Brussels Airport

Incheon Airport South Korea Evaluates European A-CDM

Being an advocate of best practices to implement airport collaborative decision making implies agenda flexibility, and investing ample time to allow A-CDM candidates to grasp the concept of A-CDM as it is practiced in live operations. Be it after business hours for a small party of Romanian air traffic control, on their way back to Bucharest, or for the complete stakeholder group of Stockholm Arlanda airport on a one-day visit, or for a delegation of Single European Sky experts of the European Commission's Directorate General Move - Mobility & Transport. A couple of weeks ago, we had the honour to host a team of 5 from South Korea's Incheon International Airport, on a European A-CDM familiarization trip. ICN/RKSI, South Korea's main airport and among Asia's biggest 6, seems to be securing the 'World's best airport' award by Airports Council International year after year, and is now seriously considering efficiency and capacity optimizing measures by adopting the European airport stakeholder collaboration model. Project horizon is mid 2017, running along yet another dazzling construction project.

First Stop: Preparation

Since we have the habit of preparing thoroughly for each visit, we like to scan our visitors' level of A-CDM knowledge beforehand. That way, we avoid the risk of stating the obvious in the presentations, or 'losing' them at an early stage and giving the impression of talking double Dutch after a while.

We were forwarded an extensive presentation, which proved that the Eurocontrol concept elements and milestones had been surprisingly well studied. Unsurprisingly, the Incheon party was delegated by the ICT department of the airport operator and an ICT service provider, and aimed at understanding the 'A-CDM system' of Brussels Airport. After introductions, upon explaining to them that there is none, they were slightly taken aback, but nevertheless they engaged enthusiastically in a packed one-day A-CDM airport tour across 4 stakeholders.

So, talking double Dutch was never an issue, but understanding plain English was a bit tougher. Luckily, the Incheon party brought along an interpreter who really went out of his way to understand and translate almost simultaneously. He must have been exhausted by the end of the day...

Brussels Airport

Second Stop: In the Field

Brussels Airport isn't much in favor of explaining A-CDM in the classroom. It is understood at best when witnessing it enrolling in operations. So after an opening presentation on our interpretation of the A-CDM concept by ourselves, we don our safety jackets and go out.

We scheduled a concise presentation on departure planning information exchange between our ANSP and the Network Manager, presented by the Belgocontrol team, and try for a visit to the Delivery position in the tower for a brief exchange of thoughts on departure sequencing (which we usually manage in off-peak moments).

A-CDM

Next up is a visit to the A-CDM working positions of one of our home carriers and main ground handlers, each in turn explaining their approach on Collaborative Decision Making, the way procedures and data elements were integrated in their operations, and got adopted by all staff over time. The dreaded culture change...

In this way, we almost always achieve the goal we have in mind at the start of every familiarization visit: to let our visitors discover for themselves how A-CDM blends into day-to-day operations on an airport, and how the concept pops up in the procedures and technical solutions at each stakeholder. It's definitely worth the preparation and the required agenda space.

Lastly, Taking Up the challenge

The Incheon A-CDM team gave themselves 3 years to deliver a data sharing platform, which in my opinion shouldn't pose any major problems. However, there are some concerns about stakeholder commitment, and they left us with lots of things to consider on that subject, on data disclosure and responsibilities.

Although Incheon Airport  is known for sporting an 18-hole golf course, it may well be that putting Airport Collaborative Decision Making into business will turn out to be a different ball game...

What is your take on A-CDM at non-European airports? Unlike Europe, there is no option to interlink airport operations in a network manager controlled environment, thus lacking the 'netwoHence, does local capacity optimization justify substantial investments in collaborative decision making technology and culture change?

Editor's Note We will be on holiday in August and back with a new blog post in September. The New Airport Insider team thanks you for your readership and wishes you a great summer!

 

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A-CDM Get Together at Heathrow Airport

A-CDM, Airport CDM 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

A-CDM at London Heathrow Airport

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.

A_CDM, Airport CDM

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'.

Common Sense

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?

Editor's Note Do you want to underwrite a post like this? Contact the editor at hello[at]dcdesigntech.com

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A-CDM at Brussels Airport: Roadmap to Implementation

  In the previous episode, we made acquaintance with the stakeholders that were involved in successfully deploying Airport Collaborative Decision Making at Brussels Airport. Let's now dive again into the 6 A-CDM concept elements and discover how a successful implementation can be approached. This is part 1 of 2.

First Initiatives

We need to go way back into time...back to 2000, when A-CDM entered the scene here while the whole project was still pretty much in its conceptional phase. Of course, the fact that the airport is only a 10' drive away from the place where Airport Collaborative Decision making was conceived (Eurocontrol, that is), may have facilitated the decision for initial project set-up.

But it were the big network expansion plans of Belgium's national carrier Sabena that formed the trigger to tackle future airport infrastructure capacity restrictions by means of a daring new concept of sharing turn-around progress data among airport stakeholders and the Network Manager.

Back then, I worked in ground handler operations and I  clearly remember a couple of legendary meetings where the target times concept was explained, and how those totally new elements would eventually have to be integrated in long-standing operational procedures. This was pioneering stuff. Never done before at any European airport and we were all excited, but still: the dreaded A-CDM culture change as opposed to the force of habit; even 15 years later still underestimated by many...

Busy afternoon at the B-concourse (source: Brussels Airport Company via Flickr)

Set-back

In a proof-of-concept phase, target off-blocks times (TOBT) were generated out of commonly known estimated departure times, and shared 'subliminally' with our ANSP Belgocontrol, along with the data set which we had been sharing historically (I explain the data exchange environment later on). Already then, pre-departure sequence build simulations (TSAT) based on those TOBT's made for significant improvements in taxi-out time duration and runway troughput.

But in the aftermath of '9/11', and especially when Sabena went bankrupt and seized operations on November 7th 2001, we found ourselves working at an airport where capacity was all of a sudden no longer an issue. So why still plunging head-first into this wildly concept, of which nobody could prove until then that it actually worked?

Efforts, progress and project communication became ever more 'subliminal', and the lot balanced on the point of going into hibernation. Although airport capacity enhancement is but one of the reasons why you should implement A-CDM, it explains why it was only 7 years later, in may 2008, that the Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the Brussels Airport community. This time, we were back for good.

Share What You Care For

 

Airport CDM

The last page of the 2008 Brussels Airport MoU (courtesy of the BRU A-CDM team)

Honestly, that's about it when you come out of the boardroom after signing the MoU and you start making plans to cater for A-CDM's baseline: provide the correct data to the right people at the right time, in order for them make the right decisions. Luckily, we could take advantage of the fairly unique set-up of the airport's Central Data Base to host our ACISP (check here for A-CDM's most common abbreviations).

Operational data from the ground handlers, home carriers, the ANSP and the airport slot coordinator is streamed to a central platform, managed by the airport operator, using system-to-system data links. Works both ways, because partners can retrieve each others data via the platform and get a complete view on airport operations in their respective IT systems.

CDB, Our in-house developed airport operational data base (AODB) concept has been around for 25 years -now that's what we call a legacy system!- and is more than ever proving its relevance. While long-standing data exchange set-ups are being upgraded, new links with airport stakeholders have recently been established, and opportunities lie ahead for sharing airport data in airline operator mobile apps. Data with local ATC is exchanged in AIDX format, and has been closely looked at by experts in the field of System Wide Information Management (SWIM).

A-CDM

The Brussels Airport Central Data Base (courtesy of Brussels Airport Company IT Dept.)

This goes to show that we could skip on a tendering procedure to select new software for the data exchange, and  'immediately' start defining the A-CDM information elements to be developed in the existing architecture as per functional requirements, and display them in the up-and-running interfaces.

But even more important than the tech stuff was the fact that there was a data exchange culture, already present among the stakeholders. Of course, budgets needed to be secured to perform the necessary developments, but backed by the commitment to this point stated in the MoU, the 'usual data exchange suspects' quickly found themselves sitting around the table in one of the recurrent program meetings, and concluded on a development trajectory without much fuss.

'A-CDM is not about systems, it's about procedures'. It's a statement you come across on the internet all too often. I agree. So let's focus on project governance in part 2. On how the milestones were plotted in the turn-around process, how they show up in the common situational awareness tools for the airport community, and how the stakeholders eventually integrated them in their day-to-day operations.

A-CDM Implementation at Brussels Airport: Introducing the Partners Involved, Kri

Past the theory, into practice: Brussels Airport

In the last 2 episodes, we discovered the 6 concept elements of Airport Collaborative Decision Making as defined by Eurocontrol, that form the European A-CDM implementation trajectory. Let’s now take a closer look at how an airport actually went about implementing those 6 corner stones. But first things first; let me introduce you to our A-CDM partners.

Brussels Airport (BRU/EBBR): Overview of A-CDM Stakeholders

Located at the heart of the European Union, and having welcomed 19,3 million passengers in 2013 , Brussels Airport ranks as a an Airports Council International ‘Group 2’ airport. We sport 2 parallel runways, 25/07 oriented to take full advantage of the prevailing westerly winds, and an intersecting one, 01/19, mainly used to spread the arrival and departure patterns and live up to the strict noise abatement procedures in place. Melsbroek (EBMB) is the military air base housing the Belgian Air Force’s 15th Airlift Wing and is located 'next door'; to be taken literally, because their traffic uses ‘our’ runway and taxiway infrastructure and enters the EBBR departure sequence. Historically, the management of the airport was taken up by a set of public companies. Nowadays, the Belgian state retains a minority share of 25%, + 1 share in Brussels Airport Company.

BRU is an IATA level 3 coordinated airport, meaning that an airport slot is required to operate in and out of it. Our colleagues of Belgium Slot Coordination, a full EUACA member, are taking care of this.

Since this is about A-CDM, let’s set terminal ops aside and focus on airside operations. Those are covered by 4 ground handlers, one of which is dealing exclusively with business aviation and governmental flights. We get a fair amount of those, thanks to European decision makers’ and multinational HQ-s at a stone’s throw away from the airport.Except for the business aviation handler, all others cover their own de-icing operations independently and only a modest level of steering from the airport is involved here.

Our Air Navigation Service Provider is called Belgocontrol. What is now an autonomous public enterprise, used to form one and the same public entity with the airport operator. This means that ICT wise, Brussels Airport Company and Belgocontrol have a shared history when it comes to creating situational awareness on the airport, and this has proven its benefits, as you will read later on.

A-CDM Brussels Airport

Last but not least, our home carriers Brussels Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium, TUI fly (formerly Jetairfly.com), and DHL Aviation to some extent. While Brussels Airlines and charter flight operator Thomas Cook were actively involved as from A-CDM start-up, Jetairfly and DHL took up a more active role in the last couple of years. The bulk of the visiting carriers are represented by the Airline Operators Committee,that sits in on most A-CDM meetings.

In May 2008, all of the above stakeholders but Jetairfly and DHL Aviation signed the Memorandum of Understanding, and officially kicked off Brussels Airport's Airport Collaborative Decision Making project. 2 years later, on June 29th 2010, we delivered common situational awareness on the A-CDM milestones (see post 2) for the airport community, and a stable departure planning information  link (see post 3) with Eurocontrol's Network Manager (formerly known as CFMU), thus becoming Europe's 2nd A-CDM airport.

Now that you know the players, let's have a look at the 'game' in the next 2 episodes. No dirty tricks played on the  way to implementation, but the ride was exciting nonetheless...

Update on 21 Dec 2017: Jetairfly.com is now part of TUI fly

Additional Resources: www.euro-cdm.org

A-CDM Concept Elements: Getting Linked In With ATC

Airport CDM

This is part 3 of a 6-part series on European Airport Collaborative Decision Making, in which we explore 2 out of 6 concept elements that constitute the implementation of an A-CDM project. In part 2, we looked at the data sharing efforts to be undertaken, the ‘milestone approach’ and the collaborative pre-departure sequence.

In this episode, we’ll continue exploring the European collaborative decision making implementation details, leading to A-CDM implementation. Last time, we ended with the variable taxi time element as one of the elements that constitute the collaborative pre-departure sequence. Next in line is perhaps the most challenging step of them all… 

Adverse Conditions Management

Airport Collaborative Decision Making Photo: AP / Virginia Mayo

Although ‘adverse conditions’ cover all possible events that may put a strain on regular airport operations, be it a baggage belt breakdown, a raging thunderstorm overhead or an industrial action, focus tends to be on managing the aircraft, stand, taxi- and runway de-icing or de-snowing process. Frankly, heavy winter conditions rapidly turn Western and Southern European airports in chaotic resorts, and the least we want to do is to insert some organisation in that chaos.

Recently, Eurocontrol published the de-icing milestones -I’ll spare you the set of acronyms that came with it- which allow an airport and its de-icing agents to keep track of the progress of the operations, to try to put some predictability in the whole set-up. Set-ups which vary to a very large extent between airports, ranging from centralized, airport-steered de-icing pads close to the runway holding points (ideal!) to combinations of spread on-stand/remote de-icing by 2 or more independently operating de-icing agents (auch!).

In either way, it’s up to the airport to get its act together during adverse circumstances and  be persistent in running its operations in a collaborative way with its stakeholders and keeping the community in the loop. You would be surprised how quick people forget they’re working on an A-CDM airport when the going gets tough…

Almost There: E-DPI, T-DPI-t, T-DPI-s, A-DPI, C-DPI…

Remember the target off-blocks time (TOBT)/target start-up approval time (TSAT) concept, which enables the airport to collaboratively build an aircraft start-up order through data shared by its stakeholders; the time has come to kick functionality in to life that uploads this data into Eurocontrol’s Enhanced Tactical Flow Management System (ETFMS, here we go again…). We do this via a set of structured messages called DPI’s: departure planning information messages. Depending on the course of events during a flight’s turn-around at the airport and/or the time left to departure, a different kind of DPI is transmitted by local Air Traffic Control at the airport. Data elements in the DPI’s vary slightly from type to type, but it is the aim to provide a quality Target Take-Off Time (TTOT), which is getting more correct when the actual departure time approaches.

A-CDM

Photo: FUM/DPI exchange (courtesy of Eurocontrol)

ETFMS likes our DPI’s, and gives us something in return: the flight update messages (FUM), providing a continuous flow of operational data on inbound flights, for intra-Europe flights even if the aircraft is still sitting on the ramp at the airport of origin.  Airport operators are particularly interested in the Estimated Landing Times (ELDT) out of those FUM’s, because they form the basis for a good first departure estimation.

Once DPI transmission is established, call yourself an A-CDM airport. You successfully managed to deploy an up-and-running data sharing platform and provided access for the whole airport community. You have a D-MAN in place to master your pre-departure sequence. You’ve built trust among your airport partners and they accept 3rd party data in order to fine tune their operations and the estimation of the core target times. You have transparent procedures in place to tackle predicted and unforeseen capacity drops, and you channel all of the above in DPI. Congratulations, and I’m not being sarcastic this time.

In the next episode, we’ll take a closer look at the road map of an actual implementation, and how Brussels Airport managed to roll out full A-CDM as Europe’s second.

This article is part 3 in a series of 6 on European Airport Collaborative Decision Making.

Additional Resources www.euro-cdm.org

photo credit: APilotsEye