New Airport Operations Plan to offer airports better network integration, operations efficiency

SESAR’s new Airport Operations Centre (APOC) concept represents a significant step forward for airports of all sizes, providing a means to integrate even more efficiently into the European network in a collaborative approach that involves all stakeholders.

The APOC idea is invariably considered a must-have for bigger airports although not every airport is likely to establish an APOC physically, as they may lack the local scope and/or size to justify such an investment.

EUROCONTROL as the Network Manager was asked by operational stakeholders to help partner in the development of a guideline or concept document on the establishment of an Airport Operations Plan (AOP).

Produced by an NDOP (Network Directors of Operations) Task Force, the AOP Concept Document describes the principles behind setting up a successful local collaboration that enables operations at and around airports that are transparent and collaborative, with relevant information sharing.

The document provides hands-on guidance on how to establish an AOP and, crucially, how to link it to the Network Operations Plan (NOP).

It describes the ‘who-how-what’ of airport-network integration with a focus on:

  • agreed definitions
  • which stakeholders/actors are involved in the process
  • what are their roles and tasks
  • when do they have to take action.

The document will enable operational stakeholders to set up AOPs in a harmonised way and connect with the Network Operations Plan (NOP).

The NDOP approved the AOP Concept Document at its 21st meeting on 6 November, and the document is now available for airports to get started. The NDOP also agreed as a second step to establish a new Task Force that will develop more detailed operational procedures between an APOC and the Network Manager Operations Centre (NMOC), which will take place over the course of 2019.

For Anthony van der Veldt, assistant director, safety & flight operations, Europe, at IATA, it offers nothing less than a “paradigm shift in the level of services we receive from the individual airports and local ANSPs through the Network Manager”, reflecting the fact that “airline schedules and daily airline operations are the most relevant commercial drivers for the Airport Operational Plans”.

“The European network is under severe strain impacting airlines, airports, ANSP’s and not least our passengers! This document goes ‘back to basics’ to demonstrate clearly and concisely why and how we must work together to deliver incremental positive changes to the network, incorporating both the ground AND the air as mutually reliant partners”, declared Alison Bates, head of ATM strategy and deployment – operations oeam at London Heathrow Airport.

For Johan Steinkjer, technical director ATM at AVINOR’s airport ANS department and ACI EUROPE representative in the NDOP, the great strength of the document is that it is “something understandable that I can give to the airport to start the work”.

EUROCONTROL as the NM firmly believes that the AOP Concept Document will become a key tool for all actors and help take airport-network operation to the next level.