Sustaining an airport's health
Author: Katherine Lehmuller, June 2016
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, has been known as the world’s busiest passenger airport for the past 15 years, with more than 2,700 flights coming and going and serving more than 250,000 passengers daily. Preparing for future trends in transportation, the airport has recently added new facilities and boasts a complex consisting of seven concourses and five runways, with the longest at close to 12,000 feet (approximately 3,600 metres). The entire infrastructure encompasses more than 4,700 acres (1,900 hectares).
Air transport is constantly expanding, and budgets continue to tighten. New strategies call for more efficiency, and this in turn calls for faster, more streamlined work processes and tools. The best solution for substantially improving an airport’s efficiency is to properly manage and document the location and health of its infrastructure assets and utilities. Operation and maintenance costs of running an airport have major impacts on budget planning and help enable a positive revenue balance at the end of the year.
ATL has an enormous amount of complexities to manage, document and monitor; and managing these present a significant challenge to accomplish effectively. Like other airports of similiar size, ATL consists of many different utility systems such as storm water, sewer, aviation fuel, electricity, fuel pits, fat, oil and grease separation systems, and telecommunications. These, in turn, contain manholes, inlets and fuel hydrants. Any airfield pavement defects such as cracks, spalls or joint seal failures on runways and taxiways, also need to be detected and repairs planned well in advance.
Each of these systems require constant monitoring because of increasingly complex and demanding regulations. There are significant fines that compile if proper compliance is not demonstrated. GIS tools help airport staff to visualise all these utility systems on a single map and help complete operational tasks faster and more effectively. Asset management also documents the exact location of the airfield’s lights, signs and markings, and it is imperative that airport asset management knows exactly which light, sign or marking require service. Modern GIS systems enable easy identification and simplify maintenance in a timely and cost-effective manner.
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