The 510 FS is the first NATO partner that OpsLab has under contract to automate the day-to-day and long-range schedule for managing flight operations. The 510 FS is a combat-ready F-16 fighter squadron unit at Aviano AB, preparing fighter pilots to execute US and NATO war plans and operations. OpsLab leverages the flight operations expertise and large-scale disruption models they built in the commercial airline space, to consider long-range training plans to keep the pilots in the 31st Operations Group combat mission ready.
The Training Plan is only one piece of a much larger and complex scheduling puzzle that combat-ready fighter squadrons face. There are also outside agencies that require back and forth negotiations during the scheduling process, such as Airspace, Red Air Support, and Tankers for Air-to-Air refueling. Maintenance is also in the mix, as the total number of aircraft has to be agreed upon between maintenance and the squadron, on a weekly basis, to fly all of the required missions. Each of these variables must be dealt with and continually reworked in the dynamic scheduling process.
“Currently, the Scheduling process at the 510th Fighter Squadron is lengthy and inefficient. While we’ve graduated from the WWII-era use of puck boards and markers, our current system still calls for Fighter Squadron schedulers to spend 30 or more hours per week. This is in addition to the 40+ hours a week that every pilot dedicates to training and executing our primary mission. Moreover, the strategic location of Aviano AB, Italy means that we get called upon monthly to take part in exercises or contingency operations in support of our NATO mission. This often requires our shop to restart this lengthy process and involves our pilots working overnight. A great solution to our overworked schedulers is through OpsLab SkySchedule. I’m confident that this new platform will be an invaluable tool to reduce the workload on our schedulers, optimize training, and ultimately ensure a more combat capable fighter squadron. BUZZARDS RULE!”
~ Capt Thomas Goodin, 510 FS Chief of Scheduling
Additionally, and most importantly, there are pilot constraints to consider in the scheduling. The 510 FS has pilots who are progressing through upgrade programs such as Mission Qualification Training (MQT), Flight Lead Upgrade (FLUG) and Instructor Pilot Upgrade (IPUG). All pilots must fly a certain amount of missions every week to maintain their currencies and meet minimum qualifications. There are strict rules that govern how often pilots can fly and what types of missions they’re qualified to fly such as Close Air Support, Strategic Attack, and Air Interdiction.
OpsLab uses a rule engine to handle all of the asset-based constraints that the 510 FS faces, to build a legal and optimal schedule. This automation is saving the pilots in the scheduling shop over 10-hours per week, and removing a difficult task from their day-to-day lives so they can focus on flying. This also ensures fewer costly mistakes are made due to fatigue and human error.
OpsLab is using the same software that they’ve deployed at Luke, Minot, and Davis Monthan Air Force bases, to help train, prepare, and execute the 510 FS operations. Additionally, OpsLab’s reporting dashboards provide Leadership with situation awareness on the mission readiness of all of the pilots in their squadron.