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Dispatch

The Optimized Scheduler: Tailored Technology Is Key to Efficiency

As technology continues to advance, schedulers and dispatchers need to have the latest resources to keep pace with their clients.

"Many of our passengers have the latest tools to do things faster and more efficiently, and we must follow suit in order to stay ahead," declared Holly Pendleton, AFLAC Incorporated's scheduler.

For some time, schedulers and dispatchers have been able to access their scheduling software remotely and forward phone calls to their cell phones. And the latest innovations, such as the iPad and social media, are making them even more efficient.

For example, Twitter is very useful for newsworthy items like charter availability, noted Dion Glenn, flight operations support manager for F&L Aviation. "It also can be used within a company to broadcast last-minute needs or updates – kind of like a group e-mail."

While having the latest hardware and software is great, tech-savvy schedulers and dispatchers say it's how you tailor technology to your operation that is key to optimal efficiency.

Sue Pickelman, a trip coordinator for Part 91 and 135 operator Pentastar Aviation, says her flight operations office sends out twice-daily e-mails that provide an overview of airplane activity. "That is an easy, quick way to get an aircraft overview without logging into scheduling software, and the information is available on our BlackBerrys for ready reference." Pentastar also uses Microsoft SharePoint to automatically generate an e-mail alerting stakeholders when a risk analysis for a particular trip meets or exceeds a predetermined threshold.

"Know how to set your out-of-office e-mail message from a BlackBerry, just in case you forget to set it before you leave the office," advises Pickelman. "Make sure you have the capability to dial internationally from your electronic device. You don't want to try and figure that out when you are trying to resolve a traveler's issue."

Considerations for Scheduling the Scheduler

Schedulers and dispatchers are often regarded as the hub of the flight department, the ones who keep everything coordinated and on track. So what happens when these key people take a well-deserved vacation, or need to take time off for other responsibilities?

Flight crew duty limits, required rest periods and other scheduling considerations are daily concerns, but flight departments also need to consider how they should schedule the scheduler. Chad Hartke, chair of NBAA's Schedulers & Dispatchers (S&D) Committee, will moderate a discussion at the Association's Annual Meeting & Convention (NBAA2011) on best practices and out-of-the box ideas that utilize the many technologies available to ensure schedulers and dispatchers meet operational needs, but still attain a healthy work/life balance.

The panel, titled "Scheduling the Scheduler: A Manager's Guide to Operational Efficiency," will examine how one-person and multi-person scheduling departments deal with the challenge of scheduling the scheduler. The session will cover operational, human-resource and advanced-planning aspects of giving schedulers time off, as well as the impact of local, state and federal regulations concerning the workplace, including Occupational Safety & Health Administration guidelines and considerations for hourly versus salaried employees.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

"Scheduling the Scheduler: A Manager's Guide to Operational Efficiency" will be held on Monday, October 10, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. during NBAA2011 in Las Vegas.

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