Returning to how you can create an effective flight schedule we look further into the reasons that an airline’s schedule may be disturbed. If you analyze past data on previous schedules you can identify patterns of delays and set them apart from just spikes that are anomalies. Two examples of this are ground time patterns, and block time patterns.

Ground Time Patterns

Say you find that the morning flight coming into London Heathrow from Paris Orly is always five minutes delayed, but the afternoon flights are perfectly okay. The airline’s correct action should be to place a five minute buffer in ground time turnaround at Heathrow during the morning.

Block Times Patterns

It may be apparent that all flights coming into Berlin from the east regularly have delays. And since these delays are affecting every flight, strong headwinds are probably the answer. Headwinds can cause havoc with flight block times, and it is hard to catch up with the schedule using more speed. In this time a complete block time buffer may well be the solution. This tells the airline to evaluate a whole year when it comes to fixing schedules and not just a specific period.

Eliminate Unnecessary Buffers

Rather harder to define and eliminate are unnecessary buffers that have already been built into a flight schedule. These buffers regularly cost airlines time and money. One example of such a buffer is that a particular flight may be calculated at taking one hour and five minutes, but the actual flight time is only an hour. Already there has been added a five minute buffer that does not need to be included. If ten flights a day have been calculated the same, then that is fifty minutes lost.

Where and When does a Buffer Go

One of the hardest jobs of a flight scheduler is deciding where to put a buffer and how long it should be for? But the way to solve this conundrum is to look at the Gaussian distribution of the flights you are looking at. The first action is to eliminate any spikes and come up with an average value for the flight in question. Is the resulting median, the eighty percent value or the sixty percent value? As the percentages dwindle so should the buffer time.

The final blog will look at a broader spectrum of why flight schedules are interrupted and the action to be taken to rectify this. It looks at things such as crew management, crew pairings, and the communications that are needed between management and crew to make the schedule work efficiently.

It is imperative for an airline to stay operational to have a workable and cost effective flight schedule. There is no point at all of putting an attractive but unworkable schedule together. Flight times may look good to passengers but if they cannot be delivered effectively then they are useless. An airline succeeds or fails mainly due to its flight schedule, so it is extremely important that the flight scheduler gets it right.