ADB SAFEGATE launches Pushback Support Tool to improve airport throughput and apron safety

ADB SAFEGATE is launching a Pushback Support Tool that simplifies air traffic control workloads and enhances airport safety and efficiency. Part of ADB SAFEGATE’s portfolio of systems for the tower, the tool automatically suggests the optimum aircraft pushback procedure, monitors its progress and warns ATC of potential conflicts with obstacles and other aircraft or vehicles in the apron area.

The Pushback Support Tool will be demonstrated at inter airport Europe 2017 (Munich, 10-13 October) on ADB SAFGATE’s stand (1420, Hall A5).

When an aircraft is prepared for departure, its pushback from the gate is one of the most important stages of aircraft handling at airports. The pushback procedure depends on many variables including aircraft type, activity at adjacent gates, weather conditions, apron arrangement and size, and current apron traffic.

“Air traffic controllers already face heavy workloads. They are under pressure to clear the ramp on time for the next aircraft, and pushback is a critical point in the process. Either they thumb through thick manuals to find the most appropriate routine that avoids conflict with other traffic, or they wait until the traffic has passed and waste valuable time. Getting it wrong and applying an inappropriate pushback routine can block taxiways, and create delays, especially in today’s busy airport environment. At worst, it can lead to costly accidents,” says Christian Onselaere, CEO, ADB SAFEGATE.

The Pushback Support Tool integrates with airfield surveillance systems, the electronic flight strip system, apron management and docking system, departure management system, weather systems and airfield lighting systems to automate the pushback process. It can instantly correlate pushback procedure rules to recommend the best one for the prevailing weather conditions, apron situation and traffic demands.

This streamlines the pushback clearance process to improve airport efficiency; save fuel and cut emissions; and reduce pilot, ground handling crew and ATC workloads. In combination with ADB SAFEGATE’s departure manager, improved aircraft departure control increases the airport’s throughput and helps to avoid aircraft leaving the gate too early, forcing them to wait on taxiways wasting fuel, or too late and missing their allocated take-off slots.

It also improves safety by avoiding collisions with obstacles and conflicts with other aircraft or vehicles. Although rare, a collision between an aircraft pushing back and one arriving can be very costly. Damage to one aircraft’s wingtip and the other aircraft’s nose, plus lost revenue per aircraft and subsequent flight delays can add up to more than $400,000 USD. Such an incident could even put several gates out of action, leading to further losses.

The Pushback Support Tool is one of the latest developments in ADB SAFEGATE’s ‘Airport Performance’ initiative that integrates airport systems to enable airports to safely handle more traffic using their existing infrastructure.