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ROADEF Challenge

The French OR society ROADEF runs a challenge every two years. This year’s challenge (actually the 2009 challenge) is on an interesting and important topic: flight disruption.

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Subject of the challenge 2009: Disruption Management for commercial aviation
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Commercial airlines operate flights according to a published flight schedule that is optimized from a revenue standpoint. However, external events such as mechanical failures, personnel strikes, or inclement weather frequently occur, disrupting planned airline operations. In such cases, it is necessary to find efficient solutions that minimize the duration of the disruption, thus minimizing its impact.

Traditionally, resources are re-allocated sequentially, according to a natural hierarchy: aircraft, crew, passengers. Nonetheless, this method is seriously flawed. Namely, decision making at the local level, concerning one resource, can lead to global repercussions, affecting all resources. For example, a change in the flight schedule, potentially impacting aircraft resources, may also lead to a missed connection for crew or for passengers. Thus, an increasing effort is being made to integrate different levels of decision making. The topic proposed for this challenge follows this trend, since it aims at re-assigning aircraft and passengers simultaneously in case of disruptions.

There are already some instances at the challenge web site to get you started.