Hand-over/take-over of operational positions

What we have been informed

  • During the SISG 14 number of ANSPs shared concerns about safety occurrences associated with the hand-over/take-over process of the operational ATC positions;
  • SISG meeting asked for the good practice checklists for hand-over/take-over to be identified, consolidated and distributed;

What DAP/SAF has elicited

As a response to this request SISG secretariat investigated, analysed and summarised the kindly provided by some ANSPs existing good practice approaches. It has been acknowledged that the vast majority of hand-overs take place without any problems, and only very small proportion are flawed. Therefore, the level of normal human reliability has been already reached and potential mitigations should be targeted at the other system elements procedures (checklists) and/or equipment. Some suggestions are provided below:

Consider before Hand-over

  • A hand-over produces a workload of its own. Careful consideration to the timing should be given;
  • If it is likely that the sector will be split shortly after the hand-over consider splitting it before the hand-over;
  • Simultaneous take-over of all the sector positions (for example both radar and planner) should be avoided;
  • Do not short cut the existing good practice during low vigilance periods;
  • The handing-over controller should tidy up the working position prior to the hand-over;

During a Hand-over

  • Avoid distracting controllers during hand-over;
  • Use checklists with the sequence of actions to be performed by both handing-over and taking-over controllers;
  • The taking-over controller should ensure that he/she has been able to assimilate all information relevant to a safe hand-over and should accept responsibility only after he/she is completely satisfied that he/she has a total awareness of the situation;
  • Use mnemonic reminders within the checklist like "check REST before going to rest":

Please, note that there is an important logic behind the REST sequence, building consecutively the situational awareness for

  1. environment framework
  2. environment of operations
  3. operations.

After a Hand-over

  • The handing-over controller should remain available for few minutes following the handover, particularly in dynamic traffic situations, to provide clarifications/assistance regarding any points which may subsequently arise;
  • Other controllers on the sector should only impart additional information after a hand-over is complete.


© European Organisation for Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL) October 2004. This alert is published by EUROCONTROL for information purposes. It may be copied in whole or in part, provided that EUROCONTROL is mentioned as the source and to the extent justified by the non-commercial use (not for sale). The information in this document may not be modified without prior written permission from EUROCONTROL. The use of the document is at the user’s sole risk and responsibility. EUROCONTROL expressly disclaim any and all warranties with respect to any content within the alert, express or implied.


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