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Scalable Crew Management System Supports Rapid Expansion of Low


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									     Scalable Crew Management
       System Supports Rapid
   Expansion of Low Cost Carriers
    by Jim Kenneally, Senior Consultant, Constraint Technologies International.

    Presented at the AGIFORS Airline Operations 2008 conference in Paris in August 2008

What is Scalable & Flexible?

    When we talk about "scalable and flexible" what do we really mean?

    In this case we are saying the system is able to meet the needs for airlines of any tier, whether they
    can justify it as a business case or otherwise.

    The ability to meet the changing circumstances without need for major code changes e.g. when new
    bases are opened, fleet acquisitions, staff, expanded routes (and the reverse)

    A powerful rule base that allows multiple and varied scenarios to be generated, without the need for
    changes to the underlying code.

    The ability, if desired, to control the rulebase in house. If not then changes can still be made easily
    and readily by the vendor.

    Different rule sets for "What-Ifs" that have no impact on operational or production runs.

                                                                                              The Problem

The Problem

    Many Low Cost Carriers are facing the challenge of rapid expansion and increasing complexity of their
    operations. For example, international services and overseas crew bases are added to existing domestic
    operations. These challenges are immense for those people within the airline entrusted with making
    all facets of the change happen. In the case of crew management, existing systems - installed when
    the operation was small and simple, are often unscalable and unable to support complex operations.
    Airlines confronted with this rapid expansion often have two competing objectives with regard to crew
    management. They want a system that can cope with future complexity and expansion, without the
    capital cost and timescale traditionally associated with large Airline crew management systems.

                                                                                         The Solution Supplier

The Solution Supplier

     Working in close partnership, IBS (previously referred to as Avient Solutions) and Constraint
     Technologies International (CTI) are able to supply the full suite of software applications to address
     the problems encountered by airlines moving from the small domestic style operation, to a fully blown
     mix of international, domestic and regional operations.

     IBS provides the premier Real Time Tracking component whilst CTI is responsible for the supply of
     the optimisation techniques and algorithms utilised in the generation of pairings and roster construction
     as well as Analysis tools.

     The offerings from IBS and CTI are fully integrated, covering the full gamut of requirements for any

     There is not the need for each party to be involved in time consuming integration each and every time
     a customer installation is required.

     For each project undertaken by the IBS/CTI partnership a "Single Prime Contractor" is nominated.
     Generally this role has been filled by IBS. So whilst having the beauty of 2 suppliers looking after a
     client's needs they're dealing with a single solution provider.

                                                                                                The Challenges

The Challenges

    The challenges for any operator moving from a nice stable operation to new dynamic ever changing
    environment can be, and generally are, daunting.

    The rapidity of the expansion is fraught with danger if processes currently entrenched in an
    organisation are not reviewed and changed.

    In order to meet this rapid growth, flexible systems must be available to the Airline. In the case where
    little or no computerisation has been utilised by the Airline, then this in itself is another hurdle to face
    and overcome. This stresses the need for systems to be flexible and scalable so each situation can be
    met with the same confidence.

    As the planned expansion is rapid it is essential that the implementation and installation of the chosen
    application is also speedy so the gains made in expanding are not lost due to inadequate tools for the
    operators to utilise.

                                                                                 Understanding the Challenges

Understanding the Challenges

    It is important that all involved, in particular at the initial stages of the exercise, are aware that the
    challenges to be met will take effort. Without this appreciation a project like this has "doomed to fail"
    written all over it. The recognition, firstly and most importantly from the airline's perspective, is that
    there is need for improvement internally to get the job done. The outcomes are too important not to
    be thinking along these lines. This follows that once embarking on the expansion route it cannot be
    done without flexible and scalable software. The requirements along the way change as circumstances
    change, e.g. new routes, new aircraft types are introduced. These changes will, and do, impact more
    than the Flight Operations areas and they must also be considered. Once again the need for software
    that can cope with all the rapid changes is imperative. So it is important to accept that Software is the
    way to solve and overcome the challenges

                                                                                          The Role of the Airline

The Role of the Airline

     A strategic decision to recognise, throughout all areas within the airline, the value of good flexible
     software is the first step. Once the strategic decision has been made, the next step is to ensure the
     changes coming though the expansion, changes to process and available applications are embraced
     throughout the company. From the outset a clear defined approach to the future operations is needed.
     This allows the setting of the business and company rules to apply and the plan to educate all operators
     in the path ahead. This education should be done, in some of the facets of the project with the assistance
     and guidance of the supplier. In particular the workings of computerised applications, and what they
     provide - not to be confused with the training of staff on the operation of the new applications.

     This will also lead to, not only understanding of the acceptance criteria, but provides the means by
     which to formulate these criteria clearly and early. The earlier this is achieved the better the project can
     be managed from both airline and vendor perspective. This is a joint exercise whereby the parties come
     together along the route. Providing staff that have the required and proven expertise to be able to work
     with the vendor in stipulating, understanding and implementing the required rules and operational
     approach. Too often the wrong people are assigned to participate in this role to the detriment of the
     project. Over inflated egos are not recommended in projects such as this.

     Create an environment for the project where innovation is welcomed and in fact encouraged. As we
     all know the more an individual has involvement in something, the greater interest and motivation
     they have.

     However innovation has to have some limits and needs to be balanced as too much can also derail
     some areas of a project.

                                                                                       The Role of the Vendor

The Role of the Vendor

    Coupled with one of the airline's roles, the provision of expert staff, the vendor must also provide
    people of suitable expertise. Any deviation from the availability of crucial staff, from either side, will
    hamper the project.

    Clear concise documenting of what the customer requires and what the vendor is going to deliver.
    At the initial stage this should be targeted to all involved in the project - not just developers, crew
    planners but all.

    The interaction at this stage between airline and vendor will result in the vendor obtaining an excellent
    understanding of the current practices of the airline, how they will fit into the new world the airline
    is moving towards, the aims of the airline as well as creating a rapport between themselves and the
    customers knowledge bank.

    Following on from this is the important task to make sure the customer's staff, in particular those
    without previous experience in the operation of computerised systems, are put at ease and made
    comfortable with the whole process. None should be allowed to feel threatened as this is a sure way
    to undermine all previous good work.

    Vendors should, if possible and practical, attempt to provide In Country support. This is certainly a
    big plus during any teething stage for a customer. No matter how well you think you have everything
    covered off, something is bound to crop up that needs resolving swiftly.

                                                                                         Working together

Working together

    Without doubt one of the most important aspects of any project is the ability and necessity for all
    parties to work together.

    Important decisions need to be made jointly with each party understanding the impact it will have on
    the end result.

    Too often decisions are made without full consultation when required. This is not meant to stifle or
    delay progress or development but refers to those areas where a wrong interpretation can have a major



     Assuming too much. We have all seen this happen along the way and suffered the consequences. The
     right intention but the wrong execution can easily lead the project into dark waters. If unsure seek
     clarification. This also gets back to ensuring all parties are aware of what is to be delivered.

     At times, people become comfortable with communicating with a chosen few. It is vital that the correct
     "font of knowledge" is always used when seeking out information. This is seemingly a minor issue
     but it can have far reaching ramifications for the project.

     "Doing it my way" is one of the most dangerous things in any project. When someone decides they
     know better than everyone else and embarks down a path they might believe is going to be better
     overall, troubles more often than not occur. This gets back to the basic rule of keeping everyone
     informed and managing the project.

     Too often the expectation is to have a new application to exactly follow the current practices of the
     client. Given we are involved with major changes to operations this is not always a sensible course to
     follow. The new world for the Airline can be vastly different from the one they currently know and
     love. The other side of the coin tailoring the operation to the software can also present issues. There
     has to be a balance between both ends with both parties being open and accepting of what is best for
     this project and the continued expansion plans.

     A habit that creeps in as a project moves along is the falling off of benchmarking at the various stages.
     Generally everyone is "gung ho" at the start and ensures the benchmarking is done. However this, at
     times, falls off in regularity. Benchmarking will certainly help keep the project on track and on time
     as it highlights potential problems earlier than if no benchmarking was done.

                                                                                         Recent Project Success

Recent Project Success

Implementation at Jet Airways
     Whilst Jet Airways is not a low cost carrier it most certainly fits into the category of rapidly expanding

     Jet Airways contributed to the successful accomplishment of this project due to their acceptance and
     acknowledgement that the introduction of new sophisticated software was essential. The inability
     of the software Jet employed at the time to meet the demands of the increased staff numbers and
     complexity of the new operation was quickly and surely recognised by Jet Airways. This was a crucial
     aspect contributing to the overall success of the installation.



    The decision to actively expand from a mainly domestic operator to a fully fledged international
    operator left Jet Airways with the task of providing the necessary support functions to ensure the
    operation was not going to suffer as a result of having inadequate systems and applications.

    As part of the expansion program, consideration was given to taking an existing airline under their
    wing. This did eventuate and has been one of the catalysts in Jet Airways reviewing their needs.

    One of the important areas immediately focused on by Jet Airways was the management of the crew,
    which would increase markedly during the expansion. Intake courses, training associated with the
    rapid course intake and importantly, as the fleet acquisition would be swift, the accurate tracking of
    crew duty limitations was considered essential to succeeding in the forceful expansion plan.

    As previously mentioned, a full understanding of the limitations of the current systems and the need
    for work practices to be changed to guarantee success, was accepted and pursued from an early stage.

                                                                       Jet's Understanding of the Challenges

Jet's Understanding of the Challenges

    Jet Airways' obvious acceptance of the need to move forward with a flexible, scalable application
    could be described as a cornerstone of Jet's achievement in succeeding with the expansion.

    Once this decision was made, the next challenge was to source potential providers of software to meet
    the expansion needs. Jet applied simple but proven logic in looking at the type of airline they intend
    to become e.g. an established major airline and an airline that was undergoing or had just recently
    undergone a major expansion. Jet made numerous visits to various airlines. In the final wash the two
    that stood out were Cathay and Emirates. The supplier of the premier tracking system, IBS is the
    incumbent at both airlines. IBS's partnership with CTI in the provision of the necessary optimisation
    tools made the group a potential candidate for the supply of the crew management system.

                                                                                Before and Now comparison

Before and Now comparison

    To gain an idea of the change at Jet Airways and fully understand the obvious need for the introduction
    of a computerised system one only has to consider the following. It must be remembered that Jet has

                                                                                                 Pre Contract

    been on a constant ramp up and believe they couldn't have coped properly without the addition of
    the systems.

    At the time of commencing the search for a vendor, Jet was operating 54 aircraft in total of which only
    4 were wide body and 50 narrow body comprising 737s and ATR's, mostly concentrating on domestic
    or basically regional services. Today Jet operates 85 aircraft, 20 Wide body B777 and A330's along
    with 65 narrow body aircraft. Whilst this is, on paper, just over 50% increase in aircraft units, it is a
    fourfold increase in the wide body fleet.

    The increase in the number of aircraft is also reflected in the crew currently operating Jet's routes.
    Cabin crew number are now well over 3000 as compared with the previous strength of just over 1000
    prior to the expansion getting into full swing. Tech crew has also seen a rapid increase from over 300
    to in excess of 500 now.

    A final indication of not only the success of the expansion but the real need for Jet to change process
    and introduce new systems is the increase in operating sectors from approximately 9000 per month to
    now 12500 on a monthly basis. These figures are also a strong indication that the simple small airline
    system would not be able to cope.

Pre Contract

    Jet followed the accepted procedure of not believing all they were told but insisted on seeing the actual
    wares of the potential vendors.

    Benchmarks on the various modules were conducted; KPI's were determined and closely adhered to
    by Jet. Any claims made by vendors were scrutinised and proven throughout the process.

    The benchmarking exercise set the expectations as to the results anticipated and savings expected in
    time and costs once the system was deployed.

                                                                                                The Selection

The Selection
    After Jet's vigorous due diligence, the IBS/CTI partnership was chosen to provide the crew
    management system to enable Jet to succeed in the expansion.

Jet Airways Approach

    Jet was extremely active in involving staff from all quarters as they readily identified the need for
    all to be on board.

    There was a distinct commitment by Jet to being proactive throughout the entire project whilst ensuring
    they were managing the expectations of their staff as well as the successful vendor.

    This commitment was clearly evident in the area of providing IBS/CTI with a good appreciation of
    the rules and their application for the business. This was an important piece of the process leading up
    to the successful installation and going live.

    Jet management took time to make certain all staff were fully briefed of all progress and as such stifled
    any potential misgivings on their staff's part. This still exists today.

    Lastly, but just as important, is the continued communication Jet and IBS/CTI have developed over

                                                                                     IBS & CTI's Approach

IBS & CTI's Approach

    Naturally one of the first tasks was for IBS/CTI to meet with Jet as a combined unit thus ensuring all
    parties were well aware of what was required and expected.

    Plans for the implementation, with milestones, were regularly communicated between all parties.

    A candid approach in detailing and communicating the state of the project and all issues surrounding
    it was a priority in the eyes of IBS/CTI. This was seen to be achieved.

    With the advantage of having all modules integrated, parallel development by IBS and CTI was able
    to be easily done. The ability to effectively have two companies working on the one project proved
    a great boon for both Jet and IBS/CTI. However, this would not have been such an advantage if both
    IBS and CTI did not follow the principles of close liaison in such circumstances. Needless to say this
    happened as a matter of course.

    This obviously highlights the great need for all parties involved in this project to adhere to this
    important and necessary regime.

                                                                                     Installation Highlights

Installation Highlights

     The signing of the contract in May 2006 saw the teams getting ready for action. This action commenced
     June 06.

     An aggressive time frame was involved as Jet, understanding the ramifications and costs of prolonging
     the use of an outmoded system in respect to the new operation, were seeking the benefits as early as

     The time line asked for the Rostering and Tracking components to go live in July 2007.

     Tracking and Rostering went live in July 2007, 13 months after project start.

     The above paints a glossy picture of the successful working together of Jet Airways, IBS and CTI.
     And so it should, as it was just that.

     However, the project was not without its trials and tribulations, anyone who purports to have done a
     hassle free implementation of this nature, is probably not being honest.

     However, the fact that the applications were installed and operating within the 13 months is the
     essential point.

     Given this experience should other airlines wish to join the fold, please contact either IBS or CTI


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