Title: Decision-making in airline operations: the importance of identifying decision considerations

Authors: Peter J. Bruce

Addresses: Aviation Discipline, Faculty of Engineering and Industrial Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, P.O. Box 218, Hawthorn, VIC 3122, Australia

Abstract: Airlines constantly face operational disruptions such as delays, cancellations and diversions, resulting in considerable inconvenience to passengers and costs to the airlines. Airline operations control centres (OCCs) need decision-making processes to mitigate the effects of these disruptions. Previous research has examined disruptions through complex computer modelling and analysis, but the results have been limited and have failed to take into account the human decision-making processes required to solve very complex problems. A study of decision-making processes of controllers (N = 52) was conducted in six airline OCCs. Simulations were designed to replicate real life airline operational disruptions enabling the comparison of decision-making processes between respondents. Data were collected using think-aloud protocol and observation and were analysed qualitatively. The findings of the study indicate that OCC controllers distinguish levels of decision considerations which are critical to decision-making. This step is deficient in the decision-making literature and is underemphasised by airline OCCs. The paper concludes by proposing revisions to decision-making models and recommendations to the OCC management.

Keywords: airline operations; operations control; network control; irregular operations; disruption management; situation awareness; scheduling; rational decision making; intuitive decision making; research methods; simulation; think-aloud protocol; observation; decision considerations; aviation management.

DOI: 10.1504/IJAM.2011.038295

International Journal of Aviation Management, 2011 Vol.1 No.1/2, pp.89 - 104

Published online: 27 Jan 2011 *

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