There can be no doubt that the UK aviation industry is currently experiencing a unique set of concerns, could Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) be part of the solution? Staff shortages, the fall out of Covid-19 and the changes wrought by Brexit mean there are more challenges than ever with fewer staff to deal with them. What’s more, there’s an industry-wide pilot shortage that’s affecting flights and airports across the globe. So, how can the aviation industry overcome these problems and could working together play a role in getting things back on track? Airport Collaborative Decision Making is designed to improve operational efficiency on a global scale. Here, we’ll look at whether A-CDM could play a role in upgrading airport efficiency in the UK and beyond.

What is A-CDM?

At its most fundamental level, A-CDM is a method of joint decision making and data sharing designed to improve efficiency and communication between airports. 

The main foundation for A-CDM is information sharing – airports that have signed up to the scheme are committed to the sharing of accurate information in a timely fashion. The aim of this is to increase industry-wide awareness of potential issues and improve air traffic predictability. Amongst other things, A-CDM partners will share:

  • The turn-round process of every flight – From the moment the flight is scheduled to the second it leaves the ground, the progress of the aircraft should be communicated between A-CDM members 
  • Pre-departure sequence – the order that aircrafts are scheduled to push off from their blocks
  • Variable taxi time calculation – the distribution of accurate taxi-in and taxi-out times 

What are the benefits of A-CDM?

Airports are active and demanding spaces. With multiple flights and sometimes tens of thousands of passengers each day, don’t airports have enough to consider without committing to sharing information with other aviation hubs across the globe? Possibly so but the sharing of data can have huge benefits to the airport, the staff and the passengers who use them.

  1. A-CDM can lead to improved decision making

The shared knowledge between airports allows stakeholders and decision makers to make better-informed decisions on their airport operations. It’s not just the knowledge that a flight is delayed, for example, but the idea that if Flight A is delayed then Flight B will be moved into its slot to prevent additional postponement. By having this information, the receiving airport can allocate resources accordingly. The information will of course be available to flight operators, but A-CDM ensures that the information is collectively available to all participating parties including ground handling crew, passport authorities etc.

2. A-CDM can improve flight punctuality and slot adherence 

One of the biggest benefits of implementing A-CDM is to structure and optimise the turnaround process. An A-CDM will continually send departure information to provide accurate predictions for Target Take Off Time. The system will ensure that aircrafts don’t move off until all parties are ready, cutting down on congestion and reducing queues. Ultimately, this creates a more predictable and better organised system for improved punctuality.

3. A-CDM can reduce environmental impact

With enhanced punctuality comes a reduction in taxi times. This not only lowers noise pollution, no doubt a welcome modification for local residents, but also cuts down on ground congestion and unnecessary taxiing. A-CDM allows the airport to keep crafts on their stands for longer, leading to a reduction in fuel consumption and emissions

How could A-CDM improve the passenger experience?

By now, you should have a clear overview of how the system can help aviation industry employees to stay abreast of any changes and developments in real time, but A-CDM can also improve the passenger experience. Now more than ever, airports are struggling under the volume of demand. Passenger numbers are fast approaching pre-pandemic figures but the number of staff available is still significantly lower than early 2020. This means that efficiency is more important than ever. Many airport inefficiencies boil down to a lack of communication. If the different players are not informed then the following could occur:

  • ATC don’t know when subsequent aircraft are ready for departure
  • Ground handlers aren’t in the right place when the flight arrives
  • Airlines may be unaware when flights can push back

Collaborative Decision Making can solve these issues by bringing all airport partners together and sharing data with the relevant parties. For passengers, this will provide clear visibility of arrival time and progress and can improve the reliability of take-off times.

How can AIRDAT assist airports with their A-CDM?

AIRDAT’s Passport system already gives a complete overview of all airport training in real-time but the beauty of the software is that it can easily connect with other operating systems. Take Splunk, for example, Splunk is a data platform that is used by large organisations (such as airports) to correlate data from several different sources to give a full overview of all operations. Gatwick Airport currently uses Splunk to connect and compare data from multiple sources. 

The forward-thinking team at Gatwick, realised that AIRDAT’s Passport system could work in conjunction with Splunk to provide extensive information on training and permits in real-time and compare this with the ID swipes of those team members onsite. This means that Gatwick Airport and their A-CDM partners have a complete overview of the resources and associated skills available at Gatwick Airport at any one point in time.

For all the many and varied benefits to A-CDM, there are still airports who feel reluctant to share data and, in their eyes, relinquish control. As the aviation industry begins to expand and optimal efficiency is increasingly required, airports who don’t progress could get left behind.

If you want to know more about how AIRDAT’s systems could integrate with other operating systems, get in touch with us today.