Region’s biggest airports embrace UFIS technology

 - February 11, 2008, 9:50 AM

The Universal Flight Information System exhibited here by UFIS Airport Solutions (Stand 501 in the Airport Pavilion) has found a receptive market in the Asia Pacific region, where it is installed at Singapore’s Changi Airport and Bangkok’s new Suvarnabhumi International.

The company’s other recent wins in the region include its selection to automate Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. Delhi currently handles more than 18 million passengers each year and is adding a third runway and an integrated terminal designed to cope with nearly double that number by the time of the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

The flight information processing system, airport operational database and flight information display system modules of the new UFIS are to come on line in the first quarter of this year, while apron control operations covering the international and domestic terminals will use UFIS in a new purpose-built control center. A second phase will see the delivery of the resource management system module.

Delhi is the third Indian airport to have chosen the UFIS system. Operations are due to start this year at the new greenfield airports in Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Here at Changi, where ground handler and flight caterer Singapore Airport Terminal Services (SATS) deals with around 450 flight operations each day, the company uses UFIS to schedule 10,000 personnel for long-term planning and 4,000 for daily deployments. Installed in operations control centers developed by SATS after a business analysis and optimization phase carried out with the help of UFIS, the package includes the airport operational database, basic data processing systems, flight information processing system and resource system management modules, as well as hub, status and cargo container management systems.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) also adopted the system to support resource management operations at the airport. The CAAS implementation was completed last June. Its functionality includes the automated planning of aircraft parking stands, gates and baggage belts taking into account Changi Airport’s unique operational requirements. The UFIS modules also enable the authority to formulate rules and constraints intended to make airport resources as functional as possible.

UFIS-AS is particularly proud of the role its software suite played in the preparations for the departure of the first Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 commercial flight to Sydney on October 25. SATS used the system to make sure the right personnel were on hand for check-in, baggage loading, fueling and servicing the airplane, while the CAAS used UFIS’s location management features to make sure the right number of check-in counters were assigned and a parking stand big enough to handle the super-jumbo was reserved and available for the historic flight. The status manager module was used to make sure each service was completed in time for an on-time departure.

UFIS-AS upgraded the software two years ago to handle the A380. For example, the gate and position planning and management system can handle dual-use positions and sub-positions. Many airports handling the A380 will have dedicated positions for the aircraft, but when no A380 is present, the system’s matrix function and rules defining which aircraft can be adjacent to each other allow one or more aircraft to occupy sub-positions in the A380 position.

Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, which opened in October 2006, is the biggest airport to rely on the UFIS. Along with the airport operational database and flight information management system, the installation there includes gate management and baggage reconciliation systems, airport simulation and the integration of numerous other IT systems.

The airport management handles all the operations from a central airport operations center through the airport information management system (AIMS). UFIS-AS provided a new tool, the AIMS Viewer, which enables managers to see the status of components from all the interrelated systems at the airport, even those not directly related to flight operations, such as building management, security and access control.

The flight information manager produces long- and short-term flight schedules and updates them in real time, including actual times and load data, for all flights operating or being handled at the airport. Data not provided directly from other sources can be entered manually, and UFIS also interprets SITA telexes, which are received via an interface, and updates the database accordingly. Each telex is linked to the relevant flight, providing a complete history of information for each.

Last year Thai Airways picked UFIS-AS to build its new ground operations control center at Suvarnabhumi. And in December, the company was asked to provide the flight information display system for the airport rail link, which connects the Markassan city airport terminal in downtown Bangkok with the airport.