Gatwick airport says that a recently introduced handheld digital platform is enabling it to reduce delays and improve on-time performance.
The Airturn platform – developed by the airport’s owners Vinci in partnership with Airportlabs – allows ground handlers to update air traffic controllers about changes to the turn process in real time, “optimising efficiency, reducing delays and unnecessary fuel burn on the ground”.
Gatwick said that prior to the introduction of the platform, changes to aircraft turn events were updated through paperwork and radio communications, before being recorded into the system and communicated to the control tower and air traffic management body Eurocontrol.
The airport added that the platform allows information to be communicated more quickly on changes to turn events including updates on baggage loading, refuelling or other aircraft preparations, “giving the control tower a more accurate, real- time departure or Target Off-Block Time (TOBT) to feed into the airport’s overall flying programme”.
Airturn is accessed through the Gatwick Community app, which is widely used by ground handling staff at Gatwick.
Vinci operates 53 airports in 12 countries, and said that Airturn “has the potential to be rolled out across many other airports”.
Keith Fogarty, chief operating officer of Fenix/Red Handling UK – ground handlers at Gatwick airport, said that “Instead of radioing in the control room, we can now update the target off block time directly on our smartphones and that is immediately relayed to air traffic control tower and Eurocontrol”.
“Vitally, we have reduced our carbon footprint by eliminating the paperwork related to turn that would traditionally be printed off and stored in the trip files. We are sure this will be an important tool for us, especially during the summer peak.”
Gatwick airport recently announced plans to reopen its South Terminal, after nearly two years of lying dormant as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The airport has been operating solely from its North Terminal since June 15, 2020, but will reopen on March 27, 2022 to coincide with the start of the summer schedules.