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‘AVITRACK’ – automated surveillance of airport aprons

A new EU-funded project will use state-of-the-art video systems and intelligent algorithms to track objects and persons, and to interpret normal aircraft servicing operations on the tarmac.

‘AVITRACK’ – automated surveillance of airport aprons
Image: Peter Gutierrez

AVITRACK is aimed at addressing three specific strategic priorities: strengthening competitiveness; improving aircraft safety and security; and increasing the operational capacity of the air transport system.

According to David Cher of the French IT engineering firm SILOGIC, the AVITRACK project will automatically check the sequence and timing of movements on airport aprons. “An assembly of cameras will monitor the aircraft parking zone,” he says, “creating digital images in which individuals, objects and vehicles can be identified. Putting these images together we get a real-time three-dimensional representation of activities and movements which can be interpreted by an intelligent computer programme.”

Making air transport more competitive

Aircraft are dependant on the availability of airport bays and airport handling efficiency, explains Cher. Delays produce a snowball effect, which impacts on all airport traffic and, ultimately, economic performance. Part of AVITRACK’s mission is to create a new management system that can optimise platform availability and thus reduce aircraft servicing costs.

Security a key priority

The events of 11 September 2001, in America, and the recent attacks on the Madrid rail system , underline the importance of real-time surveillance capabilities in protecting against hostile actions. History has shown that such actions against aircraft, whether carried out before take-off or in flight, often originate in the aircraft servicing area.

The AVITRACK system will be capable of producing a warning in the event of abnormal movements around a parked aircraft, allowing authorities to identify and intercept suspicious individuals and dangerous objects.

Increasing capacity

It is now widely recognised within the air transport sector that major increases in operational capacity will only come through changes in the way air traffic services are provided. Helping airlines, handlers and airports make the best use of available facilities is another goal of AVITRACK. The project will allow for better information sharing between airport service providers and aircraft operators, accelerating the throughput of traffic and optimising the entire range of airport activities.

Better air transport for the future

“With our system in place,” says Cher, “we see everyone involved in air transport, from airline operators, to the people working on airport aprons, to airport managers and the passengers using their services, all reaping important and tangible benefits.

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