Many of us have been in airports around the country a lot lately. Summer vacations are a time when families converge at our local airports, anxious to spend time with loved ones and get to their destinations for fun, relaxation and adventure.
However, we tend to take for granted all that goes into running our airports, along with the safety and security required to ensure the smooth operation each airport requires. Plus, we generally only think about what is happening inside the airports, but the truth of the matter is, there is potentially more activity happening outside of the airport at any given time. From aircraft maintenance crews and air traffic controllers to airfreight handlers and runway security personnel, there is a slew of machines and people conducting airport operations outdoors that need to be coordinated and as efficient as possible.
According to a 2010 report by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, a total of 631,939,829 passengers boarded domestic flights in the United States that year. This averages to 1.73 million passengers flying per day. It’s mind-boggling to think how this number has increased since that time as it’s clear that general aviation airports of all sizes are an integral part of our National Aviation System. Many airports have aging facilities, shifting demands to accommodate the changes in the general aviation industry, and diminishing revenue sources. These trends coupled with limited staff and budgets have made it difficult to properly maintain the facilities beyond responding to immediate needs.
Automator of Airports
The automation of processes and industrial communications can help. Setting up an outdoor industrial wi-fi network is one way field managers at airports can ease the burden of maintaining a safe and efficient infrastructure. For instance, establishing a hardened and ruggedized commercial-grade wi-fi network around the perimeter of an airport not only creates a safe and secure enclosed zone, but, also provides a way for maintenance crews to monitor and ensure the overall outdoor field operations of the airport facility. This can be easily achieved through resilient wireless networks because they allow for easy and relatively inexpensive modification as outdoor airport infrastructures and policies change (which can be frequent). In addition, besides obvious benefits to airport maintenance crews, there are indeed FAA requirements that need to be adhered to for compliance – making it even more imperative that airport facility personnel find more effective ways of ensuring proper airport operations and safety procedures are maintained at all times.
Some examples of how outdoor wi-fi networks can assist in a smoother, more automated airport infrastructure include:
- Establishing a communications link with all airport maintenance crew through VoIP, video and data so that all personnel are able to communicate with one another and send immediate notifications if/when needed – saving time, effort and money.
- Adhering to FAA mandates which require personnel to provide reports on outdoor lighting, runways, vehicles and the overall airport infrastructure three times per day. Great efficiencies can be obtained through automating these various tasks reducing the amount of time and labor needed to maintain, monitor and report these things.
- Installing communication devices on airport maintenance vehicles connects all of them so that personnel can notify proper authorities of outages through their tablets versus manually having to inform supervisors that action needs to be taken.
These are just a few of the ways an industrial outdoor wi-fi network can help airports maintain a safe, secure and well-functioning infrastructure.
So what will the future airports look like and how will they operate? If the current IoT landscape has shown us anything its that any manual process or operation that can be automated through the use of machines or smart devices eventually will be (automated). As airport field operations continue to be held to higher standards and increasingly rigid regulations, the faster they can adapt to the pressures of an on-demand economy, the better.