Working Through the Downturn

Airports meet in Austin after a year of unprecedented challenges to business models

  • Era Systems Corporation, provider of next-generation air traffic management tools, announces the launch of its new Web-based surface management solution, Symphony. The program assists airports in proactively managing operations, reducing delays, and improving performance during irregular operations (IROPS) by providing historic, real-time, and predictive situational awareness of the airspace and the airport surface, according to the company. Users will benefit from two- and three-dimensional displays of all aircraft and vehicles. Symphony also features integrated status message and alert capabilities, statistical reporting, and future prediction of infrastructure demand.
  • Metron Aviation, a company that focuses on air traffic flow management solutions, offers its surface management system as a stand-alone solution or as part of the Metron Harmony suite of management tools. Metron Surface provides airport stakeholders with surface operations management that maximizes surface utilization and increases safety, while minimizing delays and fuel burn, says the company. A predictive modeling capability uses current and forecasted airport surface demand to estimate congestion at resources such as runways, taxiways, ramp areas, and gates.
  • Flightview looks to advance airport websites with its real-time accurate and actionable flight information display. Flightview says its latest product enhancement gives daily travelers and greeters flight information at a single portal that includes accurate flight status, a high-resolution map with live weather radar overlays, and a customized user interface.
  • Motorola manufactures the XR450 RFID Fixed Reader, an industrial-class RFID reader that provides a rich feature set to support RFID applications. Motorola reports it has deployed RFID-based baggage tracking applications at some of the world’s major airports resulting in a more than 20 percent improvement in increased throughput compared to bar-code based systems.


Bergen: “Somebody Is Going To Get Through”

ACI-NA’s keynote address featured Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst and author, who spoke on the movement of Al Qaeda and the threat the Islamist group poses to Americans.

The good news, he explains, is that he thinks Al Qaeda’s ability to perform a 9/11 attack on the U.S. right now is close to zero. His reasons include the fact that the American Muslim community has generally rejected Al Qaeda’s ideology almost entirely; it’s very hard for a jihadist terrorist to get into the country; there hasn’t been much evidence of Al Qaeda sleeper cells; and Al Qaeda itself has definitely weakened from the point it was before September 11.

However, says Bergen, there are a number of cases in the last year he thinks raise a number of serious issues about the potential of a terrorist threat in the U.S.

He asks, “What would the next successful attack in the U.S. look like?”

“Because obviously there will be an attack; there are many things that the government has done to make us safer, but somebody is going to get through eventually.”

“Commercial aviation is now the hardest target in the world; but they keep coming back to it.”

Bergen offers examples of attacks on aviation since 9/11: “The so-called shoebomber who would have killed up to 200 people on the American Airlines flight between Paris and Miami; the LAX attack in 2002; the foiled JFK plot; and the Glasgow Airport case of 2007.

“A very worrisome example is the attempt to bring down an Israeli passenger jet with a surface to air missile in Kenya in 2002,” remarks Bergen. “The reason I say it is worrying is because it almost succeeded, and I think it’s plausible in the next five years that an Al Qaeda group or affiliate will be able to bring down a commercial jet with a surface to air missile.”

Bergen says as soon as it can be demonstrated that it’s possible, that type of attack would have a very transformational affect on the global aviation business. “When you talk about threats ... it’s about capability and intent,” relates Bergen. “We have already seen that Al Qaeda has intent to do this; they also have a capability in people with some degree of expertise in the use of surface to air missiles.

“This idea is out there, and I think it’s well within their capabilities.”

In addition, Bergen says Al Qaeda will continue hitting Western brand names because they believe they can bankrupt the United States by attacking the economy; such as attacks on Western-owned hotels.

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