A driverless boarding bridge claimed to be the first of its type in Asia has begun operations at Chengdu Tianfu International Airport in south-west China.

Manufactured by the Shenzhen-based CIMC Tianda Holding (CIMC-Tianda), the bridge has an advanced cabin door recognition and positioning system that can send data instantly to an artificial intelligence (AI) powered, autonomous control system.

CIMC-Tianda managing director Zheng Zuhua said: “It is a milestone product for the passenger boarding bridge sector and represents the highest intelligent level so far.

“The application of driverless boarding bridges at home and overseas has cemented the company’s leading role in the sector.

“Research and development standards of the company’s products will become the world’s standards. There is still large room for imagination in the future of smart airports.”

The new boarding bridge is said to have completed the docking process between the boarding bridge and an aircraft in little more than 50 seconds, compared with the average time of three minutes.

This bridge is expected to reduce staff workloads and the airport’s operating costs.

Its deployment has been deemed a ‘milestone’ in the intelligent upgrade of China’s civil aviation sector.

In addition to Chengdu, the driverless boarding bridge has been implemented at other Chinese airports located in the southern metropolis of Shenzhen and north-eastern Harbin.

Several airports outside China are also said to be looking into installing the bridge, with CIMC-Tianda helping them with the preparation work.

CIMC-Tianda launched its first driverless boarding bridge three years ago at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The company is a subsidiary of China International Marine Containers (CIMC).

Last month, the Civil Aviation Administration of China eased Covid-19 pandemic rules for international passenger flights.

From 7 August, the suspension time for passengers with Covid-19 who travel via scheduled inbound flights has been reduced.