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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

New system to cut delays on runways

Soubhik Mitra , Hindustan Times  mumbai:, July 22, 2013
First Published: 01:34 IST(22/7/2013) | Last Updated: 01:36 IST(22/7/2013)

You could soon spend less time stuck in a plane waiting to take off from the city airport, if the results of the new automated air traffic management system are anything to go by.

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Results of the first trial of the Airport Collaborative Decision Making (ACDM) showed that the system could reduce departure queues to two flights. Currently, a dozen flights have to wait in line during peak hours.

The ACDM has enabled several European airports to cut down delays and congestion inside terminals because it enables all airport departments to track every take-off and touchdown on a computer in real time. (See graphic) Going by current projections, the airport is likely to hit its saturation point —air passengers travelling through the city airport are expected to touch 40 million annually by 2015.

The airport’s capacity can increase by another 5 million if the initiative is implemented properly.

“Data such as allotment of aircraft parking bays, which is manually fed by the airfield staff, is the only thing missing from the system. Once that is updated, we can easily achieve this target,” said a senior air traffic control (ATC) official, requesting anonymity.

The issue was brought up at a meeting between the ATC and officials from the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) last week. “They have agreed to share the data as soon as possible,” added the ATC official.

Airlines have also agreed to update last minute changes in flight schedules through a web interface in real-time.  Since automation will take over most of the jobs presently done manually, the system will save a lot of time, added officials.

For instance, the system will allocate a parking bay for a flight scheduled to arrive in the city automatically soon after touchdown. Currently, it takes a three-way conversation between a pilot, ATC staff and airfield officers to get a parking bay allotted.

“Every touchdown consumes about two minutes in this process. With about 350 landings daily, one can imagine the wastage,” said another airport official.
The Mumbai airport operator is developing a similar web system called joint co-ordination committee, which will share flight movement data among agencies working inside terminals. Departments such as immigration, customs and even regular terminal staff responsible for manning conveyor belts can juggle manpower based on the pace of arriving traffic.

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