Airline Industry Update

>> Home > Air Transport News

Aviation Technology News

11 September 2017
Siemens Postal, Parcel & Airport Logistics (SPPAL) in Germany has received an order from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) in the UK for technology to further improve the availability of the baggage handling system (BHS). The Siemens team has developed a new maintenance concept, which uses intelligent sensors and modern cloud technology for the first time. In this way, SPPAL avoids system downtimes and expensive interruptions to operations, while the airport operator benefits from an even more efficient and reliable baggage handling system.
Some 76 million passengers passed through Heathrow in 2016, and most of them travelled with baggage. “As well as optimising the process for the airport operator, we are therefore always focusing on improving passenger convenience”, said Michael Reichle, CEO of Siemens Postal, Parcel & Airport Logistics, adding: “To this end, we are using the Siemens cloud-based MindSphere platform at London Heathrow, and assisting the airport with the digital transformation.” MindSphere is an open operating system for the Internet of Things (IoT), with which Siemens serves customers such as industrial companies, railway operators and airports. Grant Waring, Asset Manager - Heathrow Baggage Operations, commented: “Over 80% of passengers are already rating Heathrow as very good or excellent. This positive assessment is both a confirmation and incentive for us. With Siemens as one of our innovation partners, we want to maintain and further improve our high standards.”
Heathrow Airport is gradually switching BHS servicing from time-based to condition-based maintenance. In support of this approach, Siemens technicians have worked with LHR to install sensors on important components to monitor the baggage handling system. The sensors measure crucial parameters like acoustics at regular intervals. The data is then transmitted to the Siemens cloud-based MindSphere platform. The measured data is compared with the expected setpoint data through MindSphere. Deviations may be an early indicator of a potential problem.

Concessionaire Analyzer+ has extended the property management functionality of CA+ to include a Space Management module. The new capability complements the already available Contract and Property management module within CA+, which enable airports to input commercial contract details into the solution and manage their properties and spaces from within, automatically calculating revenues due through rents, revenue shares, minimum guarantees, any additional charges and utilities consumption. According to CA+ CEO, John de Giorgio, Space Manager provides airport commercial teams with a graphical representation of space and property resource availability for different types of properties, in different airports or terminals and of various sizes, at any point in time. “It gives property managers the ability to visualise which spaces will soon be available for rent. This allows better space optimisation and the leasing of spaces without having to browse through separate contracts.” The graphical representation uses colour to help commercial teams and property managers identify the status of commercial spaces within the airport. Red is used for rented spaces while green is used for those available. With contracts, placed on a timeline, airports can easily see which spaces are soon to be available and can work on getting those occupied. The Space Manager not only incorporates retail and food and beverage commercial spaces but also all areas that provide a source of non-aeronautical revenue to the airport, including pop-up areas, car parks, office spaces, stores, hangars and more.
The system automatically pulls the data from contracts already in the system, requiring no further manual intervention. With this functionality in hand, CA+ increases the level of automation available to airport commercial teams, reducing the manual work that is typical within many airport environments, reducing costs and increasing effectiveness. The CA+ solution enables airports to improve the management and analysis of their concession-based commercial business through a central platform, allowing them to maximise their non-aeronautical revenues. This includes any revenues derived from retail concessions, F&B, car parking and car rental concessions, advertising, property and real estate, and much more. Airports are also able to fully automate the sales data collection process, eliminating entirely the manual processes used today in collecting monthly sales data from concessions.

India-headquartered IBS Software has set up an application software ‘test factory’ for Lufthansa Cargo. The purpose of this facility is to ensure that all Lufthansa Cargo software is fit for purpose. Lufthansa Cargo - which is known for its highly efficient processes, reliability and service excellence - has IBS as a strategic IT partner. Under this engagement IBS is responsible for managing end-to-end testing of applications under the core IT platform, enabling a smooth rollout of product upgrades, new services and innovations. The test factory also uses IBS’ enabling assets of testing frameworks, proven processes and efficient tools to provide cost and quality advantage to Lufthansa Cargo. Dr Jochen Göttelmann, CIO at Lufthansa Cargo AG, said: “With the IBS test factory, we have enhanced our strategic partnership with IBS on a next level. Bundling product development, project implementation and the important quality assurance for our core IT platform, we have succeeded to reduce the IT complexity and to streamline our provider relationships. With IBS as a trusted partner, we get these business-critical services now out of one hand only, ensuring a smooth transition of projects into operations.”

The Aruba Airport Authority (AAA) and Vision-Box have signed an exclusive partnership for the further evolution of the Aruba Happy Flow automated border control project. The goal of the partnership is to sustain the leading position of Aruba Happy Flow in the global aviation industry; ensure the usage of leading-edge Vision-Box technology at Aruba Airport (AUA); and creating a knowledge and experience centre for seamless travel. James Fazio, CEO of the Aruba Airport Authority, said: “The Aruba Happy Flow proof-of-concept has exceeded our expectations during these two years, paving the way for a new direction for the airport.”
The partnership will profile Aruba Airport as an airport that drives change with passenger-centric focus, creating value for their stakeholders and an excellent passenger experience. Furthermore, the partnership should provide skills development for Aruban and international students through the Vision-Box Centre of Excellence, while building a strong foundation for sustainable airport solutions.
Miguel Leitmann, Vision-Box™ CEO, commented: “Aruba Airport has already embraced the new era of the digital airport concept and it will soon benefit further from our game-changing technology for the Gateway 2030 project. We are convinced that this partnership will be the ground base for the next generation of Happy Flow, reaffirming Aruba Airport as an innovation centre for passenger facilitation and projecting Aruba with a highly recognizable worldwide airport”.

Malaysian Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) is digitalising the local airports it manages with SAP’s Airports 4.0 Vision, according to MAHB’s chief strategy officer, Azli Mohamed. The software is designed to create an integrated seamless end-to-end journey for the customers, via the digital transformation journey, Azli Mohamed said. He added that MAHB had established “a big data analytics” through an 18-month project, while identifying the potential tools to enhance its operational efficiency and productivity. “We have 39 airports that vary in terms of sizes and capabilities. The interpretation of Airports 4.0 Vision gives digital and integrated journey for customers and partners selectively,” Azli said, adding that the digital transformation allows the airport operator to improve its operations processes, manage revenue leakages and assets management. “Realistically, we currently focus on KLIA and klia2 first on the digitalisation. We are looking at all aspects to bring down the cost,” he said.

Securing passengers’ safety at all times with a reliable voice and data communication system is critical to Erbil International Airport (EIA) in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The communication solution from Denmark-based DAMM was chosen because the BS421 outdoor base station is easy to integrate, install and commission, the company said. The unique IP65 encapsulated compact and rugged BS421 provides a fully redundant communication system, serving both EIA and airline customers. Local DAMM System Partner, Sabaaco, a specialist in secure communications, installed the solution in close collaboration with DAMM. Mustafa Al Mukhtar, deputy CEO of Sabaaco, said: “The easiness of integration with the existing TETRA system saves both time and costs. With fast setup and installation time, the space saving compact outdoor base station provides low CAPEX. In addition, OPEX costs are also saved as minimal air condition is required due to the power efficiency.”

Air Zimbabwe has signed contracts for Seabury Solutions’ Alkym® management and control system for aircraft maintenance, becoming the fourth Africa-based flag carrier to implement the company’s MRO solution. With a complete solution to cater for CAMO and MRO services integrated with logistics, Alkym was able to meet the high demands required from the selection process. Air Zimbabwe has opted to implement 13 of the 18 modules provided within Alkym. The configuration of the system, together with training of Air Zimbabwe’s personnel, is currently under way, with system implementation set to begin with a two-week workshop to map out the process for the most effective deployment of the solution to meet Air Zimbabwe’s needs. Ripton Muzenda, Air Zimbabwe’s CEO, commented: “The control of our technical operations is the foundation of the building blocks we are putting in place. We want to bring Air Zimbabwe back to its glory days. Working with an industry leader in Seabury Solutions that transformation can begin. The software solution is proven and the people behind it understand the complexity of our operation.”

Ramco Systems has secured an order from one of the top five aircraft OEMs for its joint venture (JV) in China. In 2016, Ramco entered the Chinese Aviation market with Far Eastern Air Transport, followed by China Southern Airlines General Aviation. Following the latest order, Ramco Systems will implement its Aviation Suite, comprising maintenance and engineering (M&E), supply chain, finance, and payroll functions on a unified platform. Virender Aggarwal, CEO of Ramco Systems, said: “Ramco’s ability to address the end-to-end needs of the aviation industry with a comprehensive offering, and experience with existing customers in the Chinese region, played a key role in winning this strategic deal. With China expected to become the world’s largest aviation market in the next decade, this win will pave way for further growth from the region.”

Apps and Websites
A new mobile app from InMapz gives travellers detailed maps and wayfinding directions. InMapz shows live ‘you-are-here’ GPS-based locations and how to get quickly to destinations. Airports are among more complex places to map because of multiple terminal buildings, multiple floors within each terminal, and many different points-of-interest types. While most other airport maps provide static images, InMapz airport maps are interactive with searchable points of interests and every detail of airports included - departure gates, duty-free shopping, restaurants, restrooms, elevators access, and more.
InMapz maps are currently available for San Francisco (SFO), Los Angeles (LAX), Boston Logan (BOS), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), New York (JFK), New York La Guardia (LGA), Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson (ATL), Houston George Bush (IAH), Houston Hobby (HOU), Las Vegas McCarran (LAS), Miami (MIA), Seattle Tacoma (SEA), Washington Dulles (IAD), London Heathrow (LHR), London Gatwick (LGW), Paris Charles De Gaulle (CDG), Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS), Berlin Texel (TXL), Munich (MUC), Frankfurt (FRA), Barcelona El Prat (BCN), Madrid Barajas (MAD), Hong Kong (HKG), Taipei Taoyuan (TPE), Bangkok (BKK), Beijing (PEK), Shanghai Pudong (PVG), Singapore Changi (SIN), Kuala Lumpur (KUL), Tokyo Haneda (HND), Tokyo Narita (NRT), Osaka Kansai (KIX), Seoul Incheon (ICN), Sao Paulo (CGH), Mexico City Benito Juarez (MEX), Toronto Pearson (YYZ), Vancouver (YVR), Dubai (DXB), Abu Dhabi (AUH), Istanbul Ataturk (IST), Hanoi Noi Bai (HAN), Saigon Tan Son Nhat (TSN), Melbourne MEL. -- InMapz maps are available for licensing as an API module to integrate into branded mobile apps and can also be installed and run on touch-screen kiosks.

Singapore Changi Airport’s biggest ground handler, SATS, has launched a new travel app that allows users to do more than just access information on attractions and flight schedules. With the new ‘Ready To Travel’ app, Singaporeans can also eRegister with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) when they travel overseas, as well as access push travel notices and advisories that are specific to their countries of destination. The app is available for download in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Philippines, and Hong Kong. More countries will be added progressively. A unique feature of the app, according to its creator, is that it allows users to navigate their way through Changi Airport with point-to-point directional information. Instead of a static map, travellers will be guided through the airport in real-time. This feature is currently available to those at Changi, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Tokyo Narita, and Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok Airports, with more airports to be added in the coming months. More than 20 tourism partners and other organisations have joined the scheme, providing users with information and services that cover over 10,000 attractions in more than 90 countries.

Auckland Airport (AUK) in New Zealand has announced that it will deliver “one of the most advanced digital airport experiences in the world” after partnering with a new e-commerce company. The airport has announced a partnership with global technology service provider AOE, which will enable passengers to purchase products from multiple retailers in the airport online and on mobile. Passengers using the virtual-mall will be able to purchase products from multiple airport retailers and then collect items at a single collection point. Auckland Airport general manager retail and commercial Richard Barker said: “We are excited that Auckland airport’s introduction of the technology will be a first for any airport in Australasia. It will ensure we deliver one of the most advanced digital airport retail experiences in the world and that we can significantly expand the range and type of products and services we offer to our customers.” Barker added that the online resource was expected to launch midway through 2018 and will be gradually introduced to the airport’s retailers. AOE has already partnered with Frankfurt Airport in Germany to create a multi-retailer e-commerce platform for the German airport.

SkyGuru, a mobile app designed to alleviate in-flight anxiety, has launched an application programming interface (API) for airlines, airports, aircraft manufacturers, and IFE system providers to give partners access to flight data, including meteorological updates from departure and arrival airports, flight turbulence indices and predictions, anticipated flight times, and up-to-date calculations of aircraft positioning. All of the data can be accessed in airplane mode, and without any external connection to GPS, Wi-Fi or 3G. Airline partners will be able to integrate the data into their own software, expanding their content library. SkyGuru promotes the API as an alternative for airlines whose aircraft aren’t equipped with built-in IFE systems but are nonetheless interested in developing their infotainment offerings. SkyGuru founder, Alex Gervash, said that the API is also beneficial to cabin crewmembers, who can plan the timing of drink and food services around anticipated moments of moderate and severe turbulence. Airports can use the API to provide travellers with more accurate flight duration predictions and a clearer picture of the experience they can expect on board.
SkyGuru is already being consulted by more than 55,000 users, and Gervash hopes that by being offered as an API, it can reach even more. “This is only the first step toward realising our goal of helping every passenger become more well-informed, confident and comfortable,” Gervash said. “In the near future, we’d like to see, for example, online flight ticket sales platforms or search engines use the API to give customers turbulence predictions, flight times that account for wind changes and airport weather information.”

Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS), NV, has updated its website with a clean, modern look and new user-friendly features ( With this new design, McCarran offers travellers a more mobile-friendly experience. The responsive website will now adjust its layout to multiple screen sizes to maximize its appearance on the variety of mobile devices, from cell phones to tablets, used by travellers on the go. Site navigation has been enhanced with multiple paths and additional pages to help travellers find what they need, such as airline-specific pages with airport information of interest to their respective passengers. Dining and shopping options are presented in multiple formats, from a comprehensive listing to concourse maps, and from the homepage visitors can search for flight information by city, airline or flight number.
The website redesign addresses accessibility on two fronts. First, an expanded amount of information is provided to those who need special assistance or would like to learn about the airport’s efforts to make its facilities accessible to all travellers. Second, the design team worked to reformat the website in a way that makes content more accessible for website visitors who utilise translator and text-to-speak features. Content is available in 10 different languages with just a click of a button.

The ‘Community app’, conceptualised by London Gatwick Airport (LGW) in the UK for the airport industry, has been shortlisted for seven UK national awards. Gatwick’s staff make up 25% of the current 10,000 users at the airport, with the remaining staff working for other entities on the airport campus. Most staff have downloaded the app onto their personal smartphones.
Gatwick devised the Community app concept in partnership with AirportLabs. From the outset it was designed and built as a digital platform which can be used by multiple airports. AirportLabs now offers this as a fully managed service to any airport in the world. The Community app was launched at LGW in early 2016 and has since been rolled out at 12 other airports across the world, including Edinburgh, Bristol and Milan Airports. Cathal Corcoran, CIO at LGW said: “Gatwick is among the top five airports in the world, when it comes to technology innovation. The Community app is one of the ideas we have pioneered for the wider airport industry and it has become a great success.”
Gatwick’s Community app has been shortlisted for three Lloyds Bank National Business Awards, with the results to be announced on 14 November 2017: Innovations Award; Business Enabler Award; and Customer Focus award. The app has also been shortlisted for four Digital Impact Awards, with the results announced on 17 October 2017: Best Corporate app; Best Use of Mobile and Portable Devices; Best Use of Digital by Sector – transport and logistics; and Best Community Development.