American Airlines shows off new technology for D/FW Tower

 
Old Aug 4, 09, 4:32 pm
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American Airlines shows off new technology for D/FW Tower

Hopefully the new version of "pucks" helps to avert delays....

From the Dallas Morning News Airlines Blog
Here's VantagePoint, or at least the working demo for it up at the Dallas Fort/Worth International Airport. Instead of using little strips of paper -- they called them "pucks" - to represent inbound and outbound flights at American Airlines' largest hub, they're going to switch to these touch screens that will be full of data for the employees who manage D/FW's ground operations.

When I spoke with Monte Ford, American's chief information officer, about four years ago (when I was full-time on the beat instead of substituting today), he said that American had a long way to go with its technology. Saddled with decades-old "legacy" computing power and code that was the genesis of Sabre, American was behind other airlines. Now Ford says no one is doing more than American.

Here's Vicki King, with 42 years of experience at American, with the manual system in front of her as she manages the traffic today at Terminal A at D/FW. She talks with the pilots of the planes and guides them into the terminal and keeps things humming. To find potential conflicts, she must coordinate with other staffers and other systems at American to see potential gate conflicts and to get a better understanding of what delays on a certain flight might mean for the airline's overall operations.

The new gear will give her incredible amounts of data at her fingertips. For a flight that might be slightly delayed or heavily delayed, King will be able to find out exactly how overdue the plane is, how many Executive Platinum passengers are on the flight, how many people are going to connect on that flight and where their connections are in relation to where the plane is set to arrive at the airport. She can find the best possible gate and try to set up a swap for another gate, and also alert baggage handlers to get bags that are in danger of not connecting.

The level of data here available to King is going to be off the charts in comparison to how she had to use less-intuitive systems before to find out information about flights. Ford notes that American's computers in its System Operation Control center could talk with other systems managing flight operations, but not very seamlessly, and the airline's "back end" (the functions that passengers really don't see) is the focus of its upgrade efforts that have cost it millions of dollars.

The goal is to give employees the very best information about flight status and give its operations staff real-time data to help them make tough decisions like which of 10 flights have to get canceled because of bad weather. The system will show which flight will cause the least disruption, and now that data will be available not just to Systems Control staff but to people in the tower and all around the airline.

...

The Vantage Point is just one of a series of new applications that American is rolling out for employees on the operations side to help push the best information about flight status to their employees. American's improvements related to flight status update alerts sent to passenger mobile devices presented situations where gate changes or flight cancellations got to fliers faster than American employees who were forced to rely on slower systems for updates.

...

And if for whatever reason the new system goes down, the "pucks" will always be there as a backup.

Last edited by edbyu; Aug 5, 09 at 10:19 am Reason: powers at be want this shorter.
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Old Aug 4, 09, 6:56 pm
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Wow.. The new technology isn't surprising, except for them getting it NOW........ I can't believe the manual processes that still exist. This is very inefficient.

Last edited by mvoight; Aug 5, 09 at 2:33 am
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Old Aug 5, 09, 1:59 am
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For a flight that might be slightly delayed or heavily delayed, King will be able to find out exactly how overdue the plane is, how many Executive Platinum passengers are on the flight, how many people are going to connect on that flight and where their connections are in relation to where the plane is set to arrive at the airport
Wonderful. Now I need to start hauling some extra EXPs along on my flights to make sure they are less likely to get cancelled...
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Old Aug 5, 09, 2:14 am
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Oh wow, an error.... sorry

Last edited by mvoight; Aug 5, 09 at 2:32 am
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