A Day in the Life of a Crew Scheduler

Every day, Atlas Air flight crews and pilots cross continents and oceans, balancing everything from weather to target takeoff and touchdown times, freight delivery needs, and compliance commitments.

Working behind the scenes on the ground, striving to ensure all this happens like clockwork, not only at the right place and time, but also with enough time built in, are Atlas Air’s crew schedulers.

“There’s no better way to learn the aviation business and to see how an airline runs than by spending time as a crew scheduler,” said Ryan Piper, Senior Director of Crew Scheduling and Training at Atlas Air. “You touch so many pieces of everything.”

Thriving in a busy environment

Crew schedulers and air operations analysts – a new role at Atlas Air – have the opportunity to thrive as they support Atlas Air’s complex flight and scheduling logistics operations.

In a single day, a crew scheduler fields hundreds of phone calls and as many emails, interacting with pilots to coordinate schedules for all flights and assigning crew members to those flights.

Crew schedulers work directly with pilots to address issues that may arise during their workday, acting in real-time to support flight crews. This means crew schedulers are responsible for managing the day-to-day flight activities of crew members while also ensuring compliance with department standards.

On any given day, crew schedulers leverage their skills to make calculations and craft strategies based on weather, schedule changes, and the need to re-position flight crews to other stations. It’s up to crew schedulers to keep everything on-track. This includes making sure pilots fly within flight time limitations, which is 30 hours per week, or about 300 to 350 hours per month, and have enough time to meet reset requirements, including resetting a plane’s flight system.

A typical 12-hour shift for a crew scheduler is full of action and problem-solving. Everything they do helps crew members operate safely, efficiently, and in accordance with regulations. That can mean sending a ‘latest out time’ (or latest possible departure time to safeguard all the nuanced needs within the pilot’s flying schedule) to the crew, operations, and dispatch.

“Really good crew schedulers thrive in a busy environment,” Piper said.

One crew scheduler’s perspective

For Timea Kovach, a manager of crew scheduling at Atlas Air, the excitement of being a crew scheduler is only second to the excitement of being a pilot. Kovach, who is Hungarian, was the first woman in her country to get a flight-engineer degree along with a private pilot license and commercial pilot license with instrument rating.

But while Kovach felt she had found her calling working in aviation, she decided she wanted a job with less travel after she had children. For Kovach, becoming a crew scheduler offered her a way to stay involved with flights while pursuing a new type of career.

“The job was a perfect fit,” she said. “I loved the connections to the crews and the airplanes, and I loved my colleagues.”

Piper said Kovach exemplifies the mix of aviation knowledge and emotional intelligence required of a crew scheduler.

Atlas Air thanks our crew schedulers and air operations analysts for everything they do.