Engineering Contact Trail
The disruption is an engineering problem, so Maintenance Watch (in the IOC) are central to the initial advice and then developments throughout the disruption. As mentioned earlier in the book, ensuring the information is valid and received from the appropriate source is vital to the integrity of disruption management. At times, information may be received from well-meaning but ill-informed, non-engineering qualified staff in a port. The information may be correct, but reliance on this is fraught with danger until validated by authorised engineering staff. This is one key reason for the location of Maintenance Watch within an IOC. Communications channels between Maintenance Watch and the Engineering Duty Manager (who in turn relies on the expertise of the Engineers attending the aircraft), or the equivalent should a third- party contractor be engaged, can readily assess the nature of a problem and relay this to the Operations Controller. Another position within the Engineering function may be a role with more of an engineering operational support focus, that has contact with airframe or engine type
specialists or, in some cases, direct with the manufacturers, as presented in Figure 5.2.
The role of Maintenance Watch in the scenario will be to establish the exact nature of the problem, and work with the supporting roles to ascertain what needs to happen to get the aircraft serviceable in the least amount of time. This may mean that parts and other equipment are required to fix or replace components. It is also possible that should the problem be significant, requiring considerably further engineering support, passengers and baggage may have to be removed and the aircraft towed to a hangar. Hence, the communications and actions between the Maintenance Watch personnel and other Engineering roles are critical.
Pilot and Flight Attendant Crewing Contact Trails
With an impending or known problem with a flight, the Pilot and Flight Attendant Crew Schedulers on the current day have a sound grasp of any crew-related issues such as where crews originate for the flight, their sign-on and duty times, limitations, assigned duty requirements (i.e., the specific role they are to perform for that flight), flight connections ( to or from the flight), overnight bases, and next day commitments, for example. The focus is clearly on managing the crew complements in relation to the immediate flight. They may already be conversing with the operating crews on board the aircraft to establish limitations or request changes to existing rosters. In addition, both Crewing sections are likely to be assessing the potential for further disruption and, even at this early stage, assessing alternative ways to crew both the current flight (should delays be excessive or cancellations be necessary) and any consequential flights which may be affected. To do this, they will likely examine crew member records carefully to ensure any change of duty is legal and also fits work practices, company fatigue-management systems, and employer agreements.
Assisting the Schedulers are ‘Day of Operations’ support staff, whose roles may include more far-reaching effects should crews become dislodged from patterns, finish ‘out of base’, or be unable to position for a training assignment, for example. These supporting positions may at times need to consult with specialists in particular roles such as Duty Captains (Pilot Crewing), fleet administration staff, and union officials. Figures 5.3 and 5.4 depict the Crew Scheduler’s contact trails for Pilot and Flight Attendant Crewing, respectively.
Figure 5.3 Pilot Crewing contact trail
Figure 5.4 Flight Attendant crewing contact trail
Customer Journey Management Contact Trail
The CJM team also become involved in the disruption immediately. Depending upon the timing of the disruption, customers might be in a variety of locations. If the engineering problem has occurred hours before scheduled departure time, customers can be advised not to travel to the airport or given advice of a delayed departure time perhaps. However, if the problem has occurred with all customers on board the aircraft (e.g., during pre-flight checking, or even on start-up) the impact may be more severe. Hence, the CJM processes may need to involve staff at the departure end of travel, looking after VIPs, even removing and offering specified customers alternative travel arrangements rather than undergoing the impact of a significant delay, or worse. Part of the function also assesses the impact at the arrival end, looking at connections beyond the initial destination (both within and external to the airline), accommodation, or immigration issues, for example. Processes such as rebooking of customers onto other flights or assisting them in any other way can be actioned and followed through by customer support staff or officers, or via a third-party contractor. Should matters need to be escalated, there will be a range of people with due responsibility and authority to provide a greater level of support as shown in Figure 5.5.
Figure 5.5 Customer Journey Management contact trail
One of the key functions at each (served) airport is the Port Coordinator or Airport Station Manager/Duty Manager (or some similar name/level). Essentially, this role is an airline role (i.e., it does not belong to the airport ownership or operation - rather it is the airline’s highest representation at the airport). The Airport Liaison role within the IOC has direct contact with this position at the airports. Therefore communication and passing of information between the two is concise, fast and relevant to the issue at hand. The Port Coordinator/Station Manager ties all the airport functions together, having direct contact with Catering, Fuellers, Engineers, Ramp Officers, terminal staff, airport authorities, АТС, airline partners, competitors, and contracted third-party providers. The position also has oversight of the information systems (flight information display boards) available to staff and the general public. Thus, control of information about delays and cancellations lies not only in the hands of the IOC, but in consultation with the Port Coordinator/Station Manager who has face-to-face contact with the travelling public, and whose workplace may be directly affected by hordes of disrupted (and sometimes angry) travellers, and by congested gates and ramp areas.
The instance of this disruption begins to stretch the airport capability should delays be excessive or flights cancelled. This may be exacerbated at night with subsequent requirements for transport, accommodation and meal vouchers. A delay at the gate in a busy terminal may have consequential effects for arriving traffic due to limited parking places. In some airports, where dedicated gates suit certain aircraft types, further complexities arise. Figure 5.6 depicts the Airport contact trail.
Dispatch/Slot Control Contact Trail
Decisions emanating from Operations Control will have ramifications for the Dispatch function (and through that function, Flight Planning/ Navigation/Load Control services). Should the engineering problem result in delayed or cancelled services, change of aircraft or flight number, for example, notification to АТС is necessary. Where either or both departure and arrival airports are slot constrained, the Slot Controller (or equivalent) in the IOC may also need to negotiate alternative arrangements with the Air Service Provider, as shown in Figure 5.7.
Figure 5.7 Dispatch/Slot Control contact trail
Bearing in mind the background information described in Part I of the book, and the nature of communications in and beyond the IOC described in this chapter, the following chapters draw on this in a fully practical sense, as three scenarios are examined in some detail. At this stage, there should be sufficient knowledge gained to follow and understand the impact of airline disruptions on the travelling public and the vast resources, expertise and capabilities the airline employs to minimise outcomes.
Figure 6.1 JFK weather - status @ 1700
- • All times in the scenario relate to UTC time.
- • A timeline indicates the current time in the scenario.
- • Prior to the timeline, all flights are operating on schedule
- • Flight numbers are shown on dark background
- • Actual booked loadings are shown to the right of the flight numbers
- • Flights exceeding timescale are shown with « or »
For this scenario, LHR and LGW are UTC time, CDG is UTC + 1 hr, DXB is UTC + 4 hrs, JFK, CLE are UTC - 5 hrs, ORD is UTC - 6 hrs, SEA, SFO and LAX are UTC - 8 hrs.
• The utilisation is not intended to simulate any existing airlines. It is only a representation.