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How to
Know if a new airport is ready for opening

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For
sure, airport is increasingly complex and advanced system with variety of
facilities integrated. Million people arrive at the airport without noticing
organizational aims and actions. They take all the procedures for granted,
because everything is prepared and well-organized for smooth traveling. A
process with multiple phases depends on every single step, it is formed with
forces of experience. We can compare it with a chain, where every element is
important. If one piece of a chain is broken, all the system is threatened by a
failure.What
should we do if we want to build a new airport? What are the most important
aspects to be taken into consideration if there are no predetermined
conditions?The
preparations before building a new airport are very essential. Everything
should be checked several times to prevent incorporated mistakes. Mathematical
and physical models have been used in aviation for more than 30 years, so such
approach is not new. Hence complexion of the system is very high, there are
models to assert development plans from the very conceptual idea to the
detailed simulation of the whole airport. High resolution airport models
provide visual representation of infrastructure, procedures or implementation of
a new technology. We can trace the results of even slight changes within the
system using such models. This useful tool helps to detect bottlenecks and to
point out drawbacks before the beginning of construction works. Modern
simulators in addition to imitating a physical layout include airport rules and
procedures as well as traffic flows. Adjusted configuration may vary during a
simulation. The risk of unintentional errors or missing sufficient features is
dramatically reduced when the plans have been tested by a high fidelity model.
Also all sort of specialists has an ability to see the simulation results of
system in operation and to detect the weakest units.Frankfurt
airport, or Fraport is one of the airports using high fidelity model simulating
apron, nearby airspace and runway configuration. Every permanent or temporary change
or their combination may be evaluated in this model with high precision.
Decisions about changes into configuration are made only after all possible
scenarios are tested. Probably, it is reasonable to built such a model for
non-existent airport for the sake of evaluation all positive and negative
sides. (Eriksen, 2016).To
evaluate the size and complexity of the model, let’s describe typical airport
structure. Generally, we can divide it into two major areas: landside and
airside. Landside includes parking lots, access roads, and passenger
transportation lines. Airside is designed for aircraft operation and consists
of apron, runways and taxiways. The connection between these two significant
sectors is extremely limited. Passengers access airside area through the
terminals, where they are to pass through the security check, baggage screening
and claiming and customs. If everything is in the right order, passenger is
allowed to board the plane through the gates.Airport
functioning is impossible without such operational units as ATC services,
navigational aids for take-offs and landings, maintenance facilities and safety
management. Such
extra services as duty-free shops and near-airport hotels are not of vital
importance, but very convenient for passengers, especially for long haul
connected flight ones. The level of comfort influences airport’s attraction and
reputation and may reflect on a number of passengers and therefore on profit (Hom,
Orman).It
clearly shows how difficult is to organize airport operations. The special
methodology exists to launch new projects and ensure they function properly
before the implementation. Generally, it is called ‘Operational Readiness,
Activation and Transition’, or ORAT. There are several companies specialized in
this business. One of them is Arup, with over 50 years of experience, they worked
on opening of Terminal 4 at JFK Airport, Terminal 3 at Dubai Airport and
Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport. Simply finishing the building work doesn’t mean
to be ready for operations. The aim of such companies is to turn a building
into a fully functioning complex from the very opening. They say that not
considered ORAT at the early stage can be almost as bad as not using it at all.
Rather relying on intuitive preparations, special preparations are made to improve
the process from the very first stage (Lawson, 2016).ORAT
programme is a sequence of following steps: definition of the task, planning,
execution and acceptance, activation and handover, opening of an airport and
post-opening support. So it is a complete coverage of all future airport
activities. There are three main bodies to organise the process: Construction Stakeholders,
responsible for construction work and architectural project, Regulation and
Government bodies, in charge of documentation and certification, and Airport
Stakeholders, who are direct airport users, like airlines or baggage handlers.
The purpose is to get representatives of every body round the table and to
discuss all essential questions. This gives the ORAT group an opportunity to optimise
everything to the best needs of every stakeholder, to eliminate negative effect
later in the project and to set standards from inception (ARUP).Methodology
to test airport readiness has the same abbreviation, ORAT, but stands for
Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer. It focuses on airport
particularities and may be used not only for an Airport opening, but also for
modernization or installation of a new equipment. (Lawson, 2016).First
step in ORAT programme is Plan of Operations. All areas of operations are
considered, all sets of procedures are assessed, reviewed and transformed if
needed. Analyse of existing technologies results in picking up newest available
engineering solutions. They have to suit customer’s demands and needs. Second
step is Training and Familiarization. This phase is intended to educate staff
in new procedures, particular technical qualities and concepts after the
delivery of a new facility. Every part of operational process is set off,
examined and tested. This process is very important, as it practically shows
the results of planning and distinguishes discrepancies between expectation and
reality. Preparing the trials, specialists test systems, simulate real-life
scenarios and collect the data to examine it afterwards. During the trials
volunteers play the role of passengers, but proceedings are made by real
specialists, who will work in the airport after successful launching. It helps
not only to detect bottlenecks or malfunctions, but also accustoms employees to
a new place and working process. After such trails staff and management on the
first day of operation have confidence in the work they are doing, are familiar
with facilities and even public. Preparing people for performing routine work
is very important as it may eliminate the negative effect of human factor. Combination
of people, environment, technology and systems is very unreliable and
intricate, and good organizational structure ensures this comprehensive set
run.The
third step is to verify system functionality and check airport processes for
errors and gaps. It is so called double-checking, as every part of the system,
even little details are checked, tested and considered again.Next
very essential part of preparations concerns Fire Safety and Protection System.
Airport is highly vulnerable to fire risk, but there are firefighting
technologies to reduce possibility of a fire or at least to detect and seize it
on an early stage. All fire and smoke detectors need to be accurately placed in
different points and have to be integrated with alarm system (Naffco). Evacuation
trials are of vital importance, as they show the potential problem places in
unpredictable circumstances. One human mistake, unexpected claustrophobic
reaction or unnoticed bottleneck may cost human lives and airport reputation.
The very good example of trial passengers’ evacuation of from A380 performed by
European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) showed the behaviour of scared people and importance of well-organized
and transparent process of evacuation (Daly, 2006).The
last thing to be tested is Transfer to the Airport. It is difficult to predict
all the companies that involved into airport operations. All possible fields of
activity, from flower sellers to pilots should be taken into consideration, as
they need to act as required in different situations. Third-party companies can
create unnecessary mess which can lead to further problems, such as terminal
bottlenecks or traffic jams after working hours. Transfer between airport
terminals should be organised in a very convenient way for the passengers. There
is a task to identify suitable timetable for shuttle buses and their capacity.
Simple access to the terminal shouldn’t be time-consuming or congested by any
reason (Lawson, 2016).Let’s
have a look at ORAT programme in operation at Muscat International Airport in
Oman. Over 17000 people were invited to participate in the trials for opening
of the new Muscat Airport. The composition of participants varied by gender,
age and demographic. It was intentionally made to conduct close-to-live
scenario of functioning airport. The selected participants were given
boarding-passes, baggage and instructions, actually they had performed all the
pre-flight operations, apart from travelling by the plane. Some of the ‘mock
passengers’ were even asked to drive to the airport by own car in order to test
car parking. As airport is going to handle 20 million passengers per year such
a simulation is of great importance (Hasan, 2017).The
trials had also tested all the system, procedures, facilities and staff under
real conditions. All internal technical, logistical and management operation
were undertaken among the airport users. It helped to made an analyses of
problems and to evaluate operational readiness before the opening. A total 450
training days in airport operations and related areas were completed in
cooperation with Munich International airport on the way to successful airport
extension. It is a very good example of support, co-working and sharing the
experience between colleagues in aviation industry (Airport Business, 2017).So,
to know that airport is ready for opening is not very easy, though worth. It is
a long process of simulations, evaluations, trails and calculations. It
involves thousands of participants. Passengers, employees and management are
trained to do the first day of operation smooth and perfect. According to the
results of trials, owner can make a decision to open an airport or to continue
works, as launching a new airport is not only the construction of a building,
but also a guarantee that every single system operates in a right way hence all
the complex is competitive and prepared for launching. ORAT programme is
remarkable methodology helps to define sufficient aspects of process and to assess
them as individually as a whole structure. To my mind such a miscellaneous
approach gives an assurance in every operational step and security level of a
new airport.                                                                                            Reference ListEriksen,
P., (2016) International Airport Review. Requirements for modern airport
models, retrieved from https://www.internationaairportreview.com/article/25903/requirements-modern-airport-models/Hom, E.
R., Orman, J. C., Peat Marwick, Mitchel and Company. Airport Airside and
Landside interaction, retrieved from https://onlinepubs.trb.org/Onlinepubs/sr/sr159/159-08.pdfLawson,
J., Perfect Take-Off – the ORAT Consulting methodology. Future Airport,
retrieved from http://www.futureairport.com/features/featureperfect-take-off-the-orat-consulting-methodology-4665823/ARUP,
ORAT (Operational Readiness, Activation and Transition), retrieved from http://www.arup.com/Services/ORAT/ NAFFCO,
Airports & Aviation Fire Protection, retrieved from http://www.naffco.com/id/en/markets/airport-aviation/Daly,
K., (2006) Airbus A380 evacuation trail full report: everyone off in time.
Flight Global, retrieved from https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/airbus-a380-evacuation-trial-full-report-everyone-off-in-205793/Hasan,
S. H., (2017) People Invited for new Muscat International Airport Trials, Times
of Oman, retrieved from http://timesofoman.com/article/122202/ Airport
Business, (2017) Twice-weekly operational readiness trials underway at new
Muscat Airport, retrieved from http://www.airport-business.com/2017/12/__trashed/  

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