Optimizing Pilot Planning and Training for Continental Airlines
Continental Airlines is the fifth largest airline based on passenger volume in United States. It provides over 1,100 daily flight services to five continents. Effective manpower planning is a key component for the success of Continental Airlines. It is essential for Airline Company to adjust its need for pilots constantly in different position in response to new market opportunities, changing passenger demand, acquisition and retirement of aircraft and training resources and evolving economic conditions. Therefore, the company collected information from several separate database systems and built the training plans by using spreadsheet. However, this development method was time consuming and complicated and the database used was not capable for training plan as it was used for more 10 years.
In order for solving the complicated, large-scale pilot planning and training program and increasing the competitive advantage in air transportation market, Continental Airlines replaced the old database system and spreadsheets by the Crew Resource-Solver integrated decision-support system. It includes four main modules to handle staffing, vacation, planning and training. The staff-administration module and vacation-administration module maintain crew records including all current and past assignments, absences and training while the planning-optimization module and training optimization module provides information of pilot-planning and training functions (Yu, Pachon, Thengvall, Chandler and Wilson 2004).
Generally, Continental Airlines uses system bid award to determine the needs of staff changing to different positions and handle the pilots’ requests to change positions. It mainly uses seniority-based rules for decision making. In an average system bid award, 15 to 20 percent of the airline’s pilots receive new positions. As long with system bid award, the Crew Resource-Solver system can...
References: Sarker, R & Newton, C 2008, Optimization Modelling: A Practical Approach, CRC Press, Florida.
Verbeek, P.(1991) Decision support systems – An Application in strategic manpower planning of airline pilots. Eur. J. Oper. Res. (55)3, 368-381
Yu, G., Pachon, J., Thengvall, B., Chandler, D. & Wilson, A. (2004) Optimizing Pilot Planning and Training for Continental Airlines. Interfaces, Vol. 34, No.4, July-August, p.253-264
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