Airport Digitization

Demonstrating the Feasibility of the Intelligent Apron

Executive Summary

Published February 2023

Continual advances in technology and knowledge provide opportunities to work smarter and improve the efficiency, safety, and resiliency of aviation operations. Putting technology to work for us, with intuitive interface and communication tools, and a robust AI backend to track, organize, and evaluate data and trends, is the goal.

In this project, the ACT Airport Digitization Working Group investigated how the application of leading-edge technologies to digitize the apron could improve the efficiency, safety, and resiliency of airside operations.

This report summarizes the current technology landscape, the methods of “digitizing” the apron, and the results of a corresponding trial. It aims to provide a snapshot of improvements and available technologies, concrete examples of selected aspects being implemented in live operations, and signposts to the possibilities of technological advances in the future.

As part of this investigation, several companies established a proof-of-concept on live areas of Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. The trial aimed to implement and demonstrate a scalable end-to-end Intelligent Apron solution that tracks the following use cases:

  • Connected Gate: Integrate all fixed gate equipment to include advanced visual docking guidance systems, passenger boarding bridges, preconditioned air, and ground power units for automation and data collection.
  • Automatic Turnaround Tracking: Detect and track aircraft turnaround activities in real time to create actionable data to elevate awareness and response time and enable further automation.
  • Operational Situational Awareness: Employ a variety of tools to track aircraft positions using ADS-B and share this information with operators through a resource management and an apron management system for just-in-time docking, gate planning, and gate readiness.
  • Common Situational Awareness: Combine digitization with mobile applications to share information with all stakeholders that impact gate operations using enhanced RIDS/PIDS, mobile devices, and gate agent displays.
  • Enhanced Safety: Use technology to augment the safety practices of ground handlers and pilots, ensure gate readiness, improve apron surveillance to ensure an obstacle-free safety envelope, and raise awareness of imminent docking. Furthermore, automation of apron activities can remove personnel from harm’s way while aircraft are moving in the gate area.
  • Measure Compliance: Combine standard operating procedures with events detected by the video AI to create measurements of compliance and track activities in the turn process.

This pilot project has been done as part of AAAE’s Airport Consortium on Transformation (ACT) program. ACT is focused on evaluating, coordinating, and launching solutions in airports to address the near-, mid-, and long-term recovery needs of the industry. The collaborative efforts between airport members and corporate partners will result in valuable information and resources to help airports accelerate traffic recovery through sharing of results, service evaluation, and implementation of new technologies.

Airport Digitization Working Group Members

The ACT Airport Digitization Working Group has been actively supported by a range of airports and industry participants.

ADB Safegate

ADB Safegate



Boise Airport

Boise Airport

Carlyle Airport Group | AAAE Prime Partner

Carlyle Airport Group (CAG) Holdings, LLC


Dallas Fort Worth International Airport


Greater Toronto Airport Authority


Honeywell International, Inc.

JViation, Inc., A Woolpert Company

Jviation, Inc., A Woolpert Company


Los Angeles World Airports

Materna IPS

Materna IPS


McFarland-Johnson, Inc.


Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport


San Antonio International Airport


San Francisco International Airport


Seattle-Tacoma International Airport




Syracuse Regional Airport Authority


TransSolutions, LLC


Contact Jose Saavedra at [email protected] to learn more.