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Operations researchers say Delta Air Lines’ Song has cut turnaround time of aircraft by 25%


ATLANTA - Song™, Delta Air Lines’ new low-fare air service, has reduced the time that arriving aircraft return to service to 45-50 minutes, significantly shorter than the industry standard, according to a paper being presented at the annual meeting of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®)

"To passengers, this means that they’ll be able to access more flights per day, so there will be greater frequency and more convenience," comments Irina Ioachim, one of the researchers. "For Delta, this means better aircraft utilization. Since the aircraft themselves are one of the airliners’ most expensive assets, this research is important to the company, too."

Irina Ioachim and Wendy Lochart of Delta Technology, Delta’s wholly owned subsidiary, are presenting a paper, "50 Minute Turn Simulation," at the annual meeting of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®), which takes place from Oct. 19 -22 at the Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta. The paper will be presented on Tuesday, October 21 at 1:30 PM in Mart Room K.

The authors used operations research modeling and other techniques to arrive at their results. This type of modeling is especially difficult, says Ioachim.

"One thing we wanted to do as we developed the model was to retain a lot of flexibility, to be able to model any aspect of business process – in other words, to really be able to control what’s happening with every seat on the plane," she says. That was a very challenging task."

Joe Serratelli, Vice President at Song, says the model was important for Delta and Song.

"The aircraft turn simulation model is an incredibly effective tool that allowed us to quickly test, quantify and action a multitude of ideas and suggestions surrounding our boarding process," he says. "We were then able to quickly position live tests around elements that demonstrated high pay-back in the sim. This greatly improved our team’s effectiveness and overall ’speed-to-market.’"

Song plans further improvement to the turn process, according to the team.

Operations researchers use math and science to improve decision-making, management, and operations in a host of fields.

The INFORMS annual meeting includes sessions on topics applied to numerous fields, including air safety, the military, e-commerce, information technology, energy, transportation, marketing, telecommunications, and health care. More than 2,000 papers are scheduled to be delivered.

The General Chair of the convention is Prof. Donna Llewelyn, Georgia Institute of Technology. Additional information about the conference is at and

The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®) is an international scientific society with 10,000 members, including Nobel Prize laureates, dedicated to applying scientific methods to help improve decision-making, management, and operations. Members of INFORMS work in business, government, and academia. They are represented in fields as diverse as airlines, health care, law enforcement, the military, the stock market, and telecommunications.

Barry List | EurekAlert!
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