About A-CDM Round the Coffee Table – The High Level Principles

On 16-08-2016, in CDM, by steve

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.

So, how does A-CDM perform its magic?

An aircraft doing a series of flights has well defined needs depending on the phase of flight it is in. These needs are attended to by different organizations, again depending on the phase of flight. En-route, landing and taxi, it is air traffic control, moving around on the ramp it is the airport operator or ATC and at the gate it is one of the handling companies. They all perform defined tasks which are essential for the completion of the flights in question.

It may sound surprising, but he partners mentioned above often work in isolation, with only a minimum of information being shared between them. When a problem arises somewhere and the partners do not learn of it in time, the opportunity to avoid or mitigate the consequences is quickly lost.

A-CDM does two things that fundamentally change the operating environment.

By mutual agreement the partners share their operational data, in the knowledge that any sensitive information is fully protected and cannot be abused. This ensures that each partner is looking at the same view of the world, even if from different perspectives. This is in sharp contrast to the old times where everyone was looking at just their own piece of the world. Imagine this like a big house next to a nice, green park. If everyone is scattered around in the building, they will be looking at the same world but may or may not see the park, even though they are all responsible for keeping it green.  Now mode everyone to the same side of the building, with all the windows looking out on the park. Someone looking out from one window will have a slightly different perspective from that of all other windows, but when the grass is in desperate need of watering, everyone will see the problem. Same for problems with the turnaround…

But there is more.

The A-CDM system “knows” when a given set of activities, like for instance those for the turnaround, must be complete in order for the aircraft to depart on time. It is able to see how each of the activities is progressing and if something is threatening to upset the process, it will generate a warning before the effects have had a chance to propagate too far, causing a loss of revenue and inconvenience for the passengers.

Improved predictability and deciding together what to do when a problem threatens is what A-CDM is all about.

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