The Potential of ASDE-X

March 8, 2004

Tech Bytes

The Potential of ASDE-X

Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport is using an advanced technology to better monitor and track both arrival and departure flights. ASDE-X (aircraft surface detection equipment-Model X) is developed and installed by Sensis Corporation, under an FAA-funded program. The FAA isn't the only organization interested in the benefits of this technology. According to Sensis Corporation's Marc Viggiano, airports and airlines are seeing ways in which more accurate tracking could improve efficiency and effectiveness. As currently installed, the ASDE-X system only monitors the movement areas - taxiways and runways. However, the capability exists to equip the airfield right up to the gate. "For example," says Viggiano, "a lot of airports have towers where a specific airline might have its dispatch people located to sequence the aircraft and guide them to the movement area of the FAA to take control. [The airlines] have found that it's really useful for them to see that information - the same stuff the FAA towers are getting on the ASDE-X system - so they can decide when to push planes back from a gate and to not get planes caught up in a traffic jam." He adds that the information would also aid the airlines in statistical analysis to better understand how well they're using the gates and runways. While the airport and the airlines are benefitting from the safety enhancements provided by the FAA's installation of ASDE-X, the same technology can be used to address efficiency and capacity issues. Currently, says Viggiano, FedEx in Memphis and UPS in Louisville are using the technology to gather operational data, and a demonstration program has been in place for some two years with Northwest Airlines at its Detroit and Minneapolis hubs. The FAA project only provides funding for ASDE-X in the movement areas. According to Viggiano, expanding the system to cover more of the airfield would require investment from the airport and/or the airlines. If it indeed does improve capacity and efficiency, perhaps it's something to explore before funds are poured into expansions.

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Several more airports are venturing into providing wireless connectivity in the terminal.

  • ICOA, Inc. announces its subsidiary, Airport Network Solutions (ANS), has started offering public broadband Internet access at the Savannah/Hilton (GA) Head International Airport.

    Passengers with Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) enabled laptops or PDAs can connect to the Internet from anywhere in the airport for $6.95 per day. Under an exclusive agreement with the airport, ANS manages and operates Wi-Fi services at the airport.

    The infrastructure was designed and deployed by ANS. ICOA, Inc. also offers Wi-Fi services at Greater Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport and Sacramento International Air-port;

  • Gainesville Regional Airport now provides free wireless Internet access to passengers.

    Gainesville-based HotzSpotz will operate the Wi-Fi system, and according to reports, the airport will spend some $340 a month on the service;

  • By April 2004, Fort Wayne International Airport will offer free wireless Internet access. Access will be provided by Indiana Data Center, and the airport is investing some $25,000 in the project;

  • The Columbus (OH) Regional Airport Authority is also providing wireless Internet at Port Columbus International Airport. Free Wi-Fi service is available in all public areas of the terminal for travelers with properly enabled devices.

    The airport is also launching a new website;