Building our way out is not the answer | SITA

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Building our way out is not the answer

Published on  24 October by Jim Robinson , Aviation Strategic Advisor, ARUP
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Airport infrastructure in many busy regions is capacity-challenged, causing delays, crowding and poor service levels. Physical solutions through airport development plans will not be able to cope with expected long-term growth.

It is clear - our industry cannot simply build its way out of the situation.
And things will only worsen as planned capacity is outstripped by demand. The inability to develop new runway and airspace capacity in many major markets is evidence of this. Airports must embrace the digital revolution, deploying universal and open source technology in the same way as many other industries do.

At Arup we’ve been helping the industry explore big questions like:

  •  How can the industry usher in a new golden age of aviation that prioritizes the passenger experience?
  • How can air travel become a more humane experience at a time when it must also cope with ever-increasing demand?

Through a series of forums our specialists and industry experts have explored these big issues focusing on the end-to-end travel experience, the passenger terminal of the future, checked baggage, passenger screening and the role of electronic data. These will be discussed in detail in an upcoming article in the Air Transport IT Review co-authored with my colleague Justin Powell (Associate Principal, Arup).

What is evident is that we must strive for the holy grail of the technology revolution in air travel. This is the truly connected travel experience where the customer drives the expectations.  

It is already underway in ground transportation and hospitality as evidenced by providers such as Airbnb and Uber. It is only a matter of time before the aviation sector is similarly transformed.  

We need to welcome and embrace the digital revolution that is upon us.

We need to develop solutions that are universal and based on open source technology similar to other industries engaged in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Or someone else will.


Jim Robinson, Aviation Strategic Advisor, Arup. Jim has more than 25 years of experience in the strategic planning and development of air transport projects.

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  • Published on26 October 2016 12:18 PM by Phillip Fine
    Fair enough, Jim, but at some point IT enhancements will have to give way to more runways and bigger terminal buildings, won't they?
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