The current trend in aviation towards the use of larger aircrafts such as the new Airbus A340-600 and the Airbus A380 (in planning) is unbroken. In response to this trend, several international airports are currently carrying out studies, to determine if their ground infrastructure will be able to safely support the dimensions of these new aircrafts. Fraport AG commissioned Fraunhofer IML to conduct a study at the Frankfurt Airport to identify assumed correlations between the dimensions of airplanes and the accuracy of taxiing.
In the course of this study, Fraunhofer IML has used extensive field measurements and statistical analyses. A sufficient number of representative series of measurements were required for the data basis. The data were recorded with automatic measuring equipment that captured the taxiing course of the airplane two dimensionally by using a laser scanner across a fixed section of the taxiway. The measuring equipment recorded how much and how often each airplane deviated from the middle line of the taxiway. Existing boundary conditions such as type of airplane, time of day, weather, visibility, and taxiing speed had been recorded and documented as well. The statistical analysis of the first prototypical measurements was carried out with particular regard to the comparisons and trends for the different airplane classes according to the ICAO. The analysis of variance shows, that it is been expected, that taxiway deviations will decrease as the size of airplanes increases.
In the first phase of the project, the focus was on the adaptability of the measurement technique, the reliability of the measuring equipment, the efficiency of the method used to capture the data, and the quality of the data. In the next phase, measurements will be taken over longer periods of time and on different sections of taxiways and will be analyzed by appropriate computer software. This will be done to improve the statistical meaningfulness based on an extensive data basis.