New software to reduce flight delays at Mumbai airport?

  • Soubhik Mitra, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 24, 2015 21:57 IST

The Mumbai airport’s steps to reduce flight delays and increase capacity through automation are only going to get stronger from April. The city air traffic control (ATC) department is planning to start advance trials of a globally-successful concept, which uses automation for seamless flight operations, at the city airport by mid-April.

The Hindustan Times had first reported about the concept when it appeared on the city ATC’s drawing boards nearly two years ago. The system, called Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM), involves feeding data — flight plans, the runway in use and parking bays to be allotted to a particular incoming plane — into a software. The system then uses complex algorithms to throw up real-time timelines to all airport departments involved in air traffic management, focusing on aircraft turn-around and pre-departure sequencing process.

The automation would reduce time wasted in verbal communication between these departments, said airport officials.

“We have almost completed the data feeding at our end. The forthcoming trials would involve data sharing from airlines and helping them acclimatise them to the concept,” said Jayant Dasgupta, general manager, ATC Mumbai.

The A-CDM trials until now have shown that departure queues of flights waiting to take-off could be reduced to just two from a dozen during peak hours, said officials.

The city airport has been struggling to maintain consistency in its flights, despite a series of measures to streamline traffic. In November last year, 84% of flights taking-off and landing at the city airport were on time. But, flight delays went up to 35% in January.

“A land-locked airport (no room for expansion) such as in Mumbai, would have to depend on automation to streamline its flight operations. Unlike other metro airports it does not have space to add runways,” said a senior official with a private airline requesting anonymity.

The A-CDM has enabled several European airports to cut down on delays and congestion inside terminals because it enables different departments to track every take-off and touchdown on a computer in real time.

The Munich airport saw a substantial cut down in taxiing time, which reduced its costs, carbon footprints and workload. The system also ensured that 85% of its flights took-off on time.

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