Ramp It Up
By Doug Lenz, PE, ENV SP, Janelle Burd, PE, and Casey Sanborn, PE
Many metropolitan airports are facing the challenges of increased air traffic, diverse aircraft fleets and real estate constraints, making expansion difficult or impossible. With the approximate $25 million to $40 million-per-gate expansion price tag, airports are looking for new ways to provide improved experiences in passenger terminals, safer work environments and more sustainable operations to meet these growing demands.
Managing higher passenger capacities through faster turnaround times creates better passenger experiences and more revenue for airlines and airports. Faster turnaround is achieved by reducing the time it takes for an aircraft to dock, unload its passengers and baggage, board new passengers and load baggage, restock its supplies, and push away from the gate. But doing so is logistically and technologically challenging. New trends in aircraft ramp design technologies are providing solutions worth considering.
Recently, updating gate systems with programmable logic controller (PLC) equipment provides real-time operational feedback to system operators and helps monitor equipment performance, showing early notifications of faults and alarms. This trend toward more integrated and automated systems is utilizing these PLC equipment interfaces to provide additional gate efficiency improvements.