Tailoring airport management solutions
A seamless, well-coordinated and most efficient airport management demands a tailored solution. Each airport conducts unique operations to which the decision process, the collaboration among the stakeholders and multiple supporting systems need to be adapted. The research community offers a broad bandwidth of solutions from basic Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) to advanced features such as virtual airport operation centres, high-fidelity what-if evaluations and collaboration support mechanisms. Selecting and tailoring these solutions to the need of the airport’s operations is a great challenge.
DLR’s Airport Management Simulation Platform addresses this challenge with a human-in-the-loop simulation and validation environment. New concepts and systems can be applied to any airport in the simulation. Negotiations and teamwork among the different stakeholders can be thoroughly examined throughout the simulation. Human factors and air traffic management experts support this validation and analyse the results, leading to tailored solutions for the specific local requirements. This allows for new systems, procedures and training methods to be developed, validated and prepared for operational use.
Airport operations in a sandbox – ready for improvements!
Airport dispatchers and operation managers have a great responsibility for the whole air traffic system. The process of landing, turning the aircraft around and guiding it back to takeoff is highly complicated. Hundreds of sub-procedures, such as taxi to gate, refuelling, boarding and engine start-up, must be executed until passengers are on-board and the aircraft is back in the air. Air traffic control, airport operations, ground handling, network management and the airlines have to share their resources and services to support this process.
In reality, many events can endanger the efficiency of the airport processes. Adverse conditions such as snowfall or thunderstorms can affect the runways and the ground handling significantly. Security alerts and baggage checks can lead to late passengers and longer boarding times. Missing agreements or competition between the airport stakeholders might be followed by ineffective operations. Ultimately, this will lead to delays affecting the operations of the whole air traffic system.
To research the effective and efficient management of airport operations and the mitigation of disruptive events, DLR designed the Airport Management Simulation Platform as a part of its Air Traffic Validation Center. The platform is capable of simulating any kind of airport configuration and all kinds of events influencing the airport operations. Airport managers, together with DLR experts, participate in close-to-reality simulations to solve specific airport problems using their resources. This enables the fast, flexible and economic development of innovative solutions for complex airport management tasks.
Airport management brings together competitors to achieve an overall goal: efficient and sustainable operations. Specific services conducted by various operators have to be defined and need to be aligned according to local requirements. To analyse teamwork processes and collaboration opportunities in multi-stakeholder operations, DLR provides the Airport Management Simulation Platform. Our domain experts in simulation, process analysis and human factors are supporting the development of tailored collaboration concepts.
Decision support systems and enhanced A-CDM
With the A-CDM concept, a standard for airport airside operations management has been established. Since the introduction of this concept, possibilities for enhancing A-CDM with additional systems and procedures have been researched. Tools supporting stakeholder negotiation (e.g. dashboards), algorithms to predict the impact of certain management decisions (e.g. KPI progression; what-if tools) and procedures to give priority to certain aircraft (e.g. user-driven prioritisation) can be developed, integrated and validated in an operational environment using the flexibility of the Airport Management Simulation Platform.
Change management and training
Every day, airport managers and operators face new challenges and events they cannot prepare for in a real operational environment. The DLR Airport Management Simulation Platform provides the capability to practice reactions on unexpected, rare and unusual scenarios before they happen in reality. Moreover, the simulation platform enables an early inclusion of the airport managers in changes of the operational environment. Thereby, operational processes can be adapted within the simulation and are ready for deployment as soon as the changes are applied to the real environment.
The airport becomes virtual!
The core of the simulation platform is a virtual copy of the airport. Airport and scenario data (e.g. airport layout, flight plans, weather conditions, etc.) are stored in a central database. The so-called “Milestone Simulation” calculates flight times depending on defined events and conditions.
The participants of the simulation can interact with the simulation via their planning and dispatching tools. Thereby, ATC is able to select the active runways; the airlines can adapt their aircraft rotation, whilst ground handler and airport operations organize their staff as well as the stand and gate allocation. Additional systems such as simulated flight radar, camera surveillance system and a dashboard create a close-to-reality representation of the airport.
Adaptive to all needs!
Depending on the requirements for the simulation, airport, scenario and working positions can be adapted to any type of operations. The simulation can be conducted as individual or group-session. For individual sessions, virtual agents take over the role of the other stakeholders and serve as interaction partners. For group training, more than 20 working positions can be manned. The working positions can be combined in one airport operations room (APOC) or distributed over multiple offices connected via chat, telephone or video conference systems. The working positions themselves can be equipped either with mock-ups or real-world operational systems, connected to the simulation.
Last but not least, the DLR Airport Management Simulation Platform offers a wide range of connection and enhancement possibilities. Connections to the other facilities of DLR’s Air Traffic Validation Center (e.g. DLR Tower Simulator) are as well possible as external connections to other simulators or to third-party systems. A broad range of interfaces including operational (SWIM, ASTERIX, ADEX-P, etc.) as well as easy-to-implement simulation interfaces are available to allow the most tailored and individual approach to the specific validation objective.