Overview of Airport Collaborative Decision Making (ACDM) in Italy
This is a post by author Stefano Bruno. Stefano is the station manager for Universal Aviation Italy – Milan-Linate, which has Fixed-Base Operator (FBO) and ground support locations at Rome (LIRA), Venice (LIPZ), Milan-Linate (LIML), and Milan-Malpensa (LIMC). Stefano is an expert on business aircraft operations in Italy. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) is a system developed by Eurocontrol and the European Union (EU) to improve operational efficiency at high-traffic airports. It does this by reducing delays and better managing airport resources, including Air Traffic Control (ATC) and ground handler activity. A-CDM was created to optimize time on the ground, taxi times, and takeoffs. In Italy this process was first implemented at Milan Malpensa (LIMC), followed by similar implementations at other Italian airports – and more are coming.
If you are operating your business aircraft to Italy, the following is an overview of what you need to know about A-CDM:
1. A-CDM background
Eurocontrol plans to inaugurate A-CDM to many airports in the EU. This began with Paris Charles de Gaulle (LFPG), Frankfurt (EDDF), Brussels (EBBR), Munich (EDDM), and Madrid Barajas (LEMD). The goal of A-CDM is to improve overall efficiency of operations at busy European airports by integrating processes and systems – particularly in optimizing aircraft turnaround and pre-departure sequencing processes.
2. Reasoning behind A-CDM
A-CDM system was developed to avoid traffic congestion on the ground at busy airports in Europe. Many European destinations along with the airports listed above have now implemented A-CDM. Eventually, most airports in the EU with heavy traffic movements will operate under A-CDM.
3. A-CDM in Italy
LIMC and Rome Fiumicino (LIRF) became an A-CDM partner two years ago with a trial period that lasted one year. Venice (LIPZ) and Milan Linate (LIML) are currently on A-CDM trials, and the respective airport managers will advise when this becomes mandatory. In the future, both Rome Ciampino (LIRA) and Naples (LIRN) will also implement A-CDM. Note that A-CDM processes and platforms could vary from airport to airport depending on the airport manager. Therefore, the processes at LIMC, LIML, LIPZ, and LIRF will differ somewhat as local coordination programs can differ depending on who manages the airports, even if the end result and information exchange remains the same. During the A-CDM trial session, your ground handler will need to update the system directly with airport managers (Apron office) by phone.
4. A-CDM – how it works
To work with A-CDM, the ground handler needs to have a login and password to access the network, and there’s a fee to use the system. For LIMC and LIML, A-CDM works with the local airport traffic management program – Milan Airport Information System (MAIS). The MAIS system shows all arrivals and departures in real time, interacting directly with Eurocontrol Central Flow Management Unit (CFMU) and subsequently with A-CDM. MAIS allows ground handlers to directly manage operation times using the target off block time (TOBT). The system calculates takeoff time based on traffic in the system, taxi time, meteo conditions, etc. When a flight plan is updated, the system shows the new estimated takeoff time and the handler must insert the TOBT.
5. Updating A-CDM
When an operator needs to revise the departure time, both the flight plan and A-CDM must be updated. Be mindful that your ground handler needs to be advised of any departure changes so that he or she can update the local system, which communicates with A-CDM. If the TOBT time is not updated, your aircraft cannot move off the ramp area as it won’t be authorized to taxi. The final authorization to taxi is given once the flight has a valid TOBT on file and the flight is released.
6. Updating A-CDM without a ground handler
During the trial period, once the passengers are onboard, the pilot in command will need to contact the Apron office, assuming the ground handler has entered the flight plan in the system, in order to submit required information and obtain the release of the flight. However, this option is only in place temporarily. When ACDM is in place (as is with most of the Italian airports), you will only be able to obtain this information through the ground handler or operations office (for air carriers only), in order to submit required information and update the TOBT.
7. A-CDM impact on ATM
To improve network predictability and reduce delays, airports share A-CDM data with the European Air Traffic Management (ATM) network. A-CDM will update the airway slot, and operators must use approved departure times. Eurocontrol manages airway slots, and authorities calculate slots based on factors such as traffic and weather. Note that in order for an airway slot to be made available, a flight plan must have been previously filed. While operators may not see a difference, in terms of A-CDM processes, airports are positively affected as this system better manages traffic on the ground.
8. Impact on ATFM slots
A-CDM assists operators in avoiding delays on the ground, to better organize takeoff times and more efficiently use available Eurocontrol airway slots, also known as Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM) slots.
9. Additional information
When you operate to major airports in Italy that have A-CDM implemented, you will always need to use a ground handler with registered access to the local A-CDM site, so that he or she can ensure operators have the correct information in the system. If procedures are not followed correctly, this will impact your off-block time authorization for departure likely creating delays for your flight.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Italy, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.