By now, the Airport Operations Plan (AOP) is widely known: a system that uses data to streamline all the airport’s processes. Huge amounts of data are meaningless on their own, but processed by applications such as the predictive module, the data can offer a great deal of insight to the staff at the Airport Operations Centre (APOC). To clearly visualise all this, we built a unique platform, the tool that brings everything together: HELI.
HELI is the face of the AOP. The AOP itself analyses and interprets all the data, but HELI visualises everything. The wide range of information and the clear display give APOC employees a quicker understanding of everything that is going on at the airport. For example, we can predict how many people will be at the airport, how long the waiting times will be and whether there will be enough parking spaces.
HELI is a web application – a program that you can run and use in your web browser – so it is easily accessible by everyone. No software needs to be installed. Because it is responsive, it can be viewed on a PC, smartphone or tablet.
One of our main goals was to create an application that is easy to use and shows only the relevant information. To achieve this, we took into account the available data, the technical limitations and the needs of the Brussels Airport employees.
The first version was completed very quickly. At the end of 2018, it was taken into use by a limited group of people: the APOC employees at Brussels Airport. During this test phase, we used the platform and the predictive module for short connections, which are passengers with a short transfer time at Brussels Airport. HELI immediately showed us where the waiting times would be longer than usual and whether any action should be taken to ensure that passengers with little time can still catch their connecting flights.
In the near future, we also want to make HELI available to all the other partners within the APOC – such as the airlines and baggage handlers – so that they can benefit from the information as well.
At the moment, the AOP and HELI are helping the APOC to make decisions. It allows us to monitor operations in real time and to predict what is going to happen in the next few hours, so that we can avoid problem situations. Like the AOP, the web application is currently undergoing further development. The next step is to predict exact waiting times. In the longer term, we want to evolve towards an application that can also make its own decisions based on artificial intelligence (AI) to make all airport processes run even more smoothly.