Travellers and consumers in the United Kingdom often see the public face of the airlines as ticket agents, flight attendants, and pilots. However, there are many more professionals that make the UK airline industry work efficiently. Baggage handlers allow people to have all of their possessions by the time they land at their destination. Mechanics keep airliners safe and sound for millions of travellers every year. Perhaps the most overlooked professional in the major airlines is that of the crew roster manager. Crew rosters establish the crew rotation and schedule for an airline. Young professionals entering this job need to understand the challenges faced on a daily basis before heading into the workplace.
Crew rosters start with the basic challenge of meeting national and international aviation regulations in setting up schedules. Flight crews need to be in the air under a certain number of hours each day and need days off after a certain number of days on the job. As well, rosters need to stay updated on health issues with individual workers as well as vacation days mandated by a professionals contract. In all, there are a number of bureaucratic land mines in which a crew rosterer needs to avoid in setting up a daily schedule.
Beyond regulatory issues, crew rosters also need to take into account heavy and slow seasons for an airline. There are many times in the year where additional crews are needed and maintenance staff needs to be increased to deal with heavier traffic for an airline. Winter and summer holiday seasons require more flights and a higher number of mechanics to keep up with routine procedures. The bureaucratic and chronological issues involved with crew rostering in the United Kingdom are quite daunting for even the best crew rosterer.
More experienced crew rosterers would tell those just entering the profession that it is not all regulatory guidelines and holiday breaks. Crew rosterers need to develop a keen sense of putting the right people on various flights and on various projects. For example, a rosterer for an international airline needs to look at the experience level of various flight crews to determine their ability to deal with more difficult routes. Routes from London to place in Asia and Africa require experienced pilots and flight attendants who are accustomed to long flights. Rosterers can let younger crews get flights under their belt on European flights or regional flights. This nuanced approach to rostering comes with experience, though young professionals can begin to develop this knowledge by asking their supervisors and studying the rostering process.