Load planning officer

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Nikki is one of a team of ten load planning officers for the airport services provider, Aviance UK, and is based at Cardiff airport. She entered the work because she wanted to pursue an interesting and exciting career.

What do you do each day?

One of the most important aspects of my job is to calculate the correct weight and balance of luggage, passengers and fuel, as this has a direct impact on the safety of the aircraft during take off and landing. I work at the computer doing advanced planning and preparation for the following day. It is essential to input registration details of expected aircraft so that the correct baggage and passengers board the plane.

What about working outside?

I spend some time outside on the airport apron liaising between baggage handlers, flight deck staff (including cabin crew and captains), refuellers, check-in agents and ground staff. I have an overview of the tasks and responsibilities involved for all of these groups, so that I can ensure the safe and timely turnaround of aircraft.

What equipment do you need to do your job?

I am always equipped with a two-way radio, pen and clipboard, ear defenders, steel toe capped boots, a calculator and security pass. In addition, I must always be near a computer.

What skills are necessary?

I need good communication skills and confidence in dealing with people, along with the ability to think quickly on my feet. I make effective decisions when adjustments are needed at a moment's notice.

What are your typical working hours?

I work on a shift system as airlines operate on a 24-hour basis, every day of the year. I work on a two-shift pattern, from 5.00am to 11.00am or from 4.30pm to 8.30pm. I may also need to work overtime at very short notice if there are unforeseen delays.

What are your surroundings like?

While working indoors, I am in a modern office environment, but when on the airfield, it is often cold, wet and noisy.

What training have you done since starting at the airport?

I originally received a number of weeks' basic training on the day-to-day functions of a check-in agent and the use of the computer databases. When promoted to load planning officer, I received a further eight days of intensive training with continual assessment. On successful completion, I received a licence to operate and was closely monitored for the first two weeks.

What do you find most rewarding about your job?

I like the fact that it is challenging, varied, stimulating and gives me a real sense of achievement. On top of this, I enjoy working as part of a team.

What are the challenging aspects of the work?

It is a very high-pressured job, as I am always working against the clock with deadlines to be met. Every day is a challenge with new problems to be resolved.

What are your career ambitions?

I would like to stay within the airport industry and, one day, become a duty manager or trainer.

Nikki's route to becoming a Airport Load planning officer at Cardiff airport

  • GCSEs.
  • Worked in retail for two years.
  • Appointed as check in agent at Cardiff airport.
  • Promotion to present position as load planning officer.

Nikki's tips

  • If you think the work would suit you, work hard and you will achieve whatever you want.
  • You must be prepared to work on a shift system and at weekends.

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Airport Load planning officer salary information

  • Salaries for load planning officers start at around £12,000. With more experience, it is possible to earn around £16,000 to £18,000.
  • These earnings may be increased with overtime pay.

Becoming an Airport Load planning officer

  • Employers may ask for GCSEs/S grades (A-E/1-5) including English and mathematics to enter the work. IT skills are desirable.
  • Many load planning officers have gained experience in an area such as passenger services before entering load planning. This helps in the supervision of gate staff.
  • Training involves instruction in manual weight and balance concepts of aircraft, and in computerised load planning.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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