by Richard Lung,
Director - Flight Crew ResourcessThe Pilot Schedule, April 1999
While manpower levels and manpower allocation across United’s 10 pilot domiciles may appear to be a
mystery, our strategy in Flight Crew Resources is to put pilots where Aircraft Scheduling assigns flying.
It may sound easy, but having the right number of pilots in the right
fleet, seats, domiciles and at the
The process starts first with Manpower Planning, since this requires
a four-to-six-month lead time to bid
The Pairing Building group then takes over and allocates flying where
the manpower is available, 45
Those are the processes, now here are some of the strategies. One of our biggest goals is to maintain domicile stability. It is costly to the company and disruptive to pilot lives to whipsaw manpower up and down, and to Ping-Pong flying between domiciles. To that end, we avoid surpluses from stable or growing fleets, relying on bid outs and retirements to get the manpower in balance where we have surpluses. Where there are imbalances of manpower in relation to best flown, we reallocate flying between domiciles to use the existing manpower. For example, the Dulles buildup is flown by manpower that had already been bid four to six months ago at the other domiciles. As A320/B300 pilots bid off their equipment at the other domiciles, best flown indicates that we ought to have 25 to 50 more A320/B300 lines, which results in additional bids at Dulles over time.
Also it’s often better given the flip-flopping of our route and fleet plan to reallocate flying rather than reallocate manpower. We did that when JFK-EZE went from a B777 to a B767, which could have meant that B777 lines out of JFK get cut in half, with only the EWR-LHR trip remaining. We decided to give JFK one of the three ORD-LHRs in a “ W” to maintain stable line levels at JFK, since there is a possibility that one of the JFK-LHR trips could get upgraded to a B777 or JFK-EZE returns to a B777. In any event, ORD-EZE going from a B767 to B777 made up for the loss of one ORD-LHR.
There could be some modest early morning/late night flying reductions
on top of this in the fourth quarter, but there could also be some offsetting
opportunities to add flying on the West and/or East Coasts. There may be
another good vacancy bid next month, but a slowdown for about three months
as we seasonally depeak in the fourth