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Decision Support for Integrated Crew and Aircraft Recovery on the Day of Operations


The airline industry experiences growing congestion in the airspace over Europe, making problems more and more common and increasingly difficult to solve without causing new problems. Management of disruption occurring on the day of operation has therefore become an important issue for the airlines. This proposal aims at producing a decision support tool for the management of disruptions. The initial outcome will be a new way of organising the operations control at the airline, letting the organisation become an input to the demands of the decision support tool. The outcome from using the tool would be faster recovery from disruptions, better service to the customers, fewer delays, fewer costs for the airline, and less unnecessary flying due to disruption.

The main objective of the airline is to deliver the product and service the customer requests. The main objective of DESCARTES is to produce a holistic decision support tool for solving problems caused by disruptions in the airline operation on the day of operations, thereby facilitating the airline to meet their objective. A system of use for operations staff without scientific knowledge is a significant contribution, together with the immediate effects on methods of organisation and work in the airline planning divisions. The research performed within the project will be organised into solving use cases, each contributing to the generic knowledge on real-time optimisation problems.

Work description:
The project approach is to identify a number of key operational scenarios where disruption, for any of a number of reasons, can lead to a degradation in passenger service. Using these business scenarios, which will be categorised into minor, medium and major disruption, the business processes required to improve the management of the situations will be detailed. These processes will then be used to define both system requirements for the new decision support tools as well as business and organisational change required to deliver improvements.

DESCARTES will use continuous prototyping for the development. The system is primarily aimed as an optimisation tool used as decision support for the management of disruption, but the system will also include simulation capability for "what-if"ing and forecasting.

The proposed system architecture is open and scalable. Thereby, new optimisation methods can be easily included as they are developed, and the system can be expanded to include other aspects of the operation, e.g. cargo.

The developed system has to be able to identify a number of structurally different feasible solutions to the problem at hand in order to be a true decision support tool. The response time is subject to the time constraints of the operations staff. In some situations, the solutions have to be found in minutes, in others, hours will be available for computing the solutions. The solutions proposed should be of high quality. The quality demand combined with the time constraints and the holistic approach taken call for the development of new solution methods able to balance solution time against quality.

A first simple prototype is expected by the summer of 2000 and an advanced prototype for addressing minor disruptions will be available early 2001. By the end of the project it is expected that a system will have been developed so that it can assist in the management of disruption in the full range of situations from minor till major disruptions, and used for "what-if"ing to evaluate action plans designed by the controller, as a training instrument for simulated disruptions, and to better forecast disruptions.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


UB7 0GB Harmondsworth, West Drayton
United Kingdom

Participants (2)

Odinsgatan 9
411 09 Goeteborg
Anker Engelundsvej 1, Bygning 101A
2800 Kgs. Lyngby