With PathPlanner™ on board, Abu Dhabi Airport Expands in Style



At airports in the 21st century, the complexity of airport operations requires powerful software tools

With more people travelling and aircraft fleets expanding, airport improvement projects are taking place at airports across the Middle East region. This does not mean just adding new restaurants and bookstores to the terminals. In the case of Abu Dhabi International Airport, expansion means up to 65 new gates and handling close to five million more passengers a year by 2030.


Currently the second largest airport in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and one of the fastest growing airport hubs globally, Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) serves over 94 destinations in 56 countries.


The current Abu Dhabi airport has been attracting positive attention in the region, garnering awards such as the “Best airport in the Middle East” award from SkyTrax in 2013 and 2014. With 40 gates spanning three terminals, the airport handles over 16 million passengers annually. With flagship carrier Etihad Airways using the airport as a home base, the sky is the limit for the airport.


Airport planners anticipate over 20 million passengers using Abu Dhabi as their origin, destination or transit point for international and domestic flights in the next few years. With that in mind, the Abu Dhabi Airport Company has started construction on the Midfield Terminal which is scheduled for completion in 2017. At close to 700,000 square meters with 8 gates capable of docking the A380, the new terminal will be a model of efficiency, an architectural marvel and a world-class destination.

            Fillet Design with PathPlanner™
As planners look to reduce construction costs, software like Fillet Design within PathPlanner Airside+ provides key functionality to use the least amount of asphalt possible while ensuring designs fall within operational constraints.


As the airport prepares for the future, current day-to-day operations have the full attention of the planners at Abu Dhabi International Airport. On the tarmac, planners must plan gate assignments and taxiway movements for aircraft ranging from an Airbus A319 to a Boeing 777 300ER to an Airbus A380. Mugere Tineyi and his colleagues in the Planning Group use PathPlanner™ Airside+ from Simtra, a Transoft Solutions company, to adjust gates and ensure safe operations.


“Gate modification is a major project that may involve changes to lead-in lines, gatehouses and aerobridges and may require downgrading of adjacent stands and taxi lanes,” said Mugere Tineyi, an airport planner with Abu Dhabi Airports. “PathPlanner is used to simulate possible movements and identify all changes that must be assessed.”


The high volume of arrivals and departures at Abu Dhabi Airport puts pressure on Tineyi and the other planners to ensure safe and efficient routes between runways and taxiways for a wide array of aircraft. Fillet design and jet blast analysis are just two aspects where Tineyi uses the software to make important decisions.


“Every time a new facility is proposed in the airfield jet blast analysis is carried out as part of planning assessment,” said Tineyi. “We use the fillet design feature within PathPlanner to ensure the turns on the taxiway work well from an operational point of view, but also save on the amount of pavement required.”


While Etihad Airways is expecting delivery of their own fleet of A380s later this year, the airport has already configured the runways and taxiways to accommodate these larger aircraft from other airlines, boosting capacity at the airport. Tineyi and his colleagues looked at gates where Boeing 747 aircraft currently dock and modified them based on PathPlanner simulations to accommodate bigger aircraft.

Jet blast impact study with PathPlanner™          
PathPlanner Airside+ helps operations staff at Abu Dhabi International Airport plan turning movements for several different aircraft types and jet blast radius is an important safety issue they must consider.


“We had an A380 Gate Modification project to modify a few gates from ICAO Code E to A380 stands,” said Tineyi. “We also used PathPlanner to determine taxi routes that the A380 can use.”


It goes without saying that calculations on this scale at a major international airport can no longer be done by hand. Safety and efficiency are paramount for airport planners and software like PathPlanner Airside+ is a trusted solution for Tineyi at Abu Dhabi Airport.


“It would be very difficult to do the aviation calculations manually,” said Tineyi. “It would also be very expensive, as we’d have to hire a specialist for some of the calculations. Another issue is that peer review would be necessary for every analysis. An airport the size of Abu Dhabi International Airport cannot do without airside simulation software and I think the procurement and training of personnel on PathPlanner was a good investment by the company.”


“There is a great deal of exciting expansion taking place at airports across the Middle East region and Abu Dhabi International Airport is at the forefront of it,” said Ben van Leest, Vice President, Aviation for Transoft Solutions Inc. “They have been an active user of PathPlanner Airside+ over the years and we look forward to assisting them as the Midfield Terminal project builds towards completion in 2017.”

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