What is an Airfield Operations Specialist?

airplane on airfield
July 7, 2021
What is an Airfield Operations Specialist?

Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology is a prominent voice in the aviation space. These blogs are for informational purposes only and are meant to spark discussions within the aviation industry on a variety of topics.

An airfield operations specialist is in charge of all operations on the airfield of an airport. To get into this field, you need a bachelor's degree, or an associate's degree and hands-on training. You may be able to find an expert willing to take you on as an apprentice.

If you are interested in all the hidden aspects of the world of aviation, you could be the right type of person for a career as an airfield operations specialist. They maintain the entire airfield, including ensuring safe take-offs and landings, navigational aid maintenance, inspections, and open communication with air traffic control.

Airfield operations specialists are present in all types of airfields large and small, public, commercial, and military. Their responsibilities run the gamut from implementing safety regulations to training staff and maintaining flight records. Required skills and training varies depending on the type of airfield.

Working conditions can be harsh at times. You may be required to work in control centers and in the great outdoors in all types of weather. Specialists are sometimes exposed to hazardous fumes, loud noises, dangerous machinery, and many other potentially dangerous environments.

How to Become an Airfield Operations Specialist

It takes about two to four years to become a certified airfield operations specialist. The length of time greatly depends on your background, work experience, and education. These are the steps needed to get started:

  1. Research

Learn as much as you can about the field of airfield operations. Consider the pros and cons of working in a public, commercial, or military airfield. For example, a military position may involve a deeper background check and higher security clearance than the other two.

  1. Know Yourself

Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Many previous experiences in life or work can give you the skills and knowledge needed to be a good airfield operations specialist. Important qualities include critical thinking and strong reasoning skills to quickly identify problems and find solutions.

This is a fast-paced environment. You have to be on your toes and think on your feet. Airports are run like well-oiled machines. Whenever a problem arises, you have to get the right team in there to fix it immediately. For example, if the doors on the luggage compartments freeze shut, you need to get a team in there to have the doors opened as quickly and efficiently as possible.

  1. Be Computer Savvy

You'll need a good working knowledge of computers, as well as better-than-average reading and writing skills. A big part of this job is keeping accurate records. All written work, on a computer or written by hand, has to be clear, concise, and easy for anyone to understand. Airfield operations specialists must also have strong business, management, and administrative experience. Although you are not technically running the entire airport, you have to conduct yourself as if you were. A lot of people depend on you.

  1. Training

Check out local colleges and universities for the educational portion of the training. You can also check online for possible courses offered without traveling to a physical school. The majority of the training is hands-on or through an apprenticeship program, but you will need quite a bit of classroom training, as well. A military airfield operations specialist may have additional training requirements.

All airfield operations specialist training includes:

  • Introduction to aviation operations.
  • Scheduling procedures for aircraft and crew.
  • Flight planning and airfield operations.
  • Record keeping and communications.
  • Maintaining data of all flights and personnel.
  • Administrative support duties.

One major benefit of working at a military airfield is that all or part of your training may be paid for by the government.

Requirements of an Airfield Operations Specialist

To be considered, most employers will require airfield operations specialists to have at least an associate's degree or related work experience, or in the best-case scenario, a combination of both. Universities, community colleges, and technical schools offer the educational portion and grant degrees and certificates in various aspects of aviation.

Consider degree programs such as aviation management and aviation technology. These include lessons in aviation law, safety, weather, aircraft systems, and airport management. You can get related work experience in areas such as airport dispatch, security, and maintenance.

Duties of an Airfield Operations Specialist

The duties of an airfield operations specialist are vast and varied. You will never have to worry about being bored. Responsibilities include inspections of all airport areas; the hangers, runways, and fuel supply storage areas to ensure each complies with airport and Federal Aviation Administration safety regulations.

Operations specialists keep the airfield safe by monitoring weather conditions, overseeing maintenance work, monitoring wildlife activity, and keeping an eye on runway conditions. In conjunction with air-traffic control, they coordinate aircraft arrivals, departures, refueling, parking queues, and loading. They must stay in constant radio contact with other department heads, be able to direct emergency response units, and provide first aid services during airfield emergencies.

Additional airfield operations specialist duties may include:

  • Plan flight operations.
  • Provide assistance to aircraft and medical emergencies.
  • Organize teams during emergencies.
  • Manage wildlife activity on and around the airfield.
  • Communicate with other agencies such as civil engineers, air traffic control, and command posts to coordinate efforts of airfield management and support activities.
  • Coordinate flight control and manage activities.
  • Oversee, plan, and manage airfield construction and work operations.
  • Participate in and supervise airfield management activities and mobile airfield management functions.
  • Manage communications between air traffic controllers and maintenance personnel.
  • Train transportation personnel, material movers, and operations staff.
  • Provide aircrews with the information and services they need for safe airfield management and flight planning.
  • Maintain accurate flight and events logs, including flying records of aircrew and flight operations records of flights landing and departing.
  • Use airfield landing and navigational aids and digital data terminal communications equipment to perform duties.
  • Produce, procure, and provide updated information on the safe operation of aircraft. This can be in the form of charts and maps, flight planning publications, operations publications, and current and forecasted weather conditions.
  • Implement updated airfield safety procedures to maintain a safe operating environment for aircraft, maintenance crews, and all other personnel.

Ready to Get Started?

Ready to dive into the exciting world of airfield operations? First, determine the type of program you wish to pursue. As you already saw, the field is vast and varied. You could potentially start at an entry-level position with just the bare minimum requirements.

In the meantime, you will gain valuable hands-on experience that will help you get promotions and move up the ladder. With a few more training programs along the way, promotions will come quicker.

If your future goals include a high-level management position, a more comprehensive program beyond the basic vocational requirements will be needed at some point in your career.

When you're ready, apply to a training program at the schools of your choice for work in the public sector or make an application to a training program affiliated with a branch of the military if that is the path you choose. After acceptance, get prepared to begin your education and hands-on training towards a rewarding career as an airfield operations specialist.

While Spartan College doesn’t offer this program, we invite you to explore other aviation-industry training that we offer. Click here to learn more about our programs.

Interested in Learning More?
If you would like to learn more about Spartan College and our program offerings, fill out the form below to request information, and we will have one of our admissions representatives contact you.

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