ADB SAFEGATE Airport Systems is helping air gateways digitalise in order to improve both safety and efficiency in many areas of their operations. The latest to benefit is Riyadh Airports Company (RAC), for whom the company helped develop a new airport management platform called OFOQ. Ilya Burkin, global sales director digital solutions at ADB SAFEGATE Airport Systems, explains all…
When did you initially start working with RAC on this project?
Riyadh Airports and ADB SAFEGATE have enjoyed more than 40 years of very productive partnership and collaboration. About five years ago, ADB SAFEGATE started to invest in the digitalisation of airport operations, moving towards the idea of Digital Airports in a move that didn’t go unnoticed.
Subsequently following a competitive tender, Riyadh Airport chose us to work on a new Airport Management Platform that is now called OFOQ.
OFOQ means ‘Horizon’ in Arabic, which encapsulates RAC’s ambitious plans for growth and expansion.
How did you go about developing OFOQ in partnership with RAC?
Projects like this are always a collaboration between the vendor and an airport. However, with RAC, they were requesting a truly multi-faceted approach with a vendor who understands the operation of each different component of the airport – airfield, apron, terminal, air traffic control (ATC) – and knows how to link it all together and orchestrate total airport management.
The ADB SAFEGATE roadmap perfectly aligns with RAC’s strategy for digitalisation and automation: OFOQ is based on the principles of openness, elasticity and predictability.
What data sources support the OFOQ system?
15 different external systems are integrated with OFOQ, ranging from airlines’ and ATC data to ADB SAFEGATE docking guidance and apron management solutions.
And how are those data sources used, managed and interpreted to ensure optimal efficiency?
One of the ideas behind OFOQ is to simplify integration and create an ecosystem that will grow, following increasing demand and the operational strategy of Riyadh Airports.
We worked very closely with the Operations Department of the airport to identify processes and decide how they could be optimised and automated, such as the automation of in-block/off-block procedures, aircraft turnaround management, communication with ground handlers and ground staff, and the management of baggage movements.
All of these aspects of airport operations are mostly ‘behind the scenes’ for passengers, but jointly they contribute to overall on-time performance (OTP) and are essential for passenger satisfaction.
Do such airport operations management systems form an important part of the ADB SAFEGATE offering today?
Innovation has been the driving force behind ADB SAFEGATE for more than 100 years. In the 1920s, variable resistors revolutionised theatre lighting, and in 1947, we took our first steps into aviation, supplying and installing airfield ground lighting (AGL) at Brussels Airport to enable night flights.
After 75 years as a pioneer within the aviation industry, the pace of innovation is today accelerating. We see a huge growth in demand of intelligent airport management solutions and, being a provider of solutions for ‘Airfield, Apron, Tower and Terminal’ we truly believe in the concept of the ‘Digital Airport’.
The ADB SAFEGATE vision of the fully autonomous Digital Airport managed by systems is truly ambitious. It depends on integrating processes and systems from the tower, airside, apron and terminal. It is enabled by advanced technologies, including data analysis, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and video surveillance.
Our automated solutions help airports and airlines to achieve the following:
- Ensure safety at the gate through shared real-time intelligence
- Improve OTP
Reduce operational costs and create new revenue streams
- Increase predictability for more effective planning
- Stay operational in all weather conditions
- Improve the passenger experience
Does ADB SAFEGATE have unique capabilities and skills to facilitate airport digitalisation?
ADB SAFEGATE is in a unique position to help airports around the world achieve superior airport performance. We offer an unrivalled understanding of the airside environment, from tower to airfield to gate, and our industry-leading solutions have been widely adopted.
With the Digital Airport, we’re adding a new dimension to airport performance. We’re helping airports, airlines, ground handlers and other stakeholders gain actionable insights by analysing data across airside systems, as well as the airport systems that manage landside and airside processes and resources.
We’re enabling the convergence of workflows across airports, leveraging advanced analytics to help our customers predict rather than react, become operationally resilient and achieve the triple aim of improving operational efficiency, profitability and passenger experience.
A recent example of innovation is our web-based SafeControl Apron Management System (SAM), which provides a complete view of ground traffic together with real-time updates on stand operations, equipment status and turnaround process.
It enables operators to make better decisions to mitigate disruption and enhance operational efficiency. Available from anywhere in the airport, SAM is a valued information resource to airport operations control centres.
Another example of innovation can be seen in our AS-Vision platform, which provides a single view for all flight-related information whether it is flight updates, turnaround process or KPIs [key performance indicators] and allows airports to integrate different systems for a unified stakeholder experience.
Do you think the pandemic and consequent collapse in the global aviation sector has spurred (or will spur) greater interest in systems such as these that maximise efficiency?
Absolutely, we already see it across the world. ‘Digital Transformation’ is a key priority for airports now. Senior leadership at airports want to track KPIs, integrate data to make better decisions, boost operational efficiency and improve the passenger experience.
Anything and everything to help recovery, generate new revenue streams and provide passengers with confidence is welcomed. With digital-driven processes 19 times more likely to be profitable than traditional methods, there is a big incentive to transform the way the airport operates. The Digital Airport makes business sense.
Maintaining a high quality of service is key to improving customer satisfaction, which in turn translates to improved non-aeronautical revenue that, for most airports, is fundamental to their financial recovery after the pandemic.
Even before the effect of Covid-19 on global aviation, billions of dollars, pounds and euros were lost each year through delays, many of which could be predicted and mitigated if an airport had the required information readily available across the stakeholder community.
ADB SAFEGATE applies the latest surveillance and automation technology to manage today’s complex airport challenges. Adaptable and resilient airport management systems, with flexible business models, enable operational elasticity to help airports and airlines quickly and easily scale up or down to meet changing demand.