Flight Scheduler

I have been testing out the game off and on for a month or two now and of the implemented features the flight scheduling system, in my opinion, sticks out like a sore thumb. In this post I will go over the current problems with the flight scheduling system and purpose and alternate system.

Current problems:
Right now, there are 2 ways to schedule flights: scheduling flights by hand via ‘drag and drop’ or letting the auto-scheduler do the work for you. Both of these methods have issues.
Let’s examine the auto-scheduler first. The main problem with the auto-scheduler is that when the player is using it they have to do no work. After they accept contracts and turn it on they can ignore safely ignore the scheduling of flights without any issues. This is a problem because the point of the game is managing and building an airport and scheduling flights with the airlines should be an integral part of that. Another problem with the auto-scheduler is in how it schedules the flights. As it is now all of the flights in the scheduler line up causing periods of delay and congestion at event the most well thought out airports. Having all the flights arrive at once in the real world would be crazy, why is it a feature in the game?
Dragging and dropping flights manually is also deeply problematic. First and foremost, it is a tedious thing to do. Scheduling flights takes almost no thought from the player (apart from basic staggering to avoid congestion). Players do not have to think strategically about what airline to choose or what time each flight is made at scheduling flights is currently very menial. The drag and drop method also takes way too much time especially for players with large airports. This combination of tedious and time-consuming work doesn’t make for compelling gameplay.
I am not a big stickler for realism in my games but I feel compelled to point out that the current flight scheduling system is unrealistic to the point it is immersion breaking. The main problem is that the system feels arbitrary, flights can be placed almost at random while in real life flight schedules are usually the same week after week. Why don’t airlines in the game care when/if their planes land? This just feels weird.

A possible fix:
While there are many possible ways to fix the flaws of the current system I thought I would take a stab at constructing a potential alternate system.
The system would use the same master contracts like the current system has. After a master contract is accepted by the player, airlines would propose specific flights to the player. The flight proposals would include details such as the aircraft type and a proposed time of day for the flight to arrive (maybe give the player an hour window). Flight proposals would come in two types, daily flights and, weekly flights. These flights would repeat every week/day. It could also be possible to implement seasonal flights which repeat for only half or a quarter of the year. Flight proposals, once accepted, would last for a few years at which point they could be renewed or canceled by the player or airline. Once the player got a flight proposal they would have a chance to either accept or reject it. Players, after accepting a proposal, would then manually schedule the flight using the same drag and drop method. However, while dragging and dropping, the player would be limited to a small-time window to place the flight and a certain day of the week for weekly flights. Flights could be rescheduled or moved gates by the player like in the current system but they would still be limited by the time window in the flight proposal.
This system would be better in a few ways. Firstly, it takes a middle road on workload for the player. While players have to schedule flights themselves, they don’t have to repeat the process each day/week. It is also important to note that under this system workload doesn’t scale much with airport size. Secondly, this system could force players to use strategy. If a player wants to demolish a small stand and make a medium one they would have to plan out a strategy to deal with the flights that were using the small stand. Contract proposals could be clustered time wise (have a peek hours) to add more depth to the strategy. Depth could be added to the game by, for example, having airline satisfaction depend on whether you accept their flights. Thirdly, this system feels more realistic. Finally, a system such as this would add continuity to the game and a sense of progression. After playing awhile, a player might see a plane from a particular flight arrive at the airport and remember that it was their first scheduled flight. Or maybe when a flight proposal expires an airline could request to keep the same flight but use a larger size aircraft as the airport grows.

I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the devs for their hard work and wish them a happy summer.

TLDR: Current flight scheduling system bad, please fix.


@Averlyn, I agree with you that the current flight scheduler is a very basic tool. I guess the developers will look into it at a later stage again.

I like your idea as in the real world night time departures would be limited to certain long-haul routes and a 3AM departure most likely is only done by the likes of TUIfly, Thomas Cook Airlines and so on to Mallorca or Sharm-el-Sheikh. So yes, we definitely need some time restrictions by the airlines. It could also add an economic level to it. Normally slots at prime-time (e.g. 7-8 AM in the morning) are more sought after and an airline could be willing to pay more for this slot than for a 5 AM departure. (and before someone comes and says that slots are assigned to airlines and not the other way around, I know that. But for the sake of simplicity and “fun” in the game, it is better to let airlines pay an incentive to the airport for better slots).

While playing I figured out one more “glitch”. When using the auto-scheduler I cannot tell the system to only use airlines from the ACEOMM mod. It will automatically assign default airlines to my medium-stands. But as there are currently not enough small-aircraft size real-life airlines in the game, I also cannot block the default airlines. In addition, I would like to favour certain airlines over others, but still have a wide mix of airlines available for a certain “feel” of variety. So the auto-scheduler in my opinion should have a menu where you can perform certain settings after which the auto-scheduler works. This could also be something a CEO has to buy via the Procurement Tab!

And then there is one major feature where I would love to see some development for - Swapping Aircraft Stands. Right now you assign a flight (e.g. GW123) to a certain stand at a certain time. Now, if the previous flight assigned to this stand is delayed and is still occupying this stand, GW123 cannot land and has to wait until the stand is finally free. In the real world the OCC (Operations Control Center) of an airport would allocate another free stand to GW123 and swap it with another flight that may arrive 30 minutes later.
I can imagine that this is probably a lot of code that needs to be written by the developers, but it would add a tremendous amount of realism into the game. Again, this could be something that a CEO would have to purchase via the Procurement Tab and that would probably also require additional software (also via Procurement), some additional staff for the OCC and a seperate building for the OCC. But it would be a very nice feature. Especially once an airports grows over a certain size.

In addition the OCC could be used as a base for some other nice features (e.g. improved ground operations, more details/reports on aircraft turnarounds, more options to expedite aircraft turnarounds, etc.)

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When using the auto-scheduler I cannot tell the system to only use airlines from the ACEOMM mod. It will automatically assign default airlines to my medium-stands.

In the main menu go to the ‘Modding’ menu and in the top right you see the option ‘Use Default’, if you uncheck that box while you have proper mods installed you can play the game without the default airlines. But that means you have to have airlines AND shops mods installed from the workshop or locally through the ACEO mod manager.

Like both your ideas and it will indeed add more realism/depth to the game. As I like to built big airports (like to see the behaviour of the PAX/personnel/vehicles/etc and how far it can be stretched :blush:) it’s a real pain to use either of the two systems as @Averlyn describes, so yes I would vote for a change in the scheduling system! :wink:

Please add them as features in the feature request list so people can vote for it in the upcoming rounds.

@Puma. Jep, that’s true, I could simply deselect the “Use Default”. But then I do not have enough airlines to fill my small stands. The real-life airlines available have very very limited flights for small stands. So far (having ACEOMM Europe and Asia selected) I only have Loganair with smaller aircraft. Any tips for other airlines that offer flights for smaller stands?

That’s indeed an issue I encountered as well… I ended up with re-locating the small stands and replace them with medium stands to ‘solve’ that issue. I’ve not found any airline with small stand flights, so thanks for the tip of Loganair! Would be nice if that is described in the contract if small stand flights are available in the mods airlines.

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@JWKIII @Puma I’ve made a couple of small airlines. Sounds Air and Golden Bay Air. They are both NZ based companies that land in to Wellington in real life, so I made them obviously.

I’m currently looking to make a few more as you have both said, getting enough small flights can be quite difficult.

I cannot remember where but Fredrik mentioned that the flight planner will be getting an overhaul at some point. They are looking to make it as a sliding type system.

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Thanks for that!! Will have a look at it when I find some time to startup a game :wink:

To add on, I think a priority system for assigning flights to stands would also be good.

There would be options such as:

  • Any first - assign any flight first
  • [Airline] first - assign any flight, but giving priority to X airline
  • [Airline] only - assign only flights of X airline
  • Last - assign only if all other stands are full

When assigning flights to stands, the auto scheduler would first try assigning stands with [airline] only, then [airline] first, then any, then [other airline] first, then Last. This would not only allow airlines to be assigned specific gates (using the [airline] only/first settings), it would also make it possible to do things like only using remote stands if all contact gates have already been used.

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