The aircraft turnaround is the core process in the airport that drives the operation of all other processes: passengers, baggage, freight, ramp operations. The aircraft turnaround needs to be executed on-time complying with the planned schedule by ensuring that the targeted payload (passenger, baggage and freight) has been completely embarked and loaded into the aircraft. Aircraft turnarounds imply complex procedures and delays can be extremely costly for airlines. A number of ground operations and processes have to be performed, some in sequence, some in parallel, to service the aircraft. For this reason, an improved operational punctuality could lead to cost savings and improved customer service. The application of a set of a streamlined turnaround processes could reduce the impact of any unforeseen disturbances.
Currently, the turnaround operation is a set of separately managed, different processes taking place in the same airport environment: passengers, baggage, freight and ramp operations. This approach normally leads to independent process strategies and objectives, which in some cases may also be uncoordinated causing negative impacts and inefficiencies.
In today’s operations, interactions among processes are not clearly identified and sometimes some processes are treated in an isolated manner from the rest in terms of logistics and information sharing. A clear example is the freight process. Airport operations need to evolve in terms of enhancing the predictability and the control of the interactions among processes that are likely to happen in the overall turnaround operation. These interactions could be primary or secondary in terms of the impact they may have on other processes and/or on the turnaround operation. Process performance indicators and associated targets and milestones should be defined (or even redefined) in a coordinated way in order to take into account the identified interactions and the impact on the overall performance indicators and targets of the turnaround process.
Nowadays, the growing concerns regarding environmental issues make it important to analyse the environmental effect of the turnaround process. Over the last few years, concerns about water savings and waste recycling have increased considerably and the majority of GSEs used have not changed significantly. Summing to that the fact that traffic in apron areas is currently higher than necessary due to the little information sharing and the separately management of the turnaround operations, there is a patent need to develop new solutions aimed at diminishing the current level of emissions at the apron, enhance the loading of potable water to the aircraft and the treatment of recyclables.
INnovative TEchnologies and Researches for a new Airport Concept towards Turnaround coordinatION-INTERACTION project proposes an evolution in airport operations towards a fully integrated and coordinated management of all the processes - passenger, baggage, freight and ramp operations – which are converging into the aircraft turnaround.
The INTERACTION concept will be supported by a set of innovative solutions for each of the airport processes and it supplies a vision on how to integrate them. These innovative solutions will be grouped into:
- Advanced procedures and new operational concepts;
- Innovative technologies and techniques;
- Enhanced information management and decision support tools.
All of the solutions proposed by the INTERACTION concept will potentiate the increase of safety levels and the reduction of the environmental impact of the turnaround operations. They will be defined, designed, developed and validated as part of the results of the project.
Novel solutions for time- and cost-efficient airport processes
An EU initiative has proposed new solutions to enhance turnaround operations at airports by looking for individual improvements in each process separately and for collaborative approaches for the turnaround as a whole.
Aircraft turnaround drives the function of all other processes: passengers, baggage, freight and ramp operations. This turnaround involves complex procedures and ground operations, resulting in delays that can be extremely costly for airlines.
At present, turnaround operations are a set of separately managed different processes that take place in the same airport setting. This approach normally leads to independent process strategies and objectives.
Streamlined turnaround processes could help airports save costs and time, while improving customer experience and carbon footprint.
The EU-funded http://www.interaction-aero.eu/ (INTERACTION) (Innovative technologies and researches for a new airport concept towards turnaround coordination) project introduced a fully integrated and coordinated management of passenger, baggage, freight and ramp operation processes.
Project partners characterised and defined the relationship between various airport processes, and identified problems and needs for improvement. They characterised the different information management tools that support such processes and determined their inefficiencies. Results mainly show that current turnaround involves several uncoordinated processes leading to inefficient time and resource management.
Using the situation analysis as a basis, the INTERACTION team defined, designed, developed and validated 20 novel solutions for each of the airport processes. The solutions were grouped into three categories: advanced procedures and new operational concepts; innovative technologies and techniques; and enhanced information management and decision-support tools.
Lastly, a business case and cost-benefit analysis identified the most promising improvements for each solution and the ideal scenario to maximise its potential.
Airport operators, airlines, ground handlers and other aircraft services providers stand to benefit from INTERACTION’s procedures, technologies and information tools. Improved turnaround times should also reduce the environmental impact of airport operations and enhance passenger service.