While air traffic is on the rise, capacity is lagging. It adversely impacts the efficiency of the air transport supply chain. The effects on regional airports are still limited but they will soon face similar challenges as their mid- and large-sized counterparts, as their importance and involvement in ATM-network is rapidly growing. The current situation is not sustainable, unless action is taken.
To combat this imbalance, EUROCONTROL created a concept called Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM), which ‘aims at improving the overall efficiency of airport operations by optimising the use of resources and improving the predictability of events. It focuses especially on aircraft turn-round and pre-departure sequencing processes. Increased predictability can be of significant benefit for all major airport and network operations; it raises both productivity and cost-efficiency.’ A-CDM was initially conceived for congested hub airports and was expected to have a Benefit-to-Cost ratio of up to 9/1, with a return of investment for all partners within 2 years.
Although the significant benefits of A-CDM for all airport partners have been proven in every airport at which the concept has been implemented, adoption has been proven to be slow. Airport CDM went into regular operation for the first time on June 7, 2007 at Munich Airport. Since then, just over 25 airports in Europe and a handful worldwide have followed. Although regional airports are expected to enjoy similar benefits as their bigger counterparts, none of them adopted A-CDM so far.
One issue that has often been raised in the past, is the necessity for the airlines/handlers to monitor up to 16 milestones for each flight, in order to be able to provide reliable TOBT estimates – the most important aircraft-related parameter in A-CDM. The perceived workload associated with this process is a contributory factor in slowing down the pace of A-CDM deployment, particularly at (regional) airports with limited resources to commit to such activities.
Integrating Regional Airports into the European ATM Network
Recognising this issue, EUROCONTROL and its SESAR partners have developed a low-cost, low workload, simplified approach to turnaround monitoring that would be specifically applicable to regional airports. This concept has been developed within the framework of the SESAR 2020 Project PJ04 Solution 1 (Enhanced Airport Collaborative Performance Monitoring) and is referred to as ‘Regional Network Integrated airports’.
At the end of 2017, feasibility testing of this concept was carried out at Alicante Airport. “The feedback on the concept was extremely positive and all participants were enthusiastic about accelerating its deployment into operations,” said Francisco Salguero Alvarez of AENA during the ACI Annual General Assembly. Early indications are that the concept tested in Alicante could provide a cost-effective and highly efficient ‘stepping-stone’ for the deployment of A-CDM at regional airports, thereby providing these airports with access to the significant benefits of A-CDM.
This is the first part in our series about Collaborative Decision Making and how it can benefit regional airports. In our upcoming blogs we will go deeper into this concept, what considerations regional airports should keep in mind when thinking about implementing it, and what benefits can be gained from it.
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