Airside Vehicle Movements

Key benefits

This AirTOP module allows airport authorities or operators to assess and improve airport capacity by modeling airside vehicle movements.

This module supports the modeling of:

  • individual ground service equipment (customizable performances, fuel consumption/emissions)
  • service roads network/flows with taxiway/taxi lane interactions
  • ruled-based service roads closure management
  • rule-based service equipment allocation to aircraft (and connection with aircraft module)
  • rule-based dynamic vehicle long-terms or temporary parking allocation
  • rule-based dynamic allocation of pick-up or drop off points (for passenger, baggage, catering, re-fueling etc)
  • Airport CDM operations

The high-fidelity modelling of all ground handling equipment, vehicles and aircraft behaving correctly in terms of processes, rules and speeds, provides the proper information to avoid wrong investments or expectations in terms of future capacity and delay. Furthermore, alternative solutions can easily be built and validated.

The modeling of vehicle and aircraft movements on detailed aprons layout, taxiways and services roads provides an in-depth understanding of potential bottlenecks when testing / comparing different airport airside layout and procedures. And help increasing airport capacity or introduce new processes or equipment.

Comparison between scenarios, such as with/without CDM, can be modelled and benefits of CDM implementation can be quantified.

Specifically regarding the tug modelling, AirTOP can be used to model and evaluate different tug usage strategies : e.g. push/pull, close to or far from the runway lining, enabling late(r) engine start), and to compare them, considering, among other things: fuel consumption, emissions, delays, duration of use and distance covered.

The powerful 2D and 3D visualization capabilities (navigation, scenario playback/animation, 3D rear tracking view, …) makes it easy to explain scenarios and validation outcome to all stakeholders, including people that are not experts in airport operations.

Scenario definition

Vehicle modeling

AirTOP allows simulation of all common airport ground vehicles:

  • Tugs
  • Buses
  • Baggage tractors and trailers
  • Refueling trucks
  • Refueling pumps
  • Catering trucks
  • De-icing trucks
  • Water trucks
  • Lavatory trucks
  • Cleaning trucks
  • Stairs

Other airfield vehicles that do not operate on aircraft, such as airfield inspection, fire and ambulance vehicles, can also be defined.

Each vehicle is simulated as an individual entity interacting with other entities and with aircraft on taxiways and stands.

Vehicle performance (speed, acceleration/deceleration, fuel consumption / emissions per phase etc) can be customized.

Airport airside layout

The import options and the graphical editing tools enable fast and precise designs of airport handler ground layout. DXF or .pol layouts can be imported, and/or airport satellite images or charts can be used as a background of the map view.

The integrated graphical editing tool help creating / modifying all service roads, junctions, tunnels and bridges, parking areas, gas stations, and all locations related to service such as passenger pick up points for buses, meal reload points for catering trucks, etc.

Rule-based allocation of vehicle to aircraft

The allocation strategy rules are based on user defined conditions, i.e. which vehicle(s) for which flight, how many, when, etc. Among all the possibilities, these rules allow the definition of specific airline vehicle fleets and/or to request different kinds and different numbers of vehicles depending on the aircraft size.

Control of vehicle movements

The vehicle movements on service roads are based on a high-fidelity road traffic model. AirTOP is able to simulate vehicles’ individual driving behaviours (acceleration, speed, etc.), traffic rules (crossing priority, etc.) and interactions with aircraft moving on taxiways. This allows the modelling of real airside traffic conditions in order to identify congestion and traffic jams, find out the impact on flights (delays) and measure the airport operations efficiency (journey durations).

AirTOP supports the modeling of service to aircraft, including all the different phases for each type of vehicle: e.g. for the tugs: connection to aircraft, pushback, towing, disconnection, etc. For the buses: going to gate, pick up passengers, going to aircraft, dropping off passengers, etc.

All service durations are based on flight-specific needs (number of passengers, required fuel, etc.) and vehicle specifications, speeds, capacity, transfer rates, etc.

Service road closures can be also modeled using rules, that can take into account the distance of the stop bar, the distance and directions of the aircraft going to close a service road portion, as well as constraints aircraft have to respect in order to re-open a closed service road portion. Aircraft distance, direction and angle can be set per aircraft type, flight, size type or wake turbulence category.

This close-to-reality model allows the reporting of times, durations and delays for each phase of service, and the building up of corresponding statistics.


A customizable event log can be easily created by the user and exported to Excel files or an SQL database for external specific analysis. Events can be related to any action carried out by a ground vehicle, such as tug connection/disconnection, pushback, etc. Each event can be logged, along with information related to the current status of the aircraft they are servicing. Journey durations and vehicle service delays are measured accurately per vehicle and can be logged at different times.

AirTOP also provides statistics for groups of vehicles to measure airport operation activity and efficiency throughout the simulation. Available data include statistics (average and total) per hour for:

  • service and journey durations
  • service and journey distances
  • connecting/detaching durations
  • service delays
  • rolling distances
  • fuel consumption.
  • CO2 emissions.
  • Service road closure durations
  • occupancy / entry count per service road segment

Moreover, the uses of each portion of service road during the day are recorded by AirTOP hour by hour, throughout the simulation, allowing the user to detect the most used parts of the airfield at different times, directly on the map.

Stopped time duration

Service road critical sections analysis


Vehicle traffic density analysis