Automated taxiway guidance simulation trials demonstrate reductions in aircraft taxi times, fuel and emissions
Simulation testing of the taxiway procedure (photo: Fraport)
Wed 28 Aug 2013 – Preliminary evaluation of data following simulation trials at Frankfurt Airport in late June shows that aircraft taxiing procedures could be speeded up – saving time, fuel and emissions – by using automated taxiway guidance. At busy airports, cockpit crews are currently directed by radio to the assigned taxi route by apron controllers but the aircraft can be put on hold at traffic crossings before accelerating onwards, so increasing fuel consumption and time spent taxiing. In the simulation testing, performed by 20 pilots from different airlines, an intelligent taxiway lighting system procedure, dubbed ‘Follow the Greens’, was instead used to direct the crew in an uninterrupted traffic flow. The trials were carried out as part of the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research (SESAR) programme aimed at modernising and harmonising European airspace.
Under a modification to the existing system, each segment of taxiway lighting needed is switched on, with all areas not needed being switched off. Fraport, the airport’s operator, claims this makes guidance of aircraft safer as errors are minimised by the computer-controlled system.
“The testing week in the simulators was extremely successful and the pilots that took part gave very positive feedback,” said Dr Rolf Felkel, Fraport’s Senior Executive Manager Airside, Terminal and Security Applications. “We are proud that we are able to implement this significant validation exercise here at Frankfurt Airport because it allows us to address the requirements of its complex runway system in a purposeful manner.”
The data collected is still being evaluated but in order to develop Europe-wide standards, further simulations are being planned at London Heathrow, Paris, Amsterdam, Zurich and Munich airports.