Aircraft turnarounds are being transformed at Gatwick with a new handheld digital platform that allows ground handlers to update air traffic controllers about changes to the turn process – in real time, direct from the apron – optimising efficiency, reducing delays and unnecessary fuel burn on the ground.
The new AirTurn platform means that information can be communicated more quickly on changes to turn events – such as updates on baggage loading, refuelling or other aircraft preparations – giving the control tower a more accurate, real- time departure or Target Off-Block Time (TOBT) to feed into the airport’s overall flying programme.
Without the system, changes to aircraft turn events are updated through paperwork and radio communications – sometimes between several individuals at different locations – before being recorded into the system and communicated to the control tower and EUROCONTROL, the agency that manages air traffic management across Europe.
The AirTurn platform is accessed directly through Gatwick’s Community App which is already widely used by ground handling staff across the airport.
It is also used by many other airports worldwide, including airports in VINCI Airports global network, and therefore has the potential to be rolled out across many other airports.
AirTurn is the latest in a number of innovative solutions pioneered by Gatwick and highlights VINCI Airports’ commitment to innovation and improved stakeholder and passenger experience.
The innovation is part of VINCI Airports’ strategy to improve airport infrastructure and management, including the dissemination of innovative ideas across its network of 53 airports in 12 countries.
Gatwick is an innovation centre of excellence for VINCI Airports and AirTurn is the latest in a number of innovative solutions pioneered by the airport that are now used in other airports in the VINCI Airports network, including the Airport Community App.
Both AirTurn and the Airport Community App were developed in partnership with AirportLabs.
Karl Sulsh, Innovation and Commercial IT, Gatwick Airport said: “We are delighted to offer our new AirTurn platform more widely to our partners at Gatwick Airport, in what is a step forward in reducing delays and improving on-time performance.
“We created the platform after listening to our ground handlers and have delivered a digital solution that improves communication and provides fast, accurate information from the airfield in real time.
“Gatwick and VINCI Airports are committed to creating innovative solutions for our partners and AirTurn is one of the key digital building blocks we are deploying to make the airport more efficient as we gear up for a busy 2022.”
Keith Fogarty, Chief Operating Officer, Fenix/Red Handling UK said: “AirTurn is a fantastic tool which supports our digitisation and sustainability agenda.
“Instead of radioing in the control room, we can now update the target off block time directly on our smartphones and that is immediately relayed to air traffic control tower and EUROCONTROL.
“Vitally, we have reduced our carbon footprint by eliminating the paperwork related to turn that would traditionally be printed off and stored in the trip files. We are sure this will be an important tool for us, especially during the summer peak.”
Steven Moore, Head of ATM Network Operations, EUROCONTROL: “In our role as EUROCONTROL Network Manager, we are currently embracing the digital transformation of our operational systems, so it is exciting to see innovative projects from our partners such as this new digital platform at Gatwick. The new app will allow A-CDM communication from the aircraft stand to EUROCONTROL, resulting in more accurate estimates of take-off time being provided to the Network Manager, benefitting the Network and it all its users.”