Implementing A-CDM: More than just technology

Airport CDM (A-CDM) can improve the overall efficiency of airport operations, but if the scope of the implementation is too narrow and focused only on technology, its benefits can fall flat. To get the much-needed support from everyone involved in the process, it is crucial for the technology to be a support system for operational workflows rather than the other way around.

[blockquote text=”A considered and deliberate implementation process reveals invaluable insights” text_color=”#004361″ show_quote_icon=”yes”][vc_separator type=’transparent’ position=’center’ color=” thickness=’5′ up=” down=”]

The implementation challenge

Airport CDM can be used to increase the efficiency of aircraft turn-round and pre-departure sequencing by optimising the use of resources and improving the predictability of events. This benefits an airport’s productivity as well as its cost-efficiency.

As Eurocontrol states: “For the Airport Operator, improved use of stands/gates leads to fewer late stand changes. More stable traffic flows and reduced taxi times make for fewer queues on runways and less congestion on the apron or taxiways.”

Since A-CDM was introduced in Europe nine years ago, the concept has proved reliable for increasing airside efficiency. As interest continues to grow, one of the biggest challenges we see at airports when implementing A-CDM is the incorrect assumption that it is simply a technological solution for sharing data.

Improving workflows

It is tempting to think the project is done once the IT is operational, but Airport CDM involves much more than just installing technology. To reap the full benefits, a successful implementation of A-CDM must be an exercise in improving operational workflows for everyone involved. A considered and deliberate implementation process reveals invaluable insights into each participant’s operations, how these are intertwined and where cooperation is essential.

An airport CDM project is often more a culture change than an IT project. And although budgeting for that aspect may be more complicated than calculating the price of an IT system, ignoring it means losing an enormously important piece of the efficiency equation.

Support for better decisions

The basis of a good A-CDM system is still the technology, of course, because it allows better data-sharing and visualisation. However, starting with IT and then moulding your workflows around that is a risky prospect. When assisting an airport on an implementation project, we focus on defining how operational flows ought to be organised for A-CDM to work properly and deliver more efficiency, long before any decision is made on technology.

This helps to get crucial understanding and agreement from the project’s various stakeholders right from the start. Part of that process, for instance, involves a gap analysis that provides a crystal-clear picture of systems and operations ‘as is.’ Comparing this to the desired flows provides a detailed scope of functionality, upgrades, etc., to consider when weighing the various options. Once these elements are in place, selecting the right IT solution becomes much easier.

About To70. To70 is one of the world’s leading aviation consultancies, founded in the Netherlands with offices in Europe, Australia, Asia, and Latin America. To70 believes that society’s growing demand for transport and mobility can be met in a safe, efficient, environmentally friendly and economically viable manner. For more information, please refer to

4 thoughts on “Implementing A-CDM: More than just technology

  1. Kris, You are of course very right in everything you have said above. In addition to technology and workflows, cultural change amongst all the partners involved can be added to the discussion as a critical aspect of A-CDM implementation. The technology and workflows can be excellent, but unless the people are on board with understanding why they are doing things, then there is a barrier to effective implementation. There’s numerous examples around the world where in review, the implementation team reflected that more time and effort should have been put into cultural change aspects.

  2. Thanks Gerard, and indeed, we at To70 are considering stakeholder engagement -to facilitate this essential cultural change- as a ‘7th Concept Element’ in addition to the 6 defined by EUROCONTROL to successfully implement A-CDM. Even bigger challenges in that area lie ahead of us, when staff from various stakeholders will be sitting face-to-face in an operations centre, aiming for cross-process decision making in a true collaborative way… Don’t miss our upcoming blog post on that subject!

  3. Kris, that’s a great initiative. It can be thought of down to the apron level, too. There’s little point of telling a GH crew that they have to be finished at say, TSAT minus a parameter, unless they understand how it all fits together. The New Zealand staff video helps this process. Also, subcontractors must feel that they are part of the team to achieve target times, rather than thinking that the airport or airline will use it as a contract condition to penalise them. That sort of mindset won’t work and overcoming it has to be integral to the cultural change.

  4. Absolutely, Gerard. For A-CDM to be successful, the apron is exactly the place where it needs to ‘live’ (it again proves the vital but underestimated role of the GH in this concept, but that’s yet another story).

    But bringing it there, making it understandeable for all the apron teams, letting them understand that there’s something in it for them as well, and most of all, keeping the good work up, that’s the challenge… The Auckland video is a true reference on that subject. I had the opportunity to speak with the A-CDM team of AKL last year, and I genuinely like their ‘no nonsense’ approach on the implementation of their project. As opposed to us in Europe, where we have cultivated a habit of making things difficult for ourselves 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© Copyright To70 2021