Smart Airports Ready For Take-Off

John Dearing, ENGIE Business Development Director, explains the integrated Smart Airport solutions ENGIE has developed to help airports and airlines optimise efficiency, sustainability and services in the years ahead.

As passenger numbers continue to grow and demand for aviation services increases year on year, airports and airlines are working hard to meet the challenges of increasing capacity while minimising environmental impacts and enhancing passenger experience.

Maximising existing infrastructure

There is a major drive in the industry to increase capacity within existing airport infrastructure. New solutions are constantly being developed to make passenger journeys through airports more efficient, and to expand the number of passengers airports can handle each day. Airports are increasing demand on non-peak days, so that the capacity currently available can be used as frequently as possible.

Airport expansion

There is, of course, a limit to how far capacity optimisation can go within existing infrastructure. Many airports are already expanding, or have plans to do so. These airports are striving to become global gateways, regional hubs and create better connections for passengers and freight. As capacity increases, there are many new opportunities for retail and leisure providers to offer greater choice and enhance the airport experience for passengers.

Carbon reduction

The aviation industry is under huge pressure to decarbonise. Airports and Airlines are setting challenging targets such as those set out within Heathrow 2.0 to address this requirement. Such ambitious targets require significant investment in carbon-reduction technology, initiatives and infrastructure. Ethical, economic and political pressures mean that all airports are now putting carbon-reduction strategies at the top of their agenda.

Improving passenger experience

At the same time as addressing these capacity and environmental imperatives, airports and airlines are striving to improve the experience for passengers. Many product suppliers and service providers are developing solutions to help airports address these challenges.

ENGIE, as a leading energy, and facilities management specialist has developed the ENGIE Smart Airport concept, which offers a single integrated solution to help airports and airlines deliver capacity optimisation, energy and carbon management, and an improved passenger experience.

Improving operational efficiency

ENGIE Smart Airport solutions provide technology that integrates data from multiple building control systems, passenger and asset-tracking systems, security operations, staff management and other systems to give operators a real-time understanding of what is happening at the airport. Through predictive analytics, the software can forecast the needs of the airport in real time, enabling passenger-management systems, security, heating, air-conditioning and other assets to be controlled accurately and ahead of time to efficiently manage flows of people through the airport.

For example, by monitoring arrivals into car parks or train stations at the airport, the system can alert the airport operator to an impending influx of people. That gives the operator time to power up sufficient self check-in desks, ensure check-in staff are present in appropriate numbers, and adjust heating or air conditioning to appropriate levels in relevant areas. Similarly, by monitoring the flow of people through check-in, an app can prompt security staff to deploy appropriate numbers at baggage scanning desks, and control heating and air conditioning at the relevant departure gates.

Many of these interventions or prompts can be automated, so that building controls can be adjusted and staff alerted automatically to help manage passengers in the most efficient way.

Data direct to passengers

To help improve the passenger experience, a passenger app is available to give travellers the information they need, when they need it. As passengers approach an airport, the app can provide information on check-in times, predicted queueing time, and estimated transit time to the gate. This information is constantly updated so that if, for example, the passenger is delayed on their way to the airport, they can be offered the option to upgrade to a fast-track security pass before they arrive – ensuring they don’t miss their flight.

The app can provide a host of other information to help smooth a passenger’s journey, from the location of luggage trolleys and vacant seating, through to retail promotions, route-finding services and signage translation. For passengers who need assistance, the app can give directions to PRM (People with Restricted Mobility) services, as well as alerting PRM staff to the arrival of a passenger who needs their assistance.

Optimising energy use

By optimising the control of building heating, cooling and lighting systems to match demand, ENGIE’s Smart Airport solutions will ensure that energy efficiency is optimised throughout the facility. It will ensure that areas are only heated, cooled or illuminated as required, preventing energy wastage in unoccupied areas. Automating the control of energy-consuming assets in this way, based on actual need, enables airports to handle increasing numbers of people while minimising energy use and carbon emissions.

To further support airports in their decarbonisation drive, ENGIE offers considerable expertise in on-site energy generation. We can design, install and manage a whole range of self-supply solutions, combining renewable energy assets, such as solar panels, with industrial-scale battery storage systems for back-up.

Adaptable, integrated solution

The way ENGIE Smart Airport is deployed can be adapted to suit individual airports or airlines and their infrastructure. The system can be integrated with existing passenger-tracking, energy-monitoring and building-control systems, or we can provide the necessary sensors, meters and technology to gather the data required. Any component of ENGIE Smart Airport can be deployed individually, or different components can be combined to provide precisely the information, automation and control an airport or airline needs to meet its specific capacity, passenger experience and environmental objectives.


Find out more about our airport solutions.

Read about ENGIE's Airport Solutions
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