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Optimisation of Airport Systems Part B


The 1990s saw a rapid growth in demand and consequently congestion at Europe's airports. This in turn has spurred increased research activity aimed at maintaining or improving capacity, efficiency and safety in the face of these pressures. The OPTimisation of Airport Systems, Part B (OPTAS B) Concerted Action was initiated by the European Commission under the Transport RTD Programme of Framework 4, in order to achieve an overview of the current state of these research activities, so as to assist in establishing priorities for future research.
Of these, the Workshops constituted the core of the project. They provided an invaluable forum for the sharing and dissemination of knowledge and for debate between representatives with different viewpoints. It was therefore possible to elicit contributions from all of the major stakeholders in airport research:
* Airport operators
* Air traffic control providers
* Airlines
* Research institutes
* Manufacturers
* Specialist consultancies
* The European Commission
* Regulatory agencies
The presentations and discussions at the Workshops covered the following subject areas:
* Passenger handling (including the handling of Persons with Reduced Mobility, new initiatives for passenger security, future terminal design)
* Environmental Impact
* A-SMGCS and related issues
* The use of simulation and modelling
* Operational procedures (APATSI, HALS/DTOP)
* ATFM (CFMU, Gate to Gate)
* Information Management (including Collaborative Decision Making (CDM))
* The role of airports in the Single European Sky
In these discussions, it became clear that it is not always possible to discuss research in isolation from the policy objectives which the research is intended to support. For this reason, a panel of senior decision-makers from a range of stakeholder organisations were invited to contribute to a discussion during the final session of the last Workshop.
The closing discussion served to draw together the findings of the project as a whole. OPTAS B has thus succeeded in bringing together a sufficiently wide range of viewpoints and backgrounds to achieve a broadly based overview of the scope and future direction of airport related research. A number of key findings can be identified:
* The need for a top-down and system approach to the definition of research priorities, in order to promote a common "road map" for continued research and to foster the dissemination of best practice. It is recognised that this must be managed within the international regulatory framework of ICAO, with clear direction from the European bodies, including the European Commission and Eurocontrol.
* The need for standardisation of
* requirements for passenger mobility and security issues
* safety levels procedures, with a risk based approach to implementation
* airport capacity models
* The need for commonly agreed definitions and metrics for:
* airspace and airport capacity
* movement rate
* passenger throughput
* The need to remove existing barriers to communication between stakeholders. In particular, there is widely felt to be a need to extend the concept of CDM to the harmonisation of planning over the medium and long terms and at the strategic level. This will require the establishment of channels for information exchange which do not currently exist.
* The need for greater flexibility in the functionality provided by the CFMU. In part, this concerns the greater sharing of information between airports and the CFMU.
* A-SMGCS is seen as an important enabling system for surface movement solutions, for enhancing airport capacity and reducing emissions. Its continued development and introduction into service needs to be supported by:
* a tangible cost/benefit analysis
* the establishment of a common/flexible implementation methodology
* contribution to AOPG PT/2 in the development of requirements
* The importance of current work on Arrival, Departure and Surface Management planning tools (AMAN/DMAN/SMAN) is recognised, but these tools need to be integrated.
* The role of Eurocontrol is key to many of these issues. Although it is recognised that Eurocontrol is working as well as possible within its present funding constraints (triple 0), it must provide sufficient resources to tackle all the priority issues adequately. The high priority items should be given equal weight and not further prioritised. More support and collaboration is required between the European Commission and Eurocontrol, cutting out the red tape.
The work programme for the project comprised two strands:
a) a series of 4 Workshops attended by delegates nominated by the Member States, representatives of relevant international organisations and invited specialist speakers,
b) supporting technical analysis leading to the production of technical briefing documents in advance of each Workshop, and the maintenance of a database of relevant research studies, hosted on the project Website (

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