Aviation Ground Specialist

An aviation operations specialist could work in a number of aviation environments, such as a commercial airport, military base / aerodrome, heliport or other airfield. Specialist roles, all focussed around the arrival, turnaround and departure of aircraft and maintaining an aviation operation, will include knowledge, skills and behaviours to complete complex aviation tasks and may include supervision of others to enable compliance with regulations through a safe, secure and effective aviation operation. These functions may include loading and unloading of aircraft, air traffic control (ATC), movement of aircraft and vehicles airside and the management of passengers both airside and landside. The functions all work as part of a combined team, within which communication with wider colleagues and other stakeholders is essential and the aviation operations specialist plays a key part of a coherent operation. The core knowledge, skills and behaviours must be completed by ALL ground specialists, along with ONE of the five specialist functions. 


  • Monitor area of responsibility to ensure compliance with aviation legislation and organisational procedures, addressing and / or reporting hazards
  • Ensure aviation security is maintained in own area of operations e.g. challenging people in restricted areas, recording and reporting of security incidents
  • Monitor compliance with legislation, procedures and regulations in an aviation environment within own area of responsibility
  • Communicate effectively within the working environment, adapting methods and language to meet the situation
  • Maximise team performance and meet the objectives of the team whilst embracing equality and inclusivity
  • Use aviation systems effectively in own role. Take remedial action upon identification of faults or errors in a timely manner if they occur
  • Monitor area of responsibility and take appropriate action to reduce the impact of emergencies, incidents or disruption
  • Deal effectively with dangerous goods in own area of responsibility
  • Operate each stage of the aviation operations performance to ensure timely aircraft movements


  • Health and safety legislation in aviation and in relation to own role and organisation and how to monitor it
  • Requirements for maintaining aviation security in own area of authority and action to take in the event of a breach of security
  • Aviation and other applicable legislation, procedures and regulations relating to an aviation environment, and monitoring procedures within own area of responsibility
  • Methods of communication to ensure effective and timely transfer of information to different audiences using relevant language and format
  • Roles within the team and how these work together to achieve the organisation’s objectives, and how to embrace equality and inclusivity in the workplace
  • The aviation systems used within own role and how to operate them, identify faults or errors and what remedial action to take
  • Implement and monitor emergency procedures in own area of responsibility, the range of potential incidents and disruption that may occur and the appropriate action to take
  • Dangerous goods relevant to a range of aviation operations and how to deal with them effectively in own area of responsibility
  • Key timelines for aviation operations performance and consequences of not meeting them


  • Embrace and promote the values of the organisation  
  • Treat team, customers and other stakeholders with courtesy and respect  
  • Take ownership and responsibility of role and working area, including team members where responsible  
  • Display loyalty, integrity and accountability to the organisation  
  • Commit to continuous development of self and team, including improvements to systems and processes  
  • Be vigilant and proactive in promoting a safe, secure and compliant working culture

Specialist: Aviation ground specialists must select from ONE of the following specialist functions

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

Specialist function 1: Aircraft handling

The aircraft handling specialist takes day to day control of key functions and services applied to the aircraft and its environment on the ground. They will operate either as a specialist performing complex handling tasks or lead and supervise their team in an aircraft turnround function, loading and unloading of passenger baggage and air cargo, safely and conforming to current carrier/organisational standards. Effective decision making, communication and influence on others are important aspects of the role, as well as being aware of commercial pressures and operational deadlines along with protecting brand reputation at all times. Acting as a professional role model, responsible for their actions and those of their team, to be a good ambassador for their organisation 


  • Safely manoeuver and position vehicles, monitoring team to ensure correct marshalling hand signals and techniques are used
  • Produce and complete a LIR/Load Sheet compliant with aircraft type and within manufacturer’s limitations, delegate and brief teams to complete the tasks defined by the LIR and monitor their compliance and performance in accordance with the LIR
  • Plan and prepare the airside environment with sufficient Air Cargo Handling Equipment (ACHE). Lead, supervise and mentor the team during the on/off load of the aircraft, by providing briefings, delegating tasks, checking loads are safely restrained and that the process complies with the LIR
  • Monitor and supervise team members carrying out daily inspections prior to using the specialist equipment, including ULDs, ensuring its safe operation and that it is left in a safe, secure, allocated area after use
  • Demonstrate/mentor and supervise the preparation and configuration the aircraft holds for departure


  • The detailed requirements and procedures for the correct movement, placement and marshalling of aircraft and the importance of detailed controls for mover vehicles
  • The importance of the correct preparation and interpretation of and conformance to loading instruction reports (LIR) for both inbound and outbound aircraft, within aircraft weight and balance characteristics, structural limitations and compartment maximums
  • The loading and unloading procedures for all types of aircraft in area of operation, including hold doors, floor locks, nets, and inter plane systems and how to apply the principles of restraint and manage the assets and team to deliver an efficient service
  • The requirements and responsibilities of self and team members in checking specialised equipment, including Unit Load Devices (ULDs), prior to use, ensuring safe operation and correct storage after use
  • As a specialist, all aspects of aircraft servicing/turnaround management, pre/post use checks of holds and all hold locks

Specialist function 2: Aircraft movement


  • Monitor team members preparing to use a vehicle airside, ensure vehicle operations comply with aviation standard operating procedures and implement the correct procedures in the event of incidents or emergencies with an airside vehicle
  • Monitor and supervise team members carrying out daily inspections prior to using the specialist equipment, ensuring its safe operation and that it is left in a safe, secure, allocated area after use
  • Monitor the team to ensure correct preparation of the airside environment for marshalling of aircraft and or vehicles, and monitor marshalling of aircraft and or vehicles in accordance with organisation’s standard operating procedures
  • Ensure the rules and regulations for aircraft , vehicles and team members operating airside are adhered to in accordance with airport safety requirements, identify and report risks and ensure compliance in line with organisational procedures


  • Briefing the team to prepare prior to use airside, and procedures for safe operation of airside vehicles, including how to deal with incidents or emergencies while operating an airside vehicle
  • The requirements and responsibilities of self and team members in checking specialised equipment prior to use, ensuring safe operation and correct storage after use
  • How team prepare the area and required equipment prior to marshalling of aircraft and or vehicles, correct marshalling procedures, including the correct monitoring of operation of marshalling equipment and team members
  • The rules and regulations for aircraft, vehicles and personnel operating airside and how to ensure compliance with airport safety requirements

Specialist function 3: Fire fighter

Work as a lead member on a Fire Service Watch and carry out all associated duties to agreed level of authority such as maintain specialist equipment and deal with incidents and emergencies of a structural and aviation nature


  • Lead a search and rescue team for casualties involved in incidents, coordinate treatment and support casualties involved in incidents
  • Lead the control and extinguishing of aviation fires and resolve special service incidents, providing support for people involved in an operational incident
  • Take responsibility for development of knowledge skills, physical fitness and behaviours relevant to own performance in a fire and rescue organisation, including working with others during routine tasks and when responding to incidents
  • Plan, select and check specialist firefighting equipment in accordance with appropriate test frequencies. Use specialist firefighting equipment in accordance with organisational policy, record, report and rectify faults of relevant specialist firefighting equipment
  • Minimise damage to the environment from hazardous materials and decontaminate people and property. Support people involved in an operational incident


  • Fire and rescue service responsibilities and procedures for search and rescue operations in an aviation environment
  • The processes and procedures for resolving aviation fire and rescue operational and special service incidents
  • How to make a positive contribution to the fire and rescue operation in your organisation including physical fitness requirements, health and safety of the working environment both at base and when attending incidents, maintaining effective working relationships with colleagues during routine tasks and during incidents and continuing to develop your skills and knowledge of fire and rescue operations
  • Test frequencies and how to plan, select and check specialist firefighting equipment, understanding how to use it in accordance with organisational policy and how to record, report and rectify faults relating to the equipment
  • The effects that firefighting media may have on the environment, and own and the organisation’s responsibilities to follow procedures for protecting the environment from the effects of hazardous materials during fire and rescue incidents

Specialist function 4: Flight operations

Flight operations specialists should provide guidance and leadership to colleagues in the flight operations team, facilitating the smooth flow of air traffic by providing information both themselves and with the support of team members, to key stakeholders including flight crew and air traffic controllers. They may be employed in an air traffic control tower, operations room, military installation or in other remote areas such as the London Area and Terminal Control Centre at Swanwick in Hampshire 


  • Support and monitor team members to collect, collate and supply information and complete other duties during flight operations. Devise and implement relevant procedures for use in the event of an aviation incident/emergency
  • Obtain, interpret and act on weather forecasts in line with organisational procedures, taking appropriate action to ensure the optimal performance of flight operations based on the report
  • Accurately apply the procedures for identifying, reporting and reducing aviation hazards and distribute pertinent aviation safety information to relevant stakeholders within the required timescale
  • Identify aviation issues and select and implement the most suitable solution, reviewing the situation to ensure it has be resolved


  • The role of a specialist in supporting flight operations and operating conditions. How to devise and implement relevant procedures in the event of an aviation incident / emergency
  • The procedure to obtain weather forecasts their key features, what the data means for flight operations and how the information must be used
  • Application of procedures for identifying, reporting and reducing aviation hazards, and the process for distributing pertinent information on aviation risks
  • Identification of aviation issues and the different choices to resolve them, including how to implement the most appropriate solution, determining when the situation has been resolved satisfactorily, and what action to take if it has not

Specialist function 5: passenger operations

A passenger operations specialist takes day to day control of key areas of the passenger journey through the airport. Working with a range of internal and external stakeholders and agencies they must provide an efficient and effective experience that meets and exceeds customer needs and maintains operational and regulatory standards. Effective decision making, communication and influence on others are important aspects of the role, along with protecting brand reputation at all times 


  • Monitor passports, visas and other travel documentation in area of responsibility, dealing with issues as they arise by liaising with other organisations and agencies appropriate to the travel destination making recommendations for action and validation
  • Work with check in team, senior management and other stakeholders as required to maintain operational standards and commercial performance, customer satisfaction and address check in issues, e.g. late check ins, overbooking, complaints, excess baggage and special requests and requirements
  • Liaise with the customer, airline and colleagues to ensure efficient boarding, departure and arrival procedures meeting service standards and aviation regulations. Proactively address issues that arise at the gate, making effective decisions to ensure a satisfactory outcome and on time departure
  • Monitor area of responsibility to ensure customer satisfaction and adherence to operational standards Communicate effectively with passengers, crew and other parties in the event of disruption, keeping them informed of progress, actions and results Address complex customer needs to ensure service standards and individual requirements are maintained


  • How to deal with issues relating to passports, visas and other statutory or organisational travel documentation required for travel, including procedures for and implications of making decisions on acceptance or refusal for travel
  • Operational systems and procedures for check in and how to deal with check in issues, including the impact of decisions made and how to maintain operational standards of performance and customer satisfaction
  • Systems, procedures and monitoring requirements for boarding, departure and arrival of passengers Know how to maintain equipment and address failures of equipment and processes to minimise disruption and delay
  • How to deal with complex customer needs which may affect the aviation operation How to communicate to customers in challenging situations in individual and group situations Understand the procedures for service recovery

Entry Requirements

Employers will set their own entry requirements in order to start on this apprenticeship.

Apprentices who have not yet achieved level 2 English and maths are required to achieve level 2 English and maths prior to the end-point assessment.


Based on the entry requirements set by the employer the typical duration for this apprenticeship is 18-24 months.


This apprenticeship standard is set at level 3. Progression from this apprenticeship is expected to be into an aviation operations specialist role with the option to progress to an aviation operations manager role.

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


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