight);
  • h) commercial issues (groups travelling, VIPs, CIPs) such as prime flights to be protected, high or low load factors, and any potential offload situations;
  • i) staffing or other resource issues;
  • j) other miscellaneous issues.


  • 1 Wu, C.-L. 2010. Airline Operations and Delay Management, Farnham, Ashgate.
  • 2 Ibid.
  • 3 Bazargan, M. 2010. Airline Operations and Scheduling, Farnham, Ashgate.
  • 4 IATA Worldwide Slot Guidelines, Part 1: Policy
  • 5 For a more complete description of aircraft weight definitions and limitations, see Avery, P. 2018. Aircraft load planning and control, in PJ. Bruce, Y. Gao and J.M.C. King (eds) Airline Operations: A practical guide, Abingdon, Roudedge, pp. 220-238.
  • 6 For a more complete description of ETOPS, particularly related to Dispatch and flight planning requirements, see Kim, G. 2018. Dispatch and flight following, in PJ. Bruce, Y. Gao and J.M.C. King (eds) Airline Operations: A practical guide, Abingdon, Roudedge, 239-253.
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