Simulator capacity planning is an extremely complex task as it is subject to a large number of input parameters, lateral dependencies and training restrictions. In addition, the market is characterized by overcapacities, so that customer-oriented training planning is important for securing long-term customer loyalty.
The airlines book training sessions that vary according to hard and soft parameters with regard to training sequences and times. For example, there should be a rest period of 16 to 24 hours between training sessions for a pilot crew – and on no account should it be less than 16 hours or more than 24. Also, it is ideal for the customer if this rest period has a length of exactly 20 hours. The additional conditions resulting from this are termed “hard” (16 – 24 hours) and “soft” (20 hours). Then there are additional requirements that depend on the individual customer, such as weekday preferences.
Long-term training planning is usually carried out three months in advance. Depending on the type of fleet involved, it comprises up to half a dozen simulators working simultaneously at various different locations. Tailor-made planning used to keep planners busy for several days. However, it required a great deal of additional work to find out how good the solution met all soft requirements.