SE210Caravelle
Topic Author
Posts: 256
Joined: Tue Dec 28, 2004 1:01 pm

How Are Aircraft Scheduled?

Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:11 pm

I've found bits and pieces on this around the web and on A.net, but I was wondering if someone could provide an explanation as to how aircraft are scheduled?

In today's day and age, is the process done via computer or does someone go through each flight by hand to figure out what aircraft needs to be where and when? With a route network as vast as UA's or DL's, this seems an impossibly complex task. Is aircraft scheduling generally done monthly, seasonly or on the fly? Is it one person's job or are many people involved in the process?

Any info would be helpful!
 
apodino
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RE: How Are Aircraft Scheduled?

Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:15 pm

At my carrier...which is a regional...we start the process three days out. A computer will automatically build the airplane schedule with assigned flights for the third day after the current day. MX planning at the same time will be looking at MX requirements for the fleet and will create work packages and assign them to various MX bases depending on the needs of the airplane and the capability of the MX base. A dispatch coordinator will come in and adjust the computer routings for the third day to ensure that each airplane gets into its MX base when its scheduled to.

In a real time environment...you deal with things like unscheduled mx, weather, MEL limits, etc...and the dispatch coordinators will reassign and reroute airplanes to ensure the smooth running of the operation. It is always a dynamic process, and getting an AC change one hour before departure is not uncommon.
 
tdscanuck
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:25 am

RE: How Are Aircraft Scheduled?

Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:02 pm

Quoting SE210Caravelle (Thread starter):
In today's day and age, is the process done via computer or does someone go through each flight by hand to figure out what aircraft needs to be where and when?

For anything more than a trivially small airline, it's done by computer. It's a fairly well defined optimization problem, academics and industry have been on it for a while.

Quoting SE210Caravelle (Thread starter):
Is aircraft scheduling generally done monthly, seasonly or on the fly? Is it one person's job or are many people involved in the process?

A few days ahead is normal for the planned schedule. The abnormal operations group will handle things that happen more tactically.

Tom.
 
SE210Caravelle
Topic Author
Posts: 256
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RE: How Are Aircraft Scheduled?

Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:10 pm

Thank you! Aircraft scheduling has always befuddled me and those replies were very informative.

Another Q you might be able to help me out with:

When airlines are designing their schedules do they attempt to minimize ahead of time the # of a/c flying a given route or do they just leave it to the computer to do that after the fact? Or a little of both? For example, let's say UA flies ORD-DCA-ORD 10 times a day. Will they 1) design that schedule with the hope of having the same reg make as many of those segments as possible or will they 2) just have the computer figure out AC scheduling and design the schedule with the most convenient times for passengers?

I'd imagine the answer to this question also depends on how long the route is.
 
Fabo
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RE: How Are Aircraft Scheduled?

Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:05 am

I would say little of both, because:

Quoting SE210Caravelle (Reply 3):
1) design that schedule with the hope of having the same reg make as many of those segments as possible

this is not advisable as it would make for uneven cycle/time distribution among the fleet (although it can work with cycling aircraft between assignments)

and this

Quoting SE210Caravelle (Reply 3):
2) just have the computer figure out AC scheduling and design the schedule with the most convenient times for passengers?

could lead to inefficient fleet utilisation.
The light at the end of tunnel turn out to be a lighted sing saying NO EXIT
 
tdscanuck
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RE: How Are Aircraft Scheduled?

Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:47 pm

Quoting SE210Caravelle (Reply 3):
For example, let's say UA flies ORD-DCA-ORD 10 times a day. Will they 1) design that schedule with the hope of having the same reg make as many of those segments as possible or will they 2) just have the computer figure out AC scheduling and design the schedule with the most convenient times for passengers?

There's no real advantage (and some disadvantages) to 1). However, scheduling is rarely totally computer driven because there are a ton of non-analytic considerations. It's a lot simpler to define the schedule, have the computer map the aircraft into the schedule, then tweak as necessary to improve utilization. Because one aircraft typically circulates throughout the network, it's not normal to map the scheduling to the utilization of any one aircraft but to the network as a whole.

Tom.

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