One of the biggest conundrums that an airline has to face is how to balance punctuality against productivity? The key to solving this conundrum is by effective scheduling which will minimize delays and improve aircraft utilization. This blog focuses on a more cross-departmental view of an airline that must be taken for a flight scheduler to put an effective and workable schedule together.
When putting a flight schedule together a flight scheduler normally starts with a typical week and then builds up into months and seasons. This is normally put together two years before implementation, as the proposed schedule has to be vetted by the Crew Management department.
It is common that no communications exist between the two side at the planning stage, so the flight scheduler has no idea whatsoever of proposed crew pairings. If airlines looked into this simple communication problem, then they would have an effective flight schedule delivered in half the time.
Both the flight scheduler and the crew management should share information using the myriad of IT tools that are readily available. Such tools make the sharing of information simple and obvious and will help to create a highly efficient schedule.
As considerations must be taken of things like aircraft rotations, crew rotations, avoiding crew illegalities etc. It is far easier if this information can be seen by everybody concerned. And there is a possibility that by sharing the information you can go one step better. You can use the information on aircraft scheduling and crew pairing together so the aircraft can operate sequences of legs supported by the most efficient crew duties. It is estimated that in short haul flights this could alter the need for 30% of all aircraft changes and increase crew productivity as well.
Collate the Information
Technology also offers the possibility for flight schedulers to see crew rotations and aircraft rotations on top of one another. This gives an at-a-glance guide, and it is far easier to notice if a crew becomes illegal for example. Normally the principal of crew follows aircraft is adopted when it comes to scheduling. But by using combined information it is also to utilize aircraft follows crew.
This flexibility offers many advantages including more robust scheduling for aircraft as well as realistic and efficient crew rotations. This is especially good at reducing the cost of standby crews. When a flight scheduler is at the rostering phase, he will normally be working on a month prior to departure model. But it is common that schedulers will be still working as close to three days before handover to Operations Control.
During these days important changes are still being worked upon, and a scheduler must have the tools to check the impact of crew rosters to the flight schedule. Relevant data should be communicated between all departments if there is to be a successful flight schedule.
All these permutations must be ironed out if an airline is going to have a workable and lean flight schedule, which makes the operations of the airline both profitable and attractive to passengers.