Decision Support Systems for Enhancing Aviation Management and Performance

Impact of decision support systems for enhancing aviation management and performance


Decision Support Systems

Investigating the Impact of Decisions Support Systems for enhancing Aviation Management and Performance

1.1 Introduction

Decision-making in aviation operations management is among the most challenging areas in aviation management and performance. Coordination of flights goes beyond the skills of the employees of an airline company. Decision-making errors contributed to 35% of non-fatal and 52% of all fatal general aviation accidents (Jensen et al., 2011). Therefore, it is vital to introduce a systematic approach to aviation management and performance. The success of aviation management and performance depends on all the subsystems’ strategic functioning within the air space operations. Air space operations consist of airline disruption management, flight schedules, airline operations control, coordination, and decision support systems. This paper shall dwell on decision support systems for aviation management and performance. It shall focus on literature reviews, research problems, research gaps, research aim and objectives, research approach, conclusions, and timeline.

2.1 Literature Review

Aviation management is usually defined as a complicated system with high levels of inter and intra relations between various functions of its subsystems. The objective of aviation management and performance satisfies the growing needs of the end-users. That is passengers and freight forwarders. The aviation industry has, in the past, faced various challenges ranging from stiff competition, fluctuation of the world economy, government, embargoes to management crises at individual airlines. The latest challenge that the aviation industry had to cope with is the corona virus pandemic. At the center of this world pandemic was United Arabs Emirates airline which is among the largest airlines in the world.  This research will address three key areas of impact of the decision support systems. That is, pandemic, technology and UAE aviation sector.

2.1.1 Decision support systems and pandemic

The pandemic has seen many industries getting grounded with some running into billions of losses. Aviation industry has been one of the sectors that have been hit hard with the number of daily flights drastically reducing. Sir Tim president of the emirates airline quoted that in 35 years of operation they have seen for the first a US$ 15 trillion torpedo hit the global economy. UAE had been faced with the challenge of coping with the ripple effects of the pandemic on their business. It is expected that the airline had to develop new technological innovations in order to curb the spread of the virus at the same time maintaining their services.


Bart Elias, (2020) states that the pandemic has greatly affected commercial flights. Most governments laid down restrictions ranging from cessation of movement, restricted number of passengers and other health measures. This has seen the industry lose an estimate of over US$ 15 trillion worldwide. According to Bart Elias, passenger levels of 2019 is not expected to return until 2023. The aviation industry has been forced to think critically and come up with strategies that could help the industry recover from the effects of the pandemic. Decision support systems is one of the oldest technological approach that has seen the aviation industry streamlining their management and performance.


2.1.2 Decision support systems and technology

There has been tremendous technological changes in the world market that has impacted how the businesses operates. Clay, (2017) claims that civil aviation sector is among the many sectors that has witnessed these technological changes. Decision support systems has been in existence since 1950s. According to Hartz, (2016) DSS has streamlined the aviation sector more than other sectors of the economy because of the positive reception that it has received. Aviation management and operations requires a well-structured approach in order to cope with its complex nature. Maryer, (2014) examined that adopting DSS in the aviation sector is the surest way of tackling challenging business decisions.

William, (2018) conducted a study on flight management in US airline operations and the main outcome suggested that flight disruptions due to adverse weather conditions, high air traffic, sick crew members, and airline mechanical problems have continuously cost the country loss in revenues of up to $ 8 billion over the year 2007 alone (McKane et al., 2020). The losses observed in the US airline operations led to the introduction of decision support systems. The DSS aimed at reducing the impact of losses associated with flight disruptions through the introduction of the Airline Operations Control center (González-Andújar, 2020). The DSS was introduced to be integrated with the AOC so as to ensure intervention measures are in place to reduce the losses incurred as a result of flight disruptions.

A study argues about the decision support system’s effects on supplier selection in an Indian airline while other industries requires suppliers from various sources for their supplies, airline companies require suppliers to supply parts and maintain their aircraft. Indian Airlines values the need to take supplier selection seriously, in so doing, they adopted a decision support system to get the best suppliers (Fick & Sprague, 2013). The decision support system is not only applied in aviation management in Indian airlines but also supplier selection. The government of Indian has taken supplier selection with great caution. The main aim of adopting a decision support system in supplier selection is to reduce sourcing costs. However, the study does not touch on other areas of aviation management, so we can conclude whether the system is effective for the Indian airline. Airlines having faced stiff competition from emerging airlines across the world affects their profitability as well as their market share. However, with the decision support system’s adoption, the airline has maintained its operations despite the odds. However, this study does not offer specific details on how DSS affects aviation management and the performance of the Kenya airways.

Aviation management and performance concepts in the UK airspace, which are described as decision support systems for short-term and long-term airspace operations (Stamatopoulos et al., 2004). The author stated that their DSS concept provided an integrated set of models that treat the airfield’s individual elements. That is the runways, taxiways, and apron areas together with a high level of interaction. Their DSS was first tested in several airports such as Amsterdam and Athens. An alternative paper was introduced that highlighted a more effective decision support system, which improved the initial concept.

In the recent past, Turkish airline has adopted decision support systems in its training program for people aspiring to join their crew. The airline always has many of its staff enrolled in various courses (Zografos & Madas, 2006). However, they have had a challenge dealing with the large details of students in their data base. This forced them to pick just a few quantitative data points to complete their tasks. Therefore, a decision support model is necessary to ensure the fast and effective management of their personnel data for better decision making.


The concept of decision support systems in aviation management and performance has also been applied in air traffic management in Boston. The authors collected information on real arrival data from passenger information. The idea was to evaluate the effectiveness of the various models with the DSS. They argued that experienced controllers would be able to overcome various challenges faced by their usual models when they integrate this new concept. Anderson presented a collaborative arrival planner and concluded that benefits from increased communication and collaboration between airlines and air traffic controllers could be significant. More researchers tested the effectiveness of DSS on landing timelines of flights from various destinations. A decision support system could be used to regulate traffic on the runways during rush hours for centralized flow (Andersen, 2003).

2.1.3 UAE aviation sector

UAE aviation sector is the fasted growing aviation industry in the world with revenue estimation of US$ 80 billion to the Arab economy. The sector accounts for 45% of Arab aviation sector with the sector estimated to contribute 620, 000 jobs by 2037. This is according to Jumaira consultants, (2019). Davies, (2018) pointed out that UAE aviation sector is the fastest growing aviation in the world with over 1000 global companies operate their flights in their airports. The sector is broad and covers passenger flights, cargo transportation and aircraft manufacturing.

According to Muhammed Ali Albakri, today the UAE is ranked number globally in aviation services and operations. The government of UAE has been taking diverse initiatives to foster innovation and ensure safety standards for operations are maintained. Jasmin, (2019) argue that one of the initiatives adopted by the UAE is the application of Decision support systems in its operations. Proper use of DSS has seen the UAE aviation sector ranked among the top travel destinations in the world. This study will focus more on Saudi aviation sector which is among the UAE countries.

IATA and ICAO on Covid 19 losses

IATA and ICAO are two international air transport and aviation management body well known all over the world. IATA has been on the fore front in updating analysis on the financial loss of the aviation sector. Like in February 2020 IATA released its analysis on financial losses due to Covid 19 as follows; The Covid 19 had already caused losses amounting to US$23 billion in the aviation sector. They further analyzed that Covid 19 will in the long run affect markets associated with China. This analysis has enabled players in the aviation sector to focus on strategizing measures that would curb the growing impact of Covid 19 on their business.

ICAO on the other hand has focused on the impact of Covid 19 on the civil aviation. They have classified the effects of Covid 19 into four major areas of the civil aviation sector namely; operational impacts, economic impacts, utilizations and impacts on country-pair traffic. ICAO has been working with various stakeholders in the civil aviation to assess the impacts of Covid 19. These analysis enable them to reflect on the uncertainties associated with the Covid 19 pandemic and advice accordingly.

Problem Statement

Aviation management and performance are a wide area of study that entails various air space operations management structures. The application of decision support systems in aviation management requires a more collaborative and strategic approach from various stakeholders in the aviation industry. Various research studies have broken down on how DSS was introduced and how it can be effective for any airline if properly implemented. The main challenge in the application of DSS remains the availability of the necessary technological infrastructures by various governments or airline companies.

This study is faced with the hurdle of pinpointing how DSS as aviation management technological systems have impacted on the management and performance of the UAE airline. From the various studies, it can be established that aviation management is the most complex system that requires continuous improvement measures. Changes in technology make it even more complex on how to address emerging trends in the industry. The studies suggest that the DSS was developed way back as far as the 1950s. This indicates that some of the models are either obsolete or they are simply less effective in today’s air space operations. How DSS is going to impact on the management and performance of the aviation industry during this time of pandemic is the main center of this research study.

UAE airline is among the world fast growing airlines due to its performance and the traffic flow recorded annually. How the airline is prepared to cope with the fast changing technology is also another question of concern. With the rise of globalization in the world economy it is prudent for a company to prepare itself for any outcome of technological advancements. The main impact of decision support system is the rate in which aviation management challenges and performance have been handled during this pandemic period. It is now time to investigate the impacts of decision support systems on enhancing aviation management and performance at the UAE airline.

Research gap

The decision support system is not a new concept in the aviation industry. It has gained preeminence over the years since its adoption in the early 1950s. Various researchers, such as Nogami, (2013) researched on how DSS can be used in air traffic planning. Weigang, (2012) gave a very detailed description of how DSS can be used to ensure a smooth flow of air traffic. While Ansola, (2012) addressed how disturbance issues on flight schedules can be addressed using this concept. Other researchers worked on delaying flights due to adverse weather conditions, mechanical challenges, sick crew members, and so on. There was no single study that addressed a comprehensive approach to how the DSS concept can be adopted in the entire aviation management and performance system (Ansola et al., 2012).

The core of this study is now to establish the impacts of decision support systems in aviation management and performance of UAE airline. This is the area of research that is yet to be addressed by other researchers. There is academic gap in analyzing how technology has impacted the aviation industry during this time of the pandemic.  A decision support system should be able to enable demand forecasting for an airline company. They should be able to predict future trends in the industry based on recent performance (Weigang et al., 2008). The study seek to assess the impact of this technological innovation, which is DSS has impacted the aviation industry during this pandemic period.


Aim of the study

This study aims to investigate the impacts of adopting decision support system in aviation management and performance in the UAE aviation sector.


Research objectives

Specific objectives of this study shall include the following;


Research Approach

This study will adopt both quantitative and qualitative research approaches. The study requires collecting numerical data on various aspects of decision support systems concerning aviation management and performance. On the other hand, a qualitative approach will be required to analyze various characteristics that emerge during the study necessary to conclude the study. Therefore, a quantitative and qualitative approach is necessary for this kind of study. The quantitative approach will involve designing of research questionnaires that will be used to collect primary data from the respondents. The research will sample a few staffs of UAE airline companies that have their presence in one particular region.  A sample population that sufficient enough to draw conclusions about the outcome of the study will be selected. The researcher will then draft structured questionnaires that will aid in data collection. The collected data will be analyzed and presented in tables, charts, and graphs.

On the other hand, the study will adopt a qualitative approach to help analyze various systems and trends in the target firms under study. The researcher will also obtain secondary data from company’s websites, journals, and magazines. All the information will then be used to supplement quantitative data for effective research outcomes. The qualitative approach will act as a measure of the reliability of the quantitative approach.


A decision support system is a collaborative approach that requires well-defined strategies. It should establish subsystems within the main system to help cover every step of the decision-making process in aviation management. The subsystems are referred to as models such as user-based models, agent-based modeling and simulations, and flight booking models. These three models define the entire operations of aviation management and performance. Therefore, it is paramount to ensure that every aspect of airline operation is covered in the decision support systems.

The study aims at investigating the impact of decision support system on enhancing the performance of aviation industry. The key areas of impact of decision support systems include the following;

  • Technology
  • Pandemic, and
  • UAE airline.

The adoption of decision support systems is a good gesture in establishing competitive strategies for an individual airline in the air space. Firms that expect to survive in the ever-growing competition in the market ought to adopt strategies such as decision support systems, which has been proven by many researchers to be effective in streamlining aviation management and performance. DSS needs have been researched over the years and applied in various sectors of aviation management.



Gantt Chart

This chart indicates the research schedule from start to the end of the study


Activity January – March 2021 March – July 2021 August – December 2021 January – April 2022 May –July 2022 August 2022 – January 2023 Feb to May 2023 June – August 2023 September –



Planning for the thesis
Presentation and writing of the research proposal draft
Critique of the literature and final proposal writing
Drafting and testing of questionnaires
Obtaining research permit and administering questionnaires
Data collection
Data capture
Data analysis
Data presentation
Printing and binding
Submitting the research report