Laser rangefinding: American Airlines installs Safegate airline docking system at O'Hare

Malmö, Sweden--Safegate Group, provider of automated aircraft docking guidance solutions, was awarded a contract by American Airlines to install its laser-rangefinding-based Safedock advanced visual docking guidance system (A-VDGS) on 30 mainline gates at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Completed earlier this month, the O’Hare installation--essentially a laser rangefinding system, more commonly known as light detection and ranging or LIDAR--represents the fourth of four major American Airlines hubs to employ the Safegate technology. Already an industry standard in Europe and Asia, the Safedock system is quickly gaining popularity in the U.S. because of its safety, efficiency, and environmental benefits.

Safedock systems were installed at the airline’s other major hubs in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Miami, and New York to increase efficiency and safety in ground operations, as well as improve the customer experience, because of the system’s ability to eliminate delays from unmet flights and significantly minimize delays during irregular operating conditions. The Safedock system’s unique ability to automatically guide pilots to the gate and allow them to self-park aircraft, means that passengers and crew can deplane at the gate even when ramp personnel cannot be present due to lightning and other severe weather.

Using a high-performance laser rangefinder and light-emitting diode (LED) display, Safedock guides pilots to within 10 cm of the stop position in a consistent, safe, and time-saving manner, regardless of the weather, time of day or size of the aircraft. The efficiency of the system helps to ensure that aircraft occupy a gate only as long as necessary, saving time and resources. At an airport with 20 gates, one extra docking per day is the equivalent of adding two new gates, resulting in deferring up to $20 million in capital investment.

With the O’Hare installation, American Airlines now has a total of 181 mainline gates utilizing the automated docking system. The system is managed via a GOS gate operating system located at American Airlines’ headquarters providing a centralized view of all major hub operations. To further leverage their investment, the system includes RIDS (ramp information display system) to display critical flight information for ground and flight crew via the Safedock LED display whenever the system isn’t actively docking aircraft.

By reducing aircraft taxi time and time to gate, the Safedock system helps airlines control fuel costs by reducing fuel burn, and protects the environment with the corresponding reduction in CO2 emissions.

SOURCE: Safegate Group; www.safegate.com/press-releases/2010-10-11-safegate-group-announces-new-contract-with-american-airlines?selmenuid=3440

Posted by: Gail Overton 

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