Total Airport Management: a Step Beyond Airport Collaborative Decision Making

A joint initiative between Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), the German Aerospace Centre, and the EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre.

From Airport Collaborative Decision Making to Total Airport Management …

Currently, airport collaborative decision making (CDM) involves all airport partners in the tactical phase (i.e. up to 3 hours look-ahead time). It ensures that the right airport partners get accurate data at the right time in the right place, thus improving shared information as well as the quality of subsequent decisions resulting from improved data.

The basic principle of Total Airport Management (TAM) is to create an environment enabling airport partners to maintain a joint plan – the Airport Operations Plan – thus working towards dynamically agreed goals in order to get full CDM benefits (general improved efficiency in airport operations via more robust schedules, punctuality, enhanced use of airport resources, etc…). This implies the extension of the tactical time horizon to pre-tactical and strategic phases.

The scope of TAM is the entire airport, monitoring and guiding airside and landside operations while taking into account additional information available through SWIM (System Wide Information Management) – (e.g. from departure airports).
The Airline Operations Plan:
  • is a joint partner plan of TAM - dynamic, repetitive, with layered planning principles applied;
  • is an enroute-to-enroute conversion of the Network Operations Plan (NOP), enriched by airport specific data;
  • might be implemented in a central data base or partly de-centralized, respecting commercial interests of the partners;
  • might be fragmented according to different look-ahead times (tactical … strategic); and
  • still has some challenging issues, such as the dynamic AOP management functions.

What is Total Airport Management?

Total Airport Management:
  • is performance-based airport operations enabling performance-based ATM (Air Traffic Management);
  • provides a time-ordered system approach from an operational viewpoint;
  • facilitates the creation, agreement, and maintenance of the Airport Operational Plan (AOP);
  • will have a system design that, despite a high level of automation, shall still follow a human-centered approach;
  • is aligned with existing concepts and systems but integrates them into one holistic architecture, by the re-use of, for example, Arrival Managers, Departure Managers, A-SMGCS (Advanced -Surface Movement Guidance and Control System), CDM, amongst others;
  • provides a platform whereby operational decisions taken by the airport operator or ATC may be made in the full knowledge of airline operational constraints and/or priorities, coherent with the principles of CDM;
  • ensures fairness and mitigates conflicting interests between competitors and partners; and
  • is based on identified control loops using C4I (Command, Control, Communication, Computer, and Intelligence) principles ensuring all partners are working efficiently towards agreed common goals.

How does Total Airport Management work?

Total Airport Management:
  • requires a common data set for all partners but does not require the disclosure of confidential data;
  • has pro-active instead of re-active management leading to predictable and reliable schedules;
  • uses Quality of Service contracts (QoS) between airports and the network to cope with multidimensional aspects;
  • uses a top-down, layered, hierarchical guidance and leadership within the airport to break down QoS contracts into individual (partner-specific) operator actions;
  • has as its main functions situation assessment, diagnosis, plan generation, plan implementation, and co-ordination and communication;
  • should require representatives from aircraft operators, the airport authority, the ANSP, the ATFCM, and ground handling agents to be integrated in an APOC (airport operations centre). Different implementation options exist; the APOC might be a physical command & control room with representatives of partners or it might be distributed, connecting people by IT solutions;
  • defines roles for each decision making process: Initiator, Supporter, and Decision Maker. The APOC Supervisor will moderate decision making and ensure convergence;


Total Airport Management and Airport Operations Centre (APOC) seem to be feasible so far. We consider them to be a promising approach. The evaluation of the options, maturing and validation of the principles is recommended.

For further information about TAM and available documentation, please contact:
Peter Eriksen
EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre
Airport Throughput Business Area Manager
Christoph Meier
DLR, Institute of Flight Guidance
Head of Department Operations Control


  Acrobat Total Airport Management - Operational Concept & Logical Architecture
  Last validation: 17/11/2006