Philip de Bruin at Schiphol Airport

How can you make air operations more resistant to disruptions? Disruptions can be caused by, for example, bad weather conditions, but also by staff shortages or defective airplanes. With such a disruption, flights can no longer be flown according to schedule.

With the ORDERbyCHAOS research project (Optimising Resilience, mitigating Disruptions and Enhancing Robustness by using Combinatorial Heuristics for Airline Operational Scheduling), we are trying to find out how to adjust the schedule in such a way that passengers can reach their final destination with as little inconvenience as possible. For example, by flying with a different airplane or crew, or by delaying or cancelling a flight. In addition, we want to find ways to reduce the effects of disruptions already during the planning phase.

We do this by looking at smart algorithms that can very quickly see how to solve a disruption most handily. This algorithm takes into account, for example, flight schedules, maximum flight hours of pilots, and planned maintenance of airplanes. These are complex puzzles for which AI can come up with a possible solution faster than human planners.

If you also want to use such a smart algorithm during the planning phase, it is also important to gain insights from historical data. With this data, we could for example see on which flights disruptions often occur and how big that average disruption is. This helps with making the schedule, because it shows where certain buffers need to come and where they are not necessary.

The results of this research are relevant for passengers, who may experience less trouble with delayed or cancelled flights thanks to a more robust planning process. But this is also important for airlines, because they lose less time and money to solve disruptions.


Philip de Bruin (Information and Computing Sciences)

Academic supervisor

Dr. ir. Marjan van den Akker

Grant funding agency and (co-)funding non-academic partners