Defining the ORAT Scope

To70 participates in numerous projects, ranging from noise calculations to flight procedure design and airport master planning to safety assessments.  These projects are all very different, but they have one thing in common: every project is built upon a combination of theory, objective data and practical knowledge.  This approach makes the results we produce solid and valuable to our clients.  This article gives an example of how To70’s approach works in practice.

This blog will focus on the mechanism behind defining the scope for Operational Readiness, Activation and Transition (ORAT).

Definition of ORAT

Operational Readiness with Airport Transfer, or Operational Readiness And Transfer or Operational Readiness, Activation and Transition, abbreviated as ORAT in the air transport industry, has been around for more than three decades.  Clarity of definition is a prerequisite to crafting the ORAT scope accurately.

The ORAT scope should originate from the high-level requirements, business case studies, budget, risks, assumptions, and constraints of any new or modified airport service, facility, or system to be commissioned or decommissioned.

The “Report of the Commission of Inquiry on the New Airport” for the opening of Hong Kong Airport in 1998 provided an explicit definition of “Airport Operational Readiness”. It is an apt description that covers all areas of delivery:

“The AOR process encompasses all steps necessary to transition the new airport from construction, testing and commissioning through familiarisation, training, trials and relocation to ensure safe, smooth and efficient operations from the first day of airport opening, at a demonstrated and acceptable level of operational standard.  This can only be achieved when the operator and all involved parties are fully familiar with the airport facilities, systems and procedures, and only after systems and procedures are reliable, practised and proven.  The success of the process depends on a comprehensive level of integrated planning, coordination and management, and the unconditional commitment, participation and sharing of information by all parties.”

One of the requirements the scope should address is the various system checks for integration and acceptance to ensure operational feasibility.  Using a practical framework to support staff operations and trialling every system shall also form part of the scope. 

The challenge in determining a contextualised scope is the approach that aligns with safety, quality, cost, time, and performance or technology.  A two-phase approach that focuses on quality and ORAT could be as follows:

Phase 1:  Legislation and Quality Assurance

  1. To ensure regulatory and contractual compliance with the local or international aviation authority and organisation’s standards and recommended practices before completion by the appointed ORAT team to avoid delays, accidents, or incidents.
  2. To design an ORAT Project Management Plan that augments operations management fundamentals, providing a unique organisation structure built upon administrative provision.

Phase 2: Operational Readiness, Activation and Transition Programme Thrusts

  1. To elicit work activities related to the conception, compliance and completion phases of opening and closing.
  2. To ensure operational planning, readiness, activation, completion, and business continuity are coordinated.

Defining High-Level Risks, Assumptions and Constraints

The crafting of the high-level risks, assumptions and constraints during the pre-conception phase provides criteria for determining the scope.  

Examples of high-level risks in management, financial, technical and execution elements:

  1. Management Risk: Change of management during the handover and takeover process when there is no proper transition.
  2. Financial Risks: The opening of infrastructure without any revenue trajectory except for projection is a substantial financial risk.
  3. Technical Risks: The positioning of the infrastructure vis-à-vis the surrounding might pose a challenge in terms of obstacle management, aircraft separation and airspace segregation. The malfunction of any systems that control all aircraft, including interferences from the movements of ground equipment, should be considered.
  4. Execution Risk: ORAT trials surfacing multiple issues with the design from an operational perspective.

Examples of assumptions to be taken into consideration:

  1. Set up a senior construction, airport operations, regulatory, government stakeholders and airline community of management personnel.
  2. Crafting an operational vision and plans to encompass all aspects of the new facility. The policy statement shall ensure transparency and collaboration among various stakeholders.
  3. Review the design of new infrastructure from its perspective, meeting the operational and maintenance objectives.

Examples of constraints to be taken into consideration:

  1. Ensure progress is tracked to ensure that the airport authority, airlines, and other stakeholders have the processes, staff, skills, training, and tools necessary to operate the new or modified runway effectively, efficiently, smoothly, and safely.
  2. Ensure contingency plans to manage any identified operational risks before introducing new infrastructure or services.
  3. Ensure development and execution of effective recruitment, training, and familiarisation programmes specific to the individual needs of stakeholders.

Scope for Success

Recent studies have suggested embarking on a Scope Management Plan that includes the scope definition statement, various sub-elements of the work breakdown structure, scope validation, verification, and control (Abdilahi et al., 2020).  The segregation into pre-and post-project planning phases with specific criteria such as calculation of work activities within the scope, budgeting, approach to adopt for management of change in a structured manner with a clear work breakdown structure that spells the roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities of the project officers (Colt, 1997; Mirza, 2019; Fageha & Aibinu, 2013).

The correlation between cross-divisional expertise in an organisation elevates the challenge of deriving an accurate scope.  In the traditional approach, Bingham & Gibson (2017) put forward a new concept of coupling the ‘front-end planning’, which considers feasibility, concept, detailed scope, design, and construction with a project definition rating index.  The upshot of an accurate ORAT scope ensures operational practicality with minimal need for variation orders.

Managing Challenges

The dynamics of organisational behaviour play a significant role in ensuring the project teams can establish a clear, precise, and aimed-goal oriented scope.  Influenced directly or indirectly by levels of management and pressured by performance often results in misaligned or generalised project scope.  Integrating interpersonal and institutional influences would critically impact organisational decisions, actions, and outcomes (Mishra & Mishra, 2013).  In addition, organisations should repeal project initiation when the scope is general, unclear, or vague; instead, a “No-Go” policy that advocates scope clarity should be implemented.

Developing pre- and post-planning phases that encompass scope formulation, completeness, pricing, implementation, and change control could aid in managing project management schedules allowing for discussions, brainstorming sessions, and agreements against associated barriers to each stage (Hilali et al., 2019).  A key pre-requite is the robustness of organisational alignment on strategic, managerial, and subordinate assessment and activities.

Studies have shown a Scope Management Plan that detail the strategic assessment and activities focus on building blocks of key elements of the ORAT Programme.

To70’s approach

To70 has extensive knowledge of the aviation industry and the resources to perform quantitative analyses.  Experts with practical and operational experience are part of the team, enabling To70 to use the power of a combination of theory, data analysis and knowledge of operational experts to solve complex problems in the aviation industry.


Abdilahi, S. M., Fakunle, F. F., & Fashina, A. A. (2020). Exploring the extent to which project scope management processes influence the implementation of telecommunication projects. PM World Journal, IX, 1-17.

Airport Development Steering Committee. (1998). Report of the Commission of Inquiry on

the New Airport.

Bingham, E., & Gibson, G. E. (2017). Infrastructure Project Scope Definition Using Project Definition Rating Index. Journal of Management in Engineering, 33(2), 4016037.

Colt, William J, (1997). Improve Your Project Via Effective Scope Definition and Control. Chemical Engineering Progress; Mar 1997;93,3: ABI/INFORM Collection Pg. 42 Bingham, E., & Gibson, G. E. (2017). Infrastructure Project Scope Definition Using Project Definition Rating Index. Journal of Management in Engineering, 33(2), 4016037.

Hilali, A., Charoenngam, C., & Barman, A. (2019). Barriers in contractual scope management of international development projects in Afghanistan. Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, 26(8), 1574–1592.

Mirza, M. N., Pourzolfaghar, Z., & Shahnazari, M. (2013). Significance of Scope in Project Success. Procedia Technology, 9, 722–729.

Mishra, A. K., & Mishra, K. E. (2013). The research on trust in leadership: The need for context. Journal of Trust Research, 3(1), 59–69.


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