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Aeronautic Study on Seamless Transport

Tags: Air

State of the Art - Background

At the moment, Air Transport punctuality in Europe is far from the 99% punctuality target set by ACARE's Vision 2020 and has shown a tendency to drop below 80% in the past 3 years.

The main challenge to be met in reaching the ACARE research goals in terms of time efficient air transport is due to the system performance at airports.

Recent studies reveal that the main contribution to insufficient punctuality at airports is a result of varying times an aircraft leaves its stand for departure ('off-block time'). This leads to poor predictability within flight planning. In order to maintain basic stability, airlines introduce costly time buffers within their schedules and/or reserve extra aircraft. Reducing just five minutes of buffer time in 50% of the flight-plans in Europe would save over one billion Euros a year.

Current research activities in Europe, but also in the United States, are more advanced on airside aspects.


ASSET aims at finding an integrated approach for improvement of various modules of the airport process chains:

- passenger inbound and transfer flows timeliness at airports including boarding and de-boarding of aircraft,

- the associated processes for baggage/freight handling at aircraft and within the airport,

- aircraft service processes at stand/gate (fuelling, cleaning, catering maintenance etc.),

- effects of air transport network on late arrivals due to previous delays at prior departure airport,

- there are multiple control procedures involving multiple stakeholders who all have reinforced their duties and constitute many bottlenecks prior to embarking: check-in, security, customs and immigration, boarding, etc.

Improvements of the off-block punctuality can therefore only be obtained if all those processes are improved in an integrated manner.

The proposed ASSET project is to develop four main outcomes:

1. A list of solutions to enhance time efficiency at airports which includes technical, operational and strategic approaches,

2. A ranking of above-mentioned measures according to their level of target contribution towards more time-efficient and thus economically viable air transport,

3. An objective and comparable scheme of two generic airport models (hub and medium-sized airport) to assess future technological and/or procedural changes in typical airport environments,

4. A financial approach that will clearly indicate the benefits for the various stakeholders.

The analysis of solutions improvement potential will not only be limited to single solutions addressing single elements of different airport process chains. ASSET targets at an integrated approach which allows the assessment of promising combinations of different single solutions.

Description of Work

The envisaged work is broken down into four logical steps (WP 1 - WP 4).

The objective of Work Package 1 is to precisely identify what the bottlenecks and requirements of the various air transport stakeholders are to address passenger, baggage and aircraft turnaround time issues.

The focus of Work Package 2 is the development of generic simulation models for the two types of airports: medium-size and hub. A similar, but independent, approach is followed for both types.

Work Package 3 deals with both the development and the evaluation of solutions for improving the performance of various airport processes with regard to stakeholders' requirements in the field of time efficiency.

Work Package 4 activities are based on the results of WP3, in particular the evaluation and ranking of afore developed single solutions for improving time performance of airport processes. The current WP constitutes of an expansion of the present analysis to an integrated approach, including all relevant elements of the airport process chains passenger, baggage and aircraft turnaround.

Expected Results

ASSET delivers a list of solutions that have been assessed in terms of time efficiency for airport processes throughout the whole process chain, from the entry of a passenger (and his baggage) to the airport, up to the point where the aircraft leaves its stand. The assessments of the solutions within the ASSET project are also judged against their technological readiness for 2020.

Searching and finding more time efficient - more predictable and/or faster - processes at airports will pave the way to increased capacity of aircraft movements, as more predictable and faster turnaround processes enable to serve more aircraft at a given airport gate or remote position.

Because performance of aircraft punctuality depends on a precise functioning and integration of airside and landside airport processes, isolated solutions to improve punctuality of the air transport system have not been successful in the past.