Technology Changes Everything

Nov. 27, 2012
IT is accelerating the evolution of the airport space

Within this issue, you will find all things technology as it relates to aviation and airport operations. And with only 36 pages, we have barely scratched the surface. Just think about all the aspects of an airport business that technology affects, obviously some areas much more dramatically than others.

In our cover story, we touch base with Kevin Molloy of Vancouver International (YVR), an airport long considered by many to be a leader in the area of simplifying passenger travel. Since 1996, the Vancouver Airport Authority has continually introduced innovative programs that have enhanced the ease and speed of transit through its terminals.

Comments Molloy, "From 1970 when the first airline check-in system was created, to 2000 — for a full thirty years nothing changed in the check-in concourse.

"Over the last decade, that has evolved multiple times — proprietary self-service check-in, then common use self-service check-in, then passengers tagging their own bags, and now at many airports, including ours, you don’t even have to see anyone to check your bag.

"Obviously more and more of that has been pushed to where passengers are, be it an airline app on a smartphone or on the computer at home. And, now we have moved self-service into the border environment."

With the fast-paced advancement of technology today, airports face infrastructure challenges. Molloy says we need to get plugged into today's passenger mentality. 

"The usage of Wi-Fi today, just even over the last 12-18 months, is dramatically different than it was a few years ago," explains Molloy. "We built our Wi-Fi for casual use … checking of email, airline website to check flight times, or car rental information … all really low-volume data traffic.

"Now what you see at the gate areas are 20 or 30 people watching live television on their Wi-Fi. So the data demands we are starting to experience are creating real challenges for airports. So we need the various networking companies of the world to step up to the plate a little more — airports are different than most spaces."


Meanwhile, in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, a long-established Thunderbird Aviation at Flying Cloud Airport is changing its focus to one of full-service, relying on the diversification of service support to manage the growth the company has seen recently, even through the thick of the economic downturn.

But, even with a new executive facility, Thunderbird is careful not to forget its roots in flight training and developing professional pilots.

The company owns Academy College located in Bloomington, MN, which offers several programs and provides two-year and four-year aviation degrees; a complement to the company’s flight training capabilities.

Comments Chris Cape, GM and director of operations “Professional pilot training is still a core part of our franchise. We have invested by adding a new student coordinator position."

“We have worked so that we have not lost any aspect of our flight training business,” adds president Nancy Grazzini-Olson. “We have the recreational pilots, those students who want to become career pilots, and we can offer degrees with our collegiate program ... and this is only one area of aviation training we offer at Academy College.”

Thanks for your interest,


About the Author

Brad McAllister | Editor