User-Defined Flights and Numbering

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3 months 1 week ago #16701 by SPA118
Morning John,

I've been using custom flight numbers as per the forum posts here, specifically Mike's reply and your reply:  Custom Flight Numbers

I don't mind changing whatever we need to change to make custom flight numbers interference free, but I would like to make a suggestion if possible.  In the thread mentioned above, I would use 9PC118003A for a flight flown today.  9 codes the flight to the SOP hub, PC is "pilots choice," 118 is my pilot ID, 003 is todays julian date, and the A is the first in a series of flights for the day (followed by B, C, D, etc.).  My suggestion is, since the SOP is clear that CAT 7 pilots can fly any flight they want in any aircraft they want, can we make sure those filght hours get credited to the proper hub instead of all going to the SOP hub?  For example, I've recently started using 2PC118003A, since the leading 2 counts those flight hours to the MIA hub.  It seems as though a pilot flying a "pilots choice" flight should have those flight hours credited to their assigned hub.

Thoughts?

Eric M. Eder, SPA118
Miami Hub Manager
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3 months 1 week ago #16702 by jer029
Thanks Eric,

I agree somewhat with your wishes for credit to the correct hubs for the assigned pilot, however, I would prefer not doing it the way you suggest, as that combines user-defined flights with the official hub schedules.  I also don't like the current user-defined flight numbering as previously discussed in the forum because it's just too hard to keep straight and hasn't been working.  For the same reason I don't like starting the user-defined flights with "9" as this inflates the SOP flight totals with user-defined flights.  We need to set up a special number designation for all user-defined flights that will fit into our current database and allow for extensibility in future numbering.  This will allow us to track user-defined totals along with the official flight offerings.

Particularly frustrating is seeing pilots using user-defined flight numbering for flights that already have 2 or 3 official flight offerings to and from their desired origin and destination.  While we will need to come to a consensus among the management team on any changes that I would make on this, I'm actually thinking of returning to a system where user-defined flights must be approved by a member of the management team before it can be flown.  This would ensure that the flight is unique and is not already available in our flights database.

Another alternative would be to have pilots submit a flight plan to an automated flight planner that would verify that the flight plan is unique (not available as a scheduled flight) and give the pilot a certain amount of time to make the flight (like 24 hours).  The flight planner would assign an acceptable flight number that would be used for that flight.  This would prevent the almost infinate user-defined flight numbers that are currently in our database.  Of course - this "automated flight planner" doesn't exist and would take a substantial programming effort on my part to put in place.

A simplified starting point would just to come up with a unique first number or letter for user-defined flights, followed by the pilot's ID number.  Then I'm really not concerned about what comes after.  That way we can track all the user-defined flights, who is making them and not have conflicts with our official schedule flight tracking either.  This would be easier to add programtic checking than the "automated flight planner" idea.  The server could reject user-defined flights from a pilot that didn't meet the required numbering scheme and/or was already an assigned flight.  Unfortunately, they would not have the benefit of before-flight error checking to ensure the flight would be accepted, although SPAACARS does allow resend attempts on failed (non-econ) flights that return upload error.  In that case the pilot could correct a numbering error (ie. correct the flight number to conform to the required format and/or change the flight number to an official flight number that matches the orig/dest existing in our database.

Just some thoughts.

John

John Rogers
Webmaster

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3 months 1 week ago #16703 by jer029
I'm looking at restructuring our flight numbering system because the user-defined flights continue to come in with all types of flight numberings that make setting up official flight numbered flight groups difficult when they conflict with user-defined flights already in the database.  When that takes place, user-defined flights will be required to meet strict numbering requirements or will be rejected by our server.

John Rogers
Webmaster
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3 months 1 week ago #16704 by Westcoast
John and Eric,
I too would like to see a little more discipline in our flight numbering system. I have been using my own system (e.g., 387XXX for my early 387th BG flights). An automated system would be great, but might entail a lot of work, both in creating it and in getting pilots familiar with it and using it. Would it be easier just to have a unique first digit for all pilot initiated flights (something unused, say 7), a second digit for the pilot's assigned hub, three for the for the pilot's ID, and the remainder for the serial number for that pilot's self initiated flights. That would forego eliminating overlaps with scheduled flights, but contain all of the remaining information to credit the hub and pilot.

Mike

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3 months 1 week ago #16705 by SPA118

Westcoast wrote: John and Eric,
I too would like to see a little more discipline in our flight numbering system. I have been using my own system (e.g., 387XXX for my early 387th BG flights). An automated system would be great, but might entail a lot of work, both in creating it and in getting pilots familiar with it and using it. Would it be easier just to have a unique first digit for all pilot initiated flights (something unused, say 7), a second digit for the pilot's assigned hub, three for the for the pilot's ID, and the remainder for the serial number for that pilot's self initiated flights. That would forego eliminating overlaps with scheduled flights, but contain all of the remaining information to credit the hub and pilot.

Mike

I really have no suggestions on the actual way we number them, just as long as the correct pilot and the correct hub get the correct flight time credited to them and that we have a set standard.

Eric M. Eder, SPA118
Miami Hub Manager
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3 months 1 week ago - 3 months 1 week ago #16706 by jer029
Mike and Eric,

"7" is a great possible first number because it's currently not associated with anything.  "3" technically isn't either except it's the starting numbers for the FRT (Freight) Hub ID - but with a preceding "F" in front of the flight number, which is not a standard for most of our schedule classifications.  Ideally, we could move the FRT to "3", and remove the "F", use "7" as the user-defined starting number.  There are even SOP flights that started with a "Z" still in the official schedule.  These should be moved to our current numbering format, even though they are not associated with a particular SOP listing other than in the schedule (or just removed - as could the FRT flights).

I'm not fond of adding hub information to the user-defined flights because I believe that Hub flights should be classified separately from user-defined flights.  For tracking purposes it's been nice to see where pilot's interests are in flying.  For example, with the Econ flight upgrade - particularly the MSP Center random daily flight schedule, we've had an increase in pilot hours spent on the Econ flights.  With Eric heading up the MIA flights we've had a lot more flights out of MIA recently also.  Combining user-defined flights with hub flights for tracking purpose will make tracking hub and user-defined activity impossible I would think.

I think Eric and I are looking at this tracking from different angles.  He's looking at tracking flights by pilots of a particular hub, and I'm looking at tracking flights of a particular hub regardless of which pilot flew them.  Both have value I guess for analysis of our flight and pilot activity.  In that case, Mike's idea would cover both bases, as we could still track user-defined flights without contaminating hub tracking data.  We really never have tracked hub data by the pilots flying them - only by the flight's hub assignment and not the hub assignment of the pilot flying them.  That too is quite odd I guess.

Following Eric's tracking method, that still is not an adequate reflection of hub activity as measured by flight hours by pilots of a particular hub.  For example, I'm assigned to MSP, but if I fly a MIA flight, the flight shows as a MIA flight not as MSP flight activity.

I'm not sure if it's clear what I'm saying here...and I'm fairly certain it doesn't make any sense.  I'm willing to try something that might give more control over our numbering though, because it seems to me that a number of pilots don't even bother to fly our flights anymore because it's just easier to make up a flight number and do their own thing, even when there is an identical flight they're flying already in our database with an official flight number.

John

John Rogers
Webmaster
Last edit: 3 months 1 week ago by jer029.

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