Left to right: Rodolphe Linais from Aéroports de Paris - A-CDM at Charles de Gaulle Airport / Ruud van Ooij from KLM - A-CDM* de-icing project at Schiphol Airport / Hans Kelder from KLM Ground Services - A-CDM* de-icing project at Schiphol Airport / Timo Suorto from Finavia - A-CDM at Helsinki Airport / Antonio Nuzzo from ENAV - A-CDM at Roma Fiumicino Airport / Paul Wiegant from KLM - A-CDM* de-icing project at Schiphol Airport / Fabian Brühwiler from Zürich Airport - A-CDM at Zürich Airport / Kris De Bolle from Brussels Airport Company - A-CDM at Brussels Airport / Åsa Göransson from Swedavia - A-CDM* project at Stockholm Arlanda Airport / Steffen Günther-Schmitz from Fraport - A-CDM at Frankfurt Airport / Linda Gerritsen from Flughafen Düsseldorf - A-CDM at Düsseldorf Airport / Ronald Heyne from DFS - A-CDM at Düsseldorf Airport / John Crook from NATS - A-CDM at London Heathow Airport / Jenny Hossen from Heathrow Airport Ltd. - A-CDM at London Heathrow Airport. *pre-implementation phase, or locally implemented
Winter Conditions Chat
Upon invitation by Heathrow Airport Ltd., the bulk of European A-CDM airports called at LHR on May 6th 2014 for a de-icing procedures meeting, kindly hosted by the UK's air navigation services provider NATS, in their sleek control tower building at Europe's busiest airport. In fact, we were only missing out on Norway's Oslo Gardermoen Airport, Spain's Madrid Barajas Airport out of the AENA network and Munich Airport, the latter being represented by Steffen and Linda, who also acted as governance members of 'ACDM Germany', the harmonization initiative of the German A-CDM airports.
An Ounce of Practice is Worth a Ton of Theory
The purpose of the meeting was to benchmark our various aircraft de-icing procedures in place, or on the drawing board, and to share best practices on how to tackle this most challenging implementation step. Heathrow set the scene with a couple of impressive facts: a 90/10 ratio on-stand/remote de-icing, executed by approximately 67 de-icing trucks of a dazzling 8 de-icing companies... To be honest, the knowledge that 90% of flights in Heathrow's massive departure sequence are de-iced at their parking stand and need to make the runway holding point before the de-icing fluid loses its effect gave me sweaty palms!
But all gets neatly policed by sharing the data on the progress of operations in a centralized common situational awareness tool, along the Eurocontrol defined de-icing milestones, or the 'z-times' as I like to call them (because practically every de-icing acronym holds the letter 'z'), providing vital information on planned and actual start and end of de-icing jobs. Which tool? Never mind, this meeting focused on procedures: who puts in which information at what time, and how to make this process as straightforward and transparent as possible. Remember Steve Jobs: 'You have to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology - not the other way around'.
There has been lots of fuss and buzz about procedure harmonization and/or standardisation of A-CDM procedures. Mostly the lack of it, that is. Mainly legacy carriers tend to use this as an alibi for not engaging fully into collaborative decision making, and although not exactly intellectually honest, I cannot blame them entirely; the fear of being confronted with as many procedure and parameter deviations as there will be A-CDM airports is not unreal, and things could spin out of control when complex de-icing procedures come into play.
But as the discussion in Heathrow went along, I noticed a peculiar thing: instead of finding ourselves trapped in our own little logic -and boy, do we have a history with that, remembering the harmonization task force meetings at Eurocontrol...- a dose of common sense at each A-CDM airport individually led to new data exchange procedures (locally, and with the Network Manager) that grew 'organically' and ended up to be harmonized to quite a large extent, almost to our own surprise.
Not There Yet...
Ironically, European winter was exceptionally mild. Now that many of us put in a lot of hard work on brand new procedures, or wanted to fine tune earlier efforts like Frankfurt, there simply was no relevant weather for us to put our set-ups to the test. So, a bit of group therapy in Heathrow as well; it's comforting to know that you're not the only one that is anxiously looking out to next winter season...
Let's Take it from Here
I had the impression that, ever since the conclusion of the Eurocontrol harmonization task force meeting sequence last summer, we A-CDM airports were kind of waiting for the dust to settle. However, it's of utmost importance that we touch base regularly to discuss future developments and steer current operations, fill out the gaps and close the missing links. So, kudos for Jenny's team at Heathrow Airport Ltd. for taking the initiative to organize this get together. To be continued, I would say. In fact, by broadening the scope of the meeting to general implementation procedures, we could accomodate more airports in A-CDM start-up mode on their way to full implementation. After all there's no point in reinventing the wheel, is there?
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