Startup Employs Video Analytics and AI for Streamlined Aircraft Turnarounds


Aircraft turnaround processes may soon become streamlined thanks to a combination of video analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). Swiss startup Assaia has partnered with airport solutions provider ADB SAFEGATE to pair its ApronAI image recognition technology with ADB’s SafeControl Apron Management system and the built-in cameras from its Safedock A-VDGS docking system.

The systems work together by recording events at the gate and using video analytics algorithms to detect visible turnaround-related events in real time, such as connection of the passenger boarding bridge to the aircraft, line maintenance arriving at the stand or connection of the fuel truck to the aircraft’s wing. Airports can use the technology to monitor and analyze all processes happening around the aircraft, including safety alerts related to unusual ground movement or deviations from planned processes.

ADB SAFEGATE's SafeControl Apron Management system paired with Assaia's ApronAI system.
The SafeControl Apron Management system paired with Assaia's ApronAI image recognition technology.

The companies say the combined system will enable airports and airlines to get accurate predictions on the time an aircraft is ready to begin the departure process and to gain insight into underlying factors that might be causing regular delays. They also claim that video analytics is more cost-effective and easier to manage than alternative sensor-based technology.

“We don’t know how the demand for air travel will shape up, but we do know that the variance and complexity of aircraft turnarounds will be even higher than before the pandemic,” says Max Diez, Assaia’s CEO. “While reliable, real-time data is key to managing the orderly reboot of the aviation industry, most airports aren’t in a position to make big investments. Our collaboration with ADB SAFEGATE offers a perfect solution allowing airports to regain control over their airside operations.”

The two companies began their collaboration two years ago and have since adapted their respective technologies to facilitate what they call a “seamless offering” for customers. Assaia also went through International Airlines Group’s Hangar 51 accelerator in 2019, during which it was paired with British Airways to analyze turnaround operations and offer predictive analysis. Since its completion of the accelerator, it has successfully concluded more than 40 projects with different global airports and airlines—including many joint pilot installations with ADB SAFEGATE—in varied weather and visibility conditions

“These pilots proved the value of using existing camera infrastructure, as well as the benefit of integrating video analytics with the ADB SAFEGATE SafeControl Apron Management System for greater visibility and control over the turnaround process,” says Peter Hakansson, head of production management – gate, ADB SAFEGATE. “During these projects, ADB SAFEGATE and Assaia have also developed and fine-tuned the integrations and joint offering. This allows us now to offer the high value of real-time data at a minimal cost to the customer.”

The companies say the combined solution has been fully tested and validated, so it is now available to interested airport customers. They expect first installations to take place throughout 2021.

Lindsay Bjerregaard

Lindsay Bjerregaard is managing editor for Aviation Week’s MRO portfolio. Her coverage focuses on MRO technology, workforce, and product and service news for, Aviation Week Marketplace and Inside MRO.