Flight Delays at RegionEx

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Mathematics (HMC)

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In this case about two fictitious airlines, RegionEx, a small regional airline, is a contracted regional carrier for Mississippi Delta Airlines (MDA), a major U.S. airline. In September, RegionEx exhibited a worse flight delay record than MDA, and is now at risk of losing its contract. The flight operations manager at RegionEx is tasked with analyzing the flight delay records and explaining RegionEx's seemingly poor performance to RegionEx's chief operations officer. Reflecting the recommendations of the Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education (GAISE) published by the American Statistical Association, this case emphasizes statistical literacy and conceptual understanding of data analysis rather than rote procedures. Undergraduate and MBA students will use basic data analysis techniques, such as graphical analysis, descriptive statistics, and two-sample hypothesis testing and correlation, to discover important paradoxes in the flight delay data. They will learn that subtle differences in the definition of business performance metrics can radically change their interpretation; graphical analysis of data can provide information about distributions that are masked by summary statistics; aggregating data across disparate sample sizes can skew means (Simpson's paradox); and correlation does not imply causation.

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