Docking Guidance Systems: Tools for Ramp Management

The new generation of docking guidance equipment provides increased intelligence for ground operations.

Using Ramp Intelligence to Increase Capacity

Today’s airport operations are expected to do more with less, meet current demands, plan for the future and always remain flexible. Adding to the challenges faced by airport and airline operators, global traffic is predicted to increase by about 5 percent each year until 2025, according to the ICAO.

New construction can improve gate capacity, but it requires substantial capital investment and can take years to complete. The cost of lost opportunity while new gates are under construction, and the risk of under-utilized facilities, should traffic ever decline again in the future, are also significant.

Technology improvements can benefit operators by helping to “future-proof” existing facilities by increasing throughput and flexibility via a more efficient and scalable operation — without substantial capital investment and without the wait.

A-VDGS technology has the capability to link all gates via a local area network and integrate with all airport and airline information systems, providing the fastest time from touch-down to gate and real-time gate intelligence and shared flight data that can be used to make improvements to many aspects of airfield operations. The A-VDGS can also be used to capture and report actual in-and-out times and that information is automatically sent to operations for tracking/analyzing gate utilization and accurate billing. Turn times can be tracked by city pairs, gate, crew or time of day.

Real-time gate status allows operations staff to know at a glance which gates are occupied or available, making last-minute gate changes faster and making it possible to dock any aircraft, from any airline, at any gate. This common-use approach allows existing gates to be used more efficiently and create a safe and consistent ramp operation during regular or irregular conditions.

Some airline users have avoided a separate investment in a ramp information display system (RIDS) because integration allows the A-VDGS LED screens to double as RIDS, displaying flight information to ground crew whenever the systems are not actively docking aircraft.

Ramp Intelligence Impact on Passenger Service and IROPS

Each year, weather-related delays, diversions and canceled flights cost airlines and airports many millions of dollars, and have a negative impact on passenger service.

New regulation by the Department of Transportation has raised the stakes with the threat of hefty fines to airlines for tarmac delays of more than three hours. The new rules have airlines bringing more planes to the ramp during severe weather and shifting the challenge from tarmac delays to ramp congestion and delays. The increased demand for gate availability and access to the terminal has airports getting more involved in ramp operations, especially during irregular operations.

A-VDGS ramp intelligence gives airports and airlines better control of the ramp during IROPS by communicating real-time gate availability and ramp closures. To help manage delays, the system can start the clock by sending time alerts for aircraft landing or leaving the gate.

In addition to managing delays, an A-VDGS can help avoid them by keeping things moving. When the threat of lightning sends ground crew indoors, the automated system continues to identify available gates and allows pilots to self-park so that more aircraft are parked and more passengers are deplaned at the gate. Delays, diversions, cancellations and congestion are minimized and recovery is faster.

Even in favorable operating conditions, the A-VDGS allows the possibility to dock aircraft before ramp personnel can get in position, getting aircraft to the gate without delay, saving time and avoiding any inconvenience to passengers.

Fuel Consumption and the Environment

According to the Air Transportation Association, the single biggest advance in fuel conservation and emission reduction will come from updating decades-old technology and procedures. Operations that have updated manual docking procedures to an A-VDGS have seen significant reduction in fuel burn and emissions through the elimination of unmet flight delays.

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