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Optimisation of Airport Systems - Part A

European Union
Complete with results
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Transport mode
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Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues


Background & Policy context

The development of innovative approaches to airport operations should improve the airport capacity both airside and landside. This needs the support of simulation tools able to analyse the impacts of the initiatives on traffic flows of aircraft and ground vehicles, including the passengers and baggage. The existing simulation tools need to be assessed and improved to be able to provide airport operators with strategic advice.


OPTASA aimed to:

  • review and implement airside and landside simulation tools for use in case studies to evaluate the capacity impacts of initiatives likely to be taken in European airports in the next 7 to 10 years;
  • evaluate the applicability of 'system dynamics' modelling to develop a fast runtime tool, which integrates the airside with the landside of an airport.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission; Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN; formerly DG VII)
Type of funding
Public (EU)


A survey of airside and landside operations at major European airports has identified as a common priority the urgent need to improve airside capacity and the need to address the issue of 100% hold baggage screening (HBS).

Three separate models, two of the airside (TAAM and Airport Machine) and one of the landside (Paxport) have been used as a baseline for the following case study scenarios:

  • high-speed exits, advanced surface movement and control system, high approach landing system/dual threshold operation and precision runway monitoring, standard surface movement scheme on the airside;
  • self check-in, smart cards, combined queuing for check-in, persons with reduced mobility, security at departure gates, fast track passport control, and 100% HBS on the landside.

The comparative evaluation of available simulation tools and the implementation of the scenarios has shown, in particular:

  • a mismatch between the capabilities of the simulation tools and the needs of the airport community; this calls for a commonly agreed definition of the simulation requirements of the airport community in terms of scope and level of detail to drive future enhancements of the tools;
  • the need for large datasets that correspond in their scope and level of detail to the simulation requirements.

The development of a prototype modelling tool has made it possible to evaluate the feasibility of using 'system dynamics' to implement macroscopic models integrating the airside and the landside. The approach has shown potential advantages in terms of ease of use, fast run-time, access to a wide range of output data, which provides many options for analysing the simulation results, and a viable way forward for modelling the airside/landside interface.

Policy implications

The project has provided useful insights on the issues relating to the development and implementation of airport modelling tools able to include innovative methods of operation for the airside and landside. The development of a new tool based on 'system dynamics' modelling should provide useful assistance in producing more detailed simulation tools, by allowing airport operators to conduct rapid preliminary investigations of scenarios before having to engage in costly and time consuming simulation exercises.

The applicability of the 'system dynamics' approach varies considerably between different airport subsystems and this necessarily affects the range and scope of scenarios for which the tool would be most suitable. The exploitation of the approach, although promising, needs a period of further evaluation in order to focus more sharply on the future developments of producing a marketable product.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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