Section 3. Responsibility


Apply the procedures in this order, except when other procedures are contained in a letter of agreement (LOA) or other appropriate FAA documents, provided they only supplement this order and any standards they specify are not less than those in this order.


  1. Pilots are required to abide by applicable provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) or any other pertinent regulations regardless of the application of any procedure in this order.
  2. FAA Order JO 7210.3, Facility Operation and Administration, contains administrative instructions pertaining to these letters and documents.

Because there are many variables involved, it is impossible to provide a standard list of duty priorities that apply to every situation. Each set of circumstances must be evaluated on its own merit, and when more than one action is required, personnel must exercise their best judgment based on the facts and circumstances known to them. Action which appears most critical from a safety standpoint should be performed first.

  1. The following order of duty priorities is offered as a guideline.
  1. Emergency Situations. Emergency situations are those where life or property is in immediate danger.
  2. Inflight Services. Inflight services are those provided to or affecting aircraft in flight or otherwise operating on the airport surface. This includes services to airborne aircraft, airport advisories, delivery of air traffic control (ATC) clearances, advisories or requests, issuance of military flight advisory messages, notices to air missions (NOTAM), search and rescue (SAR) communications searches, flight plan handling, transcribed or live broadcasts, weather observations, pilot weather reports (PIREP), and pilot briefings.
  3. Preflight Services. Preflight services are those which directly affect aircraft operations but which are provided prior to actual departure and usually by telephone. These include pilot briefings, recorded data, flight plan filing/processing, and aircraft operational reservations.

The transfer of position responsibility must be accomplished in accordance with appropriate facility directives each time the operational responsibility for a position is transferred from one specialist to another. The relieving specialist and the specialist being relieved must share equal responsibility for the completeness and accuracy of the position relief briefing.

  1. Purpose. This paragraph prescribes the method and the step-by-step process for conducting a position relief briefing and transferring position responsibility from one specialist to another.
  2. Discussion.
  1. In all operational facilities, the increase in traffic density and the need for the expeditious movement of air traffic without compromising safety have emphasized the importance of the position relief process. Major problems occur whenever there is a heavy reliance upon memory unsupported by routines or systematic reminders. This procedure addresses the complete task of transferring position responsibility and the associated relief briefing.
  2. Position relief unavoidably provides added workload for specialists at the time of relief. The intent of this procedure 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 Areas to begin the relief process. Up-to-the-minute information relating to the provision of flight services to pilots and aircraft in flight requires verbal exchanges between specialists during the relief process. The method also specifies the point when the transfer of position responsibility occurs.
  3. 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 procedure:
  1. Status Information Areas. Manual or automated 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 positions of operation are elements of Status Information Areas.
  3. Checklist. An ordered listing of items to be covered in a position relief briefing.
  1. Precautions.
  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; for example, combining or decombining positions.
  1. Responsibilities. 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 Areas for which he/she has responsibility, or
  2. Relayed to the position having responsibility for accurately displaying the status information. Prior to accepting responsibility for a position, the relieving specialist must be responsible for ensuring that any unresolved questions pertaining to the operation of the position are resolved. 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.
  1. Step-By-Step Process of Position Relief.
  1. Preview of the Position


  1. Follow the checklist and review the Status Information Areas.


This substep may be replaced by an authorized preduty briefing provided an equivalent review of checklist items is accomplished.

  1. Observe position equipment, operational situation, and the work environment.
  2. Listen to voice communications and observe other operational actions.
  3. Observe current and pending aircraft and vehicular traffic and correlate with flight and other movement information.
  4. Indicate to the specialist being relieved that the position has been previewed and that the verbal briefing may begin.


Substeps (b), (c), and (d) may be conducted concurrently or in order.

  1. Verbal Briefing


  1. Review with the relieving specialist the checklist, Status Information Areas, written notes, and other prescribed sources of information, and advise of known omissions, updates, and inaccuracies. Also, brief the relieving specialist on the abnormal status of items not listed on the Status Information Areas, as well as on any items of special operational interest calling for verbal explanation or additional discussion.
  2. Brief on traffic, if applicable.
  3. Completely answer any questions asked.
  4. Observe overall position operation. If assistance is needed, provide or summon it as appropriate.
  5. Sign off the position in accordance with existing directives or otherwise indicate that the relief process is complete.


FAA Order JO 7210.3, Para 2-2-4, Duty Familiarization and the Transfer of Position Responsibility.
FAA Order JO 7210.3, Para 2-2-6, Sign In/Out and On/Off Procedures.


  1. Ask questions necessary to ensure a complete understanding of the operations situation.
  2. Make a statement or otherwise indicate to the specialist being relieved that position responsibility has been assumed.
  3. Sign on the position unless a facility directive authorizes substep (g) above.
  4. Check, verify, and update the information obtained in steps 1 and 2.
  1. Check position equipment in accordance with existing directives.