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Getting planes in and out on time

Airport delays create headaches for travellers and the air transport sector alike. A novel expanded turnaround concept that helps manage events in a collaborative way from arrival at the gate to subsequent departure could solve much of the problem.

Industrial Technologies

The rate of increase in air traffic and travel is unfortunately not met by a similar growth rate in airport and airspace capacity. The primary outcome of this situation is delays, largely due to turnaround-related events such as servicing and refuelling. One way of decreasing delays is to enhance information sharing among stakeholders at all steps of the process. In response, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol) developed the airport collaborative decision-making (A-CDM) concept. However, this does not take into account important factors external to the turnaround process — for example, landside events such as passenger and baggage loading and unloading. The EU-funded project 'Turnaround integration in trajectory and network' (TITAN) addressed this limitation. Within the context of its evaluation, the project also identified gaps in the aircraft turnaround process itself. Scientists built on the A-CDM concept to increase information sharing and the efficiency of information use. Therefore, they proposed means to integrate the aircraft turnaround process into the aircraft business trajectory (BT) and the air traffic management (ATM) networks. They then considered all operations taking place between arrival and departure from a gate, including processes external to the actual turnaround procedures. By mitigating inefficiencies, incorporating landside factors and enhancing information flow, researchers delivered a comprehensive decision-support prototype. The resulting expansion of information sharing among airlines, ground handlers and airport operators facilitated more predictable, flexible, efficient and cost-effective turnaround performance. Widespread implementation of the technology could significantly improve consumers' travelling experiences while having important impact on airline competitiveness.

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