It's impossible to ignore the many ways technology is changing how airport operations are performed in today's increasingly digital environment. In recent issues of airport business magazine, we have covered how technology has transformed passenger processing, and how airports are utilizing digital forms of communication to better connect with customers — now we take a look outside the terminal.

Airport layout planning is going digital, facilitating a more accurate and updated view of the airport operations area. When you really start thinking about the benefits of electronic airport layout planning (eALP) and geographic information systems (GIS), applications for the technology seem unlimited, relates Dan Bartholomew, manager of airport planning at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL).

There is a relatively new field in GIS called geostatistical analysis, he adds. "It allows you to break down problems that do not have an obvious cause by taking a much closer look at the historical data related to the problem," remarks Bartholomew.

Combine mobile functionality to this technology, and you have a powerful tool for refreshing airfield data in real-time, allowing airports to dispatch operations professionals to address potential issues well before an incident may occur.

And enhanced technology on the airfield has so much more potential. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport has embarked on a major runway expansion project which will expand the current runway to 8,000 feet. 

Remarks Bartholomew, "We are going to be putting in runway status lights; I think that’s a technology that’s just imperative. With that technology, aircraft get another visual queue to help with avoiding potential incursions.

"And we are looking at as many LED taxiway and runway lights as we can; there is tremendous power savings with those. We can build in more low-voltage type systems — LED lights are cheaper, the maintenance costs are lower, and they perform better and are brighter.

"Our new airport information management system will be able to tell us what aircraft are parked at which gates; it will notify us when the aircraft is about to leave the gate and when it has left — so our gate management includes a lot of geospatial technology."

Ultimately, being able to track where vehicles are on the airfield in relation to other vehicles and aircraft is critical, adds Bartholomew. From the airport point of view, much of what NextGen technology is expected to do to improve situational awareness on the ground is already happening ... it's a matter of being aware of what's out there, and employing solutions that best fit your airport business

Thanks for your interest,


About the Author

Brad McAllister | Editor