Sabre’s Technology Gives Airlines the ‘Connected Crew’

The next generation of crew management

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Crew management has never been a straightforward job. The ripple effect of disruptions can split crews apart, dealing a blow to any given flight’s crew manifest. Crew controllers are the wizards behind the curtain, moving the pieces as seamlessly as possible to keep an airline operationally sound.

From generally being considered a cost center, crew controllers now have technology to improve airline profitability while also enhancing the passenger experience. New technological advancements are an integral part of the solution, which will give airlines a fully connected crew. This type of connectivity empowers airlines to respond to the dynamic changes of their operations and also meet crewmembers’ personal workplace expectations.

Current solutions help airlines manage crews; however, they do not allow for any tactical creativity or data-enabled decisions that might save costs or improve the passenger experience.

The range of current solutions that are used by airlines around the world do not include advanced alerting capabilities, and the mobile functionality of that range of solutions is limited. Often, airlines use disjointed technology from multiple “vendors” to access some of these specialized capabilities.

Today’s product options also tend to be difficult to install, migrate from, upgrade and maintain. As a result, airlines have come to terms with using technology that was developed decades ago, with modifications and integrations to help them keep up with the times.

It is a technology landscape in obvious need of drastic change — one that Sabre recognizes as a “paradigm shift” — to bring it into harmony with a modern airlines’ operations and crew management needs. Airlines need a single modern platform, supported by a technology partner that proactively helps achieve the airline’s goals.

WHAT IS CREW MANAGER?

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The new Sabre AirCentre Crew Manager platform provides this much-needed paradigm shift. The platform is a broad range of best-in-class capabilities, built with 21st-century architecture that harnesses modern technological innovations and ensures future scalability and value.

Crew Manager is built on the principles of “simplify,” “integrate” and “go mobile.” These principles constitute a guiding philosophy, which has distilled decades of experience building airline technology into the Crew Manager DNA. The solution is built to enable what we call “the connected crew.” It will help improve crew productivity, airline profitability and, ultimately, the passenger experience.

SIMPLIFY

Under the principle of “simplify,” Crew Manager complements and enhances the abilities of crew controllers. Innovations and features in the intuitive Crew Manager interface are meant to help crew controllers manage by exception, thereby improving productivity.

One of the system’s revolutions is a simplified pairing-creation process for repeatable schedules. For example, if a crew controller has crew pairings (groups of flights taken by a crewmember) that are repeatable on a daily or weekly basis, time could be saved by batch-processing those pairings instead of repeating the exercise for every day or week.

The platform includes a tracking interface that features a range of productivity-enhancing innovations and a native mobile app that helps increase crew productivity and crew quality of life.

Crew Manager enables a controller to achieve this task with “batch-pairing and frequency editing … ”

Crew Manager enables a controller to achieve this task with “batch-pairing and frequency editing,” a simple feature that can significantly boost productivity. Crew controllers have complete control and can build customized schedule templates that fit the airline’s specific needs. They can visualize and fully preview pairings within the roster view before publishing the results to the crew.

Additionally, controllers can perform a number of everyday jobs such as assigning multiple tasks at once to a crewmember or reassigning a task using simple keyboard shortcuts rather than the more time-consuming, manual methods in general practice today. Crew Manager’s simple, insightful features and shortcuts were built based on direct experience and feedback from users to help simplify users’ duties.

On current systems, if a crew controller makes even minor changes, he or she must republish the entire schedule to put the changes in effect. Using Crew Manager, controllers can publish individual crewmembers’ schedules if they need to, or group schedules by base, rank, fleet, employment status or a variety of other criteria. Crew controllers can also remove schedules, when appropriate.

INTEGRATE

While simplified interfaces and workflows help the user, an advanced solution’s architecture should be able to fit, adapt, grow and support the airline’s technology ecosystem and future business goals.

Multi-assign, de-assign, and duty-swap features help crew schedulers drastically speed up the pairing and duty assignment processes. The user has a number of keyboard shortcuts and drag-and-drop capabilities, as well as visual alerts and instant feedback mechanisms.

Crew Manager is based on web-services integration architecture, and all data flowing to or from the solution is in standard technical formats. The solution is broadly compatible and integrated with other Sabre solutions, as well as compatible with third-party technology with which it may need to share information.

For example, Sabre AirCentre Recovery Manager (Crew) helps crew controllers recover the airline’s crew during large-scale disruptions to their network. This highly specialized software is launched from within Crew Manager and publishes its solution to a network disruption directly back to the crew schedule in Crew Manager.

The Crew Management platform, with its wide integration, supports the entire crew-management lifecycle with the most sophisticated capabilities. This includes the most advanced roster optimizers and pairing-generation technology; the industry standard in tracking technology; and a full spectrum of advanced capabilities in training and legality management, hotel and accommodation, ground transportation, fatigue risk management and much more, with all these systems working in tandem.

The services-based approach also serves to minimize the extraordinary effort involved in down-line integrations that often arise many years after initial installation. Modern architecture and integration technology help airlines realize long-term reductions to its cost of ownership and a faster time to return on investment, while at the same time providing the latest technology improvements.

GO MOBILE — INTO THE CLOUD 

The platform is cloud enabled as well, which means it is Software as a Service (SaaS)-enabled technology where Sabre can maintain the environment on behalf of the airline and can upgrade and manage the release cycle without any discontinuity faced by the airline.

Recovery Manager (Crew), which is integrated with Crew Manager, provides one example of how Crew Manager utilizes a services-based architecture to integrate with other solutions and allows for a fluid exchange of data.Crew Manager offers the very best in Mobile Technology to the crewmember, enabling increased productivity for the entire crew network, reductions in management costs and an empowered, happy crew.

Crew Mobile, a new mobile application available as a native iOS or Android app, will deliver convenience. It allows crewmembers to check-in for work remotely, or perhaps once they are within a certain distance of the airport. Notifications can be sent (or pushed) to crewmembers, liberating a crew scheduler from the inconvenience of phone calls or emails and providing a lower-cost and more effective alternative.

Across the platform, information is where it needs to be, when it needs to be there.

The app will always open with new notifications or critical schedule changes that have been sent to the crewmember, and the crewmember must accept the notifications or schedule changes before proceeding, which is a feature that eliminates the possibility of a message being missed.

Crew Mobile, the native iOS and Android app, helps airlines communicate with crewmembers in real-time and helps crewmembers manage numerous tasks such as schedules, travel logistics, legality and duty check-ins.

Across the platform, information is where it needs to be, when it needs to be there. With Crew Mobile, crew members will be able to review their schedules and note details about their upcoming duties while on the move. They will be able to share their schedules with friends and loved ones who, in turn, can subscribe to the schedule to keep up with it.

Crew members can plan off days; bid for vacations; edit their crew profile; track their legality, hours, training and qualification; and much more. While on trips, they will have access to the latest schedule information and airport terminal maps, and they will be able to configure all of these features to suit their own specific needs.

SHIFTING THE PARADIGM

Designed and built with an open architecture and configure ability as priorities, Crew Manager is flexible to be able to scale with an airline’s growth and adapt to its changing operating environment. It combines a number of industry-leading capabilities to deliver entirely new areas of value to an airline, its crew and, ultimately, its passengers.

The comprehensive solution offers sophisticated optimizers for planning, rules management, and mobile and crew self-service capabilities, as well as the most advanced crew-tracking platform and integrated reporting.

As this industry shifts and crew management needs change, the advancements made to Crew Manager enable airlines to keep up with the ever-changing crew-management landscape and provides airlines with a true “connected crew.”

This article was adapted from Ascend magazine and Sabre Insights Blog

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