Chicago O’ Hare to increase automated aircraft parking systems

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Illinois’ Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) is to install 20 additional Safedock Advanced Visual Docking Guidance Systems (A-VDGS) from ground service company ADB Safegate at its new Terminal 5 gates.

The 3D technology in the Safedock systems scans the gate area vertically and horizontally to measure and track the aircraft, ensuring flexibility and aircraft-gate compatibility during the docking process. The ability to scan horizontally reduces the number of A-VDGS needed at each gate to accommodate the multiple parking positions, compared to systems that only scan vertically. Safedock A-VDGS have been designed to guide pilots to self-park aircraft accurately and safely for all gate layouts and under nearly all operating conditions, including low visibility. This automation is expected to reduce parking times, fuel emissions and the chances of error.

The deal comes amid a large-scale expansion project at Terminal 5, aimed at improving efficiency and reducing delays. The project is expected to increase gate capacity by 25% by adding 10 gates and upgrading existing gates to accommodate larger aircraft. To maximize capacity, the Terminal 5 gates will utilize a multiple apron ramp system (MARS) configuration to accommodate one wide-body aircraft or be easily converted to two narrow-body positions.

In 2016, the airport’s operator, the Chicago Department of Aviation, first installed 16 Safedock A-VDGS at Terminal 5 gates to create automated aircraft parking and replace older technology. Terminal operator Chicago Airlines Terminal Consortium (CATCo), which manages the gates and ramp staff at Terminal 5, have used the Safedock A-VDGS technology since 2016.

Chris Diaferio, executive director of CATCo, said, “Existing ADB Safegate units previously installed at Terminal 5 over the past few years were very warmly received by our airline community. An automated system like Safedock ensures safe, precise and efficient aircraft parking, which can even potentially assist with avoiding delays as well as ground incidents. ADB Safegate has been a good partner for us at O’Hare, making it effortless to voice our approval of Safedock A-VDGS for the new gates at Terminal 5.”

Doug Woehler, director of sales, gate systems and strategic accounts in North America for ADB Safegate, said, “We are pleased that the City of Chicago has once again put their trust in ADB Safegate. With the Safedock systems in place on all Terminal 5 gates, the airport is well-positioned to expand automation at the gate with a complete apron management solution utilizing AI and advanced analytics to further streamline the turnaround process.”

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