AI to be utilised at Heathrow Terminal 5 to ensure efficiency and safety

Using a network of cameras, artificial intelligence is to be employed at Heathrow Terminal 5 to help ensure flights depart safely and on time.

Credit: British Airways

Artificial intelligence technology is to be introduced at British Airways’ airside operation at Heathrow Terminal 5 to help ensure every flight departs safely and on time.

Currently, when customers disembark an aircraft, ground staff manually check and record the details of 18 different activities that need to be completed before the plane can depart for its next flight – including a thorough cleaning of the aircraft interiors, unloading and reloading of catering, luggage and cargo and refuelling.

An issue affecting just one of these tasks has the potential to disrupt the entire process and delay the flight’s departure.

Now, using a network of cameras set up around the aircraft stand, artificial intelligence is to be employed to compare live footage of the complex turnaround process with the proposed schedule. If the technology detects any issues that could put the aircraft at risk of a delay, an alert is sent to the manager in charge of the turn within seconds via a smart watch, informing them of the issue and empowering them to take action to get the flight back on track.

“British Airways operates up to 800 flights a day to and from Heathrow; we run a highly complex operation so efficient turnarounds are critical to ensure all 145,000 customers travelling through our home hub every day enjoy a punctual departure,” said Raghbir S Pattar, Director of Airports at British Airways. “Artificial intelligence is a rapidly evolving area of technology and I’m thrilled that we’re the first airline in the world to harness it to further improve our customers’ journeys through the airport.”

In this first stage of the trial, four cameras have been installed on three stands at Heathrow Terminal 5 and as well as reducing delays, data is also able to be collected on every aircraft turn to help make operations more efficient.

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