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Mathematical Problems in Engineering
Volume 2018, Article ID 4719178, 15 pages
Research Article

The Air Traffic Controller Work-Shift Scheduling Problem in Spain from a Multiobjective Perspective: A Metaheuristic and Regular Expression-Based Approach

Decision Analysis and Statistics Group, Departamento de Inteligencia Artificial, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Correspondence should be addressed to Antonio Jiménez-Martín; se.mpu@zenemij.oinotna

Received 23 June 2017; Revised 15 December 2017; Accepted 8 January 2018; Published 11 February 2018

Academic Editor: Danielle Morais

Copyright © 2018 Faustino Tello et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We address an air traffic control operator (ATCo) work-shift scheduling problem. We consider a multiple objective perspective where the number of ATCos is fixed in advance and a set of ATCo labor conditions have to be satisfied. The objectives deal with the ATCo work and rest periods and positions, the structure of the solution, the number of control center changes, or the distribution of the ATCo workloads. We propose a three-phase problem-solving methodology. In the first phase, a heuristic is used to derive infeasible initial solutions on the basis of templates. Then, a multiple independent run of the simulated annealing metaheuristic is conducted aimed at reaching feasible solutions in the second phase. Finally, a multiple independent simulated annealing run is again conducted from the initial feasible solutions to optimize the objective functions. To do this, we transform the multiple to single optimization problem by using the rank-order centroid function. In the search processes in phases 2 and 3, we use regular expressions to check the ATCo labor conditions in the visited solutions. This provides high testing speed. The proposed approach is illustrated using a real example, and the optimal solution which is reached outperforms an existing template-based reference solution.