MIAMI— Amid all of the changes that have come about as a result of the merger of American Airlines and US Airways, there is now a brand new facility designed to help bridge the gap that still remains between the two legacy carriers. Last April, American received a Single Operating Certificate from the FAA, and is now preparing to combine its two operations centers – the American Airlines Integrated Operations Center located in Fort Worth (IOCDFW) and the US Airways IOC located in Pittsburgh (IOCPIT), ahead of the reservation system integration happening later next month.
On Tuesday morning, the new American officially opened the new Robert W. Baker Integrated Operations Center (IOC) just outside DFW Airport in Fort Worth, Texas, near its training center, C.R. Smith Museum and Southern Reservations Center. This facility is intended to house the operational lifeblood of the world’s largest airline, and that requires a lot of space—149,000 sq ft (13,840 sq m) of it to be exact. Once fully online, the facility will house approximately 1,400 employees across a number of workgroups such as dispatch, meteorology, maintenance control, crew scheduling, flight planning support, and load planning, among others.
American’s current IOC sits just down the street and is staffed by approximately 755 American employees, while the US Airways facility in Pittsburg houses 635. Plans are to move the IOCDFW team into the new premises progressively until the end of the year. The airline expects 80% of the IOCPIT staff to be relocated to Dallas/Fort Worth. Maintenance Operation Control has been already relocated to the current IOC from Tulsa in advance of the new facility’s opening.
Built by Holder Construction and Designed by Corgan, the new building foundations includes 105 drilled caissons at an average depth of 30 feet and includes 2,106,000 pounds of structural steel, which combined to wind-rated concrete wall panels provide a design to withstand winds associated with an EF3 tornado.
As is often the case for such facilities, the normal rules of competition between carriers are not observed in the planning stages. Because the primary function of the facility is to enhance the safe operation of the network, carriers do not guard the facility’s design features from one another, and each time a new operations center is built, it always builds on best practices from the most recently built premises.
In this case, American drew on the experience of Dallas neighbor Southwest Airlines, whose Network Operations Center was just opened in May of last year as part of a larger Training and Operational Support building. Southwest, in turn, took a great deal from Delta’s Operations Control Center in Atlanta and the United AIrlines Network Control in Chicago. Like virtually all other operations centers, this new facility is designed to withstand the worst that mother nature can throw at it so as to ensure that the entire global system continues to operate. But unlike both of those facilities which comprise only one part of their physical plants, the new American IOC is freestanding and serves only a single purpose.
American has utilized a number of innovations from the NOC, including the centralized layout of the operations floor, lighting and acoustical design, and workstation ergonomics. One of the main features of the new premises, according to Robert Isom, executive vice president and chief operating officer for American Airlines Group, a focus has been placed on lighting and acoustics throughout the building. For example, the 24-hour LED lighting cycle has been devised to to keep people’s bodily clocks functioning at their best. Also, the use of demountable partitions at conference rooms and offices allow for flexibility and future growth.
The two-story facility will house operations staff with supervisors, training facilities, break and locker rooms, vendeteria, outdoor dining space, loading dock and associated parking. Second floor includes more than 500 custom console workstations with ergonomic, sit/stand capabilities and column-wrapped LED monitors displaying news feeds and flight info.
“The opening of this new facility is an important milestone in our integration, and naming it after Bob [Baker] provides a rightful tribute to American’s past while focusing on the bright future we have ahead. This new center is a tangible example of how we are restoring American to its position as the greatest airline in the world,” said American President & CEO Doug Parker.
Bob W. Baker (1945-2003) worked his way up from management trainee to vice chairman of American Airlines. Along the way, he became a highly respected and admired leader in the industry. During his 34-year career, Mr. Baker served on the FAA’s advisory council and technical committee, and was appointed to an aircraft security and safety taskforce after the September 11, 2001 events.
IOC FAST FACTS
- The first building constructed on American’s Flight Academy campus in more than 20 years
- The IOC houses over 840 positions with commercial appliances in break rooms, upgraded audio/visual capabilities in conference areas, and new open office concept furniture
- The new American Airlines branding is implemented throughout the interior, with a feature wall in the lobby highlighting American Airlines destination cities
The second floor features a custom ceiling with heights from 16’ to 22’, which allows for visibility from a raised Command Center overlooking the operations floor
2,800 miles of media cabling installed, equivalent to 1.7 million linear feet
- 40 individual 80-inch large screen televisions installed in control centers.