Case studies
January 28, 2019

Air Canada Improves Scheduling Efficiency and Crewmember Satisfaction with Altitude PBS

Ad-OptResourcesCase StudyAir Canada Improves Scheduling Efficiency and Crewmember Satisfaction with Altitude PBS
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With a fleet of nearly 300 aircraft, Air Canada transports passengers to 250 destinations around the world. Air Canada is the tenth largest international carrier and employs 33,000 people worldwide, including 3,100 pilots. As a leader in global air transportation, including a top ranking by independent air safety consultants as the world’s safest airline, Air Canada focuses on providing a high-quality travel experience to passengers.

Air Canada crewmembers are frontline employees, serving as Air Canada ambassadors in delivering safe and satisfying air travel. Ensuring that crewmember flight schedules meet regulatory and contractual requirements, while at the same time enhancing quality of life for crewmembers, is critical to creating a positive travel and work environment for passengers and crew.

Scheduling crewmembers for hundreds of flights each day was a tremendous challenge for Air Canada when this process was performed manually with a bidline, or canned block system. Flight assignments were scheduled first, with required flight simulation and training inserted after, which sometimes created significant difficulties in order to comply with regulatory and contractual obligations.

This situation improved dramatically when Air Canada became a launch customer of Altitude PBSTM (Preferential Bidding System) from Kronos®. This comprehensive rostering system takes crewmember preferences into account when generating schedules. “Air Canada’s decision to become an inaugural partner with Kronos in the development and implementation of Altitude PBS has revolutionized crewmember scheduling,” says James Tarapasky, manager of crew scheduling automation & process for Air Canada.

Solving scheduling issues and potential violations

Each month, to ensure productivity and cover scheduled flying, Air Canada pilots are contractually blocked between specified monthly values. Concurrently, strict adherence to federal regulations requiring time off and limits on maximum stick time is a must. Scheduling pilots and following these contractual and federal regulations often proved enormously difficult within the canned block system.

Canned blocks created frequent overlap flying conflicts from one month to the next and did not make adjustments for scheduling violations. “Altitude PBS solved this because it won’t assign a pilot at the beginning of the next month if the pilot’s schedule at the end of the current month will create a conflict,” explains Tarapasky.

Federal regulations also require pilots to undergo recurrent simulator training. Air Canada is now working on a program with Altitude PBS to include the simulator and recurrent line check training into the monthly award schedule. The required line training and simulator assignments are pre-awarded with the regular block award flight schedules inserted around these assignments.

Says Tarapasky, “Air Canada has always strived to be a leader in advanced technologies, and work in cooperation with companies like Kronos to develop these technologies.”

Enhanced crewmember satisfaction

Altitude PBS allows an airline to customize its crewmember scheduling system with over 100 bid options. The customized bidding system enables the airline to meet its contractual requirements and offers crewmembers options such as days off, who to fly with, and specific flight pairings that help them bid for their monthly work schedules and increase their quality of life.

The flexibility of Altitude PBS allows pilots to construct blocks based on their seniority or a fair share system, depending on the airline’s contractual agreement. At Air Canada, which uses a seniority-based system, Tarapasky explains that by understanding the concept of a weighted preferential bid system, pilots can achieve a high level of satisfaction. These pilots go on to become an excellent resource for other pilots in learning how to best use the system.

“This is a highly evolved tool,” Tarapasky adds. “The Altitude PBS system helps to ensure compliance for all rules and regula- tions, and it presents a flight package that is workable, flyable, and productive. We are 100 percent federally and contractually compliant, which is a must.”

A responsive, ongoing partnership

Tarapasky notes that Kronos has been extremely responsive in meeting Air Canada’s ongoing needs. When a new contractual agreement was reached between the airline and crewmembers, Kronos quickly enhanced Altitude PBS to reflect the new agreement. “Compliance with the contract is essential, and the professionalism of the Altitude team helped make it possible,” he says. When Kronos first introduced Air Canada to Altitude PBS, the Kronos staff also quickly got Tarapasky up-to-speed and comfortable with the system.

He finds Kronos and the Altitude PBS system very flexible. “We’re constantly trying to improve the system and evolve it, and we frequently meet with the pilots’ association to discuss Altitude PBS and its enhancements to ensure there is a level of understanding and cooperation.

Web-based bidding means additional benefits

To enhance their users’ experience, Air Canada will soon install a new graphical interface for their version of Altitude PBS. Pilots will also have a new option for submitting bids. In addition to making bids at their local Air Canada base via a bidder interface or by downloading to an FTP server at home, a new web bidding option will allow pilots to submit their bids from anywhere in the world, helping to further increase crewmember satisfaction.

“As the launch customer of the Altitude PBS system, Air Canada has benefited from its relationship with Kronos and continues to benefit to this day. We remain a highly active partner and are involved with new initiatives,” says Tarapasky. “I anticipate this relationship will be long lasting.

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