October 10, 2014

Touring the Southwest Airlines Network Operations Control

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Written by: Malcom Muir
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In May of this year, Southwest Airlines unveiled a new crown jewel at their Dallas Love Field headquarters: their Network Operations Control (NOC).  If the employees are the heart of the airline, the brain that keeps the airline moving day in and day out is the NOC. During Media Day, we were given a tour of the NOC — it almost felt like being in Batman’s lair.

All of Southwest’s flights on the one screen, overlayed with a weather map, so they see how their fleet is doing at any single moment.

All of Southwest’s flights on the one screen, overlayed with a weather map, so they see how their fleet is doing at any single moment.

The NOC is the operational brain of the airline.  It is here that the airline controls all the moving pieces that get passengers from point A to point B safely and, hopefully, on time.

But the NOC is more than just a bunch of computers.  Before we even entered the NOC itself, we headed to a room that overlooks the facility; it felt like a “situation room.”  This room was surrounded by flat screen monitors along the roof line, each displaying different information covering statistics on the day’s operations, fleet availability, airport advisory messages, even webcams from each of the gates at some of the airline’s hub cities.

All the information is easily displayed so that NOC staff can take a quick glance and know how the airline is operating. The situation room is used twice a day for briefings with the management team and staff.

My favorite piece of the room was the full-sized wall display showing all of Southwest’s aircraft on a map of the USA. Amazing to see how large their fleet is.

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About the Author

Malcom Muir



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