In the midst of an IROP, Endeavor’s Operation Control Center is in full gear. Every department is engaged as crews are switched, aircraft swapped, and flight schedules shifted – all to get the airline back up to speed in the safest, most efficient manner possible.
“It’s organized chaos,” said Shawn Stevens, Maintenance Planning Supervisor. “You’ll see people scrambling to keep flights on time, making swaps, trying to accommodate maintenance and crews. Everything gets affected.”
And standing at the helm of the chaos: The ‘Bridge.’
“Just like on a ship, the Bridge is the control center, the nerve of the operation,” said Michael Hendrickson, OCC Duty Manager, whose role is to oversee the Bridge to make sure all OCC departments have a plan in place to keep the operation moving forward. “The Bridge is where the command and control is coming from — Every piece of information feeds up to it, and all the decisions trickle down.”
Composed of the Duty Managers, Shift Managers, Sector Supervisors, Crew Scheduling Supervisors, and Maintenance Control MOD, the Bridge manages the real-time logistics of the daily operation – from maintenance to staffing to routing – making decisions to ensure we are running a safe, efficient, and on-time airline.
“You have to make a decision quickly; time is always working against us,” said Hendrickson. “It takes creativity, because you’re taking a lot of flights and schedules out of the network and piecing it all back together in the most efficient way possible, so we can make it through the day and start fresh the next morning.”
From availability to compliance concerns, many factors weigh in to each decision – and each factor can change swiftly, adding to the complexity of the operational puzzle.
“It all happens in rapid succession, and you have to be able to move from one fire to the next to the next,” said Randy Etinger, Maintenance Control MOD. “You don’t have time to ask questions; you have to move to the next plan that will work, because when pieces of the puzzle are falling out of place, you have to a find new pieces to keep it complete.”
“We’re cancelling flights, we’re building flights, we’re talking to the stations, and we’re talking with planning to make sure that we can swap an overnight maintenance base,” added Michelle McAllister, OCC Shift Manager, who works closely with all Bridge members to ensure communication and coordination of resources. “It’s a very fluid operation, and that’s what brings us together as a group on the bridge. We are the glue that holds it all into place.”
Working as a team, the Bridge is collaborative, all with the same goals in mind. In the chaotic environment, the stress of the job is diminished by experience – and the commitment of each member to take care of our crews, our customers, and each other.
“We bounce off each other – If I can’t come up with a solution crew-wise, another person might see something that will help our situation,” said Justin Maeck, Crew Scheduling Supervisor. “One event will bounce off everybody, and it takes everybody to get through it.”
“It’s a rush,” added Hendrickson. “Feeling like we’ve accomplished something together every single day — Even if we’ve cancelled flights, even though things fall apart, things always get pulled back together.”