Aviation Ground Operative

An aviation ground operative could work in a number of environments, such as a commercial airport, military base/aerodrome, heliport or other airfield. With five key specialist functions, all working in conjunction with each other, aviation ground operators form the teams above and below wing to ensure the efficient and effective arrival, turn around and departure of aircraft. At the heart of the role safety, security and compliance with aviation regulations focus each operator’s day to day duties. Effective communication and team work ensure that passenger services, air traffic control (ATC) and those moving, loading, unloading and servicing a range of aircraft achieve the objectives of their organisation in this diverse field. The core knowledge, skills and behaviours must be completed by ALL ground operatives, along with ONE of the five specialist functions. 


  • Work in line with organisational and legal requirements relating to health and safety, and be aware of, report and prevent hazards in an aviation environment.
  • Contribute to security of self and others in own area of responsibility e.g. in airside / landside areas
  • Comply with all relevant legislation, procedures and regulations in an aviation environment within own area of responsibility
  • Communicate effectively transmitting and receiving information and recording it as required
  • Work effectively as part of a team and with others identifying and responding to the needs of individuals, including colleagues, other organisations or customers
  • Use aviation systems effectively relevant to own role to achieve the required outcome
  • Take appropriate action in the event of an incident, disruption or emergency, liaising with relevant people and recording actions and outcomes as required
  • Follow procedures for identification and safe handling of dangerous goods in own area of responsibility


  • Health and safety regulations and legislation relevant to the role; an aviation environment and organisational procedures and how they impact on self, others and in relation to aviation operational duties.
  • The systems, procedures and requirements to ensure security of self and others in own area of responsibility
  • Aviation and regulatory legislation, procedures and regulations relating to an aviation environment, within own area of responsibility
  • How to communicate effectively and transfer relevant information to people and how to select the most appropriate method of communication
  • Own role within the team and how it contributes to achieving objectives. Know how to identify and respond to individuals’ needs and abilities in different situations and communicate with others and colleagues from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures
  • Identify key aviation systems used in own role and how to operate and adhere to them in line with the organisation’s procedures
  • Emergency procedures in own area of responsibility, common incidents and disruption that may occur in an aviation environment and the appropriate action to take in the event of an incident
  • Relevant dangerous goods and how to deal with them effectively in own area of responsibility


  • Be punctual and reliable  
  • Be a positive role model to others in attitude to work and how it is undertaken  
  • Treat team, customers and other stakeholders with courtesy and respect  
  • Remain focussed when a problem arises so that effective and timely decisions can be made  
  • Work responsibility to keep people safe and operations flowing smoothly, complying with working practises  
  • Use equipment and technology responsibly and effectively  
  • Treat others, work areas and equipment with respect at all times  
  • Demonstrate personal drive to achieve the vision and objectives of the organisation  
  • Handle all tasks in a calm and organised manner

Specialist: Aviation ground operatives must demonstrate ONE of the following five specialist functions 

  • Aircraft handling  
  • Aircraft movement  
  • Fire fighter
  • Flight operations
  • Passenger services

Specialist function 1: Aircraft handling

The main purpose of an aircraft handling ground operative is to ensure that the full array of aircraft services are completed correctly, including; marshalling, chocks, ground power, correct operation of lower hold doors, loading and unloading passenger baggage and cargo in accordance with aircraft manufacturer and current carrier/organisational regulations. An aircraft handler must be an effective diligent and proactive team member; displaying a high degree of care to aircraft, equipment and customer goods, be responsible for their own actions and to be a good ambassador for their organisation.


  • Effectively use the correct marshalling hand signals and techniques required to safely position and manoeuver vehicles into and around the aircraft.
  • Correctly interpret information on a LIR and ensure procedures within own role are conducted according to the report
  • Complete loading and unloading of aircraft safely within the allocated time in accordance with the LIR and organisational procedures, including, restraint / unrestraint of a ULD and baggage nets following supervisor’s instruction
  • Identify the correct specialist equipment that is required for specific purposes on, at and around the aircraft to achieve the desired outcome, including serviceability check of ULDs and report on both serviceability and defects in accordance with organisational procedures
  • Identify the services required to facilitate an aircraft arrival, departure or turnaround and prepare / configure aircraft holds for departure


  • The procedures for marshalling and controlling the movement of aircraft and vehicles, including requirements and importance of distance, speed, and safe positioning of an aircraft and vehicles
  • The purpose of a Load Instruction Report (LIR), the key information contained therein and why it is important and relevant to every aircraft movement
  • A team member’s responsibility for the safe, correct and timely on-load/off-load operation, and use of Unit Load Devices (ULD) and restraints to ensure the safety and security of loads
  • The requirements for, and operation of, specialist equipment and vehicles used on and around the aircraft , including the need for serviceable Unit Load Devices (ULDs), to prevent damage to the aircraft, baggage and cargo and own responsibility as part of the team
  • Own role in aircraft servicing/turnaround management, aircraft services, pre/post use checks of holds and all hold locks

Specialist function 2: Aircraft movement

An aircraft movement operative acts as a team member in the safe and efficient movement and recovery of fixed and rotary wing aircraft at a variety of airports/ heliports and other landing platforms within the civil aviation and military arenas. They undertake tasks as team members using specialised equipment to move aircraft within an aviation environment in accordance with standard operating procedures.


  • Conduct regularly scheduled inspections prior to using aviation specialist equipment, operate equipment in accordance with standard operating procedures and ensure it is stored in a safe secure manner after use
  • Follow the correct procedures for preparing to, and pushing back an aircraft
  • Follow correct procedures to prepare for and when towing aircraft
  • Work with the team in reducing the risks and hazards from operating aircraft and vehicles airside, implementing procedures and processes to deal with an airside emergency


  • Own responsibilities for checking specialised aircraft movement equipment prior to use, how to operate specialist equipment safely and ensure it is left in its allocated area on completion of use according to the organisation’s procedures
  • Procedures and processes for pushing back an aircraft within the responsibilities of own role
  • The organisation’s procedures and processes for towing an aircraft within the responsibilities of own role
  • Reducing risks and hazards from operating aircraft and vehicles airside and what procedures and processes are used to deal with an airside emergency

Specialist function 3: Fire fighter

Work as a member on a Fire Service Watch and as part of a team to carry out all associated duties such as maintaining specialist equipment and deal with incidents and emergencies of a structural and aviation nature


  • As a team member, conduct a search and rescue of life, provide treatment, and support casualties involved in incidents
  • Work as part of a fire and rescue team to control and extinguish aviation fires and special service incidents, supporting the people involved
  • Prepare a fire vehicle for airside use and drive a fire service support vehicle airside in a safe manner, following applicable rules and regulations
  • Select, check and use specialist firefighting equipment in accordance with organisational policy, recording and reporting faults if identified
  • Work as part of a fire and rescue team to set up and carry out decontamination procedures appropriate to the risk, including the decontamination of people


  • Required procedures and responsibilities of own role to support search, rescue and operations, including casualty care during an operational incident
  • As a team member, the procedures and processes for resolving aviation fire and rescue operational incidents and special service incidents
  • How to prepare a fire service support vehicle for airside use and rules and regulations applicable to airside driving
  • How to select, check and use specialist firefighting equipment in accordance with organisational policy, including the procedure to record and report faults when identified
  • How to set up and carry out decontamination of hazardous materials following procedures appropriate to the risk identified

Specialist function 4: Flight operations

Flight operations ground operatives provide flight crew and air traffic controllers with the information required to facilitate the smooth flow of air traffic safely and expeditiously. This can take place in both an air traffic control tower and an operations room. They can also be employed in other remote areas such as the London Area and Terminal Control Centre at Swanwick in Hampshire 


  • Collect and collate relevant aviation information required by own role and communicate it in accordance with standard operating procedures, responding to urgent incidents
  • Conduct daily inspections prior to using the specialist equipment in accordance with own role, operate it in accordance with standard operating procedures and ensure it is left in a safe, secure manner in its allocated area
  • Work as part of a team to identify and reduce risks and hazards relating to the operation of aircraft and vehicles airside and when implementing processes and procedures when responding to an airside emergency
  • Use IT equipment effectively in an aviation environment, ensuring adherence to security and organisational regulations and requirements


  • The responsibilities of a team member when collecting and collating information relating to aviation operations, what should be disseminated to whom and how to respond to urgent incidents
  • A team member’s responsibility for checking specialised equipment prior to use, its safe operation and leaving it in the allocated area, in acceptable condition on completion of use
  • How the team identifies and reduces the risks and hazards relating to the operation of aircraft and vehicles airside, including the procedures and processes used when responding to an airside emergency
  • Aviation Information Technology (IT) equipment and software, including associated security protocols

Specialist function 5: Passenger services

The main purpose of a passenger operative is to assist customers in achieving a seamless travel experience through the airport on departure and arrival. With a key role in customer interaction the passenger services operative assists customers at check-in, gates, boarding, departure and arrivals. Customer experience must be a key focus to meet and exceed expectations whilst maintaining operational and regulatory standards, and acting as an ambassador for the company, carrier and / or airport


  • Identify and scrutinise travel documentation required to meet customer, organisation and legal requirements for travel and report anomalies to the passenger and line manager in accordance with relevant regulations
  • Work as a team member to correctly check-in all booked passengers and baggage in accordance with the organisation’s aviation and IT systems and procedures
  • Effectively communicate to passengers using public address and IT systems, and carry out the boarding functions, ensuring accurate head counts and security and pre-boarding briefs and passenger handling duties; communicate with flight crew regarding customer and other requirements
  • Be polite, helpful and customer focussed whilst maintaining customer service standards, processing passengers with restricted movement (PRMs) and ensuring compliance with regulations and commercial operations


  • The requirements for and characteristics of passports, visas and other statutory or organisational travel documentation and how to read and confirm their validity for acceptance to travel
  • The organisation’s check-in process and procedures to meet all legislation applicable to passengers, in particular data protection policies
  • The role of a team member in the boarding, departure and arrival process, including premium services such as lounge access and priority boarding and the operation of specialised equipment for boarding, arrivals, and passenger movement
  • Understand fully the importance of communications and customer service to the organisation, including compliance with passenger related Air Transport Security (ATS) requirements and procedures for landside/airside safety of passengers and staff

Entry Requirements

Employers will set their own entry requirements in order to start on this apprenticeship. Apprentices who have not yet achieved level 1 English and maths are required to achieve level 1 English and maths and take the test for level 2 prior to completion of the apprenticeship. Apprentices who have achieved level 1 English and maths, but not yet achieved level 2, prior to commencing the apprenticeship are required to take the test for level 2 prior to completing the apprenticeship.


Based on the entry requirements set by the employer the minimum and typical duration for this apprenticeship is 12 months

Professional Qualification / Recognition

This apprenticeship standard is set at level 2.

Progression from this apprenticeship is expected to be into a ground operator’s role with the potential to develop into an aviation operations specialist role.

Originally published on Gov.uk, this information has been re-used under the terms of the Open Government Licence.


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