By Jodi Richards
For any commercial airport, operating from a consistently reliable single source of data is paramount to ensuring efficient, safe and secure operations, and, ultimately, driving customer satisfaction. An airport operational database (AODB) is the heart and central truth of operational data. It presents all relevant information in one place in order to make appropriate decisions as well as share reliable data with all airport stakeholders. Simply stated, the AODB is a “software repository in which all flights and associated information is stored within an airport,” explains Fabien Betend of ADB SAFEGATE Airport Systems.
At most airports, operational decisions are made based upon data coming from the AODB. “It’s absolutely critical to have a reliable, considerable AODB because that’s the truth of information for all of the systems at an airport,” says Betend.
Operational efficiency is highly dependent on accurate data and that includes all the information that impacts a passenger’s journey through the airport, including real-time flight and baggage information.
Behind the scenes, all operations, staff management and organisation are led by the scheduled time of arrival and departure of a flight – data fed to the AODB by the airlines. “Because all tasks at the airport are driven by the actual time of arrival and departure of an aircraft, the more information you have in advance about a potential delay, the more capable you are to meet the needs of the aircraft,” notes Betend.
An AODB continually receives information from various third parties. For example, if there is a delay, that information is relayed to the AODB from the airline or air traffic control tower. Behind the scenes, the business logic of the AODB is looking for these changes. Given the available information, the AODB provides the “best known value” for the updated time of arrival or departure and pushes that information to all stakeholders. The more integration with third party systems, the better the AODB can predict an accurate time of arrival or departure.
“The idea is to give all stakeholders the same information at the same time in the same place with the same tool,” Betend says. That includes airport operators, airlines, ground handlers, security, etc, so that everyone can make the right decision for the most efficient and effective operations at the airport.
As a provider and integrator of all airport systems, ADB SAFEGATE’s AODB offering includes resource management, flight information display, billing, baggage management, resource optimisation, system integration and operational improvements to ensure collaborative decision-making airport-wide. Relying on industry standards, the AODB easily interfaces with other systems. Its suite of modular solutions enables ground time optimisation, improves situational awareness in real-time and optimises movements of all vehicles and stakeholders on the ground, resulting in airport-wide gains on performance and efficiency by avoiding delays and flight cancellations.
Implementing Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) on top of the AODB allows airport stakeholders to collaboratively use common airport-wide data for more in-depth analysis and decision-making. The result is an airport that can operate more dynamically, thus increasing throughput, reducing costs and increasing passenger satisfaction.
For airlines, AODB offers better asset utilisation, while passengers receive accurate flight information, including arrival and departure time changes. On the ramp, ground handling crews are better able to allocate resources through improved planning, which can lead to reduced costs and maximised profits.
For example, with passenger traffic growing faster than airports can invest in infrastructure, turnaround optimisation is even more critical. Improving aircraft turnaround times depends on not only what is happening on the apron, but also how landside systems are performing, such as the baggage handling system. Having a state-of-the-art AODB that integrates across all aspects of the airport operation is key to that success, Betend says.
Similarly, this applies to the type of aircraft and number of passengers for each flight, Betend explains. The airlines provide the AODB with information on the type of aircraft that will operate for each gate – a larger aircraft means more passengers, which would alert the operation that more resources might be needed at that gate. “The AODB provides business logic so that each time there is a change of aircraft, it automatically regenerates the links between arrival and departure,” Betend says. “This is very important for turnaround optimisation.”
As the industry evolves, ADB SAFEGATE’s products follow suit and are continually updated to meet changing operational needs. As a provider of integrated solutions used in the tower, on the airfield and at the gates, ADB SAFEGATE, with its acquisition of Airport Systems, offers a total airport management (airside and landside) portfolio of automated and integrated solutions. Now, all of the separate – historically – siloed systems at an airport can work as one seamless solution, sharing data and applying data analytics to optimise performance.