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IIBMS – Singapore and Malaysia Airlines Intelligent System

Case-5 Singapore ANd Malaysia Airlines Intelligent System

IIBMS – Singapore and Malaysia Airlines Intelligent System

The problem

Airlines fly around the globe, mostly with their native crew. Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines are relatively small airlines, but they serve dozens of different countries. If a crewmember is ill on route, there is a problem of quickly finding a replacement. This is just one example why crew scheduling may be complex, especially when it is subject to regulatory constraints, contract agreements and crew preferences. Disturbances such as weather conditions, maintenance problems, etc, also make crew management difficult.

The Solution

Singapore Airlines uses Web-based intelligent systems including expert systems and neural computing to manage the company’s flight crew scheduling and handle disruptions to the crew rosters. The Integrated Crew Management System (ICMS) project, implemented in Singapore since 1997, consists of three modules: one roster assignment module for cockpit crew, one for the cabin crew, and a crew tracking module. The first two modules automate the tracking and scheduling of the flight crew’s timetable. The second module tracks the positions of the crew and includes an intelligent system that handles crew patterns disruptions.

For example, crews are rearranged if one member falls ill while in a foreign port; the system will find a backup in order to prevent understaffing on the scheduled flight. The intelligent system then determines the best way to reschedule the different crew members’ rosters to accommodate the sick person. When a potentially disruptive situation occurs, the intelligent system automatically draws upon the knowledge stored in the database and advises the best course of action. This might mean repositioning the crew or calling in backup staff. The crew tracking system includes a crew disruption handling module that provides decision support capabilities in real time.

A similar Web-based system is used by Malaysia Airlines, as of summer 2003, to optimize flight crew utilization. Also called ICMS, it leverages optimization software from Its Crew Pairing Optimization (CPO) module utilizes Ilog Cplex and Ilog Solver optimization components to ensure compliance with airline regulations, trade union agreements, and company policies, to minimize the costs associated with crew accommodations and transportation and to efficiently plan and optimize staff utilization and activities associated with long-term planning and daily operations. The Crew Duty Assignment (CDA) module provides automatic assignment of duties to all flight crews. The system considers work rules, regulatory requirements, and crew requests to produce an optimal monthly crew roster.

The Results

Despite the difficult economic times, both airless are competing successfully in the region, and their balance sheets are better than most other airlines.


1. Why do airlines need optimization systems for crew scheduling?
2. What role can experts’ knowledge play in this case?
3. What are the similarities between the systems in Singapore and Malaysia?
4. The airlines use ADSs for their pricing strategy (pricing and yield optimization). Can they use an ADS for crew management? Why or why not?

IIBMS – Singapore and Malaysia Airlines Intelligent System

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