OpsLab has been awarded a SBIR Phase III contract to automate the flying squadron scheduling for the 355th Fighter Wing, at Davis-Monthan AFB, in Tucson, AZ. This engagement is part of a larger innovation effort to streamline the flying scheduling process for the A-10 MDS.
This project kicked off in August of 2022, when a select group of Instructor Pilots, SARMs, and SMEs from the 357FS Dragons, and 354FS Bulldogs, attended an in-person workshop with OpsLab in Austin, TX. For the following 9-months, the two teams worked closely together to identify the biggest pain points in the manual scheduling process for ACC bases.
“Fighter Squadron schedulers at DM have been using WWII-era techniques involving puck boards and markers to build and execute flying training for the world’s greatest Close Air Support fighter. We at the Wing Innovation Office were able to refine the problem set and build a team around it with leadership support and critical funding from the VCSAF. It is remarkable to see end-users working directly with software engineers at OpsLab to create a bottom-up design that is tailored to warfighter needs. I am excited to see how far and fast this wildfire will spread.”
-Major Bradley Ward, Lead Spark Cell Innovation Unit, Davis-Monthan
OpsLab has a prime contract at Luke AFB for automating the flying squadron scheduling for FTU squadrons, for the F16 and F35 MDS, but Davis-Monthan is their first ACC base. At FTU squadrons, the biggest scheduling challenge is progressing student pilots through their coursework. At an ACC operational base like Davis Monthan, leadership's biggest concerns are to ensure Combat Mission Readiness (CMR). Ready Aircrew Program (RAP), Continuation Training (CT), and Upgrades trainings are often the conflicting priorities.
To meet Davis-Monthan’s RAP and CT scheduling needs, OpsLab built customized reporting capabilities to predict the total number of available CMR and BMC pilots for future months. This provides leadership situational awareness about whether or not their squadron has a sufficient number of Combat Mission Ready (CMR) and Basic Mission Capable (BMC) pilots for a given time period.
OpsLab uses CT, RAP, Training Plans, LoX, and DO Objectives as rules to automatically build and reflow schedules. This automation allows the DM scheduling team to generate legal and accurate long-range schedules at the click of a button. IPs no longer waste time in the scheduling office. Their quality of life improves as they focus on flying and MSN planning. Additionally, the long-range schedule build allows leadership to proactively forecast and manage resources months into the future.
“Currently, the DO, schedulers, and the training shop spend forty-five hours or more building the flying schedule per week, subsequently reducing time to increase tactical proficiency. This is due to a lengthy process that includes puck boards, multiple printed documents, and meetings. These processes are required to ensure an executable schedule each week due to the unreliability and processing speed of the current scheduling software; creating duplicated work, and therefore reducing the ability of the scheduling shop to forecast more than two weeks ahead. The flying hour program is published as a year long document, whereas squadron scheduling is only able to manage one to two weeks in advance causing inefficiency at optimizing available flying hours. Finally, due to the complex processes, there is a long process required to train a new scheduler. A solution to this problem is OpsLab SkySchedule. It is marketed as “An intelligent and comprehensive scheduling platform powered by machine learning algorithms.” The software is not only meant to replace the environment where the schedule is built, but to create an eighty percent solution to the schedule, thereby allowing the scheduling shop to focus the same amount of time on not building a schedule, but optimizing it. It is expected to be able to build an executable schedule months in advance based on multiple priorities and should get more efficient the more it is used. Leadership will be able to pull reports on current squadron status at any given time as the software includes squadron letter of x’s, currencies, and ready aircrew program (RAP) tracking. Ultimately, this program should reduce current workload and additional duties on squadron pilots, and more importantly optimize training to ensure a more lethal and ready squadron.”
-Kelly Wyatt, 354 FS Chief of Scheduling
The focus of the 9-month engagement with Davis-Monthan was understanding the customization around RAP and CT flying. OpsLab layered this custom behavior on top of their existing core intelligence that they have deployed in other commercial and DOD applications.