IET: Heathrow targets real-time data and smart technology to become more resilient and efficient

Heathrow Airport is focusing on investment in real-time data and systems and smart technologies to overcome the daily challenges it faces as the world’s busiest airport, according to Philip Langsdale, Chief Information Officer, Information Technology at Heathrow Airport. As a result, BAA is currently investing over £1.5bn in the new Terminal 2 centre and a new baggage facility for Terminal 3, to ensure the airport is a more efficient and resilient hub for passengers.

Speaking at the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s recent Appleton Lecture at IET London: Savoy Place, Langsdale outlined the technology strategy that Heathrow has adopted to overcome its key challenges. The seven elements of this strategy are:
· Applying real-time information to manage the airport on the front-foot

· Connecting a single virtual baggage system across the entire airport

· Improving the flow through security

· Active management of engineering assets

· Increased passenger engagement

· Managing airline movements through a common-use airport

· Employing ideas from intelligent cities to create a smarter airport

“Key challenges for Heathrow are managing and coping with the impact of disruption, controlling knock-on effects of delays and effective collaboration between stakeholders from different organisations within the airport,” said Langsdale. “The extensive investment and technology strategy that we have deployed is aimed at overcoming these challenges and ensuring that passengers at Heathrow enjoy the best experience possible within an efficient and resilient environment.”

Langsdale went on to outline the Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) system that is currently being deployed at Heathrow. A collaborative initiative between the airline operators, ground handlers, NATS, Heathrow Airport and the Central Flow Management Unit, the A-CDM provides active airfield management, a single airfield management system and a single airport operations centre.

“We are already beginning to see the benefits of these new strategies and initiatives including better journeys, lower stack, taxi and queue times, improved resilience and punctuality, and reduced operating costs and carbon footprint,” concluded Langsdale.