Enhancing Capacity Planning in European Aviation: A Game of Tetris

With the increasing demand for air travel, capacity is struggling to keep up. To meet the growing demand for air travel we must find ways to efficiently use our existing capacity. Imagine playing Tetris - the better you use the finite space, the more blocks you can accommodate. That's where Eurocontrol's A-CDM framework comes in.

With the increasing demand for air travel, capacity is struggling to keep up. Capacity refers to airspace, runways, and gates. While airspace can be optimized to increase capacity utilization, expanding runways and gates is expensive and time-consuming. Additionally, many airports are running out of physical space or facing sustainability concerns, limiting their ability to accommodate the expected growth in passengers.

Enhancing Capacity Planning in European Aviation: A Game of Tetris

To meet the growing demand for air travel, which is expected to double by 2050, we must find ways to efficiently use our existing capacity. Imagine playing Tetris - the better you use the finite space, the more blocks you can accommodate. That's where Eurocontrol's A-CDM framework comes in.

A-CDM allows us to plan by accurately predicting future conditions. Just like in Tetris, if you know what blocks are coming, you can create the perfect plan. By knowing when aircraft will be at a certain location, whether it's airspace, gates, or runway slots, we can make the best use of the available capacity.

Predictability is key because limited capacity requires buffers to handle surprises. Unpredictability can lead to underutilized capacity, delays, poor passenger experience, and unnecessary carbon emissions and costs.

Consider the case of airspace sectors with maximum aircraft capacity. If delays occur, the sector's capacity goes unused at first and then becomes overwhelmed. This leads to delays, suboptimal speeds, and negative environmental and economic impacts. Similarly, surprise delays during aircraft turnarounds can result in a domino effect, causing delays, carbon emissions, and unhappy passengers.

That's why A-CDM was introduced across major European airports. Ground handlers provide regular updates on turnaround processes, informing all stakeholders of departure readiness. By using these updates to assess flight numbers versus available capacity, optimizations can be made to prevent capacity issues and hold flights at their gates until there are no issues down the line. The goal is to optimize flow, ensuring aircraft can smoothly reach their destinations without queuing, holding, or waiting at any point.

With enhanced capacity planning through A-CDM, European aviation is ready to handle the future growth in air travel efficiently and seamlessly.

Unlocking the Full Potential of A-CDM: Is It Meeting Expectations?

A-CDM has promised significant benefits for all stakeholders involved. Studies have shown positive results, which is encouraging given the investments made to implement this framework. However, we must assess whether it is truly living up to its potential.

At the heart of A-CDM lies accurate estimation by ground handlers of the aircraft's readiness for departure. This estimation is crucial for optimizing operations both at the airport and network levels. Delays in receiving updates from ground handlers can hinder optimization efforts. Unfortunately, in practice, early and accurate updates prove to be a challenge. Ground handlers are often under immense time pressure, juggling multiple tasks with limited resources. As a result, they struggle to gather and digest all the necessary information to accurately estimate the aircraft's ready time.

To truly harness the power of A-CDM, we must address these challenges and ensure that ground handlers have the support they need to provide timely and accurate updates. Only then can we fully realize the potential of this framework.

Looking to improve? Machine learning is the key.

When it comes to analyzing flight data from multiple sources, identifying patterns, and predicting aircraft readiness, AI is the perfect solution. At Assaia, we've discovered that using the existing airport and airline data, we can outperform human estimations of aircraft ready time with our Machine Learning technology.

Unlike humans, computers are unbiased and can focus, with no need to multitask. They continuously analyze the data, detecting even the slightest changes and translating them into predicted impacts on readiness. This leaves human agents free to tackle other vital tasks.

Traditionally, there has been a lack of real-time data during turnarounds, making it a "black box" process. However, with advancements in AI, especially in Computer Vision, we can now measure and capture all relevant turnaround processes. This data is then used to predict aircraft readiness. Combining Computer Vision with Machine Learning sets the standard for AI and data-driven operations.

The best part? Automating aircraft readiness predictions amplifies the benefits of A-CDM by providing more accurate and reliable data for airport and network optimization.


The use of Assaia's TurnaroundControl has provided our Airline Partners, Ground Handlers, and Service Providers with full visibility of the aircraft turn processes. The data, predictability, and visibility enhances our collective efficiency and resilience at Toronto Pearson. Paired with our A-CDM initiative, Assaia's TurnaroundControl provides crucial data driving A-CDM processes, a reduction in turn times, and a noticeable increase in on-time performance.

Dean Wright
Associate Director, Gating & Airport Flow

The way Turnaround 2.0 uses AI and machine learning to boost our zone controllers' efficiency is remarkable. They can now manage multiple gate activities with more focus on handling exceptions, rather than multitasking. Turnaround 2.0 is more than a tool for the present; it's a foundation for 'United Next,' growing with us and helping us surpass our operational goals efficiently.

Daniel Reed
Director of Station Operations, United Airlines

Our focus is to use innovation to make our operations smoother. We have selected Assaia because of the capabilities of the tool. But it is also really important for us that it has a good record of successful implementation, so we know it will deliver for us, for our airlines and ultimately for our passengers.

Dr Babett Stapel
Managing Director, Fraport Slovenjia

We are optimizing all our processes on the apron to shorten the time each aircraft needs to be on the ground, which benefits both our passengers and our airline partners. This is a common issue across our airports and we are talking to all of them about this technology.

Claus Grunow
VP of Corporate Strategy and Digitalization at Fraport

We are pleased to partner with Assaia to implement the ApronAI Turnaround Control solution at T4. This new solution will not only optimize operations and our work with our business partners, but will also help us to ensure a first-class customer experience at T4.

Roel Huinink
President and CEO, JFKIAT

For most airports, the apron is a a black box. Assaia finally gives our ground staff full insight into every turnaround. This allows them to focus on what really matters, while simultaneously making the work environment safer.

Jason Aspelund
Former Manager Strategic Performance, Alaska Airlines

The real-time and historical insights that can inform both airport and airline operations make this solution a clear winner for everyone.

Craig Paul
Director of Technology & Innovation , Halifax Stanfield International

Assaia's product allows airports and airlines to collect, track, and analyze data in real time; this innovation removes inefficiencies and optimizes performance.

Jim Lockheed
JetBlue Ventures

We’re creating the airport of the future, and innovation in apron operations will directly improve the passenger experience. We are laser focused on innovations that will make Pearson and its whole apron ecosystem more efficient while reducing our carbon footprint.

Deborah Flint
President and CEO GTAA

SEA needed an innovative solution to our capacity problem and have worked with Assaia to optimize the turnaround process resulting in reduced taxi times and increased passenger satisfaction. Assaia has exceeded our expectations, consistently delivering on-time & on-budget.

Samer Tirhi
Airline Scheduling Coordinator, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

With the help of Predicted Off Block Time from Assaia. JFKIAT Operations can be proactive to reduce or eliminate any delays and gate holds

Stephen Tukavkin
VP IT & Digital, JFKIAT

I had mentioned before, great innovation on your part. With these types of improvements, T4 is always leading at JFK. Thank you

COPA Station Manager

We are proud to be partnering with the Assaia team in our mission to use technology to improve the efficiency and safety of the airport environment.

Raghbir S. Pattar
Director of Airports Transformation, IAG

We’re working hard on becoming an airport of the future, and this involves rethinking every part of our ground operations. Assaia’s ApronAI is an integral component of our vision for the ramp of the future.

Abhi Chacko
Head of Innovation & Commercial IT Services, Gatwick Airport

Assaia’s technology adds critical data points to CVG’s early-stage neural network for operational advancements. Structured data generated by artificial intelligence will provide information to make decisions, optimize airside processes, and improve efficiency and safety.

Brian Cobb
CIO, CVG Airport


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