An airport operational database (AODB) is the heart and central truth of operational data. It´s a “software repository in which all flights and associated information is stored within an airport”. 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. Read the interview with Fabien Betand, Head of Products & Solutions Development at ADB SAFEGATE Airport Systems.
Operational efficiency dependent on accurate data
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.
An airport operational database (AODB) 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 truth 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 organization 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 software 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. “We have logic behind the scene that is saying that this update is more reliable and so this critical information is shared by all stakeholders on an airport,” explains Betend. “The more integration you have with the third party systems, the better your AODB will be able to predict an accurate time of arrival and departure,” he adds.
The idea is to give all stakeholders the same information at the same time in the same place with the same tool.The AODB is the center of that.
“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. “The AODB is the center of that.”
Suite of modular solutions to easily interface with other systems
As a provider and integrator of all airport systems, ADB SAFEGATE’s AODB offering includes resource management, flight information display, billing, baggage management, resource optimization, system integration and operational improvements to ensure collaborative decision making airport-wide. Relying on industry standards, the AODB easily interfaces with other systems, Betend notes. Its suite of modular solutions enables ground time optimization, improves situational awareness in real-time and optimizes movements of all vehicles and stakeholders on the ground, resulting in airport-wide gains on performance and efficiency by avoiding delays and flight cancellations.
ADB SAFEGATE’s AODB is capable of all requirements of EUROCONTROL’s Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) initiative, Betend says. With Total Airport Management, A-CDM builds upon the AODB to allow airports to apply advanced analytics to the vast amounts of data collected from the AODB, tower, gate and airfield to improve operational efficiency even further.
Implementing an A-CDM on top of the AODB will allow 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.
The AODB integrates across all aspects of the airport operation providing critical information to airlines
For the airlines, AODB offers better asset utilization, 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 maximized profits.
For example, with passenger traffic growing faster than airports can invest in infrastructure, turnaround optimization 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, that process 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 particular gate — a larger aircraft means more passengers, which would alert the operation that more resources might be needed at that gate. “The type of aircraft and number of passengers are also very important when you are planning your operation,” he relates.
We provide some 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 optimization.
Highly configurable AODB
Each AODB that ADB SAFEGATE delivers is configured to the needs of the client, Betend says. “Our AODB is highly configurable,” he relates. “We spend time with the airport to understand where they get their information and where it should be shared.”
Because of the company’s expertise and close industry involvement, the core AODB offering has up to 95% of all the information that an airport may need, Betend explains. “But every airport has its own specificities. In that case, the AODB has some pre-reserved fields that can be configured for any particularity an airport might have.” And, if incorporating those specificities into the core product would provide value to other airport customers, Betend says the core offering can be updated.
Every airport is unique with its own operational issues and requirements
Prior to customer delivery, stakeholder or subject matter workshops are organized to “choreograph all the different areas of the operation,” he explains, including the airport IT department to understand the infrastructure and network. Each airport has its own operational issues and requirements, says Betend. The ADB SAFEGATE team works closely with the airport stakeholders to understand the needs of the operation and identify areas that could be optimized through the AODB. “We try to make them talk to us about their problems so that we can find a solution for them,” he says. Key users at the airport are also trained to maintain or adjust the configuration of the application for best usage, he adds.
Constant engagement and a proactive, responsive approach
As the industry evolves, ADB SAFEGATE’s products follow suit and are continually updated to meet changing operational needs. “We are always improving the system, adding new functionalities, services, upgrades and new interfaces to be connected to the AODB,” says Betend.
Constant engagement with industry working groups enable the ADB SAFEGATE team to be proactive and responsive to requirements of airports, including looking toward the future, Betend notes. His team is keeping a close eye on trends like mobile access to AODB information as well as in-cloud delivery options.
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, according to Betend, systems at an airport can work as one seamless solution, sharing data and applying data analytics to optimize performance.
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ADB SAFEGATE is a leading provider of solutions that boost efficiency, improve safety and environmental sustainability and reduce operational costs for airports, airlines and ANSP’s. The company works with customers to identify performance bottlenecks and jointly solve them through integrated solutions that improve airport and airline performance. These solutions address every aspect from approach to departure – airport traffic handling and guidance, airfield lighting, tower-based traffic control systems, intelligent gate and docking automation, services and advanced analytics. ADB SAFEGATE has more than 1,100 employees across 45 nationalities in 25 countries, and operates in more than 175 countries, serving more than 2,500 airports globally.