Life in Network Planning

In my last blog, I talked about my summer internship in Network Planning. In this post, I will describe important terms that we use in our department. These terms are  also commonly used in the world of aviation!

Boeing 787-9 (Photo Credits: Air Canada)

Boeing 787-9 (Photo Credits: Air Canada)

Each of the 380 aircraft if our fleet has to undergo different types of maintenance that needs to be performed in order to be airworthy. It can range from simple line maintenance to complex heavy maintenance where the airplane is almost taken completely apart. Air Canada does the overnight maintenance in-house but the other larger maintenance checks are outsourced in other countries around the world. In Network Planning, we have to make sure that we pull out the necessary number of aircraft out of the fleet so it can go to maintenance.

Turnaround Times
Turnaround time is the period of time from when an aircraft arrives at the gate of a station (airport) to the time the aircraft is ready to depart from the gate for another flight. The turnaround time usually depends on the type of aircraft that is being handled on the ground. Fueling, catering, baggage and passengers loading/unloading is done during this time. Our smallest aircraft, the Beechcraft 1900D needs 20 minutes to turnaround. On the other side, our Boeing 777-300ER needs more than 120 minutes of minimum ground time. For airlines, it is important for their aircraft to be on the ground for the shortest amount of time possible. The more the aircraft is the air, the more they can generate revenue.

Most airlines have one or more hubs where they operate most of their flights. Air Canada’s largest hub is Toronto-Pearson. Our job in Network Planning is to ensure that most passenger will be able to go to the destination of their choice in our route network. For example, if you are flying out of Daytona Beach International Airport, your only options is to either fly to Atlanta, Charlotte, or New York-JFK. At these airports, the flights are timed to allow passengers to connect to another flight to eventually bring them to their final destination.

Departure Times
Some of our flights have an optimal departure time for local traffic while other flights are timed for connectivity. Air Canada flies between Montreal and Toronto at every hour during weekdays and even at every 30 minutes during peak hours. When we operate more than one daily flight per day to a city, we usually spread the flights throughout the day. Business travelers usually enjoy taking a flight early in the morning and return at the end of the day after their meetings.

Aircraft Types
Aircraft limitations are taken into account when we assign a plane to a route. For example a 70-seater regional jet cannot fly from North America to Europe because it simply does not have the range to do such missions. We fly the Airbus A319 to Mexico City (7,300 ft. of elevation) because this aircraft performs well at high temperatures and high altitudes.

Passenger Load Factor
The passenger load factor (PLF) can be described as “how full is the plane in terms of seats occupied.” The load factor can be calculated by dividing the RPMs by the ASMs on a particular route or for the whole network. You can also calculate the PLF by dividing the number of revenue passengers onboard by the number of available seats on the aircraft.

You are now an aviation expert! If you are interested in Network Planning, you should definitely take the Airline Management (BA 315) class on campus. This course is very interesting if you are an aviation passionate like me.

If you have any questions or comments regarding my internship, you can reach me at the email address listed below. I will be happy and glad to answer your questions!

Until next time!


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Summer Plans: Alaska Airlines

Summer is upon us, although it doesn’t feel like it in Seattle. I have been home in Seattle for about two weeks and I still have not gotten used to the chilly weather! So far, my summer has consisted of watching a lot of Netflix and reading. It’s been nice to have a few weeks off from the hustle and bustle of school. However, I’m ready to get started with my summer internship (and not-so-ready to start my online, ERAU Worldwide International Business class)!

As I have mentioned before, I will be the Schedule Planning Intern at Alaska Airlines this summer. Being from Seattle, I have flown on Alaska all my life, since Seattle is their main hub. I have always loved the customer service that Alaska provides, as well as their company culture (and the signature cheese platters they offer in-flight)! Needless to say, I feel very blessed to be able to work as an intern for my hometown airline for the summer.

Alaska Airlines 737 at Sea-Tac Intl. Airport last summer

Of course, people have asked me what I am doing over the summer. When I told them I will be a Schedule Planning Intern for an airline, I discovered that many people who are unfamiliar with airlines’ corporate operations are not quite sure what schedule planning is…

A basic overview: schedule planning consists of creating the schedule that the airline will operate each day, over a few month’s time. For example, this summer the schedule planning group may be working on creating the schedule for the winter months. When creating the schedule, many different aspects of the operation are taken into consideration. Crew, maintenance, aircraft turnaround times, passenger loads, gate space, and optimal departure/arrival times are just some of the pieces that are factored into a schedule. Another major component of the schedule is which aircraft will be flying each route. Alaska Airlines’ mainline fleet is comprised of Boeing 737s. However, Horizon Air, the regional/sister airline for Alaska, operates Q400s. SkyWest also operates E175s for Alaska Airlines. The interesting part about schedule planning is that it is one big puzzle. In order to operate a profitable flight schedule, all of these factors need to be carefully considered.

What is especially exciting about working at Alaska Airlines this summer, is the recent news about Alaska Airlines and Virgin America coming together. I am excited to see how the two west coast airlines will begin to merge, and create the dominant airline of the west coast.

Alaska Airlines refreshed livery-last summer at Boeing Field before the delivery flight of this aircraft

Of course, an awesome feature of being an intern for an airline is the flight benefits. Alaska Airlines, like many other airlines, provides flight benefits to interns. I have not received the details yet, but I am excited to be able to start using those benefits once I start working. I have already looked at the destinations I am hoping to travel to this summer, so let’s hope some of them work out!

As you can tell, I am stoked to get started with this internship! I’ll be starting on May 31st, and will be sure to update you on how my first day goes.

Until next time,


Pre-Delivery and Test Flight of a B777

MUKILTEO, WA – On Tuesday of this week, our Aircraft Programs team did a customer walk on the B777-300ER (C-FKAU, FIN 749) Air Canada is receiving next week. Our team consists of various managers, mechanics, and engineers. The customer walk is an important step because it is basically a final inspection of the aircraft before delivery.

Air Canada and Boeing inspected the aircraft for the day and looked for snags and other issues on the airplane. We had to put a piece of red tape when we snagged something on the plane. We tested the mechanical characteristics of the seats, such as recline, headrest, armrest, and tray table. The team also tested the flight attendant call button and reading light from every seats. Over 400 seats were inspected during the day!

(Photo Credits: Jen Schuld)

Our Boeing 777-300ER landing at Paine Field after a successful test flight on May 18. (Photo Credits: Jennifer Schuld)

Test Flight (C1)

The next morning, I was aboard the customer test flight (C1) of the aircraft. It is the second test flight of the plane since it was built. The flight lasted around 2h45 with a touch-and-go and a go-around at Moses Lake (KMWH). The aircraft headed West of the state of Washington after takeoff from Paine Field. The Boeing 777 then followed the shoreline to the South before taking a left turn towards the East. At our cruising altitude of 39,000 feet, the pilots performed several tests on the aircraft.

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Flight path of the  aircraft via FlightRadar24.

Go-around at Moses Lake.

Go-around at Moses Lake.

Some of the tests included the extension of the flaps and the slats close to cruising altitude. The spoilers (speed brakes) were also deployed for a short period of time.

Extension of the flaps.

Extension of the flaps.

Extension of the spoilers.

Extension of the spoilers.

The landing gear was also extended during the flight. The cabin started to shake when the gear was deployed because the aircraft was flying in cruise phase at a higher speed than usual when the aircraft is about to normally land at a lower speed. The gear is the part of the aircraft that creates the most drag.


Flying over the mountains in the beautiful state of Washington.

The flight crew decompressed the cabin at an altitude of 39,000 feet with a feeling for the passengers that the cabin was pressured at 11,000, 12,000, and 13,000 feet. The cabin is usually pressurized at 8,000 feet for the comfort of the passengers. At lower cabin pressure altitudes, passengers will feel better and rested after a long flight. The Boeing 787 is pressurized at 6,000 feet, which is an improvement from the current generation of aircraft.

Blue skies!

Blue skies ahead!

Flight deck of the Boeing 777-300ER (77W).

Flight deck of the Boeing 777-300ER during flight.


Flight line of Boeing 787s at Boeing Everett Factory.

I am now heading back home to Eastern Canada for the long weekend (Victoria Day). I am not working on Monday since our office is closed for the Holiday! Next Tuesday, I am leaving the Aircraft Programs team and I will be joining the Network Planning group for the rest of the summer. During my trip, I had the opportunity to tour one-on-one the Boeing Everett Factory! Stay tuned for an overview of the factory tour as well as my first few days in the Network Planning department.


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Aircraft Programs: Post-Delivery of a B777

Last week, I started my internship at Air Canada. I am working with the Aircraft Programs team until the end of this week. Next week, I will head to the Network Planning department for the remaining of the summer.


Economy cabin of Air Canada’s Boeing 777-300ER (77W) in a high density configuration of 450 passengers, which includes 28 Business, 21 Premium Economy, and 398 Economy class seats.

I spent most of my first days in the cabin of a Boeing 777-300ER. This aircraft was just delivered from Boeing a few weeks ago. It is now sitting outside on the tarmac at a maintenance facility in Mirabel, Canada, about 30 miles from the Montreal Airport. I was shadowing an Aircraft Program Manager while he was performing his duties of post delivery. The aircraft needs to be ready soon because it will enter fly its first revenue flight next week from Toronto to Vancouver.

Flight deck of the Boeing 777.

Flight deck of the Boeing 777.

The manager has to make sure the aircraft gets ready before entry into service (EIS). Many tests had to be completed to ensure all the systems work perfectly. All oxygen masks should drop from the overhead panel. Most of the resting was related to the inflight entertainment system (IFE). We played movies as well as the safety video. All the functions of the business class seat such as reclining were tested.


My favorite features of this aircraft are the meal order and text messaging functionality. Passengers can order drinks and meals from their own seat. There is even an option to add ice and a lemon in your glass/cup. They can also buy duty-free products aboard the airplane. Customers are also able to message their friends and relatives or any other passenger on the flight.

Passengers can order refreshments, meals, and duty free items from their personal seat.

Passengers can order refreshments, meals, and duty free items from their personal seat.

I had the chance to pretty much explore the whole aircraft! I saw a crew rest for the first time. On the Boeing 777 there are two beds and two seats at the front of the cabin on the second floor. For the flight attendants, there are eight beds at the rear of the aircraft on the second floor.


Door to enter the rear flight attendant rest area.

Rear flight attendant rest area.

Rear flight attendant rest area.

I am really happy and blessed to have the opportunity to do this. What can an Embry-Riddle student ask more than spending entire afternoons aboard an aircraft!?

Until next time!


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Does your home airport use a common or exclusive use gate system?

Last Thursday in my Airline-Airport Operations class, we had an interesting debate in whether or not we should favor common-use gates over exclusive leased space gates. There are many advantages and drawbacks in both cases that I will explain briefly below.

Exclusive Leased Space

In an exclusive leased space agreement, an airline will have the right to use the gate and ticket counters space in exchange it has agreed to pay a rent on the area used. For an airline that has only one scheduled flight to that airport, it might not be a plus because it will have to pay for the gate while it only uses it maybe an hour per day.

Large airlines in the United States such has Delta Air Lines might prefer the exclusive leased space even though it is more expensive. They can operate their own gates and not bother about another competitor using their gate. Airlines can also show their brand at the ticket counters, gate area, and inside the jet bridge since they basically “own” the space.

IMG_7686 IMG_7688








Common Use Space

At a common-use airport, airlines do not have to pay rent on the space. The airport’s gate schedule coordinator will assign each gate to the airlines. It will collect a per-use fee from the air carriers using the space. Common use airports usually have TV monitors at check-in counters and at the boarding area instead of painted walls with the airline’s brand. They can change the image of an airline in a matter of a second.

Common-use airports can generate more revenue by negotiating contracts with companies who want to show their branding around the airport. The HSBC bank branding is present in various airports worldwide.


Picture taken at around 5:30AM.

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Picture taken at about 6:45AM.










The picture above on the left was taken in the morning one day last summer when I worked as an intern at the Montreal Airport in Canada. The picture on the right was taken at the same place about an hour after the first one was taken. We can see that the airport operates with common-use space.

There were four United Express’ regional jets at the gates getting ready for their morning flights back to the airline’s hub. About an hour later on that same day, we can see that those planes are gone and replaced with new Air Canada jets.

For airline ground operations, airlines usually have to move their ground vehicles around the airport to the new assigned gate for the next flight. Airports often try assign the gates to the airlines next to each other so it makes it easier for airline operations.

That’s it for this week! In my next story, I will close the 2015-16 school year and share my summer plans.


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Let the Final Stretch Begin

In less than three weeks all of my finals will be over, and I’ll have another semester under my belt. I am very excited for the summer to begin to take some time off and for my internship.

This summer, I will be working as an intern in Network Planning at Delta Air Lines in Atlanta, Georgia! I am very excited for this opportunity, and it has been a long time coming as I have been interviewing since the 2014 Industry/Career Expo.

In the meantime, school has been keeping me busy with lots of projects and papers, and things are starting to slow down. I just have to finish my technical report, study for one last test for the semester, and begin studying for final exams. Thankfully, I just have three this semester!

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend the Student Employee of the Year Nominee Dinner as the Career Services Department nominated me. It was very cool attending it and learning about what all of the other 22 student Assistants who attended the dinner did for their departments. Plus, it was crazy to learn that there are more than 1,000 student assistants who work on the Daytona Beach Campus!

SEOTY Nominees gather for a dinner to announce Embry-Riddle's Student Employee of the year

SEOTY Nominees gather for a dinner to announce Embry-Riddle’s Student Employee of the year

End of Class, Research Paper, Interviews, Exams

Next Sunday, during Spring Break, I will finish my first class of the spring semester. I am taking Organizational Behavior (MGMT 317) online. I have a lot of work to do before I can finally rest for a week.

First, for my online class, I have to write a final report of 15 pages on an aviation company and discuss the topics in the modules we saw over the nine-week course. I also have to complete a weekly discussion with my classmates. Finally, there is an open book final exam consisting of multiple choice, true or false, short answer, and essay questions. This is all due on Sunday at 11:59PM, yay!

I also have two interviews this week for internship positions for the summer. I hope to get answers back quickly so I can plan my summer accordingly. One of the companies that I applied to is based in Montreal, so I won’t need to find a place to live since I will live with my family at home. The other organization I am interviewing with is not located close to home so I will have to temporary housing for three months. Most of the companies proceed like this. They will help you to find housing close to the headquarters, but you are on your own to pay your living expenses.

Finally, I have to prepare for tests if I do not want to study a lot over the break. I have a Managerial Accounting and a Corporate Finance midterm on the week right after vacation.

A few weeks ago, my professor in my Airport Management class told us that we would not have an in class final exam. He does things differently then my other professors. We do take home assignments throughout the semester and will have a large final group project that will account for most of our grade. We will also have a take home final exam. I like to explore different ways to learn. In this class, we don’t have to memorize material to do well on the exams since there are none. Our assignments work with real life aviation examples. For the final project, we will play the role of the manager of San Diego International Airport (SAN). We will have to prepare a SWOT analysis to determine if we can keep the airport in its current location or take action to develop a brand new airport. I didn’t know that the airport operates with a single runway and welcomes more than 20 million passengers every year.

Well, I have to go back to work on my final report!

Until next time!



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So Many Resumes…

Let me start off by saying I have never seen so many resumes before in my life!

This past week was Embry-Riddle’s Fall 2015 Career Expo! Everyone on campus was wearing their most professional attire, printing out their neat resumes, and carrying around leather-bound notepads. There were well-known engineering companies there, like NASA, Gulfstream, Rolls Royce, Rockwell Collins, and Boeing, along with plenty of airlines. In other words, it was a Riddle students dreamland.

This was my first time attending the Career Expo on campus, so it was definitely a new experience and I was a bit nervous. I tried to assemble my nicest outfit to give the impression that I was older than a sophomore in college and put as many engineering projects on my resume as I could. Let me also include that during this week I also caught the cold that was going around campus, so lucky me!


Me and my Sigma sister, Frankie, at the Career Expo!

I started off the Career Expo by attending as many info sessions as my schedule would permit. I talked to some people at Gulfstream’s Mix & Mingle, and then attended GE Aviation’s info session later that night. This was a great idea because I learned more about these companies and what they wanted from their internship and co-op candidates!

The next day was the real thing! This was when the companies gathered in the ICI Center and set up their booths. For some companies there were lines all the way down to the door! My friend Matt and I both walked around the Expo together, telling each other about the companies we wanted to talk to and giving each other moral support. I talked to GE Aviation, RocaTech Solutions, Textron, and The Spaceship Company. This was a great experience for me because I got to work on my people skills, talking to complete strangers about my engineering experience and where I wanted to go in the industry.

At the end of the Career Expo, I came out (somewhat) victorious! I received a call later that night from GE Aviation and they told me that they wanted to interview me the next day. I almost freaked out at just the chance of being interviewed by such an amazing aviation company! During my interview with them, we talked about Orientation Team and icebreakers, and also about my experience in Haiti and what mangoes were. My interviewer had me describe what a mango was because he said he was a “Doritos” kind of guy. Overall, I think the interview went extremely well! In about a week or so, I will know whether or not I will be GE Aviation’s newest intern!

Fingers crossed!!

Summer Internship – Last Part

Last week, my internship at Aéroports de Montréal ended. I started my first day back in the beginning of May right when I got back from Daytona Beach. I am grateful I got the opportunity to get an internship only at the end of my first year of college, especially since it was in an aviation related job.

I learned so many new things I did not know before I started to work there. I can now understand much more on how an airport operates daily.  I learned new terms like SMA messages which can look like a text message at the first glance. It is a shot abbreviated message sent by email between an airline and an airport mentioning flight schedules modifications. It includes the flight numbers, the date(s) of the modification, the type of aircraft, the seat capacity, and the origin of the flight and its arrival time, as well as the scheduled departure time and the destination. I also got to memorize a lot of the airlines’ IATA code (2-letter) and ICAO code (3-letter) and the aircrafts’ IATA code (3-letter) and ICAO code (4-letter). I know this can seem to be confusing but gets easy to master with time. I will take Air Canada and the Bombardier CRJ900 as an example: Air Canada (AC and ACA), and Bombardier CRJ900 (CR9 and CRJ9).

Aboard a CRJ900 in Montreal at gate C88 bound to Atlanta.

Aboard a CRJ900 in Montreal at gate C88 bound to Atlanta.

My brother and I both got out of work at the same time last week and my family and I took our annual trip down to Kennebunkport, Maine for a few days. It is about a 4h30 drive from our house in Quebec. We rent a small cottage and we have a good time at the beach and enjoy the sun. We usually go with our friends from home that have the same age as us. I remember when we were younger, we used to build sand castles and garages and play with plastic soldiers figures and tanks. We do not do that anymore… now we play frisbee and football.


Now that I have experienced a job in an airport, I would like to go work at an airline in the near future. We’ll see what happens next! I’m heading back home for the weekend but then I am flying north of Florida next week to go play golf in Georgia!

Until Next Time!


An Aviation Summer

These past few weeks have been nothing but busy. Between my internship at the Port of Seattle, working evenings and weekends at Nike, sleep, and trying to have a social life, I have become exhausted!

Since work consumes most of my summer, I’ll update you on how it is going. This past week at the Port of Seattle I have had the opportunity to do some pretty awesome things! The center runway at Sea-Tac (16C/34C) is being replaced this summer. One day we took a bus out on the airfield to observe the construction. It amazed me how deep the concrete has to be to support all of the stress that is put on a runway. It’s about 4 feet thick of concrete! After the tour, we stopped and got out of the bus to watch planes land and take off. We ended up watching for about 10 minutes. It’s amazing to be standing only 10 feet from a runway on which a A330 is taking off!

Southwest ready to take off on 16L

Southwest ready to take off on 16L

View from the Penthouse of the Airport Office Building. Looking over the South Satellite and a Delta A330.

View from the Penthouse of the Airport Office Building. Looking over the South Satellite and a Delta A330.


Alaska Airlines ready to take off on 16L


China Airlines Cargo 747 being loaded with cherries to take to China

China Airlines Cargo 747 being loaded with cherries to take to China

Later this week we were able to go tour the FAA Air Traffic Control Tower at Sea-Tac. The experience was one that not many people get to have, since the towers are highly secured. From the tower we could see downtown Seattle, Mt. Rainier, and the Olympic Mountains. We also got to walk on the balcony outside of the tower to take some pictures of aircraft and the airport. It was interesting to watch Air Traffic Controllers in action, instead of just hearing them over the radios.

Southbound view of Sea-Tac from the ATCT

Southbound view of Sea-Tac from the ATCT

My other job, at Nike, is a part-time seasonal job that I picked up for the summer. I have enjoyed working there more than I ever thought I would. The atmosphere and the people at Nike are amazing. I have had the chance to work in all different sections of the store, however Women’s and Kid’s Apparel is my favorite section. The only negative to working at Nike is that most of my paycheck goes back to the company, because I buy Nike shoes and apparel all the time now!!!

When I’m not at work, I try to do something that I haven’t done before. One day David and I took a trip up to Paine Field to go to the Boeing Factory Tour. It was incredible to see how big the building is!! I loved getting to see 777’s, 787’s, and 767’s being built and painted.

Standing at Paine Field with the Boeing Factory and flight line in the background.

Standing at Paine Field with the Boeing Factory and flight line in the background.

I am so happy that I have the opportunity to fill my summer with aviation. At the start of my freshman year at Riddle, I never would’ve imagined myself working at an airport, let alone the fastest growing airport in North America! It has been truly a blessing and I am looking forward to what else this summer will bring!

Until next time,