In a talk to American Airlines employees mid-month, Chief Operating Officer David Seymour described the new tool that the airline is using to manage gate operations in Dallas, which they’ll be tweaking for Charlotte as well.
They’re already making progress reducing the amount of time planes spend taxiing to gates and reducing delays as planes get into and out of gates. They’re even reducing the frequency that planes land and find their gates occupied. All of this adds up to less time on planes for customers, and fewer times that customers are late – which means fewer misconnections.
Here’s how he described the changes,
It’s what we use to gate assign here in DFW. That’s a task that used to be done by a human…a human managing that large of an operation, there’s a lot of complexity there that they just weren’t going to be able to manage in four hours, even if you gave them a whole day to do.
We’ve developed a technology..focusing on three primary issues. The first one is trying to reduce taxi time on the ground. That taxi time really is making sure that we’re trying to gate the aircraft on the side of the airport that it actually lands.
…It also looks through at trying to eliminate gate conflict so we want to make sure that when the aircraft comes into the gate that there’s not another aircraft waiting there…maximizing the gate separation, the time from when an aicraft departed to when the next aircraft is going to arrive.
…And the other thing is we want to eliminate some of the conflict we have, multiple pushes coming from same gates or nearby gates that create conflict. The one I’d like to highlight the most, the one between A and C, we have a single push out taxi line. A and C will both run into each other if we don’t manage that correctly.
…We’ve seen a dramatic improvement in all of those measures.
Seymour reports that at Dallas – Fort Worth they’ve had a 50% reduction in gate conflicts (a plane arrives to find their gate is still in use) and 10.5 hours fewer hours that American planes spend taxiing each day. That better for on time arrivals, which helps customers and crew make their connections
The next step is adapting this new system for use at their Charlotte hub.