Airports are facing the challenge of the constant increase in air traffic together with pressure to reduce costs, which makes their task of ensuring safety and efficiency of operations more and more demanding. This task is also made more difficult by the limited growth potential of airport infrastructure.
To address these issues, EUROCONTROL has developed, implemented and validated the concept “Airport Collaborative Decision Making (CDM)” which support airports to enhance operational efficiency and infrastructure utilisation by bringing airport partners (aircraft and airport operators, as well as air traffic control, ground handling and other service providers) together and allowing them to work in a coherent, harmonised and transparent manner by sharing operational data.
Airport CDM is also expected to be the driver to dynamically enhance the integration of Airports with the Air Traffic Flow and Capacity Management (ATFCM) network.
The objectives of the development of the Airport CDM concept concern airport operations and are to:
- enhance the operational efficiency;
- improve the predictability of events (off-block, take-off);
- improve punctuality;
- reduce ground movement costs (reduced fuel consumption and emissions);
- enhance the use of ground handling services;
- enhance the use of stands, gates, and platforms;
- optimise the use of airport infrastructure and reduce congestion;
- reduce waste of ATFM slots;
- enhance ATFM slot compliance;
- enhance the flexibility of pre-departure sequencing;
- maximise capacity in times of disruption and system recovery.
Over the last few years EUROCONTROL has both developed and tested a number of Airport CDM elements. At the same time, it has also continuously encouraged European airports to implement them. Airport CDM involves cultural changes, handling of sensitive data, procedural changes and building confidence and understanding among airport operators and service providers.
EUROCONTROL has produced a user-friendly Airport CDM Implementation Manual that provides airport operators and providers with step by step guidelines for the local implementation of the CDM. The manual gives instructions on how setting up a project, all CDM elements, marketing, key performance indicators, procedures, risks and recommended mitigation. The Airport CDM project team is trying to ensure the deployment of the Airport CDM all over Europe. EUROCONTROL is also trying to maintain the Airport CDM standardisation throughout European airports by producing additional documentation such as functional requirements for technically interfacing systems, and for helping the European Commission to develop common specifications.
Currently 25 Airports are implementing the Airport CDM concept. They include the most important airports in the core area of Europe (London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt Airport). The concept is currently operational in 3 airports (Munich, Brussels and Zurich), which are the first airports to successfully implement Airport CDM and connect to the network for more flexible slot exchange.
Benefits range from reduced taxi times (and hence, less emissions) to increased compliance of ATFM slots. When more European airports will implement the concept, additional benefits at network scale for all partners are expected. Expected time of the return on investment is less than two years, with an average cost/benefit ratio of nine to one.
Main technical implications are:
- The Acronyms developed by Airport CDM in support of the Implementation Manual and Functional Requirements are being standardised through the EUROCAE Working Group 69, in order to develop the Community Specification.
- Airport partners need to adjust their existing planning systems to comply with the Implementation Manual, and enable exchange of essential information between operational stations.
- Automated Milestone processes based on important events are linked to Alert messages sent to partners and operational procedures. The operation procedures ensure updated information and improved predictability shared between partners for planning purposes.
The network management is operated by using CFMU (Central Flow Management Unit) interfaces with connected airports, who successfully implemented Airport CDM, in order to provide them with the network benefits for more flexible slot assignment. By expanding the concept to more airports, the efficient use of the network and pan-European airspace will provide benefits deriving from the fact that airlines will be able to achieve their fleet schedules, and the network will increase the use of assigned slots. The community specifications should encourage the rapid implementation and connection to the network of all European airports.