International Ops 2017

Flight Service Bureau | OPSGROUP

Tag: OPSGROUP

It’s nice to meet you.

Yep, there is. It’s called OPSGROUP. We’re a big mix: pilots, dispatchers, controllers, managers, tech specialists, aviation authorities – all with one thing in common: International Flight Operations.

Last year, we figured out that great things happen when we solve problems together. Change is the biggest challenge, so we tell each other when we hear of something new. We keep each other safe by sharing information on risks.

Now we’d like you to get involved as well.

Why join us? Good question. Well, because if you don’t, you’ll miss a change and look like a chump. We don’t want that. Don’t look like a chump.  You might overfly Libya. You might divert to Cayenne. You’ll only find out about the new rules when your G650 is impounded. You’ll pick the wrong handler because you didn’t get to see that Aireport on Santiago from another member. You won’t know about that exemption. You won’t have anyone to ask whether you should stop at Keflavik or Reykjavik.

Life managing International Ops is hard enough without trying to do it all on your own. And we want you, because the more smart people like you we have in the group, the stronger it becomes. Pick a plan for yourself, or your team, or your entire flight department. There’s 1650 people waiting to answer your questions. And to pick your brain.

Read the 125 reviews from existing members, and see why everyone from Airbus to the British Antarctic Survey to United Airlines is in the group. (hint: we’re all doing the same thing, and it’s getting easier).

 

Join OpsGroup

 

 

Welcome Pack

On joining, we will send you, and each team member if you are on a team or department plan:
– a Welcome Email, explaining the group, together with your Welcome Pack:
– The full FSB Airports Database (value $375)
– The current full International Ops Bulletin
– Our Polar Ops Planning Guide
– Current NAT Plotting Chart (value $25)

Everything

You (and each team member, if you choose a team plan) will then also get:
– Immediate access to our OpsGroup Dashboard
– The weekly International Ops Bulletin every Wednesday
Slack access to talk to the group
Ask-Us-Anything – we answer your International Ops questions
– Airspace warnings and overflight risk summaries
– Access to Aireport – 2300+ Airport and ATC TripAdvisor style reviews
– Everything we publish – Guides, Lowdowns, Charts, Member Notes
– Tools and Maps
– All previous content since the group started
See examples of all the above

Joining Process

2 straightforward steps:
– Choose an Individual, Team, or Department plan
– We send you everything you need to get started by email

You can cancel anytime you like, before the next billing period.

New members – that’s you – are welcomed several times a year. The current status is notified on this page. To make sure that new members are fully supported, and the existing group retains its high quality, we limit joining to window periods during the year.
If we’re closed, you can join the waitlist to be notified of the next opening window.

 

Join OpsGroup

Pan Am, 727’s, and 1977 …

This afternoon I took a boat across the river to the Jersey side  and looked back at New York City; amongst the skyscrapers in Midtown one stood out – the MetLife building. It seemed familiar – and I wondered why. I realised it was once the PanAm building: in a different era, this was the headquarters of Pan American World Airways.

pan-am-3

Most interestingly, there was once a helicopter service, operated by PanAm in 1977, that connected downtown Manhattan with JFK, if you had a First or ‘Clipper Class’ ticket on a PanAm flight. The helicopter transfer, from the helipad on the roof of the PanAm building, took about 7 minutes – compare this to the 1 hour and 7 minutes it takes to get out to JFK these days – if you’re lucky.

1984-ad-pan-am-one-free

Today, a couple of blocks west of the former PanAm building sits a lonely Concorde beside the Hudson, another nod to a time when aviation seems to have offered more convenience and speed than it does today.

intrepidtws11

So, the question is whether this is nothing more than nostalgia, or whether things were indeed, in some way, better back then. Everyone will have their own answer to that – we’ve lost  Tristars with elevators, DC-8’s with their chrome and diesel and smoke and crackle, 727’s and Bac 1-11’s with their rear airstairs – and what have we gained? The newest arrivals – the C Series, the A350, the 787 – are sleek, fuel efficient, and open up new routes that weren’t possible before – but are pretty unspectacular.

No doubt though, the generation that got to fly and operate these aircraft looked back on the days of Flying Boats and DC-3 with equal fondness. I wonder whether the aircraft coming off the production lines today will evoke the same thoughts.

In International Flight Operations, though, it must be said that things are much improved. Compared to the era that spans the 70’s to the 90s, we’ve now got vastly improved flight planning systems, more direct routes, much better navigation systems, and we’ve largely moved from SITA, phone calls and fax machines to email when it comes to organising those flights. For the Dispatcher and Planner, there is no doubt that life is far easier. Even ten years ago, trying to arrange handling anywhere outside the US and Europe would take days to set up – now, the same trip can be arranged in 30 minutes.

We do have some new challenges. Airspace safety – and the risk to our aircraft overflying unstable regions, is of more concern now than at any time in history. Since MH17 two years ago,  there have been many new areas to avoid. But how to know where, and why? Through The Airline Cooperative and OPSGROUP, we’ve worked as groups of Dispatchers, Controllers, and Pilots to share information so that when one person becomes aware of new information, everyone gets to hear about it. Our shared map shows the current status at safeairspace.net.

safeairspace-net

As a group, we’ve also been creating some new tools that help us – Aireport is our shared review site, where we can let each other know about good and bad experiences with Handlers, Airports, and ATC – whether it’s service, procedures, changes, or avoiding a fuel stop that’s going to cost you a fortune.

aireport-co

Maybe the biggest problem with all this new access to information is the overload one – the internet is the equivalent of a Shannon to Singapore NOTAM briefing. 80 pages of crap with a couple of important things stuck in the middle. Sometimes those important things are good to know, sometimes it’s critical information.

So how do you find those couple of critical things on the internet? You won’t have any trouble finding Aviation sites, but if you are managing an International Flight Operation of any sort – whether you’re the pilot, the dispatcher, the controller, the regulator, the ramp agent – whoever: how do you find out what’s new that will affect your flight.

That’s the question that bothers us at FSB every day of the week. We literally work on this every single day – and every day it becomes a little easier. Every Wednesday, we squeeze and condense the things that we’ve discovered this week into our weekly International Ops Bulletin – removing as much as possible until you’re left with only the critical stuff. The biggest source, and greatest help – is our amazing group of people in OPSGROUP.

Anyhow, I digress. Back to PanAm …

What is OPS GROUP, exactly?

Yes, it’s the most common question we get. What is OPS GROUP ? Well, we’re not exactly sure yet. The question mark may well be part of the name, because to us it represents both a lack of constraints and limitless possibility. A beginners mind.

The energy within the group has astounded us. The OPS GROUP team has answered over 200 questions from members, but that engagement is not what surprised us. When we put questions back to the group ( in the form of curated Members Questions), the willingness to help, share and assist others is what did.

So, what we’re seeing is that amazing things happen when you connect similar, but different, people. In the Industry, we have great groups for Airlines (IATA, and our own Airline Cooperative), Business Aviation (NBAA), ATC (CANSO), Private Aviation ( AOPA). But they all combine like with like.

Like the best relationships,  matching with a little bit different is far more interesting.

OPS GROUP – sticking with the big letters – brings everyone together in INTL FLT OPS. We all share the same airspace and go to the same airports. We all struggle to stay up to date, find most Notams confusing, hate having to organise permits, and wonder what will be next to change on the North Atlantic. Ask us to go somewhere new, and watch the stress levels rise.

What happens when

And so we have a weird and wonderful group. The all-alone Corporate dispatcher, the overworked B777 F/O, the midnight supervisor at Eurocontrol, the grumpy Airline Dispatcher (yes Eric, that’s you), the permanently-airborne G4 driver, the Airbus ops team, and of course the Boeing guys and girls, the Irish ATC supervisor, the German Airline COO, the Russian CAA guy, the Australian meteorologist, and many hundreds more. Fast approaching 1000 members, in fact – and therefore becoming more useful for everyone. Literally hundreds of experts within the group.

When we started, we thought that OPS GROUP would just be a collection of people that wanted updates on International Ops from our Flight Service Bureau. We still run our now famous bulletin every Wednesday, and our Lowdowns, Ops Notices, Alerts, and Special Briefings – but the group is becoming huge amounts more than just receivers of information.

Personally, I think the key value of the group is it allows each one of us to feel more connected to International Flight Ops. Realising that there are hundreds of others in the same position that appreciate both your question and the group answer.

So, if I could try to best summarise OPS GROUP right now – it’s a secure environment where you’ll be ahead of the relentless changes in International Flight Ops, you’ll directly receive all FSB summaries of the big changes, can get answers from the team or the entire group for that troublesome ops question. You also get to feel really good when you share new information with the others, and answer the question that you’re an expert on.

But really, we’re still not quite sure what OPS GROUP is. Maybe when we pass 2000 members it will become clearer. Let’s see.

More about OPS GROUP:

 

International Ops Bulletin
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