Cash-strapped airports could create much needed capacity by utilising data extracted from existing surveillance systems say leading industry consultants.

Speaking at the Helios conference in London on 4 February, a senior consultant for the company said that the results of their recent study showed that airports could benefit from significant cost savings by using existing infrastructure to collect valuable information.

The airport capacity enhancement (ACE) project conducted in conjunction with EUROCONTROL investigated the feasibility of collecting data on aircraft operations at single-slot airports for the purposes of increasing airside capacity.

Senior consultant at Helios, Adam Parkinson said that the report showed the value of data collection.

“By using data collected from existing surveillance systems such as radar, airport operators can maximise the use of their facilities, adding additional runway slots, reducing delays and improving overall efficiency,” he said.

The ACE research team looked at a variety of data including flight, aircraft movement, controller data and airport infrastructure and resource usage.

The team used data that could be collected by wide-area multilateration (MLAT) surveillance equipment and surface movement radar (SMR) as well as the advanced automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast (ADS-B) systems.

“We want to monitor an aircrafts movement from the moment it touches the ground until the wheels leave,” Parkinson said.

“At the moment we are using a team of volunteers with clipboards and pens. The next logical step is to move to automated data capture, which is entirely feasible using existing airport surveillance.”

Once an airport collects a sufficient range of data, the information is merged with static data such as airplane call signs and signatures. The data is then coordinated through common data formats and clearly unified interface specifications to provide a clear picture of where an airport’s performance can be improved on.

At present the ACE project has completed preliminary studies into the feasibility of data collection and is now undertaking cost benefit studies.

By Daniel Garrun.