In 2012, IFS software began helping Emirates Engineering do overhauls on engines. Now IFS is using its integrated approach combining fleet and maintenance management to help Emirates Airlines optimize fleet scheduling by tail number under a variety of maintenance and other constraints.
Manager of Operations Planning Andy Jones says he needs to do capacity planning, thinking about fleet mixes for each country and continent, plan maintenance for aircraft that haven’t even been built yet and plan for airport slots as well. He wanted a solution for all three challenges that would scale from a lightbulb in a cabin up to the whole of European airspace shutting down due to a volcano. “We have a 20 strong-team just looking at the reliability figures of our aircraft,” Jones notes.
Emirates now has 253 aircraft, Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, divided into 19 sub-fleets. “We have planes with low flight cycles and high flight hours, and those with high flight cycles and low flight hours,” Jones notes. “That makes maintenance uneven, so you need to manage your fleet to balance that.”
It once took Emirates planners three to four hours to optimize schedules, accounting for disruptions and maintenance. Now with IFS Tail Planning Optimization and Assignment the process takes a few seconds. IFS’s dynamic scheduling engine dynamically reacts to disruptions without completely re-planning the schedule from scratch.
Jones says the toughest part of implementation was change management. “The guys in the tail planning department have been working in one way since they joined. Stopping them from leaping to the Gantt chart again is a big task. They get 150 change requests in a single day. We needed a workflow management tool to manage those in a sensible way.” IFS’s solution focuses human efforts on exceptions, rather than the whole schedule. The dynamic scheduling engine handles non-exceptions.
IFS’s built-in business intelligence has been vital, monitoring key performance indicators for utilization, ground time and compliance KPIs. Emirates also uses IFS configuration functions. “We’re being asked to do different things every day, and configuration capacity allows us to do that.”
Emirates has hard rules to manage aircraft by airport and soft rules on ideal situations that may be stretched, “The algorithms that IFS have presented us with for many of the scheduling challenges we’re dealing with are looking good.”