Airline Crew Scheduling Software | ATCO Rostering System (2023)

Optimization ensures efficiency, cost control, transparency and crew happiness


Airline crew members believe they are flag bearers of their airline and rightfully so. For them, duty schedules come second only to family. Creating crew rosters for them is a difficult task. Planners must ensure that schedules are maintained around the clock, resources optimized, and the crew are happy and satisfied. It is a challenge to strike that balance.

Adding to the complexity are regulatory rules, qualification and training requirements, crew contracts and cost, with crew cost as second most expensive line item for an airline. And to top this, there are business metrics and SLAs to be adhered to.

Any application platform for this critical function must implement the entire operational plan meticulously. It must map duty cycles to qualifications and skills, consider variations in duty timings that stretch, to sometimes, eighteen hours in one go. Among many more points of note, it must also cater for cycles through time zones that disrupt sleep patterns and result in fatigue.

Evolution of the rostering engine

Schedulers have hated to hear the question, who has made this roster? Any answer would bring criticism or applause, but they’ve had to live with it. Historically, while making a roster, inputs were manually made and they lacked forward visibility, especially to information like crew availability with changing flight schedules, which needed quick (re) assessment. Despite dedicated teams on the job, their output was often compromised for quality, making scheduling a tightrope walk.

Until the 1980s, much of crew scheduling was accomplished manually, with schedulers working mainly on two blank documents: one, a calendar chart with crew names in order of seniority, and the other, a list of flight departure or trips in the sequence of departure time. Crew was assigned to flights or trips in rotation. Data was maintained on tables: for flight time, number of international flights, trips and training & qualification registers. Rosters were created and each crew was painstakingly notified, individually.

(Video) Around the Network - Crew Scheduling

Beginning of computerization

Computers started replacing manual systems in the 90s, with spreadsheets from software like FoxPro and Access. Pilot rosters started being published convincingly, using software. But many of these projects faced opposition from labor unions. Computerization of processes in cabin crew operations followed. Like, scheduling, flight planning, NOTAM management, FDTL monitoring and particularly, TQD (Training Qualification and Documentation). However, fully computer-generated crew schedules and rosters was still a distant dream.

It was only in the 2000s, with the arrival of the new generation of flying and ground crew, who were ready to accept change, is when the attitude towards computerization changed. But it took some time for software applications to gain their acceptance as tools in crew management. The primary reason manual systems lingered in airlines, compared with the technology adoption in other industries, was the human unwillingness to give up to the machine. There was also a general mistrust for and apathy towards change. Fear of losing jobs was another factor, not to forget the lack of a good scheduling system that came off the shelf, and the absence of qualified resources who would champion the new system.

Computers in crew scheduling

By the late 2000s, operational departments in airlines, like network planning, engineering and flight dispatch, were using computers. Regulators began mandating the use of computers in scheduling as well. Among large carriers, this was necessitated by the increased complexities of network operations, that came with growth in crew numbers and crew bases, by fleet type or size. Adherence to complex flight and duty time calculations, the regulatory mandate to monitor flight time limitations (FTL) and qualifications of individual crew, required applications software. Also, crew management had to be made transparent, not to forget the need to reduce the effort in scheduling and notifying every crew member and stake holder in flight operations, up to the last service provider.

ARMS® on the scene

In 2012, Laminaar introduced ARMS® or the Aviation Resource Management System for crew scheduling.It had four modules:

  • A Crew Trip Optimizer to create optimized and anonymous crew trips or pairings
  • An Auto Roster for crew rostering
  • Training, Qualification & Documentation or TQD for monitoring, planning, storing crew information
  • A Crew Tracking module

The application was widely accepted by many airlines in S Asia and elsewhere and none other than India’s national carrier, Air India, was a direct beneficiary and a marquee client.

Rostering Optimizer

Over the years, with increased user proficiency among ARMS® users and the enormous amount of crew data that was available, roster planning was ready for optimization with mathematical solvers.

(Video) AerOPS Crew Roster and Planning

Laminaar had envisioned this. A Crew Rostering Optimizer was brought to the drawing board. Months of dedicated effort in iterative design, development and testing followed.The product was delivered to none other than Air India, by the summer of 2021.

ARMS®Crew Rostering Optimizer – CRO

The ARMS® CRO addresses roster planning as a large-scale mathematical problem based on the science of Operations Research. It accommodates every variable, constraint and parameter that is needed to arrive at an optimized crew roster within minutes.It ensures fair and equitable distribution of work with no manual intervention. By simplifying the task of rostering, the CRO reduces effort, saves time and cost. Additionally,

  • The algorithms consider all roster attributes, parameters, priorities and business constraints.
  • The optimiser accommodates every duty task and assigns the best combination of those to the crew.
  • The optimiser keeps improving its output with repeated iterative runs.

CRO – Unique Features

Unique features of the CRO are:

Can be used for all kinds of operations – regional, long range and ultra-long range. CRO uses filters like aircraft type or fleet, crew bases and crew roles – e.g., Left Hand Side or Right-hand side for pilots, or Cabin In-charge, or Cabin crew. It can also use filters for various combinations of fleets, rule sets, statutory or planning (business) rules for roster making.

Makes rosters for specially qualified crew – for example, flights to critical or restricted airfields and areas, low visibility operations, or specific airline requirements to roster only international flights, domestic flights etc.

Can assign multiple types of cumulative rest periods – option made available for the scheduler, e.g., Assign Periodic Off in Master Definition or Rolling Bar functionalities.

(Video) AE4423 Lect 6.1 Crew Scheduling Context

Can optimize roster parameters – users can decide which roster parameters must be given extra leverage over others for optimized task distribution. E.g., Flight time, Landings, Previous Flight Time, Diurnals, Ac Types Flown, Non-Availability Due To Other Duties, Roster Period Flying Hours, Trip Distribution, Recently Flown Trips, International Operations

Buffers & gaps for roster stability – To ensure stability of published roster in post published period of actual day of operations, scheduling personnel can opt for various buffers, like,

  • Gaps between Back to Back Layover
  • Buffer between rest end and travel start of the next duty
  • Buffers between two consecutive night flight duties
  • Continuous work period between two weekly rests
  • Gap between weekly rest end and next travel start

Additional benefits to schedulers

  • Avoid rest buffer and night buffer for within trips –on occasions within a trip an airline may require to keep rest period buffers different from CRO. This feature enables a difference of buffer periods in trip and roster
  • Two separate duties allowed in a day – airlines may decide to assign or not assign more than one flight duty in a day, based on their business processes
  • Priority assignment as per crew endorsement – a crew may be endorsed for multiple aircraft, this feature enables crew to be scheduled for a fleet type of higher priority
  • Define weightage points –in master settings there is a provision for users to define default settings for roster attributes; previous settings can be saved too
  • De-Roster – a roster can be re-run or published after deleting the previous run
  • Cancel option – allows for stopping a running CRO process
  • View Progress & Status of Run –as per filters opted and optimize run time to a shorter duration. The CRO Status window provides; user can also set auto refresh in minutes as necessary
  • Key Productive Indicators (KPIs) –Infographics of Key Productive Indicators (KPIs) for parameters can be generated for user to assess results during a roster run

Synergy with other ARMS®systems

2700 crew scheduling test runs were performed while testing the CRO engine for different types of aircraft and network patterns, involving regional, long range and ultra-long-range flights. Also tested successfully was its ability to collaborate seamlessly with other application software modules of ARMS® like the network planning tool: FOSS, crew pairing tool: CTO, crew bidding module and crew portal of its crew management application: CMSS, and the ARMS® module for fatigue risk management: FRMS.


The ARMS® CRO directly impacts crew experience with a balanced roster plan with better distribution of work. It positively improves crew quality of life & crew satisfaction.

To planners, the ARMS® CRO makes the task of scheduling easy, without missing any parameter or business scenario. It provides analytical reports to measure the outcome of the CRO Runs. Most importantly, the CRO saves time and effort, offering planners the reward of a better quality of life.

To airline management, the CRO is a one stop solution that addresses crew quality of life with directly impacts the stability of crew in the airline, reducing attrition and saves crew cost. It also affords them the time for and the visibility to focus on strategy, revenue and customer experience.

(Video) Crew Rostering - Focus Topic Presentation - Airline Crewing Enigma - Expert Think Tank

Client Testimonial

“Air India has been utilizing the new ARMS tool, Crew Roster Optimizer (CRO) for the past three months for Flight and Cabin Crew duty roster generation on Boeing and Airbus fleets.

As compared to previous legacy system, CRO provides optimized solution over various crew roster parameters, e.g. “Flight Time”, “Lay Overs”, “International Flights”, “Diurnal distribution” etc. The system provides maximum assignment of flight duty tasks with equitable work distribution amongst crew, as per Airline policies. CRO has enabled reduction of multiple roster runs, manual interventions by end users, simplification of work and reduction of scheduling team man-hours.
The additional feature of visual and graphical representation of Key Productive Indicators (KPIs) for crew roster parameters enables crew schedulers to quickly assess the results.

We appreciate the continued support of the ARMS team to Air India…”

Office of the GM CMS, Air India, 03 Nov 2021

Read More

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What software do airlines use for scheduling? ›

MILOS allows airlines to manage flight schedules through a user-friendly Schedule Builder. The Schedule Builder provides drag and drop features which allows airlines to effectively build daily, monthly and annual schedules through an intuitive graphical interface.

What crew scheduling software does American Airlines use? ›

First, a little background information. As with almost all major U.S. carriers, American Airlines' pilots' monthly schedules are dictated by a program called PBS (Preferential Bidding System).

What is crew rostering in airlines? ›

Airline crew rostering is an important part of airline operations and an interesting problem for the application of operations research. The objective is to assign anonymous crew pairings either to personalized rosters or to anonymous bidlines which subsequently will be assigned to individual crew members.

Which is the common challenge in airline crew scheduling? ›

Generally, a crew scheduling problem is divided into two problems one is crew pairing and the other one is crew assignment. First crew pairing problem is solved and good pairings are found by giving flight schedule (timetable) as an input. After solving crew pairing problem, crews are assigned to these pairings.

What is the most used scheduling software? ›

Google Calendar, Acuity Scheduling, Calendly, CalendarHero, and Doodle are the best scheduling software products based on user reviews and user popularity, according to the 2021 Capterra Shortlist.

How does airline crew scheduling work? ›

The company builds the pilot schedules directly to meet their needs, not the pilot's needs. Before assigning a single trip, the schedulers put all planned absences (vacation, training, etc.) onto the crew members' schedule. Only then are trips assigned to the individual crew members.

How much does American Airlines pay crew schedulers? ›

How much does a Scheduler make at American Airlines in the United States? Average American Airlines Scheduler yearly pay in the United States is approximately $49,430, which is 7% above the national average.

What type of software is airline reservation system? ›

Airline reservation system is web-based system that helps in consolidating flight data - flight schedules, seat availability, flight fares and reservations from all airlines with the help of global distribution systems and provides real-time inventory and rates for customers and travel agents to book flight tickets ...

What is the importance of crew rostering? ›

With Crew Rostering, you expedite the planning process, run what-if scenarios and build the highest quality rosters by: Increasing roster productivity. Equalizing flying hours. Solving more complex rostering challenges.

What may be the objectives of crew rostering optimization? ›

Crew pairing problem usually has two objectives. One is to cover as many flight legs in a planning horizon as possible. The other is to minimize the total cost associated with the constructed pairings.

What is the meaning of rostering? ›

: a roll or list of personnel. : such a list giving the order in which a duty is to be performed. a duty roster. : the persons listed on a roster.

What are your biggest scheduling challenges? ›

10 Employee Scheduling Issues And Their Solutions
  • 1) Shift Swapping. ...
  • 2) Shortage Of Employees. ...
  • 3) Overscheduling. ...
  • 4) Disorganization. ...
  • 5) No Call, No Show Employees. ...
  • 6) Employee Turnover. ...
  • 7) Vacations And Time Off. ...
  • 8) Lack Of Availability.

Why is airline scheduling so complex? ›

Flight schedules are mapped out several months in advance by the schedule planning teams at the airlines, like Soren's, so factors like bad weather, runway construction, or other unexpected events will affect departure and arrival times.

What factors affect flight scheduling of an airline? ›

Flight scheduling involves numerous carefully thought out processes to ensure that passengers are carried in the most effective manner. Fuel, safety, weather, timing, labor, and location are all factors that influence scheduling.

What are the 3 commonly used scheduling tools? ›

Scheduling tools and techniques
  • GANTT Chart. This is a horizontal bar chart plotted over time (e.g. days, weeks or months). ...
  • Schedule Network Analysis. ...
  • Critical Path Method. ...
  • PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) ...
  • Schedule Compression. ...
  • Risk multipliers. ...
  • Resource tools and techniques. ...
  • Additional resources.

What are the 5 main types of scheduling? ›

Here are 8 of the most common appointment booking types are:
  • Time-slot scheduling.
  • Wave scheduling.
  • Wave and walk-in appointment scheduling.
  • Open appointment scheduling.
  • Double scheduling.
  • Cluster scheduling.
  • Matrix scheduling.
  • 40/20 scheduling.
May 16, 2022

What is rostering software? ›

The purpose of rostering software

An automated rostering tool is a piece of software that uses your employee profile details, compliance rules, and staffing budgets to help you plan shifts, calculate labour costs and create and send rosters to employees.

How many hours does a crew scheduler work? ›

A typical 12-hour shift for a crew scheduler is full of action and problem-solving. Everything they do helps crew members operate safely, efficiently, and in accordance with regulations.

Do crew schedulers get flight benefits? ›

The first year, schedulers are still earning vacation time, but by swapping, they can add to their 3-days off and really enjoy their flight benefits.” (Like all airline employees, crew schedulers receive free travel on United Airlines, and deep discounts on partner airlines.

What is the salary of airline rostering? ›

An entry level flight crew scheduler (1-3 years of experience) earns an average salary of ₹3,58,106. On the other end, a senior level flight crew scheduler (8+ years of experience) earns an average salary of ₹5,83,146.

What is the highest paying job in American Airlines? ›

FAQs About American Airlines

American Airlines employees with the job title Airline Captain make the most with an average annual salary of $213,133, while employees with the title Flight Attendant make the least with an average annual salary of $46,968.

What are the three major airline ticketing systems? ›

Notable systems

Passenger services system (PSS) of modular, open-platform, web applications that replace core legacy systems. Integrated airline reservation system and global distribution system (GDS). Web-based airline reservations and ticketing system. Cloud-based next-generation airline passenger service system.

What are the different types of reservation software? ›

In this article, we'll introduce you to the five main categories of booking software in the hotel industry: OTAs, Central Reservations Systems (CRS), booking engines, channel managers, and property management systems (PMS).

How to do effective rostering? ›

How to roster staff effectively
  1. Use role-based rostering. ...
  2. Assign skilled staff to busy shifts. ...
  3. Share the best shifts fairly among staff members. ...
  4. Start the roster on the busiest day of the week. ...
  5. Allow staff to check their roster online. ...
  6. Provide adequate time off. ...
  7. Share deadlines for leave requests and unavailability notices.
Jan 26, 2023

What should I look for in a rostering system? ›

Here are 7 things to look for when selecting NDIS rostering software in 2022
  • Customisable rosters. ...
  • Integrated time tracking compatible with industry awards. ...
  • Advanced scheduling capabilities. ...
  • Employee self-service options. ...
  • Real-time updates and notifications. ...
  • Accurate reporting and analytics.
Oct 24, 2022

How do you think you could improve on a traditional rostering system? ›

Tips for Good Rostering
  1. Utilize “Role Rostering” Role rostering reverses the usual system of creating a roster based around what individual staff members want. ...
  2. Share The Top Shifts. ...
  3. Automate Rostering Tasks. ...
  4. Enable Staff To Plan In Advance. ...
  5. Allow Staff To Check The Roster Without Calling In.
Mar 2, 2022

How rostering could impact on the success of a business? ›

Demand-based rostering enables managers to perfectly align the number of employees rostered on with the number of customers that will be coming through the door. It also enables them to ensure staff with the necessary roles and skills are rostered on at the relevant time.

Why is effective and optimal crew scheduling important to airlines? ›

An airline receives revenue from passenger tickets and pays for aircraft, fuel, crew and airport usage. After costs for fuel, crew costs constitute the second largest expenses of an airline. Since profit is the difference between revenue and cost, cost efficient crew planning is of major importance for airlines.

What is roster method examples? ›

The roster method is defined as a way to show the elements of a set by listing the elements inside of brackets. An example of the roster method is to write the set of numbers from 1 to 10 as {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10}. An example of the roster method is to write the seasons as {summer, fall, winter and spring}.

What are the types of rosters? ›

The following are the three main types of rosters for business operations, used across all industry types and levels.
  • Duty Rosters. Duty rosters are typically used in the hospitality industry and are designed to avoid excessive shifts. ...
  • Flexible Rosters. ...
  • Staggered Rosters.
Dec 9, 2021

What is smart rostering? ›

Smart rostering software on Dynamics 365 is helping managers to manage shifts based on the given data on employees.

What are the two common mistakes when scheduling? ›

Top 10 List of Scheduling Mistakes
  • Lack of scheduling knowledge.
  • Inappropriate level of detail.
  • Incorrect schedule logic.
  • Lack of schedule contingency.
  • Presence of “hangers”
  • Constraints misuse.
  • Confusing duration and work.
  • Linking summary tasks.

What are four consequences of poor rostering? ›

They identified increased staff stress, work-family conflict, low morale, and poor staff-management relations as potential outcomes of poorly designed schedules. ...

What are the 3 main scheduling tasks? ›

Three essential project scheduling techniques (and how to use them) When it comes to scheduling in project management, there are three main options: Gantt charts, critical path analysis, and PERT diagrams.

Why scheduling can be difficult? ›

Probably the greatest obstacle to good scheduling is a concern about how a schedule will be perceived by the people who will do the work. The schedule shows the tradespeople how long it is expected they will take to do each job, and they may, often for good reason, disagree.

Why is control of scheduling so important to an airline? ›

The schedules plan optimises the level of traffic available and the level of capacity offered. Excessive frequency can cost an airline a lot of money. If the schedule is misjudged and the airline operates too many flights on a specific route, some of the flights could take-off with empty seats.

What are scheduling problems? ›

Scheduling problems involve solving for the optimal schedule under various objectives, different machine environments and characteristics of the jobs.

What is the airline crew scheduling problem? ›

Airline crew scheduling is the problem of assigning a group of crew members to a set of scheduled flights such that all the scheduled flights are covered while the rules and collective agreements, imposed mainly by safety and labor organizations, are respected.

What is the airline scheduling problem? ›

The airline scheduling problem

Simply stated, airline scheduling has the objective of finding the most profitable schedule that is reliable and satisfies all operational constraints. The decision space to this problem is immense: airlinescan choose any combination of where to fly, when to fly, and what to fly.

How do airlines make schedules? ›

Airlines have proprietary software that pull in all the data, including a historic look at actual flight times for each specific route on a specific day and time, and it spits out a suggested schedule for any given route.

What ERP is used by airlines? ›

NetSuite ERP for the Aviation Industry. NetSuite ERP helps aviation companies integrate different departments of their operations, such as manufacturing management, human capital management, production, data interchange, management, and the entire supply chain.

What scheduling software does Southwest airlines use? ›

Southwest uses internally built and maintained systems called SkySolver and Crew Web Access for pilots and flight attendants. They can sign on to those systems to pick flights and then make changes when flights are canceled or delayed or when there is an illness.

What is SAP in airlines? ›

SAP for aviation is a set of multiple tools for powering operations across systems connecting continents and people. As a leader in its segment, SAP ERP allows for managing flight operations, fleet management, route planning, accounting, sales, and other activities to gain benefit.

What does CRM stand for in airlines? ›

Crew Resource Management (CRM) is the effective use of all available resources for flight crew personnel to assure a safe and efficient operation, reducing error, avoiding stress and increasing efficiency.

Is Windchill an ERP system? ›

With a rich set of APIs and out-of-the-box functionality, Windchill uses micro services and mashups to provide: ERP and MES Integration: Publishing parts, bills of materials (BOMs), documents, changes, process plans, operations, and resource instructions.

What is automated scheduling software? ›

Automated scheduling, or auto-scheduling, is a way of using artificial intelligence to create an optimal schedule for your staff. It helps remove guesswork and frustration, while also limiting the chances for human error.

How much does a crew scheduler at Southwest make? ›

The estimated total pay for a Crew Scheduler at Southwest Airlines is $60,501 per year.

What is routing and scheduling software? ›

Formal route planning software for fleet-based businesses supports scheduling and routing decisions by generating the most efficient route for any number of vehicles. Most route planning systems also optimize the course drivers take to each location based on real-time traffic information.


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