Visibility and coordination of ground events offer aviation industry savings of $600 million per year‍

Assaia recently undertook a study at a large US airport to understand the impact of using computer vision, AI and alerts to enable ground handlers to better coordinate the loading process on an aircraft. The study covered four airlines at 31 aircraft stands over a period of three months.

In many cases, a number of ground-handlers such as those delivering on-board catering and luggage arrive at the aircraft at the same time, resulting in people in each other's way, uncoordinated activities and a prolonging of both processes. Think of it as the opposite of a Formula 1 pitstop.

We had anecdotal evidence and some observations that forward (fwd) catering and belt loading have this negative interaction when they happen at the same time. Therefore our hypothesis was that the entire cargo loading process (defined as the time between first belt loader connecting and last belt loader disconnecting) takes longer when fwd belt loading and fwd catering operations overlap.

The Setup

The ApronAI system uses existing cameras at the airport to create timestamps for all key turnaround activities. These timestamps are presented to users in real-time via the Turnaround Control application. However, for the purposes of this case study, we downloaded the turnaround data from the application and used Tableau to do the analysis. The analysis showed us that there is significant room for improvement in terms of which ground-handling activity should happen at which time.

The ApronAI creates a real-time understanding of the current state of each turnaround, and can be used to notify different ground handlers about the ideal time to approach the aircraft. These notifications can be sent from the ApronAI system directly or via integration with an existing resource management system.

During the reporting period, we observed over 23,000 turnarounds. For 88% of those turns, the fwd catering and fwd belt loading had some degree of overlap. This confirms our theory that these operations are typically not synchronized. Also, it shows that it is very possible to turn an aircraft around without this overlap (as was the case in 12% of the turns). We checked whether the turns without overlap shared some common characteristics (e.g. aircraft size, stand, airline, turn duration, etc) but could not find any specific characteristic which leads us to conclude that this happens randomly.

Next, we looked at the average total unloading/loading duration for both groups of turns (with/without overlapping fwd catering and fwd belt loading). As you can see from table 1, the loading process on average took 13 minutes (or 22%) shorter for turns without overlapping operations as opposed to turns with overlapping operations.

Even though we have not found any specific flight characteristic for which asynchronous operations would not be possible, it might be the case that the full benefit might not be achieved for all flights. Regardless, the results show that there is a very large potential gain.

The results shown in the previous section are pretty significant but the question remains what the value of knowing this is?

If loading crews can win 13 min on each turn where currently fwd loading and fwd catering are happening at the same time, then in total they can win over 266,000 minutes over the entire three-month period. Per day this would be 2,800 minutes. Since we already know that a loading crew is, on average, occupied with a turn without overlapping operations for 60 minutes, we can divide this gained time by 60 minutes to find that the same loading teams could actually handle up to 48 additional flights per day.

Another way to look at this is to consider a loading team that is working 8 hours per shift and handling 5 departures per shift. Saving 13 minutes on each of those turns yields them additional time which can be used for more flexible planning and would allow them to at least handle one additional departure during their shift. For all loading teams required to handle all traffic in this scenario, this would also accumulate to 49 additional departures per day.

With airlines’ and ground handlers’ focus on keeping cost low, these findings present a clear business case. The average monetary value of the time saved equals $15 per flight.

For an average airport that would accumulate up to $6 million dollars per year. For an average airline that saves up to $3.75 million per year. If these savings would be scaled across all airports and airlines, it would save the industry almost $600 million per year.

If you are eager to learn more about this particular case study or about different ways in which Assaia’s ApronAI software can create value for your airport or airline contact us at info@assaia.com or via the website form.

Testimonials

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

This data provides the single source of truth covering all turnaround operations. It is, therefore, an integral part of our Airport Collaborative Decision-Making initiative.

Darin Juby
Program Director, Digitalization, 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

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

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
JFKIAT

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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