Manpower requirements for airline crews are derived from the flight schedule. The main goal for crew schedulers is to develop a schedule for the entire following month which will ensure that all of the upcoming flights for the month are properly staffed. Flight crews at most airlines bid by seniority for the flights that they will fly in the next month and crew schedulers develop flight packages for them. The flight packages are known in the industry as bidlines. The bidlines in turn are composed of flight segments called trip pairings, and they customarily cover a one to three day time frame. Compounding the problem for the schedulers are FAA and union work rules designed to minimize the risk of accidents resulting from crew fatigue. Therefore, the main requirement of a generation and optimization system is that it is able to find the optimal set of bidlines (i.e. the set which yields the lowest cost) which maximize the utilization of each crew member, evenly distributes flying time among the bidlines and covers every scheduled flight.
The properties inherent in the crew scheduling dilemma require an expert system design. The first part of the system uses manpower loading algorithms, the current and previous month's schedules (from various databases) and optimization techniques in order to develop the set of trip pairings, which would adequately cover all scheduled flights for the upcoming month within FAA and union work guidelines.…
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