Airports are the central nodes of our air transport system, and also serve as interfaces with other modes of transport. Their collective problems can only be addressed through a thorough, comprehensive solution integrating transport carriers with air- and ground-side management. This is the goal of DLR’s TAMS project, in which DLR is collaborating with German aviation industry leaders to create an innovative airport management system. TAMS, which provides a platform for this area of research, is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economics and Technology (BMWi).
It is a familiar problem: the different partners in aviation management are not optimally coordinated. Airport management, aviation companies and flight safety authorities do not work together as a seamless whole, leading to suboptimal coordination between the various processes. At present, each of these parties optimises their own area of business, under the pressure of marketplace competition.
But in many cases, these efforts are not fully thought through and the effects of individual decisions on other areas of responsibility are not sufficiently understood. This leads to increased costs for operators as well as passengers, and other losses. Longer waiting times are often an additional consequence. The complexity of these interactions can become aggravated due to external disturbances such as bad weather. Complications can snowball: the effects may be transmitted to apparently separate processes, often unpredictably, and this leads to greater problems in a sort of chain reaction.
As a first effort in this area of research, the DLR Institute of Flight Guidance and the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation’s (EUROCONTROL) Experimental Centre have developed a holistic approach to solve this problem: Total Airport Management (TAM). Building on the tried and tested concept of Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM), TAM aims to implement inter-operator process planning and optimisation in airports. The implementation of A-CDM in European airports has shown that considerable improvements are possible when all operators in the aviation process are better coordinated. Not only can costs be reduced, but the environment is also protected by reducing delays and waiting time. Flight connections are also made more reliable and secure. A CDM focuses on the flight safety and flight preparation planning processes. But the optimisation of terminal-side processes such as check-in or security checks have yet to be properly addressed.TAM is therefore a large step forward, in which ground-side process chains and their mutual effects are integrated with airside processes. It also aims to provide airport operators with a central platform where they can obtain a joint situational awareness of problems and come to joint decisions. The aim is global, collaborative process optimisation.
This platform is an Airport Operation Centre (APOC). It combines innovative systems with proven ones to promote improved situational awareness as well as analysis for the representatives in the APOC. The DLR’s Institute for Flight Guidance (FL) and the DLR facility for Air Transport and Airport Research (FW) have further developed the TAM concept in the framework of DLR’s in-house projects.
DLR’s expertise in the area of airport management is well known to the national aviation industry. Since German aviation companies are continuously looking for new solutions in order to maintain their international technological leadership, DLR has developed a project with Siemens, Barco-Orthogon, Inform and ATRiCS to bring the TAMS concept closer to reality. Stuttgart Airport has also been identified as a potential user.
DLR has developed the concept further with the aid of the Mobility and Transport Technology organization (TÜV Rheinland) of BMWi. Due to the business potential of the TAMS concept and the risks associated with such an important effort, BMWi has selected the project as a ‘beacon’ project. The ambitious, three-year TAMS project was launched at the start of 2009 under the leadership of Siemens and successfully concluded in Mai 2012.
In the context of the TAMS project, DLR created an air- and ground-side virtual airport environment for its industrial partners, into which the industrial partner’s test systems have been integrated. This enabled targeted development of coupled applications while testing the TAMS concept without disturbing actual airport processes. The researchers can explore solutions directly and communicate concepts to potential users. TAMS was also committed to solving further optimisation problems. Feasibility studies have been achieved, for instance, to attempt forecasts of passenger flows. DLR Braunschweig has concluded the project by demonstrating the improvement potential of the TAM suite under controlled conditions.The final project outcome will be a set of compatible industrial products to support an integrated airport management system. This system will comply with established international standards, but will also set a new standard due to its innovative nature.