A squadron’s Operations office is typically a hub of activity and it’s here that a dedicated cadre of personnel spend most of their day working together to write the next day’s flight schedule. Most readers might be tempted to ask, “Why does it take an entire day to write a flight schedule?”
For starters, a flight schedule involves much more than scheduling airplanes to launch/land at specific times and fill them with the correct number of pilots, NFOs, and aircrew. Each flight has a dedicated mission designed to expose aircrews to training environments intended to increase their individual, and collective, combat readiness.
Before a person is scheduled for a flight, schedule writers must determine many details, not least of which include:
- Does the person need this training?
- Is the person qualified to fly on this mission?
- Are the person’s currency requirements up to date?
- Does the person have a conflict with their personal schedule?
- Will scheduling that person cause an Operational Risk Management (ORM) violation with regards to Crew Day/Crew Rest?
Now imagine the challenge to write a flight schedule for 8 aircraft and 120 personnel … trying to ensure flight hours are equally distributed, everybody is getting the training required to be combat ready, and the maintenance department can supply the requisite aircraft. In short, writing a flight schedule is complicated and takes time.
Although SHARP was designed to enhance the management and automation of training and readiness activities with automation alleviating the users’ burden of manually collecting, tracking, and calculating complex training requirements, many squadrons maintain their old habits and rely on spreadsheets, puck boards, etc. to help write their flight schedules.
Last month, Jason Crawford (SHARP Support @ NAS Whidbey Island) made a training sweep through the VP hangars and dedicating training time for schedule writers in the Operations departments on how to setup and configure SHARP to replace their old spreadsheets and puck boards, while maintaining better control and management of their flight schedules. It didn’t take much convincing and in short order, the squadrons integrated SHARP into their schedule writing process and retired their spreadsheets and puck boards.