Dave Poltarak, managing director and vice president of Arinc, explains how the company has helped to develop one of the busiest airports in the world.
What technology is Arinc supplying to airports across the Middle East?
We're currently working on major airport expansion projects in Dubai, Cairo and Doha. In each of these projects, we are installing our most recent technologies, such as check-in systems and common use self service (CUSS) systems.
For the first time in Dubai International Airport, we are supplying AirPlan, which is our next generation resource management tool.
This allows the airport operator to plan its operations, allocate gates, decide how to deploy people to the gates, and how to deploy tugs and baggage carts.
How has the AirPlan tool evolved over time?
AirPlan is based on a previous generation tool called GateFlow, which anticipates and prevents aircraft congestion by allowing an airport manager to assign aircraft to the most logical gates and stands. With this investment we are running it for the first time in Dubai's new terminal.
How do you test the installed technology?
We have conducted trials and training with the airport and over the course of the next three months we'll go through final acceptance tests and then through an initial proving period. The plan is to exercise it as much as possible before the day comes when they want to flip the switch.
Is the technology for Doha International Airport the same as that of Dubai International?
Doha won't open for another couple of years so the designs that we are delivering have to reflect the next generation of technology. We don't want to commit to deliver a 2008 product in 2010.
Does this mean Doha's airport technology will be better than Dubai International's technology?
Not necessarily. I fully expect that Dubai will continue to invest in whatever is best for its customers and whatever is needed.
Dubai International Airport's new terminal will be opening gates in stages rather than the big bang theory of Heathrow's Terminal 5. Is airport management right to take this approach?
That is an approach that we are comfortable with. The harder challenge for us is likely to be if we have to go with the big bang approach so we are preparing ourselves to go with what might be the most difficult scenario.
If things don't go to plan what sort of strategies should airports adopt?
The region is tight on space at the moment so they cannot afford for any resource to go unused. If you have a fixed plan then you'll end up with unused capacity, but if you have a tool and a plan it allows you to be flexible.
Has the pressure of time constraints affected the delivery quality of your products to the airport?
It has certainly created exciting work! While it has been difficult, everyone in the team recognises this is a pretty unique opportunity in the world, not just the region.
How does Arinc drive innovative thinking?
We don't have a specific innovations team within the MENA region. We try to create an environment where we can take advantage of some really bright people and give them the ability to develop innovative solutions.
Mainly the innovative thinking comes from people in the field, because they know what the customer is dealing with and what they want to see implemented next. If we give them just enough flexibility and freedom to come up with bright ideas then we will be successful in the future.
How do you see Arinc's products fitting into ongoing airport expansion in the Middle East regions?
The three big airport projects, Cairo, Doha and Dubai will be a great credit to our ability. From these we will have further opportunity to be a part of the big growth that is continuing across the Middle East.