The Airport Corner reaches a milestone: 100 airports

19 July 2017

The Airport Corner has reached a significant milestone, with 100 airports and about 700 data providers having joined this airport-focused data repository by the end of 2016. Having all these airports on board is a great achievement as it makes for wider coverage, as well as fostering the continued integration of airports into the European ATM network.

Introducing the tool

The Airport Corner, managed by the Network Manager’s Airport Unit, was created nine years ago to help airports integrate into various Network Manager (NM) processes, from strategic planning to post-operational assessment, as set out in the Network Strategic Plan (NSP) and required by the Network Operations Plan (NOP) – both key NM deliverables.

In order to effectively manage the European ATM network, the Network Manager regularly captures key airport information via the Airport Corner to support its planning and operational processes. The process involves close collaboration between the local Air Navigation Service Provider and the Airport Operator, resulting in coordinated airport input. Airports can update their information at any time, but twice a year, NM sends out a request to ensure that airport information remains up to date.

The interface covers two types of airport information – strategic and pre-tactical. Strategic information includes:

  • current and forecast capacities,
  • traffic forecasts,
  • planned local events,
  • environmental management,
  • Terminal Manoeuvring Area (TMA)/approach Continuous Descent Operations (CDO),
  • Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) implementation,
  • local contacts’ details,
  • standard and temporary diversion capabilities.

Pre-tactical information covers events affecting the pre-tactical ATFCM phase of operations, such as any adverse weather or industrial action that is expected. The NMOC flow staff uses it in preparing the day-1 (pre-tactical) plan. The pre-tactical area of the Airport Corner supports the Enhanced Airport Information Exchange with the Network Manager Operations Centre (NMOC), an important step in the progressive integration of airports in network operations.

Users can flag confidential information; this is not publically divulged. Non-confidential information on individual airports can be accessed through the Public Airport Corner via the Network Operations Portal (NOP) Strategic section or directly via the following link:

ACCESS

In addition, airports and airlines can subscribe to an information service and receive notification of events and diversion capabilities in real time.

The benefits

The sharing of airport information allows NM to identify issues that may affect network performance very early on. It also ensures that existing and future airport operation plans are fully taken into consideration so that sufficient capacity is made available at the right places to accommodate traffic from and to European airports. It sharpens situational awareness for all ATM partners, and, ultimately, results in optimised airport and network performance.

“All airports are taken into account in the capacity and network planning processes so that we are aware of what is planned at each airport in the short-, medium- and long-term,” says Joe Sultana, Director Network Manager.

“In addition, when NM evaluates the performance of an airport, we are aware of the context and factors that may have impacted on airport operations and generated delays,” explains Maria Christina Meyer, senior expert in Airport Information Management at the Airport Unit.

After the completion of an event (a runway closure or industrial action, for example), the Airport Unit prepares comprehensive post-operational feedback, in collaboration with the NM post-operational experts. Based on this, the team compiles a set of the lessons learned that can lead to improvements.

The Airport Corner’s strategic information is used as a direct input to the Challenges of Growth studies, which aim to support long-term decision-making for aviation in Europe. The studies place particular focus on the air transport network’s capacity. To this end, the Airport Unit regularly monitors those airports which are considered essential in the network, not only because of the impact they have now, but also because of the future evolution of traffic growth and the wider implications of potential ripple effects from congestion.

“These airports may not be constraining the network today, but they might affect it in five years’ time. This could even be the case of airports which are not yet open. So, we bring today and tomorrow together,” observes Maria-Christina.

What the future looks like

With the target of having incorporated a total of 124 contributing airports by the end of 2018, the Airport Corner is an evolving process and new information requirements are regularly implemented to respond to both EUROCONTROL and stakeholders’ needs.

The plan for the next few years is to integrate the Airport Corner into the new technical framework environment known as “n-CONECT” (Network-Common Enhanced Collaborative ATM), which will replace the current NOP platform. This new framework will be more user-friendly, bringing greater flexibility and enabling easier data integration. The long-term plans include a possible expansion of the Airport Corner to include regions outside Europe in order to exchange information between European airports and other areas of the globe.

In the short-term, we will be targeting airlines. “We receive many ad-hoc information requests from airlines. We have contacted a number of them who confirmed that an airline-oriented interface would be helpful, so we are developing a service tailored to their needs. We aim to have the initial interface next year,” Maria Christina adds.

Thank you

The Network Manager would like to thank those airports that voluntarily and regularly contribute to this process, which is endorsed and supported by Airports Council International (ACI Europe) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) - our partners in achieving the enhanced integration of airports and network operations overall.

The airport information exchange between airports and NM has been recognised as an important driver for optimised airport and network performance and should continuously evolve.

If your airport would like to join the Airport Corner process, please contact us.

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