A-CDM Affairs: Avoiding Loss of Attention Span 1

Airport Collaborative Decision Making

Good Things* Come to Those Who Wait

Thanks for checking in on the continuation of my Airport Collaborative Decision Making series on New Airport Insider. Due to business opportunities in the rapidly expanding A-CDM world, I admit I've been rather quiet on this subject… But good to be back, and present you with my take on the most recent state of play on A-CDM, as presented at Eurocontrol on September 22nd-23, 2015. This is part 1 of 2, with part 2 to be published in 2 weeks.

Wait, let’s rule out a potential misunderstanding here; I’m not pretending that you would be patiently waiting for a next post on A-CDM, but I was only alluding on the fact that I was forced to go way back into time to check when the last time was that the A-CDM airport community had the chance to team up to discuss and (dis-)agree on what’s close to our hearts.

Looking Back, We've Come a Long Way…

I do remember the last Procedures Group meeting, hosted by Brussels Airport and wrapped up with a sky high dinner in the top sphere of one of the most remarkable buildings in the European capital. That was 2010… back at the time that Brussels and Munich were the only airports that could declare themselves A-CDM, but admired by an eager bunch of fellow airports looking to implement this exciting new airport efficiency project soon, very soon…

ACDM implementation status 2010

A-CDM implementation status in Q4, 2010 (source: Brussels Airport information session presentation)

Next came a series of 5 meetings in the Harmonization Task Force sequence at Eurocontrol. Back in 2012 and 2013 that was, when 5 years after Munich and 3 after Brussels, still only 8 of us were A-CDM certified. Many questions could be asked as to why, but non-harmonized procedures were considered as the main culprit. Although no less than 19 issues were mitigated (after some fierce debating), resulting in as much recommendations for the Implementation Manual, the A-CDM community realized that procedure harmonization ends where the objectives of airports to implement A-CDM start to fork. The Eurocontrol task force was wrapped up and left quite a few of us with an uneasy feeling about the future of A-CDM. Nevertheless, new airports maintained their focus and kept coming ‘on line’ in the next months, and even the pace picked up. Time to convince Eurocontrol to call us all back together.

Where Are the Ground Handlers? Part…

It took a few gentle reminders, but as it is said, patience is the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting. That’s probably why there were about 130 A-CDM aficionados collecting their badge for the Europa conference room late September 2015, almost exactly 2 years after the harmonization disputes died away. Once again, apart from the local BRU branch of Aviapartner, the ground handlers were blaringly absent at this event. It’s even become kind of cynical, when time and time again the -underestimated- role of this group of stakeholders gets highlighted, but the ones failing to understand this appear to be the ground handlers themselves…

Anyway, Eurocontrol Deputy Head of Airports Matthis Birenheide kicked of the two-day event by stating that one of the event’s objectives was ‘to identify future A-CDM developments’, besides reporting on today’s situation. Since I’m the first to admit that I’m most certainly not all-knowing on the subject, I had some expectations here.

The audience was up for about 15 presentations, but don’t expect me to comment all of them; I’m poor at taking notes during presentations, so what follows is what I found worth keeping track of mentally, and still appear to be doing after all those weeks. Not to worry, you’ll find every single slide here, and I’m providing links to the relevant presentations as I proceed.


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18, and Counting

5 years later. Let’s retake the project implementation status map of Europe, out of the presentation of Dave Booth, Eurocontrol’s A-CDM Implementation Manager. Happy to announce that the Barcelona-El Prat blue dot has turned green since October 20th 2015, which makes us 18 today. And quite a few emerging projects as you can see, but also, some out there haven’t ‘changed colour’ much in those 5 years, and are struggling or even stuck in their attempts to implement. Reasons may vary, but they are a cause for concern and the main reason for avoiding fragmentation of the attention span here, folks…

A-CDM implementation status in Q3, 2015

A-CDM implementation status in Q3, 2015 (source: Eurocontrol Airport Unit presentation)

Plotting A-CDM on ICAO Charts

Something to not let go out of sight in Dave’s presentation are Eurocontrol’s ongoing efforts to anchor Airport CDM in ICAO literature. Most probably, the concept will be logged as part III of ICAO’s Manual on Collaborative Air Traffic Flow Management (Doc 9971 for those of you with a keen interest), and aims to provide project implementation guidance material, partly extracted out of the Eurocontrol's Implementation Manual, to ensure a harmonized approach on the use of e.g. terminology and procedures along which airport data is shared and used in the decision making process. As a measure to lower the acceptance threshold for an airport-centric concept in the world of ICAO, where air traffic capacity and efficiency is predominantly considered out of an ATFCM point of view, the value of this document-to-be can never be underestimated.

Airport CDM and Its Proven Benefits

For the onset (2010), it was made clear that the combined benefits resulting out of at least 16 local A-CDM implementations would transpire in network performance. Given the current implementation status, time for Eurocontrol to invest in a network impact study on quantitative and qualitative benefits, involving all up-and-running A-CDM airports. I put my non-ATC background to blame, so Simon Pickup from Atlas Chase, who supported Eurocontrol for this study, kind of lost me when discussing ‘sector over-delivery probability by DPI Flight saturation’, I’m afraid. But the graphs testify to what A-CDM has contributed to overall efficiency of airport operations… Have a look for yourself and discover the selected preliminary aggregate results here.

Having been involved in the exercise for Brussels Airport, the initiative has also proven to be an eye-opener on data-driven performance reporting and provided valuable input for in-house reporting and visualization of our result sets (if I manage to figure out those Mann-Kendall probability analysis outputs, that is…).

The study will be concluded in the first quarter of 2016, but it is assumed that it will most probably not reflect the full extent of the benefits as projected in 2010 by having 16 airports online. Not because some of us A-CDM airports refused to contribute, but due to the fact that it was expected that some larger airports, such as Amsterdam Schiphol airport, Wien Schwechat airport and Istanbul Ataturk airport would have connected to the network by now, by the virtue of their traffic volume. According to Eurocontrol/Atlas Chase, given what’s still in the pipeline, we are looking at a volume of 20 to 23 A-CDM airports to correctly benchmark the results against the initial targets.

A-CDM benefit mechanism

The A-CDM benefit mechanism (source: Eurocontrol Benefit & Network Impact study presentation)

Next time in part 2, among others, a rather unconventional view on stakeholder collaboration from the Eurocontrol Network Manager (video), Auckland Airport's refreshing take on A-CDM, all in one great video, the FAA's rather not so aligned approach, and much more.

So please stay tuned, but here's a nice tip to keep you from hitting the refresh button: sign up for New Airport Insider, and part 2 gets automatically delivered in your inbox as soon as it is published. In the meantime, I invite you to leave your comment.

*Things that are out of your hands, that is. Otherwise there’s little use in waiting..

Header image: Vitor Azevedo