The National Academies

ACRP 10-10 [Final]

Guidebook for Airport Irregular Operations (IROPS) Contingency Planning

  Project Data
Funds: $600,000
Research Agency: Mead & Hunt
Principal Investigator: Mike Nash
Effective Date: 8/26/2010
Completion Date: 2/24/2012

Meeting customer core needs during Irregular Operations (IROPS) is a critical problem for airports, airlines, and aviation service providers. IROPS are events that disrupt optimized flight schedules and negatively impact the normal flow of passengers through the air transportation system. In the wake of the weather-related multi-hour disruptions in 2007 and 2008, several workshops (including the September 2007 DFW IROPS Workshop, the July 2008 DFW Regional Diversion Airport/Airline Workshop, and the January 2008 ACI-NA IROPS Workshop) were held to proactively address these challenges and set the stage for communication, collaboration, and coordination and identify best practices within the industry. These workshops identified potential actions for improvement, among which included:   
  • Airlines, airports, government agencies, and other system partners should  update contingency plans, and should include sufficient collaboration;
  • Communication among these parties should be collaborative, coordinated, and on-going; and   
  • Service providers (e.g., concessionaires, ground transportation) should continually evaluate the level of services provided in meeting customer needs during IROPS.
 To address these actions, a national task force appointed by the Secretary of Transportation met over a period of 10 months and produced model contingency plan recommendations in November 2008. This task force included government employees, representatives of airlines, airports, and consumer groups.  The task force produced a recommended Model Plan for Lengthy Airline Onboard Ground Delays. The U.S. Department of Transportation also established regulations for Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections, which requires air carriers to develop individual contingency plans at the large and medium hub airports they serve. Contingency planning for large, medium, and small airports, using a collaborative and coordinated approach among key airport stakeholders, is essential to address current and evolving aviation challenges that disrupt the normal flow of passengers through the air transportation system.   Further research is needed to provide additional assistance in this area.
The objective of this research is to prepare a practical airport guidebook for commercial passenger service airports of all sizes to develop, continually evaluate, and/or update their contingency plans for procedures pertaining to IROPS that may cause significant disruptions to customers. This research will assist aviation system partners in improving their response to customer care during a broad array of IROPS conditions and will devise a step-by step template in the form of an interactive CD for the preparation of contingency plans that include necessary communications, collaboration, and coordination to address customer needs. A specific focus on the needs of smaller airports will be included in the development of the guidebook.
STATUS:  A status update document is provided as a preliminary tool to assist airports in formulating their IROPS contingency plans. Additionally, a cover note from the FAA Deputy Associate Administrator for Airports, Catherine M. Lang, is provided in support of the project and anticipated research results. Report 65 has been published. The contractor's final report provides background on how the research was conducted.

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