Optimising aircraft turnaround time at airports

Mar. 20, 2018

SESAR partners, Indra and AENA, recently conducted a validation test at the Palma de Mallorca Airport to optimise aircraft stopovers and enhance the efficiency airports across the entire continent. The tests are part of the SESAR 2020 project on total airport management (PJ04 - TAM), which aims to better integrate landside and airside processes in order to improve decision-making and enable smoother airport operations.

The test was an exercise integrating and synchronising flight management with the work processes related to managing luggage and the boarding of reduced-mobility passengers. This exercise afforded ground personnel with information on the decisions taken by controllers and airlines to better coordinate their tasks with them.

Indra's Airport Operations Plan (AOP) tool INPLAN processed combined data from the different systems to integrate all these tasks. The plan thus simplified the management of airport operations, including aircraft turnaround and luggage and passenger synchronisation processes.

Merging all this information affords a unified vantage point to oversee operations, rendering a capability to not only detect potential problems in advance but also schedule tasks to simplify boarding and de-boarding with the greatest precision possible. By doing so, aircraft will spend less time on the ground and airlines thus gain in terms of greater fleet availability. The airport in turn gets maximum performance from its resources and can absorb more traffic, thus yielding greater earnings. Passengers also benefit from enhanced punctuality and comfort, contributing to improving the airplane's merits as a more competitive means of transport compared to the available alternatives.

This validation test is a continuation of the tests that Indra and Aena have already undertaken at this airport to integrate the global passenger process (check-in, security, passport control, boarding) with aircraft management (runway assignment, landing and takeoff authorisations, fuelling services, etc.). In doing so, they have succeeded in coordinating the traditionally separate ground-based and air-based tasks.

The results of the tests will be used as a basis to design new work processes and harness the potential of next-generation technologies. This knowledge will be expressed in terms of requirements and standards governing the aviation industry throughout Europe and set the pace for the future of air navigation. Once the programme concludes in 2019, the improvements will be ready for deployment next decade for the progressive adoption by airports worldwide as they modernize facilities to become more competitive.

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