On 31/08/2016, in CDM, by steve
I am sure many of you know the old saying which warns us aviation types that an aircraft must always be treated with the utmost respect or else it will turn and bite you or worse.
When we first landed at Toronto Pearson International airport, looking around it occurred to me that not only aircraft must be treated with utmost respect, but also airports. Five runways, 99 airlines, Canada’s busiest airport, two terminals, numbered 1 and three (where was T2 I remember asking back then). A major airport by any measure and it was almost impossible to believe that BluSky Services, as a certified supplier to SITA, was being charged with the development of all the documents this big airport would need to decide whether or not A-CDM would bring them benefits. The matter was of the utmost urgency since demand at the airport is growing at a phenomenal rate and without effective measure to make the operation more efficient, the growth would be severely constrained by the lack of capacity.
We arrived on the scene with more than 15 years’ experience in CDM and this includes solid knowledge of why A-CDM is not performing as well as it might in Europe. I will not go into the details of why this is so, let it suffice to say that there is nothing wrong with the concept itself… At the same time, the folks in Toronto insisted that we should make sure their CDM would not suffer any of the same problems seen in Europe.
This work was especially interesting for us at BluSky for the exact same reason. We have not been idle during the past few years and built, based on the original CDM concept, a totally new approach which enables a much clearer and detailed look into the processes involved in CDM, their effects on the trajectories of the aircraft concerned and which makes it possible to define the solutions in terms of business services. This in turn improves scalability, functional flexibility and provides several opportunities to reduce implementation costs across the enterprise. In Europe this approach has not been taken up yet even though we had written it up in no less than two projects (Level4CDM and TITAN). But Toronto wanted this very approach, resulting in an A-CDM system that avoids the pitfalls and is the best possible version for Pearson Airport.
On 30/08/2016, in UAS, by steve
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta announced the implementation of the first operational rules for routine non-hobbyist use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or “drones”). The regulations of June 21, 2016 are now officially in effect.
“People are captivated by the limitless possibilities unmanned aircraft offer, and they are already creating business opportunities in this exciting new field,” said Secretary Foxx. “These new rules are our latest step toward transforming aviation and society with this technology in very profound ways.”
“The FAA’s role is to set a flexible framework of safety without impeding innovation,” said Administrator Huerta. “With these rules, we have created an environment in which emerging technology can be rapidly introduced while protecting the safety of the world’s busiest, most complex airspace.”
The provisions of the new rule – formally known as Part 107 –are designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground. A summary is available here.
The FAA has several processes in place to help users take advantage of the rule:
On 19/08/2016, in CDM, by steve
Have you had recently experience with your flight arriving at a European destination airport on time and then waiting for its gate to become available? Or waited in a queue of aircraft before the runway… Chances are, you did and most probably this was taking place at an airport which carries the title CDM Airport. You know, a CDM Airport is one that satisfies specific requirements, among them the sending of DPI (Departure Planning Information) messages. There are 20 of those in Europe and from daily practice it would appear that not all of them are equally “CDM”…
Talk to the airlines, and the picture they paint is even grimmer. The presentation IATA made at the Airport CDM forum in September 2015 contained a shopping list of problems, some of which were hotly contested by the ANSPs present but the fact remains (and is proven day in and day out), A-CDM in Europe is delivering results that are far from uniform across the airports concerned.
The picture is further colored by the contents of a document, published by EUROCONTROL in April 2016, entitled Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) Impact Assessment. This document brings an interesting set of data showing that A-CDM works. Unfortunately, the data is rather generic and it is not always possible to discern how different places perform. Even more to the point, there is nothing in this document to suggest that there is anything negative at all. One almost gets the feeling that any negative findings of the study forming the basis of the impact assessment got left out by some accident. Or, the study did not find any… Think what you want but with the IATA list of shortcomings in hand, it is difficult to understand how the study could have missed the same problems.
One thing is certain. The CDM concept is sound and it works if properly implemented and maintained. But then, what could be wrong? What is causing the differences between the results if the different CDM airports?
On 16/08/2016, in NextGen, by steve
NextGen is bringing new benefits to Salt Lake City International Airport through a technology called Data Comm. Data Comm revolutionizes communications between air traffic controllers and pilots by replacing some traditional voice communications with digital information exchanges.
Voice communication is labor intensive, time consuming and can lead to miscommunications known as “talk back, read back” errors. Data Comm, by contrast, enables streamlined, two-way data exchanges between controllers and flight crews for clearances, instructions, advisories, flight crew requests and reports.
By exchanging digital messages, air traffic controllers, pilots and airline operations centers can communicate more clearly and efficiently. Better communication improves controller and pilot productivity, improves safety, can reduce flight delays and can help aircraft fly more direct routes, which saves time and fuel while reducing aviation’s impact on the environment. Several U.S. carriers are benefiting from Data Comm capabilities at Salt Lake City, including Southwest, FedEx, UPS, American, Delta and various general aviation operators.
The FAA began testing Data Comm capabilities and benefits in 2014 at Newark and Memphis with UPS, FedEx and United Airlines, as well as select international operators. The FAA started deploying Data Comm in air traffic control towers in the fall of 2015 and aims to have it in more than 50 towers by the end of 2016. The technology will be installed in air traffic control facilities that manage high altitude traffic beginning in 2019.
For more information, visit the FAA NextGen site here or follow #FlyNextGen on Social Media.
In the previous two articles we had a look at the history and overall principles of Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM), a new way of working being introduced at airports world-wide. Now we will take a deep breath and dig a bit deeper into the intricacies of this concept and working method.
Please, do not stop reading here… I promise you this article is going to be interesting, even enjoyable, reading and quite possibly even bring a few new insights into the aviation world we all like to think we know so well.
I guess nobody will argue about the fact that as an airport or an airline we all work in order to facilitate the journey of the passengers who use our facilities and services. We are also businesses, meaning that we need to generate revenue and a decent profit, as the case may be. We have all kinds of business tools we use to achieve this and perhaps the most spectacular and visible of these are the airport terminals and the aircraft around it. We tend to think that airlines are in the business flying aircraft, a perception that is of course true, but it is only a part of the whole picture.
If we take a helicopter view of an airline’s operations, we will discover that they are in fact running a carefully balanced network of flights which was constructed to make sure that passengers get the service they require… or something very close to it anyway. As long as aircraft in the network fly as planned, the service to the passengers is being delivered and the business is running smoothly. Disrupt the network and things go haywire in a very short time. Weather, mechanical problems, airport capacity, you name it, are all factors that can result in network disruption. This in turn means financial losses, poor passenger experience and a lot of extra workload to get things back to normal.
Of course the airports and the airlines are in this together and a network disruption at a given airline will quickly impact the airport also since the airport’s resources are used by several clients and the planning of those resources is as finely tuned as the airline network itself.
Let me introduce here something we call the aircraft trajectory.
This is the second part of the A-CDM series in which we will look at its history and get some more insight into how it works. You can find the first part here.
In the previous article we explored the essence of Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) and what it means for an airport that decides to implement it. Now it is a good time to go back in history and look at the origins of collaborative decision making. History is a great teacher and this is true also for the history of A-CDM.
A bit over two decades ago, airlines in the United States were increasingly dissatisfied with the way air traffic management worked or rather, failed to work as they saw it. Representations to the FAA did not bring the improvements they sought, so they got together and under the leadership of US Airways they started looking into the various problems they encountered in daily operations, determined to dig up the root causes and do something about them.
Although a lot of people expected to find things that would fault the FAA for the less than satisfactory state of affairs, what they found was very different. Sure enough, there was plenty that the FAA could have done better, but that venerable organization was by far not the only one contributing to the problems. To a surprisingly large extent, the behavior of the airlines themselves needed to be improved if the problems were to disappear. Airports were also found to be one of the causes of the operational difficulties.
Before we look more closely at two actual and very typical early cases of collaborative decision making success, it is worthwhile to highlight that in general, the airline investigation revealed that the aviation industry was generating prodigious amounts of information but very little of that information was being shared among the partners while most of the information was in fact essential if good operational decisions were to be made. The world appeared to be composed of silos, each partner working in their own closed environment irrespective of the fact that decisions in the silos impacted all the siloes individually and together. To illustrate the point, let me quote Arthur Schopenhauer, the German philosopher (1788-1860) who had famously said “You can compare ordinary society with Russian horn music, where each horn has only one note to play, and only the punctual coinciding of all results is music.” Now replace “society” with “air traffic management decision making” and you will see what I mean. The silos of old produced very little music and a lot of noise… it was this noise the airlines noticed when they set out to improve things wishing to hear more music and less noise.
I have written about A-CDM quite a lot on these pages. However, time is passing and I see that there is a complete new generation of experts who have not been exposed to the peculiar convolutions that gave birth to Airport Collaborative Decision Making or A-CDM. There are experts in the young generation who are of course familiar with A-CDM, some of them are actually working in or with it… but there are others who may have seen the acronym but did not progress beyond wondering what it really meant. So, I decided to share with you three articles that look at various aspects of A-CDM, strictly on a high level and without looking at specifics like how A-CDM works in Europe using the message exchange with the Network Manager. We will come back to that at some future date, but for the time being here are the three articles that help you understand the concept itself and shed some light on how it brings its benefits. Enjoy!
We all know the feeling… something untoward happens and we sigh: if only I had known! Although we plan everything to the last detail, even the life of an airport is not free from events that happen and which could have been avoided or at least mitigated… if only we had known.
The keyword here is predictability. If the operation of an airport, and in particular the predictability of the aircraft turnaround is improved, impending problems become visible earlier and there is more time to agree action together, to mitigate the problems or avoid them altogether.
The other keyword is together. All too often in the existing environment partners scramble to address problems alone or only with minimum contact with each other when in fact everything they do is part of a common effort and when it is time to solve a problem, acting together is even more important.
Airport Collaborative Decision Making, or A-CDM, is a new way of working. Extensive sharing of information, acting on the shared information and making decisions together, mindful of the impact the decisions have on the operation of the partners, substantially improves the predictability of the airport’s operation while decisions made together are of a much better quality, resulting in a quantum leap of efficiency.
Who are these partners? The airlines, handling organizations, air traffic control and the airport operator are the main players in A-CDM, a concept being introduced, or in operation, at several airports world-wide.