A Comparative Study of Optimization Models for Condition-Based Maintenance Scheduling of an Aircraft Fleet

I. Tseremoglou, Paul J. van Kessel, Bruno F. Santos

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Condition-based maintenance (CBM) scheduling of an aircraft fleet in a disruptive environment while considering health prognostics for a set of systems is a very complex combinatorial problem, which is becoming more challenging in light of the uncertainty included in health prognostics. This type of problem falls under the broad category of resource-constrained scheduling problems under uncertainty and is often solved using a mixed integer linear programming (MILP) formulation. While a MILP framework is very promising, the problem size can scale exponentially with the number of considered aircraft and considered tasks, leading to significantly high computational costs. The most recent advances in artificial intelligence have demonstrated the capability of deep reinforcement learning (DRL) algorithms to alleviate this curse of dimensionality, as once the DRL agent is trained, it can achieve real-time optimization of the maintenance schedule. However, there is no guarantee of optimality. These comparative merits of a MILP and a DRL formulation for the aircraft fleet maintenance scheduling problem have not been discussed in the literature. This study is a response to this research gap. We conduct a comparison of a MILP and a DRL scheduling model, which are used to derive the optimal maintenance schedule for various maintenance scenarios for aircraft fleets of different sizes in a disruptive environment, while considering health prognostics and the available resources for the execution of each task. The quality of solutions is evaluated on the basis of four planning objectives, defined according to real airline practice. The results show that the DRL approach achieves better results with respect to scheduling of prognostics-driven tasks and requires less computational time, whereas the MILP model produces more stable maintenance schedules and induces less maintenance ground time. Overall, the comparison provides valuable insights for the integration of health prognostics in airline maintenance practice.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalAerospace — Open Access Aeronautics and Astronautics Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • condition-based maintenance (CBM)
  • partially observable markov decision process (POMDP)
  • partially observable Monte Carlo planning (POMCP)
  • deep reinforcement learning (DRL)
  • mixed integer linear programming (MILP)
  • planning under uncertainty


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