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5G Technology Powers VariFlight’s Digital Airport Initiative in China

  • 21 Mar 2019

On 25th January 2019, the live video of moving dollies on the apron was successfully streamed to the monitor in the Operation Center of Hefei Xinqiao International Airport through 5G network. This marks the beginning of a new era in Xinqiao Airport’s shift to what VariFlight calls a digital airport.


VariFlight has started to work with Xinqiao Airport in their airport-collaborative decision making (A-CDM) project, a digitalized system designed to collect and share airport operational data for enhancing efficiency, since 2017. The system features processes like data collection, data analyses, data exchange and intelligent decision-making, all of which are mostly done automatically by IoT devices, industrial internet, cloud computing, and algorithms that simulate airport operation, while keeping airport ground resources interconnected and well allocated. With the establishment of A-CDM system and related modules including video analytics, ground support vehicle management, and virtual ATC in full function, Xinqiao Airport is becoming more automated and efficient: over 30% of operational milestones are gathered automatically; 85% of gaps between ETA and ATA are within 5 minutes, rising from 65% before; and the frequency of the use of aerobridges will be increased by 15% to 85%. In 2018, the airport handled a record high of over 11.1 million passengers.


The tentative application of 5G technology at Xinqiao Airport in data transmission is their latest attempt of this endeavor. VariFlight, in cooperation with Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant, and China Telecom, one of Chinese largest operators, has switched on a 5G network which is super high-speed and quick in response times. This next-generation communications network, due to be widely launched next year, provided up to 904.5 Mbit/s peak bit rate during the test, making transmission of large files merely in a blink. There’s considerable potential for this technology to be implemented in transferring and processing massive operational data at an airport without delay, especially in the area of high resolution live video data. Passengers who visit the terminal, meanwhile, could enjoy a mobile internet that is up to eight times faster than current generation 4G when the 5G network is finally rolled out.


Being innovative in introducing state-of-the-art technologies in its airport operation systems, VariFlight is also dedicated to meet the highest standards set by aviation regulators. In a latest A-CDM audit conducted by Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) last year, Shanghai Pudong Airport and Kunming Changshui Airport, where VariFlight’s A-CDM system have been in operation for over two years, were both rated as top level and became the first two 30+ million-passenger airports to pass the audit. By March 2019 there are five Chinese major hubs with VariFlight A-CDM system received the highest ranking in that audit.

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