Schiphol might seem rather chaotic, but it’s not!
To an outsider, Schiphol is so busy that it may seem rather chaotic. The airport is constantly swarming with aircrafts, vehicles, buses and pushback trucks. There’s little room for manoeuvre, with aircrafts constantly taxiing and being towed and pushed back. How can Schiphol carry on growing amidst all of this? To allow the airport to grow safely, improvements are needed. But what improvements need to be made?
Aircrafts do not have rear view windows, so they need to be pushed back from the gate. But in what direction should they be moved? Standard pushback procedures apply to each gate and each type of aircraft. The pushback driver needs to know the standard configurations of every gate. Sometimes confusion arises and an aircraft may be pushed in the wrong direction, resulting in delays.
Changes to pushback procedures …
But what happens when circumstances change? For instance, due to engineering work. How is everyone kept informed above the right direction to move the aircraft in such cases? It would be great for pushback truck drivers to have a clear overview of all the rules applicable to a certain gate at any given time. Because what happens if an aircraft ends up facing in the wrong direction?
A business case for a solution
Fortunately we are working on a solution to this problem. KDC was asked by the Ground Movement Safety System working group to develop a business case comparing a number of different scenarios. The aim was to find an electronic solution to assist pushback drivers with their work. Should we use a tablet or a phone? And should we use existing software or develop something new? These are some of the factors compared as part of the business case.
And the winner is….
Having considered all the factors, making the information available to drivers via a tablet seemed to be the best option. This is because a tablet makes it easy to look up information quickly, without disruption from other forms of communication (as would happen with a phone). The large buttons on a tablet also make it more user-friendly. It would also seem better to develop new software than to use an existing solution. This would make it possible to remain in control of the chosen solution, and to make changes at a later stage if necessary.
And what are the benefits?
Improved safety, improved efficiency and improved capacity. The business case clearly demonstrated this too. Drivers would see the configuration currently applicable on a tablet at the gate. This would reduce the chances of mistakes being made. We estimate that we can reduce erroneous pushbacks by 50% by adopting this solution.
What is the next step?
The proposal will go to the Schiphol Safety Platform’s steering group for discussion. If the steering group gives the go-ahead, the Ground Movement Safety working group will oversee implementation and hopefully, in the not too distant future, pushback drivers will always have the right information available to them. Schiphol will have another strong ‘safety barrier’, making it even safer than before.