The 1990s saw a rapid growth in demand and consequently in congestion at Europe's airports, and aviation traffic is expected to double in the next 15 years. This pressure has in turn spurred increased research aimed at maintaining or improving capacity, efficiency and safety. Because the airport industry is fragmented across Europe into individual competitive commercial concerns, lessons are being learnt and experience is being gained which is not published to a wide audience, not discussed openly, and not made available for others to either learn from or develop further. Through OPTAS B and other initiatives, the European Commission intends to draw all this valuable work into the public domain for open discussion and dissemination.
The objective of OPTAS B was a comprehensive overview of the current state of research activities related to maintaining or improving capacity, efficiency and safety of airport operations. This consisted of reviewing, discussing and disseminating studies from the European Commission and from international, national and independent organisations that have a positive contribution to the enhancement of airport capacity and systems for the next 7 to 10 years.
The main project output is an extensive bibliographic database of airport research projects and other relevant study material. The database, created with Microsoft Access, is available for download from the project Web site. The user interface to the database provides a reading form that allows users to view detailed information on individual studies and to add new studies. The database is provided with facilities to search for records associated with a particular theme (e.g. operational procedures, passenger handling), and to search occurrences of user-specified keywords within the title and summary text fields of the database.
Another significant output of OPTAS B is the synthesis work reported in Deliverable 3. This work provides a comprehensive overview of the state of research about both airside (e.g. ATFM-Air Traffic Flow Management, CDM-Collaborative Decision Making, the 'Single European Sky' concept, A-SMGCS-Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control Systems, PRM-Precision Runway Monitoring) and landside (e.g. security initiatives, initiatives to improve passenger handling procedures, initiatives to improve processing of passengers with reduced mobility) initiatives. Capacity enhancement through simulation has been studied as well, with macroscopic, mesoscopic and microscopic models taken into account. A wide range of projects and research activities are reported and commented on, providing solid reference material to consult when capacity enhancements are to be implemented.
The OPTAS B project showed that much research and development work is done by the European Commission, Eurocontrol, IATA (International Air Transport Association), and the like, with respect to airport and airspace capacity problems. However, communication and information exchange between stakeholders is often poor, so that many lessons are being learnt which are not made available for others to either learn from or develop further, principally because of the fragmentation of the airport industry across Europe into individual competitive commercial concerns. Through its Workshops and open forum, OPTAS B succeeded in bringing together a wide range of studies, viewpoints and backgrounds to achieve a broadly-based overview of the scope and future direction of airport-related research. The wide range of studies and projects analysed by OPTAS B comprise a valuable body of material to consult. All major stakeholders (e.g. airport operators, air traffic control provider, airlines, research institutes, and specialist consultancies) can benefit from it by learning ways to enhance capacity.