Industry News




NATS to install electronic flight strip system at London Terminal

UK air traffic control provider NATS is set to install a new electronic flight strip system called EXCDS, in place of paper strips, at its London Terminal Control Centre. After successfully completing two out of five transitions onto EXCDS, NATS is now about to start the third. The London upgrade will cover services at Heathrow, Gatwick and the airspace to the south and southeast.

The latest digital system will enable the airports to record flight information, such as the direction, speed and altitude of every aircraft. EXCDS will simplify coordination between air traffic controllers, reducing controller workload, as well as introduce a conformance monitoring tool into the London Terminal Control operation for the first time.

The transition from paper-based strips to the new digital air traffic control system is set to take place over a period of ten days, during which there could be flight delays and increased noise in the London.

Following the implementation, the amount of air traffic is expected to reduce by 20% for the first ten days to allow controllers to learn the new system, followed by a 10% reduction for the remaining period.

London Terminal Control Centre general manager Pete Dawson said that moving to a digital tool was a crucial step in preparing for future traffic levels. The centre manages the airspace over London and the southeast, which are two of the busiest and most complex airspaces in the world.




UK airlines collect £553m in excess baggage fees over five years

UK airlines have collected overweight baggage charges amounting to £553m from air travellers over the last five years, a sum equal to the cost of two Boeing 747 aircraft.

The figure was reached by travel agent Florida4Less, which compiled passenger data from the Civil Aviation Authority with research into the average excess baggage charge by UK airlines. After that, the company carried out its own study into the proportion of travellers who have been caught out at check-in. It found that nearly 46% of UK air passengers have been charged for overweight baggage at least once since January 2013.

With 100.7 million people having travelled from the UK during that period, it is estimated that 46.3 million travellers have underestimated the weight of their luggage. The company found that the average fee charged is £11.93 per kilogram, which means the total bill is at least £553m when assuming each bag was just one kilo overweight.

Florida4Less co-founder and director Jon Moulding said: “It really is a staggering figure. While paying an excess baggage charge is an inconvenience at the time, you often don’t realise how these fines can add up.

“On the other hand, it isn’t that surprising that 46% of people have been charged for overweight baggage at least once in five years. Many airlines have very complicated rules for it, and they aren’t always easy to find out. What’s more, they can change at short notice.”

To help passengers plan beforehand, Florida4Less has published a guide to baggage charges for airlines that commonly fly from UK airports.




Sea-Tac Airport installs three automated screening lanes

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has installed three automated screening lanes (ASL) in partnership with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which are now in use at security checkpoint 5.

The US airport, which is operated by the Port of Seattle, installed the ASLs as part of a $17m programme that aims to enhance security efficiency and reduce time spent in the screening process. Located at checkpoint 5, at the north end of the terminal, the three lanes will screen passengers’ carry-on bags.

TSA Washington state federal security director Jeff Holmgren said: “TSA officers can spend more time looking for threats and less time on the manual labour of moving bins around the security checkpoint.

“We will continue to work with the Port of Seattle to identify innovations that improve aviation security.”

The automated screening lanes feature stainless steel countertops that allow a number of passengers to place their items in bins simultaneously. They are also equipped with automated conveyor belts that move bins into the X-ray machine tunnel and return them to the front of the security checkpoint.

The lanes automatically divert any carry-on bag with a prohibited item to a separate location, which allows other bins containing items belonging to other travellers to continue through the screening process without any issue.

Fitted with unique RFID tags attached to each bin, the lanes offer additional accountability of a traveller’s carry-on property as they move throughout the security screening process.

Sea-Tac Airport managing director Lance Lyttle said: “This investment by the Port of Seattle is about improving the customer experience, security and efficiency – all goals to serve our travellers better.

“As one of the fastest growing airports in the nation, we appreciate the partnership with the TSA to find innovative ways to make the experience better for our travellers.”




Etihad Airways reduces carbon footprint by 195,000t

The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) flag carrier Etihad Airways cut carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 195,000t last year. The reduction was a result of several measures implemented by the airline including updates to flight plans, aircraft and descent manoeuvres.

As a result, Etihad Airways could minimise the amount of fuel consumed by its aircraft by more than 62,000t, which represents a 3.3% improvement from the previous year. The fuel saving is sufficient to operate 850 flights between Abu Dhabi and London.

The airline adjusted flight plans which helped it to reduce approximately 900 hours of flying time across the network, saving 5,400t of fuel and eliminating about 17,000t of carbon dioxide emissions.

Last year, Etihad Airways deployed the fuel efficient and lightweight Boeing 787 aircraft to cut carbon emissions. At present, the airline flies 19 Boeing 787s in its 115 plane fleet of passenger and cargo aircraft.

Etihad Airways chief operations officer Richard Hill said: “2017 was a particularly good year for fuel efficiency.

“The combination of retiring some of our older aircraft and increasing the proportion of Boeing 787 aircraft within our fleet, together with optimising our flight paths among a range of other initiatives has made a noticeable improvement to our fuel consumption and emissions profile.”

In an effort to improve the efficiency of many of the approach profiles, the airline boosted its collaboration with air traffic control providers at several airports with which it operates, particularly in Abu Dhabi.

Due to an increase in the number of continuous descent approaches last year, Etihad Airways was able to save a total of 980t of fuel. The airline improved the efficiency per passenger kilometre by nearly 36% on some of its routes by pooling important fuel saving projects with operational improvements.




Mott and Ramboll JV wins contract for London Stansted Airport

An engineering joint venture (JV) partnership between Mott MacDonald and Ramboll has secured the design contract for the expansion of the UK’s London Stansted Airport. The JV has been selected together with architect Pascal + Watson (P+W) to design a new arrivals terminal, as well as upgrade the existing terminal at the airport.

London Stansted Airport is owned by Manchester Airports Group and its modernisation is part of the group’s £600m transformation programme.

Under the terms of the contract, Mott MacDonald and Ramboll will provide structural, civil engineering, building services, information and communication technology, specialist systems and airfield engineering for the project. Additionally, Mott MacDonald will serve as the project manager on the scheme and deliver specialist input on constructability.

Mott MacDonald aviation projects director Gary Howard said: “We’re delighted to be working with P+W and Ramboll on this hugely important project at London Stansted Airport. Our team has a shared vision and ethos for delivering the airport’s transformational programme, with proven experience of delivering projects in live airport environments.

“The redevelopment will support anticipated passenger growth and give users the high-quality facilities that they expect from an international airport.”

Set for completion in 2022, the project involves the development and delivery of P+W’s concept design for a new 34,000m² arrivals terminal, which will relocate all arrivals to a new separate building.

The customised design is in keeping with the architecture of the existing building, which will be transformed into a dedicated departures-only terminal, with the soffit design featuring a modular sky-lit roof.

In addition to the expansion of the check-in, security and retail areas, it will also include a new airside coaching facility, aircraft stands, taxiway infrastructure and car parking facilities.




Council approves Chicago O’Hare Airport’s $8.5bn expansion plan

Chicago’s City Council has approved an $8.5bn expansion plan to modernise the O’Hare International Airport in the US. Following approval from the City Council, the City of Chicago signed an agreement with carriers United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Spirit Airlines for airport renovations that will be carried out over the next eight years.

To finance the project, the city also approved an initial $4bn of airport revenue bonds. The O’Hare 21 terminal modernisation plan is expected to create nearly 60,000 construction jobs.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said: “The O’Hare transformation is a boarding pass to a brighter future for Chicago.

“We are creating tens of thousands of jobs across our city for years to come, injecting billions of dollars into our economy and positioning O’Hare as the gold standard for airports around the world. Even by the sky-high standards of a city famous for making no little plans, the O’Hare expansion is a big deal for Chicago’s future.”

Under the redevelopment programme, Terminal 2 will be demolished to develop the new O’Hare Global Terminal that will improve customs and immigration processing. Terminals 1 and 3 will also undergo modernisation. Plans are also in place to upgrade and expand Terminal 5.

The expansion to O’Hare’s facilities will create 25% more gate capacity, as well as new security and technology and various infrastructure improvements to increase airline performance.

According to the plans, the Terminal Area Plan will completely redevelop O’Hare’s existing terminals by 2026, with expanded gates and facilities at Terminal 5, the redevelopment of Terminal 2 into a new fully integrated O’Hare Global Terminal, and renovations and expanded concourses to Terminals 1 and 3.




Delta Air Lines launches biometrics programme

Delta Air Lines has rolled out a secure biometrics programme that allows members of domestic Delta Sky Clubs to check-in to the airline’s domestic lounges using their fingerprints.

The check-in option, known as Delta Biometrics, is available at all 50 US domestic Delta Sky Clubs. It will enable eligible customers to avoid using a paper or mobile boarding pass, or a membership card to access the clubs.

To implement the new check-in, the airline is working with biometric technology company Clear. Delta Biometrics scanners powered by Clear’s technology will allow the travellers to use their fingerprints to gain entry into sky lounges. From the end of March, Sky Club members who have enrolled in the Clear programme are able to enter any Delta lounge across its domestic network using their fingerprints.

Delta Air Lines COO Gil West said: “From unlocking our phones to entering the workplace, more and more people have the option to use biometrics as a form of identity verification for daily activities.

“Having that option is quickly becoming an expectation that we are working hard to meet through this programme.”

Delta stated that launching Delta Biometrics across a single touch point is a natural extension of the airline’s ongoing optional biometric testing over the past year.

West added: “Delta Biometrics and our work to make this kind of programme available across Delta touch points is part of our ongoing commitment to finding secure, innovative solutions that actually improve the customer experience while giving our employees tools that help them engage more meaningfully with customers.”




Smiths Detection secures ECAC approval for baggage scanner

German security solutions provider Smiths Detection’s HI-SCAN 10080 XCT has secured European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) approval as a Standard 3.1 explosives detection system for hold baggage.

The company used a dual-view, dual-energy line scanner with high-resolution 3D Computed Tomography to provide improved data. With this certification, airports that are currently upgrading to Standard 3 technology will have an option to increase detection levels even further to 3.1. Additionally, any standard 3 systems already installed can be enhanced to 3.1 through a software upgrade.

Depending on the destination and associated risk level, the detection algorithms are interchangeable on a bag-by-bag basis, thereby providing added flexibility and productivity.

Smiths Detection technology and product development vice president Matt Clark said: “With the capability to meet detection requirements for both current and emerging threats, the HI-SCAN 10080 XCT is a future-proof investment, which offers high levels of security and operational efficiency.

“We are helping airports across Europe to make the transition to Standard 3 and are delighted to now also offer the more stringent Standard 3.1 approved technology.”

The belt speed of HI-SCAN 10080 XCT is 0.5m per second, enabling the system to handle up to 1,800 bags per hour. Equipped with a large rectangular tunnel (107cm x 81cm), the baggage scanner offers full-colour images and a low false alarm rate to support the challenging performance levels demanded by airports.

Besides Standard 3.1 approval, the HI-SCAN 10080 XCT has been certified by the US Transportation Security Administration as meeting current regulatory requirements for hold baggage.