Collaboration takes flight

A partnership with Jazz Aviation

- March 10, 2014

Left to right: Lisa Vad, Mark Manser, Elizabeth Croteau, Claver Diallo. (Nick Pearce photo)
Left to right: Lisa Vad, Mark Manser, Elizabeth Croteau, Claver Diallo. (Nick Pearce photo)

Each day, Jazz Aviation, a contract carrier for Air Canada, operates approximately 750 flights across North America, carrying roughly 30,000 passengers. Helping keep those planes in the air: Dalhousie professors and students.

Claver Diallo, associate professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering, has been working with Jazz Aviation for many years. His work focuses on developing decision-support tools for the management of aircraft maintenance operations.

Dr. Diallo explains that repairs and maintenance are critical to keeping Jazz Aviation’s planes up and running, and like all commercial carriers the company must avoid costly delays wherever and whenever possible. This means ensuring replacement parts are always available for aircraft at their take-off and landing destinations — a feat which can be expensive if planned poorly, since having excess parts on hand can lead to obsolete or expired inventory.  

“Industrial Engineering is about improving the efficiency of any industry,” says Dr. Diallo. “Whether it’s airlines, manufacturing or healthcare — if there is an opportunity to improve, we can contribute.”

In 2008, Jazz Aviation began hiring co-op students from Dal’s Industrial Engineering program. The company has hosted over a dozen students since then, employing five of them full-time following graduation.

Tackling real-world problems

Mark Manser is one of the most recent students to be hired by Jazz Aviation for his work as part of his master’s project. He’s been developing an algorithm to simulate flights and test different possible allocation policies for spare parts to see which are the most effective and efficient.

“Being involved in this university-industry partnership provided me with the opportunity to work on a real-world problem with a large scope,” says Manser.

The company has had great experiences working with Dal students.

“It all started in 2005 with the hiring of two fresh I.E. graduates out of Dal,” says Lisa Vad, manager of continuous improvement and project management at Jazz Aviation. “From this decision came the realization that this [industrial engineering] skill set was extremely valuable to have onsite.”

The partnership has continued to grow, thanks to multiple grants awarded by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the supervision time and available data offered by Jazz Aviation and their employees, and Engineering professors Eldon Gunn and Alireza Ghasemi.

“We are hoping to keep on strengthening this relationship and ensuring that the students produce the best quality deliverables possible,” says Dr. Diallo. “To work with and learn from the leader in the regional airline industry is a big win.”


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