Airfield 4.0 is a roadmap to help airports seamlessly reset, upgrade and automate their operations with intelligent interconnected hardware devices positioned around the airfield. The journey through which ADB SAFEGATE arrived at Airfield 4.0 can be traced as follows:
At the very start of flight operations – around 1910 – Airfield 1.0 saw the introduction of wicked kerosene lamps, so-called ‘gooseneck’ flares, for pathway illumination. These early devices were reasonably able to withstand the wind and serve as navigational beacons. By 1920, the then-named company ADB was founded, and the proliferation of electricity saw the first floodlights and theatre lights for indoor use go into operation.
By the 1940s, Airfield 2.0 was underway, and over the next few years ADB progressed its focus to primarily outdoor lighting. Rotating beacons were developed and became widely used for aircraft landing in the dark. Then came rapid technological advancements, bringing incandescent and then halogen lighting to the airfield, constant current regulators, transformers and control panels.
International civil aviation standards were introduced to signal touchdown zones and centreline visual aids with lighting patterns and colour codes to enable pilots to land more safely in varying visibility and weather conditions.
By the 1980s, Airfield 3.0 was in full swing, as airfield control became gradually more computerised and partial automation through IT-driven controls substantially reduced the human role. ADB SAFEGATE introduced its Advanced Surface Movement and Guidance and Control System (A-SMGCS) to enable better airfield lighting control and monitoring for greater safety and efficiency. It was a significant move toward achieving superior airport performance, and today, it continues to provide pilots with visual guidance through concepts like ‘Follow the Greens’ for taxiing aircraft.
Today, Airfield 4.0 is here, which builds on these previous technologies in a powerful way. Airfield 4.0 connects new digital sensor technologies and control systems to collect, analyse and aggregate real-time data to enable two-way communication between airfield operations and maintenance staff. This allows for faster and more accurate data-driven decision making, enhances situational awareness and streamlines operations to move airports closer to predictive maintenance abilities.