“In our data-driven age, the communication requirements of the air transport community are fast moving and many of them are airport-centric.” So says Dan Ebbinghaus, SVP, SITA Communication and Infrastructure. 

As the center of the air transport industry’s communications, airports are becoming “more connected than ever,” he says. What’s more, by 2030, the number of new airports will reach 500 – a 30% increase over today – while existing airports will see a 40% growth in capacity.

In addition to growth in airports, the trends at play include the need to keep passengers and staff informed in real-time; the importance of gathering and distributing data for intelligence, analytics and collaborative decision making; the rising needs of new generation ‘connected’ aircraft’, and many others.

World class

Dan Ebbinghaus“The requirement is for reliable, secure, high performance communications – consistently across the world’s airports – for airlines, ground handlers, maintenance companies, other airport tenants and the airports themselves,” adds Ebbinghaus.

“That includes the varying profiles of airlines, embracing low cost, hybrid and full service carriers.”

This is why this year SITA introduced a next generation program to evolve the industry’s communications capabilities, with a strong focus on the 1,000-plus airports where SITA already provides around 20,000 network connections.

“We are putting into place world class communications and infrastructure to address the trends and meet the challenges faced by the air transport, today and in the future,” says Ebbinghaus.

Applications

An over-riding need is for high levels of connectivity, data services and security for increasingly bandwidth-hungry applications, not only in hub airports but also for airlines with networks covering remote regions.

This needs to cater for media on the move, a variety of wireless demands, cloud networking, and more, with the ability to ensure applications are available on demand, with no loss of performance and reliability.

These are all areas addressed by SITA’s new generation program. So too is another area of crucial importance to the industry: namely, cybersecurity.

As part of its remit to tackle community challenges, SITA is investing in a ‘community innovation’ program targeting air transport community requirements for information about IT security threats and responses. See page 00.

‘It all happens at the airport’

Playing a vital role in the airport communications landscape is SITA’s AirportHub™ ─ now available at 300 airports worldwide, and rising.

As shared infrastructure, it allows airlines and other airport-based companies to connect all their applications and IT systems at an airport easily, while making the opening of new routes much quicker.

“When airlines are connecting their systems at an airport they can now do so within a matter of weeks not months. This streamlined approach is efficient and cost-effective,” says Matthew Billings, Chair of Membership Committee, SITA and VP Technology Services at Virgin Atlantic.

Investment in this infrastructure is ongoing, spreading to more airports. “Many airlines are keen to work with their airport partners who don’t already have AirportHub in place to consider its adoption,” Billings adds.

Information exchange

A second over-riding need is Information Exchange. Ebbinghaus again: “The community needs simple access to standard and secure sources of shared air transport data, both globally and locally.

“Information exchange is therefore a crucial focus, enabling data sharing for collaboration, operations and business improvement.”

Examples are the exchange of data required to optimize aircraft turnaround or passenger flow, where many players not only need data from several sources involved in operations, but also need to consume it in a timely fashion and an understandable format.

“Of course, this must be backed up by excellence in service and delivery,” says Ebbinghaus, “as well as a focus on continuous efficiency and cost improvement. These are part of parcel of our approach.

“With our global footprint at airports, combined with the technology and service capabilities we have in place, we’re positioned to deliver the world class connectivity needed to meet new and emerging requirements across players in the air transport industry,” he concludes.

Go to www.sita.aero/world-class for more.

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