Information technology consultants, business
strategists and futurists are talking about business
intelligence, and you may be getting calls from
companies wanting to sell you services. And new
business intelligence methods, procedures and
analytical tools may allow airports to exploit some
of this information. The problem is this: While
some solutions work well for marketing, sales,
manufacturing and distribution of products, they
do not always address the needs of an airport.
What’s needed is an integrated approach to systems
engineering that designs from the start for Airport
Operational Intelligence — capturing and viewing
of both business and operational events on the
airport campus and in real time — that allows rapid
correlation, dissemination and decision analysis.
Operational events include not only building
automation and baggage handling but below-the-wing activities that get aircraft on-blocks, load fuel
and baggage, and facilitate efficient boarding by
passengers. Finding ways to collaborate with airlines
to mine this data can make both airlines and airports
more efficient and increasingly profitable.
RON CRAIN, email@example.com, and
STUART GARRETT, firstname.lastname@example.org,
are project managers in the Aviation Group
at Burns & McDonnell.
Burns & McDonnell professionals consider an
airport to be operationally intelligent when it
knows about itself and functions optimally, using
data to make decisions. If the airport qualifies as
smart, passengers may never know. Think about
some of these clever elements of existing airports:
The baggage-handling system knows when
belt speeds are out of limits, and may even know
that the cause is an overheating drive motor.
Lighting controls on the concourse can detect the
intensity of outdoor light and adjust the interior
lighting for energy savings. Smart metering
on electrical circuits and boarding bridges can
determine if airlines run preconditioned air and
power on aircraft docked overnight.
ADS-B receivers can determine and report exactly
when each aircraft lands and departs. Auto-dock
systems know the precise turn times for each gate
and airline. Information is relayed and decisions
made automatically or by operators whose efforts
can result in smooth and transparent efficiency.
So how do we make this happen? It calls for
applications, infrastructure, best practices
and integrated systems engineering to provide
access to, and empower analysis of, data that
improves performance and helps airports make
While some solutions
work well for marketing,
sales, manufacturing and
distribution of products,
they do not always address
the needs of an airport.