Data exchange

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Airports are operating in the most challenging conditions they have ever faced. Increasing passenger numbers, limited capacity and heightened security standards make it difficult for airports to focus on satisfying passenger demands.

As the industry explores ways of optimising processes across the sector, one major initiative from EUROCONTROL – in partnership with industry bodies such as ACI Europe – is the roll out of airport collaborative decision making (A-CDM).

By default, information is the cornerstone of A-CDM as it involves sharing accurate, up-to-date data across the various airport functions incorporating the key stakeholders – airport operators, airlines, ground handlers, air traffic control and more.

By breaking down the turnaround of aircraft into different milestones, A-CDM makes it possible to have visibility of issues which might affect performance and adjust the resources accordingly. But why should the visibility of information be limited to aircraft turnaround? Data can be used to improve the passenger experience throughout the whole process, from kerb to cloud and back again.

Passenger movement through the terminal will clearly have an impact on whether an aircraft achieves its Target Off Block Time (TOBT). If large queues at security or check-in are going to have a negative impact, how does the airport adapt to manage this?

Restrictions in air traffic management routinely occur. How can airport operations manage the knock on effects of these situations and, indeed, can they be predicted and deal with the consequences and the passenger experience within the terminal?

How can assets be re-deployed to facilitate more efficient gate allocation, reduction of fuel burn and generate greater airfield capacity – and how can this be quickly adapted to deal with contingency situations?

Airport operators need solutions that will help break down information silos and address issues around sharing and accessibility of data.

At Lockheed Martin, ‘big data’ is more than a buzz-word. It’s an opportunity to connect multiple, disparate systems; to centralise data and to present information in a way that allows critical decisions can be taken.

Take its work with Avinor as an example. The national airport operator of Norway, Avinor has a network of 46 airports under its responsibility and is in the process of centralising its airport operational database (AODB) into one multi-airport system to provide real time access to data from any part of the network.

As well as easily identifiable operational efficiencies and cost savings derived from deploying a centralised system, Avinor will experience more efficient processes for reporting, statistics and billing; eliminating costly IATA Type-B messaging to share flight details and more precise real time flight information across the whole network, helping to deliver efficient operations for Avinor and each of the operational stakeholders.

But it doesn’t have to stop there. If the AODB model can be scaled to suit an airport network, it can be scaled upwards again?

Lockheed Martin is actively pursuing the integration and sharing of AODB data to even wider reaches. The Avinor AODB will openly share the country’s airport information onto the Internet using service-oriented architectures and web services. These initiatives are based on the ACI ACRIS and similar standards. Lockheed Martin and Avinor will also be publishing these services on an “open source” basis to encourage data sharing with wider agencies, such as Eurocontrol, airlines and neighbouring airport operators and air navigation service providers, as well as other AODB suppliers. This will ensure that “big-data” becomes “bigger-data”. All stakeholders will have access to information on-demand. Importantly, automation based on pre-defined rules will ensure that operations are being conducted efficiently, safely and with passenger experience in mind.

About the author

Alaistair Deacon is the chief aviation technologist at Lockheed Martin. A true airport enthusiast, Deacon has an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of their operations and has been central to some of the most innovative developments in the field. As well as architecting major operational systems for the likes of London Heathrow in the 1990s, he also developed the world’s first ever mobile barcoded boarding pass and installed the first Bluetooth and wi-fi passenger tracking system in the decade that followed.

June 25, 2014

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