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Airports get smarter with Thales

In the time it takes to read this article (about three or four minutes), more than 20,000 people will have boarded flights worldwide.

That's 100 people a second. And the rush for the gates shown no signs of abating, despite complex pre-flight procedures and ever tighter security regulations. With passenger numbers and the global aircraft fleet predicted to double by 2030, what can airports do to face up to these challenges? Thales has some answers.

High levels of passenger satisfaction with pre-flight experiences are the new Holy Grail for airport operators, against a backdrop of fierce competition among leading global hubs. Airports’ ability to attract more flights by providing the necessary guarantees to airlines (in terms of punctuality, smooth operations, stringent security, innovative services, etc.) depends to a great extent on the quality of the passenger experience that they are able to provide.

Multiple challenges

The challenges airports have to meet in order to improve the passenger experience include increasing capacity, maximising security without making life difficult for passengers unnecessarily, and providing real-time communication systems so that passenger can be kept informed of flight delays, guided to boarding gates, etc. while at the same time offering new services such as geolocation, proximity marketing, etc.

Digital technologies have a vital role to play in delivering these changes, which are key to protecting the attractiveness and competitiveness of airports. The major challenge is to ensure a successful transition from conventional “stovepipe” operation to a collaborative approach between the many stakeholders involved (airport operators, airlines, government agencies such as police and customs, air navigation service providers, and subcontractors in domains such as baggage handling, security, logistics, etc.)

The Collaborative Decision Making (CDM)* concept is designed to improve coordination between partners in order to facilitate decision-making under normal and degraded operating conditions via accurate, reliable sharing of information in real time.

Delivering the smart airport

Thanks to its unique systems architecture and integration capability and its comprehensive knowledge of the air transport market – as a result of which it enjoys global leadership positions in avionics, air traffic management, air surveillance and airport security – Thales is ideally positioned to support airports through this transformation.

Based on its experience in critical infrastructure security, for example, the Group has developed a unified integration platform, the Airport Operation Control Centre (AOCC), a complete, scalable, modular solution designed to overcome the complexity of centralised airport operations management and meet the safety and security requirements of all stakeholders.

Smoothly integrating the full suite of airport security and operations management applications provided in Thales’s Special Airport Systems (SAS) solution, this powerful process management, supervision and optimisation solution, powered by smart data processing, efficiently handles airport operations and alerts, monitors activities in real time, and optimises infrastructure utilisation and personnel management.