A-CDM: collaborating to improve airport efficiency

Alan Marsden

Alan Marsden

Head of A-CDM Project

The smooth operation of an airport involves a large number of different parties. The EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre’s Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) project is improving cooperation between those parties and increasing the efficiency of airport operations. We spoke to Alan Marsden, head of the project at Brétigny.

Who are the various parties involved in the operation of an airport?

There are five main parties involved. First of all, there is the airport operator (Aéroport de Paris, for example) responsible for the operation of the entire infrastructure and owner of the shops and the airport apron facilities. Secondly, there is the organisation responsible for air traffic control (ATC), that ensures the rotation between take-offs and landings and the regulation of aircraft movements on the ground. Thirdly, there are the airlines, whose job everybody knows. Fourthly, there are the ground handlers, who are responsible for the management, coordination and execution of all jobs connected with the preparation of an aircraft for departure. Fifth and last – but not least – comes the Network Manager (NM), namely EUROCONTROL, responsible for managing the traffic flows from European airports or overflying the territory of the 41 countries of the continent.”

How are the tasks of these five different parties coordinated?

Each of them has quite different objectives, and for a very long time they did not really collaborate with one another. That was why the EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre launched Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) in the early 1990s. Those who promoted this project were seeking to improve overall efficiency at airports, in particular by means of better sharing of information between the five parties involved. This was particularly useful for the NM, who had very patchy knowledge of the operations affecting take-off times. Our study team therefore identified means of improving cooperation and of developing a set of collaborative procedures, which constitute the core of today’s A-CDM.”

So can we definitely speak of a pre-A- CDM era and a post-A- CDM era?

Absolutely. A-CDM is now deployed at more than 20 airports and this number is constantly growing. It also forms an integrated part of NM operations. Moreover, the EEC has been continually working on this project for the last 15 years. Tomorrow’s A-CDM is therefore already under development and we are closely collaborating with our partners in the framework of the European SESAR* programme to define a concept known as Total Airport Management. Total Airport Management will undoubtedly be one of the success stories of the next decade. We can celebrate it on the occasion of the EEC’s 60th anniversary!”

* SESAR: Single European Sky ATM Research