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Tracking of Aircraft Surroundings, Categorised Vehicles and Individuals for Apron’s Activity Model Interpretation and Check


AVITRACK uses state-of-the-art video systems and intelligent algorithms to track objects and persons, and to interpret normal aircraft servicing operations on the tarmac.

The AVITRACK project automatically checks the sequence and timing of movements on airport aprons. An assembly of cameras capture images of the aircraft parking zone, in which individuals, objects and vehicles can be identified then a computer programme interprets the real-time three-dimensional representation of activities and movements.

Project objectives

Making air transport more competitive

Aircraft are dependent on the availability of airport bays and airport handling efficiency. Delays produce a knock-on 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.

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 to make the best use of available facilities is another goal of AVITRACK. The project will allow better information sharing between airport service providers and aircraft operators, accelerating the throughput of traffic and optimising the entire range of airport activities.

Description of the work

AVITRACK combines several innovative technologies:

1. Video tracking

The assembly of cameras monitor the movements of individuals and vehicles around the aircraft. Image processing software detects movement in the scene. Detected objects are then classified as individuals, vehicles or mobile objects, all actors around the aircraft are detected and tracked, and vehicles are categorised by functionality (e.g. loader, truck, tanker, etc.). Multi-sensor data fusion is then used to create a real-time 3D representation map, which can be interpreted by the computer.

2. Apron Activities

To achieve automatic recognition of the handling operations, the scene and the activities are modelled. A geometric model of the apron is formed, including the operational function of specific areas (like waiting area, ERA, tanker area, gateway evolution area, GPU area). The aircraft functional model, containing all potential contact points (like refuelling point, passenger doors, cargo doors, etc.) completes the ‘apron scenes and actors database’. This static apron representation is then combined with dynamic scenarios. (A scenario is a scheduled arrangement of basic and combined events.) Each event is the result of the semantic description of activities in connection with multiple individuals and vehicles around the aircraft. Using a dedicated ontology, the ‘apron activities model’ database covers a large part of all the handling operations.

3. Understanding AI

Ground handling operation recognition process:

  • The video-tracking module captures the activities around the aircraft.
  • The 3D generated current situation map (people, aircraft and vehicle location) is combined with the 3D models of the apron area.
  • This observed apron situation is compared to the ‘apron activities model’, using artificial intelligence technologies.
  • Every operation and movement around the aircraft, from the simple to the more complex, is analysed and identified.
  • All pertinent events are dispatched to the apron manager, airport authorities, airlines and security services.

Expected results

The AVITRACK supervision tool is designed for the benefit of the passengers. The system outputs are intended to be used by airport operators, handlers and security services to:

  • manage identified actions undertaken for aircraft operations
  • grant the Estimated Off Block-Time (EOTB)
  • improve security
  • manage the existing scarce airport capacity, and feature:
  • connection with Departure Management Systems (DMA)
  • interoperability between the Eurocontrol Central Flow Management Unit and aircraft operators
  • apron allocation supervision.