Airways New Zealand has signed a contract with Christchurch-based Alchemy, a software development and design company, to develop an online air traffic capacity management tool.
Airways chose Alchemy from a pool of international IT providers for its Collaborative Decision-Making Capacity Management System (CDM-CMS) project.
Airways manages all domestic and international air traffic operating within New Zealand’s 34-million square kilometres of airspace. The company saw the need to move to a web-based system, to manage air traffic capacity and demand, says Greg Atkins, Airways’ service improvement manager.
“The central feature of the system is a collaborative decision-making process. It’s about sharing the information that we have in our air traffic management system with our customers — the airlines,” he says.
Access to such information can help the airlines to better manage capacity constraints and delays, and to get their network of flights back on track quickly, he says.
Currently, Airways manages traffic capacity using a manual system, where pilots, air traffic controllers and Airways centre staff relay information via telephone and radio.
The new system will combine the airlines’ flight plans and Airways’ air traffic management system, and automatically allocate delays or slots, says Atkins. This information will be available to the airlines on the web.
“The system will be updated not only from the perspective of what’s happening on the ground before the aircraft departs [but] it will also have all of the live information once it is airborne as well,” he says.
One of the main benefits will be fuel-saving, as waiting in the air can be replaced by waiting on the ground, says Atkins. Other benefits include better time management of loading aircraft, as well as time- and cost-savings.
The service should be up and running by the end of August 2007, says Atkins. The service could be made available to the public later on, but this is not one of the current project’s aims.
“You would need to log-in to access the information,” says Atkins. “Public access might be something that we will look into. There is no technical reason [not to allow public access].”
Airways embarked on a worldwide search for a software provider that could develop the CDM-CMS project. It chose Alchemy after rejecting six approaches from international firms as Alchemy’s solution was best suited to the small local air industry.