Airport Operations Human Factors: Shift and Task Turnover process

Shift and Task turnover process in Airport Operations

The shift and task turnover are the critical periods in all kinds of airport operations as the working personnel relay important information for ending a shift or task and for starting another shift. Maintaining continuity between shifts is very important in the case of continuously operating
sector like Aviation. The company policies, procedures, planning guidelines, team work and good communication practices are required for efficient and effective shift and task turnover process.

The shift turnover process typically includes

  • A period of preparation by the outgoing personnel
  • Shift handover - where the outgoing and incoming personnel communicate to exchange task relevant information.
  • Cross checking of the information by the incoming personnel as they assume responsibility for the task2.

Importance of a shift turnover process

In a work environment like an airport where there will be multiple aircraft movements in a day, there will be potential for multiple task turnovers that may result in communication breakdowns. Hence shift/task turnover process becomes a critical factor for effective airport operations.

The inadequate information exchange during the shift or task turnover can have serious consequences such as personal injuries and equipment breakdown. The poor shift/task turnover process is a contributing factor for the incidents occurring during the normal airport operations.

The challenges related to shift turnover includes

  • Lack of team work and interpersonal communication skills which is of high demand in a continuously operating environment like an airport.
  • The airport operations activities are being shared between the airline and the service provider personnel which increases the chances of communications gaps between the two.
  • The risk and complexity of the airport where a number of tasks are to be completed in a short time frame makes the shift changeover process an important aspect of airport operations.
  • The policies and procedures are not very structured and standardized.
  • Lack of adequate verbal and written communication methods which is very critical during a shift changeover process.
  • Inadequate shift overlap which reduces the time to give one-on-one briefings between the team leaving the shift and the team entering the shift. Also, the personnel involved are being given minimal training on the importance of a shift/task turnover process1.

Therefore the development of high quality shift/task turnover procedures results in the improvement of safety and accountability to the personnel involved in the work and also reducing the occurrence of errors.

Development of a shift turnover process

The different aspects of a shift /task turnover process includes

A) Creating and installing of standard policies, procedures and protocols.

  • Formalizing the policies and procedures which makes the changeover process as important as the work.
  • Developing, improving and enforcing the policies and procedures.
  • The event investigation results can be used to educate the workforce about the errors made during the changeover process.
  • All personnel involved must be communicated about the policies and procedures to be adopted.
  • The documentation works during the shift changeover process must be considered and be best practiced.
  • The company must ensure that all the work personnel involved are trained on the different procedures of the shift/task turnover process.

B) The time overlap between shifts must be adequate such that the turnover meetings can be held in a comfortable place which has access to computers and other data sources. The employee should be given a task turnover time within the shift timings and the shift/task turnover process should be planned to take place near the task site.

C) The quality of the written and verbal communications must be standardized and consistent level of detail on information should be ensured during the changeover process.

D) Initial and recurrent training on conducting a good shift/task turnover process should be provided to the work personnel involved. In doing so, the emphasis can be given on the critical aspects of a shift/task turnover process and its impacts on continuing safety. The personnel must be trained to use checklists, shift status reports and other applicable documents to make the changeover process error free1.

Result of a successful shift turnover process

On successful implementation of the shift/task turnover process

The errors will decrease and there will be increase in the performance. The quality of documentation will be improved which describes the shift and task turnover processes. There will be improvement in co-operation and communication between the employees and the management. Therefore, the shift turnover process is one of the important factor for the efficient functioning of any airport with regards to its operations.

1. FAA (2007). Operator’s manual: Human factors in airport Operations. Retrieved from ATC Vantage Inc on 10 October 2011.
2. Ronny Lardner (1996). Effective shift handover. Retrieved from HSE: Information about health and safety at work on 10 October 2011.

Want to know more?

Effective shift handover
This page offers more details about the shift and task turnover process.

Contributors to this page

Authors / Editors

Gokul KrishnanGokul Krishnan

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License