What is Crew Scheduling?

Crew scheduling is the process of assigning crew members to flights. Varied levels of skills and experience are needed to run and maintain each aircraft. It’s the flight crew scheduler who is responsible for developing and communicating a schedule for all flights. They direct people between locations by using the smallest number of personnel and vehicles – and as quickly as possible.

What does a crew scheduler do?

Scheduling is challenging for any industry, but even more so when coordinating a flight crew. The airline crew scheduler faces several challenges. They have to come up with a schedule that meets hard constraints like assigning pilots to specific planes. There are also soft constraints to consider, like employees’ preferred shifts and vacations.

Other responsibilities include:

  1. Determine and plan personnel capacity
  2. Plan and manage crew schedules
  3. Determine and develop tasks, functions and assignments for various individuals and groups of personnel
  4. Manage the flight crews and record the amount of time each member works
  5. Come up with a reserve list for redundancy to prepare for emergencies
  6. Select replacements from the reserve list and notify them when they are needed
  7. Manage the placement / schedules of dispatchers, flight attendants and other personnel
  8. Ensure compliance with various laws, regulations and agreements when assigning personnel to tasks and shifts
  9. Coordinate and validate the training of personnel in conjunction with the training department or HR department
  10. Review and analyze reports, rescheduling history and metrics on crews

What skills will I need to be an airline crew scheduler?

In order to handle all of the responsibilities that come with the job, crew schedulers need different skills and traits. While the hard skills required vary from airline to airline, a successful candidate will have the following soft skills:

  1. Strong written and verbal communication skills
  2. The ability to maintain composure under pressure
  3. Have superior problem-solving abilities
  4. Be comfortable efficiently managing multiple tasks and priorities
  5. Incredibly organized
  6. Be flexible, with the ability to work nights and weekends
  7. Demonstrate great management and leadership skills

Unlike soft skills, each airline has different hard skill requirements. But, most airlines expect that you be proficient with MS Office programs and have the ability to navigate flight scheduling software. Having a baseline knowledge of geography is a plus too.

Crew schedulers need to be familiar with compliance regulations and union agreements. They also need an understanding of the various laws, codes and policies that govern the airline industry.