Airport operations officer

Airport operations officer article illustration


Airport operations officers perform supervisory and administrative work monitoring operational activities on an assigned shift at a large airport. They ensure the safe take-off and landing of aircraft.

The duties of an aircraft operations officer typically include, but are not limited to:

  • Making sure all aircraft are weighed before takeoff to ensure they are within weight limits
  • Responding to emergencies such as fires, medical emergencies, security threats, etc.
  • Coordinating with pilots and crew members to ensure that all safety procedures are followed
  • Performing inspections of aircraft to ensure they are safe for takeoff and landing
  • Issuing clearance for aircraft to take off or land
  • Operating radio or radar equipment to monitor air traffic and communicate with pilots
  • Recording weather conditions and other operational information such as runway length, elevation changes, and other relevant data
  • Monitoring airport security at all times to ensure safety and security standards are met
  • Monitoring the status of incoming and outgoing flights to ensure that they are operating on schedule

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to airport operations officer:

airport operations chief
airport operations supervisor
aerodrome operations supervisor
chief of airport operations
airport director
operations officer
airport operations coordinator
head of airport operations
airport operations manager
ground operations officer
aerodrome operations coordinator
aerodrome operations officer

Working conditions

Airport operations officers work in the control tower of an airport, directing the takeoffs and landings of aircraft. They work in a small, cramped space with little room to move around. The work can be stressful, as airport operations officers must make split-second decisions that could mean the difference between life and death. They work in shifts that may include nights, weekends, and holidays. Airport operations officers may be required to work overtime, on call, or in emergency situations.

Minimum qualifications

Most airport operations officers need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some airports may require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in airport management, aviation management, or a related field. These programs teach airport operations officers the skills they need to effectively manage the day-to-day operations of an airport, including budgeting, accounting, marketing, safety and security, and personnel management.

Many airport operations officers receive on-the-job training when they start a new position. This training may last for a few weeks to a few months. It may include shadowing current airport operations officers and performing duties under supervision until they are comfortable enough to complete tasks on their own.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Airport operations officer is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Airport operations officer career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to airport operations officer.

aviation data communications manager
aeronautical information service officer
aeronautical information specialist
passport officer
air traffic controller

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of airport operations officer. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of airport operations officer with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

airport director
airside safety manager
airport chief executive
airport environment officer
aviation communications and frequency coordination manager

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of airport operations officer.

  • Airport planning: Know airport planning for different types of aircrafts; use that information to mobilise resources and people in order to handle the aircrafts while they are in the airport.
  • Airport environmental regulations: The official regulations for environmental standards in airports as dictated by national codes for planning airport facilities and related developments. These include regulatory aspects which govern noise and environmental aspects, sustainability measures, and impacts in relation to land use, emissions, and wildlife hazard mitigation.
  • Instructions of aerodrome operations: Read and comprehend labels, signs and instructions in the supervision of airport operations.
  • Dangers of marshalling activity: Understand the dangers and difficulties that accompany marshalling activity, including noise, dust, ingestions or vehicle collisions.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of airport operations officer.

  • Operate radio equipment: Set up and operate radio devices and accessories, such as broadcast consoles, amplifiers, and microphones. Understand the basics of radio operator language and, when necessary, provide instruction in handling radio equipment correctly.
  • Create solutions to problems: Solve problems which arise in planning, prioritising, organising, directing/facilitating action and evaluating performance. Use systematic processes of collecting, analysing, and synthesising information to evaluate current practice and generate new understandings about practice.
  • Inspect airfield facilities: Direct and participate in the inspection of airfield facilities – including grounds, runways, fencing, taxiways, aircraft aprons, gate assignments, and service roadways – to assure safety, security, and efficiency of operations and expeditious flow of aircraft in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) regulations.
  • Conduct safe aircraft marshalling: Conduct safe marshalling of aircraft, adhere to apron markings and ensure accurate completion of associated paperwork or database entries.
  • Communicate verbal instructions: Communicate transparent instructions. Ensure that messages are understood and followed correctly.
  • Investigate aircraft accidents: Thoroughly investigate aircraft accidents, collisions, crashes or other serious aviation incidents.
  • Implement airport emergency plans: Design and execute the plan to ensure full implementation of emergency procedures during any crisis or disaster situations. During development of the plan, envision the way crew members should work together during preventative, and actual emergency situations. Manage communications in the airport, prepare evacuation procedures and routes, and restrict access to zones during simulations or real emergency situations.
  • Implement improvement procedures in airport operations: Carry out improvement procedures in airport operations based on an understanding of the needs of an airport. Plan and develop improvement procedures using adequate resources.
  • Comply with specifications of aerodrome manual: Follow standards and specific prescriptions from the aerodrome manual.
  • Perform risk analysis: Identify and assess factors that may jeopardise the success of a project or threaten the organisation’s functioning. Implement procedures to avoid or minimise their impact.
  • Provide assistance to a variety of airport users: Satisfy needs of various types of airport customers; prepare and implement plans to address the request of stakeholders.
  • Comply with wildlife hazard management programmes: Ensure that animal hazard management programs are carried out appropriately. Consider the impact of wildlife on the performance of transport or industrial operations.
  • Manage aircraft parking areas: Manage aircraft parking areas. Typically an airport has four different areas of aircraft parking: international aviation, domestic aviation, general aviation, and helicopters.
  • Use different communication channels: Make use of various types of communication channels such as verbal, handwritten, digital and telephonic communication with the purpose of constructing and sharing ideas or information.
  • Maintain aerodrome equipment: Maintain aerodrome equipment serviceability by performing continuous checks.
  • Implement airside safety procedures: Apply a series of airfield safety rules and procedures to ensure a safe working environment for airport crew.
  • Manage obstacle control: Handle applications for temporary structures that are likely to last less than three months.
  • Manage personnel: Hire and train employees to increase their value to the organisation. This includes a range of human resources activity, developing and implementing policies and processes to create an employee-supportive work environment.
  • Manage removal of disabled aircraft: Manage, control, and coordinate operations for the safe removal of disabled aircraft. Cooperate with safety investigation team, and with airline/aircraft operator.
  • Inspect airside area facilities: Ensure that serviceability inspections are carried to effective standards and with appropriate regularity; conduct inspections and compose reports.
  • Ensure accurate screening of luggage in aerodromes: Screen luggage items in aerodrome through use of CBS system; conduct troubleshooting and identify fragile or oversized baggage.
  • Identify airport safety hazards: Spot threats related to security at the airport and apply procedures to counteract them in a quick, safe, and efficient way.
  • Manage car park operations: Monitor car park activities and parked vehicles.
  • Apply airport standards and regulations: Know and apply the accepted standards and regulations for European airports. Apply knowledge to enforce airport rules, regulations, and the Airport Safety Plan.
  • Address potential aerodrome hazards: Address potential aerodrome hazards such as foreign objects, debris, and wildlife interference.
  • Follow given instructions: Follow instructions to achieve goals and meet deadlines.
  • Prepare notices to airmen for pilots: Prepare and file regular briefings in the information system used by pilots; calculate the best possible way to use the available airspace; provide information on the potential hazards that may accompany air shows, VIP-flights, or parachute jumps.
  • Monitor aviation meteorology: Monitor and interpret the information provided by weather stations to anticipate conditions that may affect airports and flights.
  • Ensure adherence to aerodrome procedures: Ensure that aerodrome procedures are conducted in accordance with all requirements.
  • Prepare airport emergency plans: Prepare an airport emergency plan that ensures the safe and efficient handling of any emergency situation that may arise.
  • Implement airside vehicle control provisions: Implement the provisions of the handbook for the movement of vehicles and persons airside.
  • Anticipate installation maintenance: Prepare resources and activities to execute installation maintenance, according to budget needs.
  • Supervise security at manned access gates: Ensure that surveillance operations undertaken at manned access gates are carried out as effectively as possible.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of airport operations officer. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Leasing process: Know and understand the leasing process, including any requirements, tenants, and legal conditions. Analyse the benefits of leasing equipment or any other items, rather than buying or acquiring via another method.
  • Air traffic control operations: Understand the tasks performed by air traffic controllers, including Interaction and effective communication between aircraft and air traffic controllers; execution of follow-up activities, and ensuring smooth operations during flights.
  • Airport operating environment: Thoroughly understand the airport operating environment, the operational characteristics, services, activities, and procedures of a general aviation airport service area, as well as of those of the suppliers, partners, and other airport agencies.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of airport operations officer. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Exert a goal-oriented leadership role towards colleagues: Embrace a leadership role in the organisation and with colleagues as to provide coaching and direction to subordinates aiming at the achievement of specific objectives.
  • Implement marketing strategies: Implement strategies which aim to promote a specific product or service, using the developed marketing strategies.
  • Ensure customer focus: Attitude that puts customers at the centre of the business in all cases.
  • Follow ethical code of conduct in transport services: Carry out transport services according to accepted principles of right and wrong. This includes principles of fairness, transparency, and impartiality.
  • Mark differences in colours: Identify differences between colours, such as shades of colour.
  • Comply with legal regulations: Ensure you are properly informed of the legal regulations that govern a specific activity and adhere to its rules, policies and laws.
  • Ensure public safety and security: Implement the relevant procedures, strategies and use the proper equipment to promote local or national security activities for the protection of data, people, institutions, and property.
  • Apply business acumen: Take appropriate actions in a business environment in order to maximise possible outcome from each situation.
  • Have spatial awareness: Be aware of your position and the space around you. Understand the relationship of objects around you when there is a change of position.
  • Prepare airport annual budget: Prepare annual airport budget, taking into account factors such as fuel supplies, facilities maintenance, and communications.
  • Work in an aviation team: Work confidently in a group in general aviation services, in which each individual operates in their own area of responsibility to reach a common goal, such as a good customer interaction, air safety, and aircraft maintenance.
  • Apply strategic thinking: Apply generation and effective application of business insights and possible opportunities, in order to achieve competitive business advantage on a long-term basis.
  • Negotiate sales contracts: Come to an agreement between commercial partners with a focus on terms and conditions, specifications, delivery time, price etc.
  • Write work-related reports: Compose work-related reports that support effective relationship management and a high standard of documentation and record keeping. Write and present results and conclusions in a clear and intelligible way so they are comprehensible to a non-expert audience.
  • Implement strategic management: Implement a strategy for the development and transformation of the company. Strategic management involves the formulation and implementation of the major objectives and initiatives of a company by senior management on behalf of the owners, based on consideration of available resources and an assessment of the internal and external environments in which the organisation operates.
  • Adopt a relaxed posture: Adapt a posture that is relaxed and inviting to make the audience watch and listen to you attentively.
  • Listen actively: Give attention to what other people say, patiently understand points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times; able to listen carefully the needs of customers, clients, passengers, service users or others, and provide solutions accordingly.
  • Supervise maintenance activities in airports: Supervise airport staff during operational and maintenance activities such as aeroplane refuelling, flight communications, runway maintenance, etc.
  • Use logical reasoning: Use cognitive abilities to make decisions and to move logically from one idea to another.
  • Maintain inventory of airport operations: Keep an up-to-date inventory of all aspects of airport operations.
  • Implement sales strategies: Carry out the plan to gain competitive advantage on the market by positioning the company’s brand or product and by targeting the right audience to sell this brand or product to.
  • Address problems critically: Identify the strengths and weaknesses of various abstract, rational concepts, such as issues, opinions, and approaches related to a specific problematic situation in order to formulate solutions and alternative methods of tackling the situation.
  • Have computer literacy: Utilise computers, IT equipment and modern day technology in an efficient way.
  • Tolerate stress: Maintain a temperate mental state and effective performance under pressure or adverse circumstances.
  • Show diplomacy: Deal with people in a sensitive and tactful way.
  • Plan event marketing for promotional campaigns: Design and direct event marketing for promotional campaigns. This involves face-to-face contact between companies and customers at a wide range of events, which engages them in a participatory position and provides them with information about a specific product or service.

ISCO group and title

3154 – Air traffic controllers

  1. Airport operations officer – ESCO
  2. Airport Operations Officer Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  3. Featured image: By Siqbal at en.wikipedia – en:Image:Incheon Airport.jpg, released as public Domain by the photographer (en:User:Siqbal)., Public Domain
Last updated on March 20, 2023