09 Mar Don’t Build your APOC on Quicksand; Efficiency Starts with Airport CDM


Airport Operations Management, or AOM, is the new buzzword in aviation, coming out from SESAR. This concept is one means by which the efficiency of overall airport operations may be addressed. It is seen as the principle support to the airport decision making process. Several large airports claim they have some form of Airport Operations Center (APOC) where various stakeholders are hosted. Suppliers already state they have an AOM system for sale. Yet, few outside the SESAR stakeholders know how to design decision making processes, use facilities efficiently, and achieve benefits from the additional investment. And outside Europe, most seem to ignore that the prerequisite for AOM is Airport Collaborative Decision Making (CDM).

Why is Airport CDM required?

Airport CDM is about partners (airport operators, aircraft operators/ground handlers, Air Traffic Control and the Air Traffic Network Manager) working together more efficiently through transparency in the way they work and share data.

APOC is the virtual or physical facility hosting of airport stakeholders, aimed to increase collaboration and equalize situational awareness on airport conditions and impact on operations. Airport CDM is therefore the baseline to enable AOM processes to contribute to enhanced situational awareness and increased operational efficiency and integrated network operations.

Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM), or Network Management, is the concept needed to accommodate air traffic growth in a continent or region covering multiple flight information regions. International ATFM, well documented by ICAO, becomes needed as traffic from one nation impacts on other nations. Asia with its large airspace and rapid growth is in great need of flight trajectory information exchange between regions, a basic form of ATFM. Airport CDM collects local departure information, and is therefore a key enabler for ATFM information sharing.

What is the risks of surpassing Airport CDM?

Many non-European airports wish to state their progress on ATFM development and integration, and even Airport Operation Management development. Yet few of them made significant progress on Airport CDM to improve operational efficiency on the ground. Especially Asia and South America are in great need of more efficient airport operations, but tend to develop buildings or information technology systems in a different sequence, trying to bypass the essential and low cost step of implementing Airport CDM. Since AOM is the ultimate objective to airport decision making, without the Airport CDM basis stakeholder decisions are built on quicksand. And building decisions on quicksand is trying to run without learning to walk first.

Photo source: FAA.

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Eugène Tuinstra
Improving efficiency in airport operations starts with open communication and transparency of data between the airport partners. From Brussels to Jakarta, I learned about culture differences between people in the political arena of aviation. To move away from the existing status quo requires a process of change that I am happy to facilitate.
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