Appendix A. Standard Operating Practice (SOP) for the Transfer of Position Responsibility


This appendix prescribes the method and step-by-step process for conducting a position relief briefing and transferring position responsibility from one specialist to another.

  1. In all operational facilities, the increase in traffic density and the need for the expeditious movement of traffic without compromising safety have emphasized the importance of the position relief process.
  2. The contents, methods, and practices used for position relief and briefings vary among personnel, and pertinent information is often forgotten or incompletely covered. Major problems occur whenever there is a heavy reliance upon memory, unsupported by routines or systematic reminders. This SOP addresses the complete task of transferring position responsibility and the associated relief briefing.
  3. Position relief unavoidably provides workload for specialists at the time of relief. The intent of this SOP is to make the transfer of position responsibility take place smoothly and to ensure a complete transfer of information with a minimum amount of workload. The method takes advantage of a self-briefing concept in which the relieving specialist obtains needed status information by reading from the Status Information Area/s to begin the relief process. Up to the moment information related to the control of aircraft or vehicular movements requires verbal exchanges between specialists during the relief process. The method also specifies the moment when the transfer of position responsibility occurs.
  4. In the final part of the relief process, the specialist being relieved monitors and reviews the position to ensure that nothing has been overlooked or incorrectly displayed and that the transfer of position responsibility occurred with a complete briefing.
  1. TERMS

The following terms are important for a complete understanding of this SOP:

  1. Status Information Area (SIA). Manual or automatic displays of the current status of position related equipment and operational conditions or procedures.
  2. Written Notes. Manually recorded items of information kept at designated locations on the position of operation. They may be an element of the Status Information Area/s.
  3. Checklist. An ordered listing of items to be covered during a position relief.
  1. Specialists involved in the position relief process should not rush or be influenced to rush.
  2. During position operation, each item of status information which is or may be an operational factor for the relieving specialist should be recorded as soon as it is operationally feasible so that it will not be forgotten or incorrectly recorded.
  3. Extra care should be taken when more than one specialist relieves or is being relieved from a position at the same time; e.g., combining or decombining positions. Such simultaneous reliefs should be approached with caution.
  1. The specialist being relieved must be responsible for ensuring that any pertinent status information of which he/she is aware is relayed to the relieving specialist and is either:
  1. Accurately displayed in the Status Information Area/s for which he/she has responsibility, or
  2. Relayed to the position having responsibility for accurately displaying the status information.
  1. The relieving specialist must be responsible for ensuring that, prior to accepting responsibility for the position, any unresolved questions pertaining to the operation of the position are resolved.
  2. The relieving specialist and the specialist being relieved must share equal responsibility for the completeness and accuracy of the position relief briefing.
  3. The specialists engaged in a position relief must conduct the relief process at the position being relieved unless other procedures have been established and authorized by the facility air traffic manager.


The “sharing” of this responsibility means that the specialist being relieved is obligated to provide a complete, accurate briefing and the relieving specialist is obligated to ensure that a briefing takes place and is to his/her total satisfaction.


Relieving Specialist

Specialist Being Relieved

1. Follow checklist and review the Status Information Area(s).


This sub‐step may be replaced by an authorized pre-position briefing provided an equivalent review of checklist items is accomplished.

2. Observe position equipment, operational situation, and the work environment.

3. Listen to voice communications and observe other operational actions.

4. Observe current and pending aircraft and vehicular traffic and correlate with flight and other movement information.

5. Indicate to the specialist being relieved that the position has been previewed and that the verbal briefing may begin.


Substeps 6a2, 3, and 4 may be conducted concurrently or in any order.


Relieving Specialist

Specialist Being Relieved

1. Brief the relieving specialist on the abnormal status of items not listed on the Status Information Area(s) as well as on any items of special interest calling for verbal explanation or additional discussion.

2. Brief on reported weather and other weather related information.

3. Brief on traffic if applicable.

4. Brief communication status of all known aircraft except for ERAM facilities using Voice Communication Indicator (VCI).

5. Ask questions necessary to ensure a complete understanding of the operational situation.

6. Completely answer any questions asked.


Relieving Specialist

Specialist Being Relieved

1. Make a statement or otherwise indicate to the specialist being relieved that position responsibility has been assumed.

2. Release the position to the relieving specialist and mentally note the time.


Relieving Specialist

Specialist Being Relieved

1. Check, verify, and update the information obtained in steps 6a and b.

2. Check position equipment in accordance with existing directives.

3. Review checklist, Status Information Area/s, written notes, and other prescribed sources of information and advise the relieving specialist of known omissions, updates, or inaccuracies.

4. Observe overall position operation to determine if assistance is needed.

5. If assistance is needed, provide or summon it as appropriate.

6. Advise the appropriate position regarding known Status Information Area(s) omissions, updates, or inaccuracies.

7. Sign‐on the relieving specialist with the time as noted in step 6c2.

8. Sign off the position in accordance with existing directives or otherwise indicate that the relief process is complete.