Entering your plane faster – thanks to remote-controlled boarding bridges

Digitalisation and industry 4.0 | Passenger boarding bridges are the first choice of modern airports to take passengers from the gate to the aircraft. Thanks to thyssenkrupp’s newest digital airport management tool, this can now be controlled remotely – making it safer, faster and more convenient than ever before.

When air passengers wished to travel from A to B in the first half of the 20th century, it was much easier than it is today. As soon as their aircraft – at that time still equipped with only a few seats and a classic propeller – was ready for take-off, only a piece of runway and a built-in flight staircase lay between it and the passengers at the gate.

Before the introduction of passenger boarding bridges, passengers boarded their aircraft on the runway via an often integrated staircase – sometimes even via a mobile escalator like this early one of thyssenkrupp

Before the introduction of passenger boarding bridges, passengers boarded their aircraft on the runway via an often integrated staircase – sometimes even via a mobile escalator like this early one of thyssenkrupp

Today, air passengers have often already experienced a tiny adventure even before their actual journey begins. From the baggage check-in desk, security, and check-in, they have to walk to the right gate in the terminal – if they are lucky via a state-of-the-art moving walkway. A true odyssey that can cost a lot of time and fully testing one’s nerves with further delays in the increasingly complex air traffic.

Passenger boarding bridges – enablers of modern air traffic

At last the time has finally come: The airline staff invites all passengers to board one of the giant modern airliners – usually via a passenger boarding bridge, which leads all passengers from the gate through a tunnel that is directly connected to the aircraft, protected from wind and weather and practically barrier-free.

Highly mobile and adaptable for all common aircraft types: passenger boarding bridges have become the first choice for modern airports

Highly mobile and adaptable for all common aircraft types: passenger boarding bridges have become the first choice for modern airports

Because modern passenger boarding bridges are designed to be highly mobile and independent of the aircraft type and airport, they make the complex boarding of the approximately four billion passengers a year worldwide possible in the first place. Their most important task is to ensure that all passengers board safely and without stress and arrive at their destination. Passenger boarding bridges are thus not only an essential component of modern airports, but also the first and last point of contact for passengers.

Remote-controlled passenger boarding bridges – a digital innovation for better boarding

Our experienced airport experts at thyssenkrupp offer airports worldwide an extensive portfolio of passenger boarding bridges. In Munich, the team recently unveiled one of the latest innovations in this field: their new Remote Control System (RCS). The new technology enables airports to control their passenger boarding bridges safely, conveniently and efficiently from a remote post. Previously, it was necessary to move the systems manually at each landing and adapt them to the respective model on site at the stand for the respective aircraft type.

“With our Remote Control System, we add unique solutions towards our target of improving turnaround times of airplanes and also offer increased safety in busy airports around the world,” explains Mauro Carneiro, CEO of thyssenkrupp’s Airport Solutions Business.

To make the project possible, Carneiro’s team has combined hardware and software technology. The Remote Control System is fitted with a set of surveillance cameras to give the operator an enlarged field of view when docking and undocking a passenger boarding bridge. High-precision sensors assist the operator during the positioning process.

More boarding comfort for passengers, more business efficiency for airport operators

Remote-controlled boarding bridges not only offer passengers the advantage to board and disembark their plane in a more comfortable and safer way. Mauro Carneiro explains that the smart system also has a positive effect on airport operators’ business: “Our technology substantially improves gate management, saving operators’ time required to operate the bridge and most importantly reduces excessive movement from one location to another. This also translates into a safer work environment for operators.”

Moving passenger boarding bridges into the right position – today, this is mostly done manually. Now, thyssenkrupp's Remote Control System makes it possible to do it from a remote position

Moving passenger boarding bridges into the right position – today, this is mostly done manually. Now, thyssenkrupp’s Remote Control System makes it possible to do it from a remote position

Last but not least, remote-controlled passenger boarding bridges offer the opportunity to replace physically demanding tasks with more highly qualified office jobs – and can thus create new jobs, for example for people with disabilities.

A persuading experience: controlling boarding bridges – located 1,500 kilometers away

At thyssenkrupp’s booth at this year’s “Inter Airport Exhibition” held in Munich, our airport mobility experts displayed their Remote Control System for the first time. During the event, visitors had the exclusive opportunity to test the innovation first-hand – and were able to dock a passenger boarding bridge located in Spain, almost 1,500 kilometers away from Munich. Mauro Carneiro explains convincingly: “This special first-hand experience has resulted in a wide range of interest with our system, and we are already in talks with several small and large airport operators.”

At the "Inter Airport Exhibition", visitors had the opportunity to test the remote control system for themselves – and from Munich, they steered a passenger boarding bridge in Spain precisely and safely to the right position

At the “Inter Airport Exhibition”, visitors had the opportunity to test the remote control system for themselves – and from Munich, they steered a passenger boarding bridge in Spain precisely and safely to the right position

The Remote Control System shows that, just like the world, our airports are taking great steps in becoming more digital than ever before – even if we, as regular passengers, don’t see any direct signs of this progression. Well, apart from a much more comfortable, time-saving, and secure boarding procedure. Have a great next flight!

Did you know? Some trivia about thyssenkrupp’s passenger boarding bridges

From the high-precision Noseloader to the flexible Apron-Drive: Our colleagues will find the right passenger boarding bridge system for every airport, even if they have to serve the two decks of the world’s largest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380. In total, thyssenkrupp currently operates and maintains more than 5,000 passenger boarding bridges at airports all around the world, such as in Doha, AccraIstanbul, and Rio de Janeiro – moving around 1.8 billion passengers a year.

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