Every airline can significantly enhance its operational efficiency by applying insights from day-to-day operations and events to the flight crew value chain. This optimisation process is essential for making the most of the flight crew as a scarce resource. By effectively managing the flight crew value chain, airlines can ensure they are meeting the demands of their operations without compromising on performance.
The flight crew value chain can be represented by the following stages:
1. Manpower Planning: This crucial first step is guided by factors such as network and fleet planning, commercial market strategies, routes, city pairs, target yields, and overall productivity. It establishes the flight crew requirements by determining the necessary number of crew members based on their location, qualifications, and categories.
2. Training: Once the manpower plan is in place, recruitment and training needs are identified. This ensures that current crew members remain up-to-date and qualified for their designated aircraft, while new flight crew members receive adequate training to efficiently fulfil the growing demand.
3. Crew Planning: In this phase, flight crew members are assigned to specific trips, resulting in actual crew schedules. Schedule optimisers and IT systems facilitate the automation of the crew assignment process throughout the flying programme.
4. Build & Assign Trips: During this step, flight crew schedules are created, and crew members are assigned to trips based on their qualifications and the airline’s requirements. IT systems and schedule optimisers play a crucial role in streamlining the process.
5. Trip Trading: Flight crew members are allowed to trade assigned trips according to predefined rules, providing flexibility and accommodating personal preferences while maintaining operational efficiency.
6. Day of Operations: The crew schedule becomes the central focus during the day of operations. Any adjustments or changes to the schedule must be managed and recorded in the crew management system. Effective communication with crew members and accurate accounting for these changes are essential to ensure smooth operations.
To optimise the flight crew value chain, airlines must routinely ask the following questions:
• How effective was the manpower plan? Were there enough appropriately qualified crew in the required locations?
• How robust was the plan, and how often did it break? Can trips and pairings be planned differently to increase robustness?
• What is the productivity of the crew? How many block hours were produced versus the plan? What are the costs per block hour? What productivity is obtained from reserve or standby crew across the network?
Answering these questions enables airlines to refine their planning processes, ensuring better performance outcomes.
Rainmaker offers a suite of tools that facilitate this diagnostic process and provide valuable feedback for continuous improvement:
• Rainmaker Crew Pay Manager automates pay calculation and processing, comparing budgeted pay costs with actual costs and allowing airline staff to dive into pay variances for deeper understanding.
• Rainmaker Crew Analytics combines crew pay costs with accommodation and positioning costs, offering a complete picture of flight crew-related expenses. This tool generates numerous KPIs, enabling finance professionals and airline analysts to assess operational performance in depth.
By leveraging Rainmaker’s tools, airlines gain valuable insights based on operational facts, allowing them to improve every aspect of the flight crew planning process. Without these capabilities, airlines risk repeating planning weaknesses and missing out on opportunities for continuous improvement.
In a competitive market where flight crew resources are limited, airlines must understand and optimise their crew value chain to support their operations effectively. Rainmaker’s innovative tools and data-driven insights ensure no airline is ‘flying blind’ when it comes to managing their flight crew.