See also: former BAA CIO profile

Heathrow has launched a new information management system that it said will help stakeholders share information accurately and in a timely way, to help the airport reduce delays and operate more efficiently.

The Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) system is based on BPM technology from Pegasystems, that airport operator BAA has been using at Heathrow for a number of years.

This announcement marks the first time that Heathrow has connected the A-CDM system to the European network.

“Pegasystems provided some of the technology and we have been working with them for several years.

“Heathrow has only linked into the European network for a few weeks though, so although we have been benefitting locally from A-CDM at Heathrow, we are only just beginning to realise the wider benefits that linking to the network brings,” a BAA spokesperson said.

Used locally, the system has allowed Heathrow’s partners – including airlines, ground handlers, air traffic control and airport staff – to share information about the status of inbound and outbound flights and manage traffic accordingly. For example, last year BAA revealed that flights at Heathrow were running at ‘100 percent’ on-time despite national strikes over public pensions taking place that were predicted to cause 12 hour-long passport queues at airports, thanks to the technology.

Now, through an automated data exchange for departing and arriving flights, Heathrow will be able to share information with other airports connected to the European network – which currently includes Charles de Gaulle in Paris, Frankfurt, Munich and Brussels airports. Other European airports plan to implement A-CDM in the future.

The system divides the lifecycle of each flight into 16 stages, from its landing at the airport, through its turnaround and then departure. The close monitoring of a plane’s progress through this journey allows operational staff at the airport to calculate more realistic timings for each flight, reducing the duration of taxi times and potentially reducing delays.

Reducing the taxi times of aircraft can help cut the amount and cost of fuel used – which, with 1,300 flights a day at Heathrow, equates to a potential saving of up to 30,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.

Furthermore, this real-time information allows Heathrow to provide even later boarding times to encourage people to stay and shop for longer in the retail areas, for example, to boost the airport’s revenue.

Tim Hardy, BAA director of airside, added: “A-CDM is about more than technology, it’s about behavior change. It relies on every area of the airport’s operations working collaboratively to share information in pursuit of this common goal.”