Do you think the turnaround process could be faster, while still maintaining the highest level of safety? Can your airport handle more aircraft? Ask ADB Safegate Group and the answer will be yes. Modern apron management solutions and advanced visual docking guidance system are both vital to speed up turnaround efficiency and decrease the risk of delay – a gain for airport stakeholders as well as for the passengers.

Aircraft turnaround – the major driver of departure delays

The aircraft turnaround process is defined as a sequence of sub-processes, ground operations activities, required for handling an aircraft with its passengers and baggage, from the moment it arrives at its gate until the moment for departure. The turnaround process involves a number of stakeholders and the detailed description of duties, responsibilities and tasks, and their relation in this chain of ground operations activities are contained in the aircraft turnaround plan to ensure the safety, security and efficiency of such operations, as well as compliance with the requirements of airlines and relevant authorities.

Different studies identify the aircraft turnaround as the major driver of departure delays that affect the efficient airport and air traffic management (ATM) network. Reliable information sharing between all involved stakeholders is necessary to mitigate such inefficiencies. EUROCONTROL’s Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) concept is an initiative to provide all stakeholders involved in the turnaround process with reliable information to better coordinate their actions and mitigate delays due to inefficiencies of the aircraft turnaround.

Apron management Solutions key in A-CDM process

The docking guidance system – originally designed to increase safety by automating the docking of aircraft, together with the apron management system, both have important roles to play in the CDM-process and where they feed the system with real time data, share it and displays it visually for the accurate stakeholders.

Before an aircraft lands, staff can check gate availability with the help of SafeControl Apron Management, and report back to the pilot. If the gate is unavailable, it’s possible to change the gate without causing delays, and keep the flow going.

The gate is prepared for arrival as the system checks compatibility at adjacent gates and ensures the passenger boarding bridge is in a safe position for the expected aircraft. SafeControl Apron Management also lets you monitor whether applicable stand equipment such as the ground power unit and preconditioned air are available and ready to use.

Before the aircraft arrives at the gate, the advanced visual docking and guidance system (A-VDGS) can perform an apron scan, checking for obstacles in the way. If obstacles are found, they can be removed in time before the aircraft arrives, improving safety and ensuring no disruption in the flow of events. While the docking system guides the aircraft to the gate, it conducts an aircraft safety verification, making sure the aircraft is compatible with gate configurations and can dock in a safe and efficient way.

Without delay, the docking system visually guides the pilot safely to the correct parking position for the aircraft. …and verifies the position of the aircraft. Docking is completed. When the aircraft is blocked in, the docking system can send information to the passenger boarding bridge about the actual parking position to ensure that the passenger boarding bridge can be safely docked.

Before and after the docking procedure, the docking system displays useful information for pilots and ground personnel through the Ramp Information Display System. Information displayed can include target off-block time and target start-up approval time. Equally importantly, the system can also display a time-remaining countdown to these target times. Sharing real-time data is critical to controlling and monitoring the turnaround process and meeting the target off-block time.

While ground personnel are preparing the aircraft for departure, the Apron Management system monitors, tracks and reports important turnaround milestones such as the status of the passenger boarding bridge, ground power units and pre-conditioned air. On departure, the Apron Management System feeds the docking system with real-time information to display such as target off-block time. When it detects movement of the aircraft, the actual block-off time is recorded and the Apron Management system provides gate status for all relevant personnel.

Shorten time at gate and increase aircraft throughput

Thanks to an efficient flow of movements, the systems help shorten the time aircraft spend at the gate and turn aircraft faster, while maintaining a high level of safety and avoiding accidents by the gate. The information sharing facilitates effective planning that enables the aircraft to handle more aircraft. Delay is avoided and operational costs reduced.