Apron Layout Optimisation and Aircraft Stand Redesign
Airport aprons, including aircraft stands, are often the most active and congested areas at an airport. Their design and configuration are critical to the safety and efficiency of aircraft servicing, fuelling, ground service equipment staging and storage and personnel activities, as well as passenger movements and cargo. Aprons may encompass even further facilities, including de-icing areas, maintenance areas, heliports, aircraft engine runup area, etc.
Every airport is facing a great challenge to keep their apron up-to-date with new aircraft fleet, technology and equipment, operational practices, but also in-line with regulations, best-practices and airlines requirements.
airsight assisted numerous major airports in optimising their entire apron, including aircraft stands, and is proud to be considered “best-in-class” for this type of service. Most recent airsight projects were conducted for Sydney, Auckland, Brussels, Hannover, Yaoundé (Cameroon) and Luxembourg airports.
The regulations on apron planning and design have continuously been adapted by ICAO, EASA or other national regulators and airports can greatly benefit from these recent changes in the regulations. For instance, by implementing reduced taxiway and taxilane clearances as introduced in ICAO Annex 14, Volume 1, 7th Edition, airport operators may be able to gain additional area on stands, thus greatly enhancing turnaround efficiency and airfield capacity. Similarly, aircraft stand clearance can be obtained in accordance to the latest EASA Certification Specifications (for Code C) and further optimised with an Advanced Visual Guidance and Docking System.
Several other new practices and associated operational concepts also may be beneficial. These include for instance:
• Low-cost carriers are promoting a greater utilisation of walk-in / walk-out aircraft stands, requiring a clear layout and associated marking to ensure passenger safety.
• The staging of rolling stocks below / between wingtips, as seen for example at Sydney Airport, is today investigated at several airports. This practice, if carefully implemented (height limitation), enables equipment pre-positioning and thus a shorter turn-around – notably for larger aircraft.
• A triple lane concept, i.e. having a blue and orange alternative aircraft stand centre line and/or an alternative apron taxiway centre line – currently proposed for a future edition of the EASA aerodrome regulations – enables more flexibility for using a mix of Code C and larger aircraft.
• Increasing the storage area for ground services equipment, and defining some dedicated areas for specific equipment (stairs etc.) is also a clear trend in the industry.
• Service roads can be positioned in some cases below aircraft tails or next to wingtip, if specific criteria are met.
• Harmonisation of apron signs and markings to ensure consistency: For a long time, very few guidance was available to provide consistent and thorough guidance on apron design. As a result, airport apron layouts and markings not only vary from state to state, but even within airports of the same country! While only few official international regulations specify the applicable regulations for apron signs and markings, the “ACI apron markings and signs handbook” is now used as a reference, and pilots and other apron users significantly benefit from a standardisation.
The implementation of apron modifications is not necessarily a capital-intensive exercise: very often, some simple changes on the ground markings can bring direct benefits. Only in a few cases, more important restructuring measures are required, involving for instance modifications of the passenger boarding bridges or airfield lighting systems.
For airport operators, apron optimisation and aircraft stand redesign is therefore an inexpensive “quick-win” to increase capacity, efficiency and safety. airsight, as a renowned specialised consultancy in this field, is the ideal partner covering all required aspects, including conceptual and detailed planning, operating manuals, safety assessments, capacity simulations and further detail subjects (de-icing, jet blast analysis, operational support planning for construction measures, etc.).