EASY DOES IT!
Airbiz managing director, Greg Fordham, tells Asia-Pacific Airports more about the company’s new Express Access Swing intelligent (EASi) Gates concept.
Imagine flying without waiting at the departure gate. What if you could browse the shops, have a meal or relax in your airline lounge until it was time to board?
What if a self-driving vehicle was waiting for you, ready to transport you directly from the terminal to your aircraft?
Express Access Swing intelligent Gates – EASi Gates – is a new concept developed by Airbiz that could deliver this experience.
Evolving out of research into smart bussing for low-cost airlines, EASi Gates are now considered to be an innovative low-cost alternative to conventional expensive long concourses or piers.
Passengers using EASi Gates are transported via an autonomous vehicle along an elevated structure above the apron at the sill height of the aircraft. A simple, hydraulically operated ‘gang plank’ integrated with the aircraft docking guidance system enables them to board their flight directly from the autonomous vehicle.
Similar to a ‘people mover’ station, a dual doorway system at the gate provides a securely controlled pathway for departing and arriving passengers. The space under the elevated structure can be used to park the aircraft tug and other servicing vehicles, while apron lighting, aircraft docking guidance systems and other facilities can be mounted on the structure.
A lightweight canopy can provide weather protection over the link between the autonomous vehicle and aircraft and even extend over the forward aircraft servicing zones.
Airports will find that installing EASi Gates enables them to minimise their capital investment and operating costs. At the outset, the concept requires no walls, moving walkways, air-conditioned spaces, toilets, gate lounges or other facilities – nor does it require specialised equipment, such as buggies, to assist passengers with mobility constraints.
Airports will also be able to increase flexibility in their operations. Swing gates will be possible without multiple level concourses and complicated corridors, as the autonomous vehicle facilitates the swing between international and domestic operations.
Airlines will be able to keep their staff in the main terminal building rather than scattered throughout long concourses, and staff will not be required at the gate to facilitate the boarding process.
Passengers can remain in the main common departures retail area until it is time to board the aircraft, meaning more dwell time, less walking and decreased stress. The autonomous vehicles provide weather-protected access to the aircraft, and no safety or security issues by not having passengers at ramp level.
EASi Gates hold the potential to increase safety and efficiency for airports and airlines, while decreasing cost and creating a superior experience for passengers.
Airbiz has developed and rigorously tested the concept for fatal flaws. A number of airports have shown significant interest in further development of the concept to suit their particular needs.